Can we move the roleplaying hobby past the DPS obsession?



I think you’re reading more snowflakery into my response than was there. Here’s the straight dope: if there’s value in discussion the issue of the fixation on damage output in roleplaying games then it seems like a fun discussion. If it overwhelmingly gets shouted down by people who think there isn’t a problem and don’t want a discussion on it–well then that’s where the discussion has to end. Right? Like no big vitriol. Just if we’re going to talk about it, we have to agree that the question is valid.

And if it seems like it’s not a valid question to the majority here then no big. I’ll start up another thread and ask a different question. But it would be telling, wouldn’t it?


Here’s the straight dope, Grim: You asked a question to start a discussion. The question revolves around your opinion that having damage-focused characters is bad. People disagreed with you, explained their perspectives, and offered solutions anyway.

No one said your question wasn’t valid, no one shouted you down, no one locked your post to stop discussion.

This is what you asked, “Do we as gamers want damage dealing (DPS is the video game term for it, Damage Per Second) to be the primary thing we value in our characters?”

Do we want damage to be a primary thing we value in our characters? Well, you got your answer from the small pool of people who replied to your thread. :+1:


True words.

(apparently I’m not allowed to post unless it’s at least 20 words long so here I go writing more words until I get to my alloted quota and am allowed to post my message, but really the above is all I had to say. Thanks!)


I’m confused. ¿?!¡!
The original post had a legitimate question or two:

Is there a way to dissuade the damage per round (DPR from now on) quest that seems so prevalent in RPGs.

With this being so prevalent and so rewarded, it makes the other aspects of the character suffer. if I lower the difficulty of each bad guy and I increase the number of bad guys can I lower the reliance on damage per round?

The answers ranged from Hell ya! To, why bother when you have all these other options.

Here is the calculation, we’ll say one boss at 200 hp and 40 DPR average with 100 DPR spikes.

Party is at 50 DPR average with potential of 290 DPR spikes. The party engages said target with a full on alpha strike and gets 210 damage before the enemy goes. Only smart choice for the characters to make, since they are 10~30 hp each and if down, they can’t contribute. And if a decent party they actually loose a second character from contributing by trying to revive the fallen comrade.

Alternative concept, 20 mooks with combined 40hp. In 4 groups making 10hp to each group. Each mook has the potential of 17 DPR , but average 4 DPR. So 30 DPR average (they miss half the time, and or can’t get into position. ) with 340 DPR potential alpha.

Players answer is area effect damage and or mob control effects.
In an efficient game like ICRPG, this is more fun, players feel like bad asses mowing through wheat. End result, characters are banged up and go onto the next challenge.

However you cover it, with all the options mentioned to mitigate prioritizing DPR, players seek survival of their characters. Dependable DPR is a good way to do that. Flexible DPR is even better.

However, I suspect what you where seeking was a group identifying a weakness in ICRPG, and there are a few. But this is not one of them. If your challenges can be resolved with DPR than that’s how they get resolved, if it is with negotiating or investigation…those become the focus of increasing arms race. ICRPG exposes with the effort system that all these loose measurements are the same, in ICRPG it is called effort. And in ICRPG effort, timers, threats and treats are the 4 pillars. At least 3 of those 4 things should be in play every turn, and this game is always in turns.

Playing a creepy investigation type game as the characters try to stop the destruction of their world, effort for most things will be D6 and occasional d8 with the odd D12 added in. Sometimes you’ll fight a few mooks, as the plot thickens and your characters start getting more erratic due to penalties imposed as they make discoveries.

I’m not seeing the distinction here with DPR and investigations, or speed racing. It’s all effort, players seek success. Your job as GM is to guide them through a fun story that they are the stars and co-writers of.
Now if you are playing a creepy investigation game and at the climax instead of closing the portal or somehow lightning crashing down on the creature, or the world is thrown into chaos, your characters launch 5 grenade attacks killing the creature that crawled out of the portal…something went terribly wrong. The GM and the players where telling two totally different stories.
Now, for a legitimate criticism of ICRPG, it is roll dependent and reliant. Other games rely on massive and complex rule sets, icrpg relies on the truth of the dice…but not really, you have mechanics to allow the players to fluff the dice. You as the GM should not. And you as the GM should be confident enough to say, “that rocks, I want to see where that goes, it automatically succeeds” it just shouldn’t be during a life and death moment, so you don’t cheat the players of success.

So does the game suck because of that??? Nope. Is it the best game for everyone and everything??? Nope. But it does a lot better than most games.
Is it the best game for a new GM??? I have no idea.

It might not be rigid enough for those that lack confidence or are willing to be idiots. Huge books of rules and references and dice screens does give a GM a shield. This is a bit more out there for everyone to see you warts and all.

I also feel it can have a few more worlds to it, expand on things, but we are encouraged to do that part…but it’s been what, 3ish years so far since first inclination of anything was published? We have what 5 worlds, all from a one man army of artistic idiotic greatness. Wholly crap man. That’s a lot. Also this game will probably not mature, it will probably get a 3rd edition that will be mostly all things in later books that should probably be in core. I’m guessing 2022ish time frame and a ton of supplements made by the community. But these things take time. Only thing I see some asking for that I can’t seem to find are involved sanity rules. I asked and received a workable dice pool system. Of course my mind is now focused on a slightly different goal. But it is a time sink for me to keep me out of trouble and buying things I don’t need.

Again I’m confused on where the attacks came from, or the nature of the slight, or disagreement. I think most of us agree with you, arms races are bad unless that the game type you are running.


I’m really honestly not trying to find a group to agree with me about some issue I have against ICRPG.

I had watched some of Hank’s videos and it seemed like he was frustrated with how big a part of ICRPG maximizing DPR had become and mentioned that his next big challenge he was looking to tackle was how to fix that. I thought it would be fun to chat it over and see what kind of fixes we could come up with as a bunch of DIY Lumpyheads mulling it over. See if we could come up with something cool.


Whoops, sorry, less confused now.

Oh, change the loot tables, spells and have a few settings not focused on combat. It got away from him, and groups he played in and ran where part of the issue. He even promoted it.

Not really hard to do, if things do D6 and d8 with occasional addition of a d12, you have a damage cap.

Add more control elements such as suppressive fire, slow movement, reduce stats…to offset the reduced damage.
Reduce the number of things that give you pluses to hit. Making target numbers harder to reach.

Reduce monsters that do area of effect hits for a ton of damage.

In essence end the arms race.


'Nuff said for the discerning reader.

Sadly, some prefer “roll play” to role play. Ideally, you would set expectations at Session Zero and know that all players want the same type of game. If you don’t do that, everything else is a “Great taste. Less filling.” debate.

You can expound at length, but that doesn’t make the original question a philosophical question that can’t be answered. Drink the beer or not. Just don’t be upset if your buddies go all BYOB when you invite them over for the next beer fest.

Sorry. Like most of this thread, I've been a little wordy. How 'bout...

• Behavior follows rewards
• Session Zero is really important


love that line!

In al my years of playing, any players who came to the table ‘obsessed with DPS’ were the least loved, the least focal to the story, and the first to die. I must be lucky, because I do not see this problem.


In all honesty, lots of RPGs have a smurf-ton of rules for combat, making it seem like a lot of the focus is on being proficient in battle.

On my side of the story I like to be efficient in battle to do things like save civilians from zombies, etc. Those rules have been in the way of my work most of the time because because I can’t move this way or the other or if I move that way but not the other way I get blasted… so perhaps focusing the rules on cool stuff and rewarding PCs for other details than just killing evil bastards could help?