ICONS Review

Kevin, Troll, Kat, and CJ sit down to discuss their experiences with Steve Kenson’s ICONS. The end result was a bit of a mixed bag, check it out for details!

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5 Responses to “ICONS Review”

  1. Darktouch Says:

    Hey Guys,
    Thank you for this. With ICONS being the game that I’ve run the most recently I was particularly interested. I don’t know that I was particularly looking to hack the system so much as come up with a few tips or house rules for how to deal with the issues I’d had with it. My big issue was what you said about Determination points. I just never felt like I was giving enough out or getting the players to spend them enough.

    One thing I only found out recently was that Determined effort was likely built the way it was because it emulated the way Marvel Superheroes handled Karma expenditures. I haven’t played MSG since middle school so my memory of the specifics isn’t so good.

    Thanks again. I’m off to hunt down some of those ICONS hacks you mentioned.

  2. Juan Says:

    Thanks for the great podcast. I really enjoyed listening to it, and after hearing your experience I am investing in ICONS for my own play group.

    “Wuzzah?” I hear someone say. Failure problems, lack of Dedication (for the boosting mechanic), and lack of balance in character creation. Weren’t you listening?

    I was, but I heard a very different group than mine and I think I have a handle on some of the problems you had. (Note: I am an old fart, so even though I listen to your comics podcast to find out what current heroes are doing, I have great experience with the 70’s/Early80’s comics and the pulp reprints of the early 80’s from having lived through them.)

    Have you guys thought about the STYLE as opposed to the PERIOD conflict in this game? The more I listened to the inplay podcast, the more I thought that you had misstepped in creation for the ICONS experience.

    When you did Dresden files, your characters were closely related both to each other and to the opposition. I think that you really hit the mark in connecting the world to the game. What you did in the game could easily be written up as a story in the Dresden world.

    If you think back to the classic Golden age comics, though, the heroes and villains developed these long-running rivalry/competitions. The Golden age Batman didn’t once kill the Joker despite attempting to do more than once. And sometimes the heroes don’t really seem to be trying too hard. The pulp guys you mentioned always exposed themselves to leave villains a chance before killing them. How many times did Doc Savage try to give the villain a chance before he used the countertechnology he’d improvised to stop the villain in an explosion that wiped him out? Even the Shadow used to give them a good shot at him.

    To a large degree, your characters for this game were more like a Rainbow Six/Splinter Cell group of terrorists or antiterrorists, showing up to ruthlessly kill or cow the opposition than a golden age team. Where the Golden Age guys loudly say their piece before combat, your guys got stuck in downing the enemy. Your heat-sucking ninja (forgive the over simplification) did not do the posing and public agonizing about his powers that his Golden Age or Pulp equivalent would do. Where a golden age sick-making girl would have stupidly shown herself and announced her powers (making it possible for her to fail and be momentarily captured), you guys tended to take the modern approach. As a result, your failure events were “you miss” events.

    If you’ve ever played Feng Shui, a game with a similar die minus die mechanic and over the top action, you’ve seen that failing while doing some ridiculous impressive stunt and then having to deal with the consequences is very fun. A cinematic experience would be Indiana Jones trying to get across the put in the opening scene of Raiders. He fails the diplomacy check (So long, senor), then the leap, and has to scramble. Two or three failures make the eventual success more exciting. The key to failing in this kind of situation is to have the failure be [that didn’t work and now you’re in the frying pan] rather than [you miss].

    So I’m excited to try the system now with my group, who are generally a bunch of old amateur actors who love characters who pose, declare, and emote. This seems to be a nice blast back to the days of Villains and Vigilantes or Champions before the Harlick efficiency but with simpler and more social mechanics.

  3. Spakken Says:

    Although I’ve never played ICONS, I noticed that, early on you were all treating determination with the mindset of “Let the earth shake! I have determination points!” Later on, though, you were so hesitant to use determination and (if I kept track well enough) you simply did not have enough determination to stay in that mindset. I found it really weird that the mindset changed so drastically. Is that because of the different ways that determination could be used? Are they that wildly different?

  4. Kevin Weiser Says:

    Spakken: the simple answer is Determination didn’t really work in a way we could make much use of. At first we were confident because we assumed Determination worked similar to Fate or Hero Points, but after several failed attempts to use them in such a way, we became very disillusioned.

    Quite frankly, the actual situations where Determination would make a difference is very small. Determined Effort is very unintuitive, backwards even, and Focused Effort was really the only use for it we could find any traction with.

  5. John Reyst Says:

    Hey gang!

    I’m John Reyst, the original creator of d20pfsrd.com, the largest Pathfinder Roleplaying Game SRD (System Reference Document) site.

    I’ve started setting one up for MnM (3E) using the Open Game Content portions of the rules. I want this site to support and promote the Mutants and Masterminds game as d20pfsrd.com does for the Pathfinder game, by getting more people into the system by letting them see the system before they buy.

    Anyway, the site can be found at http://www.d20herosrd.com. It’s not 100% complete yet but it’s coming along nicely. I’ve gotten permission from Storn Cook (artist of many Champions art pieces) to include some of his art on the site also.

    I’d love to hear any comments pro or con about the site. You can email me at jreyst@gmail.com if you’ve got any thoughts!

    Thanks and good gaming all!

    –John

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