Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Disasters in ICONS


Here's the setup for Wednesday's episode of the ICONS Drop-In:
According to the 911 calls, a few minutes ago someone picked up a city block and then dropped it, snapping things like electric lines, water pipes, and gas lines. Emergency vehicles are on the way--injuries, fires, and floods. Was it done by a supervillain, old or new? Or someone who just got powers and hasn't learned to control them?
I haven't run disasters in the Assembled edition of ICONS before. After reading through the advice in ICONS and in ICONS A-Z, here's how I figure I'm going to run it.

There are really four large-scale emergencies on the block:
  1. Fires from the ruptured gas mains
  2. Flooding from the broken water pipes (and that will also impede attempts to fight the fires)
  3. Power blackout in the area
  4. Medical emergencies from the previous
Other things might be there, too, but we're not spending the whole night on rescues...only the first of three hours. So yes, I'll toss in a couple of vehicular accidents or the possibility of someone driving into the dark area, but I am not trying to give an encyclopaedic article on possible disasters for superheroes.

I'm going to ignore the electrical stuff, and count that as something that makes the other tasks more difficult. (It's night-time, the only light is the light that seeps from the surrounding blocks in the direction of the transformer station or from fires. That makes the first problem finding people for rescuing.

Also, I'm going to take a hint from ICONS A-Z and offer players multiple "rescue panels." Mechanically, this is a lost panel of Trouble, but frankly, it feels much more heroic to get Determination by helping than to say it was paparazzi.

Medical emergencies I'm going to handle on a case-by-case basis, depending on who shows up and what they play. (If someone chooses to play the speedster, there might be medical emergencies.)

Floods will be straight pyramid tests, difficulty 5. There are torn mains on all four sides of the block (which is eight pipe ends, but only three of them are currently gushing water; there's a main feed and two side feeds. Restoring water function is worth more than just stopping the flood, but I'm not going to penalize anyone for not doing either: it would take inspired thinking on the part of Hawkeye, Shang-Chi and Daredevil to do it.

Fires are a more complicated pyramid tests. Because the heroes show up fast, the fire test starts at difficulty 4, and escalates: every failure increases the difficulty by one, up to a maximum difficulty of 7. (A really clever idea or result could lower the difficulty, I suppose.) The test is also costly: Any failure causes an Affliction test (heat and smoke inhalation) at the same level as the fire's difficulty. (Making them costly is an idea that comes from ICONS A-Z.)

I'm going to let the session guide me as to whether or not other people need to make Affliction tests, or need to make them more often than the players.

I don't care if characters collaborate on the pyramid tests or not.

Now, what the tests actually represent will come from the session. The main thing is rescuing people. Maybe they'll also be about fixing things, but maybe the whole pyramid test is about finding people trapped in the rubble before the water gets to them. Fires, same thing: it's great if they have the powers to stop the fire, but I'll settle for rescuing people.