Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fainting Goat Games Announces New indiegogo Fundraiser: JUSTICE WHEELS

Fainting Goat Games announced tonight that their new fundraiser for Justice Wheels has gone live at indiegogo. This new PDF series for ICONS will feature heroes and villains and their sweet rides. This looks like it will be another exciting project from the folks who brought us Improbable Tales so sign up now and and don't miss out!

Because you can't save the world (or conquer it) while riding public transit.

ICONS 1602

I'm a big fan of Marvel 1602, the comic book series where Neil Gaiman took many classic characters from Marvel Comics and transplanted them to the end of the Elizabethan era in an epic re-imagining of the Marvel Universe. Likewise, I also greatly enjoyed reading the sequels 1602: New World, 1602: Fantastick Four and Spider-Man: 1602. I've been re-reading the series lately, and it got me thinking - what would the implied setting of the ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying Game look like in an alternate universe set in the time of Queen Elizabeth I and James I?

Just for fun, I've decided to explore this thought and try to flesh it out a little more. The implied setting in ICONS is clearly designed for classic supers adventures in the modern world, so many options available to present day heroes might not exist for their Elizabethan or Jacobean counterparts, and others might have to be reworked for the time period. Heroes from earlier ages would face different challenges than they would in the modern world where supers are looked up to and accepted. For example, their powers might be seen as resulting from commerce with the Devil through witchcraft and anyone possessing powers would be persecuted by the Inquisition (an idea I explored a bit in the early history of Grimm City). For the most part, they would no longer have the technologies, scientific discoveries and other knowledge of the modern world to rely on (although having "magical" artifacts from the future or advanced alien technology is still a possibility), and how a character functions may have to be rethought to make them better fit the earlier time period. Clockworks, wood, iron, steel, and alchemy replace computer chips, electronics, plastic, titanium, and science - that sort of thing.

Specialties in 1602
Here's my attempt to rework the Specialties list from ICONS (found in the core rules with additional specialties in the Villainomicon) to better fit the time period:

The following Specialties do not exist in the Elizabethan/Jacobean time period: Computers, Criminology, Electronics, Pilot and Psychiatry. Most of the reasons for these exclusions are obvious. Criminology is absent as modern forensics and crime-solving theories and techniques had not yet been developed, and Psychiatry has been removed from the list because there was no real treatment and care for the mentally ill other than warehousing them away from the general population (and usually in deplorable conditions). These Specialties may exist, however, for characters from the future or of alien origin.

Animals as a Specialty also covers falconry, hawking, animal husbandry, livestock farming and animal blood sports (bear and bull baiting, dog and cock fighting).

Athletics no longer covers riding mounts but is instead served by Ride as a separate Specialty.

Drive is used only for the operation of animal-driven surface vehicles like carts, wagons and coaches. The operation of water vehicles - from small barges and rafts to large seafaring galleons - is now covered separately by the Sail Specialty.

An increased emphasis was placed on Heraldry during the Elizabethan era as a new class of wealthy men became eager to prove their gentility and is presented here as a new Specialty.

Martial Arts covers pugilism and other forms of unarmed combat as taught by English fighting schools and guilds of the Elizabethan era.

Medicine was in its infancy during the 17th century and based more on superstition than science. Despite this fact, there were still formal medical colleges on the European continent, although all medical licenses were ultimately granted by the Church. This Specialty covers traditional herbalism as well as the practice of treating illness and disease as imbalances of the four humors (blood, phlegm, choler and melancholy).

Mechanics applies to mechanical devices that exist in the Elizabethan/Jacobean time frame, most notably clockwork mechanisms. Feel free to embellish the extent of what clockwork mechanisms can actually do to suit your particular needs.

Nature as a specialty also covers hunting (e.g. stag, deer, foxes, rabbits, and game birds) as well as sumptuary laws (the Forest Law) and other Elizabethan hunting laws. These hunting laws (and their associated punishments) were the bane of the lower classes who were often convicted of poaching game from the lands of the aristocracy.

As the works of playwrights William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe will attest, the theater was a popular form of entertainment in Elizabethan England, so Acting is a great choice from the Performance Specialty Group for heroes looking for an interesting cover or secret identity. Music is another great choice from this Specialty Group. The lute was the most popular musical instrument in Elizabethan England, and when combined with the violin, flute and viol forms a string quartet known as the English Consort.

Science, like Medicine, was in its infancy as well and was often a dangerous pursuit in the 17th century when lines of inquiry went in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Church. The Science Specialty Group during this time period includes Alchemy, Astronomy, and Astrology.

The Weapons Specialty Group is limited to weapons that existed during the Elizabethan/Jacobean era. See Weapons and Armor in 1602 below for more information. Weapons training was taught by various fighting schools and guilds in England and across Europe.

All other Specialties remain unchanged in ICONS 1602.

Weapons and Armor in 1602
Below is a list of some common weapons and armor found in the ICONS 1602 setting. This list is not meant to be a detailed or historical treatise on Elizabethan and Jacobean weaponry and armor but intended rather to provide campaign flavor:

Weapons

Brandistock: a type of polearm that resembles a walking stick but has three concealed blades that can be shaken out to form a trident. In ICONS terminology, a brandistock does Slashing damage 3 as a bladed melee weapon.

Cutlass: This bladed melee weapon is popular with pirates and does Slashing damage 4.

Rapier: This bladed melee weapon often associated with swashbuckling does Slashing damage 4.

Sabre: This bladed melee weapon is frequently used by mounted cavalry and does Slashing damage 4.

Scimitar: This bladed melee weapon is popular in Middle Eastern cultures and does Slashing damage 4.

Polearms: Popular pole weapons include the bill, halberd and pike. In ICONS terminology,  polearms all do Slashing damage 4 as pointed and/or bladed weapons.

Cannon: This category of weapons includes field and naval guns (shot weighing up to 12 lbs) as well as the larger siege guns (shot weighing up to 60 lbs). As self-powered ranged weapons, field and naval guns to Shooting damage 6 and siege guns do Shooting damage 7.

Matchlock Firearms: The matchlock was the first firing mechanism invented for firearms and includes the arquebus, caliver and matchlock musket with rest. As self-powered ranged weapons, matchlock firearms all do Shooting damage 3.

Snaplock (Flintlock) Firearms: Snaplock firearms had the most sophisticated of all the firing mechanisms of the time period and were a little safer to use, but they still required about the same time to reload and fire. As self-powered ranged weapons, snaplock firearms all do Shooting damage 3.

Wheellock Pistols: This category of firearm includes belt pistols and horse pistols. As self-powered ranged weapons, wheellock pistols all do Shooting damage 3.

The main advantage of firearms is that they tend to ignore armor and make it obsolete. In ICONS, Matchlock, Snaplock (Flintlock) and Wheelock firearms all ignore any armor from the Elizabethan or Jacobean period worn by the target. These weapons were also cumbersome and took time to reload and fire, so the GM may wish to limit the number of times a character can fire one in any given combat (once every ten or more pages, for example, in ICONS abstract time).

Armor

Back-and-Breast: This armor consists of a steel backplate and breastplate and was frequently worn by cavalry. In ICONS terminology, it provides armor 3 damage reduction. It offers no protection against firearms.

Breastplate: Similar to back-and-breast but without the backplate, a breastplate was frequently worn by pikemen. In ICONS Terminology, it provides armor 2 damage reduction. It offers no protection against firearms.

Buff Coat: Made of supple (not hardened) leather, this armor provided protection against arrows and some sword blows. In ICONS Terminology, it provides armor 2 protection against ranged bow Shooting attacks and armor 1 damage reduction against Slashing attacks from blades. It offers no protection against firearms.

Tassets: These armored strips can be attached to breastplate or back-and-breast armor to protect the lower body and thighs and add +1 to the total damage reduction from armor. They were commonly worn by pikemen. Tassets offer no protection against firearms.

Buckler: This small metal shield was popular with the swordsmen of the Spanish army and adds +1 to the total damage reduction from armor. They also add a +1 bonus to any blocking (Strength) attempts to parry. Bucklers offer no protection against firearms.

Gauntlets: These heavy leather gloves were popular with swordsmen of the era. They add a +1 bonus to any blocking (Strength) attempts to parry or to any grabbing (Strength) attempts to disarm a bladed melee weapon.

Helmet: Types of helmet popular during the time period include the burgonet (popular with Spanish and German sword-and-buckler men), the lobster-tail (named for the flexible neck piece and favored by cavalry), the morion (made famous by the Spanish conquistadors), and the cabasset (similar to the morion but more conical in shape). A helmet adds +1 to the total damage reduction from armor. Helmets offer no protection against firearms.

Dramatis Personae
Here are some of the 1602 counterparts of the heroes and villains found in the ICONS implied setting :

The Heroes
  • Lady Avalon  - All American Girl (Hero Pack I)
  • Sir George Henry - All Star (Hero Pack I)
  • The Executioner - Hangman (Hero Pack I)
  • El Saguaro - Saguaro (Hero Pack I)
  • Ah Pekku Tikal - Miss Tikal (Hero Pack I)
  • هَبوب  (Haboob) - Desert Storm (Hero Pack I)
  • William Hopper - The Atomic Roach (Hero Pack I, Gangbusters)
  • Madame Madeline Currie - Madame Curious (Sins of the Past)
  • Spectre - Revenant (Hero Pack I)
  • Lady Diana Leach - The White Witch (Hero Pack I)
  • The Lost Lunatic Girl Who Likes Spiders - Anansia (Gangbusters)
  • Don Juan Cortes - The Conquistador (Hero Pack I)
  • Hush! - Whisper (Hero Pack I)
  • Seekers of the Ptolemaic Spheres - Searchers of the Multiverse (Hero Pack I)
  • The General - General Entropy (Hero Pack I)
  • Iron Chest - Black Box (Hero Pack I)
  • Tempus Fugit - Tempus Fugit (Hero Pack I)
  • Gravedigger - Gravedigger (Hero Pack I)
  • Lady Katherine White - Mayet (Hero Pack II)
  • Little Lord Jenkins - Kid Calamity (Hero Pack II) 
  • Sir Gilbert Marcus (The Silver Arrow) - Kyudo Yumi (Hero Pack II)
  • Princess Nadia Falkenberg - Scarlet Sabre (Hero Pack II)
  • Punch and Clockwork Judy - Dr. Punch and Electric Judy (ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying, No Laughing Matter)
  • Spider-Larder - Spider-Fridge (Hero Pack I)

The Villains
  • Jean-Pierre Robert - Arobas (ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying)
  • Count Sergei Volkov - Pulsar (ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying)
  • Sir Stephan Porter - Recluse (ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying)
  • Dr. Draco Spiradonicus - Rex Mundi (ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying)
  • Don Eduardo - Speed Demon (ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying)
  • The Dartmoor Devil - The Troll (ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying)
  • Sin Tsung-Chi - Dr. Sin (ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying)
  • Lord Carstairs - Beastman (Villainomicon)
  • Countess Katarina Kalinnikov - Copy Cat (Villainomicon) 
  • The Crimson Corsair - Corsair Queen (Villainomicon)
  • Il Conte de Malochio - Count Malochio (Villainomicon)
  • The Black Highwayman - Dark Rider (Villainomicon)
  • Dr. Zodius - Doctor Zodiac (Villainomicon; The Sidereal Schemes of Dr. Zodiac)
  • Fidei Defensor - Patriot (Villainomicon)
  • The Scarecrowe - Jacob Crowes (Villainomicon, Murder of Crowes)
  • Baron Karnstein - Warlock (Villainomicon)
  • Lord Wallace Geoffery - Necrovore (Hero Pack II)
  • Zergo of the Eldest - Zergo (Villainomicon)

Further Reading

As always, thanks for reading!

Adamant Entertainment Releases The Sidereal Schemes of Doctor Zodiac

Adamant Entertainment has just released The Sidereal Schemes of Doctor Zodiac, an introductory PDF adventure for the ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying Game. This adventure was originally released as a bonus to everyone who pre-ordered the ICONS core rulebook back in 2010 and is now available for the first time to the general public. This 17-page PDF sells for $5.00 at RPGNow and was written by ICONS creator Steve Kenson and features artwork by ICONS line artist Dan Houser. Adamant Entertainment originally planned to release this adventure as part of a printed omnibus collection of all the ICONS adventure modules to date, but announced this week that they have decided to cancel that book from their upcoming product lineup.

In related news, Adamant Entertainment also announced that the pre-order period for their next print release ICONS TEAM-UP has been extended to APRIL 15, 2012. You can order your copy at the Adamant Entertainment webstore. Pre-order customers will receive the PDF of ICONS TEAM-UP when it goes to the printer during the week of the 15th, and the book shipped to them soon after.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fainting Goat Games Releases First ICONS Product

Attack of the giant rampaging ANTS!
Fainting Goat Games has just released its first ICONS product, Improbable Tales: Day of the Swarm. This 17-page PDF adventure for the ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying Game was written by Mike Lafferty and Chris McGroarty with artwork by Adrian Smith, Scott Harshbarger,and Jacob Blackmon, and is currently the number one best-selling ICONS product at RPGNow.  

Day of the Swarm is the first offering to come out of Fainting Goat Games' recent Improbable Tales adventure collection Kickstarter and it is now available for purchase by the general public. In addition to an exciting ICONS adventure, you get a nice collection of paper mini "standees" to use in your games. Congratulations to Mike Lafferty and the entire gang at Fainting Goat Games for hitting one out of the park their first time up at bat! So if you missed out on the Improbable Tales Kickstarter, grab this adventure now at the limited time only price of $1.50!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Special 2012: Irish ICONS

Top 'o the morning to you on this fine St. Paddy's Day!

Banshee (Sean Cassidy)
Marvel Comics
It is an understatement to say the Irish have left their indelible mark on the world - from politicians and soldiers to authors and playwrights, from singers and musicians to scientists and inventors, the Irish have always made themselves known and heard. Irish labor helped build America upwards, downwards, and outwards. It only makes sense that the Irish would also be well represented in the ranks and legions of superheroes as clearly evidenced by such characters as Sean Cassidy (Banshee) and Matt Murdoch (Daredevil). Even Captain America (Steve Rogers) himself was the son of Irish immigrants.

So before I head out to celebrate the Wearing o' the Green and the Drinking o' the Guinness, I thought I'd share with you some random Irish-themed ideas for your consideration that you may enjoy using in your ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying games!

New Weapon/Device: Shillelagh (Sail éille)
You can accomplish more with a kind word and a shillelagh than you can with just a kind word. - Irish saying.

Part walking stick, part club (or cudgel), a shillelagh is made from the wood of a blackthorn (sloe) or oak tree and has been given a shiny, black finished appearance by polishing with butter and then curing it in the chimney. A wrist strap is then attached and the heavy "hitting" end is hollowed out and filled with molten lead to add weight. As a weapon, the shillelagh is used for striking, parrying and disarming and is a proud symbol of Irish martial tradition and heritage.

In ICONS terminology, a shillelagh does Bashing damage 5 as a blunt melee weapon and adds a +1 bonus to any blocking (Strength) attempts to parry or grabbing (Strength) attempts to disarm.

As a device, the shillelagh can be outfitted with any number of Powers depending on the device's origin and power source. Some common Powers associated with the shillelagh include Blast, Strike [Bashing], Elemental Control [Weather], and Reflection, but anything is possible with a little imagination and the magic of the Little People (e.g. Danger Sense, Shrinking).

New Quality: The Luck of the Irish
'Tis himself!
Good fortune always shines on you - you may tag this Aspect and spend a point of Determination to gain an advantage any time you like just for being a son or daughter of Ireland! GMs should automatically compel this challenge once (and only once) a game session if you ask them to do so when you are all out of Determination points and could really use one more right then, there and now.
Variant: Everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day
If one hero in the group has The Luck of the Irish Aspect, on St. Patrick's Day (be it the actual day or the day in-game) all other heroes aligned with that character can use this Aspect as if they had it themselves.

New Quality: The Gift of the Gab 
Irish Diplomacy is the ability to tell a man to go to hell so that he looks forward to making the trip. - Irish saying.

Blarney Castle
Having kissed the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle in County Cork, you are forever blessed with a silver tongue and a way with words. Your words have the power to bluff, charm, influence, sway, and intimidate others to get whatever you want or need. You may tag this Aspect by spending a point of Determination to gain an advantage in situations where your words can have meaning or influence (even if this just means turning on the charm and talking yourself out of further trouble!)

New Quality: The Quiet Man
You are a private person of few words, and you tend to keep to yourself. But still waters run deep, and your unobtrusive nature allows you to see and overhear things others miss. You may tag this Aspect by spending a Determination point to gain an advantage whenever you are in a situation that requires alertness, listening, spotting, information gathering, silence or stealth while going unnoticed.

New Challenge: Irish Temper
You are quick to anger and more likely than not to settle an argument with your fists. In fact, you would much rather fight than eat. You gain a point of Determination whenever the GM compels this Aspect, but that requires you to make an unarmed attack on someone - anyone - nearby. You can refuse the compel instead by spending a point of Determination to avoid a fight - unless of course you enjoy the prospect of a good old fashioned donnybrook!

Inspiration: Irish Superheroes
In my Web research, I came upon this link from St. Patrick's Day in 2009 where MTV published this list of Irish Superheroes.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, and thanks for reading! Now I'm off to the pub...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

More ICONS News for March 2012

Adamant Entertainment and ICONS line artist Dan Houser have released ICONS: Hero Pack 3. This time around, the theme is Cosmic Superheroes. This 40 page PDF contains 19 space-faring heroes and villains created by ICONS fans and illustrated by Dan Houser in a style inspired by classic Jack Kirby in the 1960s. Hero Pack 3 is available in PDF at RPGNow for $5.00.

Dan Houser has also opened up commissions for Hero Pack 4: Nemesis. If you are interested in having your character illustrated by Dan and appear in the next Hero Pack release from Adamant Entertainment, see this threat at RPGNet for more details. But act fast because slots fill up quickly for this popular series!

Finally, Steve Kenson of Ad Infinitium Adventures has announced that his previously released PDF adventure The RetConQuest has been updated with some minor corrections. If you have already purchased a copy of this epic adventure from RPGNow or DrivethruRPG, you can log in to your account and download the updated version from your My Account page (under 'All products updated since my last download') or directly from the product page.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Release Roundup: March 2012

I want to apologize to everyone  for the lack of updates. I've been very busy working on promotion and group ticket sales for a new professional regional theater in my home town, and with a show opening at the end of this month, I've been in a bit of a time crunch. Stay tuned, however, for more on The Black Baron and the Barony of Mendovia, plus more History of Grimm City coming real soon!

One of the goals of this blog is to promote ICONS publishers and spotlight new releases of ICONS products. So without further ado...

HAZARD Studio has partnered with Zenith Comics and recently released Zenith Comics Presents: Supervillains (ICONS). This 40 page PDF by Andrew Collas with artwork by Anthony Green features 11 new villains for your ICONS game from the Zenith Universe. My personal favorite villains in this collection are Green Gargoyle, Jackie Frost and Wolfen. Both high resolution and printer friendly versions of the PDF are provided. And not only do you get a complete set of paper miniature "standees" popular with ICONS fans, you also get a full set of counters reminiscent of the old Villains & Vigilantes products as well. Eleven villains with detailed backgrounds and with full ICONS stats for just 99 cents is a great bargain so be sure to check this out!

Melior Via today released the latest ICONS supplement for their Hope Prep campaign setting, HPS Aliens Character Pack (ICONS). This 13 page PDF by Chuck Burhanna and John Dunn with artwork by Dan Houser features six fully-statted members of the Alien clique for the Hope Preparatory School setting. The characters are each presented as a character sheet and are given a full background and personality profile so they can be used as either PCs or NPCs. My favorites include robot boy SAM Fleming and Rocky Stone. As an added bonus, you also get paper miniature "standees" of all the characters. The HPS Aliens Character Pack PDF sells for $2.99. Hope Preparatory School is an amazing campaign setting and if you are a fan of teen heroes (like X-Men Evolution or Teen Titans), I highly recommend checking out all of Melior Via's HPS products.