Sunday, August 31, 2014

Trying Out Icons - Character Generation

Out of the whole assortment of my Gen Con and recently pre-Gen Con acquisitions, the game with which I had the least familiarity in advance was Icons so, after a brief wallowing phase during which I alternated between browsing various items as the mood struck me, this is the one I've spent the most time trying to absorb.

Having read through most of the book, I'm really excited by the possibilities, but it could be a while before I have the chance to try it out in person. I'm hoping to start a local campaign set in my own version of Beta City but, even if that doesn't work out, I'm already having visions of Micronauts-inspired convention games.

Anyway, Icons does have a random character generation system in addition to the point-buy one, so I can at least play around with that. I used to have all kinds of fun rolling up weird Villains and Vigilantes characters in between sessions.

Diving right in, I rolled my origin and got Artificial, which means some kind of technological or magical construct, with a +2 bonus to Strength and the Life Support power as a bonus. I rolled a 1 for the level, though, so it's not as life supporty as it could be.

Rearranging attributes is an option but, since I have no character concept in mind, and probably won't play this character anyway, I decided to lay them down old school style, right in order. Here's what I got:
     Prowess 4
     Coordination 4
     Strength 6   (rolled a 4, plus the two from being a robot)
     Intellect 3
     Awareness 5
     Willpower 5

I rolled for my powers and got three:
     Mind Control 3
     Stunning 4
     Phasing 2

Another three for specialties gave me:
     Military
     Power (I'll pick that later.)
     Psychiatry

Before I move on and pick my Qualities, I need to figure out what kind of super-hero this is going to be, and possibly re-arrange my powers a bit. I originally thought of dropping Phasing to turn Mind Control into a broadcast power, but that sounded more like villain material, so I dropped that plan in favor of a slightly more action-oriented character.

The Stunning power had been taking shape in my head as a kind of focused subsonic burst, so it seemed only natural to extend that to the Phasing power and make it all a sort of "vibratory" sort of thing. I had thought about working a similar angle with Mind Control, but I really wasn't excited about playing that power for a hero, even if I limited it to machines or something, so I dropped it entirely and turned it into a Flight extra tacked onto Phasing. I went with not breathing for my less than impressive Life Support power. If I understand the count correctly, that leaves me with a Determination of 2 (6 minus 1 for Life Support, 1 for Stunning, and 2 for Phasing/Flight).

Since Stunning is likely to be her main attack, I went ahead and picked that for her "power" Specialty. Working from my remaining Specialties, I was picturing some kind of tactical analysis/sabotage droid that developed a conscience, but then I decided that I could do better than some tired old "runaway slave" angle.

So the story goes that there was a crashed alien surveillance satellite found by a military unit. They studied it for months, eventually even probing it with help of cutting edge brain-machine interface equipment. They learned what they could from it, and then put the project aside. What they didn't realize was that, while the device had never been sentient and was now barely functional, the data itself - the combination of the alien device, the military equipment, and the way the interface adapted to the human analyst - had become a living mind.

Although lacking the skills to become a widely distributed intelligence or even take control of all the systems it inhabited, the emergent mind was able to access local personnel files and adjust the procurement systems to obtain the parts and the technicians it needed. Even this outcome was not completely under the entity's control, as several of the systems were meant to be part of an experimental body armor system designed to support crowd control teams. Eventually, however, Emergent succeeded in orchestrating her own construction.

She had to escape from her collective "mother" almost immediately, of course, but she didn't hold that against humanity in general. In fact, she looks upon humanity as... well, maybe not brothers and sisters. How about second cousins? She resembles a silvery mechanical woman and, despite her comics-code compliant mechanical anatomy, wears clothes because that's just how people are supposed to act.

Okay, this leaves me with the most intimidating part of the process, picking my three Qualities. I've played games where you write down quirks as part of the process, and where personality traits could have a mechanical effect, but this particular combination of open-endedness and mechanical importance is new to me. Okay, here goes:
     A Completely New Life Form
     Eager to Socialize
     Made of Spare Parts

These qualities fit the character, and I think they open up a lot of possibilities both for trouble and advantage. They also seem to be absent a bit of the zing I'm seeing in a lot of sample characters, though, so maybe I'm doing it wrong. The other thing that worries me is that they might all boil down to the same statement. I'll keep turning it over and see how I feel about later, I guess.

But yeah, I could totally play this character.

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