Monday, April 30, 2012

Rethinking Powers: Powers from Vigilance Press

There are several new powers for Adamant Entertainment's ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying Game from third party publisher Vigilance Press that make nice additions to the game. When Adamant Entertainment released the Villainomicon, it also included some new powers but it additionally let you know what powers they could be substituted for during random character generation, and you could deduce from that the new power's type (Alteration, Control, Defensive, Mental, Movement, Offensive or Sensory). Unfortunately, most of the new powers from Vigilance Press were published before the Villainomicon came out and don't provide this information.

Below is a list of all the new powers for ICONS from Vigilance Press that I am aware of with their source and suggestions for where they can be chosen when randomly rolling ICONS characters and for their power type.

Adaption (x2)
Alteration Power
Summary: Temporarily acquire a useful power for your current situation!
Source: Field Guide to Superheroes 1 - p. 11 (Vigilance Press)
When randomly rolling characters, Adaption can be taken in place of Power Theft. 

Control Power
Summary: Get an equipment package built from minor powers, like a utility belt!
Source: Field Guide to Superheroes 1 - p. 22 (Vigilance Press)
When randomly rolling characters, Equipment can be taken in place of Wizardry.

Sensory Power
Summary: Know things when you need to know them by divine inspiration, cosmic awareness, a sixth-sense or even a computer databank built into your power suit!
Source: Field Guide to Superheroes 2 - p. 12 (Vigilance Press)
When randomly rolling characters, Inspiration can be taken in place of Danger Sense.

Summon (x2)
Control Power
Summary: Summon minions to appear instantly and aid you!
Source: Action Scenes: Museum Mayhem - p. 13 (Vigilance Press)
When randomly rolling characters, Summon can be taken in place of Wizardry.

Movement Power
Summary: Get your own super-vehicle, like the Batmobile!
Source: Field Guide to Superheroes 2 - p. 48 (Vigilance Press)
When randomly rolling characters, Super-Vehicle can be taken in place of Super-Speed.

Ultra-Power (x2)
Alteration Power
Summary: Get three powers for the price of one, but you can only use them one at a time!
Source: Field Guide to Superheroes 3 - p. 14 (Vigilance Press)
When randomly rolling characters, Ultra-Power can be taken in place of Power Duplication.

New Power: Conjuration

Here's another new power I've come up with based on a character description by Fabrício Franco over at RPGNet. As Fabrício and his game group discovered, there isn't an existing power in the ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying core rules that allows you to summon an inanimate object to you from elsewhere (although there is a Summon power in Vigilance Press's adventure Action Scenes: Museum Mayhem that allows you to summon minions or other living creatures to aid you). Stage magicians are always conjuring up silk scarves, live doves and rabbits and even larger things like cars, elephants and tigers in their acts, so I thought that Conjuration would be a good name for this new power. I chose to stick with inanimate objects though as the Summon power deals with living beings and creatures. As always, critiques and suggestions are welcome in the comment section below.

Control Power
You may conjure a single inanimate, non-living object to you or a place you designate near you (in visual range) instantly no matter how distant that item may be from you. The object conjured must already exist in reality or the real world (as defined by the GM) and be something you have previously seen or touched before - you cannot conjure something from nothing or "out of thin air".

You can only conjure objects weighing no more than Strength of your power level could lift. Use your power level to determine the maximum weight and mass of an object you can conjure, as if you were trying to lift it (see the table for Lifting, p. 62 of the ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying core rulebook). So with a Conjuration rank of 1, you can conjure a small item like a book or a weapon to you, and Conjuration 10 would literally let the mountain come to Mohammed.

As a stunt, you may spend a point of Determination and attempt to conjure a single object heavier than Strength of your power level could lift. Roll a power level test against a difficulty equal to the Strength it would take to lift the object. Anything less than a major or massive success results in failure.

Additionally, you may spend a point of determination as a stunt and attempt to conjure multiple objects (up to your power level in number) at the same time. Each of these objects must individually weigh no more than Strength of your power level could lift. Roll a power level test against a difficulty of the number of objects you wish to conjure or the Strength it would take to lift the heaviest object, whichever is greater. On a major or massive success, all the items appear to you. On a moderate success, only one item appears (chosen randomly by the GM if items are different). Failure results in no objects appearing.

As a bonus power, you may conjure a single inanimate, non-living object "out of thin air", but it must be a type of item that already exists in reality or the real world (i.e. you cannot use this power to "invent" new items or make imaginary items real), and you must be familiar with similar objects from previous experience. This is useful if you know what kind of object you need but don't know the location of one.

When randomly rolling characters, Conjuration can be taken in place of Wizardry.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rethinking Powers: Telepathy

Thinking about some of the conversation following last night's Mind Tap power post (which I initially was calling Mind Link but that name really didn't fit) got me thinking about how I would model the group telepathy power that DC Comics' Martian Manhunter and Miss Martian have in ICONS. I came up with the following re-write of the Telepathy power, including Mind Link as a bonus power option to allow for group telepathic communication. Please feel free to critique and evaluate in the comment section below.

Miss Martian - Young Justice
Mental Power
You can read the minds of others and transmit your thoughts to them.

You can read the mind of any character with a Willpower level lower than your Telepathy level or Willpower, whichever is greater. Minds with greater Willpower are closed to you unless you first tag one of their aspects (see Tagging and Compelling under Determination). Roll a Telepathy test against the subject’s Willpower to read their thoughts.

You are automatically aware when someone attempts to read your mind and may attempt to block the attempt; both telepaths roll power tests and the greater effort wins.

Mind Link: As a bonus power, a subject may elect to allow you to automatically read their mind (negating the need for any Willpower/Telepathy comparisons or Telepathy tests), allowing for two-way mental communication between you and the subject. Mind Link, however, only allows you to read the surface thoughts of the subject which is sufficient for having a mental conversation just as you would a verbal spoken one. You may add additional subjects to a Mind Link mental conversation at the cost of one Determination point per additional subject, but the Determination may be spent from your pool, the subject's pool or a Team Determination pool you share with the subject.

You may choose Mind Control or Mind Tap as bonus powers.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New Power: Mind Tap

Here's a new ICONS power I came up with tonight based on a character description by Fabrício Franco over at RPGNet. I've tweaked it a bit since I originally posted it over there. It is based on the Mind Control (from the ICONS core rulebook) and Sensory Link (from the Villainomicon) powers. Please feel free to discuss, critique and evaluate in the comments below.

Mind Tap (x2)
Mental Power
By establishing a mental connection with another individual, you may tap into their knowledge and experiences.

A target of Mind Tap must be within visual range for the link to be formed (but may travel out of range with an active Mind Tap) and have a Willpower level less than the level of this power or your own Willpower, whichever is greater. Those with greater Willpower are immune to your Mind Tap unless you first tag one of their aspects (see Tagging and Compelling under Determination). To access the mind of another person, roll a Mind Tap test with a difficulty of the target’s Willpower. If successful, you are connected to the target's mind until you choose to release them.

With a successful Mind Tap, you may access all the target's specialties and use them as if they were your own, but you must use your own corresponding ability scores when using the target's specialties. By spending a Determination point, you may use the target's specialties at the target's ability level (at a cost of one Determination point for each ability you access) as if it were your own. You may only mentally tap into one individual or consciousness at a time.

A Mind Tap may be maintained through concentration. If you are distracted (attacked, for example), a Willpower test with a difficulty equal to your Mind Tap level is required to maintain the connection.

If the subject of your Mind Tap is stunned or killed, roll a Willpower test with a difficulty equal to the damage of the attack, and read the result as a Mental Blast targeting you.

When randomly rolling characters, Mind Tap can be taken in place of Mind Control.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just One Day Left to Back JUSTICE WHEELS on IndieGoGo

$12 bucks for 17 PDFs - each with an ICONS hero and their signature vehicle (stats and artwork), each with notes on using the hero optionally as a villain instead, is a pretty sweet deal. If you are sitting on the fence, I just want to say I've had nothing but positive experiences with Fainting Goat Games' last Kickstarter for Improbable Tales, so check out the JUSTICE WHEELS IndieGoGo fundraiser before it closes in the next 24 hours! 

Rethinking Standees for ICONS

At the end of last night's post, I alluded to having some thoughts on using standees in ICONS games, and cardboard miniatures, counters and terrain in general. Cardboard standees or miniatures are nothing new to gaming and have been around for quite awhile (even before the PDF revolution), but they have become intimately associated with playing the ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying Game since its introduction. Not only does Adamant Entertainment provide them with their Hero Pack supplements, but third party ICONS publishers more often than not include a set of standees in their products as well. Cardboard minis are exactly what they say on the tin: inexpensive alternatives to metal miniatures for roleplaying games at the same ~28mm scale useable with a 1" = 5' square (or hex) grid.

Villains & Vigilantes counters in action.
Cardboard counters are another alternative to miniatures or standees, be they paper or metal. These are nothing new either. They are usually 1" flat squares (for medium humanoid size figures) that feature a facial portrait of the humanoid character they represent, although sometimes they can be a full "top down" view of the entire figure. The old Villains and Vigilantes Supers Roleplaying Game used to feature counters like this in their products back in the day, and they gained popularity during the d20 era (i.e. Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition) when a company called Fiery Dragon started producing some very nice Counter Collection sets. Again the scale is 1" = 5' on a square grid. Recently HAZARD Studio included, in addition to the standard ICONS standees, counter versions of the NPC villains in Zenith Comics Presents: Supervillains (ICONS) as well, much like the old Villains and Vigilantes game did.

So here's what I've been thinking: ICONS doesn't have rules for miniatures or grid-based combat but instead uses abstract definitions and descriptions for distance and range. There is no reason the standees (or counters) have to be standard miniature size and tied to a 1" grid in an abstract distance/range system when I could be using something BIGGER...

As a kid, I grew up in the 1970s with actions figures - everything from Hasbro's G.I. JOE (12", not 4"), Mego's Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, DC and Marvel Heroes figures, all the way up to Kenner's Six Million Dollar Man and Star Wars people (first movie only though as by high school I grew out of them), and one other related toy that I will get to shortly. They were a big part of my young life and probably explain why I love playing with and making my own cardboard standees for my ICONS games, even if they don't provide much in the way of game mechanics and just an opportunity for this 40-something-year-old gamer to play with action figures once again.

Ideal Batman Play Set unboxed.
So what do I really want instead of the cardboard standees? Flashback to the 1970s once again. There was a company called Ideal that used to make these vinyl play sets for Batman, Superman and Spider-Man with cardboard cutouts of all the major characters - heroes, villains and supporting cast - as well as vehicles and furnishings that stood about five inches tall in little yellow stands. The storage box also doubled as a play area divided into three sections - the Batman set gave you Wayne Manor, the Batcave and the Joker's hideout, as I recall. I had all three hero sets and recall spending a lot of time playing with them. I would love to make and use something like this for my ICONS games. This recent post at RPGNet got me thinking about taking my cardboard mini projects up a notch, and I recently discovered this blog that features some very impressive cardboard terrain and scenery builds. Now that I no longer live in a small one bedroom apartment in New York City, I have the room to do projects like this. And since I don't really need to be tied to the 1" grid with ICONS, I think I want to Super-size my Supers games.

So that's where I (ahem) stand with standees. I think I'm going to experiment with trying to make some larger figures like the ones found in the old Ideal superhero play sets. If it works out, I'll be sure to share the results here.

Thanks again for reading!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Batman: The Brave and the Bold - The Lost Episode

Tonight one of my gaming buddies gave me a rare treat - I got to experience a 1-on-1 session of ICONS as a player and not the GM. My friend Scotty wanted to try GMing a game of ICONS so we threw together an off-the-cuff adventure just for fun where I got to play Desert Storm, the first character I ever created in ICONS (he's a featured iconic now in ICONS: Hero Pack I), as well as the Dark Knight himself, the one and only Batman. I really wanted to try a few of the new ideas that ICONS developer Steve Kenson has been kicking around lately on his blog, but since Scotty is a new GM, we opted to just use the RAW instead. That included using the traditional d6-d6 dice rolling method where one die is designated positive and the other negative (those of you who know me know that I prefer to use 2d6-7), so it was good to experience that in play again.

So Desert Storm and Batman teamed up (just like in a typical episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold) to take on the villainous duo of Mentuhotep (detailed in ICONS: Hero Pack I) and The Rukh (from Moreau Files 2, a Vigilance Press product by Mike Lafferty). Desert Storm and The Rukh, who is sometimes friend, sometimes foe, have crossed paths before. The action took place in the Egyptian desert at the site of a lost tomb buried beneath the sands that belonged to the infamous Black Pharaoh, his real name erased for his crimes eons ago. Mentuhotep and The Rukh teamed up together to raid the tomb and recover two powerful artifacts that each desired to possess: The Book of the Undead (containing powerful necromantic magics that Mentuhotep desired) and the Rod of the Scorpion (a powerful but corrupting weapon that The Rukh wanted to obtain to help protect the people of his Middle Eastern nation). Desert Storm learned of their plans and contacted Batman who flew over to the Middle East in the Batplane to help him put a stop to it and recover the dangerous artifacts themselves and safely hide them away.

Outside the entrance to the tomb, Desert Storm and Batman first had to battle two giant scorpions summoned by The Rukh with the Rod of the Scorpion. Once those menaces were defeated, the heroes entered the tomb and had a final showdown in the burial chamber of the tomb. Mentuhotep and The Rukh were eventually defeated and Batman took the Book of the Undead and the Rod of the Scorpion away for safekeeping. All-in-all, it was a fun time!

Batman and Desert Storm vs. giant scorpions outside the tomb!
I've included some shots of the play table complete with the paper standees from Hero Pack I (although the ones for the Rukh and Batman were homemade by me). The giant scorpion counters were something I made back in my d20 Modern days and had lying around. The terrain outside of the buried tomb was made using tiles from e-Adventure Tiles: Desert Ruins by SkeletonKey Games (specifically tiles DR01 and DR19). The burial chamber terrain tile was taken from Battlemaps Lairs: Mummy's Tomb by 0one Games. I love raiding my gaming stuff to come up with pot luck like this.

Showdown in the burial chamber with Mentuhotep and The Rukh!
The next photo below illustrates two things I want to share. First, for anyone reading that may not be familiar with the ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying Game, notice how my character sheet for Desert Storm is a 3" x 5" index card? All his game stats fit on one side of an index card! How's that for rules light? Finally, see the two jumbo d20s? We use those to track Determination, turning the d20 to the number of Determination  points the PC hero currently has as it is gained and spent through tagging and compelling of Aspects during game play. This keeps the table less cluttered by eliminating coins, poker chips or other markers to track Determination.

The tools of the ICONS trade.
Playing ICONS tonight with the cardboard standees, counters and terrain got me thinking about something, but more on that next time...

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Release Roundup: April 2012

Fainting Goat Games recently released the second title from their recent ICONS Kickstarter, Improbable Tales: Primal Power. Written by Mike Lafferty and Dan Taylor with artwork by Adrian Smith, Jacob Blackmon, Darren Calvert and Dan Houser, this new ICONS scenario features Virunga, a super-evil super-genius gorilla attempting to steal a Doomsday weapon from a top secret weapons plant. This 21-page PDF also includes tips on running the adventure based on play testing results, nicely rendered detailed maps, and paper standees of all the major villains and NPCs. Primal Power is on sale at RPGNow for just $2.50.

Adamant Entertainment has released the latest official ICONS adventure, ICONS: Flight of the Nova-1, written and illustrated by ICONS line artist Dan Houser.

The world waits with baited breath as Apex Innovations, one of the largest manufacturers of advanced technology in Victor City is about to launch the Nova-1, an experimental space plane with a revolutionary new engine called the Fusion Inductor designed by Doctor Brom Solomon. The engine is powered by a theoretical fuel source called the Potentiality Sling, a process that converts irradiated material’s potential energy into thrust.

The Nova-1 Experimental Space Plane and its six brave astronauts fall victim to an attack by a team of supervillains determined to steal the Fusion Inductor!

The heroes must rescue the crew and stop the assault on

This 19-page PDF adventure is specially designed as a introductory launch point for a campaign featuring a new group of superheroes, and sells for $5.00 at RPGNow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Golden Age Throwbacks: Doc Strange

Let's continue our roll call of Nedor superheroes from the Golden Age of Comic Books who are now in the public domain with the next member of the Golden Age Throwbacks: Doc Strange. In many ways, Doc Strange is similar to the other heroes we have examined so far (i.e. his powers, beautiful girlfriend and male teenage sidekick) but with two notable differences. First off, unlike most superheroes of the time and even many today, Dr. Hugo Strange does not have a secret identity and goes by his real name (although he prefers to be called by the nickname 'Doc'). In addition, the Doc Strange stories feature less of the "one-off" stereotyped (and expendable) Axis Powers villains we have previously seen but instead present themed, sometimes reoccurring nemeses with more fully developed personalities and motivations such as Electru, the Faceless Phantom and the Emperor.

Origin: None
Real Name: Dr. Hugo Strange
First Appearance: Thrilling Comics #1 [Nedor Comics February 1940]

Prowess  4
Coordination  3
Strength  4
Intellect  5
Awareness  3
Willpower  4

Stamina  8
Determination  3

  • Aerial Combat Expert
  • Criminology
  • Martial Arts Expert
  • Science Master (Chemistry)
  • Ability Boost Device 8 (Strength) - Alosun Distillate
  • Flight Device 7  - Alosun Distillate 
  • Invulnerability Device 4 - Alosun Distillate
Virginia Thompson
  • Connections: Virginia Thompson (Fiancée)
  • Sidekick: Mike Ellis
  • Epithet: America's Champion
  • Motivation: Dedicated to crushing and defeating crime
  • Identity: Brilliant Scientist
  • Enemy: Axis Powers
  • Enemy: The Faceless Phantom
  • Enemy: The Emperor
  • Enemy: Electru
  • Weakness: Needs to regularly drink Alosun distillate for powers to work
Point Total: 50

Mike Ellis
Real Name: Mike Ellis
Notable Stats:
Ability Boost Device 7 (Strength) - Alosun Distillate;
Flight Device 7  - Alosun Distillate
Notable Aspects: Connections: Doc Strange

Crime's Mightiest Menace!
Dr. Hugo 'Doc' Strange was a brilliant American scientist committed to finding a way to defeat crime, so he developed a powerful serum called Alosun by distilling atoms from the sun. By ingesting this Alosun distillate, Doc Strange was given the the powers of super strength, invulnerability and the ability to leap great distances. After years of developing the Alosun distillate, he was finally able to field test his discovery when he crossed paths with the Faceless Phantom who was attempting to steal a powerful Delta Ray Gun capable of stopping battleships. Doc Strange was engaged to Virginia Thompson, the daughter of the Delta Ray Gun's inventor Professor Thompson, and became involved when her father was kidnapped by the Faceless Phantom. Behind the skull mask, the Faceless Phantom was the secret identity of Commissioner Baxter who had developed his own secret super strength formula, but it was not as powerful as Doc's Alosun distillate so Doc was able to defeat him and rescue Virginia's father. Afterwards, Virginia often accompanied Doc Strange on his adventures.

The Faceless Phantom later returned with an improved super strength formula to rival the Alosun serum that had previously defeated him, but Doc had also been busy improving his own distillate and now had improved super strength and the ability to fly! The Faceless Phantom did return with one new power however - the ability to disappear in a cloud of purple mist. Doc Strange was able to use his expertise in chemistry to determine that the Faceless Phantom was using an ancient Egyptian chemical called 'Kalodin' to cause him to vanish and developed a reagent to counter its effects from an ancient manuscript. Doc Strange was finally able to defeat his enemy in battle once and for all when the Faceless Phantom, unable to fly like his rival, fell from an airplane.

Later on in his adventuring career, Doc Strange met a young orphan named Mike Ellis who idolized him. Wanting to be just like his hero, Mike dressed exactly like Doc (although he added a green cape - his own heroic touch) and persistently followed him around. Doc Strange was reluctant to allow Mike to join him as his sidekick as he didn't have any super powers, but eventually relented. At first, Doc wouldn't allow Mike to drink the Alosun distillate as he felt he was too young, but eventually Doc Strange came to believe his ward could handle both the responsibility and physical demands, and Mike gained super strength and the ability to fly just like his mentor. Mike Ellis along with Virginia Thompson accompanied and assisted Doc Strange on his many adventures over the years.

In addition to battling threats from the Axis Powers during World War II, Doc Strange had several arch enemies. Electru was an eight-foot-tall gang leader who could shoot electrical bolts from his fingertips. The Emperor was a mad Asian genius bent on destroying the United States and World domination.

Doc Strange vs. The Faceless Phantom
Doc Strange was originally created by writer Richard E. Hughes and artist Alexander Kostuk and first appeared in Thrilling Comics #1 (February 1940) published by Nedor (a.k.a. Standard) Comics.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Golden Age Throwbacks: Behind the Scenes

I'm on vacation this week, but I thought I'd throw up a quick post while away with some thoughts about the Golden Age Thowbacks project.

I thought I'd talk a little about the process I'm using to create the Golden Age superhero ICONS writeups. Right now I'm limiting myself to the most popular heroes from the pages of the now defunct Nedor (a.k.a. Standard) Comics, but eventually I plan on exploring characters from other publishers as well. I chose Nedor first for several reasons - the characters are clearly in the public domain, the characters are semi-well known, at least to true believers and comic book and supers RPG fans, and finally, I really like them from a historical perspective. While some are clearly "knock offs" of other prior established characters (some still around today), others are a little more original, and all have at least one feature to their powers or personalities that make them unique. The Nedor superheroes harken back to a bygone age of optimism and patriotism when the lines were clearly defined between Good and Evil, Right and Wrong - a nation united not divided despite its differences. There are morality plays here that serve to remind the reader of the principle beliefs America was founded on. Case in point - while researching Nedor's Doc Strange, I came across this issue where Doc confronts anti-immigrant fervor and the relevance of the lesson still resonates today.

Each Golden Age superhero post I present includes a References and Further Reading section where you can explore the invaluable resources I used in the origin writeup and for determining the character's ICONS stats. My favorite part of the process (which is also the most time-consuming) is reading the actual comics where these characters' stories are presented first hand and taking notes. I find that's the best way to truly understand not only the character's powers (and limitations) but their motivations as well. The notes are very helpful when I stat the character up in the ICONS Character Folio program - especially when I need to come up with suitable Aspects (qualities and challenges) for the character. I owe a debt of gratitude to each of those blogs and Web sites that chronicle and preserve the Golden Age of Comics for all of us and I encourage you to check them out.

I'll be back early next week with more ICONS goodness and the next installment of Golden Age Throwbacks: DOC STRANGE!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Golden Age Throwbacks: The American Eagle

Let's continue our exploration of the superheroes from the pages of Nedor Comics (a.k.a. Standard Comics) now in the public domain with another member of the Golden Age Throwbacks: The American Eagle. During World War II, comic book publishers created dozens of "Super Patriots" wrapped in stars and stripes and red, white and blue that embodied the American ideals of democracy and liberty (most notably Captain America who is still around today), and The American Eagle clearly falls into this category. Like his contemporaries, he did his part to defend democracy by battling Nazi and Japanese soldiers, spies and saboteurs both at home and abroad, and sell a few war bonds on the side. The American Eagle also had something that was becoming a growing comic book trend (starting with Robin the Boy Wonder in 1940) to attract younger readers at the time - a teenage sidekick known as Eaglet.

Origin: Transformed
Real Name: Tom Standish
First Appearance: America's Best Comics #2 [Nedor Comics September 1942]

Prowess  5
Coordination  4
Strength  8
Intellect 3
Awareness  3
Willpower  3

Stamina  11
Determination  3

  • Aerial Combat Master
  • Martial Arts Expert
  • Science Expert (Biology)
  • Science (Chemistry)
  • Science (Physics)
  • Ability Increase (Strength)
  • Flight 6
  • Supersenses 6 (Enhanced Vision, Extended Vision)
American Eagle and Eaglet
  • Sidekick: Eaglet (Bud Pierce)
  • Epithet: Democracy's Champion
  • Epithet: Soaring Symbol of National Honor and Courage
  • Catchphrase: Here's my personal Mickey Finn!
  • Catchphrase: Clear for action!
  • Enemy : Axis Powers
  • Enemy: Organized Crime (post-war)
  • Weakness: Needs to wear a cape to fly (but not a device power)
Point Total: 48

Real Name: Bud Pierce
Notable Stats: Strength 7; Flight 6; Aerial Combat Expert; Martial Arts
Notable Aspects: Connections: The American Eagle (Tom Standish)

Tom Standish
Tom Standish was a young scientist working in the lab of Dr. Wolfe where the two were collaborating on a serum that would mimic the strength and flight capabilities of the American bald eagle. Standish accidentally spilled the serum on a cathode ray tube which began to glow with an eerie light. Curious as to what effects the serum had on the tube, he plugged it into a projector and was bombarded with a strange black light. When he went to inform Dr. Wolfe of his discovery, he accidentally overheard Wolfe conspiring with Nazi saboteurs to poison America's water supply.  The Nazis seized him and threw him over a cliff, but much to Tom's surprise, he survived the fall without a scratch and learned that he now possessed superhuman strength and the ability to fly. He had become the living embodiment of America's national bird, the bald eagle! Using his new found powers, he went back to the lab and put an end to the Nazi plot by pushing the whole building and its villainous occupants over the same cliff he was thrown from earlier.

Bud Pierce
Now without a job, Tom Standish returned to the city to look for work where he was almost struck down and killed by a speeding car if not for the quick action of a brave and surprisingly strong teenager by the name of Bud Pierce. Standish learned that Pierce was the son of a circus strongman which accounted for his above average strength and athletic prowess, and that the lad was now out on his own in the world. He offered to take the young man in and together they decided to pool their resources and get back on their feet. Shortly after, Tom Standish was offered a new job in a lab but soon discovered he would be working for the same Dr. Wolfe who had survived the earlier fall from the cliff.

Fed up with Wolfe and the Nazis operating so blatantly out in the open on American shores, Standish designed a costume for himself and decided to stop them once and for all disguised as The American Eagle! With the help of Bud Pierce, who created his own costume and secret identity known as Eaglet (after exposing himself to the same black light cathode ray tube to gain the ability to fly), the super-heroic duo put an end to Nazi and Japanese Axis threats on American soil and abroad for the duration of the war. Tom Standish got a job with the United States government as a scientist and consultant, and his duties for Uncle Sam often led to crossing paths with America's enemies. After the war ended, The American Eagle and Eaglet continued to serve their country by taking the fight to organized crime.

The American Eagle was originally created by writer Richard Hughes and artist Kin Platt and first appeared in America's Best Comics #2 (September 1942) and Exciting Comics #22 (October 1942), both published by Nedor (a.k.a. Standard) Comics.

ICONS: Hero Pack 4 Recruitment Drive!

ICONS line artist Dan Houser still has slots left for the upcoming ICONS: Hero Pack 4 character supplement to be published by Adamant Entertainment, so now is your chance to have your character drawn by Dan and entered into the official ICONS universe setting! For $10 bucks, you get all this:
  • Your character (hero or villain) drawn in Dan's "iconic" ICONS style (for the professional publication release by Adamant)
  • Your character drawn in a more "classic" comic book style (for a contributors only release)
  • The PDF of collected contributor release characters (contributors only release)
  • A "nemesis" for your character created and drawn by Dan for the professional publication release by Adamant
  • The PDF of the professional ICONS: Hero Pack 4 release from Adamant Entertainment
You also have the option to not include your character in the professional public release from Adamant Entertainment if you prefer - see Dan's announcement for more information.

So sign up now to be forever a part of ICONS lore and history!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Golden Age Throwbacks: Pyroman

Tonight I continue our look back at some of the superheroes from the Golden Age of Comic Books that are now in the public domain and present the next member of the Golden Age Throwbacks: Pyroman. As you will see, his name is a bit of a misnomer as Pyroman's powers have nothing to do with fire but instead are based on his body's ability to store electric current. Pyroman was created by artist Jack Binder but the name of the writer who gave us his first appearance and origin story has sadly been lost to time.

Origin: Transformed
Real Name: Dick Martin
First Appearance: Startling Comics #18 [Nedor Comics December 1942]

Prowess  4
Coordination  5
Strength  6
Intellect  4
Awareness  3
Willpower  3

Stamina  9
Determination  4

  • Electronics Expert (Electrical Engineering)
  • Martial Arts Master
  • Underwater Combat
  • Elemental Control 8 (Electrical) - Body can store electric current
    • Attacking (Lighting Bolts [Blast Shooting Attack])
    • Defending (Electromagnetic Force Field)
  • Flight 5  - By following the electromagnetic field of high tension power lines and moving metal objects like cars
As a stunt, Pyroman can tag his Epithet: The Crackling Crusader quality and spend a point of Determination to use his Electrical Elemental Control power to break down water to its essential parts, hydrogen and oxygen, and use the oxygen released to breathe under water as if he had the Aquatic power.

  • Connections : Professor Clark
  • Connections: Joyce Clark (Girlfriend)
  • Epithet : The Crackling Crusader
  • Catchphrase : Refers to his enemies as 'rats' (e.g. More little rats, eh? Well come and get it, boys!)
  • Catchphrase : This is my knuckle punch - it'll make you knuckle under!
  • Enemy : Axis Powers
  • Weakness : Rubber and asbestos insulate against electricity-based powers (e.g. rubber-soled shoes) and prevent them from working
  • Weakness : Stored electrical charge in his body can be drained preventing power use until recharged (e.g. by absorbing a lighting bolt while in the water to restore powers)
Point Total: 45

Professor Clark and Dick Martin
Dick Martin was an electrical engineering student and research assistant at Central Technical School when he accidentally stumbled upon a gang of arsonists led by the Nazi saboteur known as Dizasta. In order to protect their evil plot against America, the enemy Nazi agent and his arsonists attempted to kill Dick by sabotaging an experiment he was working on in the research lab of Professor Clark - a new dynamo using experimental neutralized current. This neutralized current proved fortunate for Dick because he was able to safely absorb all the electrical discharge in the accident. When they realized that their attempt to silence Dick Martin for good had failed, they set him up to take the fall for a fatal arson Dizasta and his gang had actually committed. Dick was wrongly charged, tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair. When the switch on the electric chair was thrown, Dick instantly realized his body had developed the ability to store electric current thanks to his work with high voltage electricity and the earlier accident in Professor Clark's lab. He was able to escape from prison with his new found powers and decided to go after Dizasta and his henchmen who framed him to clear his name by donning an old masquerade costume and disguising himself as Pyroman! Using his new powers, Pyroman brought Dizasta and his gang of arsonist saboteurs to justice and cleared Dick Martin's good name. Afterwards, he decided to continue to use his electrical powers and secret identity to fight crime and protect the innocent.

Joyce Clark and Dick Martin
For most of his career during World War II, Pyroman foiled the plots of Nazi and Japanese saboteurs on the American home front. Only one person knew the true identity of Pyroman, Dick Martin's mentor and boss, Professor Clark. Clark was Dick Martin's professor of electrical engineering and one of the country's leading electrical wizards. He was often the target of enemy agents and spies of the Axis powers at war with America because of his research and technological developments. Professor Clark's daughter Joyce was Dick Martin's girlfriend and was often captured or taken hostage by America's enemies when she unwittingly stumbled upon their schemes. And although she was always rescued by Pyroman, she never knew that her very savior was none other than her boyfriend Dick Martin.

Take that, rat!
Pyroman's powers stem from his body's ability to store thousands of volts of electricity in his body. His powers include creating electrical energy and transmitting electrical bolts to strike down foes, creating electromagnetic force fields for protection, and flying through the air by using the electromagnetic field of high tension power lines and moving metal objects like cars and launched torpedoes and then going along for the ride. His powers can only be neutralized by insulators such as rubber or asbestos (his smarter enemies always wore rubber-soled shoes and tied him up with insulated steel wire), and occasionally very powerful effects could drain him of all his stored current that he would later need to recharge to regain his powers. Recharging usually involved being in a large body of water (a great conductor) and getting hit by a bolt of lightning. 

Pyroman was originally created by Jack Binder and first appeared in Startling Comics #18 (December 1942) published by Nedor Comics.

New Release Roundup: Early April 2012

The month of April is certainly off with a bang, at least as far as new product releases for ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying is concerned. As the countdown to the release of ICONS: TEAM-UP later this month commences, Adamant Entertainment continues to whet our appetite with a steady stream of new ICONS products with their most recent release, No Laughing Matter. This new April-Fools-Day-themed ICONS adventure is written by the esteemed John Post (author of the earlier ICONS adventure Whiteout!) with artwork by ICONS line artist Dan Houser. No Laughing Matter is a 28-page PDF adventure that pits the heroes up against The Punster, a new Joker/Riddler-style ICONS villain with a mad scheme to detonate bombs throughout the city unless the heroes can solve the clues in his jokes and puns. No Laughing Matter also presents for the first time ever full character stats and writeups for Doctor Punch and Electric Judy, two ICONS heroes featured prominently in the artwork of the ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying Game core rulebook. In addition to the adventure PDF, this release also includes ICF files for use with the ICONS Character Folio of Doctor Punch, Electric Judy, The Punster, Punchline and Set-Up. No Laughing Matter retails for $5.00 at RPGNow.

As a preview to promote their Indiegogo fundraiser for Justice Wheels, Fainting Goat Games has just released Justice Wheels #1 Black Scarab at RPGNow. This six-page PDF features Black Scarab - a street level vigilante who is guided in his pursuit of justice by an ancient Egyptian goddess - and his customized roadster F.A.L.C.O.N. (Fortified Assault Logistical Conveyance). Each Justice Wheels PDF will contain the ICONS stats, images, paper miniatures for one character and their signature vehicle along with tips for using them as a hero or villain in your game, all of which you can "test drive" in this preview release, and if you like what you see (and I know you will), please consider signing up for the Justice Wheels fundraiser at Indiegogo. Justice Wheels #1 Black Scarab is written by Mike Lafferty with artwork by Scott Harshbarger and Dan Houser, and the PDF retails for just 50 cents at RPGNow. I have to say, the notes on running Black Scarab as either a hero or a villain is an excellent idea and a great value-added to the Justice Wheels product line.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New BAMF! Podcast: A Veritable ICONS Love-Fest!

Last night I had the great honor and immense pleasure of being an invited guest on Mike Lafferty's BAMF! podcast along with John Post (author of two really exciting and well-written official ICONS adventures, No Laughing Matter and Whiteout!), John Dunn of Melior Via (the incredibly awesome Hope Prep School ICONS supplements) and Walt Robillard of Hazard Studio (the immensely cool Zenith Comics Presents: Supervillains). I got a chance to talk a bit about this blog, Just Add Heroes, and the other guests talked about their latest ICONS releases, with Mike Lafferty wrapping up with some discussion about the Justice Wheels fundraiser at Indiegogo and the preview release of Justice Wheels #1 Black Scarab.

The BAMF! podcast is now live, so be sure to check it out and feel the ICONS love! Thanks again, Mike, for the opportunity and to all the other publisher guests for a great evening!

Golden Age Throwbacks: The Fighting Yank

There is a treasure trove of superheroes from the Golden Age of Comic Books that are now in the public domain. Just for fun, I've decided to start statting up some of my favorites for ICONS and share them here. By default, ICONS uses random character generation but it does offer a point-buy option, so this is a great exercise in building a character based on descriptions of existing superheroes. So tonight I present the first of the Golden Age Throwbacks: The Fighting Yank - one of the first true American patriots from the World War II era who knew how to seriously kick some Nazi butt!

Origin: None
Real Name: Bruce Carter III
First Appearance: Startling Comics #10 [Nedor Comics September 1941]

Prowess  4
Coordination  4
Strength  3
Intellect  3
Awareness  4
Willpower  3

Stamina  6
Determination  3

  • History Expert
  • Martial Arts Master
  • Pilot
  • Sail
  • Invulnerability Device 7  - Cloak of Invincibility: Firearm Attacks Only
  • Ability Boost Device 8 (Strength) - Cloak of Invincibility
  • Super-Speed Device 5  - Cloak of Invincibility
  • Connections : Ghost of Bruce Carter I
  • Epithet : America's Bravest Defender
  • Motivation : Indomitable Faith in Democracy
  • Catchphrase : ...but you'll know you've been in a fight first!
  • Connections : Joan Farwell (Fiancée)
  • Enemy : Axis Powers
  • Weakness : Must wear magical cloak for its Powers to work
Point Total: 48

The Fighting Yank is the secret identity of wealthy young aristocrat Bruce Carter III. He obtained his superhuman powers in 1941 when the ghost of his great-great grandfather Bruce Carter I, a soldier from the American Revolution, appeared and revealed to him the location of a magical cloak hidden in the attic of his ancestral family home just outside New York City. This magical cloak gave the wearer invulnerability (especially to bullet fire) and superhuman strength. Bruce Carter I was a soldier in George Washington's army in 1776 who was entrusted with delivering vital dispatches until one mission he was ambushed and killed by British spies and the information he was carrying fell into enemy hands. As punishment for his failure, Carter's restless soul was condemned to wander the earth and appear whenever danger threatened the United States and his country needed him.

Bruce Carter III and Joan Farwell
The Fighting Yank fought against the Axis Powers during World War II. His patriotic ancestor the ghost of Bruce Carter I became his guide in his war against evil, often assisting him when he got into trouble. Only Carter III's fiancée, Joan Farwell, knew of his dual identity, figuring it out the first time she saw him in costume when she pointed out to him that while it might be enough to fool strangers, she knew him far too well to be fooled by a domino mask. A skilled aviator and capable with a gun, Joan could hold her own in a fight.

The Ghost of Bruce Carter I

Along with his magical green Cloak of Invincibility, Fighting Yank also wears a tricorn hat (found in the attic with the magical cloak), square-buckled belt and shoes, a white shirt with an American flag on the chest, blue breeches and a domino mask. Bruce Carter III is the spitting image of his spectral ancestor.

The Fighting Yank was originally created by Richard E. Hughes & Jon L. Blummer and first appeared in Startling Comics #10 (September 1941) published by Nedor Comics.