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Tell me about/sell me on Icons!

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  • Tell me about/sell me on Icons!

    I have absolutely zero (zip, zilch, nada-- you get the idea) experience with Icons. I played one of the Marvel systems WAY back in the day, got into Champs and form champs got into M&M. I'd like to know more as a completely new user.

    What can you tell me about it? What are the best features, what are the worst features? Are there actual plays that I can watch or listen to?

  • #2
    Re: Tell me about/sell me on Icons!

    Icons is not a point-buy supers system

    That is actually the biggest draw for me! In a lot of superhero games, you build your character powers using a pool of points. These are all great games, but they don't really simulate comic books - they simulate superpowers. When I read a comic I don't really care about how fast Superman is - he will get to his destination with the speed of the plot. Icons is one of the few supers games that doesn't bother with lifting power, total speed, encumberance.

    Furthermore, in, say, Champions or M&M when I'm playing a Fire Guy I need to carefully allocate my points. I spend the points on powers like Fire Control, Blast (with all apropriate modifiers) and Fire Aura - all that because when I want to create an illusion of fiery dragon to scare my opponents, cauterize the wound to help in healing, the GM could tell me 'You can't, you don't have Fear or Healing powers". In Icons I can do just that.

    Icons is about heroes, not powers

    Smallville RPG in many ways does it better, but in Icons I feel that the focus of the character is not his high stats or amazing powers, but his Qualities - (like Aspects from Fate), that describe him and his abilities. I don't have to fiddle with dozens of power points (not only because random roll is default), because what matters is the heroes' determination and player's creativity. My PC has Intellect 1 and a lot of stats below superhuman average - but it doesn' matter because he gets more determination and is equal to other more powerful heroes.

    Random roll means unusual inspiration

    When was the last time I played a caveman? Would one of my friends create a teenaged martial artist possessed by the ghost of the greatest kung-fu master of all time? Or a genetically engineered chicken lady? These characters wouldn't be out of place in many comics, back when they were fun.

    Don't get me wrong, I love M&M 2e, but I don't really play 3e nowadays, simply because Icons is simpler and more fun.


    • #3
      Re: Tell me about/sell me on Icons!

      Best features:

      -Qualities: 3 easy phrases that define your character and come into play surprisingly often. We found that these helped to add life to the action sequences.
      -Easy rules. Almost everything comes down to X+d6 vs. Y-d6, then you work in qualities, manuevers, and stuff for flavor and fun.
      -Rules to get the whole group involved in world building (if theyre into that).

      -Random hero generation can be fun but there is also a points buy system in the Assembled edition if you want to play heroes of your own design. IMO completely random is best for short games and such, but sometimes it can be annoying or feel more like a punishment (not everyone gets excited about playing a chicken lady... Especially when the guy next to rolls Shaggroth the Demi-god of Wrecking Stuff). As a creativity exercise, sure, it can be fun, but for a long term campaign I prefer to let my players have more control.

      Worst features:


      Hard to say. It really depends on your group and play style. I, for example, am a big golden/silver age comics fan and it's reflected in my writing and GMing, so the system works like a charm for me. I prefer more narration and creative roleplaying rather than precise die rolling and mathical calculations (I was previously a big Champions fan, but I've mellowed a good bit over the years). I like telling stories and letting the players find creative solutions.

      If you like lots of rules to thuroughly define what you can and can't do, it might not be for you. If you like to tweak and maximize your character to make sure you will mathematically win every fight, it's probably not for you.

      If you have a good roleplay group with a healthy love for comic book action and that enjoys creative dialogue combat rather than the "i hit him, he hits me, i hit him, he hits me, someone falls down" games.... then this game might be for you.
      Last edited by DrThink; 08-24-2014, 02:04 PM.