Basic Effort Examples



Trying to create a world where Basic Effort is a lot more relevant. I searched and couldn’t find a Topic collecting a bunch of examples so I thought I’d make one.

Please let me know what you use Basic Effort for in your games. Thank you!

Here’s my initial list to get things started:

  1. Investigation
  2. Forcing something open
  3. Reading/Deciphering
  4. Making/Preparing Food
  5. Crafting Loot
  6. Fishing/Tracking
  7. Persuading a Leader/Group (interrogation)
  8. Fortification of a Base/Castle/Defensive Line
  9. Escaping (including Combat)
  10. Climbing/traversing complicated paths
  11. Hand to Hand Combat
  12. Solve a Puzzle

[edited to add the rest]

  1. Hacking into a network
  2. Repairing damaged equipment
  3. Putting out a large fire/
  4. pumping/bailing flood water
  5. Recovering lost memory (amnesia)
  6. Treating poison/toxin
  7. Harvesting (resources/food)
  8. Building a structure
  9. Gambling (this could be versus)
  10. Generating income
  11. Help - this is a can of worms but BASIC effort in some capability makes sense
  12. Sneak Heart Removal - a la Division Ruleset

Some additional notes and advice on using HEARTS in general. They should only be used for “Main Event” type activities. Opening a door (unless it’s the main climax of the scenario) might not be the best use for Basic Effort. If collecting resources and then building up a Defensive Position is the main goal of the scenario/room then it makes sense to have a couple hearts and some Basic-focused rolls.


I have also made Basic Effort the Effort of aid. When a player orders his character to help another one and that help would actually be useful, I allow the helper to roll his Basic Effort and add the result to the D20 roll of his ally.

What do you think?


Yes! That’s it! My kids (players) really enjoy handing off one of their dice in Mouse Guard. In this way they can offer some Help but are committed to the consequences/outcome with potentially negative conditions. Thematically they like that. It outs tension on helping out.

With ICRPG you have two points of influence to help.

  1. Better chance to succeed
  2. Better effort if successful

Not sure how I’ll implement this exactly but I like thenidea of players physically handing over their d4 to commit to the Help.


It’s a pretty cool idea to give your D4 to add to your ally’s effort as well! I did not think of that! I hope it works well, keep me updated! :smile:


Just a few ideas off the top of my head…

Hacking into computer systems

Repairing a damaged warp coil

Putting out a fire

Bailing water

Recovering lost memory (amnesia)

Overcoming a slow progressing poison or toxin

Collecting resources, food, sustenance

Building a shelter

Gambling or playing a game against an opponent

Generating income

Building a business

Tracking progress of travel

Recovering lost arrows, bolts, darts, etc.


Lots of really good ones in here! Thank you. Collecting food or general campsite/journey tasks is a good direction. Lots of ideas here. I know that creating too many Hearts of Effort all over the place doesn’t usually make for fun gameplay but if the highlight of the night is foraging enough food before the TIMER runs out that’s a good idea!


Yes, it’s certainly not something that you will want to put in all the time but is good for specific situations when the timing is right. I have learned that using this kind of EFFORT roll is best or most fun in a clutch situation (not when there is a ton of time to achieve the goal so to speak).


I’ve seen basic effort used in what’s been described as group stealth rolls. Basically, the party starts off sneaking around a place with 10 effort of stealth. Every failed stealth check removes D4 from the 10 effort; PCs can add back to the total by taking actions to distract or obfuscate their presence, which then adds BASIC effort back to the total. When it hits 0, they’ve been discovered.


I think I saw something like that with The Division First Responders ICPG rules. I forgot about that entirely. I will be updating my post to include all of these. Yeah this one is a neat idea for sure.


My rules for Basic Effort are very simple.

If you are using only your bare hands or your bare mind, you are doing Basic Effort. This simply means no relevant tools, no objects/items, no magic, no nothing.

Looking at it from the opposite way, if you can’t find a relevant effort to apply then it means you have to use basic.

Like it’s been written above, you can add hearts to anything to make basic effort worthwhile. Stealth, persuasion, climbing… you name it.


This is a great freaking idea and I am using it immediately in my games.


I have been pondering about this! Thank you for your post. How do you deal with PCs doing one shot assassinations akin to Assassin’s Creed games? I want to give my PCs the opportunity to be able to stealth kill within the context.

i.e. PCs have a 10 Effort as you mentioned that they can keep track of their stealth mode. After the Stealth effort is done that’s when traditional combat would happen.

Would like to know your opinion. :smiley:


I haven’t done an Assassin’s Creed World but that sounds like a really fun project!

At a glance I would probably create a Tag/Skill/Ability/Milestone that allows for something that looks like an Assassination. Dependa on if you want auto-kill or not. My thought are that it would be some combination of the following.

  1. All Stealth is EASY - Ability
  2. If Hidden Roll DEX to Assassinate HARD - anyone can attempt but Assassins would have Abilities that help.
  3. Successful Assassinations do Ultimate Effort or One Kill kill depending on your preference of ruleset.
  4. Roll Stealth again to remain Hidden
  5. Bonuses (EASY) for Hiding the Body
  6. Each Found body vould lose 1d4 of Stealth Heart or more depending on your preference, Enemy Search checks are now EASY
  7. Stealth check each time it makes sense if Fail lose 1d4 of your Stealth Heart.

Kinds tricky using EASY/HARD because you could make Stealth HARD for PC while making Search EASY (if Guards find bodies) for the Enemy. Just depends on how frequently you want to roll checks for the same thing.

Alternatively you could pretty easily use the Hero Coin mechanic to limit how many times you can one hit kill.


Never played any Assassin’s Creed games, so not certain I understand. I’d let them murder someone who is helpless whilst being sneaky, but would also have that do ULTIMATE against the party stealth.


That’s an interesting idea for found bodies. Losing ULT instead of BAS makes a lot of sense.

Pretty situational but having auto kill is a pretty powerful ability so I would make it cost something or limit spamming somehow.


It would be important to distinguish between “helpless” and “unaware”. For me, context would be everything, and the ULT damage done to the stealth would be at the moment the person is killed, not the moment their corpse is discovered. I don’t know, but I suspect people being murdered tend to be noisy.


For assassin style combat, I have Dex rolls to stay hidden, and then I have a weapon in our setting called an assassin blade where if a character succeeds in an attack where they have not been noticed they automatically do maximum effort.

That would be a Max D6 (6 points) plus any bonus the PC has to weapons.

Throw a hero coin in there and it’s very possible to one-hit a 1 heart monster.

A player in a current campaign has used this to great effect several times.