Sunday, November 14, 2010

New for ICONS, Field Guide to Superheroes!

The Field Guide Volume 1 is the definitive encyclopedia of superhero archetypes in modern comics.

Written by Jason "Dr. Comics" Tondro, who studied comics for his PhD in Literature, the Field Guide is a gold mine of ideas and inspiration for your next hero. After a discussion of each archetype generally, the Field Guide then gives a fully fleshed out hero, suitable for immediate use as a PC or important NPC in your ICONS campaign.

Rather than break archetypes down by power set, the Field Guide looks at the character's origin and role in the story. This makes the archetypes much more versatile and puts the emphasis on character, rather than power.

Here's a short list of the ten archetypes discussed in this volume of the Field Guide to Superheroes.

· The Alien Hero is not from this world. He may have either a science fiction or fantasy tone to his powers, which are often unrelated to each other.
· The Android is a Pinocchio character who has incredible powers but also trouble relating to humanity. He could be either metal or organic in nature.
· Animal Heroes are one of the simplest kinds of characters. Pick an animal or insect and base your hero on it, using either natural powers or unusual weaponry.
· An Armored Wonder is a normal person in an advanced battlesuit, usually humanoid in shape and size. He could be a scientist or just know someone else that is.
· The Astronaut is an Earthman who has traveled to other worlds. He makes up for his lack of powers with courage and cleverness.
· An Avatar is a being that identifies with, is, or thinks he is, a god. High power level but a strict moral code goes hand in hand with the Avatar.
· Comic Relief characters are always welcome. Typically they have either silly powers (like stretching) or else awesome abilities but no idea how to use them.
· The Creepy Hero is a street hero with a sense of humor, weird powers, and often a frightening appearance. He may be hunted by the police.
· The Dark Avenger is a person who has suffered at the hands of the criminal element and come back to deal harsh justice. He often uses weapons instead of powers.
· The Defender protects or fights crime in a particular place, or to safeguard a particular group. He will help other heroes out when trouble from outside finds him, but he's more focused on his turf

You can pick it up here!


Paul King said...

Using comics for your PhD in Literature...what a great idea. Maybe I should use that idea for my dissertation for my PhD in Organizational Learing and Leadership?

Kevin Mac said...

Yeah, that PHD in comics would go great with another one in folklore and mythology! I keed...

Seriously, this looks like a great resource for a GM (like me - Hero System) to get his non-comic book collecting pals (like my players)some ideas on what to run for a true Supers game. Hoping to get a campaign going next year after all my others projects, and this might just come in handy.

Wooly Rupert said...

Pg. 72 of the pdf repeats definitions from pg 71 but the titles are different. So whatever Wondercare, Wonderland and Wonderwear are, it's not listed.

Anonymous said...

Fixed and sent to chuck. :)


John Post said...

I liked the book, but it's in need of some serious editing. I just did a first read through and came up with the following.

Matrix is alternatively named “Rolar” and “Rolan.”

The Matrix describes aliens as being unusual and secretive, but Moonshot describes aliens as common knowledge and her source of inspiration for becoming a wonder.

The Eagle is described as having white wings, but his picture shows brown wings.

Moonshot’s space station is named Sally at the beginning of the section, but is named Martha at the end of the section.

Under Prometheus, “Cronus” or “Kronos” are the normal spelling, not “Cronos.”

Wundermaus is described as being only six inches tall, but his silhouette in the group drawing is at least three feet tall. If he’s three feet tall, his weapons’ damage numbers are likely off.

The final sentence of the Wundermaus story seed section is incomplete.

The Patriot description and the picture do not match. The left shoulder has a spotlight and the right shoulder has a missile launcher, but the description is reversed.

The Fabulous Frog-Girl archetype description does not include “Creepy Hero” under the list, but she’s given as the creepy hero example.

The quotation under The Fabulous Frog-Girl’s qualities is missing the opening quotation mark.

Gigawatt’s specialties lists “Investigate” instead of “Investigation.”

Gigawatt’s Stunt “Light Up My Life” should be bold and start a new line.

The “Wondercare” entry contains the text for the “Tomorrow Man” entry. The “Wonderland” entry contains the text from “Who wants to be a Wonder.” The “Wonderwear” contains the text from the “Wonder” entry.

John Post said...

Left one off the list:
Moonshot's description says she wears a sleek grey suit, but her picture is in a red and purple suit.

Jason Tondro said...

Hey John. Thanks for writing. Whenever a document is the product of many hands, errors creep in, but in this case I think the more important fact is that I have been writing this book for a long time. And, as you probably know, the longer a project is in the works, the more versions it goes through, and multiple versions introduce errors. Thanks for the close read! Let me see if I can clarify where necessary.

Matrix's name is Rolan.
Eagle's wings are white.
Moonshot's base is Space Station Sally.
Wundermaus is six inches tall.
Fabulous Frog-Girl should have "Creepy Hero" as one of her Archetypes.
"Cronos" is just Cronos.
The last sentence for "Wundermaus" story seeds should read: "But Wondermaus has not told them his real motive: he knows that he is dying at last, and has only about a year to form a lasting legacy which will atone for all the many sins which weigh on his tiny soul."
The errors you mention on the last page have already been corrected by Dan.

As to the depiction of aliens in the setting: the specific details of each of those paragraphs you mention do not contradict each other. Moonshot read about alien heroes in the newspaper, when she was a girl. Matrix's identity as an alien is kept a secret. The US Government "tries" to keep the nature of aliens out of common knowledge. In order for Moonshot to have read those newspaper stories concerning aliens (not Matrix) in other hero teams when she was a child, the government's efforts must not have been entirely successful.

This is, essentially, an attempt to duplicate the somewhat schizophrenic portrayal of aliens in the comics, where a NYC cab driver will shout his frustration with "little green men" in one issue, then insist there are no such things as aliens in the next. It doesn't always make a whole lot of sense, but it's done in an effort to preserve verisimilitude (the world is one we know) and also preserve character options (people can play aliens).


John Post said...

Cool. Thanks for the response.

I hope you didn't take my comments as criticism. I know how the writing and editing process works, but one of the biggest benefits of a pdf product, in my opinion, is the ease with which errors and errata may be corrected. That's the only reason I posted the comments, well, that and I proofread for a living, so little things stand out like a sore thumb to me.

I'm looking forward to the next three volumes.

Jason Tondro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Tondro said...

Not at all, John. I'm grateful not only that you found some things for us to fix, but even more that you read the book and enjoyed it. Errors happen, as I tell my students almost every day. One of the great things about working in this particular format is that we can make fixes fairly quickly and easily, and don't have to wait for a 2nd printing.

I think your points about the perception of aliens are worth a longer response, so I'm going to write an essay on this topic and put it into one of the future volumes, as an expansion on the setting.

Thanks again!

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