Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Release Roundup: July 2012

The following new products for the ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying Game were released this past month.

Golden Age Thrilling Action #3: Fighting Yank vs. Blitz (Stark City Press)
Dan Houser and I have released the third issue in the Golden Age Thrilling Action series, and this time we examine one of the first true American super-patriots from the WWII era now in the public domain, Fighting Yank. On the villainous side, we have his sworn enemy Blitz, a monstrous Nordic caveman with the powers of ice and cold, driven to destruction by his Nazi masters. They battle one another within the hidden American Bund base called 'The Shark's Den' behind a massive waterfall! Written by Joe Bardales with artwork by Dan Houser, this 14-page PDF is available today at RPGNow for only $1 dollar. Can Fighting Yank destroy The Shark's Den and put down the danger of Blitz before all North America freezes? Get it today and find out!

Improbable Tales: The Other Side (Fainting Goat Games)
The Other Side is a fun and fast-paced ICONS super-heroic adventure inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Inside you will find ICONS stats for the Dark Pharaoh (an avatar of Nyarlathotep) and a menagerie of Lovecraftian creatures, all beautifully illustrated. And like every Improbable Tales release, it also contains cut-out standees for use as miniatures in your game. Also included are some play-tested notes and tips on running the adventure. Written by the Steve Perrin and John Post with artwork by Adrian Smith, this 21-page PDF is currently on sale for the limited time price of $2.50 at RPGNow.

Justice Wheels #6: Hexarcana (Fainting Goat Games)
The sixth installment of Justice Wheels features Hexarcana the Hell Rider, a mystical villain literally from Hell with a mean-streak a mile wide and a demonic chopper. This 9-page PDF contains the ICONS stats, images, paper miniatures for Hexarcana and her signature vehicle along with tips for using her as a hero or villain in your game. It also includes the popular ICONS Vehicle and Chase rules written by Daniel Gallant with consultation from ICONS creator Steve Kenson. Written by Mike Lafferty with artwork by Jacob Blackmon, Justice Wheels #6: Hexarcana is available now from RPGNow and retails for $1.50.

Enemies of the State Volume 1 Issue 3 (Victory RPG)
Victory RPG has released the third installment Enemies of the State, a state-by-state chronicle of some of America's most diabolical, cunning, violent and psychopathic villains, and villains from all 50 states will be presented by the order of statehood. EoS Volume 1, Issue 3 presents four villains from New Hampshire and South Carolina. Written by Fran Vaughan with artwork by Stephen Vaughan, Storn Cook, James Nguyen, and Rudolf Montemayor, this is an 11-page PDF available now at RPGNow.

Field Guide to Superheroes Volume 4 (Vigilance Press)
Vigilance Press has released the fourth and final volume in their definitive encyclopedia of superhero archetypes in modern comics, the Field Guide to Superheroes. Written by Jason "Doctor Comics" Tondro with artwork by Dan Houser, this installment presents the last ten archetypes including Sidekicks, Super Cops, Undersea Heroes and Young Heroes. As in previous volumes, the archetypes are based on the character's origin and role in the story rather than a breakdown by power set. I've found every volume in this series to be original and thought-provoking, and a great resource for creating characters not just in ICONS but any Supers roleplaying game. I hope one day we see a Field Guide to Supervillains companion volume! Field Guide to Superheroes Volume 4 is a 52-page PDF that retails for $9.99 at RPGNow. Dr. Tondro recently shared some of his thoughts on the Field Guild to Superheroes and how it came to be on the Vigilance Press blog.

Amazing Stories of WWII: Homefront Villains (Vigilance Press)
Vigilance Press returns to its ICONS Amazing Stories of WWII roots this month with the release of Homefront Villains. Written by the legendary Steve Perrin (who also wrote the earlier companion piece, Homefront Heroes) and illustrated by Jon Gibbons and Denise Jones, this 32-page sourcebook presents 10 powerful villainous archetypes that threaten America’s Homefront during World War II and minions to back up their sinister masterminds. My personal favorite villain in this collection is the Sharkman hybrid gangster, Boss Shark. Homefront Villains is available as a print-on-demand softcover book as well as in PDF format from RPGNow.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Coming Soon: Stark City Setting Kickstarter

This week, Mike Lafferty of Fainting Goat Games announced an upcoming Kickstarter project that will be of interest to ICONS fans:

Here's the Basics:
Stark City will be a setting for the ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying Game that puts the PCs in the center of the action and evokes the fun, free-wheeling spirit of the ICONS system.

As a very special bonus: Steve Kenson, ICONS creator, is writing an accompanying city/setting building toolkit for ICONS -called ICONIC Cities. Partly inspired by the city building rules in the Dresden Files RPG, the ICONIC Cities rules will tie setting creation into character generation and will help the players devise aspects that are tightly incorporated into their setting.

What is Stark City?
The big concept behind Stark City is a Supers RPG setting where the PCs are center stage.
Inspired by sources as diverse as Busiek’s Astro City, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s vision of the animated DC Universe, the more recent Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the Top Cow series Common Ground, Brubaker’s Incognito and the Giffen and DeMatteis run on Justice League, Stark City pays homage to its Neo-Silver Age influences and provides recognizable touchstones for the audience, but is careful to prioritize enabling fun around the game table ahead of meta-plot building.

To this end, Stark City will be modular in design. GMs will be able to pick and choose the supplements that suit their campaign without being obligated to an over-arching continuity. The initial supplement, Welcome to Stark City, will serve to set the tone, establish the city’s back-story and outline the major locations, NPCs and factions.

What Exactly Will the Supplements Look Like?
The first supplement Welcome to Stark City will be approximately 30 pages in length. It will contain Kenson's ICONIC Cities rules, the history of Stark City and a brief guide to the city's neighborhoods and residents. The art will be by Dan Houser (ICONS Line Artist) and Adrian Smith or Mesozoic Press.
After the initial supplement is released, there will be biweekly releases highlighting different neighborhoods in the city and providing more background and adventure hooks. Each neighborhood supplement will be approximately 15 to 20 pages in length. They will also contain art by Houser and Smith.
Backers can elect to receive a POD compilation of all of the Stark City neighborhood supplements upon the project's completion.

Who is Involved?
The Stark City project is being created by a talented slate of writers and artists:
Steve Kenson (M&M, ICONS, etc) is writing the ICONIC Cities and providing oversight and consultation to the project. Steve Perrin (of Runequest fame) is writing the city backstory. Also involved are the following authors who will other supplements detailing specific neighborhoods: Troy Hickman (writer of the Eisner-nominated Common Grounds), John Post (author of No Laughing Matter and Whiteout!), Jason Tondro (author of the Field Guide to Superheros series), Walt Robillard (head of Hazard Studio), Joe Bardales (author of the Golden Age Thrilling Action series) and Mike Lafferty (author of Improbable Tales and Wargames).

Art is being provided by ICONS Line artist Dan Houser and Adrian Smith.

Also - David Woodrum of Fishwife Games has developed a soundtrack for Stark City that will be available at some reward levels

When Does it Come Out?
We are targeting January 2013 as the release date for the first supplement, Welcome to Stark City.

Where Can I Learn More?
The latest announcements and art previews can be found at the official Welcome to Start City Blog. And please feel free to ask us questions at the new blog, on the RPGNet thread, the ICONS Yahoo Discussion Group, or where ever else you find us!
The brainchild of ICONS line artist Dan Houser, Stark City has been in development for the last few months, and I am honored to be taking part in the production of this epic campaign setting with such a talented and illustrious group of designers and artists. For my part, I have been designing the Catacombs, a subterranean neighborhood of Stark City that is quite literally the criminal underground. Rather than go the usual Morlocks and mutants in the sewers route, the Catacombs takes its inspiration more from All Points Junction as seen in Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Incognito: Bad Influences. I think GMs and players alike will enjoy this refreshing take on the underground in a city setting for supers roleplaying.

We'll be announcing the Kickstarter launch for Stark City very soon, so stay tuned...

And thanks for reading!

Friday, July 20, 2012

In Memoriam

Today, my thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and survivors of the tragic and senseless shooting in Aurora, Colorado last night during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, and with their families and friends.Words cannot adequately express my shock and sorrow.

Requiescat in Pace

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Golden Age Throwbacks: The Eye Sees!

For this installment of Golden Age Throwbacks, we are going to take a brief look at one of the more bizarre heroes now in the public domain, The Eye. Representing the symbolic embodiment of mankind's inner conscience, The Eye appeared as a giant speaking eyeball surrounded by golden light and flame floating in the sky. The Eye was all-seeing and all-knowing, and was not constrained by space and time. Its powers included omnipotence, immortality, teleportation, telekinesis and a powerful heat disintegration ray it shot from its pupil. If criminals spotted The Eye watching them engaged in illegal activity, they knew to soon expect payback for their crimes. Obsessed with dispensing justice (and sometimes vengeance) in the world, The Eye would then appear to victims wronged by the criminals it had just observed and instruct them on what to do to achieve justice, usually by having them show up to a crime scene ahead of time and setting a trap with law enforcement. The Eye would also use its powers to hinder criminals and sometimes dispense justice itself to murderers, subjecting them to the same deadly fate their victims had suffered. The Eye often partnered with Jack Barrister, a young attorney from New York City, in its quest to rid the world of injustice.

Although The Eye's two-year run in Centaur Publications comic books was relatively short-lived (after several appearances in Keen Detective Funnies, it eventually got its own title, Detective Eye, but that only lasted for two issues before being permanently cancelled), the concept of a sentient floating eye would have a lasting effect on popular culture and entertainment media. Movies like The Crawling Eye (1958), Big Trouble in Little China (1986) and Freaked (1993) feature such eyes, although more horrific and villainous. There have been other eye-themed characters in comic books like Marvel Comics' The Orb and DC Comics' Emerald Empress who possessed the Emerald Eye of Ekron. And those familiar with the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game no doubt see the similarities between The Eye's disintegration ray and the abilities of the Beholder.

While certainly too powerful for a player character, The Eye would still make for an interesting and unique NPC that the PCs can interact with in a Golden Age Supers campaign. The Eye was never really given an origin story or much in the way of background history, but there are connections that can be drawn to historical symbols such as the Egyptian Eye of Horus and the Masonic Eye of Providence that can be worked into some interesting original encounters and adventures.

Origin: Unearthly
Real Name: Unknown
First Appearance: Keen Detective Funnies vol. 2 #12 [Centaur Publications December 1939]

Prowess  6
Coordination  7
Strength  7
Intellect  10
Awareness  10
Willpower  6

Stamina  13
Determination  1

  • Aerial Combat Expert
  • Law Master
  • Immortality
  • Teleportation 9
  • Invisibility 5
  • Flight 4 - Transvection
  • Telekinesis 8
    •  Attacking
  • Blast 6 (Shooting) - Pupillary Heat/Disintegration Ray
  • Invulnerability 6
  • Supersenses 1 (X-ray vision)
Jack Barrister and The Eye
  • Identity: Physical Embodiment of Man's Inner Conscience
  • Motivation: Justice
  • Connections: Jack Barrister (young attorney)
  • Catchphrase: The Eyes Sees!
  • Space and Time Mean Nothing to The Eye
  • Weakness: Vengeance 
 Point Total: 100

The Eye first appeared in Keen Detective Funnies vol. 2 #12 (December 1939) published by Centaur Publishing and was created by Frank Thomas.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Claw's Subterranean Tunneling Vehicle

Back when I was first writing Golden Age Thrilling Action #2: Daredevil vs. The Claw (available now at RPGNow from Stark City Press), I included ICONS stats for the Claw's subterranean tunneling vehicle in the Skull Monastery Battleground scenario. Since that time, Fainting Goat Games has released their Justice Wheels line of products that include their ICONS Vehicle and Chase Rules in each and every issue. These new rules are really well done and since I'm using them from now on in my own games, I decided to re-stat the subterranean tunneling vehicle à la Justice Wheels and share them here, and plan on using the same rules going forward with Golden Age Thrilling Action.

[Built from Vehicle power at rank 6]
Prowess 6
Coordination 6
Strength 8
Speed 6 (effectively Burrow 6)
Stamina 10

Extra Passengers
Invulnerability 5

Thanks for reading!