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The thing about 11,000
james_nicoll
is that when you get down to it it's just another number.

I considered a suggestion I got - reviewing all of my past posts in detail - but on consideration rejected that. Instead have account of

Wednesday Night ICONS


ICONS is a simple superhero roleplaying game from Adamant. Unlike most of the games I've played in recent years, this is intended as random role up and since the process seemed quick we decided to use this as our fill-in game since the regular GM was sick.

After some dice rolling, Halifax's superhero group turned out to include the following:

Tectonic (my character): John Mason, a geologist and mining engineer who found an odd glowing rock and took it home to study it further (because he's the smartest, most skilled guy he knows). Now he's made of living rock, able to comprehend and command the Earth itself and incredibly unhappy at being a living (or at least animated) freak.

Officer Omega: A star cop assigned for "political reasons" to monitor backwater world Earth. Armed with a light saber (or laser sword if light saber is TMed), glue bombs and an endless font of naivety and good intentions, Omega protects the Earth - or at least Halifax - from off-world and other threats.

Mole Man: a former miner, he was transformed in an accident whose details I missed. He now wields the Onyx [?] staff, can heal with a touch, can burrow and is an accomplished hand to hand fighter.

[CharGen was random and independent. It's odd that we got two earthy types]

The trio got invited to take part in a test of a suit of powered armor (developed in part to deal with people like the trio) developed by Avatar Industries for the Canadian Armed Forces. The trio was given strict instructions not to break the suit while sparring; Officer Omega suddenly got a sense that it would not matter because the suit was about to be stolen and sure enough a flight of jets immediately attacked.

Tectonic tossed up a cloud of dust to hide the suit, which was completely ineffective against the jets but saved the other two supers from the stress of watching the attacks on innocents to come. The suit demonstrated that its systems had been subverted when it opened up on Tectonic with its flame thrower (to the tune of "it shouldn't be able to do that" from the secure bunker where the observers were). Tectonic has invulnerability and a shaky grasp on how effective it is so he wasn't that concerned; now he has idea of what it takes to create sensation, at least of the burny hurty sort, in his rocky form. Good to know if he ever runs into an open-minded incandescent woman or at least a friendly living statue. Or a hooker with a belt sander.

The jets, which I guess had VTOL capabilities, did their best to grapple and carry off the suit while Mole Man and Officer Omega did their best to stop them from doing this. The jets also dropped ordinance on the observers but since only Tectonic's senses worked through his cloud of dust, MM and OO were blissfully unaware of the potential carnage over at the bunker. Tectonic's efforts to protect the civvies only set the weapons off but happily the weapons were mostly non-lethal and the few fires that got started didn't seriously hurt anyone.

Tectonic also tried the GIANT STONE HANDS thing on the jets. No success.

Two jets got away with the suit and Donnelly, the guy inside. One got taken down by the star cop, not bad for a guy who can't fly. The guy in the jet was merc for hire; OO's police minder Jenny took over the questioning and deal making sometime soon after Tectonic offered to dangle the guy out a window by one leg (Even when he was meat, Tec didn't run to people skills). The merc claims to have been hired by none other than Avatar Industries CEO Jason Kapek. The hire was done hands off so there's no real proof it was Kapek.

[Kapek's surname inspired a rant from John Mason AKA Tectonic about the predictive power names have]

Shepherded by Jenny, the trio dropped in on Kapek to talk to him about the situation. The group learns from him that Daniel Fox, co-founder of Avatar later forced out by Kapek, was grabbed from his office in an apparent robbery. Tectonic left the talking crap to the other two and took a close look at Kapek for any unusual minerals that might be clues; Kapek has some weird Rare Earth minerals on his shoes but this doesn't immediately suggest where he could have been.

Around this point Tectonic suddenly realized that he could make a killing selling what his senses tell him to the mining companies in Nova Scotia. He personally has no trouble strip-mining the planet; after all that's what he used to do and he doesn't care about plants or animals, just the comforting earth and stone beneath it.

The superhero stuff is probably his best bet to winning the adulation, affection and grudging acceptance to which Tex feels he is entitled. Intelligence 6! 6! And a degree!

As the group leaves Avatar to (notes really unclear here), Kapek collapses. Turns out he's really sick, only months to live. The Staff unfortunately can't fix what's wrong with Kapek but trying to heal him allows him to recover enough to mutter an address out in the boonies.

While discussing all this they are accosted by an incoherent Donnelly, who has found his way back to work after being drugged and dumped by the bad guys. OO does its best to use its people skills to make the poor pilot feel better; this wins the group a nice sample of vomit to test for drugs (positive). MM uses the Staff to heal the pilot, who regains much of his memory, and he supplies more details.

What Donnelly can tell the group doesn't narrow down where he was released that much but while the meat was chattering, Tectonic was focusing on what really matters, dirt. Specifically dirt on Donnelly that could have come from near one or the other of two piers. As it turns out, Tec is also the sneaky bastard in the group so he went for a wee look-see and one of the things he noticed was that dust from the test site was inside a crate being hoisted onto a ship. Figuring that screams of terror and panic would let his partners know where to look for him, Tec pulled another immense pair of earth hands from below the pier, smashing it to splinters but securing the crate.

The captain of the ship wanted to let the cops have the crate but insisted that he had to be allowed to leave to keep to his schedule. When it became clear this wasn't going to happen and that the sea of blinky lights flowing down to the harbour was going to end at his pier, his sailors suddenly began dumping stuff over the side. A couple of mercs were present, presumably to baby-sit the suit; one of them took a shot at Tectonic, which provoked an angry tirade from Tectonic about idiots who shoot guns at invulnerable rock men (The second merc was also unimpressed; his pal probably bumped the charges against them specifically up some).

This leaves Fox's kidnapping, which the cops are looking into, and the address Kapek mentioned, which turned out to be a factory. On examination it seemed to be a completely unstaffed factory but diligence rewarded the group with a single human, a battered and terrified Daniel Fox. Fox got grabbed because Kapek wanted his help downloading his mind into a suitable new invulnerable vessel; Fox says that he would have done this out of friendship but Kapek wanted to make sure so he had a bomb stapled to Fox's chest, a bomb that could be triggered remotely.

[I am sure it was explained why Kapek needed to steal the suit but I didn't record why it was]

Mole Man asked if Fox had taken steps to make sure the vessel's neural net didn't spontaneously develop intelligence and self awareness. Fox protested that that was impossible so countermeasures weren't needed. In a tremendous feat of self-control, Tec didn't encase the idiot in molten magma from deep beneath the Earth's surface while screaming obscenities at Fox but he certainly considered it. Instead, while the other two explored the rest of the factory (guided by lights that were clearly indicating a particular direction) Tex carefully drew minerals in from outside the factory to form a shell around Fox that would absorb most of the blast. He also tried to remove the bomb so that Tec would get most of the blast if there was one (which of course there was). In the end, Fox was left bleeding (from the staples - not medical staples, just big staples) and the blast but he was alive.

MM and OO entered the next room to find a robot with Kapek's face and three hostages in a death trap (airlock from which air could be withdrawn). One was Jenny, discovering just one of the many benefits to being the Halifax Police liaison to the capes - I wonder whose dog she shot? The other two were security guards who no doubt have some inherent value as humans.

After monologueing smugly for a while, the robot tore off its Kapek face to reveal a metallic skull underneath, and then announced its new name: Skeletron! [1] For OO the face and the name was probable cause enough to take the first shot in an epic battle.
I can't recall what Tec was doing but I did note that the shots that finally took the robot down were from Mole Man and Officer Omega.

Once again for the first time the day was saved and all it cost was a bunker, a pier and part of a factory.


1: Presumably one only encounters AIs this dumb-ass early in their existence before natural selection weeds out the dumber ones. Although it also said it had off-site backups so maybe this was made to be a sacrificial goat and the rest will be a bit more subtle.






The characters as I recall them


Stat             Officer Omega      Mole Man       Tectonic
Prowess              8                 8              4
Coordination         4                 4              4 
Strength             6                 4              5
Intelligence         5                 4              6
Awareness            4                 6              4
Willpower            6                 5              2



Except for Officer Omega's and Mole Man's superhuman Prowess and Tectonic's spectacularly awful Willpower, these all fall between above average to ideal human. The lack of Willpower explains why it is people take shots at him; intimidation (like persuasion and to an extent the ability to take a hit) runs off Willpower. People still think he's a freak, though, and are happy to share this with him.



Powers
               Precog 4             Burrow 2        Invulnerability 5
               Strike 5             Strike 5        Chameleon 6
               Binding 2            Healing 5       Element Control Earth 
                                                     (Detect) 9
                                                     (Shape) 9


Specialties

              Criminology          Martial Arts    Geology    
                                                   Mason (although it got played as        
                                                    engineer)
                                                   Stealth


Determination

            Earth Must Develop        ?                 ? 
             Unhindered 


Aspects

Qualities
           Connection: Halifax       ?            Earth Elemental
            Cops                                  Connection Mining
          "That's probably                         industry
           illegal!"                              Seeks Approval
          


Challenges
           
         Unfamiliar with        Agoraphobic     "I'm a Monster!"
          Earth Customs
         Alien enemies          Enemy: Evil     "He's a Monster!"
                                 Eagle
         Jenny, cop minder                      Enemy: The Non-Gender-Specific 
                                                 Familial Association of Gaea.



I got lucky with his rolls but while he is a powerhouse, he's a powerhouse who can't hit things very well.

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while he is a powerhouse, he's a powerhouse who can't hit things very well.

Although he could just send building-sized waves of earth and rock at people. That has to count as area effect.

A fine, fine eleven thousandth post.

We glossed over it, but it was actually the machine (Skeletron) that stapled the bomb to him.

Tec was rescuing Fox, and then arrived in time to try the stone hands thing. He missed, though.

For others:
  • Ick factor was made of the fact that they weren't surgical staples--just the kind you'd find in an advanced factory.
  • I specifically said the jets were VTOL, so you're right there.
  • Speculation on why Kapek needed to steal the suit focused mostly on the possibility of an insurance scam or selling the suit so he would have money for his new life as a downloaded AI.
  • The adventure is the published one, The Skeletron Key. A simple adventure was best, I figured, since we were learning the system.
  • Not that it's particularly important, but I thought Tec was Antaeus?

Crap, I thought I closed that <EM> tag. </em> </em>

No, he has Antaeus' weakness but it never came up because his feet never left the ground.

Like the fact that his invulnerability has limits, this will come as a surprise to Tectonic.

What else? Fox did the work for Kapek, and got paid, though he says he would have done it for free. Officer Omega's examination will prove that the robot body has some alien tech in it: Kapek or Skeletron bought some tech on the black market to make a more vicious machine. (The body was not designed to have shooting force beams, for example.)

I don't have the character sheets here, but will pass them to you if you need them.

The Antaeus weakness didn't come up because Tec was careful about not doing anything that would cause him to be dangling.

It was just luck and power s/fx that he didn't end up dangling from the cable or charging up the ship's ramp. Wait until he realizes he can form a shell of earth around himself and fake having a power-suit.

I guess he's never flown anywhere since his origin.

Well, who has to fly? Halifax and the rest of Nova Scotia have all he needs.

(Thinking of putting him on a car that then drives onto an air transport....)

Tricks Tectonic could do, I suspect.
  1. He could grow his feet into the earth and his arms up to grab a plane, and prevent it from moving that way.
  2. He could encase himself in dirt and rock and pretend it's powered armour (might even work if he chooses the right rock)
  3. Use a pillar of earth to punch flying guys. (Harder to use against aquatic villains.)
  4. Burn things by channeling magma to them.
  5. Build walls out of earth to protect civilians.

    Not to steal from Avatar: the Last Airbender too much but it may be a good idea for him to carry a small bag of finely ground rock powder for those times when ramming an earth pillar up through the floor is unacceptable.

    There's times when that's unacceptable? That would be like saying charging through the wall to get to the bad guys is unacceptable.

    "Enemy: The Non-Gender-Specific Familial Association of Gaea."

    Hee!

    Tectonic used to vote Reform until they went all lefty by merging with the PCs; now he votes libertarian.

    And he's from Nova Scotia? Man mustn't have had any friends.

    I certainly got that impression. He seems like the sort that would have gone on at great length about his support for unpopular causes, while his co-workers sought desperately for means of escape.

    the shots that finally took the robot down were from Mole Man and Officer Omega.

    And they broke the death trap.

    And I looked at Mole Man's character sheet during lunch. Under Qualities, he has "Identity: Poor coal miner" and "Saying: I'll bury you!"

    "Earth Must Develop Unhindered" is one of Officer Omega's Qualities.

    Determination would be a number between 1 and 6. I don't remember them off-hand, but looking at your write-ups, Officer Omega has 2, Mole Man has 2, and Tectonic has 2. Those weren't the numbers we played with, because we were confused about levels and had them wrong for half the evening. However, because people earned Determination Points (I think everybody got one), we ended up with 2 per player.

    I had fun. I'd do it again.

    Now I'll shut up about ICONS.

    It was fun and I'd definitely play Tectonic again.

    Love it! "Tectonic" is an awesome superhero name.

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