After the last session of our ICONS New Centurions game, I wrote a post where I enumerated several problems we had with the system, but went on to say that I still liked the system.
Upon reflection, Iâ€™ve changed my mind.
And talking to the other players, and to the GM, Iâ€™m not alone. The system just was not working for us, for all of the reasons listed in the previous post.
But we still wanted the game to continue, so Clint, who is running the game, went looking for a different simple superhero rules set. He looked at a few of them, but decided to go with BASH ((As Clint has asked at least once, whatâ€™s with all the capitals?)).
So, I spent Saturday afternoon converting S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. ((See what I mean about the capitals?)) into a BASH character and learning the system. I gotta say, I like it a fair bit after one session. It moves quickly, seems a little more flexible in play, and uses a neat mechanic ((To be fair, Iâ€™m not sure everyone will think the mechanic is a smooth and easy as I do. I spent many years working a till in a bookstore, so multiplying numbers in my head is very much second nature. For those without that advantage, the the game includes a simple chart to do the math for you.)) to handle all the action. It has open-ended rolls, and a mechanic to improve your rolls that I think works a fair bit better than the Determination points in ICONS, allowing more flexibility and improvisation.
Clint added one house rule: he converted the attribute scale to make it more fine-grained, running from 0 to 10 instead of 0 to 5, basically inserting a separate level between each of the previous ranks. Now, I didn’t have any problem with the original scale, and I thought the system he found and incorporated in the game lacked a certain aesthetic quality to the design that was present in the original, but seeing as I had taken all even-number attributes in the new system, it didn’t affect me really at all, so my opinion is not all that relevant.
We did find that, in play, even though it looked like it should run just as easy and intuitively as the base system, the new scale did not. It caused confusion when integrating with the powers, and necessitated an extra layer of math in calculating outcomes. Somehow, the little change wound up generating headaches in play, and not offering enough extra functionality, causing Clint to decide to go with a different optional scale ((The new scale is basically the same as the one we played with, but doesn’t double the attribute numbers, instead inserting a + or a .5 to indicate a level between the two original levels. Doesn’t seem like much, but I think it’s going to address the main difficulties we were having.)).
This session, we were adding two new players to the game, bring the ranks of the New Centurions up to five in total ((Welcome, Tom and Vickie!)). We muddled around a bit at the beginning until we got the point that we were at a dead end with the investigations into the Century Club, Dr. Methuselah, and the sinkholes, and finally got into the story that Clint was using to introduce the new characters. This involved a speeding SUV, armed gang members, and a suitcase of money, the Five Dragons of a Chinese gang, a crimson ninja, hints about the Mafia, and our little group of heroes promising to retrieve the aforementioned suitcase of money from the Chinese gang and return it to the Latino gang so they could give it to the Mafia and head off a burgeoning gang war ((Clint likes making characters choose between the lesser of two evils. Sometimes, you need to measure them very, very carefully.)).
We found that the system ran very smoothly and intuitively, although we intentionally avoided some of the more complex combat options for our first outing. I ran into a couple of weird things with my character that were the result of not really understanding how the system works in play – specifically, I had overlooked a power that would actually make my Clairvoyance power (which is the BASH equivalent of Precognition) have a chance of working, and I had spent power slots on Armour, even though my Defense roll is high enough that it makes the Armour pretty much redundant. Clint has graciously allowed me to rejigger the numbers a bit for the next game.
I’m glad we made the switch to BASH. It’s just a better fit for the group and the style of game we’re playing. And I’m especially glad that we were able to convert the characters pretty seamlessly – but with what I feel are overall improvements -Â to the new system.
I’m looking forward to the next game.