ICONS house rules

From WestGuard

Kalos Universe house rules

These are the ICONS house rules and clarifications for the Kalos Universe. The game system used is ICONS (also available in PDF).

Benchmarks

Some helpful numbers for people who like that sort of thing. All numbers are approximate.


Level Material Weight (Lifting) Speed Distance (Movement)
Radius (Weather Control, etc.)
1 Paper 30 lbs (heavy sack) 12 mph (running) 100 feet
2 Plastic 50 lbs (small child) 30 mph (max human running) 250 feet
3 Aluminum 100 lbs (several heavy sacks) 75 mph (fast bird, cheetah) 700 feet
4 Brick 200 lbs (adult man) 200 mph (fast car) 1,500 feet
5 Concrete 500 lbs (motorcycle) 500 mph (airplane) 4,000 feet
6 Stone 4,000 lbs (average car) 1,200 mph (supersonic airplane) 2 miles
7 Iron 60 tons (tank) 6,000 mph (superjet) 10 miles
8 Steel 200 tons (train engine) 30,000 mph (rocket) 50 miles
9 Diamond 10,000 tons (building) 300,000 mph 500 miles
10 Unobtainium 1,000,000 tons (mountain) 6,000,000 mph (interplanetary speeds) 10,000 miles

Character creation

Please see the character guidelines for the game you are playing.

You may find the ICONS sample characters a source of inspiration. It's also worth keeping in mind this advice from the Villainomicon:

One thing about Icons is that it paints characters in broad strokes. Especially when you are creating villains and other non-player characters, don't worry too much about the little details, so long as you have an overall sense of what the character is like and how the game traits are supposed to work in play.

If there's a particular detail not covered by a specific specialty, power, or other game trait, but important to the character overall, consider making it an aspect. Examples include things like Alien, Android, Disembodied Spirit, or Brain in a Jar, just to name a few. These quickly and easily sum up things about the character and allow players to potentially tag them during the game in order to spend Determination. You don't have to worry about the specifics, just deal with them as needed as the game unfolds.

Motivation

See this list of ICONS motivations, provided by Doug Sims.

Power level

A lot of us have a tendency to want to be extraordinary even in things that aren't particularly important to the character. For example, Awareness and Willpower in the 5-6 range is up there with the most Aware and Willpower-y people on Earth. A professional weightlifter might only have a Strength of 5, and even a normal guy who exercises and has bulging muscles might only have a 4.

Similarly, powers don't need to be 8 to be impressive. A Blast of 5 is plenty powerful: it can blow right through concrete on an average roll. Similarly, a Flight of 5 is as fast as a full-blown race car, and 6 can catch up to an airplane. That's fast. Iron Man (in the movie) was playing tag with the jet fighters -- he wasn't outrunning them, and they weren't going full speed. So even he was probably only Flight 6.

Just something to keep in mind.

All that being said, here are some point values that we have found to be useful starting points for characters of various power levels. This is not a guarantee, or a replacement for common sense: simply a guideline.


Points Power Level
35 Mundane
40 Street Level
45 Novice
55 Competent
65 Veteran
75 Cosmic

Character advancement

Use the hero improvement rules on page 93, with the exception of new powers.

Experience

We use Determination for character advancement. Determination may be used to purchase new Powers and Specialties.

Generally, characters receive a point of Determination every two or three games, or at the conclusion of a storyline.

New powers

A character may gain a completely new power by spending one point of Determination per level of the new Power (note: some Powers cost double). This new power must have an in-game explanation (be it an accident, a new gadget, super serum, or any other means approved by the Game Moderator). A new power that has been attempted as a Stunt at least ten times is a perfect in-game explanation.

Specialties

Languages

All characters can speak (and read and write) in their native language.

If you do not want to deal with the issue of the language barrier, just assume everybody speaks the same language, unless there's a dramatic need for the language barrier to arise.

If you do want to take languages into account, an Intellect 1 character is fluent in one language. Each additional level of Intellect doubles the number of possible languages, and each level of the Languages specialty counts as a level of Intellect in terms of known languages. (For example, the smartest "normal" person who has ever lived -- Intellect 6 -- would speak at most 32 languages, unless they were also a Languages Expert, in which case they might be fluent in more.)

Of course, not everyone will know as many languages as they theoretically could. Americans, for example, are very rarely fluent in more than two (and a great many are only fluent in one).

(In case you are curious, the most extensive catalog of the world's languages, generally taken to be as authoritative as any, is that of the Ethnologue organization, whose detailed classified list currently includes 6,809 distinct languages.)

Powers

Blinding

Blindness incurs a -2 penalty to any physical tests, and the character can't see.

These penalties can be offset somewhat by Determined Effort, Focused Effort, using a stunt to gain an alternate sense, etc., as usual.

Levels in the Blinding power may be distributed among senses other than sight at the time the power is selected. So someone with Blindness 7 could have four levels applied to sight, two to hearing, and one to radio, for example. Someone with three levels of Resistance to Blinding would still be able to see, but would not be able to hear or use their radar sense.

Danger Sense

When creating characters using points, the level of Danger Sense is equal to the character's Awareness plus the number of points spent on Danger Sense. So someone with Awareness 4 who spent two points on Danger Sense would have Danger Sense 6.

Detection

When creating characters using points, the level of Detection is equal to the character's Awareness plus the number of points spent on Detection. So someone with Awareness 4 who spent two points on Detect Energy would have Detect Energy 6.

Note that this has a side effect when applied to Elemental Controls. The Detection power of an Elemental Control is limited to the level of the Elemental Control, regardless of the character's Awareness. A character with Awareness 6 and Darkness Control 4 (Creating, Attacking, Detection) would Detect Darkness at level 4.

In any case, the minimum cost for Detection is one point.

Immortality

You do not age, and you are difficult to permanently kill. You still suffer damage, even to the point of death, but you can recover from having your Strength reduced to 0.

At level 1, the character is ageless: unless something kills them (accident, injury, or disease, for example), they will live forever. However, if they are killed, they die just like anyone else.

At levels 2 and above, your body slowly regenerates lost parts; short of atomizing you or exposing you to a constant source of damage (in a volcano or the heart of a star, for example), you'll always come back eventually. Subtract the level of the character's Immortality from 11: this is how many days the character will remain "dead" after they are "killed".

At levels 2 and above, the character can only be killed in one or more specified ways (decapitation or having their mouth filled with salt and sewn shut, for example). Subtract the level of the character's Immortality from 11: this is how many ways the character may be permanently killed. You needn't specify all of the ways a character may be killed when the character is created: one or two will be enough for the first few games.

This variant of Immortality does not cost double.

Immunity

Each Immunity after the first costs half the usual amount (one point per two levels, in other words).

Immunity must be purchased at power level 10, but this variant of Immunity does not cost double.

Resistance

Each Resistance after the first costs half the usual amount (one point per two levels, in other words).

Combat

Determined effort

Characters may spend Determination to activate Aspects (1 point per Aspect per action) for a +2 to the result any time they like.

Failure

This is not a house rule: it is a clarification.

When a villain attacks a hero, the player rolls a test using their relevant Ability (often Prowess or Coordination) to keep from being hit. If the hero's effort (Ability + the roll) is exactly the same as the Ability the villain is using to attack, the hero is successful, and the attack misses. If the hero rolls less than the villain's Ability, the hero fails, and the attack hits.

Major failure

This is not a house rule: it is a clarification.

When a villain attacks a hero, if the hero rolls less than the villain's Ability, the hero fails, and the attack hits. If the hero's roll fails by 3 or 4, this is a major failure, which is a major success for the villain.

Massive failure

This is not a house rule: it is a clarification.

When a villain attacks a hero, if the hero rolls less than the villain's Ability, the hero fails, and the attack hits. If the hero's roll fails by 5 or more, this is a massive failure, which is a massive success for the villain.

Power stunts

Characters do not need to roll to perform power stunts if they spend a point of Determination. If the character is out of Determination, then they can roll to attempt a power stunt. The difficulty for such an attempt is 6.


(Several of these house rules were suggested on the Gallant Knight Enterprises forum and the Truth, Justice, and Gaming wiki.)