Thursday, June 4, 2015

Converting from Champions

Okay, let's get this out of the way first: I think the best way to convert a Champions character to ICONS Assembled is to start with a couple of notes about the character (strong; generates ice and shapes it; berserker hatred of killers) and build the character from the ground up. You'll get something that works in the context of the game you're actually playing, and you won't sweat about how big you should buy that 0 END 6D6 NND (not vs. people in knitwear or slogan T-Shirts).

Nonetheless, +Fabrício César Franco asked how it might be done, and I gave some ideas, and then I had another idea, and I have now spent several days converting characters from the Big Blue Book. I haven't done but one combat to test them, but after I have (if I ever do), I'll come back and change this text.

Some caveats:
  • This method assumes point-buy because it's clearly not random. That's fine if you're the GM and you're converting stuff, because you can just do whatever: there's no real point limit on you. If you're a player, well, then you have to think about the point limit that the GM has set. That might mean shaving all sorts of things, or buying extra things because the character turns out to be mind-bogglingly cheap. It's your life. 
  • This method produces a ballpark kind of character that you're still going to have to tweak. For instance, if you look at a character with resistant defenses in Champions, an assault rifle does about 2d6+1 killing, so 12 rPD is going to make your character immune to guns. It will take Resistant Damage 5 to do the same in ICONS and maybe you don't want to spend the points there.
  • Make liberal use of the benchmarks in both games. If a character has 60 TK, is that equivalent to ICONS Telekinesis 8? I don't think so. If something has 15 rPD in Champions, it will stop a bullet from an assault rifle, but a straight numeric conversion to ICONS won't give you that result. Look at what the power is supposed to be able to achieve, and benchmarks are one way of doing it.
  • There are pretty obvious breakpoints in character stats in Champions. Lots of characters tend to be DEX 21, 23, or 26. They're all going to end up as Coordination 5. You might have to adjust that.
  • There are lots of details in Champions that aren't in ICONS, so things get left on the floor.
  • This method calls for square roots. Everything gets rounded, and you played Hero System, for goodness' sake, so you shouldn't be afraid. You can manage just by remembering the squares from one to ten   (1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81, 100). Maybe I'll put a convenient chart below to help.
Now that's out of the way, let's get into the method. I'll do Spidermonkey from the Asesinos at the end of each part and we'll end up with a conversion.

Converting Champions to ICONS Assembled

 What's the character's basic concept? That will be your touchstone, and you'd start with it anyway if you were doing this conversion in my preferred way.
Spidermonkey is an intelligent mentalist spider monkey who hates humans. What else is there to say?

Characteristics to Abilities

Champions has fourteen characteristics; ICONS has six abilities. How to convert them?

With square roots, of course. Take the square root of each characteristic and use that as your starting point. ICONS doesn't do any "this is more useful so it costs more" stuff, so just use the final characteristic. We'll do Prowess last, so don't rush into it.

Strength is pretty straightforward. Unless Ability Boost fits the concept, Strength converts to Strength.
Spidermonkey is Strength 13, which is pretty close to 16. She'll be Strength 4. That's pretty strong for a spider monkey. (A baboon or a chimp, I could see it.)
Coordination is the square root of Dexterity.
Spidermonkey's Dexterity is 23, so she'll be Coordination 5. Because I know that Shrinking grants a certain difficulty to be hit, I will keep in mind that I might want to drop Coordination to 4 or even 3 during the Tweaking stage.
Intellect is the square root of Intelligence.
Spidermonkey is a smart monkey, but is she a genius monkey? We'll just convert straight. The square root of 20 is 4.47, so we'll round it down to Int 4.
Awareness is usually the same as the square root of Intelligence unless the character has lots and lots of levels dedicated to noticing things.

Willpower is the square root of the better of Ego or Presence, because Willpower in ICONS determines your ability to impress people. If you have to choose (you have a high EGO low PRE schlub), use that concept and keep in mind that you might have to add something like "Unimpressive" to a quality.
This problem does not come up with Spidermonkey: her EGO is 20, her PRE is 10. Now, the square root of 20 is 4, as we showed above, but she is a mentalist monkey, so I'll bump that to Willpower 5.
Prowess is handled by looking at levels and comparing the character's OCV to what you think it should be relative to a similar character in ICONS. Remember that a trained soldier is only Prowess 4.
Spidermonkey's OCV is 8, so her Prowess could be the same as her converted DEX (5), but despite that the picture shows her with a knife, she has no hand-to-hand levels. Plus she's going to get something added from the Shrinking. Let's call her Prowess 3, and let whatever bonuses she gets from Shrinking be the rest. When we're done, I hope she'll be Prowess 5 with bonuses, but I wouldn't be unhappy with 4.
So our tentative abilities for Spidermonkey are: Prowess 3, Coordination 5, Strength 4, Intellect 4, Awareness 4, Willpower 5. 26 points. If we have to shave a bit, we can knock a bit off Coordination and Strength.

Skills to Specialties

Champions has far more skills than ICONS has specialties. Take a look down the list. Ignore anything with a skill roll of 12-; it's just an application of the ability, and they already have it (unless the ability governing it is terrible).

A higher skill might call for a specialty (unless the ability governing it is wonderful). Mentally group the remainder and see how many you can compress into a few ICONS specialties.

Here's a rough and partial guide for translating those really high skills. Use the concept as your touchstone, and don't include the specialty if you don't have to.
  • Acrobatics, Breakfall, Climbing, and Contortionist are all covered by the Athletics specialty.
  • Background skills often turn into the appropriate kind of specialty (Business, Medicine, Law, Art, et cetera).
  • Combat Driving is covered by the Driving specialty.
  • Combat Pilot is covered by the Pilot specialty.
  • Interrogation, Persuasion, and Seduction might be the Psychiatry specialty.
  • Criminology, Deduction, and Conversation or Interrogation I would cover with the Investigation specialty.
  • Computer programming, Cryptography, Demolitions, Electronics, Mechanics, Security Systems, and Systems Operation, are all covered by the Technology specialty. I'd probably include Weaponsmith here too if the character is good at fixing and maintaining every type of weapon.
  • If the character knows fewer languages than his or her Intellect, make a note about the languages somewhere and move on. If the character knows more languages, well, consider buying the Linguistics specialty. Frankly, unless the character is about languages and not being able to talk to someone is going to be a plot point, I wouldn't worry at all.
  • Lockpicking and Sleight of Hand are covered under Sleight of Hand.
  • Disguise, Mimicry, Ventriloquist, Oratory and maybe High Society are different types of Performance.
  • Paramedic and Forensic Medicine are under the Medicine specialty (along with PS: Doctor).
  • Science skills turn into Science specialty.
  • Stealth and Concealment are the Stealth specialty.
  • Streetwise is something I often ignore: it might turn into a general criminal quality or it might be the Law specialty.
  • Tactics is probably represented best by the Military specialty.
  • Weaponsmith is a weapons specialty if the character specializes in a type of weapon.

Martial Arts in Champions is more about doing damage; I use the Strike power to represent a +1 to damage. Out of an obscure sense of fairness, I usually buy it to one level less than Strength, though I suppose it could be rank 1 if you needed the points.

Levels to Specialties or whatever

Different levels turn into different things. Levels with a specific power or powers turn into Power (name it) specialty.

Hand-to-hand levels turns into Prowess or maybe the Martial Arts or Wrestling specialties.
Thank goodness that Spidermonkey doesn't have many skills. I see that she has Acrobatics and Breakfall; that's enough for an Athletics specialty. There are three languages, but someone with Intellect 4 can speak that many, so I make a note of them ("Speaks English, Spanish, Spider Monkey") and move on.

Perks and Talents

Mostly I ignore them. They are usually there to fill out the concept. Maybe they can be subsumed into a quality. Maybe not.

Powers to Powers

For your rough approximation, you want the square root of the number of active points in the power. Ignore any active points that are just there for reduced or eliminated END.

I'm not going to do a power-by-power comparison.

Most of the powers in a Multipower or Elemental Control can be stunted, so pick one or two that you think will be used a lot and stunt the rest. If there are a lot of powers in the multipower (such as a utility belt), consider one of the powers that is meant to simulate other powers: Gadgets, Magic, and Cosmic Power.

One of the tricks that shows up a lot in Champions is a character with both Density Increase and Growth. My thought is, do you need them both? Compare them to your concept. Remember that Density Increase and Growth each add 1 to your character's strength if put in; maybe that will change your character's strength level. They each give additional Damage Resistance.

A character whose schtick is speed (has a SPD of 6 or better) should probably have Fast Attack.

When you need to think about an NND, look at Affliction, Energy Drain, or Stunning to model a similar effect. Stunning and Energy Drain both offer your choice of being opposed by Strength or Willpower when you take the power.

Power Drain in Champions  might be Energy Drain with an ability extra, or Nullify. Champions Power Transfer is what used to be ICONS Power Theft:  Power Mimicry with an Extra.

For both Shrinking and Growth, figure out what the character's actual size is, and buy ICONS Shrinking or Growth based on that.

Spidermonkey has this shrinking thing going. She's got enough shrinking to be about a foot tall. In ICONS that's Shrinking 4. It's permanent. If it were only a short guy, I'd think about making it Quality, but she's pretty small, so let's say Shrinking 4, Limit: Constant. She gets +2 to hit and avoid being hit, an automatic "Small" quality. That ups her Prowess a bit. I don't think she needs more than 4 Prowess in total, so I'll adjust the ability down a bit so it totals 4.
She has these mental powers: TK, 6d6 Ego Attack, and 12d6 Telepathy. I have no idea which powers really get used in play, so I'll say that TK and Ego Attack are the two main powers she uses and the Telepathy will be a stunt. They each cost 60 points, which is level 8, so she's a very impressive mentalist. Like, among the best in the world is what it says to me. Hmmm. That's not really my concept. I want her good but still needing a team. Let's look at the benchmarks. Her TK can lift 6400 kg in Champions: more than a truck, less than a tank. A straight point conversion would be Strength 8, but looking at the benchmarks in both games leads me to a level of 6 or 7. We'll say 7 for both of them, and possibly change it later if it's not suitable for the game. She now has Mental Blast 7, Telekinesis 7, and she'll stunt Telepathy when she needs it.
As a spidermonkey, she has tracking scent (Super Senses 1) and a prehensile tail. Are they going to get used much? Probably the tail, but the tracking scent? Extra Body Parts (tail) gives her Fast Attack at her Extra Body Parts power level. She's not a particularly fast physical fighter, and you're rarely going to run into something where she feints with her hands and then pow the tail hits them. (Someone like the Lizard sometimes does that, so it's not out of order.) I'm inclined to say Extra Body Parts 1 and call it done. I might take it off entirely if the character is too expensive, and just stunt it, pointing to the Spidermonkey quality she's sure to have. I'll tentatively write in Super Senses 1, as well, but can stunt it if necessary. How often do you track someone for more than one scene? It's usually a bridge to the next scene.  (As a gamemaster, I'd probably make finding someone a pyramid test, and Spidermonkey's player can activate the Spidermonkey quality for +2 on tests. No need for a power at all.)
So for powers, she looks like Telekinesis 7, Mental Blast 7, Extra Body Parts (tail) 1, Super Senses (tracking scent) 1.

Disadvantages to Qualities

Look at the disadvantages and see if you can create a Quality that includes them but also has some upside. If you're converting a villain, you want to make sure that there are some Qualities that the heroes can use against the character.

In Champions, characters often have several disadvantages which are all reflections of the same underlying trait: "Always prefers to fight blondes; berserk if injured by a blonde, 8-; 3d6 susceptibility to hydrogen peroxide and hair bleach." 

Read through the flavour text, too, if this is a published character. In the roleplaying notes, you'll often find something useful.
You know she's got the quality "Mentalist Spidermonkey". So that's one.
She hates humans to the point of being vicious to them. Is it better to be vicious to humans or to hate humans? Either could encompass the "Enraged when captured" disadvantage, but how are they for the advantage side of Qualities? I run through some in my mind, but I'm fuzzy-headed right now. We'll make it "Hates living humans" and move on.

There are several disadvantages about superiority; that could be useful. I don't think the weakness to Ego Attacks is particularly useful, but if the GM has read the Champions version of the character sheet, he or she knows that I'll play it that way. I'm going to add "Uplifted" to the "Mentalist Spidermonkey" quality and tell the GM that the "Uplifted" can be used for good or ill.

Back to superiority and always being in charge. Maybe I'll go with "Wants to be the alpha female" and add Leadership to the list of Specialties up above (assuming that the nominal leader has bothered to put Leadership on his or her list of specialties).

The Sample, Ready For Tweaking

A bit of tweaking has already been done.

Spidermonkey, a conversion

Prowess 4/6 Coordination 4/6 Strength 3 Intellect 4 Awareness 4 Willpower 5
(second number is to hit and to be hit, with Shrinking figured in)
Determination Stamina

Specialties: Athletics, Leadership

Powers: Shrinking 4, Limit: Constant; Telekinesis 7; Mental Blast 7
(Used the Limit to counteract the Determination cost of the Shrinking power.)

Qualities: Uplifted Mentalist Spidermonkey; Hates living humans; Wants to be the alpha female

Cost: 44 points

Not bad. With the remaining point, I'll probably increase the Willpower to 6, so Spidermonkey is a better mentalist.


  1. For skill probabilities, we'll take a 3d6 roll under number and we'll assume an average difficulty.

    Roll Exactly Result or less
    3 0.46 0.46
    4 1.38 1.85
    5 2.77 4.62
    6 4.62 9.25
    7 6.94 16.20
    8 9.72 25.92
    9 11.57 37.50
    10 12.50 50.00
    11 12.50 62.50
    12 11.57 74.07
    13 9.72 83.79
    14 6.94 90.74
    15 4.62 95.37
    16 2.77 98.14
    17 1.38 99.53
    18 0.46 100

  2. Again, assuming a difficulty 3 task (average), the equivalents in ICONS terms are roubly:
    Your total value is 3 before dice: 58.3%, or about 11-
    Your total is 4 before dice: 72.2% about 12-
    Your total is 5 before dice: 83.3% About 13-
    Your total is 6 before dice: 91.8% About 14-
    Your total is 6 before dice: 97.2% About 16-

    So if you have a Fair intellect, you have roughly a Champions 12- in everything intellectual.