Check out RetroStation 1989 and their live-stream of Icons artist Dan Houser working on some art for the upcoming Icons Menagerie sourcebook!
It’s a Cold Time in the Old Town Tonight!
The Cold War returns, with a vengeance! Why are Soviet-era supervillains Tungusk and Arsenal (one of them believed to be dead) trying to steal from the heroes’ headquarters, and why is former heroic sidekick Kassie Kelvin helping them? Who or what is the Ghost Chapter and what do they want? Can the heroes find out and put a stop to things before the city is blanketed in an eternal winter, or will they be draw into the Polar Vortex?
Available now on DriveThruRPG!
A new Icons GM inquired: How do I make villains enough of a challenge for the heroes? I put two villains up against them and they each got taken out in one hit!
As said GM noted, Icons is meant to be a fast-paced, fast-playing game, but not necessarily that fast! In general, most characters should be able to take a couple of hits before dropping to 0 Stamina, although the definition of “a couple” can vary with the character and the attack. Still, that’s the reasoning why Stamina for the Average (3) person is 6, enough for two Average attacks.
There are a number of tips and tricks to consider when it comes to helping your Icons bad-guys hang in there a bit longer:
Defense: As they say, the best defense is not being there when the attack lands. Consider how effective your villains are at defending themselves (see Reactions in the Taking Action chapter of Icons). Keep in mind that equal attack and defense levels mean a 58% chance of a marginal success and a 42% chance of a moderate success. Just a 2-level shift in the defender’s favor means a 28% chance of a marginal success and just a 16% chance of a moderate, and only a 2% chance of a major success. Since the heroes have and get Determination Points, there’s nothing wrong with initially putting things a bit in the villains’ favor. Also remember that the Defending action sacrifices a character’s panel for that +2 level shift in defenses.
Damage Resistance: A little Damage Resistance goes a long way. Even if a villain only has 1–3 levels of Resistance, that can blunt some of each attack, making it take one or more extra hits to take them down. A villain with a substantial amount of Damage Resistance can be much harder to take down, while bad guys like Troll (with Damage Resistance 9!) are nigh-invulnerable. Lots of villains may wear light body armor of the like to get a couple levels of Damage Resistance, and you can also Limit that resistance to, say, bashing or blasting (or slashing or shooting) damage.
Regeneration: Like Damage Resistance, Regeneration can allow a villain to recover Stamina more quickly to hang in a fight, especially if they are Defending for a page or two, avoiding getting hit, in order to bounce back.
Trouble: While villains do not have Determination Points like the heroes do, they can gain advantage (and any of its benefits) as trouble for the heroes! That includes a use of the Recover option to regain Stamina. Likewise, villains can also use Maneuvers and Tactics to activate qualities for advantage, including Recover, or Improved Effort for their defense. You don’t just have to use trouble to pump-up the villains, either. It might make a hero’s attack ineffective (Disability), cause a distraction (Challenge) or grant the villain some other advantage. Be creative!
Numbers: Try to pit a roughly even number of equally capable villains against the heroes, a larger number of less capable ones, or a smaller number of more powerful villains. If the bad guys are outnumbered, then they should definitely have some or even all of the advantages on this list to help make up for it! Otherwise, sheer numbers go against them if the heroes can attack, say, two or three times for every one of their panels. An added benefit of making a singular villain much better at evading? They also counter-attack when the heroes miss! (see Evading under Reactions in the Taking Action chapter of Icons) This is the sort of thing that happens when a group of heroes fight a ruthless Fantastic combatant and get their clocks cleaned without their foe even taking any extra panels!
So that’s where you can start. If you want even more options, take a look at some of the material in Icons Presents, particularly the Minions & Masterminds chapter. It looks at minion rival, and mastermind status for villains, complete with special actions and options. One easy one to apply is:
Evening Odds: If the heroes outnumber the villains, divide the number of heroes by the number of villains to get an odds modifier, then adjust the villains as follows:
- Stamina: Increase the villains’ Stamina by (50% x the odds modifier).
- Fast Attack: Give each villain the Fast Attack power with a rank of (the odds modifier x 2) to a maximum of Supreme (10).
Example: A pair of villains are up against a team of five heroes! The GM divides five by two, getting an odds modifier of 2.5. Therefore, the Game Master increases both villains Stamina by (50% x 2.5) 125% and gives them each Fast Attack (2.5 x 2) 5, sufficient for another Good (5) attack action for each of them.
Other resources from Icons Presents may also be useful, including Fists of Fury, Situational Qualities, Taking Initiative, and Tell Me the Odds.
Offered a chance to stay home and be heroes, people responded! I’ve given away over a thousand free copies of the Icons Superpowered Roleplaying PDF edition in the past couple of weeks to people staying home (often with kids) so thank you for doing the heroic thing for everyone and I hope that you get to enjoy being heroes at home playing the game!
If you are new to Icons or a long-time fan wondering what you can do at this time, here are a few things that would be appreciated:
- Offer Some Stars! Reviews and ratings mean a lot when it comes to online sales and marketing, so if you are enjoying Icons, please feel free to give it five-stars on DriveThruRRPG to let everyone know it!
- Write a Review! Even better than a high star-rating is writing a short review to tell folks why you love Icons. Reviews help people in deciding whether to try out a game or not. If you have your own blog, podcast, stream, or the like, a review there is welcome, too.
- Run a Game! Speaking of streams and podcasts, maybe you might want to run a game of Icons online for folks to watch or listen-in. Even if you don’t want to run a game for public consumption, consider running one for your kids, family, or friends. Even if you’re socially distancing (and you should be) you can run games online using video conferencing and chat resources like Discord, Hangouts, Zoom, and more.
- Pick Up Some Products! Lastly, if you like Icons and want to support small press RPGs and those of us who create them, please consider picking up some other products for the game. Check out the Icons Updates post for the latest and see the Icons listing on DriveThruRPG for a complete list of products. The “Icons, Assemble!” section below offers some different ways you can go. Please note that print-on-demand books like Adversaries, A to Z, Origins, Presents, Rogues, and Rise of the Phalanx are still available (as of this post) and that there are a number of fine third-party Icons publishers through the Open Game License as well who would welcome and appreciate your support.
If you are new to Icons and wondering what to do or check out next, take a look at the Icons Updates post and consider the following:
- Sourcebooks: Although The Assembled Edition is a complete game, sourcebooks like Icons A to Z and Icons Presents offer optional expansions, ideas, add-on systems, and variants you can use to enhance your games. What’s more, each chapter of each book is available separately as a downloadable file, so you can pick-and-choose just the ones that interest you, or you can get the whole book.
- Hero Packs: The Hero Pack products have lots of new superheroes for Icons to inspire your imagination and that of your players.
- Villain Books: The Adversaries and Rogues books each offer dozens of foes to supplement the sample villains in Icons. Since each villain comes with adventure hooks and ideas, these books are like huge collections of possible adventures!
- Adventures: Speaking of adventures, they form the backbone of the Icons line, and you can get lots of low-cost adventures. Third parties offer even more adventures! You can also get a complete campaign in the Rise of the Phalanx book.
- Classics Bundle: Lastly, you can pick up a bundle of all of the products for the first edition of Icons—rulebook, villain sourcebook, and ten complete classic adventures—all for the low price of just $20. All of this material is easily usable with the Assembled Edition of the game.
Publishing for Icons
Inspired to create for Icons? That’s great! Because the game is published under the Open Game License, there’s a free Icons Compatibility License that lets you create, publish, and sell your own Icons-compatible products. You’re also welcome to release free content for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying online, or to contribute to the Icons: Truth, Justice, and Gaming Wiki of fan-created content.
Thanks again for taking care of yourselves and doing the right things to look after everyone else. Stay home, play games, and be heroes!
Greetings, Icons heroes! Some things are (and have been) happening with Superpowered Roleplaying of late, so I figured that a round-up post talking about them was in order.
The Assembled Edition
First, where The Assembled Edition of Icons Superpowered Roleplaying is concerned, I’ve added a print-on-demand hardcover option to its DriveThruRPG listing. It’s $44.99, a bit more expensive than the offset print hardcover ($34.95) still available in retail and through the Green Ronin Online Store. It’s also a bit thicker and heavier. The POD softcover and PDF editions remain available, as always, and anyone who buys a hardcopy for the Green Ronin store can get a free PDF from me: Just drop me an email with a copy of your store receipt and, ideally, your DriveThruRPG account email, and I’ll get it to you.
Speaking of the Assembled Edition, in light of the stay-at-home and social distancing efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus, I’ve offered a free PDF copy to anyone who is being a hero and following those guidelines, especially if they’re looking to entertain at-home kids who are out of school by giving them a chance to be superheroes! Interested folks can fill out this online form. I’ll keep this offer running until April 1st, as I’ve already given away over 850 copies of the game!
If you do get a free copy of Icons, I would much appreciate a star-rating and a review on DriveThruRPG if you can spare a few minutes.
Icons Classics Bundle
I collected all of the original edition Icons products, including the original rulebook and the Villainomicon (which have been unavailable for a while) into a single Icons Classics bundle. It is a dozen products: rulebook, villain book, and ten classic adventures, for just $20. Plus, with DriveThru’s bundling, if you already have some of these classic Icons books, their price will be subtracted from the bundle total! So it’s a great opportunity to round out your classic collection.
Icons Presents Singles
I’ve also released all sixteen chapters of Icons Presents as separate PDFs, priced at $1 each, much like the individual chapters of Icons A to Z (except released after the complete book rather than serially as a subscription). So if you’re just interested in a handful of subjects from Presents, you can pick up the individual essays, although the complete book remains a better deal. The singles are, of course, not available in print, being only 6–12 pages long each.
Game Master’s Screen
The Icons Game Master Screen has been improved with the addition of a print-on-demand set of cardstock inserts for customizable GM screens for just $10. Plus you get the printable PDFs of the screen inserts as well for no added cost!
[Note: Unfortunately, DriveThru’s card-printer has closed down for the time being, due to a municipal order closing non-essential businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. Card orders will not be available for at least 30 days, possibly longer.]
Dawn of the Daikaiju
The newest Icons adventure from Dan “The Man” Houser is The Dawn of Daikaiju. It is a city-stomping adventure that pits your heroes against a giant destructive force. It includes details on the dread daikaiju Dracostroyer and gestalt mecha King Mechakaiser, along with an appendix for creating your own giant monsters to menace the city and the world!
I was recently interviewed on the Plus or Minus Podcast about Icons, particularly its relationship to its predecessor Fudge and I got to talk about the genesis of the system, its design concepts, and development. Feel free to drop by and give it a listen!
I also appeared on the BAMF! YouTube channel along with Icons artist extraordinaire Dan Houser and author and RPG freelancer Alexander Thomas to talk about the past year or so of Icons products and upcoming projects. Lots of hints of what’s coming up along with our process for creating Icons characters and products.
In the Works
Speaking of which, even more is in the works for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying! Dan Houser has turned over a manuscript for his next adventure, the first part of a planned new series. I’m also working away on a new Icons sourcebook—no details yet, as it’s still in early draft stages, but I think Game Masters in particular will find it useful. I’ve got a number of other Icons ideas on the drawing-board, and we’ll see what time (a lot of time spent indoors) allows in the months to come.
If you have a particular “wish-list” item you’d love to see for Icons, feel free to drop me a line and let me know!
Up from the depths…
Thirty stories high and crackling with alien energies, it arose: the dreaded Dracostroyer! When the terrible daikaiju strides ashore in the city, are your heroes up to the challenge of stopping it? Fortunately, they have some help from unexpected quarters, including a mad scientist willing to transform them into giant monsters, and a brilliant inventor with a giant mecha in need of pilots.
Dawn of the Daikaiju is a city-stomping adventure for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying that pits your heroes against a giant destructive force. It includes details on Dracostroyer and King Mechakaiser, along with an apprendix for creating your own giant monsters to menace your city and the world!
Available now on DriveThruRPG!
Now available on DriveThruRPG! The Icons Classics Bundle contains all of the products for the first edition Icons Superpowered Roleplaying, including the rulebook, the Villainomicon sourcebook, and ten adventures, all for the low price of $20!
That’s 60% off the sale price of all of these products individually and, with bundle-pricing, an additional discount is included for any products you purchased previously on the site. That makes this a great opportunity to fill-in any gaps in your collection.
The first edition rulebook and the Villainomicon have not been available for sale for some time, so this is an opportunity to get them, or any other classic products you may have missed. What’s more, these older Icons products are still 100% usable with the Assembled Edition of the game. (See the What’s Different post for details on changes found in the Assembled Edition.)
It’s Thanksgiving weekend in the USA and time for the annual Thanksgiving Weekend Sale from DriveThruRPG. You can get all of the Icons Superpowered Roleplaying products at a great discount for the next four days while the sale lasts. Round out your collection, pick up the latest adventures and sourcebooks, or buy holiday gifts for that superhero gamer in your life!
Icons Presents is a supplement for the fun and fast-playing Icons Superpowered Roleplaying, offering new options, essays, and resources for playing and modifying the game. It includes:
- Options! Ways to modify the game to suit your style and preferences, including different classes of villains, situational qualities, dice-rolling, and initiative variants.
- Resources! Time-saving resources for the Game Master, like information on military forces, how to create and run better villains, rare and unusual materials, and more.
- Genres! Looks at how to customize games from martial arts mayhem to swords and sorcery, from playing vigilantes to portraying villains, from mythic deities to the cosmic space patrol.
- Scenarios! Comic book storytelling techniques and looks at classic scenarios like world conquest and destruction and how to run them.
Icons Presents offers a wealth of useful resources and ideas for your Icons game, giving you a range of tools to help make the game your own and create the kind of series you want to run or play in. Use some of them or all of them however you wish.
The folks over at Babies With Knives have produced one of their “Crash Course” videos for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying! So, if you’ve always wanted a quick summary of what Icons is like and how it plays, or if you’re a long-time player looking for a summary to share with new players, check it out, and be sure to give the video a “like” and subscribe to the channel for more “Crash Course” videos and all of the group’s streams!