Developing a Superhero Campaign: Finalized Rules Decision
After a number of iterations. I've settled on a game engine for a superhero campaign. In the end I'll be using Steven Kenson's Icons.
For those unfamiliar with Icons, it is a bit of a hybrid of Fate and TSR's Marvel Superheroes RPGs. Let's take a look at a sample character in Icons, an adversary taken from the main rulebook.
Fate uses Fate (or Fudge) dice, 4dF. The Fate dice are six sided dice, with 2 sides marked with a plus, 2 with a minus, and 2 blank. A 4dF roll gives a range of -4 to 4. Icons uses a similar mechanic - essentially it involves rolling d6-d6 to generate a range of -5 to 5. Technically the initiator rolls their stat plus a d6 and you subtract from this result an opponent stat or difficulty plus a d6.
Unlike Fate, Icons does not use stress tracks or consequences. It has stamina points which are pretty similar to hit points. For most tasks you roll a d6 plus your ability score or power. Abilities are pretty broad but can get bonuses via specialties, a bit like Marvel Superheroes' talents or Fate's stunts. Characters also have qualities which are pretty much the same as aspects in Fate. Similar to Fate you can create qualities and you can use your own qualities, in conjunction with a determination point, to get a bonus or other advantage.
It's not identical to Fate though. The importance of aspects/qualities is greatly reduced in Icons. In all honesty, this was my deciding criteria for going with this as opposed to a straight Fate game. I noticed in our brief Atomic Robo game we had a tough time getting the hang of aspects. My hope is that Icons can serve as a more gradual introduction to Fate such that were we to go to a straight Fate game in the future, Icons will have prepared us for it.
An interesting feature of Icons is that it embraces a random character generation system, albeit one with a lot of hooks allowing for customization. My plan is to have the group give random generation a try with some player fiat to scrap a character if they don't like the way it is going and start anew - character generation is not super-complicated, with more time likely being needed to tie all the random stuff into a cohesive character.
A big advantage for me was the straightforwardness of the system with enough adjustable dials to allow some customization.
Moving forward I'll be going a bit more into solidifying the setting - an urban environment in the mid to late 1950s.