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Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

What is ICON?


ICON (which I will definitely not continue to write in all caps) is a game of tactical fantasy combat by by Tom Parkinson-Morgan. You may recognize him as the Kill 6 Billion Demons guy or as the Lancer RPG guy. Tom is someone who likes to always be doing something, and even when he's busy making an incredibly detailed webcomic three days a week or making 400+ page tactical mech games with an entire line of supplements, the urge to create continues to bubble away within him until it can no longer be denied. Icon is one of the results of this, an updated version of a game he was tinkering with earlier called The Pit.

The world of Arden Eld is a post-post-apocalypse fantasy setting that's honestly a pretty sweet place to live, or it would be if dungeons weren't suddenly shooting out of the ground and causing all sorts of problems. These dungeons are full of monsters and traps, but also full of treasure and relics left behind by the Arken Lords whose empire fell long ago, and both of these things are beginning to cause ripples of upheaval throughout the world's current idyllic Green Age. Settlements and villages are increasingly plagued by troubles, the roads are more dangerous both due to wandering monsters as well as a rise in banditry, bonds of trust are breaking down as people begin to look to their own safety over that of their neighbor, and the militant Imperials are raising the banners of war and conquest, believing that what Arden Eld needs now is a firm ruler to unite its people.

Other dangers stir as well beneath the churning earth. Cultists, demons, monstrous creatures, and threats such as the undead Relict, mindless remnants of the Arken Imperium, threaten to spill from dungeons that erupt from the ground without rhyme or reason. The number of these eruptions is increasing, and the people need heroes to help them.

That's where you come in. You belong in this world, and you are tied to its fate. You are cursed to wield great power, but how you choose to wield it is up to you. You are an Icon.

Some key points in Icon:
1). Tactical combat and narrative play are separate layers. These two things don't mix, ever. When you're fighting, you use tactical combat and all the rules and abilities therein. Outside of that you have other rules and abilities. It's possible to play games involving only one of these layers. Do you want your spellcasting wizard to be a swole muscleman? Should your swordmaster be a scholarly savant? Icon doesn't penalize you or force you into different narrative capabilities based on how you want your character to work in combat.
2). Racial essentialism? No thanks! There are different player races in Icon you can choose from, called Kin, and notably none of them are human. But these races don't have stats, there's no +2 Strength and -2 Intelligence, your character's capabilities are entirely a function of their Bond (in narrative play) and their Class/Job (in tactical play). Where you come from and what you do is more important than whether you have horns or chitin. Kintypes include the arthropoidal Xixo, horned and powerful Troggs, pointy-eared Thrynn, and wildly-diverse Beastfolk (you can play a frog).
3). Kin aren't monsters, and monsters aren't kin. Because of this lack of Designated Evil Races, there's no group of people the game expects you to just freely murder without compunction. You'll still fight people, it's a tactical combat RPG, but Icon makes it clear that people have motivations for fighting beyond "I'm evil" and that in many cases they will not fight to the death just because. You can always try to negotiate, enemies can and will flee or surrender. Also 0 HP doesn't mean gruesome death, it simply means defeat. There are also monsters, however, who do not abide by these rules, such as the mindless undead or actual literal demons.

What's the game like?

Icon is a game in two parts. When not in combat, challenges are handled with a narrative play layer heavily influenced by Blades in the Dark, a game Tom is very fond of. Characters have Bonds which grant them various narrative abilities, and task resolution involved determining the narrative position of your character and what they're trying to do, with that position determining what sorts of results your rolls can have. Stress is another similar mechanic coming from Blades, but it's easier to clear than in Blades and so should potentially be less punishing.

Then there's tactical combat, which works similarly to Lancer in a stripped down, simplified state. Tom is a big nerd who loves Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem, and the aim with Icon is to create a tabletop fantasy tactics game that gives players that same vibe through a combination of character options, more restricted movement along with smaller maps, and copious amounts of self-indulgent references. Characters are built around a Job from one of the game's four classes:

Stalwarts are your frontline fighter-types, tough and sturdy but without a lot of range. Stalwarts are more resilient than other characters and all have the ability to take attacks for nearby allies. Stalwart Jobs include things like the shield-hurling Bastion and the slow but hard-hitting Demon Slayer.


Vagabonds are rogues. Quick and nimble, Vagabonds are the only class which can move diagonally along the map, and they also tend to hit harder when enemies are below half health. Vagabond Jobs include the shadow-jumping Shade and the gunslinging Freelancer.


Mendicants are clerics, able to fight as well as handing out blessings that their allies can spend to gain various benefits, including healing and clearing harmful statuses. Mendicants are also pretty tough themselves, the second toughest out of the classes. Jobs include the fortune-telling Seer and the martial artist Sealer.


Wrights are your wizards. Suffused with arcane power, Wrights unleash devastating area attacks which they can fuel with additional power for even greater effect. Jobs include the wildly destructive Enochian and the teleporting Spellblade.


Wow this sounds extremely cool and awesome, where can I find this game?
The Icon playtest, and all its assorted supplementary material including previews of several of the additional Jobs planned for the full game (four Jobs per Class for a total of 16 overall) can be found for free right here on the Massif Press itch.io page.

Hey so everyone is clear, Icon is in an extremely rough early developmental state right now, it has existed as I post this thread for a whopping five days or so and so what you see here may change significantly between now and its final release, which is scheduled for ???????????? Don't expect the final release anytime soon! Tom still has a number of projects to get through from the Lancer kickstarter together with his collaborator on that, Miguel Lopez. For now, Icon is a personal project he plans on chipping away at in between other things.

All that said the game is still playably complete, including NPCs and a brief adventure in the back. Early draft days also mean that playtesting and feedback are highly encouraged. Already dozens of people are running playtest games and delivering feedback either on the PilotNet discord server which now has its own Icon category, or you can send feedback to the email address in the playtest document's forward.

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Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Does anyone ever actually use the second post they reserve in these threads?

HMS Beagle
Feb 13, 2009





I've started making characters for an ICON playtest.

First step is to give crab a gun.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

I've already had a playtest game and it seems fun so far but the consensus from testers, which I also experienced, is right now enemy health and healing (represented in Icon only via temporary HP) is too high for the amount of player damage in place, and some quick adjustments have been made (I think they're pinned in one of the discord channels, Tom's talking about releasing an updated pdf in a couple weeks once things solidify more) which reduce those numbers and make enemies a bit less sticky as well. Movement in Icon is pretty important, as there are no opportunity attacks but getting next to someone makes your movement cost more unless you use special movement options to slip out.

One of the more interesting concepts that I like is the concept of "slow turns" where either by a debilitating status or by choice you can opt to take a slow turn, which means that everyone on a slow turn has to go after everyone else who doesn't. Initiative is still popcorn-style "one side goes, the other side goes" which means that if you're on a slow turn you can't interject yourself into the initiative until everyone else who isn't slow has had a go at it...but some abilities have the Charge keyword which get more powerful if you use them on slow turns. It's an interesting status and option because it doesn't completely remove your ability to act the way immobilizes and stuns do, but it does put you at a disadvantage, however you can also deliberately play around it if you build a character focused on Charge abilities (the Demon Slayer is a class built around this as well as spending turns not attacking to charge up damage for the next attack they make).

Not Keyser Soze
Mar 7, 2007

Endless Celestial Sex

I love the simplicity of damage scaling as either 1, 2 or 3[w] based on the type of hit but the bit about there being three different ways damage can be boosted is super messy. There are so many cool ideas borrowed from tactical jrpgs but it still feels like there's maybe 20% more mechanics than there needs to be.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee


Not Keyser Soze posted:

I love the simplicity of damage scaling as either 1, 2 or 3[w] based on the type of hit but the bit about there being three different ways damage can be boosted is super messy. There are so many cool ideas borrowed from tactical jrpgs but it still feels like there's maybe 20% more mechanics than there needs to be.
Yeah, I think that's a main piece of feedback. They already changed Double damage to Godly damage (pierce, ignore resistance, ignore vigor) but I think it'll still evolve.

Edit: Also NPCs are getting scaled down a lot, if anybody is planning to run a game. Less armor and damage is already in the changelog, and I think NPC actions will be scaled down.

Tibalt fucked around with this message at 14:43 on Aug 3, 2021

CitizenKeen
Nov 13, 2003

easygoing pedant


I'm way less worried about the rules mess in Icon than I would be with most other games, because Tom has the benefit of having a rabid fanbase to playtest and review the rules. Also, maybe second only to Blades in the Dark as far as my personal collection of Kickstarter PDFs go, Lancer underwent a lot of changes from initial release to final product, which reflects Tom's willingness to listen to the player base.

Slightly Lions
Apr 13, 2009


HMS Beagle posted:

I've started making characters for an ICON playtest.

First step is to give crab a gun.

:hmmyes:

I'm super hype on this. I've been wanting to do a good, old-fashioned dungeon crawler but also I prefer to play good games than bad ones, so this may scratch the itch for me.

Not Keyser Soze
Mar 7, 2007

Endless Celestial Sex

CitizenKeen posted:

I'm way less worried about the rules mess in Icon than I would be with most other games, because Tom has the benefit of having a rabid fanbase to playtest and review the rules. Also, maybe second only to Blades in the Dark as far as my personal collection of Kickstarter PDFs go, Lancer underwent a lot of changes from initial release to final product, which reflects Tom's willingness to listen to the player base.

With this in mind it is going to be kind of weird when a game about fantastic adventure in a magical wilderness keeps shoehorning in explicit condemnations of capitalism.

Solovey
Mar 24, 2009

motive: secret baby




this looks like it rules, i wonder if i can wrangle my gaming group into swapping out one of our pathfinder nights for a playtest

CitizenKeen
Nov 13, 2003

easygoing pedant


Not Keyser Soze posted:

With this in mind it is going to be kind of weird when a game about fantastic adventure in a magical wilderness keeps shoehorning in explicit condemnations of capitalism.

I'm reasonably confident Tom hates capitalism, but Icon is just Tom, not Miguel, so I don't know how the game's going to end up being flavored. I'd look more at K6BD and Broken Worlds than Lancer.

Doc Dee
Feb 15, 2012

THANKS FOR MAKING ME SPEND MONEY, T


Trying to make ICON toons in Hero Forge, it actually works out way better than I thought it would






(The Xixo is my favorite so far)

HMS Beagle
Feb 13, 2009





https://twitter.com/Orbitaldropkick/status/1420822417652453384?s=20

And yet...

https://twitter.com/Orbitaldropkick/status/1423750438533349376?s=20
https://twitter.com/Orbitaldropkick/status/1423821645312049153?s=20

Doc Dee
Feb 15, 2012

THANKS FOR MAKING ME SPEND MONEY, T


HMS Beagle posted:

new Jobs with great sample art

:swoon:

I'm glad we're finally getting a look at what a Lorito looks like, KINDA.

These look way fun!

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Is there gonna be a kickstarter for ICON? I missed Lancer.

Doc Dee
Feb 15, 2012

THANKS FOR MAKING ME SPEND MONEY, T


MonsieurChoc posted:

Is there gonna be a kickstarter for ICON? I missed Lancer.

This is still really early, the playtest doc has been out for less than two weeks I think, and additional jobs have been leaking out here and there. Lancer went through a couple years of playtest before it was solid enough for the Kickstarter.

Doctor Zaius
Jul 30, 2010

I say.


Plus there's still some lancer ks stuff to get done before they're really free to work on something like ICON full time. Unrelated, but I've run through a couple combats and I'm enjoying this system a lot so far, you can definitely see the lancer DNA in a bunch of places, but it's a very different feel overall. Definitely some rough spots here and there, but it's got some solid bones to it.

Not Keyser Soze
Mar 7, 2007

Endless Celestial Sex

Well I can't wait to see if I can take my 4th ed Martial and Primal Power books and just smush them right into these rules.

CitizenKeen
Nov 13, 2003

easygoing pedant


Not Keyser Soze posted:

Well I can't wait to see if I can take my 4th ed Martial and Primal Power books and just smush them right into these rules.

What specifically about those two supplements are you hoping to bring over to Icon? I ask as a 4e fan who is excited about Icon as an heir.

Not Keyser Soze
Mar 7, 2007

Endless Celestial Sex

CitizenKeen posted:

What specifically about those two supplements are you hoping to bring over to Icon? I ask as a 4e fan who is excited about Icon as an heir.

The first things that came to mind were porting over the Warden and Shaman because they were super fun classes but my dream is to recreate the Brawler Fighter who could put a dragon in a headlock and then throw that dragon at another dragon.

CitizenKeen
Nov 13, 2003

easygoing pedant


The Warden was my favorite class of all time. While there's plenty of room for a nature Stalwart retheme in the existing jobs, I really enjoyed the terrain /battlefield manipulation aspect of the Warden, which seems currently lacking. I'd love to play a tougher, close-range Geomancer.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee


ICON seems very concerned with action economy, and hasn't really explored Simmons yet, so I'm not sure how well the Shaman is going to translate (they're the one that summoned allies, right?)

As for compatibility... I think you'll need to do a lot of work to force it and basically have to homebrew, but a lot of the bones are the same.

Not Keyser Soze
Mar 7, 2007

Endless Celestial Sex

Tibalt posted:

ICON seems very concerned with action economy, and hasn't really explored Simmons yet, so I'm not sure how well the Shaman is going to translate (they're the one that summoned allies, right?)

The Shaman mostly just had one companion spirit that acted like an arc node for their largely AOE based support abilities. It was also hard to affect with most attacks and took up space so you could galaxy brain it to block movement or dictate board position.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

One of the unreleased jobs is a sniper who has a pet, so I imagine that may provide some idea for how the game handles something like that.

CitizenKeen
Nov 13, 2003

easygoing pedant


1.2 is up

https://massif-press.itch.io/icon/devlog/281618/icon-playtest-12-released

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib


It's not wholly clear, but there's a changelog in the 1.2 materials zip file, if you want an idea of what's been adjusted.

CitizenKeen
Nov 13, 2003

easygoing pedant


Kai Tave posted:

It's not wholly clear, but there's a changelog in the 1.2 materials zip file, if you want an idea of what's been adjusted.

That's where it is. Thank you.

Doc Dee
Feb 15, 2012

THANKS FOR MAKING ME SPEND MONEY, T



Mannnnnnnnn I'm REALLY digging the Fool and Geomancer. I like both the ideas of creating terrain to control the battlefield, and also forcing opponents to focus on trying to hit you while impairing their ability to do so. I didn't get a chance to read the entire thing just yet, but I take it "godly" damage ignores any resistances?

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Godly damage ignores resistance, armor, and also temporary HP aka Vigor.

McKilligan
May 13, 2007

Acey Deezy

Makin' ICON stuff now too!

Not Keyser Soze
Mar 7, 2007

Endless Celestial Sex

Since ranges in the game seem to be so short, is it maybe the intention that the battlefield use slightly larger grid sizes? It feels like the combats could easily all become one giant scrum in a 4x4 space in the center of the map.

CitizenKeen
Nov 13, 2003

easygoing pedant


Not Keyser Soze posted:

Since ranges in the game seem to be so short, is it maybe the intention that the battlefield use slightly larger grid sizes? It feels like the combats could easily all become one giant scrum in a 4x4 space in the center of the map.

That does appear to be a recurring theme of feedback on 1.2.

spider bethlehem
Oct 5, 2007
Makin with the stabbins

I'm about to have my fourth session of icon. So far one tactical combat, one narrative combat, and a session zero where we all established our interests and what kind of world we wanted to get into. I'm a blood and guts guy but my players want something more pastoral and romantic so I've been brushing up on my euphemisms for "bucolic".

Observations so far: The Jobs feel very good out the gate - everyone is good at what it says on the box they're good at it - but I have one blaster caster (enochian) who is absolutely running the house on the rabble enemies. My headlopper and pathfinder both have stuff to do and feel like they have lots of options for movement and positioning, but right now it feels quite powerful. Enemies are a bit more complicated to run than I'm used to, which is why I worked up a bunch of mindless foes who wouldn't be making super smart tactical choices, but later it feels like a lot to remember.

The different damage types are already in play early on, and it feels a little fiddly with keeping track of everyone's armor and evasion, as well as what I imagine will be continuous chip damage in later fights which feels like a lot of tracking for not much benefit to either player or gm.

But overall, out the gate, this has that same Lancer feel of player empowerment without the slightly unusual convention of everyone starting in the same mech that Lancer has. Players can start doing the things their class implies out the gate.

Also would recommend reviewing the Dust and Experience mechanics on page 123 (in the current version) - player advancement is supposed to be faster than even blades games usually get, and if a session includes both some burden invoking and a tactical combat, players can count on unlocking something about every session. I like that, it positions the game to move fast and always be changing.

Now to make more leech men!

KingKalamari
Aug 24, 2007

Fuzzy dice, bongos in the back
My ship of love is ready to attack


I've been looking over the most recent playtest documents and really like what I see, but there's one thing that's bugging me: In the tactical combat section on moving we get this line:

quote:

All movement in ICON, whether granted by an ability or effect, must be taken orthogonally (in compass directions, no diagonal movement), unless specified. You can change directions during movements without issue.

Is the movement a character is able to take at the start of their term classified as an ability? Or are only the actions granted by your class choice classified as "abilities" and characters can move diagonally as part of the movement portion of their turn?

The definition for Abilities at the start of the section reads a little vague to me when it defines abilities as "The actions you can take in combat, based on the jobs you have taken."

Scrap Dragon
Oct 6, 2013

SECRET TECHNIQUE:
DARK SHADOW
BLACK FALLEN ANGEL!




IIRC, all movement means all movement. I remember Tom saying on the Lancer/Icon discord that diagonal movement was exclusive to Vagabonds

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Doctor Zaius
Jul 30, 2010

I say.


Yup, all movement means all movement, including your standard move. (Although it should be noted that it doesn't have to be on the same straight line throughout your move, so you can sort of zig-zag, it just costs more)

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