I had been struggling with ICONS. Normally, when I create my solo books what I am doing is formally writing up, and then layout my personal rules for playing the game – solo.
ICONS was different right from the start. I got the game as a Pandemic giveaway in March. I have no background in playing ICONS, my supers background is mostly Champions. I was really struggling to read the book, understand the rules, create characters, and run adventures and come up with some fun and thematic solo rules that captured the distilled essence of ICONS.
I made my character using the random method, an approach I first saw in Zweihander, and it is not often you can use ICONS and Zweihander in the same sentence! I had my character right up to the point of creating Qualities, and I just didn’t care about him. He was a list of random numbers, randomised powers, randomised specialisations and none of me.
Anything built on random tables is normally great solo fodder. If the dice are telling you what to do, you don’t need a GM to do that for you. If you have a common format for random tables, then solo tables that follow that same structure will feel natural to the long term players.
ICONS gives us three strong table formats. The Benchmark table, The Determination table and the three tiered Powers tables.
The Benchmark table has ‘normal’ at about 3. You could run an oracle with likelihood As ‘3’ but variable depending on the situation and then roll a for and against d6. [likelihood +1d6 – 1d6]. Then read off the question answer off a benchmark table. This is a nice solution as you can have different columns for different situations, giving more context to the answers.
The Determination would be a simple 1d6 oracle. This is the easiest, but least inspiring solution. I have build 2d6 oracles many times. The Power Type table from pg 59 would be my chosen model. That gives me a range of answers centred around a complication/’OMG!’ answer at 7.
The Three Tiered Powers Tables. These use 1d6 twice, The first is 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6. Then, the second second d6 gives six options within that band. So 1-2 would be negative, 3-4 neutral and 5-6 positive, and then six gratuations within each band. Likelihood would be a +1/-1 on the first die roll. I was playing with a table that had the first column split into three rows, but then several additional ‘powers’ columns to give different contextual answers, kind of marrying up the Powers and the Benchmark models.
But you cannot play a character you don’t care about. If you don’t care about the character you cannot write interesting Qualities. Without Qualities you cannot play the game.
That is a dead stop.
This morning I was feeding the dogs (three Sheltand sheepdogs – shelties) and I suddenly could picture my ICONS character. I finally understood who and what he was. He is a 2000AD style Rogue Trooper genetically engineered ABC warrior. If you know me on Discord you will probably know where Rogue Trooper bubbled up from, and Sean Van Damme was the inspiration for the GI Joe – not literally, bit.
It is way too late in the week now, to start playing, then writing, then playtesting, then revising and laying out a book to get it out on Monday. This book will be my next solo book, but I don’t know how long it will take to get it ‘right’.
If you are an ICONS fan, and either a soloist or interested in trying solo play, you will have to wait a little longer than I had hoped.
But, it is coming.