ICONS Preview — Character Creation

For today’s look at ICONS, designer Steve Kenson walks us through the character creation process — take it away, Steve:

So, today, let’s create a character…

(gets out dice)

Phase 1: Origin
(rolls 2d6 = 6) That’s a Transformed origin. Our hero started off a normal human, but something happened to give him or her powers. So we can raise the level of one of our hero’s abilities or powers by +2.

Phase 2: Abilities
Now, our hero’s abilities…

Prowess (2d6 = 2) 1
Coordination (2d6 = 8 ) 5
Strength (2d6 = 6) 4
Intellect (2d6 = 5) 4
Awareness (2d6 = 6) 4
Willpower (2d6 = 11) 7

Hmm, a terrible fighter, but above average everywhere else, with substantial Willpower. Interesting. We might want to pump that Prowess up to 3 to make it at least average, but let’s see.

Phase 3: Powers
(2d6 = 11) 5 powers! Substantial. Let’s see what they are…

(2d6 = 9) Offensive • (2, 1) Affliction (2d6 = 3) 2
(2d6 = 8 ) Movement • (2, 2) Flight (2d6 = 9) 6
(2d6 = 10) Offensive • (4, 5) Life Drain (2d6 = 7) 5
(2d6 = 9) Offensive • (5, 5) Life Drain again! (2d6 = 10) 6
(2d6 = 3) Alteration • (1, 2) Ability Increase

That Ability Increase is good for another +2, giving us some additional options (although, unlike the origin bonus, it only applies to an ability).

We rolled Life Drain twice, a suggestive theme! We could either re-roll one of the Life Drain powers for another power (presumably the lower level one) or we can drop the lower level one and add +2 to the higher level one, making it level 8! Since it’s a suggestive theme, let’s go with that.

Ability Increase also lets us choose another Alteration power as a bonus power, replacing one of our rolled powers … our hero could use some defensive capability, and Affliction is both low-level and a bit redundant with Life Drain. Looking over the Alteration power list … ah, there’s Phasing!

Normally, the bonus power would be at the same level, but Ability Increase has no level, so we’ll roll for it. (2d6 = 5) Phasing 4.

So, our power-set looks like this:

Flight 6
Life-Drain 8
Phasing 4

We’ve got two +2 bonuses to allocate, too. Tempting as Willpower 9 or Life-Drain 10 might be, let’s spread them out a bit. The Ability Increase goes to Prowess, because Life-Drain is a touch ability. That brings it up to 3. The origin bonus goes to Phasing, bringing it up to 6, more in-line with our other powers and more effective overall.

Still … it would be nice to have a higher Prowess and, looking at what we’ve got so far, that Strength 4 doesn’t fit especially well. Fortunately, we can swap any two abilities we’ve rolled. Let’s switch Strength and Prowess, making it Prowess 4 and Strength 3.

Hmmm, so now we have an ordinary person transformed into a flying, life-draining, phantom. Sounds like a ghost. Perhaps their “transformation” was actually their death! Brought back from the dead to wreck vengeance on the guilty! That gives us plenty to run with.

Phase 4: Specialties
(2d6 = 4) Just one specialty.

Given what we’ve got so far, sounds like Occult would be appropriate, so we choose that for the moment.

Phase 5: Stamina
Strength 3 + Willpower 7 gives us Stamina 10.

Phase 6: Determination
So the final tally is three powers and one ability above level 6. Ability Increase didn’t raise anything above 6, so it doesn’t count, no does the second dropped Life Drain. So our starting Determination is (6 – 4) = 2 points.

Now we need aspects! Looking at what we’ve got, we come up with:

Catchphrase: “Feel the chilling touch of vengeance!” Criminals tremble at the though of hearing this whispered behind them in a dark alley.

Epithet: “Risen Avenger of the Night” or maybe “the Ghostly Guardian” – the first one is grittier, the second might be better for a more light-hearted game.

Motivation: Here’s a biggie. Should our revenant (hey, cool name) be motivated by a cold desire for vengeance or a tortured wish to find peace and final rest? Or is it maybe redemption? How about “I Will Accomplish in Death, What I Could Not in Life?”

How about a Connection? Makes sense for a ghost character. It could be a romantic partner, but that’s a bit too Ghost with Demi Moore … What if our hero was a police officer and still has a connection with a partner on the force? That also suggests we might want to change our Specialty to Criminology or Investigation rather than Occult.

For challenges, the possibilities are many…

The immediate and obvious is the Social challenge that the character is dead, and therefore has no “life” as such. We’ll just call it “Ghost”.

Our hero also has some pretty dark powers. Life Drain is a potential killer, so there’s the struggle to avoid becoming a monster. Sounds like a Personal challenge: “Tempted by dark powers.”

Speaking of which, maybe the character has a foe who gave in to those same dark temptations! A sinister specter who was once a guardian, but became just a parasite, preying on the living. Has some potential. Enemy: “Dark Specter”.

The GM also encourages a Weakness to certain talismans, rituals, and items that affect ghosts, providing some useful tools. Weakness: Ghostly Vulnerabilities.

We should have plenty of opportunities to earn Determination!

So, pulling it all together, we’ve got:

Prowess 4
Coordination 5
Strength 3
Intellect 4
Awareness 4
Willpower 7

Stamina 10

Flight 6
Life-Drain 8
Phasing 6


Catchphrase: “Feel the chilling touch of the Revenant!”
Connection: Partner on the police force
Epithet: “Risen Avenger of the Night”
Motivation: “I Will Accomplish in Death, What I Could Not in Life”
(One left undetermined)

Enemy: Dark Specter
Personal: Tempted by dark powers
Social: Ghost (literally “no life”!)
Weakness: Ghostly Vulnerabilities

…And there you have it. If you’d like to take a look at the optional points-buy version of this process, Steve has posted about it here at RPGNet.

You can download a PDF of The Revenant’s character sheet by clicking here..



March 2010