The Icons Wiki

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Since its renewal recently came due, I was reminded about the Icons Wiki, a fan resource set up not long after the game was first published. Ad Infinitum took over hosting it when wikispaces went from a free to a paid account system, but my own time to contribute to the wiki (which I did prior Ad Infinitum taking over the publication of Icons) has been limited. I figured new fans of the game who have come on-board since them might not be aware of the wiki as a resource.

So, if you have a chance, and are so inclined, click on over and check it out! You can add you own Icons content and share resources with your fellow players, Game Masters, and fans. I know the tendency has been towards individual blogs with Icons content (including my own) but the wiki makes a great central “clearing-house” for compiling Icons-related resources.

Minions and Monsters in Icons

No, it’s not a new Icons product (yet) just a couple of random passing thoughts to share because, well, I’ve got a blog.

Minions

The first is that, in addition to the option for taking out minions automatically with a successful attack (on p. 42 of the Assembled Edition), Game Masters may want to consider minion actions against heroes—that is, any action opposed by a hero’s reaction—automatic failures. Amongst other things, this means minions simply cannot successfully attack heroes under normal circumstances, all they can do is get in the heroes’ way and get whittled down until there aren’t any more of them.

That’s not to say such minions are never effective, but a successful attack by them is handled as trouble for the heroes (Assembled Edition, p. 34) rather than a regular action—it’s so rare that it’s both noteworthy and awards the affected heroes with Determination Points. These minions can still succeed normally against other Game Master Characters, probably part of the reason they’re so often threatening the heroes’ friends and supporting characters.

This option is extremely four-color in style, but does suit some stories where minions truly are ineffectual and even heroes with no Damage Resistance or extraordinary defenses don’t need to be all that worried about them.

Monsters

Although it may go without saying, Game Masters may sometimes want to beef up singular “monster” opponents intended to take on a whole team of heroes by just giving them more Stamina than their Strength and Willpower levels would normally provide. While you can simply go with higher Strength and Damage Resistance to toughen up a monster-foe (both common capabilities) that may not be enough, and too much Damage Resistance can stymie some heroes completely, where as additional Stamina is something the heroes can whittle away at, while still allowing the monster to hang in the fight so it’s not over too quickly.

Start with doubling the monster’s Stamina, although you can easily triple or even quadruple it to provide a good fight. Also note that a “monster” opponent doesn’t have to be an actual monster, but could simply be a master villain who needs to take on a whole team, and therefore can benefit from a Stamina boost. The GM characters don’t have to follow the exact same rules as the heroes in terms of determining their abilities, so long as they’re providing a fair and fun challenge.

‘Tis the Season … for Heroes!

MnMCoC_200It’s the time of year to remind folks who might not be aware of it that the free Mutants & Masterminds adventure Crisis on Christmas is available for download from Green Ronin Publishing, along with Hero Lab files for the main antagonist and her minions.

Earth’s mysterious Master Mage needs help from your heroes to defeat a threat that has captured the North Pole and wants to erase the idea of the Christmas holiday itself from the world! Just a bit of holiday cheer from Green Ronin to you this season! (There’s also a version for the second edition of M&M for folks who prefer it.)

Katanas, Trenchcoats & Charity

So, by now, my small contribution to Ryan Macklin’s ’90s gaming magnum opus Katanas & Trenchcoats is out there. It all got started quite innocently (as these things do) when I replied to a Macklin tweet, astonished there wasn’t a “Katanas & Trenchcoats” RPG, given how popular the concept of adding Highlander-style immortals to nearly every RPG was back in the ’90s, especially White Wolf’s “World of Darkness” setting.

Ryan took it upon himself to assemble an A-Team of game industry talent (plus, you know…me) to bring this vision into being, planned, of course, for an April 1st release. The plan was always to donate profits from the game to charity, particularly the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Ever the professional, Ryan offered to pay us contributors, and I accepted so I could donate (folding in some of my Ad Infinitum profit) to The Trevor Project, a charity and cause important to me, and to countless LGBTQ youth. Also ever the gentleman, Ryan followed that news by offering to donate to the Trevor Project as well. Should anyone else be so inclined, please visit their donation link and help out.

Save vs. Pelvic Sorcery

(Because … well, it kind of justifies itself…)

Sorcerous Origin: Pelvic

Your innate magic comes from the motion of the ocean and the swaying of your hips, the forceful thrust, and the slow roll – in short, pelvic sorcery. Perhaps you were born with this potential, apparent even before you fully tapped its power, or you might come from a long line with this ability, one ensured to continue on and on (and on…).

Roguish Charm

When you choose this origin at 1st level you gain a potent roguish charm. By standing next to a creature and interacting for at least 30 seconds, you can attempt to charm that creature as if casting the charm person spell, without expending spell slots or spell points.

Come and Get Your Love

At 1st level, you add expeditious retreat and jump to your list of known spells. You can cast them without components, but they affect only you.

Dance-Off

Starting at 6th level, you can cast Otto’s irresistible dance on a creature you can see that can see and interact with you, without expending spell points to do so. Once you have done this, you must complete a short rest before you can do so again.

Hooked on a Feeling

At 14th level, you can charm any creature by interacting with it. The creature makes a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC and is charmed for one hour if it fails.

Awesome Mix

At 18th level, if you are exposed to and make a saving throw against an effect at the same time as any of your allies, both you and your allies have advantage on the saving throw and resistance to any damage caused by the effect.

Queer as a Three-Sided Die

GenConGaymerOne of the things I very much looked forward to at GenCon this year (after a year away in 2013) was the third-annual “Queer as a Three-Sided Die” seminar. It got started, as such things often do, to address a need that the initial panelists and I perceived — it is, in many ways, the seminar I wish I’d had during my early years at GenCon, when the notion that there were other “gaymers” was completely foreign (I didn’t meet any until around my sixth or seventh year of attending).

We looked to expand the panel this year, and did in an unexpected way. Matt Conn (founder of MidBoss and GaymerX) and Philip Jones (co-director of Gaming in Color) contacted me just days before the con to say they were attending and were interested in the seminar. They joined me and our other panelists from prior years:

The Know Direction podcast was also kind enough to create a video recording of the panel, so I’ll direct you there if you want to see and hear everything that was discussed. Topics ranged across the queer spectrum from the light-hearted and celebratory to quite serious and emotional, and Qd3 (as I abbreviate it) was by far the most well-attended seminar I experienced at GenCon.

We also had the benefit of “GAYMER” badge ribbons from Tabletop Gaymers again this year. Feel free to check out their consolidated reference links, and to register or donate to the covering the cost of the ribbons this year and for next year, as they were quite popular!

Members of the gaymer community are already talking about adding to the slate of offerings for next year’s GenCon—social events, seminars, gaming events, and so forth—and I’m already looking forward to the potential for next year’s panel. If you are interested in joining us as a panelist, or know someone you think would make an ideal panelist, please email me and let me know!

If you have ever considered the possibility of offering something queer-related or more inclusive at a convention (GenCon or any other)—do it! Like I said, these things get started because we see a need and look to fill it and, let me tell you, the need is there. I’m already looking forward to all the amazing things our community is going to do in the years to come.

Beyond the Game Table

When I was first playing RPGs, back in middle school and high school, I had nothing but free time to spend reading game materials, preparing games, and running them. All through and after college my gaming group met on a weekly basis, sometimes even more often, making it easy to sustain the momentum of a new campaign.

As my gaming group and I got older, got day jobs, got married, even had kids, it became harder to get together once a week for three or four solid hours of game-time. Nowadays, it’s one Sunday afternoon per month to play the game(s) of our choice.

Trouble is, one game a month is just twelve sessions in a year, which can make it difficult to sustain continuity and energy from session to session, and it limits the range of games and campaigns a group can play at once. When we met weekly, it was fairly easy to maintain two or even three campaigns. Now we pretty much have to stick to one at a time. Even then, there’s a lot of “down time” between games. I suspect many game groups and gamers in our age bracket face similar issues.

Fortunately, there are new tools and options that weren’t available when I started playing RPGs. While in-person time for gaming is more limited, we all find time to spend on things like social networking, email, and even online games. What if the game session were to extend beyond the boundaries of just a few hours a month at the game-table and into some of that online connected space? If just half of my Facebook and Google+ time got spent on a game, I’d easily reclaim a lot of that weekly game-time.

My group already does some of this: we use email to coordinate and pre-plan our game sessions and deal with a lot of the bookkeeping and “off-stage” activities of the game in order to maximize our in-person time, but what if the games (and publishers) themselves supported more of this style of play?

Imagine going from in-person tabletop play on the weekend to running a solo or small group encounter online via a website or app, either live in real time or turn-based (as most RPGs are), bringing things back to the game table for the next session. Perhaps the apps and mobile devices come back to the game table with us, handling some of the mathematical “lifting” of the game system and keeping a record of the game that’s seamless with other types of play, whether at the table or not. A lot of gaming would still happen in-person and at the game table, but the game would also extend beyond the table, fitting better into the lives of a new generation of gamers.