Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vehicles in ICONS

This is one area where ICONS has not thrilled me. Being a bit of a gear head I like to have some kind of rules for vehicles, or at least a way to stat them up. This cropped up right at the beginning with the battlesuit in Skeletron Key and the lack of definition on it - is it a enhancement to the pilot's stats, or should it have its own statline like a giant robot? The adventure tried to have it both ways and I didn't like that answer. Since then I've seen one approach that just statted up vehicles the same as characters - that seems both counterintuitive in some ways and it feels like overkill. The first Justice Wheels gave a car Prowess, Coordination, Strength, and Stamina and that just doesn't click for me - Prowess? Is that tied to handling in some way? Is size a factor? So far none of these are doing it for me.

Then I realized that I needed to go to the source - quite a bit of ICONS comes from the Marvel Super Heroes RPG, so why not go back and look at how that game handled vehicles? Brilliant! Then I realized I packed that shelf up 3 days prior. Dern.

But wait! Packing up a completely different shelf I ran across my half-completed MSH binder - yeah, I had some plans for it - and look - inside it were the MSH Advanced Player's Book and the Advanced DM's Book! Excellent!

So anyway: MSH (Advanced Rules anyway) vehicles have 6 attributes:

  • Type - Air, Road, Water, Off-Road, GEV, Rail, Space - just a broad categorization with some impact on how it interacts with the environment
  • Cost - not terribly important in ICONS, this is the rank for a Resources roll in MSH to buy one
  • Control - Now we're getting somewhere. When an operator tries to perform a maneuver they have to make a control roll using the vehicles Control or the character's Agility, whichever is less. There are many maneuver examples given, many affected by the Type of the vehicle and failure on one of these rolls means the vehicle enters a state known as "Out of Control".
  • Speed - This is the maximum safe speed of the vehicle (in MSH ranks)
  • Body - This is the toughness of the vehicle and is used to resist damage
  • Protection - This is the level of protection given to passengers in or on the vehicle. On enclosed vehicles damage would have to exceed the Body of the vehicle to affect the passengers, who would then treat the protection rating as body armor against that damage. I don't want to get into rules too much in this post but there are a lot of degree of success measurements tied up in this as well.

I think that's a pretty solid set of stats for ICONS too:  
  • Type is basically unchanged 
  • Cost - we pretty much drop Cost
  • Control stays as-is and is used when it's lower than the Coordination of the operator. 
  • Speed would be rated in ICONS ranks which are pretty broad - Super Speed 7 is Mach 1
  • Body would be probably best be equated to Strength but there may be enough exceptions to make that a bad idea. It's a start though. This would be used for resisting physical attacks 
  • Protection would be treated as ranks of Invulnerability
Then of course we could add powers and such to a vehicle as well. They should probably cost less than powers on a character since the vehicle won't always be available but it might be easier to just let the player decide which of the powers they roll up are part of themselves and which ones are part of a vehicle and then make it a quality as this has upsides and downsides both. I could probably be talked into 5 or 10 points of powers for free if someone decides to take one. I'd do the same deal for a sidekick too, so why not a vehicle?

So using this model here are some conversions from MSH:

Sedan - Type: Road, Control 3, Speed 4, Body 4, Protection 2
Sports Car - Type Road, Control 5, Speed 6, Body 2, Protection 2
Tank - Type Off-Road, Control 5, Speed 3, Body 7, Protection 6 (includes tank cannon and an MG)
Blimp - Type Air, Control 1, Speed 2, Body 1, Protection 0
Motorboat - Type Water, Control 5, Speed 5, Body 3, Protection 2

Now I'm not sure we really need Protection as a separate stat but in MSH attackers have the option to attack either the vehicle or the passengers and that might be a good thing to keep, in which case Protection does make sense as a separate attribute. I'm going to take a little time to dig through the rules and see how well they translate over. In MSH vehicles take damage differently from characters - PC's have a hit point type mechanic while vehicles do not - they degrade due to damage losing speed ranks (for example) until they become immobile. I think it might be OK to port that over directly but I want to play with it first. Plus there needs to be a little mechanical complication to ensure the Average Man at Strength 3 can't punch the Body 2 Sports Car and wreck it when it's parked. I think the Material Strength table will help with that but I need to look into it too.

So there's a starter kit on how we stat up vehicles for the game. Next I plan to look into the Advanced MSH rules for maneuvers and combat and damage and see how they work. Hopefully I will get to that and post it up before Team-Up comes out and settles the question first.

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