Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rolling Up Characters with ICONS

So while traveling with the family we had a night in the hotel where I decicded to break out Icons and have everyone roll up a character. While I have played around with the system a bit and converted some existing characters as a system exercise this was our first real test of random character generation. One thing that instantly struck me was that using a 2d6 roll for power choices rubs me the wrong way because of the nonlinear distribution. There is some attempt to even things out and upon reading the game I thought it would be fine, but the way things are weighted still meant that we saw a lot of 6-7-8 rolls in practice. This made for some really odd occurrance i nthe course of rolling up 5 new characters.

Origins: We began with 3 transformed, one birthright, and one trained origin.

 Attributes: One of the Apprentices ended up with Prowess 1, Strength 1, Coordination 2, Awareness 5, Intellect 6, and Willpower 8. Another ended up with Prowess 6, Strength 8, Coordination 5 etc - Balanced? Not sure. Distinctive and easily turned into a character concept? Sure. Was Apprentice Red happy after rolling those first 3 stats? Absolutely not. Did he turn it around and make it into a pretty strong concept at the end? Yes he did. It was quite the roller coaster ride for him.


First, no one rolled any offensive powers. I've never seen a Supers game where no one took any kind of blasting power, so this rang false to me right away. We did see some chosen as part of other powers (below) but it was still odd.

Second, almost everyone rolled at least one Mental power. I don't know why, they just did. It is the "7" result on the table and so the most common, but it was still a little odd. I bought 2 brand new sets of Chessex d6's (12 red and 12 green) just for this game and this trip (the d6-d6 resolution mechanic is easier with the kids IMO if you can present it as green - red + attribute) and handed everyone their own pair of dice for this exercise, and we still ended up with 5 "7's" out of about 17 rolls.

Third we only had two movement powers rolled, one flight and one superspeed, which also seems weird to me. It's one of the more common things among supers and yet it seems fairly rare the way it's weighted in the tables.


Lady Blacksteel ended up with only two powers, roling Precognitive first and then deciding to take Danger Sense as her second (as allowed under the precog power). This seemed like a fairly limited power to have until I looked over the description and realized that it had a lot of defensive mechanical benefits so she used her origin bonus to pump it up to a 9. Combined with her 6 Prowess and 5 Strength she should have a pretty fun character to play both in and out of combat.

Apprentice Twilight ended up with an Elemental Control and some decent attributes before she bailed on us. Supers is about the only kind of RPG she's interested in  but she doesn't care much for random generation and was annoyed with the boys too. Ah well.

Apprentice Who ended up with Mind Control, Telekinesis, some average to decent stats, and a bunch of specialties and determination. I'm not sure letting the youngest play with a mind controller is a good idea but we will see. He liked the idea of being the trained hero like Batman so I'm looking up some material on The Shadow to help him understand how this might work.

Apprentice Blaster ended up with seriously high stats, Illusion powers, Super Senses, Mind Shield, and Transmutation - and Invulnerability 8! His high rolls were just amazing, especially compared to Apprentice Red's low rolls - bewteen the two of them they balanaced out quite nicely, but being on the low end of that is not much fun.

Apprentice Red had the terribly low rolls described above and then got Mind Shield and Alter Ego for his powers. Alter Ego...sigh - it's basically roll up another character and you can switch between the two. We did and got more crappy physical attributes, decent mental attributes  - apparently that was just meant to be that night for Red - but got Elemental Control and Invulnerability as two of his powers. I let him flip a couple of attributes and he ended up with a somewhat Stephen Hawking - like scientist who spends time in a wheelchair (Strength 1! That's "Feeble" on the MSH scale!) but can activate his cybernetic implants and transform his wheelchair into an armored chariot (Invulnerability) that shoots electricity (Electric Control). This does weaken his natural willpower as the computer kicks in (WP drops from 8 to 6 we figured that might mean it's easier to hack his brain) but it protects him from mental attacks quite well (Mind Shield). This character went the farthest from zero to hero both mechanically and concept wise out of all of them and was a lot of fun to work through.

It was late and we were tired so qualities and complications were not nailed down but options were discussed and before we run them through our first adventure we will set them and then begin. I hope to start Atomic City: The Animated Series this coming weekend and I plan to file a full report.


bliss_infinte said...

Thanks for the post. I just picked up Icons a couple of weeks ago and have been debating between it and Mystery Men. Please post opinions about the sessions if you get to that point.

Blacksteel said...

I'm going to try and run it this weekend, I will let you know how it goes.