Iconic Heroes – part 1

I recently watched the first season of Heroes again. While I was watching, I took notes about things which I really liked when the show was new, and before it wandered off in directions I found to be less-satisfying as a viewer. I appreciate the sense of wonder and confusion which permeates the early episodes, and the freshness and unpredictability of the powers which characters come to discover. Before ‘the company,’ working through agents like Noah Bennett and the façade of Primatech Paper, and their pogrom come to dominate story threads, the feeling of promise and the theme of responsibility were refreshingly done and characterized.

I bought Icons when it was released, on an impulse. It is not really the sort of game that I tend to run, and it certainly isn’t filled with the sort of art I like… or even fonts that I like, but despite that, I enjoy its enthusiasm. I like its attempt to merge some old-school design elements with more modern ones, and I find many of its approaches to be appropriate for, and evocative of, the genre.

It occurred to me then to merge the two. I could use the elements I liked from Heroes as my setting, and Icons as my system. It would neither be a vanilla superhero game, nor the world of the TV series, but something with elements of the latter, with the potential to become something of the former, should the players take it that way.

This series of entries will be about working out how to do that. We will discuss how to evoke the setting, how to apply the system to the setting, how to keep things simple, how to populate the setting, and how to plot out some stories.

The First Step:

The first step will be to get conversant enough with Icons to address the things which need to be taken into consideration in regard to powers. A close second step… more of a dragging shuffle of shackled legs, really, is the issue of scale and potency between characters. On a TV show there is no reason to balance the potency and utility of a given character’s ability and backgrounds compared to any of the others. In a game, this is obviously a significant issue for many. A related issue is how to determine abilities. A feature of icons is random generation of traits, but there are those in my group who prefer point-buy systems. I have an idea in my head about this, but I will save it until later~

The Basics:

The basic elements of the setting, as I see them, are these:

  • Powers manifest in individuals at any stage of life
  • Powers manifest in individuals as a single primary ability, but have suites of related or semi-related abilities which can, with effort, be developed.
  • Powers have a tendency to manifest in sweeping waves across the population in times of great upheaval
  • Eugenics programs have sprung up throughout history to breed for this potential, or in modern eras, to try to guide the form the potential might take
  • The Human Genome Project has made identifying carriers of this potential possible (but should not make identification of the ability possible until a more formal study of the gene sequences in conjunction with the carriers of those genes whose powers have manifested)
  • Threads of Fate manifest and align people to causes:  Save the Cheerleader Save the World vs. Taking Advantage of an Exploding Man

Stay tuned for Part 2~

2 Responses to “Iconic Heroes – part 1”
  1. Patrick Helmon says:

    There is a brief section on using point buy in the book based on 45 points. Most of the random characters I have made come in at the 45-48 point range on average so it is pretty close unless you get some very lucky rolls.

    The game is a bit bleh at time when reading but it plays very well and there are some really cohesive gems once you get into the system. I have found it well suited for many types of games with just a change in viewpoint and very little tweaking. I hope your game works well and you all have fun!

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