Advice on VTT Maps, Travel, and Terrain



Hail and we’ll met fellow travelers! I just got ICRPG and picked up this beautiful and strange game and am in love with it. I’m getting ready to run my first session on Owlbear Rodeo this coming Monday. However, I’m having trouble wrapping my head around how to implement battle grids, dungeon/terrain exploration, and overland travel with the system. With that said I’ve got a few questions for those more experienced than I.

  1. How do you handle combat online with movement. I feel that only using the index card assets might underwhelm the players in the game. While setting up battle maps or background art seems a little overproduced for the game system and may make more confusion with players not mowing how far they can move on a given terrain. I feel like either way I’ll do it wrong with the game’s movement being so loose.

  2. How do you approach exploring a dungeon larger than a 3-5 cards which are shown in the sample trial in the Master Edition. That seems pretty minimal to me and I plan on running a three hour session so I don’t want to have an underwhelming dungeon, cave, or compound for players to explore. Do you just move from scene to scene or do you use an actual dungeon map (a la adventure modules). Is it just point crawling with theatre of the mind?

  3. Is there a good way to handle overland travel if my players want to do that? I don’t see much in the book speaking to that. I have seen where I’m supposed to keep players in the game turn order and just change the time of a turn (6 hours/1 day/ a week) when we’re out of combat depending on the situation.

Hopefully I have asked any silly questions. At the end of the day, all my experience is with DnD 5e and that game system is much more grid and moving based than this instant I’m finding the transition slightly more difficult than expected.

Any resources or advice is greatly appreciated!


Hej Kelando! Welcome to the game. :slight_smile:
Since some things in ICRPG are deliberately left up to the GM you will probably get different answers to your questions. My approach would be the following:

  1. There’s a banana asset floating around the forum somewhere. In ICRPG 2E that was the “standard” way to measure distance and I still use it for my games. It’s not the most accurate way of measuring movement, but that’s not really the point. Plop in the banana as a movable token, resize it and use it to measure CLOSE, NEAR, FAR. :banana:
  2. I usually prep in scenes with a handful of pictures as visual anchors and theatre of the mind for all the stuff that happens in the scenes. If you wanted to use index cards, each index card can serve the exact same purpose as a scene or they could be things withing a scene that people can interact with.
  3. I think it should be pretty easy to port some type of hexcraling over to ICRPG. There’s a bit on hexcrawling in HARD SUIT (which is a different book) but there should also be some stuff on hexcrawling either here in the forums or in the bigger community. If you wanted overland travel to be extra gritty like in Forbidden Lands, I have tried to re-write Forbidden Lands’ hexcrawling rules for ICRPG (which you can find here:

I hope this helps. If anything’s still unclear, let me know.


Yes, Welcome Kelando!

  1. It’s totally ok to use top down battle maps or terrain images. However, my suggestion would be to not use gridded maps. As Kagozaiku pointed out there are only three distances you have to keep tabs on: CLOSE, NEAR, and FAR. These can be loosely interpreted in your games with what feels right in the moment, I know this may be awkward coming from 5e but its way less fiddly. It will not take long for everyone on the VTT to get a feel for the distances.

  2. My prep for a 3 hour session is to have 3-4 scenes (single image or battle map), and I usually keep 1-2 for backup in case the adventure goes quicker than expected. If I don’t use the images I keep them for the next session, so the prep time is reduced. So, essentially 3-4 rooms and a couple backup ones. I find using a dungeon map with multiple rooms to be annoying to deal with fog of war or covering up undiscovered portions (I also use Roll20 that allows for that sort of thing).

  3. There’s no hard rule there but you can just keep the turn order and have players describe what there characters are doing for that portion of the game. For travel I usually find a suitable image as a background just to have something for players to look at, like a wooded pathway or something. You could also use a hex grid or top down area map to show where they are in their travels. I don’t do a lot of travel stuff in my games since they are almost always one-shots, but when I do it is a single screen image and don’t spend a lot of time doing it (maybe one turn worth for each player).


Welcome to the shield wall!

Your questions are solid, and not silly at all!

I suggest you check which has a great VTT bundle available for free. This will help you build more interesting scenes.

A lot of folks also enjoy 2 Minute Tabletop’s assets:

Finally, visit Kane’s Kiln where our own Kane shares a lot of super useful how to guidance on playing this game. Just watching the scenes he builds with the assets can really help you better understand how to handle some of the questions you asked. Especially combat and dungeon delving.

As for overland travel, that’s a slightly different beast. ICRPG really shines on action and challenge. Often, travel scenes are simply narrated because there’s not much for the players to do. If your players really like that sort of thing, you can certainly make it work, but you’ll have to find the levers to pull to make it interesting and satisfying. I personally don’t find travel to be a “fun” part of a game night, so I don’t have much to offer there!


Howdy Kelando! Welcome to the Shieldwall!

No honest questions about how the game works are silly! Those are all great questions.

  1. When I run on a VTT, I normally use background images for mood, vibe checks, or to communicate what the surrounding environment looks like, and then run the rest of the game sort of theater of the mind. Sometimes I do need maps though. In those cases I’ll use a variety of art, including truly horrendous looking things I draw in MS Paint. But as others say, I don’t recommend running on a grid. Not that you can’t, I just tend to hack the close / near / far thing into games that don’t have it. If you really like the idea of using cards, I’d check out the runehammer virtual table top here. It has a feature to basically use index cards on a table top.

  2. Yeah, point crawling with theater of the mind is pretty close to what I do. I tend to focus on scenes around specific encounters and theater of the mind for transitions between areas, or else I’ll drag and drop art if it’s worth having a sort of visual indications of what the environment is like between scenes.

  3. For overland travel, a lot of folks round here montage it. If you like it, you can find some tips searching the forums. There’s been some really good discussions of using different increments of time. Idea being everyone takes a turn and in that turn they describe what happens to them over the period of whatever the time increment is. We’re all implicitly used to a 6-second or 10-second turn, but you can also say that minutes / hours / days / weeks pass. “You guys sail west for two days, so on your turn, what do you accomplish over that period?”