Thursday, June 28, 2012

New Release Roundup: June is for JUSTICE WHEELS!

June was a very busy month for Fainting Goat Games and their Justice Wheels line - check out all their latest releases this month:

Justice Wheels #3: Bluejay
Written and illustrated by Adrian Smith with Mike Lafferty, this installment of Justice Wheels features Bluejay - a high-flying costumed vigilante who battles criminals from his airship, the Golden Eagle, and the PDF is available now at RPGNow for $1.50.

Justice Wheels #4: The Cowl
Written by Walt Robillard and Mike Lafferty with artwork by Jacob Blackmon, this installment of Justice Wheels features The Cowl - a high-tech urban vigilante who drives a phantom roadster dubbed simply Hush, and the PDF sells for $1.50 at RPGNow.

Justice Wheels #5 Chill
Written by Hollis McCray and Mike Lafferty with artwork by Rick Hershey, this installment of Justice Wheels features Chill - a cold powered vigilante who drive a customized Ice Bike, and the PDF retails for $1.50.

Each Justice Wheels PDF contains 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. In addition, ICONS Vehicle and Chase rules written by Daniel Gallant with consultation from ICONS creator Steve Kenson are included in every issue.

Also, the previously released Justice Wheels #1 Black Scarab has been revised and updated to include and reflect the Vehicle and Chase rules. If you already bought the PDF, be sure to visit RPGNow (or DriveThruRPG) to download your updated copy. If you haven't picked this up yet, it's a great introduction to the Justice Wheels line and a steal for on 50 cents!

Justice Wheels is a really great product line at a good price with a lot of "value added" - you can use the NPC as either a hero or a villain, plus you get a new power (Vehicle) with rules for building your own custom vehicles and a great set of chase rules that integrate seamlessly into the ICONS rule system. I highly recommend checking them out!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

BAMF Podcast: ICONS Demo with Golden Age Thrilling Action #2

Yesterday I once again had the great pleasure of being a guest on Mike Lafferty's BAMF! Podcast where I ran a short ICONS game session for Mike and the other invited guests. For last night's game, I used the battle scene from Golden Age Thrilling Action #2: Daredevil vs. The Claw from Stark City Press, written by yours truly and illustrated by ICONS line artist Dan Houser. Also on hand were John Post (author of the ICONS adventures No Laughing Matter, Whiteout! and Aquazombies of the Kriegsmarine) playing one of his signature PCs, Darkness (featured in ICONS Hero Pack 2 and an upcoming Justice Wheels release from Fainting Goat Games), and Adrian Smith, a very talented artist now doing a lot of work for ICONS, who played his original Golden Age character designed just for this podcast, Jetman. Mike rounded out the team by playing Daredevil himself.

You can listen to all the Golden Age thrilling action that was had by all over at the BAMF! Podcast!

The original Just Add Heroes Daredevil entry on which Golden Age Thrilling Action #2 is based can be found here!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hero Initiative Seeks Donations To Cover Funeral Costs of 'Static' Writer Robert L. Washington III

Robert L. Washington III, who was one of the creators of the DC Comics superhero Static in the early 90s, passed away at the age of 47 earlier this month in Queens NY. Sadly, he was alone and indigent at the time, but Hero Initiative has stepped up to raise funds for a proper burial. The City of New York has graciously given Hero Initiative some time to raise funds for funeral costs before they bury him anonymously in Potter's Field. If you are a comic book fan interested in donating, please visit Hero Initiative's Web site and make a donation via PayPal and be sure to enter "Robert Washington" in the "Add special instructions to seller" field to ensure that your money will go toward Washington's funeral. Hero Initiative is a nonprofit organization that helps comic book artists and writers in dire need. RIP, Mr. Washington.

You can read more at Comics Alliance.



Random ICONS News and Tidbits for June 2012

Like most of you, I'm eagerly awaiting the release of ICONS TEAM-UP from Adamant Entertainment, and hopefully we will be seeing that very soon, maybe by the end of this month.

In the meantime, participants in Fainting Goat Games' Justice Wheels Indiegogo crowd-sourced fundraiser received the fourth PDF installment this week, and it should be up for sale at RPGNow shortly to the general public. It features The Cowl written by Walt Robillard with amazing artwork by Jacob Blackmon. The Cowl is another strong entry in the Justice Wheels line, so keep an eye out for it.

Vigilance Press should have some exciting new ICONS releases for us very soon as well. James Dawsey shared some cover art this week on Facebook for the upcoming Amazing Stories of WWII: Homefront Villains by the legendary Steve Perrin, and the long anticipated final fourth volume of The Field Guide to Superheroes by Dr. Jason Tondro and Dan Houser. I'm especially glad to see Vigilance Press getting back to its Punching Hitler in the Face roots!























ICONS creator Steve Kenson has kindly shared with us a lot of his thoughts on running ICONS and sneak peaks here and there into what's inside ICONS TEAM-UP lately on his blog , the ICONS Truth, Justice and Gaming Wiki, and the ICONS Yahoo Groups Mailing List. In this recent post, Steve talks about adding a new level of success outcome - Minimal Success (a success of 0), for those just made it by the skin of your teeth or the seat of your pants moments. I particularly liked this article on how Initiative works in the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Cortex+ game from Margaret Weis Productions, and suggestions for how to do something similar in ICONS (as well as Mutants and Masterminds - you know, that other supers game Steve is known for). Here's some highlights in case you missed them:

Dice Variants
Stamina Variants
Damage Variants
Determination Variants
Success Pyramid
Maneuvers
ICONS Example of Play

Finally, in keeping with the random potluck this blog entry had become, here's some thoughts I had on how to represent various relationships and social contacts as Aspects and list them on the character sheet:

Relationship Qualities
Connections : NAME (RELATIONSHIP - i.e. mentor, fiancée, boss)
Team: TEAM NAME - i.e. The Avengers, Justice League of America
Sidekick : NAME - i.e. Robin, Kid Flash

Relationship Challenges
Enemy : NAME - i.e. The Riddler, The Claw
Arch-Enemy: NAME - i.e. Lex Luthor, The Joker, Dr. Doom

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Free RPG Day ICONS Adventure from Steve Kenson!

In honor of his birthday and Free RPG Day, legendary ICONS creator Steve Kenson is generously making copies of his ICONS PDF adventure The RetConQuest available for free today (Saturday June 16, 2012) at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow if you use one of the following discount codes:

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/index.php?discount=95359

http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?discount=95359



This offer is only good today (Saturday June 16, 2012) for Free RPG Day using the above discount codes so don't miss out!

Happy Birthday, Steve and thank you very much!

Friday, June 8, 2012

New Power: Necromancy

The following new power is my first attempt at bringing the Dark Arts of Necromancy into ICONS. This is admittedly biased by many years of playing Dungeons & Dragons, although I tried to tie it back into historical necromancy by adding Speak With Dead as a bonus power. As always, please feel free to critique and offer suggestions in the comment section below.




Necromancy (x2)
Control Power

You have the ability to raise the dead to create animated skeletons or zombies that will do you bidding.

Once a day, you may create a limited number of mindless undead animated corpses, either zombies or skeletons, that will follow your simple, rudimentary commands and instructions. You may create one human (or roughly human-sized) skeleton or zombie in a day for each power level you possess in Necromancy. You must have in your immediate possession intact skeletal or bodily remains for each skeleton or zombie respectively you wish to create. All skeletons or zombies you create with this power continue to exist and serve you until destroyed (Stamina reduced to 0).

Alternately, you may use the skeletons or corpses of animals or creatures smaller than human size to create small (e.g. wolves) undead minions at a rate of two skeletons or zombies a day for each power level you possess in Necromancy, or tiny (e.g. rats) undead minions at a rate of four a day for each power level you possess in Necromancy. Additionally, you may use the skeletons or corpses of animals or creatures larger than human size to create large (e.g. polar bears) undead minions at a rate of 0.5 a day for each power level you possess in Necromancy rounded down, or huge (dinosaurs or whales) undead minions at a rate of 0.25 a day for each power level you possess in Necromancy rounded down. The following table presents the breakdown by power level:

Necromancy Tiny Small Human Large  Huge
1
4
2
1
0
0
2
8
2
2
1
0
3
12
6
3
1
0
4
16
8
4
2
1
5
20
10
5
2
1
6
24
12
6
3
1
7
28
14
7
3
1
8
32
16
8
4
2
9
26
18
9
4
2
10
40
20
10
5
2


Speak With Dead
You may choose as a bonus power the Speak With Dead bonus power of Mediumship. You are not required to possess the basic Mediumship power to use Speak With Dead.

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

New Stock Character: SKELETON
Prowess: 2
Coordination: 3
Strength: 2
Intellect: -
Awareness: 1
Willpower: -

Stamina: 4*

Notes: Skeletons are the animated bones of the dead that have been reanimated by magic or mad science, minions for evil sorcerers and similar foes. They are immune to all attacks that do slashing damage, but some blades can be used on the flat end to do bashing damage instead. Stats are given for human skeletons, but may be adjusted to account for the larger or smaller skeletons of other animals if desired. Human and other humanoid skeletons do bashing damage with their fists but can wield hand-held melee weapons such as bludgeons (bashing damage) or blades (for slashing damage) if commanded to do so. Animal skeletons can do slashing damage with their teeth or claws (if they have them).

Being both dead and essentially mindless, skeletons are immune to anything that affects a living metabolism or mind, including many Afflictions and most mental powers. They have no Willpower, but Stamina equal to twice their Strength instead.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Golden Age Throwbacks: Daredevil

In this installment of Golden Age Throwbacks, we're going to take a little break from the characters that grace the pages of Nedor Comics and take a look at Daredevil, an iconic Golden Age superhero now in the public domain from Lev Gleason Publications. Daredevil is interesting in that the origin story, background and look presented in his very first appearance were changed and later re-written starting with his very next appearance. Initially, Daredevil was mute, the result of a childhood trauma at the hands of vicious criminals who murdered both his parents and tortured the young Bart Hill by branding a boomerang-shaped scar on his chest - a mark that led him to take up the study of his signature weapon later in life. He also wore a two-toned costume of yellow and blue. In his second appearance, the colors of Daredevil's costume were changed to red and blue and he also regained the ability to speak (how and why was never explained). He did, however, retain his spiked belt and his skill with the boomerang. Daredevil's origin story was officially retconned much later when he had his own comic book title, and that is the version presented below. One other important thing came about from these early concept changes: Daredevil was firmly established as the leading opposition to Lev Gleason Publications' major super-villain, the Claw!

DAREDEVIL
Origin: Trained
Real Name: Bart Hill
First Appearance: Silver Streak Comics #6 [Lev Gleason Publications September 1940] 

World's Most Daring Man of Action!
ABILITIES
Prowess  5
Coordination  6
Strength  6
Intellect  3
Awareness  3
Willpower  6

Stamina  12
Determination 5

SPECIALTIES
  • Acrobatics Master
  • Athletics Expert
  • Martial Arts Expert
  •  Pilot
  •  Stealth Expert
  •  Weapons Master (Throwing - Boomerang)
POWERS
  • Blast Device 8  - Boomerang
The Little Wise Guys
QUALITIES
  • Motivation: Hates crime and evil as passionately as the underworld loves it
  • Sidekicks: The Little Wise Guys
  • Connections: United States Government and Military
  • Connections: Tonia Saunders (girlfriend)
  • Identity: Millionaire Playboy
CHALLENGES
  • Arch-Enemy: The Claw
  • Enemy: Adolf Hitler and the Axis Powers
Point Total: 50

ORIGIN STORY
John and Mary Hill with baby Bart
Bart Hill was the son of John Hill, a wealthy American who owned a lucrative gold mine in Australia that was managed by his stepbrother Edgar. When Edgar informed him that the mine had dried up and no new veins of gold ore could be found so he should sell it off immediately, John took his young wife Mary and infant son Bart with him to Australia to investigate further. In reality, Edgar made up the story because he wanted the highly profitable mine for himself, and when the young Hill family arrived in Australia, he decided to kill them off now instead to inherit the mine as the family's sole survivor. Edgar tricked a local tribe of aborigine pygmies into believing the Hills were evil spirits, and the tribe hunted them down and killed John first and then went after Mary, but not before she had hidden her infant son Bart in a tree trunk. Mary Hill went down firing, killing several pygmies before saving the last bullet for herself. The aborigine pygmy chief informed Edgar of John and Mary's death, but knew nothing of their infant son, so Edgar left to collect his inheritance, convinced that baby Bart would die in the jungle all alone.

Young Bart Hill battles Pygmy Chief
Fortunately, the pygmy chief's father, who did not approve of his son's actions as leader, found Bart in the tree trunk his mother had hidden him in and took him back to the tribe. The chief took the boy from him to sacrifice as an evil spirit that prevented rain from falling by burning him alive. Just as the fire was lit, a heavy rain began to fall and extinguish the fire, and the aborigine pygmies took this as a sign that the child was blessed and decided to adopt him into their tribe. Bart grew up amongst the pygmies where he learned their ways as well as their athletic and acrobatic skills, and became extremely proficient with the boomerang. Eventually, the pygmy chief and Bart came into conflict, and Bart defeated him in a duel and became the tribe's new chief. Bart spared the life of the former chief, who then graciously handed over the symbol of his office, the two-toned red and blue porous rubber suit of the Daredevil! Bart later learned from the former chief's father about his Uncle Edgar who had stolen the family fortune, and went back to America to settle the score and reclaim his rightful inheritance. Now a wealthy young man living in America, Bart went on to high school and college, but took up the secret identity of the Daredevil to avenge his parents by dedicating himself to battling crime, corruption and evil.

Daredevil, Silver Streak and Winston Churchill
During World War II, Daredevil was personally called upon by President Roosevelt and the United States Military for assistance, and he frequently came into direct conflict with the Führer himself, Adolf Hitler. Winston Churchill also called upon Daredevil in England's darkest hours, and during the course of the war, he often formed team-ups with other superheroes of the day such as Silver Streak, Lance Hale, Dickie Dean, Cloud Curtis and the Pirate Prince to thwart Hitler's plans and deliver crushing blows to the forces of the Axis Powers around the globe. But as evil as the Axis and its leaders were, they could barely hold a candle to his greatest arch-nemesis, the Claw!

The Claw was some sort of powerful supernatural being of Asian origin, perhaps a demon or a god, who was determined to conquer the United States and eventually become the emperor of the entire world. He could appear gargantuan in size, had the ability to control minds, and possessed a tunneling vehicle that could travel rapidly underground by boring through solid rock. Only Daredevil stood in his way, and over many epic battles that often spanned several comic book issues, he was always defeated in the end, often a victim of his own arrogance and overconfidence. In addition to the Claw, Daredevil had other enemies over the course of his crime-fighting career such as the Scarlet Skull, the Deadly Dozen and the Bolt.

Tonia Saunders
Daredevil had many personal connections in his life, perhaps the most important being the love of his life, Tonia Saunders. Tonia and Bart Hill fell in love after he rescued her (as Daredevil) from the Bolt who had kidnapped her and tied her to the railroad tracks. She was frequently the target of many of his other enemies including the Claw. After he almost died in her arms, Tonia refused to agree to marry Bart until he gave up once and for all his Daredevil alter-ego, afraid more for him than her own safety, something that Bart couldn't commit to while the world still needed Daredevil. He also had a group of four young sidekicks, the Little Wise Guys, who often became involved in his adventures as well as a loyal butler named Williams. Eventually a nosy reporter named Kilroy exposed Bart Hill as the Daredevil, which he used to his advantage to wind down his career and take up publishing and crime reporting, and his young proteges the Little Wise Guys began to take center stage. Hopefully Tonia and Bart, now retired, were happily married soon after!

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
Daredevil first appeared in Silver Streak Comics #6 (September 1940) published by Lev Gleason Publishing and was created by Jack Binder and revamped in the next issue by editor Jack Cole. Artist and writer Charles Biro later took over when Daredevil was given his own comic book title.  

If you enjoyed this edition of Golden Age Throwbacks, be sure to check out the next installment of Golden Age Thrilling Action from Stark City Press featuring Daredevil vs. The Claw! Available now from RPGNow for just a buck! In addition to Daredevil, it includes the origin story and stats for the Claw and a battle scene in the Claw's Skull Monastery in Tibet!