Friday, September 9, 2011

ICONS Friday Special - Adamantium Man!

It's been pretty a supers-intensive week on the blog here so I thought I would close things out right - with a new character for ICONS:


Theme Music, to the tune of the Fox NFL Sunday Theme 

Ad-a-man-ti-um Maaaaaaan!
Ad-a-man-ti-um Maaaaaaan!
Ad a man ti um Maaaa-aaaaan!

Ad-a-man ad-a-man ad-a-mantium
Ad-a-man ad-a-man ad-a-mantium

Ad a man ti um Maaaa-aaaaan !

(I always thought it was odd that the "strongest metal in the universe" was used for weapons and skeletal enhancement but never for a straight-up brick. So I decided to fix that oversight.)

The hero now known as Adamantium Man began life in a small Nebraska farming town. Matthew Thorsen was the middle son out of the three boys and the daughter born to the Thorsens in the late 20th century. Raised on the family farm he had a normal country upbringing and grew into a strapping young man. As a teenager he did the expected things in high school like playing football and working on the family farm. It was a good life and the next big thing on the horizon for Matt was a decision on college.

There weren't many superheroes in Nebraska - most of that stuff was confined to the east and west coasts* - so he never really thought about good and evil and worldwide dangers. When he was 16 though, things changed - at a post-game party on a Friday night in the fall there was some drinking and when Matt and his girlfriend staggered over to his beat-up red F-150 he was feeling it but thought he would be OK. He was not entirely correct.

Headed home down a road he had driven many, many times, Matt came around a curve towards the old bridge and swerved when he saw a cow in the road - the Higgins family was bad about keeping that stupid gate closed - he slid off the road, down an  embankment and into the creek as his girlfriend Lacey screamed in terror.

As the truck headed for a rough water landing Matt felt a change come over him - suddenly he was stone cold sober, and time seemed to slow as he felt a surge push through him and the steering wheel crumpled in his hands. He threw his left arm straight out against the dashboard and his right shot out in front of Lacey, bracing her against the crash. As the truck slammed into the opposite bank the hood crumpled and the airbag burst around his arm, but Matt remained rock solid, holding the dash back and keeping Lacey protected. Feeling as though he was watching someone else, Matt pushed open the door, splashed out into the creek, and pulled the truck up onto the road. As he came around to the passenger side, he realized his girlfriend was staring at him wide-eyed. He assumed it was shock from the crash, but she managed to get out "you look different" before locking up again.

Looking down Matt realized that he had changed - his skin was now a dull gray color and hard - hard like metal. he had been pretty strong for a while now but moving the truck was like picking up a chair, it took barely any effort at all. Something had changed and he wasn't sure it was good. That's when Lacey came around the battered truck and kissed him and suddenly things went back to normal. He collapsed to his knees, shaking, but flooded with relief as his skin went back to its normal look and feel.

Pa didn't ask him too many questions, and they decided not to bring it up with the Sheriff as no one had been injured. He spent the fall fixing the truck back up and riding to school with Lacey. He also practiced changing into his "metal man" form and gradually learned to control it, enabling him to continue his football career without revealing his secret. Lacey was the only other one who knew his secret and it brought them even closer together. Not wanting to disrupt his life, he never used his ability again - he just practiced, "just in case."

Eventually high school was finished and it was time to head for college. Lacey was staying close to home but Matt won a scholarship to Atomic City University.**  Promising each other it would only be for a few years and that they would see each other on holidays the two split up and moved to the next stage of their lives. Matt moved west, went to class, got a job at the farmer's market, and moved into an apartment on campus, all while playing football for ACU.   

The city was different than his home, and there were some things to get used to, but one thing that bothered him was that there were several heroes with powerful abilities running around town fighting crime and helping people. They kept their identities secret, but they still found ways to help out. Matt was very concerned about endangering his family, but if he could figure out a way to protect them and still contribute, then maybe it was time he used his ability to do something. Between classes one day Matt heard some theater students carrying on in some outrageous accents and realized that might be the key - his build, his haircut, and his Nebraska manner of speaking might all give him away but if he dressed in an outlandish costume (as many of these heroes seemed to do), stayed in his metal form when in public, and used a different accent, then it should be enough to conceal his identity!

The next day, a new hero went into action. Donning a red costume he made himself and using a vaguely Russian/Eastern European accent that he had been practicing night and day (though not around his friends) he walked into a street where Ogre was raising a ruckus, caught the bus that was thrown his way, and then proceeded to beat the incredibly strong villain into the ground. Ogre's henchmen opened up on him with various firearms, of course, and as the bullets and super-strong punches bounced off one local reporter commented "wow it's like he's made of adamantium" and the hero was truly born - Adamantium Man! 

Following his debut Matt continues to go to class, play football, and fight the good fight in between. He is not part of any organized team or group, though he has teamed up with a few other local heroes on occasion and he always welcomes the chance to work with a more experienced partner. His theme music came about when he saved a local radio personality and in gratitude a YouTube video was born that was very popular. After his original costume was trashed Doctor Science was kind enough to provide him with a new one made of the same super-material many of the city's heroes use. He is very careful to use his accent when "on the job" and he keeps a gym bag stashed somewhere so that he can change into his normal self before heading home, hoping to throw off any pursuit. When interviewed he is vague about his origins, just stating that "he came here to make the best use of his abilities" and keeping it short. He's not sure what he's going to do when he finishes school, but that's a ways in the future - for now Atomic City is his home and he's going to do what he can to help out.

* As his Pa once said - "not sure why that is but it's alright because they sure seem to need the help."

** Or to the local university wherever your campaign is played 

Adamantium Man for ICONS: 

  • Prowess: 4 (Good) He is not a trained fighter, just a kid who's been in some scraps and plays football
  • Coordination: 4 (Good) He is a college athlete but he does not have super-human reflexes
  • Strength: 8 (Amazing) This is one of his two signature powers - he is immensely strong, possibly the strongest being in the city...for now
  • Intellect: 4 (Good) He's a sharp kid and a good student
  • Awareness: 4 (Good) He's young and an athlete and somewhat nervous about becoming a local hero. He stays on his toes.
  • Willpower: 5 (Excellent) He's been through a few things and does not give in easily, staying true to his roots.

Stamina: 13
Determination: 2

Origin: Birthright (1 extra power)

Specialties: Athletics, Farming


  • Invulnerability - 8 - He turns into the strongest metal in the universe 
  • Leaping - 5 - His super strength lets him jump quite a long ways 
  • Life Support - 5 - In metal form he is protected from some effects: Cold, Heat, Pressure, Radiation, Vaccuum and yes, he still has to breathe.

"Farmboy in the City": Matt is Not From Here and doesn't know the city like the back of his hand. He also doesn't always get what people mean either due to language, accents, or just not growing up in the city.

Code Against Killing: he's fine with administering a beatdown to someone who is asking for it, but he is not going to kill someone - that's for the law to decide.

Connections: Family Back Home, Girlfriend Back Home, Coach & Team Mates Here

Secret: Identity as Matt Thorsen, college student and football player, covered by a costume and a fake accent

Brand New Hero: Adamantium Man is very new at this and has no mentor to teach him. He doesn't know who the major villains are or what kind of powers they have and he doesn't know much about his fellow heroes either. He might get into a mix-up and end up fighting a fellow hero or he might insult a villain just be being ignorant of his grandiose plans and history. He doesn't know much about courts, laws, police procedures, or following clues either. Imagine someone picking up an Avengers or Justice League comic for the first time and trying to figure out who is what, powers, continuity, locations, etc. He's living that.

In human form his strength drops to Excellent (5) and he loses his powers. I could have worked this out as an alter-ego but it's really not a different person, juts a shift into super-form, kind of like changing costumes or suiting up for a battlesuit hero. It could also have been handled as Density Increase, but that kills his Agility and I didn't want that.

He works out to 49 points, which is close to the recommended value. He is not a complicated character at all in play, but he is easily dropped in for a new player to use or for someone who forgot their sheet, or as an NPC ally. His background gives him a few quirks and the accent thing could be fun as could the New Hero aspect. That much background (up above) does violate my usual policy of "give me a paragraph at most" but super characters tend to need more of that kind of thing and I always like to know the origin story of an NPC - it might come in handy to tie them closer to a PC or something in the world.

Yes, he started out as an homage character (I have more than a few) but then he took on a life of his own as I began working on background ... "sure, he has a Russian accent - but what if he's not Russian?" Letting your brain wander off down these rabbit trails can turn up a lot of bad ideas but sometimes they end up making sense. "Nebraska Farm Boy" is not the most exciting background but I think it's pretty solid and whether as a PC or an NPC his attitude might range from "Gosh what's that" to "I don't care if it's from another planet or dimension or whatever, when I hit it, it's going down". Let your PC's have the exotic backgrounds and let him represent the more grounded hero.


Jeremy said...

He wasn't hit by a truck, he saved his little snowflake from a runaway tractor! ^_^

Oops. Wrong guy.

Barking Alien said...

Heh. I like this guy. Middle American Colossus. Very cute.

Benjamin said...

Sweet. Adamantium Man seems like a classic silver-age hero. I could see the Colossus homage right away, and you handled it very nicely. The pictures are from City Of Heroes, yes?

I homaged Colossus a little bit in my own Iron Will character for Champions Online, a game you might want to check out if you like City Of Heroes. I'm doing a Let's-Play over at if I may be so bold as to invite you to check out my own blog. Adamantium Man would fit right in, and it's free to play.

I admit with some embarrassment that I haven't heard of the ICONS system before. Are there print books of it, or is it an entirely-online thing?

Mick said...

Ultron is made of adamantium!

Blacksteel said...

BA - Yep, and to make it less complicated someone could drop the accent thing and just keep the secret ID. I think it would work just fine. I mostly put it in to give him a "wrinkle" that stands out a little - and to give myself a reason to use a bad accent.

Benjamin - yeah I'm mainly a SIlver to Bronze kind of guy - I like a little cheesiness and you don't have to explain the cape & tights.

I do play Champs online and I've used a few of those screenshots before. The April all-characters month had a few I believe. I like it, just not quite as much as COH. I will check out the blog though.

ICONS is a tabletop superhero RPG. It's very light when it comes to rules so it makes it easy to pick up and play. The publisher is at

Mick: You're correct, but he's not really a classic brick like Thing, Hulk, Colossus etc. Plus he's a villain and I was aiming more at heroes.

That does bring up a point though - If I was being entirely faithful to the Adamantium = unbreakable concept, A-Man should probably have Invulnerability 10. I don't really like the unhurtable character though as in-game it rapidly becomes the solution to every problem - "let the invulnerable guy do it" and the DM has to start bringing in all kinds of weird situations to offset that. Invuln 8 is a lot more playable for everyone, so that's where I ranked him. If he was going to be an enemy, or even just an annoying rival NPC, then go ahead and crank that up to 10 and run with it.