I’d just tell your group what you told us. Tell them how the game is becoming more of a chore for you, less enjoyable, and so on. Tell them you still want to DM and tell those stories with them, but the rules are getting in the way. Then follow with, how can we fix this so I have fun too?
@Nimlouth yeah, I understand. After playing with variant rules for a while we just stopped and I realised I was complaining way too much instead of acting on it.
@S.U.R.F.0605 another interesting add-on could be Five Torches Deep!
But, seriously, the way I fixed it was end the campaign then telling them I just couldn’t run it anymore, and now I’ll invite them to play ICRPG every week and see what happens. If it fails, I’ll start running games online instead, because @Lon made a very good point in his bullet list:“Leave while you’re still welcome.”
That’s a lesson I needed to learn hard.
Have you seen the 5E Hardcore Mode rules by these sweet, good baby, big shield bros at Runehammer Games? I’ve been running it and prep has become a breeze in combination with the Lazy GM books. It runs in the same lanes as Five Torches Deep and I think both would certainly help with prep lock.
However, the session prep and ideas for adventure generation in ICRPG can be very helpful for 5E prep, including rolling over ideas like making some failed tasks easier by letting a second attempt happen with Advantage.
I found myself in this same position and finally gave in to running 5e again. I know the game well enough to know DCs and such, but for me the worst part about it is all the monster stat blocks and trying to reference them in the flow of combat. It’s overwhelming to switch from block to block and see all the numbers blur together with no real weight behind the difference of a +3 or a +4, so I made a quick cheat sheet from resources in the DMG:
Now I can make a monster, write down a couple keywords for attacks, and assign a CR to reference this quick little sheet. DCs, monsters, and other things are the DM-facing elements at the table so I find if I’ve got those things quickly referenced the players will take care of the player side of things. It’s not much, but everyone else already said good ideas so this is all I’ve got to contribute that I haven’t seen, haha!
As far as prep for a game and using 1-sheets, here are some pics I just took (pardon the lighting/quality) of our game’s first session of the new campaign: players picked up a quest off a quest board to repair a bridge. Granted, as things get deeper and more complicated the 1-sheet will turn into a few-sheet, but they wanted some chill humble beginnings, so it happened to work out well. Hope you dig and it helps you come up with a better idea!
Looking real good, there! I love this prep! I just got myself a bunch of index cards myself!
Small steps maybe. Print ICRPG cards, use them on the table. Show them different visual experience and narration based on cards. Associate DC with cards during session, they will see benefits. It will help to organize the session too. Then maybe ask if they like the stuff and maybe want more?
For me visual experience is the most important. It attracts players to the ICRPG.
There’s not much to add here that hasn’t already been said and more eloquently than I could manage. My advice on one-pagers is to try the 5 room dungeon idea. I just ran a Warp Shell adventure I threw together with this format and honestly it simplified prep, table management, and the overall story element and all on a single 6x9 piece of paper in my journal. I actually ran the whole adventure off an index card at table and since it was so short and simple I could remember pretty much everything about the space. Granted, we were using ICRPG, but the entire one-shot took maybe 90 min with 3 players from party introductions to resolution. I think they’d want to continue it actually.
Fortunately I have yet to encounter your resistance problem, but I think GM prep can be done outside the 5e restrictions without them noticing. Simple “house rules” from ICRPG can streamline your at table experience and drastically reduce the cognitive load. My philosophy is:
if the Room (not including monsters, though it can be done) can’t be run off a single index card, it’s too complicated. Monsters should be run off and index card or they’re too complicated (bosses being the exception)
If the evening (not necessarily the whole adventure) can’t fit on a single open spread in my notebook, it’s too complicated. I prefer to have the entire adventure there to know the whole space in case of improv needs.
If I need to reference the rulebook for anything other than reference tables (Loot, for instance), then the system is too complicated.
I’m a simple man with a simple brain. Games should be fun, and I personally find simpler to be more enjoyable.
I’ve played a ton of different RPG systems and after a while you start to realize that what’s important for everyone at the table is the fun factor. Keep an air of mystery about what you’re doing and don’t give away your tricks. With that being said, I started to really enjoy preparing my games when I just completely gave up on stat blocks. I use them only as inspiration. However, I just think of a couple cool moves for each monster, throw in the AC, HP, and a general target number to hit and I’m good. I just improvise any other stat as needed and you may want to jot it down if you think your players are going to game that a bit and hold you to it.
There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to use the DM facing side of ICRPG with the player side of 5E. In fact, I find myself blending ICRPG, 5E, Dungeon World, Blades in the Dark, and a myriad of other things I’ve learned on the DM side. My players just see me rolling dice and narrating. Keep it fair, keep it fun, and I doubt you’ll have anyone questioning you. Unless of course you’ve got the player who’s mad at you for changing the stat block in the Monster Manual… they got something to learn about TTRPGs though.
I love the advice from others to check out 5 Room Dungeons. Some other essential reading to help you get into a different mindset (apart from ICRPG) are The Lazy Dungeon Master and definitely read some Angry GM to really get at the heart of what’s important. Once you’ve got that figured out you can stop wasting time filling out worthless stat blocks. In the end, no matter what system you’re using, you should be moving towards one-page prep. It’s the type of planning that will keep your nose out of your notes and in the game when everyone is at the table. Good luck!
Another thing that occurred to me is that there are many, many ways to streamline prep. As mentioned previously, 5 Room Dungeons are a great start (I use them all the time). Another source that I borrow from was the 3.5 DMG2(?) that had suggestions for a dungeon deck. I’ve used that frequently, then I realized that I could just use CCGs. A 1/1 Elf? That’s a 1HD creature. This one can tap to deal 1 damage? It has a ranged attack of some sort in addition to a basic melee attack. It’s one of the reasons I like ICRPG - the visual is fine; the suggestion is better (to me, of course).
As far as continued campaign play, I work it like this at my table : I plan one session. Sometimes, it’s completely impromptu, and other times, it’s written on a page in my composition book. My “campaign” is just the aftermath of what happened the previous session. It, quite literally, revolves around the players and their actions. You interfered with The Mighty Grog? Grog raids your town. You stop Grog? Grog’s boss steeples his fingers and looks at the party. When Grog’s arc is complete, look at who might have taken a gander at the PCs and their actions. SOMEONE must have noticed a gaggle of people mucking with other people. Maybe, and this may sound insidious, it’s the local ruler who realizes just how convenient it would be to have such a party at his disposal…
Well done!! Really enjoy seeing people’s work.
Solid advice as always Alex. I never thought to make it that simple. I was trying to keep to much of 5e and add in Icrpg. Simplify my end so I know what’s going on and they think they are playing 5e.
Great advice as always. Thank you brotha.
All the advice on this thread has been awesome!
GMing and Playing a single character are two different worlds.
No reason to not have different rules, ICRPG is easy to incorporate 90% of any d20 based game, you can just keep the player facing portions less ICRPG. Use a GM screen, have whatever books that might have monsters around, keep a couple of D6 to determine if at 20 points the Monster dies or more accurately 20 with a + or - 6.
Have the room DC for yourself, but have advantage, disadvantage and very hard (+5 or 7) in mind. Around level 9 things get weird a bit…lots of magic, weird effects from the PCs you need to track…but fudge it to your thinking.
Do not!!! Translate the games into each other…that road leads to tears and frustration.
The loss of effort is the only downside, just add complexity to locks, traps, and other weirdness…door has 2 locks! Trap has a anti tampering system built in…so on and so forth. Incorporating that with a hard or very hard target number will even put the number of actions.
Spells…let it flow, and be dastardly!!! From time to time, focus fire on a particular magic user…don’t hesitate.
In your head “I choose the healer today” retcon a reason that the players later discover each time.
The incense he was carrying is valuable to them, the symbol of his god is hated by them, the color of his eyes is a prophecy of the herald of their destroyer…
But my biggest lesson I learned this year…don’t add personal drama to your fun hobbies.
A really good group of players is worth keeping happy. They break up, don’t be the cause.
Prepping for an inefficient game, sucks, and will add resentment into your GMing…don’t be the cause of a good group breaking up!!!
Great advice. Can’t Wait to get time to start preparing design. I miss room design and the fun it was.
Thank you everyone. Great advice all around!!
Converting an old module and a new player
I’ll say this, though. If the group seemed receptive, I would totally introduce the Easy/Hard mechanic instead of advantage/disadvantage. And the piece that would seal the deal, I think, would be the easy after a failure. No one gets advantage that often, ever, in 5e, and so I think you could safely add that piece and be playing ICRPG.
For the record, I successfully converted one of those groups fully to ICRPG. Once I had all of the above, I firmly established effort. Then, tied to effort, I made all weapons do D6. Then, I added Easy/Hard. After that, I removed skills and just had players roll their stat bonuses. Then I re-tooled hit points to an even number and introduced hearts. The final piece was converting magic to a list of simple spells and a roll-to-cast system with spellburn and a D8 magic die. That final hurdle was the hardest, as casters get particular. But once I showed them that they could basically perform a ton of cool effects and spellburn was the only limiter, then I had them. The total conversion to ICRPG took probably 10 weeks, adding a small new piece at a time. Towards the end, I collected their character sheets and returned new ones to them with everything written out, and it made all the difference. But, if you are going to go down this road, make sure your group is ready for it. My other group told me flatly: I don’t want to play ICRPG; I want to play 5e. Fair enough. You’ll be playing that. I’ll be playing ICRPG on my end.
Interesting: a conversion guide
Hell yeah. But I think I will have to stick to the later sady. They all really like 5e so much and I have mentioned things and the 2 players who have been playing longest, Nessie’s myself, are firm no. So group follows.
No worries though. I will follow your lead and Give them dnd 5e on there end. And me Icrpg on the DMside.
As far as the went. How did you do initiative for the 5e/Icrpg group?
What did you do besides timers to make time move a little faster? 5e feels like it lends way more roleplay then Icrpg? Did you change anything there? Or let them roleplay away? (I know my group loves to ponder ideas and ways to tackle/so things to every situation.)
I kept initiative rolls and order, though that piece of keeping track is my least favorite thing to do. But once I had the order for the night, that became my “turn order” for the session, generally (occasionally I had them roll a couple times a session). Then I just ran it like ICRPG.
It’s kind of a myth that one set of rules creates more RP, as you can RP more or less in any system. What I did, though, was keep up the time pressure and made it where the players couldn’t rest often. I like my players ragged as much as possible, as that’s where the meaningful RP comes out. That being said, once I had turn order, if I had a “talker” in the group, I just used a friendly check-in with the next player to keep the spotlight equal for everyone. “Okay, thanks Tim. Joe, what’s Boltar’s reaction?” Or, “Hey, Mary, what is Tenelil up to while that’s playing out?” And just that easy, you move to the next person in the turn/initiative order.
Fair enough. The 5e players enjoy the way you track initiative?
They didn’t notice that I only asked for an initiative roll only a few times per session. At the most, it was once per room, so maybe three times a night, at most. If we only got through two, then it was only two, but I largely only asked for it once and kept it that way. 5e players are sometimes used to a single combat taking up a whole three hours, so your typical 5e player won’t notice that you only ask for it once or twice, though we chewed through much more in a session. It helped that I propelled them from one event to the next, threw a ton at them, and kept the revelations coming, so they stayed hooked. Beyond that, they were largely used to the DM being in charge, so I established that process early and no one challenged it — it’s just how I ran my table. I think if you asked them now, they would say they appreciated it.
Haha very cool. Yeah the long drawn out fights is what I stirring me, as a player in my friends game. 2-3 hours just turns from hectic, to oh shit what we gonna do, to idc anymore we don’t yet.
Just trying to get myself back into writing one shots and adventure for when I go back and dm them in Eberron.
I been in a funk and I’m just trying to get out of it. And it’s ruff for sure.
Hang in there, my brotha!