Monday, May 4, 2015

Conversions of Characters

This is just a reprint of something I wrote on Google+.

Conversions for ICONS

Now that I've done about a dozen A:EMH conversions for ICONS Assembled (not all are posted), I have some ideas about the conversion process. Understand that this is me thinking, and it in no way binds you to my ideas. For instance, I notice that ptah3 on the Yahoo group and I have different takes on some characters. Mine isn't right and his isn't wrong—they're just different.

So here are some guidelines I've find useful in doing conversions.

Less is more.

If it's a rarely-used power, then maybe it's a stunt. Randomly-created characters top out at 6 powers—I expect that long-running other-media characters have more powers, but ask yourself, “Can this be a stunt?” Example: Wasp can grow as well as shrink, but the only place I remember it is the episode Ultron-5.

How are they going to use the Qualities?

Can you imagine saying, “Because I'm The Strongest One There Is I can rip the arms off Ultron”? Or the GM saying, “Because you're The Strongest One There Is they are afraid of you and call the army”?  Sure, some Qualities are going to be mostly-positive or mostly-negative, but try to find a flip side. (For me, this is the area that really differs from the first release.) Every significant fight should offer the characters a chance to earn Determination as well as spend it.

Try finding what the character's stories are mostly about—Walt Simonson once said that Thor's stories are often about the parent he can never satisfy. 

Look at the source material.

Several times I thought that Alternate Form was the answer, but it just doesn't behave the same as the character does. Just because they say something ("Made of ionic energy!") doesn't mean it transliterates to game terms.

Look at the rules repeatedly.

I worried about whether the Hulk should have Life Support (cold) because of the time in the Arctic, and then I realized that at Strength 10 he was never going to fail his exposure Strength roll. Life support was not necessary in that case. Stuff like that always catches me off-guard so you might as well be wary too. I was very proud when I realized that the Uni-Beam could be a stunt of the repulsor beams.

Beware levels over 8. 

They should be really special. Once you have one character who's Strength 10, you want another one to fight him, and a third who has Damage Resistance 10 who can't be hurt by him. That way lies inflation. In ICONS, a character who is Strength 7 will sometimes win a Strength challenge against a Strength 10 character, despite the "fact" that one can lift about 10 times more. You don't need Resistance To Damage every time, either: in ICONS, Resistance is very powerful. A level of 8 is the best in the world; a 9 is the best of the century. A 10 is legendary. 

It's your game.

Scale everything together for your game. This is especially true if you're mixing companies for source material. Who's stronger, Superman or Hulk? Depends on who's publishing or writing the comic. In your game, you get to choose what's true in your world..