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The Superlative System

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  • Soylent Green
    In the intro of Icons, Steve Kenson traces the origin of Icons to the game to his early Marvel Super Heroes to Fudge conversion notes which he put on the Net
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 13, 2011

      In the intro of Icons, Steve Kenson traces the origin of Icons to the game to his early Marvel Super Heroes to Fudge conversion notes which he put on the Net under the name "The Superlative System".  I remember look at the Superlative System back in the day, I'm thinking some time in the late 1990s, as I was a big on Fudge. If anyone remembers the Fudge game Mutant Bikers of the Atomic Wastelands from back then - that was mine. 

      Anyway you can still find the Superlative System online (here http://mysite.verizon.net/stevekenson/superlative.html for instance) and out of curiosity I had a look. 

      What is interesting is the "gaining Karma" section (which I've pasted below).  This differs from the MSH model (for instance you gain Karma be getting defeated rather than by defeating villains) but also varies from the Fate Compel model (which in fairness the Superlative System predates by the best part of a decade).

      The question is how much of the spirit of Icons style compels, especially as described in the adventures like The Skeletron Key, are based on The Superlative System rather than Fate?


      Gaining Karma

      Heroes start each game with a Karma Pool of 0; they have to rely on their wits and their own abilities. As the story unfolds, the heroes may earn Karma by facing various challenges, as follows:

      • If defeated by a villain in some way, the hero gains a point of Karma. This includes being Taken Out or captured by a villain, or allowing a villain to escape from the hero in some way. In some cases, the Gamemaster may choose to automatically capture or Take Out a hero, in the form of an ambush or inescapable trap, giving the player a point of Karma in exchange.
      • When the hero fulfills or deals with a personal obligation, he gains a point of Karma. This obligation must demand something of the hero; just going to work and paying the bills doesn't count. If the hero rushes across town after fighting a villain to make a lunch date, or to visit a sick relative in the hospital, he gets a point of Karma.
      • If the Gamemaster invokes one of the hero's Subplots or Weaknesses (see below), the hero gains a point of Karma. For example, if a hero is vulnerable to water attacks and a villain rips up a water main to use it as a weapon against the hero, he gets a point of Karma if the attack is successful. If a hero is claustrophobic and panics while buried under rubble, the hero gets a Karma point. When a Subplot or Weakness is invoked, the player has the option of spending a Karma point (assuming the hero has any) to ignore the effects, but doesn't gain any Karma when doing so.
      • If a player goes along with the GM to further the plot in some way, the player's hero gets a Karma point. For example, if a villain mind controls a hero and the player chooses not to resist but allows his character to be controlled, then the hero gets a Karma point (which you know is going to be used to later to pound the mind-controller into the ground).
      • Finally, if a player roleplays especially well, coming up with something that everyone at the table finds especially enjoyable, the GM may award that player's hero a Karma point. This includes "master plan insurance," in which the GM awards a Karma point to a player who comes up with a particularly clever plan, which the player can use to help ensure the plan's success.
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