Friday, July 27, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vehicles in ICONS - Part 2 - Justice Wheels

I downloaded the first "Justice Wheels" from Fainting Goat a while back but at the time it only had the vehicle and the character inside. Recently they updated their supplements to add a few pages covering the Vehicle power and a set of chase rules. Seeing this I downloaded the updated version and looked it over after digging through the Marvel rules. Some thoughts:

Vehicle Rules:

  • I still don't like Prowess as an automatic part of every vehicle. Would a Corvette have a higher or lower prowess than a Smart Car? What about a cement truck? Then you get into aircraft and it gets even stranger. I just don't have a way to gauge a vehicle's natural hand-to-hand combat ability and I think it should just be rolled into a driving test when a driver wants to sideswipe or ram something.
  • Speed, Strength and Stamina make sense for pretty much any vehicle - that's pretty much the same trio of abilities that we get in MSH, less Type and Protection. 
  • Then we get Coordination as an innate ability, basically the handling ability of the vehicle. This makes some sense as Coordination is used as the relevant ability for things like driving and piloting tests, modified by any applicable specialties. With these rules, the vehicles Coordination is used instead of the character's, although it is still modified by applicable specialties. Then we are informed that this should also be used for attacking with any vehicle mounted weapons. Presumably the focus here is ranged weapons, and I can kind of see that, but it's a little messy. You would think that ramming something would be even more dependent on vehicle handling than firing a hood-mounted bazooka, but instead this is supposed to use a vehicle's Prowess - that's just messy to me. For myself, I'd drop Prowess and just give them all a Coordination stat and use that for all handling type tests and for any shooting that comes up and for any attempts to smack anything with the vehicle itself. I'd also add in the rule from Marvel that those kinds of tests would use the lower of either the driver's or the vehicle's Coordination.
  • As a power I do like it. To encourage their use I think that vehicle rules in superhero games should give back more points than they cost, with the consideration that the vehicle is not always present and can be lost or destroyed. These rules do that, giving some baseline options just for taking the power and then also including some notes on adding powers to the vehicle.

Chase Rules:

  • The simpler approach given is to use a Pyramid test with some of the optional rules added in. That works but it's not anything particularly innovative. My biggest beef is that it would be over in one or two rounds most likely and seems like a fairly mundane approach to what should be a memorable part of an adventure - a dramatic chase!
  • The more complex approach uses a custom set of chase rules which remind me a bit of some of the Savage Worlds chase rules and also a set of custom chase rules I ran across for Star Wars Saga Edition. Now when I say "complex" please realize that this is one page of rules - one page! - and is likely to be much more satisfying in play than "roll 4 successes and win". Pyramids are fine for handling some situations but for a dramatic chase sequence these are much much better. I'll be trying them out in play soon to verify my opinion and I'll cover them in my notes. 
So, is the search over? I think it might be! I'm willing to give up the separate Body/Protection ratings used in MSH to keep things a little simpler, and I'm going to drop Prowess too. I may keep Type though as it does help clarify things a bit when looking at some custom super-vehicle. Even with these changes I think the Marvel vehicle list will translate over just fine and that's where my personal campaign list will start. I think a front and back sheet with the chase rules on one side and a list of stock vehicles on the other is quite worthy as an addition to the campaign. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday Funny

Pretty busy but Apprentice Red found this on Facebook and I deemed it worth sharing:

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.