Friday, December 7, 2012

ICONS: State of the Game at the End of 2012

I've been a little quiet on this one lately but there is a lot happening now with ICONS. After a decent 2012 it looks like things are really ramping up for 2013. With Steve Kenson taking the game back under his control, and to successful kickstarters for a rules supplement (see above) and a setting supplement (Stark City!) it looks like a game that has a solid upside.

Note: All this is from the perspective of someone who plays the game (well, runs it but you get my point). I don't have any affiliation with  the people or the company who publish it, I just like it a lot.

So, what if someone was looking for a new superhero game to try out? One that handled all the things such a game is expected to handle, but isn't too complicated or too pricey to pick up - what's a good option? Let's take a look at what ICONS has:

  • The ICONS rulebook - it's 9.95 at DTRPG. That's a pretty good deal for a complete Superhero RPG
  • Need more? The Villianomicon is also $9.95 at DTRPG. It has some rules discussions, notes on things like natural diasaters, and about 100 pages of new villains. It's a solid choice to bulk up a campaign.
  • Interested in even more? TEAM-UP is ... well it's the black sheep of ICONS right now as it was supposed to release roughly a year ago and has not appeared. 

Speaking of not yet available, there are two more major supplements mentioned above:
  • Great Power is the forthcoming book on powers powers powers. I've looked at the playtest copy and it's a thorough treatment and examination of all of the powers in the game, plus some new ones, with recommendations on how to implement specific concepts within the broad framework of ICONS' mechanics.Get in on the Kickstarter and $10 gets you the PDF - that's a very good deal! 
  • Stark City is the forthcoming book (or series of books) on an original city setting for ICONS

Maybe there's an era you prefer, and want to know if there's any support out there for it:
  • Golden Age - Vigilance Press has a series of short adventures priced at $1 - one dollar! We've played several of them and they are easily an evening's worth of fun.
  • Silver Age - Fainting Goat Games has a series of adventures that are definitely Silver Age in spirit. They run from $1.99 to $3 or so. 
  • Modern Age - Ad Infinitum (taking over from Adamant this year) has a series of modern adventures that run from Silver-Ageish to Bronze Age. They run about $5 but tend to be a little longer than the others so they include more material at that price.

What else?
  • Well if you like vehicle-oriented characters Fainting Goat has the Justice Wheels line that features a character, their vehicle, and some alternate vehicle and chase rules, usually for a buck or three.
  • If you need more characters there are the Hero Packs from Ad Infinitum, which give stats, an illustration, and (most of the time) a background as well. Instant characters can be handy sometimes
  • If you're looking for archetypes, a discussion of those archetypes, and some sample characters for each one the Field Guide to Superheroes is a very cool set of books from Vigilance Press. 
  • Also, of course, there is the character bilker, er, "folio" from Ad Infinitum as well. generate a character in seconds!

So why am I plugging all of these things? Because:

1) It's a great superhero RPG, covering all of the elements in just enough detail to make it interesting, but lightly enough to keep it fast moving and understandable to new players, and younger players. This also makes it the greatest pick-up game I have ever seen.

2) It's a "light" game beyond just the rules - you don't need miniatures or a battlemat or a screen or even a printed rulebook as all of it is available as a PDF.

3) It's economical - You can pick up the rulebook and multiple adventures for less than $20 and be running a game within a day.

Side Benefit: If you have a lot of old Marvel Super Heroes stuff lying around, it is extremely easy to convert.

So many RPG lines require multiple books, certain trappings, and a fairly large outlay of cash to pick up and run. This one doesn't. If you're at all interested in the supers genre but were maybe put off by the complications of something like Champions or Mutants and Masterminds, this is the one! Risk that $10 and give it a try! Play it with your kids! Play it with your regular group on a night when not everyone shows up. It's a good game, and a fun game and it's definitely worth a look.


bliss_infinte said...

Hooray for ICONS!
Our golden age campaign this summer was a blast. Hopefully we'll kick it into the silver age this year. You're right about it being a great quick to learn rules lite game. The supplements that I've picked up are great fun. Always looking forward to Team-up and I may take a peek at Stark City.

Blacksteel said...

I'm hoping to work in some more of it myself during Xmas vacation with the kids. I may drag some of their friends in as well.

Matt Celis said...

But ALL the TSR Marvel Super Heroes material is available for FREE, so...? What makes Icons worth buying?

Blacksteel said...

Well, it's on sale as I write this at DTRPG for six bucks - that's not much to spend on a game. Beyond that I'd say:

- MSH is heavily flavored with Marvel stuff. If you want to start with your own universe I'd say it's easier with ICONS than MSH.

- It's lighter - no chart, no battlemaps, no counters/minis.

- It's supported by several active companies now, so if you like to see new stuff, say, adventures, it does have that advantage.

I like MSH just fine and would happily run/play it tomorrow - and if it answers all of your wants in a superhero game then there's no reason to buy any other game. However, if you already have it (since it is free) and you like Superhero RPG's, then to me ICONS is worth a look.

mikelaff said...

Thanks for waving the ICONS flag :)

Blacksteel said...

Thanks Mike - love the podcast and liking the adventures etc. too.