Monday, November 16, 2015

The Quality of your Origin

SYSTEM: ICONS

The ICONS system provides a suite of origin possibilities, each of which has a mechanical effect. You make different choices in the creation of your character and your character's backstory depending on whether the character is a birthright character, or artificial, or transformed, or trained, or a gimmick character, or unearthly.

Most characters aren't a pure strain of origin, anyway: very few trained characters have no gadgets; Superman could be considered unearthly or a birthright. In Marvel's current continuity, an Inhuman character is both transformed and has a birthright--only certain people are affected by the Terrigen chemicals. Usually the most important origin version is reflected in the character's qualities: "Feared as a mutant" or "Dedicated to being the peak of human ability" or "Curious outsider" or whatever you want.

Really, it's only important if you're translating a character from a different medium into ICONS (though really, you can just say, "Hey, she has seven specialties...deal with it") or if, like me, you have this compulsion to be "fair," by some definition of the word.

You could, for instance, say that every character gets a bonus on creation, and you don't care what kind--it's one of four extra specialties, or a +2 to a power or ability, or you can change one power without doing some kind of Extra dance.

And that would be fine.

But what if the origin were an extra quality that you could call on during play? Yes, you might still want to have "Exiled Lemurian Prince" as your quality, but you could always invoke your origin. I'm not thinking anything you can't already do with Advantages, but you can always tag your origin as a quality. My first thought is that it's just a freebie Aspect. But you could restrict it a bit more and use the Quality instead of the mechanical aspects that are currently part of the origin.

Trained: Pay an Advantage, get a +2 to your effort as if you had the appropriate Specialty. Because you do: you're Trained. You can invoke the Trained origin for that Advantage.

Transformed:  Pay an Advantage, get a +1 to any power's rank.

Birthright: Get a free recovery without spending an Advantage, but you have to take a turn..

Gimmick: Pay an Advantage and stunt any power because you just rewired the framistat.

Artificial: Pay an Advantage and treat your Life Support as rank 10 for the rest of the scene, or increase an ability by another 1 at the cost of some kind of Trouble that will later cause you to seek repair/refurbishment.

Unearthly: Stunt any power but as Trouble be vulnerable to something in the scene. (You suddenly have Martian Vision but you are vulnerable to fire.)

I have no idea if it would make play too wild; I just thought of it this morning.