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ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition
by Colin B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2020 07:29:02

When I heard Steve Kenson was writing a new superhero RPG, I will admit to being one of the first people to ask myself 'Why?' After all, I reasoned, Steve already nailed the formula for a successful supers RPG with the amazing Mutants & Masterminds. Did the world really need another superhero system?

As I later discovered, Steve had anticipated this critique, and as he himself said in the introduction of Icons, there is 'no one perfect system' for any genre. Icons scores high initially by not trying to be something it isn't. Here you will not see reams and reams of detailed charts for every conceivable eventuality that may occur in-game. Nor is there a definitive list of superpowers or a rigidly defined campaign setting. Instead, what GMs and players get here is a rules-light, fast-paced and just plain fun book with engaging visual style and class to spare, that encourages the player to remember their Saturday mornings as a kid watching DC SuperFriends or the brilliantly Claremont-esque 90s X-Men cartoon, and to take that wonder and enthusiasm to the game table to kick some villainous butt.

A few die-rolls in, you're already on your way to creating an exciting character, guided through the process with easy-to-remember rules and charts that, while random, never try to screw you over or saddle you with an unplayable character. I'm reminded of the character creation charts in the M&M GM's Kit here; make some rolls, write down what you get, and you're ready to dispense some justice! Of course there are options for tailoring a character to your own needs, but as a grognard whose first experience of superhero RPGs was the old FASERIP system, this addition of randomly rolled characters was a sheer joy to try out (And no, I'm not going to tell you what I ended up with initially...shudder).

Most of all, the randomness of character creation is a great tool to jumpstart the players' imaginations, as it encourages you to think about your character's background and personality based on what you roll, which is an exercise in itself. Claws, hyper-leaping and superstrength? Sounds like a modern-day lord-of-the-jungle analog to me! Watching players come up with rationales for the random elements that tie into a cohesive story for their characters is a lot of fun, almost like a game-within-the-game where there are no bad ideas and classic heroic tropes are the rule (a welcome change from the tendency of many publishers towards edgier superhero content).

Once you have a character ready to roll, you can hit the streets and see how much good you can do, and Icons places control for the narrative firmly with the entire group. Players feel like legitimate heroes, with abilities far beyond the norm and a clever, useful Determination mechanic where the motivations and personality of the character can drive them to great feats. This mechanic is a terrific balance, as characters with few or no powers get more intitial Determination and can therefore effect more change on the scene personally, rendering them as valid as the major powerhouses. Watch an episode of Justice League Unlimited and see how the unpowered Batman runs alongside the heavy-hitters and you'll see what I mean. The fact that the author added this as a core conceit of the system speaks to his love of the genre, and made me smile ear-to-ear.

Mechanically, the rules are simple enough that anyone could pick them up in minutes. At most, 2d6 is all you'll need to roll; roll 1d6 and add the acting attribute or power, then subtract the difficulty determined by the GM. This gives you your Effort, which determines how well you succeed at any given task. Previous editions stated that the GM never rolls dice, but that has been changed for the Assembled Edition. All the previous edition's rules are very much in place as options, however, so if you're reading this book from the perspective of a 1st edition player, the transition will be smooth. Another welcome addition is the pyramid test introduced in the Villainomicon, which allows GMs to add tasks the whole group can help to complete in different ways. Anything that encourages a team of heroes to come together in a crisis is a worthwhile idea in my book.

There are sample characters in the book also, but at no point does the reader feel like these have to be part of their setting. Indeed, Icons feels more like a sandbox RPG than a rigid world with no options for players. The ease with which the system approaches everything seems to encourage players & GMs to explore their creativity and populate their world with heroes, villains, organisations, aliens, you name it. As someone who enjoys world-building, especially with the entire group involved, this is a welcome feature, especially for groups with younger players who might have great ideas but find some systems' approach to realising them daunting.

In summation, I agree with Steve Kenson wholeheartedly. There is no perfect superhero system, but there are perfect systems for specific objectives. If your objective is to have fun, not sweat the small stuff and throw cars at cackling evildoers while wearing a cool costume, Icons might just be everything you're looking for. There's a surprisingly deep and elegant system hidden among the reader-friendly text and colourful art style, and newcomers and grognards alike will find something they enjoy here.

So...until Atomic Roach checks in but doesn't check out...Make Mine Icons! I recommend you do too.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition
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ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition
by Dan D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2020 11:14:21

A genuinely great, family-friendly super hero RPG! I first played super hero RPGs over 35 years ago. I played Villains & Vigilantes and Champions, and then TSR's Marvel Super Heroes, as a teenager in the early/mid- 1980s. When Icons: Assembled was first released 5 years ago, I played it with my elenetary school aged daughter and we had a great time. The mechanics are easy enough that they don't alienate/frustrate non-gamers and children. But its mechanics are nonetheless familiar-ish to players of TSR's Marvel Super Heroes, along with the random character generation reminiscent of V&V.

Now that we're under a "stay at home" order because of COVID-19 as I write this review, I suggested to my daughter, who is now a teenager, that we play again. And she agreed. The fact that a teenaged girl did not roll her eyes at the prospect of playing Icons is, as I see it, a validation of the approach to the mechanics, and, in its way, a very high compliment indeed!

This really is a complete game in a single book. But I have also bought and purchased sveral of the supplements and adventures. My personal favorites are Great Power, a powers book (though powers are enumerated in this book), and Icons A to Z.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition
by Michael D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/22/2019 11:19:21

I gave the system a 4 because it gives a solid framework for a superhero game and allows for telling some really fun stories, but it does require a lot of DM adjustment and house-ruling in order to make it fit the table. The random generation system can make some relatively weak heroes at a table with a nigh invincible supermensch. The problem with this is challenging the overpowered PC with a villain that can oneshot everyone else.

Regardless, there are some flaws, but it is a very fluid and simple system that allows for some changes without it becoming something with Palladium levels of complexity.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Presents
by Matthew F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/21/2019 10:52:17

I have followed Icons for over five years and have purchased nearly every product (save a lot of the adventures) and I have never been disappointed. Icons Presents is no exception.

It is basically a sequel to Icons A-Z as it offers a lot of advice and optional rules for the game, ranging from "how to use armed forces" to "how to make Icons feel like more gritty, Iron Age comics". My personal favorite sections of this book were the ones that explained how to do a "Space Patrol series" like the Green Lantern corps, "Panels and Pages" which explains how to make your game feel more like a comic book, and a section om how to play more "Fantasy" games with the Icons rule system.

Just to wrap things up, the art in the book is fairly good, related well to whatever was being discussed, and I only saw onepiece of art that I had seen in a previous book. There were a few typos scattered through out the book, but these didn't detract enough from the product to justify lowering my score amd I could almost always tell what the intended idea was.

In conclusion, if you are a fan of Icons then I can't recommend Icons Presents enough. It was worth every penny.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Presents
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ICONS: Great Power
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/28/2019 10:38:43

This book should be considered required -- not because of how amazing it is, although it is, but because it seems most other supplements assume that you have it and they will reference powers in it with no explanation whatsoever. It's annoying, really. The Powers section in Icons: Assembled should just be replaced with this book, because the core book is more-or-less incomplete.

That said, this book has tons more powers that aren't in the core book and offers more detail for many that are contained within the core book. It really is essential.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS: Great Power
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ICONS: Gamemaster Screen
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/27/2019 11:30:31

An unusual reference which mixes essential information useful during play with stuff that is useless. I printed some of these pages as references to have on the table for all players, but some pages are a mix of things useful to players and things only useful to the GM. It could use a reorganization and a replacement of some information, such as removal of the character creation stuff to make more room for stuff you need to look up on the fly during a session. I ended up crafting my own cheatsheet to print out for players to understand how to use qualities/advantage/trouble.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS: Gamemaster Screen
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ICONS: Cold War Conundrum
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/15/2019 10:46:05

I went through this as a player with the GM running it as part of the Phalanx saga converted to Mutants and Masterminds. My group really enjoyed how there was a lot of diversity in the action. We had everything from a defense of weapons, to investigations, to diplomatic confrontations with a grand showdown at the end. It really captured the comic feel of the 1970s and kept up thouroughly engaged over the course of 3 gaming sessions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS: Cold War Conundrum
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ICONS: Adversaries
by YANN E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2018 09:56:06

A villain for each occasion, this book is perfect.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS: Adversaries
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ICONS: Murder of Crowes
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/26/2018 08:16:25

Great little adventure. I ran it as a Muntants and Masterminds game online and it took us about 3.5 hours to get through. Its a pretty straight forward investigation with a clear objective. The characters are interesting and there is plenty of room for a GM to modify the story to personalize it to your needs. My players were all quite pleased with the result of the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS: Murder of Crowes
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ICONS: A to Z
by YANN E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2018 04:16:50

A lot of useful things for Icons. For me it was mainly C, G, H, K, O, T and W but I thinnk every GM will find something of use in it :).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS: A to Z
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ICONS: Great Power
by YANN E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2018 03:35:12

Great Power apporte plus de pouvoirs et surtout de précision sur ces pouvoirs mais aussi pas mal de précision sur les gadgets et véhicule, un must !. Great powers gives you more powers but moreover more precision to their functionning and more morever, gadget and vehicles, a must have book.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS: Great Power
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ICONS: A to Z "Q is for Qualities"
by Rich V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/28/2018 00:08:19

I was looking for a better clarification on "qualities" in terms of how they are applied during combat, or for specific examples on how they could be applied. Instead, this document is just another generalization about what "qualities" are in ICONS, with few specifics. It's simply not worth the money -- even if you just pay a dollar. Don't bother -- just look under the "Trouble" subsection of the main book and make your best guess.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS: A to Z "Q is for Qualities"
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ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition
by John P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/14/2017 16:14:36

I've been on the lookout for a new supers RPG for a couple years now and have often seen this title. After much consideration I went for the plunge and purchased it along with the other helpful titles of Origins, Great Power, and A-Z. I've run a couple sessions with my gaming group and here's what I found I think is worthing mentioning.

1) The gaming system is simple and fast. I've read that ICONS has its roots in FATE (which I've never played). Its resolution of attacks is simple, can be done in a single roll (using some options) and each round can go very quickly. If you like to focus on the story more than the numbers, you might like the way ICONS plays out. Because the system is fairly easy to understand, even a new player can join in readily. 2) Character Creation is very fast an intuitive. I found I could already "see" my character as I'm creating him/her and within about 10-15 minutes I was ready to go. Once you understand the range of 1-10, the GM can create villains and challengers withing moments. Some people enjoy the number crunching within a game vs the story within it. You might be a bit disappointed here, but this fits right within my expectations and hopes. 3) Qualities and Determination. Many games try to provide rules and options for running everything. ICONS likes to use Qualities and Determination points to accomplish many complex tasks. When I first started working with these, I struggled for a bit. But once I started realizing that Determination is basically Bennies in Savage Worlds and Qualities are ways to come up with quantifiable story elements to bonus or negative your results, it was pretty fun. Its also a great way to give those Determination points to a character that you always seem to "pick on" as the GM.

I have been very impressed by this game. I'm a veteran of Champions, Classic Marvel, M&M, Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion, Heroes Unlimited, and have found ICONS to be a great way to play a supers game. Too many times supers end up being so big for some systems that it overwhelms the rules or creates awkward mechanics. ICONS take it all in very well. We are able to have a meaningful adventure and get so much done in a short amount of time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition
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ICONS: Origins
by robert h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/28/2017 11:31:07

Its a great book for clarifications of the existing rules and to offer suggestions on how to play the game. There isn't anything "New" per say, but rather pulling together alot of bits from the other books so now they make alot more sense. Also the Archtypes are exteamly useful as either bases for characters or stock characters for pick up games. Got a new player, not sure if they are going to remain in your group or for reasons didn't have time to make a character? Just ask them what superhero they like and give them that archtype. Well worth the price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS: Origins
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ICONS: Origins
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2017 10:48:19

A great book if you are running ICONS. While nothing in here is essential, the 13 archetypes and variations will save me hours of character building.

A great add on for ICONS.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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