Initial Impressions of Icons in Play


Beyond character generation, we've had a pair of sessions running Icons. How is it going so far?

I'd say early indications are decent, but the jury is still out. Which, to be honest, is better than my normal track record with superhero gaming. For whatever reason, while I greatly enjoy the superhero genre, I have an incredibly difficult time getting a campaign going in it.

As I've mentioned in the past, Icons is a close relative of the Fate RPG. For task resolution you roll a d6 plus some stat and subtract from that the opposition's ability plus a d6. To be honest, the task resolution system isn't doing a ton for me - I suspect because we're doing it on a virtual tabletop. I'm leaning pretty heavily towards using the optional rule of using the task resolution from the original version of Icons, which was Stat +1d6 - 1d6 vs. a difficulty. Mathematically it's the same but involves only a single roll. 

While Fate has Aspects, Icons has Qualities - both of which are used to describe characters, situations, environments, etc. Fate has Fate Points, Icons has Determination Points.  A Quality used against you can give you Determination Points and beneficial use of Qualities can give you an excuse to spend Determination to get some bonus. As in earlier Fate games I've played, I'm having a bear of a time making use of them. Fortunately Icons is far less dependent on strong use of Qualities than Fate is on its use of Aspects. However, I have in mind an adventure with a bit less fighting that allows for more use of Qualities. If for no other reason than I'm going to want to play the Fate Accelerated version of  Dresden Files when it comes out...

Overall the rules and superpowers work pretty simply. They don't fade into the background quite as easily as I experience with Call of Cthulhu, but then again, I have a ton of experience with Call of Cthulhu. I am struggling a bit to remember combat rules for things like slamming and stunning. 

What I have in mind are a few tweaks and other ideas. First, I'm probably going to go ahead and switch dice rolling so there is only a single roll in any action. I've a hunch that will speed things up moderately.

I also plan on making a GM screen of my own. It will include a Quality and Determination Cheat Sheet. This would be a listing of bullet points as to what Qualities and Determination Points can be used for as well as a listing of all the PC and NPC Qualities. Additionally, I'll go ahead and add to it the rules that I often find myself looking up - degrees of success, how to resolve slams and stuns, etc. I'm picturing something a bit like the back of the old Marvel Superheroes RPG from TSR.

I've definitely got at least a few more adventures in me - we've some interesting character backgrounds that I want to make a point of taking advantage of. 

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