ICONS Play: Vengeance of the Capes

By | February 7, 2016

Hi everybody, and welcome back!

Recently, I had the opportunity to GM a game of ICONS for some folks who aren’t part of my regular gaming group. I’d like to share the story of that adventure with you today.

The world ended approximately one year ago. Fire coursed through the sky, and very few regular people and heroes survived. So far as the PCs know, they’re the only heroes left – and the couple of thousand people they’ve been able to save are the only normals left. Nobody knows why the world ended. Just before the start of the game, one of the heroes discovered that the headquarters of this world’s “Legion of Doom” still exists and is populated – so, obviously, they must have caused the destruction.

The heroes travel to the headquarters and capture two of the guards there for interrogation. Both guards tell the same story – the leader of the “Legion of Doom,” this world’s version of Doctor Doom, hasn’t been trying to help the survivors because he’s working with this world’s version of Mister Fantastic to save the world.  If it works, none of what has happened since the apocalypse will matter. Both guards urge the heroes to just go talk to the villains.

The heroes sneak up on the headquarters and wind up fighting the dozen cloaked defense drones flying around outside (Shia surprise!).  One of the heroes is clever enough to grab one of the drones and talk into its camera, demanding an audience, while another hero is using his flame-powers to melt through the doors and the other two heroes are trying to protect the flame-hero.

The fighting stops, and as it turns out these heroes’ arch-nemeses are lieutenants in the “legion” that survived the apocalypse. Some barbs are traded, the heroes go in to have a chat with “Mister Fantastic” to see what’s really going on. “Doctor Doom” tells them they have been working on a time machine to go back to before the apocalypse and stop it.  Turns out, he knows how the apocalypse happened: “Iron Man” and “Batman” worked together to create a series of satellites that would spy on the world and stop evil in its tracks (think the version of “OMAC” from Infinite Crisis), “SHIELD” found out about it and tried to stop it, “OMAC’s” programming glitched and thought everybody was evil as a result, and purged the world by igniting the atmosphere with particle cannons.

“Mister Fantastic” comes in to agree with the story as told, but he’s weirdly obsessive and pissed-off about being taken away from his work. He has one more equation to solve, and it’s proven mathematically impossible in normal Relativistic physics – so neither he nor “Doctor Doom” can identify when the time machine will be complete. The heroes let him take them to his quarters, where he tries to relax with a nice shower while they try to figure out what the gotcha is behind what’s happening.

After some physics-play, the heroes decide “Mister Fantastic” is just an irritable sumbitch and help him solve the equation: the fire-hero is going to be sent back in time while in his energy form, bypassing the need to solve the final equation. The other heroes (and “Mister Fantastic”) will teleport back in time, following the fire-hero’s slipstream. They also decide to teleport back to about a week before the apocalypse, giving them plenty of time to stop the end of the world.

Because no actual mass traveled back through time, they wake up in their own bodies a week before the apocalypse, Quantum Leap-style. They have to fight to realize what they experienced in the future wasn’t just a bizarre waking dream, and then. . .they successfully stop the apocalypse by calling up “Iron Man” and telling him what’ll happen. Because they’re heroes (and because they know some technical details about what was supposed to be a secret project), he believes them.  Apocalypse averted, and their memories of it soon begin to fade because that future no longer exists.

Overall, I had fun with the ICONS game system.  The players who didn’t like FATE (which ICONS is based on) preferred it to FATE, while those who enjoyed FATE liked it about the same. The options allowed players to have fairly robust characters, and their abilities worked very well in the context of the game.  I slightly-modified the characters in the back of the book to use as pregens, and did not give significant consideration to those characters and their relationship to the events of the story. The game was flexible enough, and the players were clever enough, to make it really work.