Effort as Damage Reduction: Checkless ICRPG Combat



magic and traps are nice ways to put fear in tanky pcs


Excellent. By dynamic, are you meaning different damage types and presenting the players with a variety of enemy damage types in combat?


I mean just having foes respond to the situation; if their weapons aren’t effective, then pinning PCs, stripping gear, falling back to regroup, rather than lining up to get smashed. So I guess by dynamic, I mean responsive.


Sadly, I have not been able to run more sessions with these rules; life has been a little hectic, and other game commitments have come first. I am thinking about making players choose, at least round to round, whether the EFFORT points apply to damage or DR, but I think that would be most easily tracked in person with tokens. Online, I’m afraid it becomes a little more burdensome.


Are you suggesting that the EFFORT points float between damage bonus and DR?

So I’m going for a big hit this time, and I apply my Effort points to damage, and take out a Skeleton with WEAPON +3.

Then, I see 3 more coming, and I can’t reach them this round, I move forward, and apply those Effort points to DR, tanking 3 hits with Armor +3.

Is that about right?


After the discussion on discord the other day, I’m kinda leaning towards 3 Effort bonus categories.


Apply your Bonus points as you like, and then no matter which die you roll, add the Effort Bonus that applies to the action.

I could also see granting players 4 points to Effort Bonuses, and 4 Points to DR. Maybe you’re good at dealing damage hand to hand, but good at resisting Magic.


Inspired by the things summarized here I pretend to test on my next game night:

+2 Point of Effort given by a one-word Tag: Arrow, Sword, Axe, Punch, Fire-Magic (and all other Elements), Seduction, Sneaky, Sweet-talk, Sleight-of-hand, Tank, Heal, Undead… Differentiate characters even more during character creation and it seems like a cool way to show that you are specialized/deadly in your prefered method/style/spell/weapon.

Hard and Easy automatically go to the Effort too. The full +/-3. I want fast, dirty, logical, easy to remember, nerve-wracking as the gods wanted them to be :slight_smile:


That seems like a nice, pretty freeform way to handle “skills.”

Just pick a couple of Tags, and add those Effort points when they apply!


Yes, that was the thought I had. Seems like it might be a little fiddly.


Those would be options; I just liked that training in a thing tends to include attack and defense, and the thing I like about the EFFORT system is that you know what die to roll based on what thing you are using. This did get muddied with GUN effort, and the greatsword doing ULTIMATE, but these categories would be perfectly understandable and gameable, so from that perspective, I think it’s a cool idea. Having EFFORT points and DR points just feels a little too granular for me.


I want to hear more about this idea as a variant of character creation.


That all makes sense to me. I do think we’re well into “fiddly” territory, but what I took away from our playtest game was that more involved rules don’t slow down the game much when everyone understands them.

I feel like there are 2 or 3 different design goals that got mixed up here. When I get a second I might see if I can untangle some of them in my head.


Do you think maybe we replaced the wrong stats?

So instead of Basic Effort/Defence, Weapon Effort/Defence Magic Effort/Defence, leave the dice chain as is, but replace STR/DEX/CON/INT?

I’m on break at work and I can’t think clearly enough to tell if this is going in a big circle :laughing:

Basically you have a Melee stat, a Ranged stat and a Magic stat. The dice chain relates to the tool you’re using. Punch someone or throw a rock, and that’s Basic. Add Melee or Ranged, but roll the d4.

Cut someone with a sword, or shoot a Crossbow, and that’s Weapon. Roll a d6, but add your appropriate modifier based on the type of combat.

So cut the d20 roll, and cut the Effort Bonus.


That would be a different way to do it. The stats also have non-combat related functions, so it might get weird when you’re making checks to move a boulder, or balance on a rafter. This would be a neat idea, tho. Say, you can do a thing with brute force, but you’re rolling a D4; if you can apply some finesse to the problem, you can roll a D6, and if you have the right tools and expertise, you can bring the big brain D10. Something to journal about, at least.


Move big rock - d4

Grab stick for lever - d6

Chain and winch - d8

“Move Earth” Spell - d10


I think what I’m working towards here is a very C&S type system. Either keep the Stats for out-of-combat checks (do you really want to be rolling Effort on Move Big Rock if there’s no combat happening?) or go with a super simple Skill List.

Then, in combat, one of the original design goals was to give a rock-paper-scissors effect to Ranged-Melee-Magic.

Effort Bonuses as DR doesn’t do that. Cutting the Effort Bonuses and replacing them with “Combat Proficiency” does do that. If I specialize in Ranged attacks, I’m better with a bow, or a rock, or a sling.

If I have +3 Weapon/Tool, I get that +3 DR against a sword or an arrow.

So I think I’m back to, leave the core stats as they are (or swap them for a rough equivalent), but let Combat Rolls be their own thing.

We cut the to-hit roll, and we made a clear distinction between Missile/Melee/Magic.

Am I missing anything?


I think would work for a fantasy game; you need different categories for different settings. I like that with the effort categories ranged weapon warriors and melee warriors are on the same side of the rock-paper-scissors combo, but I recognize that may be a matter of taste.


Ooooh that makes sense then. I was also thinking on my drive home last night…

All the ingredients for Archer>Wizard, Wizard>Warrior, Warrior>Archer are already in Master Edition. The one little tweak you need to make, is that “Metal Armor attracts and reacts against Arcane energy”. Just really make it a slam dunk, you can apply as a RULE, “Magical Blast effects, targeted or AOE, are avoided with DEX, not DEF.”