In addition to or in place of the set of maneuvers described on pages 67–69 of ICONS, you can use the following system of maneuvers to expand player options for creative use of their heroes’ abilities.
A character can take a panel and make a test with an appropriate ability to place a temporary aspect on another character or situation and then tag that aspect much like any other (see Tagging, p. 78 of Icons). The difficulty of the initial test is set by the GM or based on an appropriate ability of the target of the maneuver. Moderate success results in a “fragile” aspect that lasts for only one tag and then disappears. Major or better success on the test results in a “lasting” aspect that persists for the entire chapter and can be tagged multiple times.
The ability used to perform a maneuver depends entirely on what the maneuver is, its intended result, and the judgment of the GM. Players are encouraged to be creative, as always, when coming up with maneuvers and their intended results and GMs are encouraged to be generous and flexible. The following examples just scratch the surface of the range of possibilities:
- Prowess: Prowess maneuvers reflect using the hero’s close combat skill to establish an advantage over a foe through positioning, clever feinting or footwork, superior knowledge of technique, and so forth.
- Coordination: Coordination maneuvers apply the hero’s speed, agility, and accuracy to provide an advantage, perhaps tripping an opponent up, or getting a solid targetting “lock” or “bead”.
- Strength: A Strength maneuver could inflict some minor but key damage to a target (creating a taggable weak point or flaw), shift the field of conflict by knocking down walls or obstacles, or impress a foe enough to cause hesitation or the like.
- Intellect: Intellect is a useful ability for maneuvers, reflecting things like quick calculation of odds, figuring out weaknesses or coming up with brilliant tactics (“I’ve got a plan!”).
- Awareness: Awareness likewise applies well to maneuvers, representing insight into previously unseen openings or weaknesses, picking up on small details, reading an opponents moves and mood, and so forth.
- Willpower: Willpower maneuvers can represent direct “tests of will” pitting the hero against a foe, intimidation attempts to throw someone off balance, or such sheer strength of will that an opponent is taken aback, placing the hero at an advantage.
- Powers: It would take considerable space to go into all the many ways the different powers in Icons could be used for maneuvers. Sufficient to say that each power has particular situations where it is suitable for performing certain types of maneuvers. Offensive powers tend to work like Prowess and Strength, while alteration and defensive powers are more like Willpower. Movement powers resemble Coordination (for speed and agility) whereas Sensory powers are like Awareness. Ultimately, the player proposes a maneuver, the GM decides if it is suitable and, if so, the power’s level is used for the maneuver test.
- Specialties: At the GM’s option, specialties can provide their bonus for maneuver tests with appropriate abilities. A Prowess maneuver can certainly benefit from the Martial Arts specialty, for example, just as a Coordination maneuver might beneft from Acrobatics, or an Intellect maneuver from the Military specitalty (concerning tactics), and so forth. As with other abilities, the GM decides if a particular specialty applies to the maneuver as the player describes it.
A successful maneuver gives the character who placed the aspect one “free” opportunity to tag it, gaining the benefit of spending one point of Determination without actually having to spend any. This only works for uses of Determination requiring tags (which is to say all but Recover). The free tag only works once, regardless of how long the temporary aspect lasts; any further tagging of that aspect requires the normal spending of Determination.
If the character who placed the aspect belongs to a team Determination pool (see Team Determination, p. 19 of Icons) then the character may choose to transfer the free tag to any other character belonging to that pool. A character may only benefit from one free tag per test, regardless of the number available; so a team of six characters could not transfer five free tags to one member to use all at once.
Example: Prometheus makes a test using his Precognition to place the aspect “Foreseen Flaw” on Sigma-9. His player rolls the test against difficulty 6 (chosen by the GM based on Sigma-9’s Awarenes and Willpower) and gets a moderate success. Prometheus’ player chooses to transfer the free tag from the fragile aspect to the team Determination pool so one of his teammates can exploit it to help take the sinister Sigma down.
Sharing free tags via a team determination pool is a useful opportunity for heroes with the Leadership specialty (ICONS, p. 25) to use it as part of a Willpower maneuver to direct teammates for maximum effect: the leader makes a Willpower test (applying Leadership bonus) to apply a suitable aspect like “Tactical Advantage” or “Effective Teamwork” and transfers the free tag to another hero on the team. If the leader places a lasting aspect, other heroes can spend Determination to tag it later in the chapter.
Villains and other characters controlled by the Game Master can also use maneuvers. In this case, simply reverse the process described previously: the player rolls a test as a reaction using the appropriate resisting ability, chosen by the GM. This sets the difficulty of the maneuver, which is compared against the maneuvering character’s ability level to determine the outcome.
Example: ConfederApe attempts to use his Prowess and Athletics to apply an “off-balance” aspect to All-American Girl. The GM decides her Coordination (plus Acrobatics specialty) is the ability to oppose it: All-American Girl’s player rolls a Coordination test and gets an effort of 5. Compared to ConfederApe’s difficulty of 8 (for Prowess 6 and Expert Athletics) that is an outcome of 3, a major success for the villain. ConfederApe has All-American Girl off-balance for the rest of this chapter and gets a free tag for that aspect. Look out, America’s Sweetheart!
Once an aspect is applied to a hero by a maneuver, the GM compels that aspect just like a regular challenge: the player has the option of refusing the Determination that comes with the compel and spending a point of Determination to prevent the challenge from coming into play (see ICONS, p. 78). If a player takes this option against the free tag gained by a villain for imposing the aspect, then the villain retains the free tag and may use it later, as long as the aspect lasts.
Example: After ConfederApe throws All-American Girl off-balance with his maneuver, he follows up on his next turn, using the free tag to increase the difficulty for her to resist his attack. All-American Girl’s player decides to spend a point of Determination to negate the compel, keeping the difficulty for her Coordination test to dodge at the original level, but ConfederApe retains the free tag against the off-balance aspect, which remains for the rest of the chapter.
Eliminating Imposed Aspects
Normally, a temporary aspect applied via a maneuver lasts for an amount of time based on the outcome of the maneuver test, either a page or an entire chapter. At the Game Master’s discretion, characters can perform a “counter maneuver” to remove an applied aspect before it expires. A moderate outcome on the countering maneuver test negates the applied aspect for one page, while a major or better outcome removes it entirely.
Example: Needing to regain her footing, All-American Girl takes an action to test against ConfederApe’s Prowess (plus Athletics) once again. This time, however, she takes to the air and asks the GM to use her Flight level for the maneuver, modified by her Acrobatics. The GM agrees, the player rolls, and gets an effort of 11, compared to the Ape’s difficulty of 8. That’s a major success and removes the “off-balance” aspect altogether. All-American Girl is ready to come back swinging!