Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Converting Mutants and Masterminds into ICONS

Someone else (not me!) wrote a guide to converting M&M characters into ICONS. They wrote this about second edition M&M, and first edition ICONS.

Now, the best way to handle this is to conceptualize the character and write it fresh in ICONS. But the conversion guide was written for second edition M&M, and third is now out, and, well, I have a nit-picky view of the world. So, in a fine example of the tech writing art, I decided to update it, without bothering to check whether it gave good results originally.

I reproduce it here, but with a bunch of caveats:

  • First, a numerical conversion like this isn't a good idea.
  • Second, I didn't write this originally: I only updated some sections to reflect third edition M&M, and I didn't even check those (beyond running a couple of numbers).
  • Third, apparently the characters generated by this are wayyyy out of scale.

Still, with apologies for not giving credit to the original author, I put it here to make it easier to find. The original post was at http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?757183-ICONS-Assembled-Some-Questions&p=19041807#post19041807

The conversion is for 2nd edition M&M. I've taken a stab at a third edition-ICONS Assembled version because someone will want it...but a better choice is knowing both systems and converting by "feel" rather than by numbers. A much better choice.

My opinion only: in general, I feel like in ICONS a level of 8 in something is best in the world. When you get to level 9 and 10, you're talking best in the universe/century/millennia kind of territory. Nobody should ever be saying, "Oh, my character has only level 8 in this." A character with level 8 in a power can take on and succeed against a character with level 10. (Of course, the opposite is also true: it depends on the powers involved, and the lower-power-level characters might need to team up.) The Troll, for example, is an epic villain. With a Damage Resistance of 9, he is tough to beat: players have to team up or use his qualities...and if they have a character with Mental Blast, he falls apart.

Please remember that I didn't write the original, of which vast swathes remain. I only updated it.

The following will look ugly; I don't know if you can even do tables here.

General conversions: powers and abilities

First number is M&M 3rd edition, the second is ICONS Assembled. Convert against this chart and you'll still have only a rough guideline that needs to be adjusted.

M&MICONS
<-11*
-12
03
1-24
3-55
6-76
8-97
10-148
15-189
>1810*
* Maybe a candidate for a Quality as well.

So, those abilities...

Prowess
This is the M&M Fighting ability. If you really care about the powered/non-powered thing, consider using Martial Arts to achieve Prowess levels higher than 6 with non-powered humans. Remember also to add in advantages and skills that enhance melee attack bonus. What you're looking at is how good the character is at his/her best. You might want to do this last, after looking at skills
Coordination
Use the average of the agility and dexterity plus any ranged attack bonus and defense bonus feats rolls to determine the number used for conversion. You can improve ranged attacks with the Power or Weapons specialties. Again remember that non-powered humans can be boosted with the Power or Weapons specialties.
Strength
This is converted from the M&M Strength ability. Consider superstrength and your heavy load lifting ability when determining Strength; ICONS doesn't distinguish between lifting and fighting.
Intellect
Convert the Intelligence ability.
Awareness
Use the average of the Perception and Insight skill totals. Yeah, technically Insight should be Will based, and you can do it if you want, but I've seen better effects averaging them. Except when I don't.
Willpower
Use the average of your Will Save and Presence and compare it to the Stats and Powers Chart.

Skills to Specialties

When determining Specialties, determine what your character is really good at: those are the things that might be specialties. In ICONS there are no requirements to have a specialty in order to do something: any shmoe can try Medicine (as first aid). Yeah, skill monkeys are still difficult, but since you can say "Science" and mean all of them, it's not quite as painful.

In both systems, the skill/specialty rank adds to the character's ability, so consider comparing the sum in both cases to see if you need a specialty at all. If your doctor in M&M has INT 10 and Medicine 5 just so he can be a doctor, consider putting the doctor bit in a Quality and leaving it out of the Specialties entirely. Your character will probably need fewer specialties because the ICONS specialties are looser. (The ICONS version will get fewer specialties, as well.)

Remember that most of the fighting skills are absorbed into Prowess and Coordination, above. You can still add them as Martial Arts, Wrestling, or Power specialties, but consider whether you need to.

But, assuming the skill ranks are seriously different from the ability...

If the skill is less than 6 in M&M, don't even consider buying a specialty unless the character is meant to be an idiot savant

Skill, M&MSpecialty in ICONS
6-10Specialist
11-20Expert
>20Master

Yes, I think the rules allow you to have an ICONS character with rank 10 in something and a Master specialty, but why? Remember scale. If that level of expertise is important, maybe you need to re-scale your game.

Advantages

ICONS doesn't even have advantages. Most of them are going to be roleplaying handwavy things. If you want the GM to use them as plot hooks and make a big deal of them, maybe they could be a Quality. Something like Fearless, consider if you want to be fearless. If you really, really want it—if it's at the core of your character concept—then consider something like Resistance: Fear effects. But really, that's probably better done as a stunt if you have a Quality that somehow alludes to it. There's a different feel between a character with the Quality "Man without fear" and someone with Resistance 5: Fear effects.

Powers

Pick what ever powers fit your character and use the chart for the ranks. You should pick the powers that best representation of your hero and leave the rarely used or less used powers for using power stunts.

In doing conversions from other systems, I've noticed that there's a difference in feel between a power or ability that's mimicking something a normal person could do, and something that's just plain super. When you convert damage or strength, you have guns to compare against. Mind Control, not so much. Because of this, super super powers might be converted as if they were a lower rank but I have no idea how much.
If a power can have a specific limitation, consider a Limit for it. If the limitation affects multiple powers or the whole character, maybe it's a Quality.

In M&M a character can have a lot of powers in an array for relatively little cost; there's no equivalent to arrays (or Multipowers, for the Hero Games players). In that case, consider Magic or Gadgets or Cosmic Power. All three allow you to pluck powers from out of a hat or utility belt for the cost of a test. Or have a Quality that generates many determination points that you can use for stunts.

Qualities

Here you can tie up a few of the loose ends like complications and advantages that might not fit into ICONS. There are only three of them now, so look for things that can be advantages and limitations.

Determination

In my experience, Determination points are more powerful than Hero points, though that will depend on the GM. It also applies only to player characters.

Benchmark it!

Consider the scale you're working at. It doesn't matter if the conversions aren't appropriate for the original game, what's important is that they work relative to the current game. Batman has different abilities depending on whether he's in Detective comics or Justice League.

This goes along with scale. Look at the benchmarks for both games. If your M&M character could not lift a building but your ICONS ability says you can, drop the ICONS strength level down.

Now take it out for a test drive. Tweak it.

But really, I think you'd be better off starting with the idea and working from the ground up.