Creating a hero in Icons is a simple matter of rolling on the tables in this section to determine the hero's origin, abilities, specialties, and powers. Give your new hero a name, description, and background and you’re ready to play! Just follow these phases of design:
- Ability Determination
- Power Determination
- Specialty Determination
- Stamina, Background, and Description
- Aspects (Qualities and Challenges)
- Game Master Approval
The die rolls called for in this section are either "2d6" which means roll two six-sided dice and add them together (rather than subtracting one die from the other) or "d6 and d6" which means to roll one die to choose a sub-table, then another die to get a result on that sub-table.
Phase 1: Origin
The first phase in hero creation is to determine your hero's origin. Roll once on the following table:
|2-4||Trained: The hero is a highly skilled human; any "powers" actually come from superior training or specialized equipment. The character gains three bonus specialties, but two fewer powers (and may have no powers at all).|
|5-6||Transformed: The hero was a normal human but became superhuman through some outside agency, often an accident or experiment. One of the character's abilities or powers (your choice) is increased by +2.|
|7||Birthright: The hero was born with or destined to develop superhuman powers. The character gains your choice of one additional power, which should be innate, and not a device, or +2 to a rolled power level.|
|8-9||Gimmick: The character's powers all come from devices of some kind. One of the character's mental abilities (your choice) is increased by +2.|
|10||Artificial: The character is a robot or perhaps some other kind of construct, such as a golem. The character's Strength is increased by +2 and you may choose Life Support as a bonus power.|
|11-12||Unearthly: The character is a being from another world or dimension such as an alien, elemental, angel, devil, or even deity. Increase two of the character's abilities (your choice) by +2. The character has one fewer power but a minimum of one power. Alternately, roll twice on this table, ignoring duplicates and results of 11-12. The character gets the effects of both origins. Apply the modifiers of the rolled origins rather than the Unearthly modifiers.|
Option: Skip Origin
Optionally, you can skip over the Origin phase and simply create the hero "straight" using phases 2 onward, without any modifiers from origin, filling in the origin of the hero's powers as part of the background. Your hero gets none of the benefits or drawbacks of having an origin. Get the Game Master's permission before you do this.
Roll on the following tables to determine levels for abilities and powers when called to do so:
Phase 2: Abilities
Roll once on the Level Determination table for each ability and record the resulting level for it. If your hero's total ability levels (after adjustments for origin) are less than 20, you can choose to discard the hero and start over.
You can also choose to swap any two ability levels after you have determined them. For example, if you roll a Strength of 3 and an Awareness of 7 and you really want your hero to be strong rather than quick on the uptake, you can choose to swap those two abilities, making Strength 7 and Awareness 3.
Phase 3: Powers
To determine the number of powers a hero possesses, roll on the following table:
|Roll||Number of Powers|
Once you've determined the number of powers, roll for each power on the following tables to determine the character's specific powers. Roll on the Level Determination table for the power's level
If you roll more than one of the same type of power (such as movement, offensive, etc.) you may choose to re-roll to select a different type.
If you roll the same power twice you may elect to either increase the power's rolled level by 2 (with a maximum of 10) or roll again to select another power.
Some power descriptions offer a choice of bonus powers. This means if you have that power you can select another power to fill one of your power slots without rolling. For example, if you have Elemental Control, you can choose to have a Blast of the same element as one of your other powers without having to roll on the tables to select it. You can replace a rolled power with a bonus power, if you wish.
First roll to determine the power's type:
|2d6 Roll||Power Type|
Then roll on the appropriate table to determine the exact power. A power listed with a bullet (•) counts as two power choices. If you only have one power choice left, roll again.
|3||Extra Body Parts|
|2||Power Duplication •|
|3||Power Theft •|
|6||Probability Control •|
|3||Time Control •|
|3||Mind Control •|
Phase 4: Specialties
To determine the number of specialties your hero has, roll on the following table:
|2d6 Roll||Number of Specialties|
Select specialties from among those described in the Specialties section of the rules as you see fit.
Phase 5: Stamina & Background
In this phase you determine your hero's Stamina and "fill-in-the-blanks" to determine background, description, and so forth.
Add your hero's Strength level and Willpower level together and record the result as starting Stamina value.
After determining your hero's abilities, come up with a background and description of what your hero is like. In particular, consider the hero's place of origin, childhood, and ethnic background. How did the hero acquire superhuman powers, and how do elements of the hero's background provide motivations and challenges for the hero in the present? Look to incorporate these things into your hero's aspects (see Phase 6).
What does your hero look like? Consider the hero's physique, costume, build, hair color and style, mannerisms, and other distinguishing physical features. If you're artistically inclined, you might want to draw a picture of your hero to better help other players imagine what the character looks like. Perhaps you can use or modify an existing picture as a basis for your hero's appearance.
Phase 6: Determination
Subtract the hero's number of powers from 6 to get the hero's starting Determination, with a minimum value of 1, keeping in mind each ability above level 6 counts as a power and some powers count double.
Give some thought to the different aspects of your character: important qualities and the various challenges your hero faces. Aspects influence how you use Determination in the game and, since overcoming challenges is the mark of a true hero, they are the way you earn more Determination in the game. Aspects are described in more detail in the Determination section (p. XXX).
Choose at least one and up to five qualities and up to five challenges for your hero. You are not required to choose any challenges, but they are a key means of earning more Determination, so you should consider some.
Phase 7: Game Master Approval
Once you've completed your hero, show a copy to your Game Master for approval. The GM may approve your character on-the-spot, ask for some changes or revisions to help the hero better fit into the overall series, or even ask you to rework the character entirely, although most Game Masters will not do so without a good reason.
Example: The Secret Origin of Saguaro!
Branden wants to create a hero for an Icons game.
Phase 1: Origin
Branden rolls on the Origin table and gets a 6, a Transformed origin! This means he can add +2 to one of his hero's abilities or powers.
Phase 2: Abilities
Next, Branden rolls six times on the Level Determination table: 4, 4, 11, 3, 4, and 10, giving him the following levels for his hero’s six abilities:
Branden is entitled to increase an ability by +2, but decides to wait until he sees what his hero's other traits are first. He's also entitled to swap two ability levels, but decides to leave them where they are right now.
Phase 3: Powers
Branden rolls a 6 on the Number of Powers table, for three powers.
He rolls an 8 for the first power, making it a Movement Power, then rolls a 5 and a 6, getting Leaping. A roll of 7 on the Level Determination table gives it level 5.
For the second power, Branden rolls an 8 (an Offensive Power), then a 4 and a 1, for Aura.
Lastly, he rolls a 6 for a Defensive Power, then a 6 and a 2, for Life Support. The Level Determination roll is a 3, for a level of 2.
So Branden has a guy who can leap pretty far, is immune to some things, and has some kind of effect that damages people who touch him. He immediately thinks of the prickly spines of a cactus, and an idea for his hero starts to come together: a cactus-man, covered in sharp spines (his Aura). Glancing at the Life Support power, Branden figures it reflects his hero's part-plant nature: he doesn't need to eat (since he photosynthesizes) or sleep, and certainly doesn't need to drink much!
Phase 4: Specialties
A roll of 7 on the Number of Specialties table gives Branden's hero two specialties. Looking over the lists, he chooses Athletics to give his hero more jumping and climbing ability, related to his Leaping power.
He wants a combat specialty as well and looks at Martial Arts, but it doesn't fit his concept and does not gain him as much, since his hero's Strength is already quite formidable. Wrestling, on the other hand, work great with his hero's powers, especially his damaging Aura!
Given this focus on the physical, and the fact that Branden wants to play a strong, tough hero, he decides to add +2 to his character's Strength level, bringing it up to a very respectable 9.
Phase 5: Stamina & Background
Adding his hero's Strength (9) and Willpower (6) together, Branden gets a Stamina of 15, which he notes.
After considering, he decides his hero is a half-blood Native American transformed by drinking water from desert cacti mutated by atomic tests in the Desert Southwest in the 1950s, becoming ... the Mighty Saguaro, the Cactus-Man!
Phase 6: Determination
Subtracting his hero's three powers plus his one ability over 7, from a value of 6, Branden gets a starting Determination of 2, and notes that on his character sheet.
For initial aspects, he gives Saguaro a catchphrase ("Desert plants are survivors!") and a Connection to his Mentor, an old Navajo shaman named Tom Crow, who taught him about responsible use of power. He rounds the qualities list out by giving Saguaro a motivation he sums up as "Changed by Man, Chosen by the Spirits" -- although his transformation might appear to have been an accident, Saguaro believes it was destiny.
He decides his hero's challenges include having to deal with the fact that he looks like a humanoid cactus and is cut off from human contact. The burden of his destiny can be a heavy one, a personal challenge for him. These give the GM some story-hooks for the character and provide Branden with some opportunities to earn more Determination for Saguaro in play.
Branden shows his finished character sheet to the Game Master, along with an initial sketch of what he thinks Saguaro looks like. The GM likes the concept and approves, suggesting to Branden the possibility of an Enemy challenge as well: an evil desert-dwelling sorcerer (and former student of Tom Crow's) who has a lizard-like appearance and powers and calls himself Gila-Master. Branden agrees and notes the additional challenge. Saguaro definitely has his work cut out for him!
"But I don’t want to roll-up a hero!"
It’s okay; you don't have to, if your Game Master agrees. The random hero-creation system in Icons is intended as a source of inspiration: building a coherent back-story and theme around a collection of fairly random traits can be a creative challenge and it certainly reflects the -- shall we say "eclectic"? -- style of the superhero comics.
The alternative approach is to create your hero with a "budget" of points you allocate to different traits. You start out with 45 points, which the GM may adjust to suit the game as desired. Each level of an ability and each level of a power costs 1 of these points, as does each level of a specialty (up to 3, as usual). You must spend at least 1 point on each ability, and you can only have one ability or power level greater than 8 (and no more than 10).
Phase 5 and 6 of hero creation are the same: determining background, Stamina, description, Determination, and aspects.
This approach tends to create heroes that fit into a somewhat more narrow range, although there's still considerable room for variation, depending on where you spend your points. It is also something of a "fast-and-dirty" approach when it comes to taking the relative value of different powers into account, but Determination helps to balance this out, as it does in regular play.