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[ICONS] Sentinels of Stark City
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/11/2014 21:05:51
This add-on for the Stark City setting from Fainting Goat Games presents nine superheroes who patrol Stark City. The characters are interesting and the art—mostly by Jacob Blackmon with contributions by Jon Gibbons and Dan Houser—is wonderful (though a little jarring when the three artists' works are composited, as on the cover). Sadly, the prose needs a thorough editing for grammar and consistency (for example, aspects are sometimes set in sentence case, some in title case). The table of contents is numbered 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14 instead of 1–9, without any explanation (the Kickstarter backers' version seems to have the same table of contents, so I don't know where the "missing" characters are). The Fainting Goat guys are capable of such fantastic stuff that it's sad to see these kinds of errors. The product's biggest weakness, however, is simply that it's a collection of superheroes for a superhero game—for which a collection of supervillains is much more useful. The heroes presented here could be used as pregenerated characters, or as notable NPCs, but for a long-term Stark City campaign, players are more likely to want to play heroes of their own creation. If you need a collection of superheroes for your Stark City campaign, though, this fits the bill.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[ICONS] Sentinels of Stark City
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Improbable Tales Volume 1 Compilation
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/06/2014 12:02:38
If your Icons game is light-hearted, mostly four-color adventurism then Improbable Tales Volume 1 should provide an excellent set of short adventures for your campaign. These adventures are fun and have a great spirit of comic adventure, only a few taking dark turns, if such fits you campaign style (and if you are playing Icons, it probably does) give this collection a look.

Improbable Tales Volume 1 Compilation, from Fainting Goat Games contains eleven adventures for Icons, each designed to be done in a session or two. Each short adventure includes several scenes, full statistics (and art of) the major characters and printout paper standees for the adventures. The first few also have their own mock advertisements in the style of the Hostess ads in superhero comics from the 70s which I found charming.

Primarily, the tone of these adventures is light, fighting giant ants, super-intelligent gorillas or Nazi zombies, and follows a basic comic book progression of scenes ending with the requisite final confrontation with the major supervillain. Most are designed to be dropped into an existing campaign, with an NPC (or two) provided to act as an aid to do such though one adventure (Tokyo Kaiju Chaos) works better -as it is a pastiche of Japanese sentai shows- to have character built specifically for it. There are considerable call outs to pop culture scattered through the adventure, everything from 1950s atomic horror to the Lovecraftian mythos, 1980s cartoons and classic superheroic characters and more all have their cameos. There are the occasion sidebar suggesting possible changes and problems, and solutions, that came up in the adventures while playtesting.

The Improbable Tales adventures are excellent to fill in the space between campaign arcs or when you just need something quick for a night’s superheroic action.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Improbable Tales Volume 1 Compilation
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Space Supers #2 [ICONS]
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/06/2014 01:05:40
Malfaex is an interesting villain in the vein of Thanos or a herald of Galactus. His "look" reminds me of Marvel's Terrax. Dan Houser's art is, as always, a highlight of the product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Space Supers #2 [ICONS]
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The Great Game Soundtrack
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/05/2014 12:50:42
If you like to listen to EDM while role-playing, you'll probably like this trio of tracks. If you prefer a more orchestral flavor of background music, you should probably look elsewhere. I'm personally in the latter camp, although I can appreciate the skill that went into composing these tracks. "Cosmic Voyage" is upbeat and almost happy in tone. "Creeping Entropy" is, well, creepy, with excellent use of percussion overlaid by techno tones that I don't personally care for but that fit the "cosmic supers" genre reasonably well. The name "Starsiege" made me expect that the third track would imply some kind of battle, but it really sounds more to me like backing for a 1970s police show montage. The three tracks hang together pretty well. I really expected more than three tracks for a "soundtrack," but the per-track price is more than reasonable. Although it doesn't really fit my background music preferences, this collection could be just the thing that some GMs are looking for.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Great Game Soundtrack
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The Great Game [ICONS]
by Jacob B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/10/2014 17:30:49
One of the most innovative space/cosmic settings I have seen published for superhero games in quite some time, The Great Game offers a universe of possibilities for your campaign. Although written for the ICON superhero rpg, this sourcebook can be used as a reference guide to any superhero rpg with a little conversion know-how.

The Great Game is 53 pages long and filled with numerous illustrations from a number of different artists. It even includes a "snack cake comic" like in the olden days of comic-dom. Layout appears top-notch, and several pdfs are presented, allowing for easy printing.

The Great Game is filled with a number of homage characters and settings that give a nod to superhero comics from across the last century. The Prometheans give tribute to the numerous "space gods" of Jack Kirby. The Ghostlight Legion nods toward Space Ghost. The Bloodstone Protectorate mixes the Green Lantern Corps with the vile immortal mind of Ego the Living Planet. The Krobon Empire shows how much fun a "Flash Gordon" style setting can be. Even the Mech Centrality pays homage to the Transformers! How about an homage to Rom the Spaceknight and the Dire Wraiths? Check!

Even though I do not play ICONS, this single sourcebook has a wealth of knowledge that will find its way into my superhero campaign. Furthermore, the possibility for Fainting Goat Games to expand upon this book is as infinite as the universe. I will be sure to look favorably upon future space-based books from FGG, if they are of the same quality as The Great Game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Great Game [ICONS]
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The Great Game [ICONS]
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/18/2013 07:19:29
Truly cosmic in scale, this epic work takes superheroes out of their neighbourhood and onto a galactic stage. In the introduction, we meet the Prometheans who have written the history of the universe page by annual page in a book that stands 820 miles thick and which seems to have a life of its own! Their goal is to bring civilisation to the teeming inhabitants of the universe... and found human beings both a challenge and of great potential. For they proved easy to modify, and formed the core of the Janissaries, the Promethean's loyal troops... but not all were biddable enough and these were left behind. Of such seeds are today's superpowered individuals born.

Out in the black, struggles rage on, and this is the Great Game of the title. Where and how will humans become involved? The local powers to Earth are described and mapped, and these details are followed by a wealth of advice on running a cosmic campaign. Your first choice is to decide if aliens come to Earth or some folk from Earth venture forth to encounter aliens... both options present plenty of potential for adventure and are, of course, not mutually exclusive. Examples are given from the history of comics as well as within the context of the universe as postulated for this work.

Both factions and individual aliens are presented in detail, plenty of resources here with which to create your own campaign, and the descriptions are peppered with ideas on how to utilise the individuals and factions described, giving plenty of direction without becoming too prescriptive. There's a lot of intrigue out there and it is well worth thorough study to embroil your characters in at least some of what is going on.

There is great scope for adventure here, if your party dares to enter the universe-spanning conflict between the Greater Bright and the Greater Dark. However, there will be work to do before the universe is ready for them: this book is replete with ideas but you will have to create the actual adventures in which they will participate. But for those prepared to put the effort in, epic campaigns await.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Stark City Campaign Setting and City Building Toolset
by wesley c. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/10/2013 18:51:47
I really enjoyed this book for me the best part of it was the way to get the players involved and invested in the setting with the sentinels team overall great book and I can't wait to get to use it in an icons game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stark City Campaign Setting and City Building Toolset
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Colorado_Flood_ Relief [BUNDLE]
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/17/2013 12:28:30
Thank you for providing this convenient (not to say enticing!) opportunity to help this good cause.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Colorado_Flood_ Relief [BUNDLE]
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[ICONS] Defy the Prophecy: A Stark City Adventure
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/07/2013 23:58:33
“Defy the Prophecy,” an ICONS adventure for the Stark City setting, has a rather cliché core plot: the bad guys are stealing objects to perform a dark ritual they must not be allowed to complete. What keeps the adventure from being hackneyed is the nature of the thieves—a bit of mystery that actually shouldn’t take the heroes too long to unravel—and the main villain’s motivation. The best thing about the adventure plot is the tie-in to Stark City lore.

Unfortunately, the text’s references to the game mechanics are imperfect, possibly even downright confusing. For example, there is no such thing as a “Know Test” (p. 3) in ICONS; rather, you make an Intellect test to find out if your PC knows something. Similarly, ICONS has no “Occult test” (p. 5), though it does have an Occult specialty that can give PCs bonuses on Intellect tests when dealing with occult matters. I can easily imagine a new GM reading this adventure and wondering, “What on earth is a [whatever]?” when the terminology doesn’t follow the core rules. On the other hand, grammatical errors and inconsistencies are few and minor.

The cover art by Jon Gibbons and the interior art by Jacob Blackmon are quite good. In fact, the cover art is almost too good, as it depicts a scene unlikely to occur during the adventure!

If you consider the “stop the ritual before it’s too late” plot to be “tried and true” rather than “overdone,” you should be able to give a group of ICONS players a fun evening of play with “Defy the Prophecy.” On top of that, if you’re kicking off a Stark City campaign, the adventure provides a good way to introduce players to a major potential threat in the campaign world. Adapting the adventure to non-Stark settings would be difficult, I think, unless you want to adopt the whole Gloriana storyline into your world as well.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[ICONS] Defy the Prophecy: A Stark City Adventure
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Stark City Soundtrack
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/28/2013 14:01:15
Your reaction to this soundtrack is likely to depend on your taste in music. Most of this soundtrack is simply too dance-techno for my own personal tastes. If you’re into more into EDM than I am, you’ll probably like the soundtrack a lot better than I did. But to me, most of the tracks evoke the feel of a dance hall or a low-budget ’80s crime drama rather than modern superhero epic. It’s hard for me to imagine any of these tracks behind scenes from any recent superhero movie, for example.

The two Geartown tracks, done in a more rock style, appeal to me more than the rest. But two tracks do not redeem the whole album for me, and “The Geartown Grinders” still has a considerable dose of EDM in it. My favorite track of the bunch is “Geartown Trouble”; I really like the rock style, quick tempo, and driving guitars, and it’s one of the better tracks with respect to looping. It could serve as good background music for a gritty Stark City fight scene, if it’s not too distracting (turn down the volume). However, it’s also very short (2:24).

Some of the tracks (“Crawling the Catacombs,” “Geartown Trouble,” “Platinum Coast Nightlife”) loop reasonably well if you don’t listen too closely, or if you set your player to eliminate the silence at the end. Others (“Freefall”) have beginnings and endings that are too definite for looping. None of the tracks sound like they were actually designed to loop, which is a big oversight in gaming background music. Also, the ID3 tags did not include an album name in the release that I downloaded, and the cover artwork provided separately (rather than embedded in the MP3s) has the rectangular aspect ratio of a letter-sized piece of paper (i.e., the cover of the Stark City sourcebook) rather than of a typical CD or MP3 album insert (square). This makes the cover art look odd and disruptive next to the other albums in my iTunes collection … and just trimming the cover artwork down isn’t a good option because of where the words are placed in the image.

To sum up, the quality of the music isn’t bad, but heavy dance-techno feel of the music clashes for me with the superhero genre.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Stark City Soundtrack
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Stark City Soundtrack
by Dustin W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2013 18:06:56
A very solid soundtrack overall with a great variety of songs that covers a wide spectrum of moods and situations for a near-future setting. The only problem I really had with this collection is that the third track, "Geartown Trouble," ends a little abruptly. I don't know if I'm the only one who has experienced this problem, but thankfully, it alone wasn't enough for me to give this product a lower rating.

On the whole, then, good job, Mr. Woodrum! Keep up the good work.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Stark City Campaign Setting and City Building Toolset
by Sean F. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/05/2013 14:42:25
SEAN'S PICK OF THE DAY: Two of the Great Steves of Supers Gaming - Steve Kenson and Steve Perrin - are among the many talents behind what I predict will be the "Aaron Allston's Strike Force" of the ICONS system. Welcome to Stark City.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stark City Campaign Setting and City Building Toolset
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[ICONS] Improbable Tales: Through the Looking Glass
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/20/2013 11:01:50
This is a neat and innovative adventure that will keep characters on their toes, presenting a unique challenge in that they will not be able to rely on their superpowers to overcome the obstacles presented.

The situation seems straightforward enough: someone's experiment out in the desert has gone a bit awry and the characters are asked to investigate, see if they can sort things out where the likes of the US military have failed. Some kind of a strange bubble has isolated the experimental facility and those who've already gone to investigate have not come back, nor has any word been had from them.

It's easy enough to get in, but once there things begin to get... strange. The people you meet are quite strange too. Some neat twists and turns, and it's going to take quite a lot more than regular use of whatever superpowered abilities you have to get out.

By the way, it's not quite a time-travel story, so if you tend to avoid standard time-travel adventures (and many do, they can be a bit of a headache to run!) you still might have fun with this. I certainly intend to!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[ICONS] Improbable Tales: Through the Looking Glass
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for your kind words. --John Post
Justice Wheels #16 Black Rider [M&M]
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/02/2013 03:27:40
I have been waiting for Justice Wheels to come out for Mutants and Masterminds pretty much since they started coming out as vehicles are something the game is rather lacking. And while in some ways this offering is rather cliche in that you kind of know what TV series is being emulated this is also part of its charm. If you are not familiar you are missing out on one of David Hasselhoff's most classic roles.

What you get here is a very brief overview of the character and his ride. There is a little more to the character as presented as he is given something the character he is "spoofing" never did. There is also a villainous option if you want to go that route but in some ways this is better served as a heroic NPC for the heroes to meet or as pre made character for someone that really loved the show and would like to play the character in the game. Either way this is well worth picking up.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Justice Wheels #16 Black Rider [M&M]
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Justice Wheels #16 Black Rider [ICONS]
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/21/2012 09:02:39
This addition to the Justice Wheels line presents Black Rider and his intelligent car, a vigilante pair who prowl the highways seeking to aid those who cannot help themselves - a well-developed character, and clear homage to the old 'Knight Rider' TV show (even without the red running lights on the front of the car!).

The background text is full of detail that can be used to good effect whether Black Rider is used as a player-character or NPC in your game: if an NPC, there is plenty of scope for him to become a recurring ally to your superheroes - or even a bit of an annoyance, perhaps he has a habit of turning up first and stealing their glory!

If you are in need of a villain, on the other hand, the same background can be retooled with one important difference - Black Rider STOLE the super-car and you can add Grand Theft Auto to whatever else you decide that he gets up to!

Full statistics for both Black Rider and the car (called CORA, by the way) as well as some enhanced chase rules are accompanied by paper 'standee' miniatures for both car and driver. A nice addition to the collection.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Justice Wheels #16 Black Rider [ICONS]
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