Tuesday, 29 November 2016

ICONS Stats for Ash Williams


ASH WILLIAMS

Prowess 5
Coordination 6
Strength 4
Intellect 2
Awareness 4
Willpower 6

Powers

Boomstick (Blast Shooting Device) Level 5 (Limit: Burnout)

Chainsaw Arm (Strike Device) Level 5 (Limits: Burnout, Preparation)

Specialties

Leadership, Occult, Technology (Master), Weapons: Blades (Expert), Weapons: Guns (Expert)

Qualities

Promised One/El Jefe
This is my Boomstick!!!
Chainsaw for a Hand

ICONS Stats for Darth Vader


DARTH VADER



Prowess 8
Coordination 8
Strength 4
Intellect 5
Awareness 4
Willpower 4

Powers

The Force (Cosmic Power) Level 7: Absorption, Binding, Blast, Danger Sense, Detection (Emotion, Life, The Force), Extrasensory Perception, Leaping, Precognition, Telekinesis, Telepathy.

Lightsaber (Strike Device) Level 10 (Extra - Reflection)

Armor (Damage Resistance Device) Level 4 (Extra: Life Support - Vacuum)

Specialties

Military (Expert), Occult (Master), Pilot (Master), Power: The Force (Master), Technology (Expert), Weapons: Blades (Master)

Qualities

More Machine Than Man
Chosen One
Dark Lord of the Sith

Dread LARP



  Here's a fun idea for a horror LARP; Using the Dread RPG rules, which make use of a Jenga tower instead of dice.

  You see, the rules of Dread are all about players pulling blocks out of the tower when they attempt things, so imagine an in-doors LARP with a Jenga tower in every room available to players. When someone needs to attempt an action or at the behest of a GM, they do as they would normally do in Dread. (All block pulling should be done in front of a GM.) Different rooms could have different levels of difficulty too. For example, a room could have a tower with many blocks already removed to indicate it's a creepy place, while a place that is safe has a full tower with no blocks removed yet at the beginning of the game.

  Example: Two players in a haunted house scenario walk in and see a tower that has many blocks removed. One of them says "We should go... This place feels unnaturally cold."

  In other words, instead of trying to avoid meta-gaming regarding the state of the towers, make the fact that players can see the them part of the experience. ("I have a bad feeling about this!")

  As a fun side-note, it can actually explain why in a horror story the party is split so often! Players won't want to all start pulling from the same tower because the odds of it falling down will increase faster, but they won't have any back-up if things go wrong afterwards either!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

ICONS Requests



  I got two requests to follow-up on some ideas explored in ICONS-centric posts I made, one about using the system for Warcraft RP and the other regarding an example of the system in play in my final ICONS review. Let's do this.



  Here are three Class Skills for the requested classes and how I'd translate them into ICONS.

Warrior
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Hamstring: 'Strike' with 'Binding' as a Mastered Stunt  In the MMORPG it slows the target down, but in this case it would be a little more efficient since it can fully stop an opponent.

Intimidating Shout: Emotion Control (Limit: Fear Only. Extra: Burst)

Bladestorm: 'Aura' with an appropriate Limit so it doesn't become a main form of attack and remains a special attack sort of thing. Limits that make sense for this are 'Burnout', 'Degrades' or 'Tiring'.

Shaman
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Healing Surge: Healing (Extra: Ranged)

Ghost Wolf: Energy Form (Extra: Super-Speed, Limit: No Flight)

Water Walking: Super-Speed (Extras: Surface Speed -water only-, Affects Others, Limits: Extras Only.) This one got weird, so let me explain it. The only place where I saw the ability to walk on water was with Surface Speed, an Extra to Super-Speed. By taking the Extra Only Limit, I nullify the super speed and remain only with the ability to walk on water. Except Water Walking can also Affect Others, so I add that, except it's now two effects, which kind of abuses the 'Extra Only' Limit... So we remove walls from the Surface Speed extra, basically we put a Limit on the Extra to balance things out, which also works thematically since Water Walking should not allow people to walk up walls too. Ta-daaa.

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  And now for another example of interpreting a comic-book scene using ICONS rules!


  Oh yeah, I'm going there!!! Batman vs Hulk!!! And believe it or not, under ICONS rules, it's actually a pretty fair fight! Let's work this out.

  At first, Batman has used his Gadgets power to replicate Stunning, rolling vs the Hulk's Strength... And the Caped Crusader gets a Moderate Success!!!

  "But Hulk has a Strength of 10 for sure!" I hear theoretical nay-sayers exclaim. And he sure does, but Batman's Gadgets power is also up there. And the dice rolls probably were on Batman's side. Now, you'll notice that story-wise Hulk seems to simply have resisted it, but notice also how he doesn't do anything else during that page? The narration is going with what makes sense story-wise and explains it that way, but in fact per the rules, Hulk is stunned for one page and that's why he's just standing there holding his breath and not attacking Batman or doing anything else.

  So while Hulk just stands there stunned per the rules and holding his breath per the story, Batman decides to do a Stunt. I'm giving him a Prowess of 7, but even if someone would claim that Batman shouldn't go over the human limit, we can all agree he has the Martial Arts Specialty at Master level anyway, so he can Stunt away no matter what his Prowess is. And his Stunt of choice is replicating Stunning again.

  Batman justifies to the GM that since the gas from his Gadgets use would still be in the air, he tries to kick the Hulk in a way that won't physically hurt him but will force him to draw in air and thus breathe in the sleeping gas. He also uses Improved Effort because he has to roll against Hulk's Strength. Batman actually has the advantage here. Hulk has a Strength of 10, but if you add up Batman's Prowess (+7), Martial Arts Specialty (+3) and Improved Effort (+2) you get a 12!

  The rolls go in Batman's favor again and Batman gets a Massive Success, incapacitating Hulk for the Chapter!

Diversity & Roleplaying Games: My Two Cents



  As always when touching subjects like these, I say the same; You have the right to disagree with me if you want, but please read the whole thing before commenting. These are complex issues and too many people react to single sentences without the full context of a post.

  So anyway, the other day I was on Imgur and I came across a comic strip about people playing D&D. I don't even remember what the composition of the PCs were in the comic exactly, but there was at least one woman with a scarf around her head, so I'm guessing Muslim. I could be wrong, I'm really not interested in any religion. I won't even try to remember which type of headscarf it was, nor am I gonna get into the for-or-against debate about those, that's not the point. The point is that I read a cynical comment that basically stated the diversity of the players in the story seemed artificial. Someone else replied that it was actually based on the real-life gaming group the artist was in.

  That made me think about my own group for who I DM a weekly game, and I shit you not, I realized for the first time that I was the only hetero white male in my gaming group at the moment. I don't mean to say I was blind to the fact that the other players were people of color, female and/or gay, I just mean that I hadn't realized that in our group composition, I was the only 'stereotypical' gamer. So it led me to thinking about why so many gamers don't believe in the idea of a diverse gaming group. Are my friends and I the exception or the norm for gaming groups these days? I don't think we are an exception, yet it just seems like that attitude of 'actual gamers are not that diverse' does come up pretty often when these things are discussed.

  I'm pretty sure that most people who think that, don't really take a look beyond their own gaming group. I'm sure they're blind to the fact that Pathfinder is an extremely inclusive game and it outsold D&D for a good while and D&D has been doing the same. (To be fair to D&D, it was also inclusive during 3rd edition) I could be wrong though. But whatever, here's where I really drop my two cents.

  I don't fucking care if a new edition of Swords & Wizardry is done by only men, only women or a combination of men and women, or what race those who worked on the project were or who they fuck. I just want fun games. If you don't like seeing transexuals in Pathfinder books and prefer to avoid reminders that these people do exist, then just don't buy those books. If you think it's not okay for a book to only star white dudes with women as mere eye candy, don't buy those books. If you don't like something about how the RPG community is going... Create your own material! We live in an era where it's extremely easy to make your own stuff and have it put out there. For example, some guys thought RPGs lacked African-themed content, so they made their own RPG featuring that stuff. There you go! They didn't ask others to do it for them, they created what they wanted to see, and I have a lot of respect for that.

  So my request to the RPG community at large is this; Stop worrying about what others envision as being a normal rpg gaming group, wether it's a group of white men or a diverse cast out of the most politically correct tv show ever. If inclusiveness or lack of it bothers you in some books, buy other stuff. It really shouldn't bother you when right now, I can say for sure that both options are very much available in the market. I'll also be blunt and say that if the presence of people different from you bothers you, you might need to take a good look in the mirror, but I'll take this moment to admit that when I touched upon these subjects in the past, I used insults and labels towards someone I disagreed with. I shouldn't have. You don't change people's minds or help the validity of your points by insulting them and claiming that someone is intolerant should never be done casually.

  In other words, while I do applaud inclusiveness in rpg products (and see it as both the 'moral' and business-savvy way to go) I'll NEVER blame an rpg product or give it shit for not being inclusive. (I will give it shit if it goes out of its way to be intolerant though, but it's not the same thing, which is something a lot of SJWs need to learn already.) In the end, people will speak with their wallets, so let the dice fall where they may. (Ha, ha, rpg-related puns.)

  Just stop worrying already. Seriously, if you and your friends are rolling dice together and are all having fun, then RPGs are working. At the end of the day, no matter what pictures a rulebook has, the people are the table decide what their world will actually look like.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

'ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition' Final Review


  This one's really good. I want to start with that right away because my impression after the first game I ran was actually negative.

  I ran more ICONS games since then, and I gotta say that once you know how to use its narrative-driven rules, it works VERY well.

  So the short review is: If you want a superhero RPG that feels just like the comics do, get this one.

  And now for a more complete review:

  This is the one superhero game I know of where characters of different power levels can play together and it still works. I'm not saying it's always perfect, but of all the superhero systems I have played, this is the one that can actually make it happen. (I'm not claiming that it's the only superhero system that accomplishes this as I haven't tried them all.)

  During my initial negative first impression I complained about the apparent fragility of heroes without physical powers. I didn't realize at the time that the system allows every character to narratively replicate such powers via the Stunt system. (A character hiding behind a tree, for example, replicates having armor, etc.) So this system actually makes it possible for Batman to single-handedly stop the White Martians...

In this example, Batman took a Page of preparation and used his Gadgets power (Simple Gas and matches in this case) to replicate the Nullification power, taking away the powers of the White Martians. Story-wise Batman's player uses the White Martians' weakness to fire to accomplish this, since all of their powers have the 'Blocked by Fire' Limit. One could argue he used two Pages to also replicate Binding so the White Martians couldn't go anywhere, as they are surrounded by the fire. As for how he deduced their weakness, he probably used his 'World's Greatest Detective' Quality. 

While also leaving the possibility of a normal human knocking him out. And it all works with the same rules.

Here, a criminal knocks out Batman with the butt of his gun. Either he managed to attack Batman by surprise and so the Dark Knight couldn't react and took the hit like a normal human (his cowl was not armored back in those days) or the GM actually informs him he's been knocked out by surprise without any dice-rolling and gives the player a point of Determination to use later if Batman's player accepts the Trouble.

  So already just in that regard, this is very comic-book-like. I love it, now that I understand it. 

  I'll just throw two disclaimers though; 

1. Any players who struggle with what to do on their turn in games where the options are pretty simple, and/or who need to have a specific and complete list of what they can and cannot actually do, might actually have trouble using this system to its fullest. To be blunt, that will be more of a player problem than a system problem, but it's still relevant to point out. 
2. It is a PAIN to find rules in this book. Looking for how to do something will send you back and forth through the book because many rules are used in unison. There are no specific pages given for where to find rules either, just whole chapters. The good thing is that once you know them you don't need to look up in the book that often because the rules are not difficult per se, but for the first few games where you simply don't remember all the details, expect a few pauses in the game to look up how something works, and to be looking for it longer than you would have with a more complicated system. I find that ironic.

  GMs, you know your group. I think most players will love the fact that they can come up with new ways the use their powers on the spot, or argue about how their story-centric Qualities might affect the narrative and/or give them a bonus in certain situations. It also encourages the players to accept setbacks and you'll even have occasions where players themselves point out flaws their characetrs have and suggest how it could work against them because they will be rewarded for it with Determination points. (Which they can use to their advantage later on.) 

  I think most GMs will love that coming up with NPC stats is ridiculously quick. I can, no joke, create a bad guy NPC with really complex super-powers in maybe 5 minutes, and that's including the time it takes to write down the stats and such.

  ICONS is now my go-to game for superhero RP. I don't feel bad about my initial first impression because I do think it's a mistake in the book's editing, where it didn't make things easy to find, but nevertheless now that I am familiar with it I cannot recommend it highly enough.



Monday, 19 September 2016

I Got a Scary-Looking Dragon


Not actual gameplay, I just wanted to check out what the dragon would look like at the gaming table!


 So I got myself a badass dragon miniature the other day. It's actually a toy and not a RPG miniature but it's perfectly sized for my needs.

  I like to use 3rd edition sizes as reference and this dragon is Huge. So an adult dragon then. (A friend pointed out that since the wings were not separate from the front limbs it was actually a wyvern, but whatever, wyverns are a dragon type anyway and I can come up with my own dragons if I want to! *Grumbles*)

  The purist in me told me that although I could use this guy as a red dragon, that's not what it really was. So it got me to thinking about what cool special attacks it could have, and about how this dude looks scary and I want him to do creepy stuff, not just have a breath weapon that does lots of damage. Breath Weapons are a great classic, don't get me wrong, but I want my players to feel like they're going up against a MONSTER in the creepiest sense of the word. Or I guess you could say I'm trying to give the good ol' dragon a Lamentations of the Flame Princess sort of Weird Fantasy spin.

Anyway, here's a quick brainstorm of scary stuff my dragon could do. Not sure what I'll end up keeping, if anything. Feedback is appreciated.

Scary Dragon Special Attacks (Draft)


  • If this attack is chosen, the dragon is female and can swallow one medium oponent, as per the Swallow Whole special attack. If the victim dies in there, the dragon lays an egg and the victim comes out of the egg, fully revived and transformed into a draconic humanoid of the same alignment as the dragon and loyal to it. (This special ability would almost certainly come with a story hook of the dragon creating an army of draconic humanoid servants.) In a way it gives the dragon a Xenomorph kind of vibe, which could be an interesting way to go.
  • The dragon has spikes on his tail... On a successful tail strike, the first Medium creature hit must make a saving throw or be impaled on the spikes and stuck to the tail! Every tail attack that follows would equally hurt the one stuck and the new target of the tail swing.
  • When killed, this dragon vomits out its acidic entrails on whoever's facing him in a last attempt to take one or more adventurers with him.
  • This dragon has a special attack that's extremely similar to Mummy Rot but with scales growing on the victim's skin. (They don't make the victim's AC any better though, the scales are not hard enough.)

  As an addendum, the 3.5 Draconomicon stated somewhere that dragons are more similar to cats than reptiles. Cats are often kind of sadistic, playing with their prey. One thing is seeing a dragon fly over some people and fry them with his breath weapon. Another is to see the dragon flick gutted victims with his talons for fun, like a cat with a mouse.