ICONS: Pay-to-Play Determination

In the ICONS rules, starting Determination value is figured from a base of 6, minus 1 per power the character has, with abilities above level 6 counting as powers. So a hero with three powers and an ability of 8 (for example), has a starting Determination of 2. This is intended to benefit those heroes who have fewer powers and superhuman abilities, giving them the options inherent in more starting Determination.

In this variant, rather than paying “up-front” for the value of powers and high-level abilities, all characters start each story with the same amount of Determination—the base 6 points—which they can spend as desired, but players have to spend a point of Determination the first time they use a particular power or ability with a level higher than 6 in each story. This Determination has no benefit other than “activating” that ability and making it accessible. Thus the characters “pay” for the capabilities they use, but are not “charged” for the ones that they do not. This may encourage players to be more conservative about their heroes’ powers, which can suit a “secret powers” series, for example.

In a Super-Teen series, the characters are all high schoolers who keep their amazing powers secret for various reasons. The GM institutes the “pay-to-play” rule for Determination, meaning all of the heroes have the same starting Determination, but they have to pay 1 point for the first use of each power or super-level ability in each adventure. So when Gwen uses her Super-Speed or Tommy teleports for the first time, that costs a point of Determination. Gwen’s Coordination 5 and Acrobatics Expert, however, doesn’t cost Determination because it’s not a power and her ability level is not above 6. If the young heroes choose not to exercise their powers, they have more Determination on-hand for other things.

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