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This article is about the RPG. For the iCar magazine, see ICar (magazine). For other uses, see ICAR (disambiguation).
Version 3.5 Icar Elements Rules Cover
Designer(s) Rob Lang
Publisher(s) Rob Lang
Publication date 1990 (Version 1)
1993 (Version 2)
1996 (Version 3)
2012 (Version 4)
2006 (Version 3.5)
Years active 1990–present
Genre(s) Space Opera
System(s) Icar
Playing time Varies
Random chance Dice rolling
Skill(s) required Role-playing, improvisation, tactics, arithmetic
Website [1]

Icar is a free science fiction role-playing game (RPG) designed and published by Rob Lang. The game has been played since 1990 and shared online since 1996. Icar is a typical space opera with a race of killer robots, bionics, faster than light space travel and energy weapons. Icar can be downloaded as a PDF for free from the official website.

The majority of Icar is written by Rob Lang, with contributions from Andrew O'Byrne.

Play overview[edit]

Icar is a traditional roleplaying game designed for sandbox play. Each player creates their own player characters to match the theme of a setting and directs the actions of their character during the course of player. Icar is intended for use over a number sessions in the form of a campaign.

Icar departs traditional roleplaying games by creating a sandboxed world using timelines and events. A timeline is a story arc and events are pivotal moments in that story arc. The player characters interact with the events and by doing so affect future events.

Icar uses different mechanics for different types of combat, using both 10 sided (D10) and percentile (D100) dice. Due to the speed and complexity of combat, Icar is not designed for use with miniatures, instead favouring paper and pencil maps.

Game Mechanics[edit]

Before the game begins, each player creates a player character (PC) on a number of character sheets. Character creation begins by the creation of a concept: a short description of who the character is and what their motivations are.

Attributes represent the core physical and mental properties of the character and are determined with by rolling a die or by point assignment. The Attributes are 'Battle', 'Meat', 'Shift', 'Wit' and 'Soul'. Skills and starting equipment are provided by a role template called a 'Skeleton' and close combat combinations (combos) are built.

Icar uses the 'Deviant Wheel' as a way of representing the personality of the character. The Deviant Wheel is a radial disc of personality traits, with opposing traits opposite each other on the disc. Players colour divisions on the wheel to represent the strength of that trait, 4 in Selfish would yield a 1 in generous. The Deviant Wheel is a guide (not a restriction) for play and acts as a way of charting a character's personal growth.

Player can choose to have up to 3 random character benefits from the Psychotheatrics list. Psychotheatrics can severely handicap a character, which can make it more fun to play.

Skills are learnt abilities that are measured with percentage. To perform a skill, the player must perform a skill check by rolling a percentile (D100) under the skill value.

Each of the combat areas has its own ruleset, modeling that particular combat.

Close Combat[edit]

Close combat deals with close quarters combat, fist fights and sword fights. In a single combat round, player characters pick from a predefined sequence of moves called a "Combo". Each move is paired off and if there is a successful hit, damage (either physical or stun) is done.

Fire Fighting[edit]

Fire fighting is the most common form of combat in Icar. A player rolls a percentile to hit the target and damage is done depending on the weapon's penetration, the target's armour and rounds fired. Modifiers are used to account for the situation.

Dog Fighting[edit]

Dog fighting covers combat in vehicles. Each vehicle attempts to gain a firing position over the other by performing manouevres. Passengers in the vehicle can fire out of the vehicle using Fire Fighting rules.

Space Combat[edit]

In Space Combat the player characters form the crew of a space craft, each taking a role. Each turn, the team can choose to run or fight. Some crew members operate weapons, others perform repairs. At each turn, everyone in the team will be involved in the combat.

Game Background[edit]

Icar is set in the year 92030. A benevolent Imperium protects the human race from a race of killer robots called the Droids. The Droids, who are cunning but lack innovation are fighting an internal war as well as the humans across the length of the Galaxy, except in Human Occupied Space, which is safely held by the humans.

Humanity is without race, religion or creed. Instead, it partitions along philosophical lines: those who believe that technology is the answer and those that believe humanity should remain pure.

Energy, food, clean water and habitable planets are plentiful. Space travel, bionics, holistic medicine are common. Large corporations influence local policies and criminal syndicates evade capture with cunning.

Scavenger Setting[edit]

Included in the core rulebook is an example game Setting where player characters explore empty husks of abandoned human habitation. Dangerous work with the chance of great reward. The setting is designed for new players and GMs as a method of learning the system and giving the GM a starting point for designing their own campaign setting.

Player Handouts[edit]

Icar is designed with player handouts in mind. Every space craft, weapon and car has a handout that can be given to the players. Special rules and statistics are included on the sheets. These handouts are a physical representation of the item, when it is dropped or taken away then the handout is too.

Game History[edit]

Icar was conceived in 1990, inspired by viewing others playing RPGs at the Finchley Games Club (North London, UK). Typed on an 8086 PC and printed on a dot matrix, with weapons drawn in pencil. Version 1 had two statistics: Agility and Strength but the fire fighting and skills mechanics are much the same as they are today. As computing technology improved, so did the game and version 2 of the game appeared in 1993, more statistics and less definition in the rule.

In 1996, version 3 was created, ready for a University audience. It introduced the modern game with Deviant Wheel, 5 Statistics, Close Combat, sandbox play and tightened rules for skill use and fire fights. The first Icar website went live in 1996, sharing the rules, equipment and game ideas. Version 3 split the core documents into Elements (core rules), Society (background), Scavenger Setting and Equipment Index.

In 2009, a complete rewrite of the core rules began, building in the three main parts of Icar to make version 4. Version 4 was released as a Beta (meaning that it had not been proof read) in January 2012. Shortly after, a new website was created along with a blog and integration into the forum.

Once Icar has completed proofreading, a print-on-demand service will be used to allow gamers to have a physical copy off the book.

A more detailed history can be found on the website

External links[edit]