Vaults & Vagabonds

Traveling through dangerous wilderness and mythical underground

A Field in England (Ben Wheatley, 2013)

Director Ben Wheatley has done some pretty interesting and unique movies, and A Field in England is no exception. Set sometime during the English Civil War (1642 – 1651) the film follows a ragtag group of deserters, low-lives and mysterious figures that eat some magic mushrooms and trip out in a field.

A Field in England Poster

The story is somewhat simple, although a bit confusing as some of the character's actions is not explained very well, and it all gets enhanced by the trippy mushroom-eating and the introduction of hallucinatory, almost magical elements. Sometimes it feels more like a filmed play than a real movie, and the clichéd, although entertaining, characters combined with the stilted dialogue, only further the surrealism of the story. The pure black and white images signifies both ART, DIY and PUNK like nothing else these days, and A Field in England is no exception – it should be irritating as it seems calculated, but it is also difficult imagining the movie in any other way.

Some might call A Field in England an empty movie, that it isn't really about anything. There is also an uncharming manliness to it all, much throat-grabbing, bragging and bravado that seems a little misplaced considering the men's situation. It could be about the effects of war, like shell shock or PTSD. It could be about freeing the mind from the horrors of war and quite possibly real life. It could even be about something essentially British, but it is hard for me to fathom what. Even so, it is not easily forgotten as it has some undeniably freaky qualities.

Grim, grisly and visceral Wheatley's A Field in England is a unique movie experience that comes across as both seemingly amateurish and hypnotic, and ultimately a pretty weird movie that doesn't inspire repeated viewings.

#movie #review #benwheatley #afieldinengland

Ms. Marvel Vol. 2 by G. Willow Wilson

While the first volume of the collected editions of G. Willow Wilson's new muslim, and very cool superhero Ms. Marvel was excellent in every way, this second collection of the comic series takes Kamala Khan's story further with some major Marvel Universe event happening in the background and suffers for it.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 2

Ms. Marvel was fresh breath of air, and the origin story took me back to childhood experience with superhero comics, most notably my introduction to Spider-Man. What I believe I sometimes miss from modern superhero comics is a believable insight into the characters real life, and how the superhero and weird stuff makes this life both difficult and messed up. Ms. Marvel hit it on the head from the start, and it continues quite well in this second collection. In this story Kamala even have to cope with love, and she discovers that her secret identity might not be so secret as she believes. She even gets to meet, and fight alongside her hero Captain Marvel.

Where the collection fails as a whole and coherent story is that I really don't care for the Marvel event happening in the background. I want to follow Kamala as she deals with boys, love, family and even the Inhumans, while trying to hide from her admittedly charming family. Instead too much of the story gets eaten by an event that really don't get any explanation. I believe that these collections should work as a single story, and I get annoyed when important stuff don't get an explanation or the collected story don't get a satisfying ending. Neither happens here and I felt left out. I don't want to buy into other comics and other stories to understand what I'm reading at the moment. This is not particular to Ms. Marvel Vol. 2, but to most output from the large comics publishers, but I want to believe that Kamala Khan deserved something more, if not better.

#comics #review #msmarvel #marvel #gwillowwilson #superheroes

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

The first book in the Spin Saga Trilogy by Robert Charles Wilson is a fantastic science fiction novel with a grandiose theme, yet with totally human, and actually humanistic, characters. Spin won the Hugo-award for best novel in 2006.

Spin cover

The novel follows two storylines involving the three same characters in different times in their lives. The first tells the tale of the two siblings Jason and Diane Lawton through the eyes of their best friend Tyler Dupree. As they grow up their different personalities forms and without knowing it they will all in their own way play an important part in the things to come.

Jason is a brilliant kid with father issues. Diane is highly sensitive and spiritual. Tyler is the more normal of the three, but still quite intelligent and determined. Also he “secretly” loves Diane.

One fateful night a mysterious and unfathomable alien race encapsulates Earth in a “membrane” (named Spin) effectively shutting Earth off from the rest of the universe. The aliens quickly get named the Hypotheticals. It is also soon discovered that time itself works quite differently inside the membrane from the outside and suddenly life and indeed the whole human race seems doomed. Jason gets to work on a solution. Diane joins a doomsday cult. Tyler becomes a doctor.

The second storyline jumps into the future with Jason obviously dead and Tyler and Diane on the run in an Asian country. Tyler has injected himself with some kind of drug/cure which is somehow connected to the Spin, and the government is closing in on them.

Spin is that rare science fiction book that successfully combines huge ideas of space, time, terraforming and the weirdness of science with humanistic themes and believable characters. I liked it a lot, even though it was slow going sometimes, and had pretty liberal ways of describing the science behind the huge ideas.

I struggled a bit with how Wilson describes the females in the story. While the males are determined, set for destiny and brilliant, sometimes unscrupulous, but mostly in the right, the females are failing mothers, drunks, spiritual and religious, and always dependent on a male. Also I find that, even though the characters are believable humans, the language used to describe their relationships felt somewhat simple compared to the science and the spiritual stuff. Sometimes I felt as I was reading a YA novel with some extreme science and tech added on for good measure.

All in all though these things are not consistent and there are some good exceptions to my main gripes with the novel. It is a solid story that, despite its lack of action, got an interesting theme. I notice that the the next books in the trilogy looks to be a bit different and I will therefor probably view this as a stand alone novel with an open ending.

#review #sciencefiction #novel #spin #robertcharleswilson

Icoross – the city below ashen clouds

Is it the end times? Or has the world already ended? In the enormous city Icoross no one knows. Perhaps they don't care? Completely self-sustained and isolated the peoples of this cold, timeless and vast city take little to no notice of the outside world as they slowly and inevitably work their way towards their own downfall.

Icoross is situated in the vast and narrow Scabrous Valley. From south to the north and through the valley, and therefore all of Icoross, runs the partially frozen river named Tearlang (nicknamed the Tear Canal) which ends in the northern slushy ocean known as The Deep Tear. Around the riverbed is a makeshift harbor that sees little use as no one has made it across The Deep Tear in a very long time. Fishing is difficult, and those brave souls who try this way of life often meet an untimely death in icy storms or get swallowed by gigantic creatures emerging from the depths.

Icoross itself is made up of an unknown number of districts, each ruled by immortal beings with very specific agendas. These immortal beings comes in many different shapes, but be they larvae hive minds, schizo-scientists, slumbering monstrosities, malfunctioning automata, bureaucratic vampires, recluse alchemists or anarcho-liches, they all take little heed of the common folk. Even so, some of the districts adhere to specific laws and customs that make them unique across the city of Icoross.

Although the immortals care little for the common folk they keep a watchful eye on each other. Most of them don't take direct action, but they have been known to meddle in each others affairs from time to time. They are inscrutable beings though, so why they do what they do is often hidden in aeons of existing, mysteries of time and forgotten grudges.

Even though Icoross do not have a central ruler or council some individuals and organisations stretch their influence across and have a dealings in many of the city's districts. Among these are the Templars of the Grey Papacy, who patrol the streets looking for believers and unbelievers of The Ashen One; the many guilds of Icoross, from The Merchant's Guild, The Alchemist's Guild, to the thieves of The Rat's Hands and the assassins of Black Cowl; and finally the Automata Autarch, that no one has seen or even are sure exists, but who's little bug-like mechanoids can be heard skittering inside walls, across rooftops, in back alleys and in the vast sewer system that runs below the glacially disrupting city.

#free #fiction #setting #icoross

Principles of Old School Gaming

I've been toying with the idea of writing my own little Player's Handbook for possible forthcoming old school games. I'm currently playing, and enjoying, a Castles & Crusades-campaign, with some modified rules, but real old school it definitely isn't. The simplified, combined with the improvisational and procedural, rules of old school is becoming more and more appealing to me, and I need to solidify and put to paper what I ideally would like to play. In the process I will pick and choose from my betters of course. Many blogs are inspiring, and also rulesets like Labyrinth Lord, The Black Hack and even maybe the slick skill-solution from Castles & Crusades will possibly be a part of my house rules.

However, before I begin the process of putting the rules together I need to define some of the principles of old school gaming.

What is the game about?

  • The game is about player ingenuity, not character abilities or power level
  • The game is about exploration and survival in a dangerous environment
  • The game is about creative problem solving
  • The game is about making choices, and facing consequences
  • The game is about improvising with what is at hand, and uncovering what is hidden

How does it work?

  • Character generation is quick and easy
  • Solutions are seldom found on the character sheet
  • The character's backstory is happening now
  • The game takes place in a sandbox
  • The game is open-ended
  • The world is not static and it will evolve whether the characters get involved in current affairs or not
  • The farther out, down or up the harder it will be
  • The game is lethal and unbalanced.
  • Be prepared. Be aware of portents. Never fight fair. Be smarter. Apply tactics. Run!
  • The real killer is the dice
  • The decision of the referee is final. Rulings, not rules.
  • Player agency is the driving force
  • Random tables will surprise both players and the referee through encounters, treasure and events
  • Experience (XP) rewards from spending gold, and defeating, overcoming, befriending or bypassing opponents and obstacles
  • Metagaming is allowed, as there is no strict line between player and character knowledge
  • There will always be several solutions to a problem, many might be hidden, or even unknown to all

#OSR #RPG #mygame

Mace of Divine Memory

As I read through some published modules and plan my new fantasy campaign I substitute every bland magic item and vanilla +# weapon with something more colorful.

This is my reworking of a simple +1 mace.


Heavy Mace


This heavy mace consists of a long wooden handle and the top is an oblong iron ball with five equal iron flangs. It is designed for delivering one-handed concussive damage against armored opponents. The Mace of Divine Memory is obviously of superb craftsmanship, but have no noteworthy features except a deep purple shine to the iron flangs.


The Mace of Divine Memory has been used by especially devote war priests through centuries. The clerics wielding the mace were recognized as very accomplished in battle and the weapon’s power is believed to come directly from the god of war. Succesful battle clerics recieved a small amount of divine power on succesful attacks, but could just as well fall out of favor when not doling out divine rage.

Game effects:

Only clerics get the benefits of wielding the Mace of Divine Memory. To all other classes it works as a normal mace.

The cleric receives a +1 bonus to hit and damage.

Also a cleric wielding the mace will be able to recall a spell on a critical hit (natural 20). Likewise a fumble will make her forget a spell (natural 1). The spells received (or taken away) in this manner must be among the spells the cleric knows and has cast during the day. It can not increase nor decrease the cleric’s spell limit. That is: a cleric that has cast no spells scores a 20 to hit and received the battle blessing of the Mace of Divine Memory – but since she is at her maximum spells she won’t receive an extra spell. A cleric that previously has cast Cure Light Wounds will find that it miraculously returns to her memory. When a cleric loses a spell she must randomly determine (i.e. let the dice decide) which spell she loses. A spell lost in this way can be regained on another critical hit with the mace. If the cleric has cast several spells before she scores a 20 she can decide which spell to regain.

#RPG #OSR #magic #weapon #item

What is on the fantasy menu?

Sometimes you need to know what is served at the inn the characters are staying. Roll on the table below to find out.

I have researched some medieval and renaissance foods and tried to break it up in a way that will work for different types of inns. No more flavorless stews!

Know that in the old times all fresh vegetables and fruits were prepared in some way (cooked, dried, pickled, salted or fermented) as fresh produce were thought to cause sickness. Furthermore only the upper classes regularly enjoyed fresh meat or fish (settlements near fishing waters are obvious exceptions). Spices and herbs were widely used. Dairy products spoiled quickly and was seldom used in cooking. Almond milk was the prefered substitute. Salted butter was used, if not common.

During fast the menu is usually changed. Normally this means no food served before a certain hour, all meats substituted with fish or vegetables, or determined by local customs – use your imagination. During feasts or other celebrations the menu will also offer something different. Solve it by adding another 1d4 to your roll or make something up for these occasions.

Assign 1d4 for each step of quality of the inn up to a maximum of 5d4. Like this:

1d4 = poor 2d4 = cheap 3d4 = average 4d4 = good 5d4 = extraordinary.

If you don’t know the quality of the inn just roll 3d6 to find out what is served.

  1. Stale bread and rancid butter
  2. Gruel of barley and almond milk
  3. Frumenty – Potage of boiled wheat and currants
  4. Cabbage soup – Potage of cabbage and sometimes onions, garlic and leeks
  5. Tredure – Broth thickened with egg and bread
  6. Mortrew – Potage with broth, salted meat and vegetables.
  7. Makerouns – Noodles and cheese.
  8. Buttered greens. Cooked herbs and/or green vegetables with butter. Poured over stale bread.
  9. Pickled herrings, onion, butter and bread
  10. Smoked eel served with beans, stewed cress and chard
  11. Meat pie, white bread and butter. Meat varies, but beef or game is typically more expensive. Could also be fish pie if near fishing water.
  12. Pork meatballs with currants in almond milk. Served with bread.
  13. Cheese and onion pie served with boiled sprouts and a cup of warm broth.
  14. Stuffed eel in a spicy and red almond sauce. Typical stuffing is bread, onion and mushrooms.
  15. Braised pike with herbs in wine sauce.
  16. Wild boar with pickled pumpkin and sprouts
  17. Roasted venison and mushrooms with red wine baste.
  18. Lobster with vinegar dipping sauce.
  19. Roasted whole swan with ginger sauce and boiled greens.
  20. Fantasy/Extinct/Mythic/Unique animal/creature served with fresh vegetables and foreign (extraplanar!) spices. This meal should be really extraordinary, bordering on perversion. Examples include unicorn, cockatrice, owlbear and hippogriff. Replace with any type of rare game or bird if this doesn’t fit your style or campaign. Or take it even further into depravity and serve some gelatinous cube, otyugh, purple worm or even a small dragon.

#RPG #randomtable #table #OSR

The High Cost of Gaming

Christopher Helton has written a so called Industry-article on ENWorld about how RPG-gamers are cheapskates that won’t pay what games are worth (Edit: the article has since been removed but can still be read via Wayback Machine). Consequently game designers can’t make a decent living doing what they love.

Although sentimentally praiseworthy I feel the article is both a little biased, and grounded on some misconceptions. I must stress that I have nothing against the author, nor the game creators mentioned and I don’t live in the US nor have any personal, professional or economic ties to the RPG business. I’m just a game collector and gamer with a keyboard.

Firstly, telling the customers and the fan base that they are cheapskates and really don’t appreciate the effort it takes to create a game is both rude and beside the point. The customers should not have to worry about this. If the product you are making and selling is priced too low it’s not my problem. It’s yours. Frankly I don’t care if you can’t make a business plan that will give you sustainability or a fair income. You are in fact selling a product, i.e. taking my money for something you made, and if you want to keep making such products it is your freaking job to make it worthwhile.

Buying games is a hobby of mine and I want to keep doing it even if I get to play only a few of the games I buy. I know I’m not the only one. Of course it saddens me to hear that elderly game creators with failing health are having a hard time making ends meet and paying their medical bills. It must be clear however that even though this has everything to do with them running a business and selling at an appropriate price point it is still on them and not the customers. I don’t want to sound overly cynical, but insufficient funds to pay medical bills is a problem with the political system and not limited to the gaming business. We don’t buy games to support publishers. We buy games to play (or collect) them, and if that happens to coincide with you making a living we are all better off because of it. Please don’t make me feel like I’m donating to charity when I’m buying your products or jumping on your big yearly sale. You made this and you control it. You are running a shop and I’m your customer. Basically there is no “us”, besides the transaction of money and product. If there is any social interaction it is still on you. You decide how to interact with the fan base and the customers and if you do it in a friendly matter that is on you. No one can make a living or secure sustainability by selling services or products only to their “friends and family”.

“Game creators aren’t getting any younger”.

Except when they are. Some game creators aren’t getting any younger. Some have been making games for decades. So what? If anything, this logic makes it seem impossible for young game creators to make a niche and place for themselves in the business. It is not, but it is really hard. Buying games is not a campaign to support your elders. It is not the customers task to keep creators in the business. It is not the customers task to support a hierarchy of publishers. It is not the customers task to care for antiquated business models.

Yes, workers deserve to be paid a living wage. As a citizen of a Western country and a member of a labors union it is one of my fundamental beliefs. If you are a worker, working for the man, you should be secured at least a wage to live off, and if you don’t it is a case for the labors union. As a freelancer though, you are on your own. Likewise if you are the business owner. However unfair it may seem you are effectively “the man”. You pay the wages and it is your responsibility that they are fair. If your product can’t support these wages it is still not your customers fault. This is the system we have chosen to adhere to and it is rarely fair or even logical. Sometimes I believe it also damaging to creativity and life as a whole, but it is what we got and you need to work it. If your production don’t support the hours you put into it you need to make better products or maybe make other products. This is the system. It may be bad, it may be unfair and even rotten, but there are examples of success. Usually though, it is not possible to get paid following a dream. It is still not the customers fault.

There is a lot of work and resources that are required to produce a game. Even if it is shitty. The art, writing, editing, layout, testing and of course the physical components all cost money and effort. This is not for the customer to know. It needs to be shown in the product, and even then the chance is most won’t care. If your product won’t sell at the price you decide chances are pretty good that it won’t sell very much at all. As with every other industry or business, and also life in general, success is not guaranteed. And it is hard work. Really hard. But it still not the customers fault if it fails. It is on you.

The gaming industry is actually blessed. It is blessed with a cornucopia of games. There is a game for everyone. Sadly it is not everyone for a game and therein lies the problem. There are simply too many games that will never be played. The industry is also blessed with a large group of collectors. We want games not necessary to play, but to keep, collect and cherish. This is important. Your precious creation might never see the table, but it will be sold and bought. Your creation might be beautiful and inspired, it might be a work of art, but it might also be fiddly, over-complicated, unpractical or even broken. It might be a poem in a language known only to the poet. It is collectible, but unplayable. The industry might in fact be reliant on a few completists and with that it has suffered some staleness, forward thinking and evolution.

Pricing is a sore thumb in almost all of the entertainment business. There are so many offering different shades of the same thing, and the thing in question is more often than not extremely time consuming. RPGs is mostly not meant for casual play. It offers immersion, complexity and demands dedication. In that sense it is limited, but I will still guess that most gamers have more games than they have actually played. We need to buy “just one more book” because it is “cool”, or “it might be useful”. Together with the completists we are creating a false market. We are creating a sense of demand that is not factual, that is not real. If the customers are faulty of anything it is this. We buy too much of what is offered. A higher price point could remedy that, but I’m not sure if that is wise from a moneymaking perspective.

#gaming #general #article #reply

Shield of the Basilisk

As I read through some published modules and plan my new fantasy campaign I substitute every bland magic item and vanilla +# weapon with something more colorful.

This is my reworking of a simple +1 shield.


Medium wooden shield.


This round wooden shield is secured to the arm with a thick leather strap at the back. It is rounded around the edges so as to be almost hemispherical. The shield feels light on the arm and actually weighs approximately the same as a small equivalent (EV2/3 lbs.). In the middle of the front is a very worn painting of a closed reptilian eye.


Created and once owned by a beastmaster that specialized in creatures with paralyzing and petrifying abilities. The beastmaster fell victim to one of his own creatures, and the Shield of the Basilisk disappeared from living memory long time ago.

Game effects:

+1 AC in addition to the usual +1 from medium shields. The total bonus of +2 AC is only applicable to one enemy each round.

The Eye: Once per day the wielder of the Shield of the Basilisk can tap the shield and make the eye open. One humanoid target of medium or smaller size of the owners choosing that is directly in front of the eye will be affected as per the spell Hold Person (save, spell resistance and so forth as normal). The effect will remain as long as the eye is directed at the creature, i.e. the wielder can no longer use the shield for defense and the target must be in line of sight of the eye. The spell will be broken if anyone or something equal to or larger than the target interferes with the line of sight.

Vulnerable: The Shield of the Basilisk has become very frail over time and will no longer save as a magical item. Consequently it will be damaged by fire, and other actions that could destroy a normal wooden shield.

#RPG #OSR #magic #shield #item

Character Creation: ICONS

ICONS is the second superhero roleplaying game from Mutants & Masterminds creator Steve Kenson. ICONS is loosely based on FATE and so is a rules light game. It differs from FATE in that it relies more on numbers and actually simplifies the concepts of descriptors and Aspects. Character creations is hugely different as well.

ICONS uses randomized character creation and very little is actually controlled by the player. This character creation example will be using the original rulebook from 2010, but know that a updated edition called ICONS: The Assembled Edition was released in 2014. This new edition, as far as I understand it, corrects a few rules and includes some material from previously released supplements. I don’t know if character creation is the same process in the two editions, but the original rulebook is the one I have.

Character creation is a simple 7-step process. We will either roll 2d6 or 1d6 & 1d6 and looking up results on tables in the rulebook. I have no clear concept of what my superhero will be like. That would probably be moot anyway due to the random nature of the creation.

So, let’s see if we can get my superhero off the ground shall we?

Phase 1: Origin. I roll 2d6 and get an 8. Checking the Origin-table on page 10 I see that the character’s powers is a «Gimmick». This means that my character will rely on items and devices as the source of his/hers powers. I also get to choose one mental ability to increase by +2. I will get back to that.

Phase 2: Abilities. There are six abilities in ICONS. The book calls for separate 2d6 rolls for each of these. The result is compared to the Level Determination-table on page 11. Let’s do it! The abilities (and my Level in each) are:

Prowess: 4 Coordination: 8 Strength: 4 Intellect: 5 Awareness: 3 Willpower: 6

Whew! I rolled really well! The rulebook allows for swapping two abilities, but since I still have no real concept for this character I will need to take a moment to consider what I really got. As rolled I can see that this character is not overly strong, nor perceptive or very good in close combat. On the other hand I will be extremely proficient in ranged combat and dodging. That is pretty handy. My smarts and sheer force of will is pretty good as well. I kind of like this and decide not to swap any abilities. I still have my +2 increase to add to any mental ability, but won’t do that yet.

Phase 3: Powers. This is the real meat, and what will make my character spring to life. Spider-man wouldn’t be Spider-man without sticky webs and spider sense, right? I know that my powers stems from gimmicky devices, so let’s see what the dice say about these powers. First I need to roll on a table on page 11 to calculate how many powers I got. I rolled 2d6 and got the total of 6. Looking at the table it tells me that I now have 3 powers. I’m guessing that is quite average when it comes to superpowered beings. Not bad, but not quite The God of Thunder either. Now I need to roll on quite a lot of tables to discover my awesome new powers. I’ll do them one at a time.

First I need to roll to discover my first power’s Power Type. Rolling 2d6 and comparing the result on the Power Type-table on page 12 I get a total of 8 and see that my first power is Movement. Now I need to narrow down what this Movement really do. Rolling on the appropriate table on page 13 I discover that my movement-power is Swinging. OK, that was not as awesome as I thought it would be, but it could still come together quite nicely. Swinging feels like poor man’s flying to me, but using a rope/line I can also pull things towards me. That could be a plus. I roll on Level Determination-table to find the power level of my Swinging. I roll a 9 and assign level 6 to Swinging. On to the next power.

Ah! This is better! I roll 10 and get one Offensive power. I feel ready to kick butts! Smelly villain butts. Rolling on the Offensive-table I discover that my Offensive power is Strike. Another letdown! I was really hoping for some kind of long-ranged option here, but it seems I’m determined to roll a barely coherent mishmash of abilities and powers. My Strike level is 4, so I’m not very good at it either.

Last chance to make this character a force to be reckoned with. My last Power Type will be Control. That could be cool! Let’s see what it does. I get Elemental Control! Now we are talking. Rolling on the appropriate tables for Elemental Control I discover that my Elemental power is Air Control. The rulebook states that I can choose two effects of this power and since I still feel like I’m not up to standard in a combat situation I opt for both Attacking and Defending with this power. Rolling for my Power Level I get a 9, which corresponds to a Air Control power of 6.

Phase 4: Specialties. That last power made me able to create a hero around the concept of Air. We will see how it all will fit together later on, but right now we must roll for something called Specialties. Rolling pretty average I get a total of 2 Specialties. Let’s see what that is. Reading on I understand Specialties as a way to specialize on an area thereby giving bonuses to abilities when performing that Specialty. So far I have wanted to get basic powers that will help me in a fight or purely physical situations. I look at my abilities and find that I will place my +2 increased ability points in Intellect raising it to a total of 7. I then choose Electronics and Mechanics for my Specialties. This will give me +1 bonus whenever performing actions within these fields of expertise. Given that I’m reliant on devices and tools to use my powers I’m guessing that this will be quite handy, and also a natural fit for my character.

Phase 5: Stamina & Background. Calculating my Stamina by adding Strength (4) with Willpower (6) I get a total Stamina of 10. When it comes to background I need to say something about who my character is and how he came to posess such mediocre superpowers. I decide to go with a Peter Parkerish type of character. Marcus Moll is therefor a young electronics engineer who discovers that his well regarded father is secretly the super villain Typhoon. Following his father to his super secret and totally evil mountaintop lair Marcus inadvertently disturbs one of Typhoon’s dangerous experiments thereby killing (probably…) his father and saving thousands of innocent lives. Being curious and morally obliged Marcus continues his father’s research to right his many wrongs. He obtains and eventually improves on some of Typhoon’s air- and wind-controlling devices. Marcus’ superhero alias is known as Windling, and he has built some really awesome bracers that propel powerful and highly concentrated winds that can be used for Swinging (push/pull, but not flying). His Strike power also stems from these bracers and can be used in close combat as a bashing attack to push the air quickly out of the lungs of an opponent. His Elemental Control-power (Air Control) consists of a belt that when activated acts as a Force Field and a self-built Cyclone Gun that shoots air like a Blasting attack. Windlings getup is of course light blue and cloudy white spandex, with a helmet shaped like a reversed tornado. The bracers, gun and belt are made of glimmering blue metal.

Phase 6: Determination. Subtracting Windling’s number of powers from 6 he gets a starting Determination of 3. The rules state that each character needs to choose 1 to 5 qualities and challenges. These can ultimately effect Determination. Quality #1: Catchphrase – “I’m a breath of fresh air!” Quality #2: Identity – electronics engineer working for huge company Quality #3: Motivation – Right my father’s wrongs! Challenge #1: Enemy – Is Typhoon really dead? Challenge #2: Personal – Lonely and insecure Challenge #3: Weakness – Claustrophobic. Phase 7: Game Master Approval. Yeah, we will skip this.

I really like ICONS’ character creation, and must admit that I’m especially fond of the randomization here. It makes for some odd results sometimes, but the idea that you describe the trappings of your powers will usually bring it all together. Character creation is fairly quick and can actually be done without reading most of the rules. I would have liked the process even better if the layout had been following the process. As it is now there is a lot of flipping back and forth to check abilities, powers, specialties and aspects, but that is really the only downside to this easy character creation. I am actually quite excited for my Windling-character and that must mean something.

#charactercreation #ICONS #RPG