Icons Annual 1

A Year of Icons to Enhance Your Game

Icons Annual 1 is the first collection of content for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying created for the Icons Patreon online and supported by patrons and the Icons community. This collection of articles includes:

  • Rules! Expansions and in-depth looks at some of the core Icons rules, from pyramid tests to damage effects and more, which you can use to enhance your Icons games.
  • Settings! Modular setting material for your games, ranging from alternate Earths suitable as settings unto themselves or places for your heroes to visit, to factions and groups of characters like the cosmic Gemstar Guardians, the mythic Tuatha DeDannan, or the criminal Division. Drop them into your own setting or build whole new worlds around them!
  • Options! Optional rules and expansions for Icons, from how to keep specialties “special” and how to make your villains last longer in a fight to more on devices and equipment and answers to common game system questions.

Icons Annual 1 gives you a year’s worth of Icons content all at once in one, easy-to-reference book. It makes a great companion volume to other essay collections like Icons A to Z or Icons Presents to supplement your options for systems, settings, and supplementary material for your Icons game!

For those who prefer their Icons content “a la carte” you can also get the chapters of Annual 1 as individual PDFs on DriveThruRPG for just $1 each, although you save by getting the whole book at once, of course. Icons Annual 1 is on sale now over at DriveThruRPG!

If you prefer not to wait until 2023, the future contents of Icons Annual 2 is being created right now over at the Icons Patreon. All you need to do is sign up as a patron!

Giant-Size Icons: Evil Rising

This Evil Unleashed

Evil Rising is a collection of seven exciting adventures for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying, introducing heroes to a variety of villains and their sinister schemes:

  • Grudge Match: The heroes come between to destructive powerhouses before they can destroy downtown.
  • Danger in Dunsmouth: Horror in a seaside town as a trio of witches see to raise an ancient monster from the deep.
  • Jailbreak! A test of a new super-prison becomes a death-trap at the hands of the Killer Gamemaster.
  • Murder of Crowes: The mysterious murder of a rural teenager leads to a spree of sinister attacks.
  • The RetConQuest: Heroes in an alternate timeline need to learn their true identities and overcome a villain who has changed history.
  • The Sidereal Schemes of Dr. Zodiac: Can the heroes prevent Dr. Zodiac from assembling the full power of all twelve of the Zodiac Gems?
  • The Skeletron Key: The theft of a military super-weapon leads the heroes to discover an even greater threat.

Hours of excitement and adventure as your Icons heroes overcome the threat of Evil Rising!

Get Evil Rising now at DriveThruRPG!

Hero Pack 1 Assembled

Ten years ago, Icons line artist Dan Houser released the first of a series of “Hero Packs,” character collections inspired and created by the Icons community. Now the first of these has been updated for the Assembled Edition of the game. Hero Pack 1 presents a collection of ninety diverse characters from the history of Icons Superpowered Roleplaying, created and inspired by members of the Icons community and re-envisioned by artist Dan Houser.

  • Hero, Villain, or…? Some of the characters from Hero Pack are heroes, others villains, anti-heroes, or even ambiguous figures who might be hero or villain depending on the situation.
  • Inspiration! Use the characters from Hero Pack as inspiration and a jumping-off point for creating unique characters in your own Icons games!
  • Examples: The characters in Hero Pack offer examples of power configurations, abilities, qualities, possibilities and more you can use for your own games.
  • Standees: The digital version includes an 11-page PDF of printable character standees for all of the characters in the book.

Updated with all-new art based on the original Hero Pack release, with game information updated to the Assembled Edition of Icons by designer Steve Kenson. It makes a great companion volume to villain collections like Icons Adversaries or Rogues to supplement your options for allies, adversaries, and oddities for your Icons game!

Get Hero Pack 1 Assembled now at DriveThruRPG!

GridShock 20XX

Icons Superpowered Roleplaying is published under the Open Game License and, as you may know, offers its own Icons Compatibility license. This has allowed third-party publishers like Fainting Goat Games and Rogue Genius Games to produce—to name two examples—to produce some great third-party content for Icons.

Now Paul Vermeren, academic librarian and amateur game designer, has joined their ranks, launching a Kickstarter for GridShock 20XX, “a superhero world where something went very wrong in 1986. Reality was warped, civilization collapsed, and the world as we knew it was turned upside down. Now the bad guys are in charge of what’s left – but a new breed of superhumans called Vectors strive to restore freedom to their ravaged world. Like the heroes of the past, Vectors use their powers to address injustice directly, and with style: by punching it in the face, or blasting it with laser eyes. And with a totalitarian state called the Supremacy in control, there are a whole lot of things in need of punching and blasting.”

Paul plans to present the GridShock setting in a set of four 32-page ‘zines for ZineQuest. You can find out more, and support the project, at its Kickstarter page!

Icons Crash Course

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!

Champion fundraiser for Rainbow Railroad

ChampionCoverSometimes, I wish I had the power to help, to answer the call of “save me!” in a real and tangible way. Still, I try to do what I can with what I do have, which includes publishing and imagination.

The ongoing pogrom against LGBTQ people, particularly queer men, in Chechnya has filled me with deep sadness and anger, as has the tepid response of the American government. As much as I would like to be the hero who can swoop in and save people—my people—in desperate need, the best I can do for now is to imagine that hero, breathe life into him, and ask for fellow gamers and superhero fans to donate in order to get to know him better.

So, I give you…The Champion! Chosen by the Aristos Eremenos, bearer of the Four Golden Gifts, protector of the people. All profits from the sales of this short pay-what-you-want PDF will be donated to the Rainbow Railroad, a nonprofit dedicated to doing the real heroic work: Getting people in danger out of harm’s way and to somewhere they can be safe. With persecution of LGBTQ people on the rise around the world, not just in Chechnya, their life-saving work is more important than ever. Whether or not you include the Champion in your heroic universe, please consider offering them your support. Be a hero, because the world needs more. Thank you.

D&D: Acting on Inspiration

It’s D&D game night, and the characters are trapped by their vile foes, thrown in irons, and imprisoned in the deepest dungeon.

“I want to break my chains!” says the player of the brawny fighter.

Having already made note of the “Manacles” section from chapter 5 of the Player’s Handbook, the DM says, “Roll a Strength check.”

… and the die comes up a 1.

Now what? Does Brawny Fighter get to try again? The section on “Ability Checks” in the Dungeon Master’s Guide—specifically “Multiple Ability Checks”—presents two options:

  1. If the character can try again, taking about ten times the usual time to do something ensures success. However, no amount of trying again allows a character to turn an impossible task into a successful one.
  2. In other cases, failing an ability check makes it impossible to make the same check to do the same thing again.

So, which is this? Neither option is particularly appealing: If the strong character can’t break his chains, he can never succeed? On the other hand, it’s a bit anticlimactic to say that just taking a minute (10 rounds) is enough for him to break the chains automatically. “You can try again later” is a perfectly valid answer from the Dungeon Master—who gets the decide when “later” is—but is there a game-system middle ground for this kind of situation? Turns out there is: inspiration.

Our Hero can’t try to break the chains, or figure out the maze, or overcome the obstacle without a breakthrough, without being inspired. Inspiration draws on your character’s personality traits, the things the character cares about. It represents when your character is truly motivated. It’s also a great benchmark for those times when your character has the gumption to try again, and succeed this time, since the added effect of inspiration is you can now make the roll with advantage!

In fact, you can even extend the idea of “acting on inspiration” to include all forms of advantage. Essentially, it’s the shift from being at a disadvantage, under normal conditions, or having advantage that opens up a new opportunity. So if a character who is at a disadvantage tries something and fails, the character can try again when no longer at a disadvantage. The situation has changed. Likewise, a character who fails under normal conditions, gets to try again upon gaining advantage, with a better chance of success. In this case, inspiration just represents one way of gaining advantage to change the conditions of the test and try again.

The best part of acting on inspiration is it is a matter of motivation. In order to get the needed inspiration, players need to look to their characters’ personality traits and play to them. What is going to motivate our brawny fighter to really try to escape? Is it a threat to a loved one, duty to a sword liege, revenge, or simply proving that nothing and no one can hold him prisoner? Likewise, going with advantage as an opportunity to try again encourages the players to pro-actively change the situation, rather than just waiting the appointed time to make another die-roll.

If at first you don’t succeed in your next D&D game, consider acting on inspiration.

ICONS: The Nemesis Crisis

nemesiscrisisContinuing the epic Rise of the Phalanx series, Dan Houser brings you the “event” adventure Nemesis Crisis — usable with Hero Pack 5 for ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying, and now available on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow!

Called to invesitgate a mysterious energy phenomenon, the heroes are whisked away from Earth to the the otherworldly planetoid Equinox, where the Cosmic Justicar pits them against their greatest foes, and the malicious and mysterious master villain known as Reign, with the fate of Earth’s metahuman population at stake!

The Nemesis Crisis present the planetoid Equinox, the aliens inhabiting it, and sample heroes and villains for the adventure, which is also designed for use with the characters from Hero Pack 5.

Can the heroes overcome the cosmic challenges to prove themselves worthy in…The Nemesis Crisis? Get it now for just $5 at DriveThruRPG!

ICONS: Cold War Conundrum

coldwarAd Infinitum Adventures presents Cold War Conundrum, an adventure for ICONS: Superpowered Roleplaying, usable a a stand-alone or as a sequel to the kick-off adventure Flight of the Nova-1.

A threat long thought defeated and locked away rises in the former Soviet Republic of Zyrkistan. The energy being known as Arsenal steals nuclear warheads scheduled for decomissioning with the aid of former Soviet heroes, mercenary villains, and Cold War-era technology, intending to unleash terrible vengeance upon the West! Can the heroes find Arsenal’s hidden base in time to prevent Armageddon?

Cold War Conundrum is part two of the exciting Rise of the Phalanx storyline, also playable as a stand-alone adventure, and features new villains, robot minions, vehicles, and world-spanning action for your team of ICONS heroes!

Re: Animated • Justice League “The Savage Time” – Part 3

jl26This blog takes a look at episodes from the Justice League animated series from a tabletop roleplaying game perspective, both in terms of game design and game play.

Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the episode in the post. If, for some reason, you’re interested in the show and this blog and have not seen the show, go and do that first. The blog will make much more sense, and you won’t have your enjoyment of the show spoiled. You Have Been Warned.

“The Savage Time” – Part 3

It’s the end of the first season of Justice League and the conclusion to the epic three-part “The Savage Time” as the time-tossed members of the League have to stop Vandal Savage from interfering with history and prevent the Axis powers from winning World War II.

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