Saturday, October 24, 2015

Icons: Fate's Much More Appealing (to me) Cousin

Last spring, I ran a brief Skype campaign of Icons (the "Assembled Edition.") The game ultimately failed due to scheduling incompatibility, but our session was incredibly fun. In fact, I still maintain that Icons is the only superhero roleplaying game I have ever played that felt like a comic book or a superhero animated series. 

Gushing aside, I want to examine why Icons worked so well for me when Fate Core has been such a struggle. 

Icons only takes certain pieces of Fate. It differs substantially on several levels: 
*Stats are rated 1-10, rather than the adjective scale that came from Fudge. 
*Task resolution is resolved by rolling 1d6 + Stat vs. the opponent's roll or a set target number. 
*Conflict is more traditional in style: initiative, I roll attack you roll to defend, there are Stamina/hit points, etc. 
*Aspects are called Qualities. They work much the same, but PCs have fewer and PCs also have standardized attributes. To clarify: in Fate Core, you would only have a strength-related aspect if your character was somehow defined by strength. In Icons, all characters have a strength rating. There are also temporary Qualities, inflicted by the clever use of skills and powers.
*There are no extras; that's all covered by a pretty handy little powers system. Skills are also bonuses to any action roll that could conceivably benefit from them. (Some skills being more specific than others) 

Reading back over this, my conclusion is that Icons is a rules-lite but traditionally mechanical RPG with some Fate-esque elements added for flavor and to make superhero combat as interesting as it should be. It adds Qualities on as a topping, whereas Fate Core seems to approach Aspects as the core game play mechanic. 


  1. So, are you opposed to just using Icons for all your fate needs? At first glance, it seems like you could make both characters using the point buy option in Icons assembled

  2. After looking Icons over again, I think I would really like to try using it to play a none traditional supers game. I've always wanted to play a post-apocalyptic far future supers game akin to thundarr the barbarian w a tech is indistinguishable from magic numenera sort of vibe. My scribblings on the setting are filed on my pc as "Masters of the Universe!" but don't in fact have anything to do with those likeable villians and heroes of Eternia

  3. I'd given some thought to using Icons for non-supers stuff. Not sure how I'd do a vampire with it.

    I like your He-Man/Thundarr idea. I know some bloggers have done a Thundarr write-up with old school D&D (I think some OSR retro-clone-ish type games have been inspired by such, too.)

  4. Icons Vampire

    I thought it would be fun to get a feel for the icons system by attempting to make your vampire. Take it with a grain of salt since I've never even played the game before, or any other like it for that matter. Something doesn't seem right, or fair, or seems missing or maybe I don't even understand and/or even like the system, or at least not for a campaign in this style anyway. It certainly doesn't feel as elegant as your B/X Vampire is, or could be.

    3/6 Prowess
    5/7 Super Coordination
    7/9 Super Strength
    6 Intellect
    3/6 Awareness
    6 Willpower

    15 Stamina

    for all seems fair maybe. There is
    an awful lot of powers here
    vs. Strength
    Extras: Contagious (victim turns if
    reduced to 0 stamina and given
    vampire blood), Slow Recovery -
    victims heal 10x slower
    Limits: Only Flesh & Blood, Target
    must be Grappled or Submissive
    Limits: doesn't resist damage
    caused by silver weapons or fire
    Limits: a wooden stake thru
    the heart, or exposure to sunlight,
    and being lowered to 0 Stamina
    kills a vampire
    5 LIFE SUPPORT undead need not
    breath, nor do they need food for
    Limits: at disadvantage, w/ no
    DP bonuses, if they do not feed
    for a number of days equal to
    their Strength
    Limits: can't regenerate damage
    caused by silver weapons or fire
    or while in sunlight or flowing water
    Ability Increases (Prowess,
    Coordination, Strength &
    Limits: exposure to sunlight, flowing
    water or when confronted w/ a holy
    symbol by a believer
    Extras: Fast Attack, Leaping
    & Wall-Crawling
    Limits: as super strength & reflexes

    Vampires can only heal Stamina
    through their Energy Drain or
    Regeneration powers.
    Sunlight, garlic, holy water, holy symbols
    & flowing water don't typically cause
    damage but do cause discomfort and
    can be invoked for trouble.
    Vampires must make a Willpower test to
    knowingly subject himself to
    any of the above weaknesses


    5 Emotion Control: animals only
    5 Mind Control: humans only (must make
    eye contact & verbally engage)