Time and Distance


Icons measures time in a series of abstract segments. The two basic types of time keeping in the
game are action time and narrative time.

Action time is when things in the game really start happening quickly: fights, chase scenes, and so forth, often any time a Test is required. The basic segment of action time is a Panel, which covers an abstract amount of time equal to the action depicted in a single comic book panel. A character can perform any action in a Panel that would fit into a standard panel, including attack, dodge, or move. All of the characters’ Panels add up to a Page, which is enough time for every character involved in the action to do at least one thing. As a default, ten Pages of action time are assumed to equal about a minute, in cases where that matters. The GM may use an abstract number of Pages as a measure of things.

Narrative time is based more on the progress of the story than a series of actions. It is also more abstract. The basic unit of narrative time is a Chapter. It is essentially like the chapter of a longer story like a comic book or novel, focused on a particular locale or event. For example, if the heroes foil a bank robbery, everything that happens at the bank — including pages of action time — is one Chapter. When the scene switches back to the heroes’ headquarters, another Chapter begins, and so forth. The Game Master ultimately places breaks between Chapters.

All the Chapters of a single game session make up an Issue, like a single comic book. A particularly long session with many chapters can be a “giant-size issue” while a self-contained story completed in a single Issue may be a “one-shot issue.”

Lastly, multiple issues make up a Series, just like an ongoing comic book series.


Distance in Icons is measured abstractly in ranges, roughly describing a level of distance, how far apart two things are. The ranges are:

  • Personal: Close enough to touch someone, or to have someone standing right behind you. You can communicate by whispering.
  • Close: Close enough to hit someone with a melee weapon or shoot them at point-blank range, or move up to them and do so in a single panel. You can communicate by speaking normally.
  • Extended: Out of range for close attacks, but still within range for firearms and similar ranged attacks. You can only communicate by shouting.
  • Visual: Out as far as the eye can see. You can make out outlines and shapes, but not individuals. You can’t communicate except by visual or long-distance means (such as radio).
  • Beyond: As in “beyond visual range.” This is a catchall for greater distances, which are usually expressed in general or real-world terms (such as “a continent across” or “100 miles”).


During a conflict in action time, you go back and forth between the heroes’ panels and their opponents’ panels for each page of the conflict. Typically, the conflict starts off with the panels of whichever side initiates: if a villain launches an attack, start with the villain’s panel. If the heroes spring into action, begin with their panels. Once one side’s actions are resolved, go to the other side, then back and forth until the conflict ends.

If there’s a specific need to know who is able to act first (two characters grabbing for the same object, for example), test the appropriate ability (usually Coordination) with a difficulty equal to the opposing character’s ability. Otherwise, actions on a page are largely simultaneous. If the initiation of a conflict is unexpected, it may count as a Surprise Attack (see Maneuvers).

Time and Distance

Freedom Throughout the Ages Psiko_GM