Action Card RPG



Many moons ago, I had the idea of using ICRPG for running Diablo. In the middle of one hack, I decided to return back to the Diablo Hack, albeit expanded to encompass a greater range of Action RPGs, CRPGs, MMORPGs, and other roleplaying games: e.g., Diablo 1-3, Shadow of the Demon Lord, Divinity: Original Sin 1 & 2, Torchlight 1 & 2, Path of Exile, Grim Dawn, etc.

So time to sketch out what I have so far…

Character Basics

Core Stats

Strength (STR): physical power, might, stamina
Agility (AGI): dexterity, precision, nimbleness, speed
Mind (MND): wits, cunning, memory, trickery, senses
Spirit (SPI): willpower, courage, discipline, charisma

Standard Array: 2, 1, 1, 0 in any order + 1 in STAT of player’s choice

Players have 4 points that they can assign to their EFFORT scores.

Basic (d4): No Weapons or Tools
Light (d6): Light Weapons and Tools
Heavy (d8): Heavy Weapons and Tools
Magic (d10): Magic and Energy
Ultimate (d12): Critical Hits

Other Stats

Hearts: 10 Hit Points (HP)
Flasks: 10 Mana Points (MP)
Defense: Your DEFENSE score is equal to 10 + AGI + your LOOT bonus
HP Recovery: d20 + STR STAT ≥ TARGET, regain STR STAT + 1 in HP
MP Recovery: d20 + SPI STAT ≥ TARGET, regain SPI STAT + 1 in MP

Other Stats

Hearts: 10 Hit Points (HP)
Flasks: 10 Mana Points (MP)
Defense: Your DEFENSE score is equal to 10 + AGI + your LOOT bonus
HP Recovery: d20 + STR STAT ≥ TARGET
MP Recovery: d20 + SPI STAT ≥ TARGET

Corruption: In some games where it is appropriate, CORRUPTION exists as an optional tool for the game. (See Shadow of the Demon Lord.)

NOTE: Although anyone can find and cast spells, I am still thinking about some ways to make MP useful for non-magical characters.

Character Tags
Tags represent the salient aspects of a character’s background, origins, ancestry, and life experiences. Players can also use TAGS to express a character’s ancestry, people, or land of origin: e.g., Elf, Dwarf, Saurian, Ambrian, Northman, etc. Players can pick up to two TAGS for their character. A player can switch one of their character’s TAGS when their character reaches a MILESTONE.

Once per scene, a tag can make the TARGET of a non-combat roll EASIER if the table agrees that it is pertinent. Depending on the fiction in a scene, the GM may alternatively decide that a character’s TAG makes the TARGET of a roll HARDER, though this should only be done a maximum of once per session per character. For example, the GM may decide that the PC’s ‘Outlaw’ TAG makes it difficult to persuade the local lord.

Sample Tags

  • Background Tags: Noble, Soldier, Outlaw, Scholar, Priest, etc.
  • Origin Tags: Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Orc, Goblin, Northman, Lowlander, etc.

Mastery & Milestones
MASTERY and MILESTONES are pacing mechanics a GM can employ for character advancement. The GM can decide how fast or slow they want this to be.

MASTERY ADVANCEMENT: Some possible methods a GM may choose for PC advancement of their MASTERY track.

  • Critical Mastery: A PC gains a MASTERY point for every Nat 20 they roll.
  • Scenario Mastery: A PC gains a MASTERY point for every scenario their character survives and acquires new LOOT.

MILESTONE ADVANCEMENT: The PC may gain a MILESTONE ADVANCEMENT after [ X ] number of MASTERY points, as determined by the GM. Additionally, the PCs may gain a MILESTONE after defeating a BOSS with at least [ Y ] HEARTs.

At every 5th MASTERY point or at certain SHRINES, a player can reallocate 1 Point between their CORE STATS or 1 Point between their EFFORT.

Magic and Spells

NOTE: I am probably breaking up spells into three categories following the Beyond the Wall/Through Sunken Lands model: (1) Cantrips, (2) Spells, and (3) Rituals. Cantrips are lesser magical abilities that don’t cost LOOT spots. Spells are more potent and cost LOOT spots. And I’m thinking that Rituals are powerful sorceries that can only be cast out of combat, as they may take hours and have greater material costs. A Ritual Manual can take up a LOOT slot if you are carrying it on you in the dungeon or wilds.

Spell Casting
Casting a cantrip or spell costs MP and making a successful MND roll. If a spellcaster is running low or out of MP, they can choose to cast using HP. Additionally, casters can “Roll or Burn.”

Every mage starts knowing a handful of basic spells called CANTRIPS. Magical CANTRIPS are often the first thing that a mage learns. Each magical tradition has their own CANTRIPS. CANTRIPS cost 1 MP to cast and take one ACTION. Unlike other magic spells, CANTRIPS do not count as LOOT or use INVENTORY slots.

Spells cost 2 MP to cast, take one ACTION, and take up LOOT slots. Spells are organized by Magical Traditions but one need not know be a mage to cast spells.

Rituals are potent magical effects that need EFFORT to overcome before they can be cast. Rituals often require hours of time and additional spell components (e.g., arcane ingredients, HP/MP, etc.) or even places of power (e.g., Shrines, Temples, Groves, etc.) to perform.

  • Examples: Summoning, Resurrection, Divination, etc.

Magical Traditions
There are five major magical traditions, though there may be others.

Elementalism: Elementalism shapes the potent magics of the Elemental Chaos: air, earth, fire, and water.
Mysticism: Mysticism is a magical discipline that uses willpower to tap into the inner light of the body, mind, and soul.
Necromancy: Necromancy is a magical art concerned with the balance of life and death as well as light and darkness. Its oft-maligned practitioners delve into the magic of death, blood, and shadows.
Witchcraft: Witchcraft is a more ancient magic of the Old Ways that draws upon the natural world and its spirits. Its magic focuses on the hidden power of nature, spirits, and the stars.
Wizardry: Wizardry is devoted to understanding mana and the fundamental magical forces of the cosmos through complex arcane incantations, sigils, and runes. Wizardry warps space, time, and energy.

Power Shrines
Finding shrines is an awesome trope in video games, and I want to bring that to the Action Card RPG. Shrines are places of power that can provide power-ups and player character utility. Shrines are dedicated to different forces of the world.

Lesser Shrine: May provide basic character boosts (e.g., HP/MP Recovery, Mastery Track, temporary boons, modify stats, etc.).

Greater Shrine: Give the Shrine a name. Make the adventure about finding it, trekking the wilds and fighting monsters to get there, and then delving the Shrine as a mini-dungeon to uncover its lost secret: MILESTONE Reward! Or even you get there to discover the Shrine has been defiled and you have to go on another quest so you can purify it.


Great write up! I like the idea of a hack and slash in a TTRPG.

Depending on how you run critical hits (assuming a nat 20?) in action RPGs most games let you modify that crit chance. You could have items that increase the crit range to [20,19] or [20,19,18] etc… Another way is actually having a % crit stat on the character similar to the action RPGs. You could have them roll the D20 for hit then have them roll a D100 for their crit. This allows for more granular number and smoother scaling so they aren’t tripling their crit chance all of a sudden.

Many Monsters
How do you plan on running many monsters at once? In Diablo it is common to pull a ton of monsters and AOE them all down. Will it be possible for players to kill 5,10,15 goblins at once?

Power level
Will players be able to one shot monsters due to the power level of their character as well?
With certain attacks, spells and gear you get very powerful until the monsters catch up in level. I think a similar “Wow, this a strong build” effect should be captured at moments during play. Then eventually the monsters catch up in power level and they need more upgrades to get “overpowered” again.


One way to do that would be to run a 1 HEART swarm of goblins with each goblin equaling 1 HP. So, if a character manages to hack into the fray of goblins to do 5 WEAPON EFFORT would mean 5 goblins would be defeated.

An alternate way to do it would be: 5 goblin swarm with 5 HP (1/2 HEART) and +5 Stat. For each HP of damage to the swarm it kills off 1 goblin and reduces the stat by -1. You could also run a 1 HEART, 10 goblin swarm with +5 stat where every 2 goblins (1 HP each) killed off reduces the stat by -1.


Crits: I have not put too much thought into Critical Hits but it seems like Milestone Abilities or Loot that provides extra Crit range could work.

Many Monsters & Power Level: 1 HP Minions / “Super Mooks” (ICME 145). :wink: That said, I appreciate the feedback here, because that is definitely something worth considering. As it’s ICRPG, loot should factor into that power fantasy as well, and that also has me thinking about things like finding named Armor Sets with special bonuses if you collect and equip the pieces.

Other than that, I am looking at Types, Starting Abilities, and Magic. I will probably use the classic fantasy power trio: Warrior, Rogue, Mage or additionally Warrior/Mage, Warrior/Rogue, and Rogue/Mage. In particular, Mage types, starting abilities, and magic access can be tricky.


I implore you to look into Diablo 2 or Torchlight 2 classes. I think those classes really shined compared to the classic trope of warrior/rogue/mage. It would require more work to figure out mechanics, come up with starting abilities, and new spells but I think the flavor of D2 classes are more engaging. Most of the classes have the flexibility of being different combinations of warrior/rogue/mage.


(1) This is not meant to be a pure clone of Diablo 1-3 or Action RPGs as it is also meant to be about Index Card RPG dungeon delving.

(2) I love the classic warrior/rogue/mage trinity trope.

(3) Believe me, I have been scouring the ARPGs that I have listed for ideas about classes and everything. I have many hours on Diablo 1-3 and Torchlight 1-2.

(4) My current archetype model now is Warrior, Rogue, Mage, Hunter (Warrior/Rogue), Shadow (Rogue/Mage), and Templar (Mage/Warrior). I would love a better name for the Templar that ISN’T a combo name (e.g., Mageknight, Spellsword, etc.), but the Templar is also meant to cover things like Paladins and Death/Blood Knights.

Each Type will get a Type-specific Trait, a Starting Ability, and a piece of Starting Loot for their Type. Traits provide a unique Type-specific way to spend MP on things other than spells, even if they can use spells they find.

This is my draft, for example, of the Warrior.


Combat Training (Trait): Once per scene, you can spend 2 MP to turn a missed attack into a hit or turn a successful attack against you into a missed attack.

BERSERKER: If attacking an enemy you have already harmed, do ULTIMATE damage
DUELIST: When missed, make a free NEAR move. Your next attack against that opponent becomes EASIER
KNIGHT: Allies within CLOSE range of you may use your DEFENSE STAT
MARSHAL: Spend your action to add your SPI STAT and applicable EFFORT bonus to an ally’s next action
SELLSWORD: When you take damage, add the amount of the last hit against you to the next hit you make

You can also recognize these as the renamed starting abilities of the Slayer, Rogue, Defender, Commander, and Pit Fighter.

And a partial list of the Traits for the other Archetypes:

Expertise (Trait): You gain a bonus background TAG. Once per scene, you can spend 2 MP to re-roll or add 1d12 to a non-combat roll

Shadow (Rogue/Mage)
Tricks (Trait): You can spend 2 MP to cast any cantrip you don’t know (normally cantrips cost 1 MP)

  • Note: May add a bonus TAG or something here too

Magical Tradition (Trait): Choose a Magical Tradition. You gain your choice of three cantrips and three spells from your Magical Tradition

Mages have magic and spells aplenty to spend MP on but I am still trying to decide how I want to go about their Starting Abilities and Magic Traditions. In some ways, I see Mages being a little more “locked in” in terms of their starting package.

Templar (Mage/Warrior)
Spell Blade (Starting Ability): You can spend 2 MP for your weapon attack to deal MAGIC damage on a successful hit

I’m still trying to decide what would be an appropriate 2 MP Trait for the Hunter. Either something like Mobility (2 MP to make an additional NEAR move, which is similar to a dash that ranged classes often get in ARPGs) or something more pew pew ranged-combat oriented.


Thanks for the clarification on the classes. I like how you explained the class combos.

Ranged combat

Similar to your Rogue’s trait the hunter could add 1d12 to a combat roll.

Focused shot (Trait): You can spend 2MP and your movement action to focus a shot on an enemy and add 1d12 to your combat roll.

Mulit shot (Trait): You can spend 2MP to attack 3 enemies at once. (Using your attack roll + weapon/gun effort)


I like the idea of Mobility, you could have a defense spin on it as well.

Mobility (Trait): Spend 2MP to make an additional NEAR move.

Disengage (Trait): Spend 2MP to dash out of range of an enemies melee attack.


How about this?

Skirmisher (Trait): You can spend 2 MP to either add 1d12 to a ranged attack roll or to make an additional NEAR move

EDIT: Also made some edits and additions to the OP, mainly some minor changes plus some info on magical traditions.


I’ve been busy with some revisions to the ACRPG, mostly focusing on the Types, Type Traits, and Starting Abilities. Here’s what I have for the Type Traits.


Warmaster (Trait): Once per scene, you can spend 2 MP to turn your missed attack into a hit or turn a hit against you into a miss. You can also spend 2 MP to reroll EFFORT with a weapon attack and take the better of the two rolls


Skirmisher (Trait): You can spend 2 MP to go first in the initiative/turn order, identify the properties of a creature, or make an additional NEAR move on your turn


Cunning Strikes (Trait): You do ULTIMATE on a natural 19 to 20 with LIGHT weapons or tools. Once per scene, you can spend 2 MP to do ULTIMATE on a success with a LIGHT weapon or tool


Tricks of the Trade (Trait): Choose any three spells across the Magical Traditions. These spells do not take up LOOT slots and cost only 1 MP to cast. Casting these spells is always EASY for you


Magister (Trait): Choose a Magical Tradition and gain three spells. You never cast spells from your tradition as HARD. Furthermore, you regain half the MP you spent when you fail to cast a spell


War Magic (Trait): Choose a Magical Tradition and gain three spells. You can spend 1 MP on a successful weapon attack to deal MAGIC EFFORT or boost your DEFENSE by +2 for one round


War Magic (Trait): Choose a Magical Tradition and gain three spells. When you make a successful weapon attack, you can cast a spell as part of the same ACTION without making a roll


I like the updates.

When you identify with Skirmisher does it give you any bonus to hits or other advantages? or does it only give details and descriptions?

The war magic ones are great as well. I am curious if giving +2 DEF to any target would be too strong? I like the idea of buffing yourself but I think having more interactions with others would be fun too.

Great stuff so far!


Presumably details and descriptions. I mostly pulled it from the Xenobiologist starting ability of the Scientist Type in Warpshell.

The War Magic ones will be “one,” because I’m still hammering out the Guardian’s Trait and its set of starting abilities. So when I say “OR,” I mean that I haven’t decided how I want to swing it and these are two separate draft ideas. I’ve also been debating whether I just wanted War Magic to be something akin to “Spend 2 MP and enchant your weapon with magic, doing MAGIC EFFORT for the scene.” So I guess I’m just looking for feedback and ideas.

Again, the goal is partially to give the Types things to spend their MP on. Mages will presumably spend theirs on Spells. Adepts will have a small set of spells they can cast cheaply. And I’m still working out Guardians or however I end up calling the Warrior/Mage Type.


You were looking for ways for non spell casters to use MP, I think it would fit the theme to rename MP for each type and have them activate special abilities. For example a buff which provides an expanded crit range for a point or two of MP lasting 1d4 turns, or something to this effect. You can use these abilities to bring some more flavor to non spellcasters


Non spell-casters can still use spells they find in typical ICRPG fashion, so there is a reason for them to have MP too. Renaming MP for each type removes some of the universality of a potential character sheet. Traits also give non-casters other cool things they can do with MP that lean into their Type fantasy. But I will take your feedback into consideration.