The following is a segment of an ICONS game set-up to demonstrate how the different elements of the system come together at the game table.
Two heroes—All-American Girl and the Hangman—are investigating the mysterious disappearance of their friend Saguaro, unaware they’re being set-up for an ambush by the Ultra-Mind’s sinister Alliance of Evil, which has captured several heroes. Three members of the Alliance—Count Malochio, The Creeper, and Grudge—wait in hiding in an abandoned factory complex. Following the clues, the two heroes arrive and enter unawares...

GM: The interior of the factory is dark, the only light coming in from around the boards covering the high windows. Rusting hulks of machinery cast deep shadows over the aisles between them. What do you do?

Hangman: Stay sharp, All-American Girl, we still don’t...

GM: (interrupting) Suddenly, Hangman’s warning is choked off as a heavy vine coils around his throat and lifts him off the floor!

The GM slides Hangman’s player a Determination token.

GM: At the same moment, a massively muscled, grey-skinned figure rises up, smashing aside one of the presses on the factory floor, his roar of anger echoing in the cavernous room.

All-American Girl: Grudge!

GM: A voice sounds from up on the catwalk overlooking the floor:

Count Malochio: Get her, Grudge! Do as the Ultra-Mind commands and you will be rewarded!

GM: All-American Girl, you need to defend against Grudge’s attack as he lunges forward with a double-fisted smash.

All-American Girl: I dodge out of the way!

She rolls the dice, getting a result of +0. Applying that to her Coordination 4, with a +1 for her Acrobatics specialty, she gets an effort of 5, the same as Grudge’s Prowess ... barely enough!

GM: You manage to roll to the side just as Grudge’s fists come down, smashing chunks out of the concrete floor. Hangman, you hear another mocking voice coming from the catwalk behind you.

Creeper: HAHAHA! How does it feel to be on the other end of a noose for a change, Hangman?

The choking vine is cutting off your air, Hangman. Make a Strength test.

Hangman’s player rolls the dice, getting a –1. Added to his Strength 3, that’s an effort of 2. The GM consults the guidelines for suffocation (drowning) under Swimming on page 59 of Icons: Hangman needs a successful Strength test each page to avoid going unconscious and losing Strength levels. Starting from 0 difficulty, he has a moderate success on the first page and so loses 2 Stamina, bringing him from 8 to 6.

GM: From high up on the catwalk, Count Malochio fires a beam of laser-like energy from his amulet at you, All-American Girl.

All-American Girl: I’ll dodge that, too.

She rolls the dice again, getting a +0 result again for an effort of 5. Count Malochio’s Coordination is only 3, but he’s an Expert with his Evil Eye, giving him level 5 for attacking, it’s not quite enough, however, and All-American Girl just succeeds.

GM: You just manage to dodge the beam. You hear Malochio curse in Italian.

Okay, heroes, it’s your turn. All-American Girl, you go first. (Normally, the GM probably would have had Hangman, with the higher Coordination, go first, but he’s a bit tied up at the moment.)

All-American Girl: I should probably help Hangman...

GM: I don’t know, I think you “can handle this on your own.”

The GM slides All-American Girl’s player a Determination token. He is tagging All-American Girl’s “I can handle this on my own” challenge. Her player decides to accept the Determination and changes her plans.

All-American Girl: Okay, I’m going after Count Malochio, flying up at the catwalk, out of Grudge’s reach. I say, “Is that all you’ve got? That hardly ‘counts’ at all!” Then I swoop in and take a swing at him.

GM: Ouch! Okay, make your attack test...

AA Girl’s player rolls the dice for a –1 result. With her Prowess 5, she gets an effort of 4. That equals Malochio’s Prowess for a close attack, so All-American Girl gets a 0 effect, just enough for a moderate outcome. Unfortunately, she and Malochio are well-matched: her Strength is 7, but his Evil Eye gives him Force Field 7, meaning the Count takes no Stamina damage.

GM: A glowing aura springs up around Count Malochio, and your punch glances off of it. Hangman?

Hangman: Ugh. I need to get out of this vine-noose. Can I use my Swinging power to grab the vine, kick my legs and swing up and over at the catwalk? I want to kick Creeper in the face and at break his concentration enough for me to get loose.

GM: (considers for a moment) Sure. Make a Prowess test, but I’m going to bump up the difficulty for the swing and because you can’t see Creeper yet.

Hangman: Can I make a Determined effort?

GM: No, not yet. You have more than one chance to get out of this trap and you haven’t tried anything yet. Just roll.

Hangman’s player rolls and gets a +2. With his Prowess 6, that’s an 8 effort. The GM decided on +3 difficulty total for the swing (equal to a supplemental action, –1) and for Hangman initially being unable to see Creeper behind him (an impaired visibility modifierl –2). Still, Creeper only has Prowess and Coordination 3, so even with the difficulty increase, Hangman scores an effect of 2 for a moderate success!

Hangman has Strength 3 and Creeper has no armor, so he does 3 Stamina damage, reducing Creeper from 8 to 5. However, the GM rules that while the kick staggers Creeper slightly it does not break his Plant Control: the choke-vine still has its iron grip on Hangman’s neck.

The first page of the conflict is complete. The GM moves on to the next page, starting again with the villains.

GM: All-American Girl, Grudge suddenly grabs your leg from behind, having grown even larger!

All-American Girl’s player defends, but rolls a –2. Additionally, the GM decides to give Grudge a surprise attack bonus for suddenly increasing in size, since All-American Girl clearly thought he couldn’t reach her. That makes his Prowess effectively 7 against her effort of 3; he gets a major outcome on his bashing attack for a possible slam (Icons, p. 70), which was certainly the intention.

GM: Roll a Strength test against a possible slam.

AA Girl’s player rolls again, a –2, for an effort of 5 with her Strength. Grudge’s Strength level is currently 8, so she fails.

GM: Grudge slams you into the machinery. You take 1 Stamina damage through your Invulnerability and hit the floor hard, leaving a pretty serious dent in the heavy machine press.

All-American Girl: Ouch!

GM: Count Malochio fires a searing beam form his Evil Eye.

All-American Girl: Should I dodge?

GM: (shakes head) No, the beam misses you, however, it washes over the wreckage of the machine press above you and the metal melts and pours down over you like heavy syrup, cooling and hardening around you!

The GM slides another Determination token to All-American Girl’s player for Malochio’s unorthodox maneuver and success with it.

GM: Hangman, make another Strength test.

Hangman’s player rolls the dice, getting a –2! That’s an effort of just 1, but the difficulty of the test is only 1 this page (up 1 from 0 the previous page), so he still gets a moderate outcome. Hangman loses another 2 Stamina, bringing him down to 4.

GM: I also need a Coordination test, as the vines and plants around Creeper grab at you.

Hangman’s player rolls again, this time getting a +1. With his Coordination 5 and Acrobatics specialty, that’s a 7 effort, against Creeper’s Coordination 3 and Plant Control specialty (+1). He evades the grabbing vines.

Hangman: I’m going to give Creeper a taste of the gallows and use the Noose of Judgment on him!

Hangman’s player rolls a Coordination test with the Noose’s Binding attack, rolling a +0, but with his Coordination 5 and Weapon specialty, he gets a 6 effort against Creeper’s Coordination 3, enough for a major outcome!

Hangman: I loop the noose over his torso, binding his arms to their sides, and I want to flip him off the catwalk so he’s dangling in mid-air and knows that if I pass out, he drops!

GM: Okay, you’ve got him in a hold, so give me a Strength test to flip him off the catwalk.

Hangman’s player rolls a +1 for a 4 effort against Creeper’s Strength 3 and succeeds. The plant-controlling villain is flung off the catwalk, dangling in the grip of Hangman’s noose.

GM: All-American Girl, you’re bound by the metal around you. Your only physical action this turn can be to try and break loose.

All-American Girl: Okay, I’ll try and use my Strength to bust out.

She rolls a Strength test and gets a +0. The effort of 7 isn’t enough against the layer of Strength 8 steel around her. She struggles to no avail. No Determined effort is possible this page because AA Girl had not yet attempted the action.

The second page of the conflict ends. The third begins with the villain’s actions.

GM: All-American Girl, Grudge’s shadow falls across you as you struggle to get out of the steel trap. He bares his teeth, roars in anger, and smashes his fists down.

All-American Girl: Uh-oh... I can’t defend, can I?

GM: No, you’re an immobile target right now.

Grudge has Prowess 5 and the difficulty to hit All-American Girl is currently 0 (see Immobile Targets, Icons, p. 68). That’s a massive outcome on his bashing attack!

GM: Give me a Strength test against a stun.

AA Girl’s player considers: There’s only one chance on this test, so she probably could make a Determined effort using her “Don’t Give Up” quality in order to succeed, but she and Hangman are outnumbered and she isn’t sure she wants to spend the Determination rather than saving it for the next part of the adventure. So she decides to go with a straight roll, getting a +0. That’s a 7 effort against an 8 difficulty (Grudge’s Strength) for a –1, a failure, which reduces All-American Girl’s Stamina to 0 and renders her unconscious.

GM: Hangman, Creeper scatters a handful of seeds onto the factory floor, which instantly sprout and grow into a thick bed of vines, creepers, and moss beneath him. Give me another Strength test against the choke vine.

Hangman’s player rolls a +0 for an effort of 3 against difficulty 2, and so takes another 2 Stamina damage, leaving him with only 2 Stamina remaining.

GM: ... Then Count Malochio fires a beam from the Evil Eye at you.

Hangman’s player rolls a –1 to dodge for an effort of 5. That’s just equal to Malochio’s Coordination plus his Expert specialty, enough for Hangman to barely succeed. However, the GM doesn’t want to drag things out any longer with Hangman at just 2 Stamina against three barely winded villains, so he slides Hangman’s player a Determination token.

GM: The blast hits you square in the chest, you slump back against the wall, and everything goes black...

What will happen to the heroes who have fallen into the clutches of the Alliance of Evil? Will their few remaining teammates find them in time? What fiendish end does the Ultra-Mind have in store for them? For that, the Game Master turns to the next chapter of the adventure! With two extra Determination each, hopefully our heroes are well prepared for it!