How Much Prep?



I’m eager to try out ICRPG at my local geek cafe, and have started putting in some work to create documents for the two settings I have in mind. My question is, how much work do I really need to put in before we get started?

One of my sheets is based on the idea of a Final Fantasy space opera. The other is for a Legend of Zelda adventure. I’ve got some bare bones bio-forms, classes, starting LOOT lists, and am starting to feel like it’s a lot more work than I expected. Am I overthinking it? Doing too much? What’s the bare minimum to run ICRPG in a setting not in the core book?


This much prep, at the MOST. I have definitely gone way less with just a few maps and a couple of enemies scrawled down with some hearts and bonuses. But the below pics are a sense for a great night or two of gaming.


Hm. So it seems like doing up whole classes and LOOT tables might be a bit overboard. For those bits, would be easy enough to just find out what the players want to have as their schtick and dole out starting rewards?


Yes. It could be that easy.

I ran a game premised on Altered Carbon. Obviously, there are no ICRPG rules for an Altered Carbon game (yet, I am working on it), but to play that night, I just had my players envision their character concepts within the theme of the game, and then they took Warp Shell loot they just re-skinned as items fitting the theme. I had four maps ready, some tokens, and an idea in my head how the story might play out. And that’s all I needed to run one of the best nights of gaming in a long time (beyond the basic ICRPG rules).


That’s good stuff, Alex. I’ll share some of my own that’s a lot less neat than yours. When I talk about low prep, I usually mean this as low Story prep and low or no art prepped. But I still prep generic mechanics and some loot so I am not caught flat footed. Plus my collection of small dry erase boards and cards, some appropriate randomizing dice, and a pile of inspiration cards.

Here’s where I’m at for the Alfheim part of tomorrow’s gaming: Basically I have no idea what they are going to be doing, or where they are going to be doing it, or who they are going to be doing it to. But I did prep (pre-roll) a handful of easily tweakable boons, banes, and details to use… I’ll have them standing Stage Right and slap on their costumes at the very last minute as they come on camera.

At the start of play I will give the PCs each a DW flavored pink card to pick one entry from in secret. (The blacked out ones are from last time I did this with these particular cards. They loved it, each knowing a bit more than the others about and being able to flesh out that one part of the what they are getting themselves into!) Then I build the adventure on the fly from that jointly created intro, slapping mechanics etc into appropriate trappings as needed.

I like my d3s for this kind of prep, as you can tell. If/After they get used up, it’s pretty easy to just carry what’s going on already to natural conclusion or twisty ending.


Hey it all depends!

This is how much I started with for our new campaign!
It’s not alot, and you can always flesh out the Class when creating the PC. Or even better don’t have classes AT ALL. Let the players freely create OR and use the Core classes as inspiration.

As for gaming prep check out Alex up top! Super slick!
If you haven’t, hop on the Runehammer Patreon and listen to our pal Hank muse about super cool stuff on the RPG Mainframe podcast! It will UP your game for sure!


Dude, @Lon, those crit success/ fail dice are epic. I love them and they’re great at the table. So much fun. :smile::raised_hands:


Indeed. They come out every 3-4 sessions. I like to swap around the way I determine what happens on Crits, what kind of Hero Coin, and a few other things so everybody stays on their toes. Novelty trumps Complacency every time!


Hey there! Good on you for getting creative and sharing ICRPG. It’s an awesome platform for inspiration and dynamic play.
Bare minimum? Start with the mood and themes you want to roll with, along with a setting. Feel-good fantasy, gritty urban cyberpunk, psychological horror, whatever. Share that with your players and let them generate ideas for their bio-form and classes. Boom! Now they’re getting in on it, it feels collaborative, and they get what they want to play as.
Bare minimum 2; learn the base mechanics very well and look to expand your understanding of them. Liberal use of Timers, variable Target Numbers, and the Effort systems can create some deep ludonarrative for whatever encounter you need.
Bare minimum 3; plan that adventure! I usually have my own way, but here’s a really fun way I designed our latest. I asked each of our players to give me 5 images from Pinterest: 1 big monster to hunt, 2 locations, and 2 items. Each player did this and I made a monster Hunt for each set of images. Then I spent a short bit creating a 1-page guide for one of the monster Hunts. It lasted a couple nights, had some deep role play, and I didn’t invest a ton of time in it.
Here’s a picture collage a player sent me and the 1-sheet I put together for it. :slight_smile:
I’d never done prep this way before, but it was a ton of fun having that challenge.


That sounds easy enough, classic game pitch and Session Zero sort of discussion material. I’ve never run nor played ICRPG before, though I’ve been gaming for 20 years, so while I think I’ve got a good amount of information to adapt ICRPG to my specific needs, I do plan on running it with strangers at a geek cafe, some of whom will be completely new to RPGs in general. I do get a feeling I might want a little more structure than that for their sake, so people can be on the same page about what we’re doing. Someone on the Discord server gave me the suggestion that, in that circumstance, to have some classes or pregens laid out to make things as easy as possible on new players.

I think some combination will do us quite nicely, with pregens to offer an idea of how it works (or to just hand to people), and those who want something else can have a base to work from so we can improv classes.

I’ve been putting in some time to read over the rules, as well as various rules permutations, to get a feel for both how to make ICRPG’s core principles a part of the way I look at my adventure and encounter design, as well as figuring out which bits have the most leeway and can be tweaked while keeping the game’s feel as our shield lord intended. I definitely want to do a bit more studying, though. Can never be too knowledgeable.

The place I’m having the most trouble with so far is Treats. Threats and Timers have been a lot of fun to write up and fiddle around with, but Treats have me grinding my gears to a halt every time. Some part of me wants players to just kinda suggest things, but that’s not really how most players think. I gotta prep an idea for them to work off of.

I’ve got a few ideas here that just need fleshing out, but I do also want to incorporate smaller quests between the big “go here and stop the giant monster” type dungeon delves. “Rescue my kid from the evil forest” can only take you so far. :stuck_out_tongue:

Thank you for the advice and suggestions! I’m always open to more, but I’m slowly cobbling together something that feels decent. I mainly still feel stuck on how much work I should really be doing RE: Classes, Magic Schools (to get that good old Zelda 2 feeling), and LOOT lists. I dunno, feels like I’m both doing too much and not enough at the same time.


@Chaologic that’s some good shtuff right there. So clean and spartan and perfectly useful. In my head I could see how easy that would be to run a session from. Thanks for sharing it.


Seconded! Thank your for sharing!


I mean, that’s really what I do with most players.

I can’t draw for shit, but my session prep involves, mainly:

  • Starting Point: Where we left off last game
  • Ending Point: The feeling I’d like the session to convey to the players
  • Rooms: Each with the 3 T’s and other pertinent info, like a set transition if it’s needed


Must say I’m loving seeing everyone’s prep. Found every single ‘reveal’ super interesting/inspiring :star_struck:

@Nintaku my 2 cents: Don’t go too crazy. It’s session one: What do you really need?

I recently did a session 1 for non-RPG friends. Maybe it will be helpful. (on holiday so no pictures)

To get playing ASAP and not be overwhelmed by pre-play decisions, I created 5 ‘classes’; Tanky one, Fighty one, Stealthy one, Brainy one and Supporty one.
I gave each one 3 Tags/Items (they were Rats, so 3 ‘Body Parts’), that had the feel of the ‘class’. Then asked the players to name their character, assign 7 attribute points and create another ‘Body Part’.
Eg. Fat one had Fat (+1 HEART), Charge (After moving NEAR, deal BASIC damage to all CLOSE targets), Muscles (+3 to athletic checks). Player created "Big Jaws (After an attack roll of 15+, Jaws grapple target. Next turn if still clenched, can throw target or bite down for ULTIMATE damage).

I wouldn’t have wanted any more detail for the newbies, that was more than enough info to have to explain through.
I also made custom paper minis for each character - Hank is right, Players do get a real kick out of stuff specifically built for their adventure!

By end of session they wanted to make it a campaign. Some wanted to keep their characters, others wanted to design new ones. Yay!

Classes: Don’t try to create ALL classes, just enough to have variation. Really you are just creating 1 or 2 items/tags that give each class it’s ‘feel’.

Magic Schools: Limit it to a few of the schools (like 3? if it becomes a campaign, you can add the others). And then 5 spells each or something. Steal what you can from ICRPG. Remember, first session, keep things simple, you can introduce more complexities/variation later.

Item List: I created 10 items, and 3 “epic” items. Most of which I stole from ICRPG and renamed. More than enough for 1 adventure. (they looted 3 and 1 epic)

Hope that helps. Would like to see what you came up with in the end and how it played out!


Less than you think. It’s surprising the more you run the less you need to plan.


That’s a lot of great advice! Just to keep everyone up on what I’ve been up to, here’s a link to the basic aplayer document I put together. I’ve also got a GM document with a bestiary and my LOOT tables (as yet not at all adjusted for Zelda).

Unfortunately I’m not running the game in sessions but in PbP, so it’s going to be a bit slow and wonky. I’ve decided to do a Super Mario game at the local cafe, as I’m now running two different Zelda games using ICRPG on Discord. I’m thinking of sticking with ICRPG for the Super Mario project, but that’s a different story. :stuck_out_tongue:


If you like Super Mario and ICRPG then I have some great news for you. @JDStirling has the whole thing figured out. He ran a few of us through his Mario game and it was a blast! The link to the Mario google doc is in this post Looking For Group! FULL. It has bio forms, classes, enemies, and Loot… sooo much Loot. It is a fantastic setting and I highly recommend it.


Oh yeah, I saw that before I even found the forums here! Been using it as a base to work from, though been trying to figure out how to leverage that document with my setting. Toads, Koopas, and Goombas aren’t playable for various reasons, so I mainly want to figure out how to work with removing those as options while still giving the players some cool choices to make. Main thing I’ve been considering has been allowing them to start as heroes from other NES-era games, but that again brings up the issue of having very limited Bio-Forms.

Maybe I’ll just limit them to Human and leave the rest of it intact. The Mushroom Hat could simply be a mushroom hat.