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ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
 
Pay What You Want
Average Rating:4.4 / 5
Ratings Reviews Total
47 10
21 3
11 3
2 1
0 0
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
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ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/14/2014 03:31:47
http://www.teilzeithelden.de/2014/03/14/rezension-icons-supe-
rpowered-roleplaying/

Nominiert als Bestes Spiel, Bester Newcomer und Bestes Regelwerk 2011! So ein Rollenspiel muss doch der Überflieger sein. Im Falle eines Comic-Rollenspiels darf man das sogar wortwörtlich nehmen. Wir werfen einen Blick auf ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying vom bekannten Mutant & Masterminds-Macher Steve Kenson.


Die Spielwelt

ICONS ist ein reines Regelwerk, welches vordergründig auf eine Spielwelt verzichtet und stattdessen den Spielleiter dazu auffordert seine eigene Welt zu erschaffen. Im hinteren Teil werden aber eine Reihe von Helden und Bösewichten vorgestellt, welche mit Abenteuerideen versehen wurden. Gerade bei einer Superhelden-Comic-Umsetzung ist eine voll ausgearbeitete Spielwelt aber auch von eher geringerem Interesse, da man sich in der Regel darauf beschränken kann, sich auf eine zeitliche Epoche (z.B.: 60er Jahre, Gegenwart, Nahe Zukunft,…) festzulegen. Die beschriebenen Charaktere und Bösewichte sind eher humorvoll zu nehmen und lehnen sich nicht an bekannte Protagonisten von Marvel oder DC an.

Die Regeln

ICONS setzt auf Einfachheit, entsprechend werden lediglich W6 verwendet. Um einen gewissen Bereich des Wahrscheinlichen zu konstruieren, nutzt das System ein Plus-Minus-System, der zweite Würfel wird also vom ersten subtrahiert (genannt The Dice).
Wie in vielen Adaptionen von Fudge und FATE üblich, werden Werte benannt. Also anstatt Stärke 6 gegen eine Tür der Stärke 3, versuche ich mit beachtlicher Stärke eine durchschnittliche Tür einzurennen. Das funktioniert meistens ganz gut, aber ob nun „Fantastic“, „Amazing“ oder „Great“ besser ist, erschließt sich mit letzter Sicherheit wohl nur Muttersprachlern, so dass man schlussendlich doch wieder beim Ansagen von Zahlenwerten hängenbleibt.


Proben laufen in der Regel immer nach dem Schema Attribut + The Dice, dazu kommen Situations-Modifikationen. Übersteigt das Ergebnis die vom Spielleiter aufgestellte Schwierigkeit, gilt der Versuch als erfolgreich. Je nachdem, um wieviel die Probe gelungen ist, wird der Effekt ausgeschmückt.

Beispiel:
Firebug hat eine exzellente Intelligenz (5) und versucht eine beachtliche (6) Verschlüsselung zu knacken. Da er unter Druck steht, erhält er einen Malus von 1. Er würfelt 6 und 1. Ein Topergebnis! Damit hat er

Intelligenz(5) + Würfel 1(6) – Würfel 2(1) – Schwierigkeit(6) – Malus(1) = 3

Laut Liste ist eine 3 ein „Major Success“, was bedeutet, dass er die Verschlüsselung knackt und den Inhalt versteht. Mit 5 oder mehr hätte er sogar einen „secondary benefit“ erhalten, also vielleicht denjenigen rausbekommen, der hinter der Verschlüsselung steckt.

Man sieht, dass die dahinterliegende Mathematik nicht über die Maße schwer ist, aber man doch einiges hin und herrechnen muss. Das obere Beispiel zeigt aber auch, dass unter bestimmten Umständen ein „Massive Success“ gar nicht möglich ist, da es keine Möglichkeit gibt, dass Würfe explodieren und sich so zufällig ungewöhnlich hoch oder tief verhalten.

Erwähnenswert ist dabei, dass die Spielleitung selbst nie würfelt. Bei einer Attacke überwinden die Helden einen fixen Wert des Gegners und bei der Gegenwehr widersetzen sich die Helden einem fixen Angriffswert.

Charaktererschaffung

Charaktere werden in ICONS nicht klassisch erstellt, sondern erwürfelt. Und zwar in jeder Hinsicht. Zwar gibt es ein optionales Generierungssystem basierend auf Punkten, dieses ist aber weit weniger lustig und auch nur mäßig gut ausbalanciert.
Im ersten Schritt wird die Herkunft des Helden ermittelt, die kann alles zwischen „Trainierter Mensch“ bis zu „Überirdisch“ sein. Je nachdem was man würfelt, bekommt man später eine Mischung aus Vor- und Nachteilen. Optional kann man diesen Schritt auch überspringen.
Schritt Zwei umfasst das Ermitteln der sechs Attribute (Tapferkeit, Koordination, Kraft, Intelligenz, Bewusstsein, Willenskraft), dabei liegt der Durchschnitt bei 5, was schon gehobenen menschlichen Werten entspricht. Sollte man insgesamt keine 20 Punkte erhalten, darf man neu würfeln. Nach der Ermittlung können lediglich zwei Werte getauscht werden, um den Charakter etwas an die eigenen Vorstellungen anzupassen.
Es folgt das Auswürfeln der Powers oder Superfertigkeiten, diese umfassen gut 30 Seiten und decken damit so ziemlich alles ab, was man in Superhelden-Comics entdeckt haben könnte.
Das Fertigkeitssystem ist denkbar einfach und stellt lediglich die Talente dar, die der Held besonders gut beherrscht, also bei einer Anwendung einen kleinen Bonus erhält.

Als FATE-Derivat kennt ICONS natürlich auch Aspekte, diese werden Determination (Bestimmung) genannt. Dabei kann es sich um Beinamen („Die Menschliche Fackel“) oder Slogans („Ich bin Batman!“), aber eben auch eine Schwäche („Kryptonit“) handeln. Die Verwendung dieser Aspekte wird recht feingliedrig zerlegt und macht das Spiel leider etwas blätterintensiv. Das hätte man einfacher bzw. freier regeln können. An dieser Stelle greift auch das einzige Balancing des Systems ein: Je mehr Superfähigkeiten, desto weniger Determination-Punkte. Anders als ein FATE-Aspekt kann eine Determination aber nicht jederzeit genutzt werden, sondern nur, wenn man an etwas scheitert, würfelt oder ähnliches. Ergo: Es ist eher eine Reaktions- aber keine Aktionsmöglichkeit.

Insgesamt ist das Erstellungssystem wirklich ganz spaßig, wenn man sich darauf einlässt. Das Ganze hat aber zur Folge, dass es schwierig ist ein Team mit den typischen Archetypen (Tank, Healer, Brain, …) zu füllen, sondern man mehr improvisieren muss. Die Charaktere sind definitiv nur unzureichend ausbalanciert und so kann der naive Schwächling mit einer Fertigkeit schnell neben dem superfitten Megabrain mit fünf Supermächten stehen.
Dass man sehr viel würfelt (im Schnitt 20x) und hin und herblättern muss, ist nicht jedermanns Sache. Vor allem, wenn man in der Gruppe seine Charaktere erstellt, sollte man sich darauf beschränken seine Fertigkeit nur zu notieren und sich diese erst später im Detail durchzulesen.

Spielbarkeit aus Spielleitersicht

ICONS spielt sich als Spielleitung leider etwas steril, denn diese würfelt nicht und hat auch keine Möglichkeit auf „Determination“ als Ressource der Bösewichte zurückzugreifen. Damit hat man kaum eine Möglichkeit in das Spielgeschehen einzugreifen. Spielführung verkommt so schnell zu Spielverwaltung. Und auch wenn man immer sagen kann, dass ja die Spieler ihren Charakter an die Wand gefahren haben, so kennt es doch fast jeder SL, dass man hier und da einfach mal Gnade vor Recht ergehen lässt und einen Würfelwurf absichtlich danebensetzt: ICONS bietet diese Möglichkeit nicht.
Auf der anderen Seite muss man sich recht gut vorbereiten, da ein Gegner oder Hindernis sehr schnell zu leicht oder zu schwer werden kann, wenn er nicht auf die Charaktere abgestimmt ist.
Darüber hinaus fällt gerade als SL schnell auf, dass ICONS mit sehr rudimentären Regeln daherkommt. Fahrzeuge oder die Herstellung von Gegenständen, die gerade in vielen Comics eine große Rolle spielen, muss man stattdessen improvisieren. Waffen oder Rüstungen als solche gibt es nicht, diese sind wenn dann ein Aspekt des Charakters.

Der Spielleiterteil als solcher bietet kaum etwas Neues, sondern befasst sich hauptsächlich mit den Grundprinzipien des Spielleitens. Für Anfänger sicherlich gut, für Fortgeschrittene bietet es aber zu wenig Informationen, die sich speziell auf das Genre beziehen.

Die Auflistung der Bösewichte ist gut gemacht und bietet eine Vielzahl an Abenteuerideen. Voll ausgearbeitete Szenarien gibt es dagegen nicht, lediglich die zwei Seiten „The Wages of Sin!“ bieten einen guten Ansatz, um loszuspielen. Der eine oder andere Bösewicht ist nett gemacht, würde beim Einsatz aber vielleicht eher zum Lächeln anregen, denn wie eine Bedrohung wirken.

Spielbarkeit aus Spielersicht

Wenn man sich auf das Abenteuer der Charaktererstellung mal eingelassen hat, dann spielt sich ICONS erstaunlich flüssig. Das Regelsystem ist nicht unnötig kompliziert und schnell verinnerlicht.
Dass ICONS bestimmte Aspekte der Regeln umbenannt hat, gerade im Kampf, ist zwar der Comic-Adaption geschuldet, nimmt aber hier und da die Geschwindigkeit aus der Action, da nicht jeder sofort im Kopf hat, dass eine Aktion ein Bild und eine Runde eine Seite ist. Gerade in Zeiten, wo viele mit Comics doch eher Kino-Blockbuster verbinden, etwas antiquiert.
Das Regelsystem ist eingängig gemacht und die Würfelmechnik hat man schnell raus. Die Rechenarbeit lässt sich locker im Kopf machen. Da sich jeder Wert um +/- 5 verändern kann, ist man selbst mit extremen Werten nie hundertprozentig auf der sicheren Seite. Dennoch ist das Risiko intuitiv einschätzbar.
Etwas schade ist das Fehlen eines Erfahrungssystems. Das optionale Verbesserungssystem setzt lediglich darauf, dass ein Held unter bestimmten Umständen seine Basis-Determination in Powerstunts, Supermächte oder Ressourcen umwandeln kann. Da sich diese wiederum aus den schon vorhandenen Powers bestimmt (siehe Charakterentwicklung), führt diese bestenfalls dazu, dass im Laufe der Zeit alle Charaktere auf ein ähnliches Niveau gehoben werden. Wer aber mächtig beginnt, kann sich nicht weiterentwickeln. Als wirklichen Nachteil möchte ich dies aber nicht werten, da Charakterentwicklung in der Mehrzahl der bekannten Superhelden-Spiele keine große Rolle spielt.
Wie alle Spiele, die auf Aspekten basieren, um Vorteile zu erkaufen, leidet auch ICONS etwas unter einem bestimmten Problem: Man ist schnell versucht, jedes Hindernis so umzuinterpretieren, dass es durch die passenden Aspekte überwunden werden kann.

Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis

Derzeit ist ICONS für gerade mal 10 USD erhältlich. Dafür erhält man ein in sich stimmiges Regelwerk oder zu mindestens eine gute Regelbasis. Das Artwork kann mit vielen Fanwerken bekannter Systeme kaum mithalten, aber zu dem Preis ist das okay. Für die ursprünglichen 30 USD hätte ich hier deutlich mehr erwartet.
Wie schon das Schwesterprodukt „Mutants & Masterminds“ setzt ICONS auf die Strategie der Micro-Veröffentlichung. Das heißt, es erscheinen Unmengen an Erweiterungen von geringem Umfang (wenige Seiten) zu einem nicht all zu hohen Preis. In Summe kann dies aber sehr teuer werden, wenn man als Sammler alle Veröffentlichungen haben möchte. Leider gibt es auch bislang kaum interessante Bundles.

Erscheinungsbild

ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying wird ausschließlich als PDF ausgeliefert, enthalten sind sowohl eine schlanke, als auch eine hochauflösende Version, je nachdem, ob man das Werk am Monitor, im Druck oder gar auf dem Tablett/E-Book-Reader genießen möchte. Die 128 Seiten sind durchgehend farbig hinterlegt und enthalten eine Vielzahl an Superhelden-Illustrationen von Dan Hauser. Der Stil erinnert entfernt an den von Fate2Go, ist aber wesentlich schlichter gehalten. Die Schrift ist angenehm groß, das kostet auf der einen Seite Platz, ist dafür aber auch im doppelseitigen Broschürendruck noch gut zu lesen.

Auf dem E-Book-Reader (getestet: Sony PRS-T1 und Tolino) funktioniert die normale Version sehr schnell und bietet allen Komfort eines gut designten PDF, wie z.B. ein sehr detailliertes Inhaltsverzeichnis. Verlinkungen innerhalb des Textes gibt es leider nicht. Auch auf einen Index oder ein Glossar wurde verzichtet.

Insgesamt ist das Layout zweckmäßig, auch wenn die Illustrationen irgendwie etwas zu simpel daherkommen. Sie geben dem Werk einen leicht „billigen“ Anstrich.


Bonus/Downloadcontent

ICONS bietet neben dem Grundregelwerk noch eine ganze Reihe von Erweiterungen, die meistens Helden oder Bösewichte abhandeln. Dazu gibt es einige Abenteuer. Diese liegen preislich zwischen 5 und 8 USD für um die 20 Seiten Inhalt.
Wer mal einen Blick auf die Charaktererstellung werfen möchte, kann sich das kostenlose Hero Creation Quick-Sheet anschauen.
Mit der Erweiterung „Great Power“ liefert ICONS übrigens auch vollständige Conversion-Regeln für Fate Core von Evil Hat Productions.

Fazit

Um den Teaser aufzulösen: ICONS war in drei Kategorien der ENnie Awards 2011 nominiert, hat aber keine gewonnen, hier hat gleich zweimal Dresden Files dazwischengefunkt, was natürlich nichts über den persönlichen Spielspaß aussagt, den man mit ICONS haben kann. Aber kommen wir zum Fazit:
Noch nie lag ein Rezensionsexemplar so lange auf meinem Schreibtisch und warte darauf, abgearbeitet zu werden. Mehrfach versuchte ich mich daran, mich in das System einzuarbeiten, aber so richtet fesseln wollte es mich einfach nicht. ICONS ist kein schlechtes System, so ist das nicht, aber es vermag sich auch nicht positiv von den Mitbewerbern abzusetzen. Vielleicht waren die Erwartungen durch die enormen Vorschusslorbeeren etwas überzogen. Mich ganz persönlich konnte ICONS leider nicht überzeugen, da die Regeln von zu vielen anderen Systems gut abgedeckt werden und auf der anderen Seite kein interessantes Setting Lust aufs Spielen macht.

Generell kann ich ICONS Spielern empfehlen, die bereit sind eine Welt auf Nichts aufzubauen und sich dabei nicht davor scheuen, die doch teilweise wagen Regeln zu interpretieren. Klassischen Old-School-Spielern, die für jede Situation eine Regel benötigen, rate ich dagegen von ICONS dringend ab.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Yoav E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/07/2013 02:43:25
This game is great for silly, fun super heroic action, and presumably can be used for non-silly ones, though it'll require a bit of tinkering. It is rules-light, which is great for new players or for one-timers.
While being light, it still has some awesome mechanics (anything and everything dealing with Determination, really) - but some of them are very difficult to use while running a one-time, because they require either diverting attention or knowing the characters Challenges really well.

I am definitely pleased, and will use this for a few one timers and mini-campaigns.

Great fun was had.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/25/2013 12:50:07
This is one of the best "simple" game systems I've ever seen. With nods to the old FASERIP "Marvel Super Heroes" system, but with a far better dice mechanic, it plays fast and fun, and avoids long dice-rolling exercises in an effort to keep the story moving in a fast and fun manner. I like that as a GM, I don't even have to roll - the players make all the die tests. The art is simple, clean and fun, with a "Saturday Morning Cartoon" feel. Sure, it lacks the "meat" of a game like CHAMPIONS, but in this day and age, I don't have time to run 8-hour combats. This is a great system for a 4-5 hour session!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Matthew K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/26/2012 11:20:01
I was very surprised to see the M&M writer as the author of this game. Now don't get me wrong, it is nothing like M&M and I think that's a good thing in terms of providing something to the gaming market that is different. Maybe I'm crazy, but I did not see that much new stuff in this game. This game looked to me, especially in terms of character creation, as nothing more than the old FASERIP Marvel system using numbers instead of names for the different power and attribute levels. And let's face it, saying that your Brick has "Monstrous Strength" was one of the cool things about playing the FASERIP system. Interestingly, the author even says that you can use names instead of numbers for the attribute and power levels, and even gives some examples and many of them are dead-on exact matches for the same power/attribute level in FASERIP. Go figure! In all fairness, there are some clever additions or changes to the classic FASERIP design, especially in terms of cleaning up and simplifying some of the powers. There is also a cool mechanism for creating super teams, but some of this information too is included in the old Marvel game. He even uses the terms "Slam" and "Stun" as combat outcomes. Really!?

It is not a bad game at all, and I actually like the artwork and presentation just fine. I'm sure it plays quickly, character creation is a snap, and it's a lot of fun ... but why wouldn't it do all these things, FASERIP sure did that! There are a couple of very clever game mechanisms and the author writes clearly and the text is to the point. My problem is that I wanted something new and different, and for $14.95 I was hoping to get something more than just FASERIP with numbers rather than the cool names for the powers and attribute levels, which is all this game looks like to me.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2012 15:03:42
ICONS is a rules-light superhero system based off the FUDGE and FATE systems. It is a success ranking system where the dice become modifiers to a character’s Abilities instead of the character’s Abilities being a modifier to the dice roll. These modifiers are determined by using 2d6 where one dice is a positive modifier and the other is a negative modifier. By adding the two dice together, you receive the first modifier for the action being taken with the second modifier being that action’s difficulty level. What you get is a character who is destined to succeed more often than not with that success gauging the actions effect. The net value of the character’s Abilities including both modifiers produces a number that is compared to the never-changing success ranking system that starts at 0. The better the result, the more incredible the character’s success producing increasingly improved outcomes. Pretty simple if you think about it.

The system is quite fitting for a superhero game as it improves one’s chances for success and adding a measurement of how well they succeed. However, only player’s get to use these mechanics as Game Masters do not roll any dice. Actions from a super-villain are gauged by how well the superhero defends. The higher the success on the defensive maneuver, the further reduced that super-villains action becomes. It is definitely a superhero-centric game, designed to reproduce comic books from the Golden and Silver ages.

OVERALL

ICONS is an excellent system that harkens back to the old school design of comic books from the Golden and Silver ages. Storylines are short and more often than not the superhero overcomes the villain within the pages of a single issue. Additionally, the superhero always seems to make it look easy and no matter what, succeeds in his or her efforts. This is what ICONS is recreating and its mechanics are designed around that feeling. Instead of slapping a theme onto the mechanics, the theme was designed into the mechanics. Even the terminology matches the theme! While it may be limited in an adventure’s look and feel, it definitely does what it aims to do. If you’re a fan of old school Spider Man, Avengers, or Justice League of America, this is the game that will allow you to recreate your favorite comics.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
ICONS is a beautiful book. All superheros and villains are designed in this very traditional coloring manner found in four-color, Golden Age, and early Silver Age comics. While this may seem cheesy, it’s a perfect fit for the theme and design of the system’s mechanics. ICONS is designed to recreate those old comic books and the illustrations only support that theme. In addition, the book’s layout and formatting is easy to read and very pleasing to the eyes. It is a perfectly designed book and really utilizes the digest format to the best of its ability.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
There is one slight drawback to ICONS‘ mechanics to fans of superhero role-playing games: the system centers around the superheroes. How is this different? The superheroes are essentially over-the-top characters who rarely fail and the mechanics are designed around their action and superior abilities instead of spending more time considering the overall setting and a lengthy storyline. Yes it’s designed to recreate comic books where storylines rarely lasted longer than two issues, but some of the tools are taken away from the Game Master to create full campaigns. Simple things like villains don’t roll dice for their own abilities nor do they get a reaction to the superheroes action. They are destined to fail sooner rather than later.

With that in mind, the mechanics are a beautiful blend of quick action, limited dice rolling, and lots of superhero options to keep the game moving quickly and provide players with a variety of options to create their ideal superhero. The rules-light system is obvious in every facet and superheroes are definitely superheroes. Why, powers cover 26 pages of the 127 page book! One of ICONS‘ strongest points is that its theme is designed directly into the mechanics producing a very fluid game system that meshes perfectly with the created characters.

Desire to Play: 8 out of 10
Players looking to recreate Golden or Silver Age comics will find almost everything they’re looking for in ICONS. Those looking for the opportunity to a darker, grittier game will not find it within ICONS. In addition, if you want your superhero to have a high success rate, then ICONS‘ mechanics are a great fit. ICONS produces characters that are super in every regard.

Overall: 9 out of 10
If you’re looking for the ultimate “super” experience where your superhero is all but guaranteed success when using his or her powers and is a driving factor of the entire storyline, then ICONS is most likely the game you’re looking for. While it doesn’t actually contain superheroes from the comic books, it contains a huge variety of powers that can be mixed and matched to recreate those superheroes. Just remember, superheroes here are the ultimate heroes and villains are the people who are always defeated by the good guys.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Uriah O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/14/2011 11:48:45
ICONS is a fast and easy superhero RPG. The creation of characters is straight-forward and the challenge of coming up with a background for the sometimes oddly paired powers is fun. In most cases, you could have characters roll up a character and be playing within half an hour. One of the things that I most like is that these characters are "take me as I am." You don't level them, they are already super heroes for goodness sake.

Because of the simplicity, I find that running an ICONS campaign by email is very doable and maintains a lot of the fun.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2011 14:04:56
A solid game that incorporates elements of FATE to create a more character-driven super-heroes game which is just what I like. Overall, an excellent product although the artwork isn't really to my taste. The inclusion of random character generation means you can get started quite fast and even run one-shots with the game. If you like FATE and super-heroes, this is a great game to try.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Kasper B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/03/2011 04:21:10
Reading different roleplaying systems has always been a hobby of mine, even though I tend not to play many of them. Maybe it's my group that's a little "system conservative", but that's just the way it is. They often help me understand what it is that I like about roleplaying though, and I can tell you for sure that this is a system that, while it didn't exactly "change" my view on roleplaying, it certainly gave me the desire to implement a lot of what was in the book.

This book is a treasure trove, pure and simple. It has a lot of good stuff that everyone could use and implement in virtually any system, with little effort. I am especially thinking of the "Determination" system that lets the players influence the setting with "retcons". While it may be a minor part of the system, then it was most certainly the thing that made this system so appealing to me. Plus, it's about superheroes, what's not to like?

I have always held rules light systems in high regard, but this system might actually be both as light as a great system can get, but it is also very "full" in it's own way. It has almost no "special case scenarios", and it has a very strong consistency. Everything is handled in one roll, well maybe except combat. Resolution is actually really fast, especially compared to a lot of the bigger commercial systems out there.

Well, that was the system part. The book was a nice read, if you are fast, it can be done in a few hours, if you skip reading every single power that is. Yes, there's a lot of them, but I didn't bother reading all of them. I'm looking more foreward to experience them during play. Yes, as a GM, I like being caught with my pants down by my players.

The book is full of really good descriptions and small nice examples. In this system, flavor is everything, it's the bread and butter of rules light systems afterall. But it is just so full of it everywhere. I wouldn't know how it was ever possible to make a flavorless, grey, boring character in this system. Not if you follow the guidelines that is.

I rate this game 4 out of 5. The last star I can't award it yet, since I have yet to try it in play, but I am, as I write, planning a weekend of Superpowered roleplaying, and I am positive that this system will take down the house. I can't wait to play this game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/01/2011 14:11:19
enjoy Supers games. I don't get to play them as often as I would like, but I enjoy them all the same. I had been playing M&M 2ed and just picked up BASH! so I was hesitant to also get Icons. But Icons comes with a pretty good pedigree. First it is written by Steven Kenson, who gave us Mutants and Masterminds and also worked on Silver Age Sentinels. Steve obviously knows his supers. It has Gareth-Michael Skarka of Adamant Entertainment and one of the minds behind "Hong Kong Action Theater". Walt Ciechanowski has a ton of game systems under his belt too including M&M, True20 and Victoriana (1st ed). And Morgan Davie, whom I'll admit I am not as familiar with. But he is one of the guys that wrote Icons, so that makes him good in my book.

Comics are a visual medium. Full of art and color and eye catching action. Icons is the same. It is a really good looking book, especially one that has such a "retro" or even "indie" feel to it. It lives somewhere between the free flowing cartoon fun of Cartoon Action Hour and the slick, high production values of Mutants and Masterminds. All three of these games are fantastic and their style really tells us a lot about what they are about. Icons is a comic book game that is close to a Saturday Morning Super Heroes cartoon. The art, which some people have disliked, I think sets the perfect mood for this book. It is simple art, but it is good art and has a earnestness about that I like. That is also true for the rules.

Icons, as you may or may not have heard, is powered by FATE. Though the typical FATE/Fudge trappings of naming the power levels is gone in favor of numbers (sort of a step backwards from the FATE perspective, but fine for me). There is the option for named levels too, and I think it would fit the style of comic book action, but I myself prefer numbers. The scale is pretty simple, 1 to 10, with 3 an average. So very similar already to a lot of games I play.

The rules themselves are really simple. It is a modification of the dF system. Use 2d6 with one as positive and one as negative, roll and add, apply mods. Easy. You can be up and running in less time than it takes to say "Meanwhile back at the Hall of Justice..."

Hero creation is unique for a modern game, it is random. Not that you couldn't do it as a "point buy" system, but the randomness is what I think sets it away from BASH which can fill similar needs.

I feel I must at this point call out the Character Sheet. Long ago I was a reader of Marvel and I loved their "Whos Who" of the Marvel universe where they would have bar charts to rank their heroes on various attributes. It was almost very game-like and I loved them. Icons does something similar and it really gives their characters a different feel.

I would be lying if I didn't see bits of pieces of Silver Age Sentinels or Mutants and Masterminds peeking out every so often. That is fine with me. That familiarity is a good thing in my mind.

Icons is not really the game I would use if I were going to run a multi-year, multi-arc long game; that's what Mutants and Masterminds is for. But if I needed to run a supers game on a rainy afternoon or a convention or just something to have some fun with, then Icons is a great choice.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by michael d. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2010 12:39:31
I am loving this game. I thought about picking it up several times, but I own so many RPGs that I'm hesitant to buy new ones. When I saw this listed for $1 I just couldn't pass it up. I could not be happier with this game.
This is much more rules lite than my other supers rpgs and perfect for a quick game. Once I get a little more familiar with the system I may even try running a full campaign with this.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Jason L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/09/2010 11:40:48
It's FATE Super Heroes! If you're familiar with FATE (the FUDGE-based system behind Spirit of the Century, Dresden Files, etc.), you'll find no real game-mechanical surprises here. The default assumption is that you'll be rolling characters randomly, and then trying to justify the combination of powers as coming from a single origin. (This may sound weird, but it could explain Spiderman -- "I have visions of the future, I can climb walls, and I'm a gadgeteering genius? Sounds like a spider to me!") Fortunately, there's also an option presented for point-based builds, so you can play the hero you actually want -- even if it is sort of an afterthought. The powers offer some basic variety, though there are quite a few actual comic-book heroes you can't build with it, and some super-abilities (like Tony Stark or Reed Richard's ability to invent crazy stuff) are handwaved or barely touched on. The system seems to price skill specialties being as useful as super-powers, which is a bit odd -- you're pretty much always better off having a power than a specialty -- and seems designed to justify super-normals. All in all, this is a solid game (largely because it's based on the proven system FATE), with an old-school feel, that handles super-heroes well -- as long as you're willing to accept a lot of GM interpretation and filling in the details. Recommended with reservations.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Joseph B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/22/2010 11:50:28
When I first picked up and read Icons, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was specifically written for *me* - a guy who wanted a fun, rules-light supers game for pickups and one-shots. It's a lot of fun and I can see myself playing the hell out of this for years to come. It's nice to know it's solid enough to run longer campaigns if I want to too.

Note though that this is NOT a FATE game and (even though FATE inspired some of the rules in Icons) it works differently - personally I'm kind of glad I had no prior experience with FATE so I wasn't confused by the rules in Icons for tagging and compelling.

And I love the artwork!

In my opinion, Icons is truly the Game of the Year for 2010.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/06/2010 00:25:14
Description -- ICONS is a super-hero, typical role-playing game, based loosely on the FATE rule system (with a little nod to FASERIP descriptions)

Easy Rules -- The rules are well-written and easy to learn.

Fun to Play -- ICONS is fun to play but will lose its luster quickly (it's a one-trick pony; it doesn't handle NPCs very well when it comes to equality with heroes or villains. This is good for a super-hero game, but can get boring if you want something more later.)

Layout and Design -- Full-color, simple cartoon illustration and layout throughout the book. Color image bleeds to the edge on every page with simple gradient graphic colors.

Worth the money -- the PDF is worth the money (sort of / Like all PDFs, it's still hard to read and grasp from a computer screen).
If you print a color version of your booklet, then you might as well shoot for getting a print copy of the game. That's where your wallet will vomit money ... this game is expensive to own in the real world.

Conclusion -- a decent game for a short time, but it can be boring in the long haul. Graphics are top-notch, but printing price is too high a cost.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Roberto M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/09/2010 14:50:24
What about ICONS? A review…

ICONS RPG is a new superhero role-playing game by Adamant Entertainment. It has been enthusiastically received by the role-playing community, if blog posts and sales at RPG Now/Drive Thru RPG are any indication. Since first hearing about it I was excited! It’s designed by Steve Kenson who has worked in some of my favorite RPGs, I own various PDFs by Adamant that I’ve enjoyed very much, on top of that it integrates elements from FUDGE/FATE, which I’ve become interested on recently. So this was a no brainer. I did miss on the pre-order offer for various reasons, but as soon as it came out I snatched up a copy of the PDF and began to read. I was NOT disappointed.

In a nutshell ICONS is an easy to play, easy to pick up superhero game that harkens back to the classic superhero role-playing games of the 80s, specifically the old Marvel Superhero RPG, also called the FASERIP system, that got retro-cloned with the 4C system. It has all the charm of those old time games with a modern, simple and elegant mechanic with great touches that enhance the role-playing aspect of the game.

If you are a fan of superhero games, do yourself a favor and pick up ICONS. There is one caveat, if you are looking for Champions style granularity, or something like Mr. Kensosn’s Mutants and Masterminds, ICONS is not that. It’s light on rules but big on hearth, and believe me that is a good thing.

Want more details? Read on…

The first thing that struck me was the art style. The whole book is done in a very particular style by Dan Houser, reminiscent of the animated style often associated with modern superhero cartoons, like the Justice League or the more recent Batman team up series The Brave and the Bold. Art is abundant, the layout easy on the eye, the font easy to read. The tables take up a lot of the real estate, and I think some slight changes in the layout might have made the book even shorter (its 128 pages long including the ads) but I’m no expert on this. I’ll say this, I read about half of the book directly from the computer or on my iPhone and I had no trouble reading it. The original PDF is a 9MB file, but I received an e-mail form Adamant letting me know a higher resolution copy is available for download where I purchased my copy.

In all sincerity the art took a little getting used to. I found it whimsical at first but eventually it became a little distracting. I would have loved other styles of art. I know what they were going for but I believe the system is strong enough to support all styles of superhero gaming, from over the top cartoon fun to more serious Watchmen style game and somebody who casually looks at the book in a book store or game store may dismiss it based on the art style. Don’t get me wrong I loved what Mr. Houser did, I just think the book would be better represented by a variety or art styles.

But that’s cosmetic, what about what’s under the hood? The game opens with an introduction to a very simple game mechanic and I think the discussion of the statistics and what results to expect is a strength that helps the reader understand what to expect from the system. The Determination mechanic, a resource available so characters can improve their chance of success, perform power stunts and other in game effects, seems a great balancing factor between super power houses and more down to earth heroes. The more powers you have the less Determination, so Superman has all the powers, but Batman has all the points to make his crazy plans work.

The idea that characters earn Determination through the complications and disadvantages (called Challenges in the game) they established for their characters enforces the tropes of the superhero genre. And I think this is one of the things the games does particularly well, emulate not only the superhero, but the situations and events typical to comic books. From Determination, to creating a team and how the Determination heroes contribute serve as resources to the members, to the role of leaders in hero groups, to catchphrases heroes utter, all these elements emulate comic books, are quantified in the game, and reinforce the type of adventure that feel, well, super heroic!

Character generation is random, from assigning attributes in the order rolled, to rolling for the origin of the hero and number of powers. I’ve said it before; I’m NOT a fan of randomly generated heroes. But I did give it a chance (and the result is the topic of my previous posts) and think it works. It harkened back to the days when I rolled characters using the Marvel Superheroes RPG, but the game has tweaks built in, like allowing you to swap two attributes and the inclusion of complimentary powers (called bonus powers in the game which can be confusing) within power descriptions that you can choose instead of rolling for the next random power, that lets you create a character with some internal consistency. If you don’t want random generation, there is simple point buy option in the book.

Power selection is varied enough that you can cover most powers you can think of. Undoubtedly someone will come up with some power that cannot be represented using the rules, but I can’t think of one for now. The descriptions are very general and some will require interpretation or house ruling, but I think this fits the style of play the game supports. This is a game that wants you to have fun first and foremost and worry about rules later.

My least favorite part of the book is the Taking Actions chapter. It lists the rules, attributes and what you can do with them like attacking and facing challenges and some of these concepts are important enough to have been explained with more details, perhaps a few additional examples. This alone may make the book a little harder to pick up by a newcomer which is a pity since this would be an ideal entry level superhero game. Character advancement is covered very briefly, integrated into the Determination mechanic, but in my opinion this is one area of the game that could be expanded in future supplements.

The book could have been organized a little better, for example, an earlier discussion of what determination is. Reproducing important tables like material strength level and such in an appendix for easy reference. Some rules refer to other parts of the book and could have either been consolidated in one place or simply repeated. An index is something I always look for in a book. ICONS is small enough that you don’t get lost looking for things but an index would have been a great addition.

But these are minor complaints on an otherwise excellent book. The Game Master section is short but it contains solid advice on running the game and superhero campaigns in general. The sample villains are varied, colorful and fit many of the typical roles to be found in any superhero comic. The short sample adventure illustrates the concepts put forth in the Game Master chapter.

The game also includes some stock characters and creatures, enough to extrapolate much of what you will need. There is some discussion on weapon damage in the rules but I think some tables with real world items and their game effects would have been a good idea.

ICONS is not a game for someone looking to have every detail spelled out for them. It requires Game Master Interpretation, player trust and participation. So many modern games try to quantify every aspect of play and end up becoming endless lists of rules and exceptions. Not ICONS! ICONS is meant to be played by people who trust each other and want to tell a fun story together. That is the best recommendation I can think of for this game!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2010 15:26:46
I came late to the ICONS hype party, and missed out on the first wave of preorders. Therefore, I rushed to DriveThruRPG at 12:03 AM on June 1 to purchase the PDF edition. I've lost a few hours of sleep since then staying up late to read the rules, and I'm pleased to report that ICONS lives up to its advance billing. Aside from a few grammatical and typographical errors (for which I'd subtract half a star if the rating system allowed half-stars), ICONS is a wonderful product, with a solid rules set, entertaining prose, and artwork that produces a look and feel perfectly matching the game's tone.

In brief, ICONS—authored by industry stalwart Steve Kenson—presents a rules-light take on the superhero genre. Using mechanics from the FATE system as its core, ICONS rates pretty much everything on a scale from 1 (weak, minimum human) to 10 (cosmic or maximum superhuman). Characters have six ability scores, three physical and three mental, rated on this scale. Super powers are also rated on this scale. Tests of abilities, powers, and so on result in one of four outcomes: failure, moderate success, major success, or massive success. Anything more detailed than that (except when dealing damage to another character) is storyline and GM narration, not mechanics.

Die rolls in ICONS use 2d6, and follow three different patterns, depending on what you're doing. Most of the time, you'll designate one die as the "positive" die and one die as the "negative" die, roll them, subtract the "negative" die roll from the "positive" die roll, and use the resulting number (from -5 to +5) to modify an existing value, such as one of your ability scores or power levels. During character generation and other "offline" activities, you might use a straight-up 2d6 roll, or you might use a "d6 and d6" roll, where the first d6 determines which table you roll on, and the second d6 determines the ultimate result.

A good bit of the early buzz surrounding ICONS focused on the random character generation system, which seems like a bit of a throwback to "old school" gaming. ICONS does include a point buy system, if you'd rather customize your character to taste. The random generation system, however, fits the genre quite well; most superheroes don't choose their powers, unless they rely primarily on fighting skill, like Batman does, or gadgets, like Iron Man does. The process includes some safeguards against generating underpowered characters, and the bell curve of the die rolls together with the bell curve on the power levels and number of powers tables pull numbers toward the middle. My sons prefer the point buy system, because they already know what they want their heroes to do. I plan to play around with randomly generating some villains to go up against Hot Rod and Earthworm.

I kid you not. My kids want to play superheroes named "Hot Rod" and "Earthworm"—and this points to another aspect of the tone and sensibility of ICONS. ICONS is designed for comic-book fun, not for comic-book realism. The artwork by Dan Houser wonderfully captures the spirit of a superhero cartoon, evoking thoughts of the Batman, Superman, Justice League, Teen Titans, and Brave and the Bold animated series. The sample heroes and villains include campy characters like Saguaro the Cactus-Man, Baron Kriminel, and ConfederApe. I think I'd feel rather silly trying to stat out a character named "Earthworm" in Mutants & Masterminds, but it feels perfectly natural in ICONS.

I'm very happy that I purchased ICONS, and intend to play it frequently with my kids. I'd be happy to play it with adults, too, on a pick-up or short-term basis. I don't think I'd want to play ICONS as a long-term campaign with a group of adults who were pretty serious about their superhero gaming, however. For that, I'd want to use Mutants & Masterminds. But ICONS is fantastic at what it does.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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