Confused about recommended adventures


Hey guys !
First post here woohoo!

After a first message on Reddit where I asked for recommendations for introductory adventures to ICRPG (one shot, first time as a DM for this rpg), I got a lot of cool recommendations, including Doom Vaults, which seems to be THE classic of classics.

And… I’m a bit surprised… I was looking for an easy adventure to start mastering this rpg for me and my players, but…

  1. There is a LOT of stuff not mentioned, explained. Whole areas of the story, the reasons why things are there… And no targets (!!) how do I do it when I start?
    I’m ok to do full improvisation when I propose a game, but here I’m looking for an already written scenario.

  2. Everything is… one long corridor, right? One room, one entrance, one exit. That doesn’t leave much room for exploration, does it?

  3. Timers. How do I know which timer to put in place to give that rhythm so characteristic of ICRPG, without it being too long and not a threat, or too short and then happening and killing my players?

Especially by confiding these thoughts I do not want to be negative. It’s probably me who is not aligned. I am an experienced game master (on other games), I am very interested in ICEPG but I confess that I have a hard time to see how to put things in place, beyond “do big do great we trust you”, just want to focuse on the theatre of the mind, my players and the rules, following de scenario.

Thanks for your advices !

On a quest to find a great Dungeon crawl fully build for ICRPG!
On a quest to find a great Dungeon crawl fully build for ICRPG!

It’s true. Between DOOMVAULT and LAST FLIGHT OF THE RED SWORD those are just about the classic/rite of passage adventurers when starting with ICPRG. But let’s see if we can address some of those concerns :smiley:

  1. You’ll find that that is kind of the way of things for ICRPG adventurers and ICRPG in general. Just enough detail to get your brain moving, but so much left unsaid. That’s intentional because it leaves everything open for you to fill in the blanks. Why are they coming to the DOOMVAULT? What is the bigger picture going on? How does this tie in with everything else, if at all? You could even just keep the story isolated and not worry about any of it until the players ask about it and then come up with it together.

As for targets, you’d be pretty safe to just leave the target at 12 the entire time and just adjust with EASY and HARD as needed.

  1. Essentially it is a corridor but you can watch this mapping video where Hank draws the map from top down: As you move from scene to scene, there is still plenty of exploration to be had in each room but it may not be that “mega-dungeon” level exploration.

  2. D4s are your friends for timers and whether it’s a 1 or a 4, just roll with it. Think of the timer as something happens. Not you’re going to die. That way every timer that goes off, something can happen and players have to adjust. Maybe cult members appear and get added to the room. Maybe in 4 rounds, the ritual starts. Maybe in 3 rounds, the ritual ends. Lots of options.

Hopefully that helps and I know a lot of people can continue sharing advice and answering questions, but DOOMVAULT really helps cut your teeth on ICRPG and what makes it so iconic and flavorful.


I haven’t played Doomvault yet, but I have played both Last Flight of the Red Sword and Orvald’s Tower. Both of these are similar to what you describe. Consider all of these as frameworks for a session, and not a fully written module as you might find from D&D.

As stand-alone adventures, these don’t need a lot of backstory or reasons why. For a one-shot game, these are self-contained and require a little player acceptance that “this is, and we’re here”. The focus is on the here and now, and not the backstory of how we got here.

Target numbers are intentionally left out because you should set them according to how you execute the framework of the adventure. If you want to ease players in, set a target of 10 or 11 for the beginning sections. Maybe halfway through the targets escalate to 12 or 13. The final scene could be super hard at 15. Or you could set a static target of 12 for the whole scenario - a TN12 works out to “challenging but not impossible” for most common ICRPG character builds.

From page 20 of the “ICRPG Adventures” PDF, there’s a whole section that says:

By reading RED SWORD and DOOMVAULT, you may notice that several details are not listed. What are the timers, area TARGETS, and other things I need? Where is all the detail? Udin’s eye, what trickery is this?!

ICRPG takes the view that GMs are crafts-folk! Adventures are a starting place, not an almanac of answers. Make each adventure your own! Tune TARGETS to fit your group or how fatigued or injured they may be. No module can ever know what players will do or how their imaginations will alter the foundations of the story. Likewise, as you prepare these adventures for your session, leave holes! Play to see what will happen, and be ready to have your mind blown.

Timers are generally explained in most scenarios: Last Flight has a timer running throughout the game that gets re-rolled every time it triggers. Doomvault seems not to have anything definitive. Use a timer that makes things fun for your players. Hag Roost might have howling gusts of wind every d4 rounds, requiring a DEX save or get blown off the ledge. Mirror Lake has a cave roper swarm attack every d4 rounds. Osric’s Gate has the Once Men rise to attack every d4 rounds as the party attempts to translate…

Or, maybe you want to go easy on the players, because they’re just about wiped out. No timer in this room. No big deal.

I know it’s jarring to look at “a published adventure” and feel like you’re not getting the whole thing. But remember: it’s a framework, a skeleton, on which you add the bits you want, to make it your own.


Kane and Skippy coming in with solid advice. one lil thing i would like to add is that ICRPG is flexible enough and can easily translate other adventures into its system with little work. ICRPG really wants you to create stuff with your group and that can be harder for some folks or not what they are looking which is totally ok! For me Orvald’s Tower was a great intro adventure cause it was fairly straight forward, has a super climatic ending, and asks to create a lil bit.


Guys, Many thanks for taking the time to answer me with so many details and examples. I understand why the ICRPG community has such a good reputation :wink:

I understood the whole aspect of creation related to the game, and where to insert them, the freedom given to the game master to fill in the blanks, the tips in the book, like the windows.
What I didn’t understand was that this was necessarily the way to play ICRPG.
The official adventures are always a good way to understand the author’s angle, and I see that there are simply no “full” adventures, only drafts. Which is totally fine for those who like it!

But that’s not what I’m looking for today.
To give you some context, actually my my job is to be creative, so when I can do a little 4 hour one-shot to discover a game I’ve been eyeing for a long time and took a big Kickstarter pledge for, I just want to be guided to focus on the atmosphere, the story and my players. Even if the story is 2 pages long like the OSR games I use to play.

It’s kind of like if I’m a chef for work, in the evening when I go to a restaurant I don’t want to cook ahah. And I just don’t have the time (like many I’m sure, I’m not a special case).
I have 4 hours for a game, I want to have fun and have (almost) no preparation, I have no time. And I think that a written (and playtested!), thoughtful story / dungeon is often a bit more coherent and deep than improvisation. A few lines of context, description of the rooms, an encounter table, a description of the enemies…

I know Runehammer’s YouTube channel (and Kane’s, I love it!!) of course. And I like his spirit, I like his energy. Thanks for the links because indeed I hadn’t seen all of them.
But looking at these videos today from another angle… I’ve come to think that it’s amazing to make such long videos to explain a game that is normally so simple. Simple game, few explanations needed, right? And now… hours of videos telling us how easy it is. I don’t know, I just wonder.

I’ve been attracted to the simplicity of ICRPG for a long time, but when it comes time to play an introductory scenario for the players and me, I see that it’s not so easy…
Yes I can take adventures from DD5, or elsewhere, but it’s not the “pure” game, and it’s preparation to do… for a game I’ve never played, and I don’t have time for that, just for the game.

Anyway long story short, I think like it did for DCC RPG, I should have done more research before buying it all :smiley:

Thanks A LOT for your advice.


Totally get where you’re coming from and we’re all happy to help in any way we can because we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t love ICRPG and what it brings to our game.

ICRPG certainly does ask a lot of GMs, despite the simplicity. It is as much a mindset as a ttrpg system. Understand the mindset and you start to learn ways to play a 4 hour one shot with zero prep or how to maximize what’s offered in those adventures. I wouldn’t consider any of the provided adventures as “drafts”, but rather frameworks to be inspired by and build off of.

I can tell you from experience (because I also got into ICRPG because of its pronounced simplicity) that it does take some getting used to. Lots of questions. Lots of brain twisting. Wrestling with imagined concerns and what ifs. In the end though, the simplicity proves itself. I can reliably play any game I want with this system. I can whip up a game with no prep or hours of prep. I can play online, theater of the mind, at a convention, or just at home with my friends.

I hope you continue to find what you’re looking for in ICRPG. I know I did and if you ever want to get into a game just to experience it, I’d be happy to set something up or be a guinea pig in one of your own games to try it out :smiley:


Kane, this is super nice, thank you so much.
I will continue my explorations, but hey, a little less hopeful ahah :sweat_smile:

Thanks again.


I had some similar frustrations when I first started. It felt a little incomplete, I had questions and no clear answers. In the end, ICRPG trusts you to make the game work. It doesn’t spoon feed you or try to give you the exact same game that these other tables played.

You can take Doomvault and go, as written. The players are the only ones who can stop the ritual! Ask them why that is: your job is not (exclusively) to motivate the players, it’s to present an interesting situation and have it respond to player choices. You’re the cultists and the environment, working against the players.

Use a target number 12 for all the scenes. The players will be challenges by the invincibles.

As a first dip into ICRPG, this is actually a great start. Keep the number of moving pieces to a minimum, while you and the players learn the basics. Enjoy that “new RPG” experience as you try around-the-table turn order, rolling for effort, and getting comfortable with a measly 10 HP!

It might be a lackluster “story” at the start. That’s okay. You’re learning. After you play, talk about what you liked and didn’t like. If you’re so inclined, run the exact same game a second time, now with timers. And different room targets.


Good questions.

You have received excellent answers from some of the best minds on this forum; there is not much left for me to add. Here are a few thoughts based on positive experiences…

  1. I like the Grey Hill Inferno trial adventure (ME p. 19) when I want to do a zero-prep or low-prep game to get players new to ICRPG—or to roleplaying games in general—into the fray now. It’s simple. It’s elegant. It’s intuitive. It doesn’t require much preamble at all, but it can bear some embellishment if you like. I have played variants of the Grey Hill Inferno in several different ways since Master Edition came out. I have incorporated discovery-based character creation elements (as featured in Hard Suit) into this scenario. I have added on one or more additional encounters beyond “Flee Into The Dark” to stretch out the length of the session and/or use the one-shot to introduce players to the campaign world. I have even found a way to slot this adventure into an existing campaign like an old-school TSR-era “dungeon module.” It stands utterly on its own, but many things are possible with Grey Hill.
  2. The “five-room dungeon” concept is popular in today’s gamespace and perfectly valid, especially for tables who just want to get right into rolling some dice. Like you, while I appreciate its utility as a part of a GM’s toolkit, I also know 5RD is not the only way to do things. One riff on the concept I have “invented” for myself is the “seven-room dungeon”; this is just a standard five-room dungeon—gateway/guardian, puzzle, setback, climax/boss fight, and resolution/denouement—that bifurcates into two parallel tracks by duplicating the puzzle and setback rooms before coming together again for the boss fight. This tweak to minimalist dungeon design adds a tremendous amount to the dimension of play possible with very little additional work for the GM. When players pass the entrance gateway, they are presented with a choice of paths; when one path is investigated and doesn’t go as planned, the players have the option to “fail forward by doubling back,” returning to the branch point and investigating or challenging the obstacles that lie along the alternative path. The GM can set timers or barriers that close off this option after a certain point of progress, or the GM can seed boons along one path that will aid progress along the other, and vice versa, encouraging and rewarding exploration and good adventuring tactics. The built-in recursion that occurs on the map from following this design principal makes the dungeon “feel” and play bigger than it actually is—all with only 40% more room design. This “seven-room dungeon” concept is still very minimalist, but it can pay some pretty big dividends. It is especially well suited to ICRPG play and players, IMHO.
  3. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of sufficiency. You will get a very good sense of timer mechanics as you design and participate in more sessions of ICRPG, but it is a pretty robust concept. If you don’t get it perfect on your next game, it will still be fine, and you’ll be better at setting them on the session after that.

Good luck…


@skippy and @chrisbynum thank you, you take time to write really great posts.

Now maybe to clarify one thing: if I’m going to do my first game at ICRPG in a few days (or maybe not after all…), I think I’m an experienced DM with over 20 years of practice and the last few years very OSR oriented.
However, if I use my analogy of a cook, if I know how to cook, I don’t want to do it every time.

Most other games allow for improvisation (great) AND have whole adventures. They have both.
I’m not comparing games, but a game like Mothership for example has a ton of one shot adventures in a one page folded pamphlet (one page!) and in it is everything: background, enemies, factions, map, secrets, etc etc.

Now for Doom Vault, in 8 pages I have huge holes and a page telling me I have to create my enemies and that it’s going to be awesome… But I don’t need to be taught to be creative, I need an adventure!
You saying we can play Doom Vault as is without adding anything?
Well… there are whole passages missing, almost no description of the environment, no number of enemies encountered, cultists not described, and even the final encounter has no mechanics! The last straw… :confused:

I’m in a restaurant, I don’t want to cook :smile:
I want to see what the author offers me as a writer, not to do the job for him.

I don’t want ICRPG to teach me, I want ICRPG to provide. And I’m a little disappointed that ICRPG only offers one way… :confused:


I’d recommend The Fall of Silverpine Watch instead because it is an educative adventure for new Dungeon Masters and players. No information is missing from this module and it can be used at the table because it is an easy read. It even comes with a variety of maps to not hit you in the printer budget.

If you’re looking for more advice, feel free to send me a PM!

God speid, roll fun, and welcome to the hobby! :game_die:


Thank you for your recommendation! Super nice.

I went to check it out and… not to be a pain, but I’m going for a 4 hour one shot, and The Fall of Silver is 102 pages… I think that’s a bit much ahah :sweat_smile:

And like I said above, I’m not new to the hobby, I’ve been at it for a little over 20 years :smile:
But that’s not why I don’t like to have (short) adventures written from start to finish and playtested to make play easy :wink:


Understood. Then I recommend Last Flight of the Red Sword! It is a short, super fun adventure! My only suggestion is to keep note of where the mag key is not to forget during play!


We are going to play a fantasy setting… do you maybe have the equivalent of Red Sword?


Just crash the Red Sword on Mount Doom and make it an evil, dark volcano instead of a star! Change the drive to a teleportation ritual and make the mag key into a glyph key that can open a door with a similar logo on it. Teleport the “base” into the volcano. Should be simple enough, right? :smile:


Ok so no equivalent :smile: not even one…


The Heckoon Carapace? Eyes of Sett? Just watch out: the lapis maze was hard to understand for me… :sweat:

Sorry. XP



Completely understand where you are coming from. I will just say that at its core philosophy ICRPG is a toolkit to run games the way you want to run them. It started out as d20 ‘hacks’ to make B’s table games run more aligned with his particular style. So he compiled his particular style into a game/toolkit that has now taken over this corner of the internets, and continues to expand out into other rpg nooks and crannies.

For those of us that love to fill in the blanks, it is a beautiful thing! Give me a framework and let me make it my own!

For folks like yourself that want/need a fully fleshed out written module that covers all of the bases without you having to do any legwork… well it may fall a bit short.

ICRPG(using your restaurant analogy) is like Hibachi. All the ingredients are there, you just need to tell it which ones work for you!

If you want a good one shot that really showcases the power and beauty of ICRPG, pick your favorite from amongst the OSR, 5e, etc, and use the ICRPG mindset to run it on the fly! Similar to OSR, there is no real concept of ‘bounded balance’ in ICRPGs mindset, so if you’ve ran OSR games, you can run ICRPG in the same manner.

Good luck!


More than choosing the ingredients, we have to bring them, estimate that it is good and cook them!
Ahah I’ll stop here with the restaurant analogy :smiley:

Thanks a lot for your message.
I’m just at… I have 4 hours to do a one shot, yes I can use a scenario from another ultra-light OSR game I know, but in that case… why use ICRPG at all?

I understand that I was wrong. After $$ spent and a lot of time watching videos and reading about the game, I thought that getting to my first game would be a big tasty bite of simplicity and fun.
I see it’s not like that at all, I should have known better, I felt the same way about DCC RPG which disappointed me a lot.


All of the above is the best advice that anyone is going to give.

The transition from the “spoon fed” stat blocks and word blocks of 5e to the simplicity of ICRPG seems to cause this reaction at times. It gave me pause at first.

From my own experience, I have run modules from games spanning 5e, OSE, LotFR, Pathfinder, … I can go but point is made. Pretty much any monster from those will have an equivalent in ICRPG or something you can swap the stat block for.

My recommendation would be, as stated above, grab your favourite module, take 10 minutes to find the equivalent monster in ICRPG and have at it.

I can tell you that the simple ICRPG way overlaid with any module will work great and it is a lot less work than you think. I would even argue 5e modules require even more prep to run even though they are wall of texts and blocks that are supposed to “help”.

Give it a whirl. You mm ay like the new ingredients the chef added to your favourite dish and the local restaurant.

Also, this thread is a great example of people having an actual conversation with differing opinions without it going sideways. It was actually decent to read lol


Steps of soap box and wanders off for breakfast