ICRPG and freeform play



So this mostly just me trying to figure out my thoughts on icrpg and the different styles of play it can mesh well with. Obviously if im using a different system and plugging icrpg rules into it, it will play differently, but im thinking as using icrpg at its core and the type of play that i have witnessed from playing it and watching it. From my experience it does fast paced pulpy action very well.

Im very much a freeform go with the vibe kind of gm and the people i play with most are on the rp side of things. I think im pretty good at going with the flow, knowing when to let things chill and when to ratchet up the tension. Icrpg has a sort of constant rhythmic beat that it wants you to follow with playing in turns. Im wondering what have others done when their own beat doesn’t line up the same as the system, what ways has it been used to your advantage or if you ended up changing things to better fit your needs.

I would love to hear the community thoughts on this if they have dealt with this before or maybe im just marching to the beat of my own drum lol


I come from very roleplay-heavy games and I also played D&D with lots of roleplaying. The idea of always playing in turns was new to me and when I first GMed some Warp Shell-sessions I had players that didn’t want to play in turns. So I scrapped the rule and played freeform but tried to move the spotlight around.
I also asked my players at the end of the session what they wanted to do in their next session, so that my session prep could be little player-focused scenes.
And if I wanted to have timers outside of combat (not playing in turns) I simply use a little hourglass to measure one “round.”


I use the Tension Pool by the AngryGM outside of combat and the Escalation die from 13th Age during battles.


I think Dungeon World does a pretty good job of presenting a “move the spotlight around” paradigm, and the idea of rolls resolving situations more than actions. That feels a little bit like what you’re talking about.


Love the escalation die. Helps reduce those times when 2 characters can’t hit each other for love nor money.


ICRPG is best during action sequences, but in master edition on pp15 it lets the turn order go Freeform when outside of action. The short of it is give the players breathing room to have a conversation, but keep a mind to the turn order. Steve on the left of the GM gets to decide first what Biff Muscletons is doing with his freeform turn, and then the others can say what they’re doing while waiting for Biff to finish. Then Jim, left of Steve, is the next to decide what Crass The Infuriator’s turn is, but then the others can explain what they want to do with their turn. Remember to throw a timer die at the start of Freeform so that you know how many turns before the Goblins Warband will catch up to them (which is master edition pp95, mild duration control).


I completely understand the desire to run with a freeform flow, that has been something of interest to me for a long time and I crave that in my own games. I have tried many different structures to try to dial in the right rhythm and to be honest I don’t think there is any one best setup to fit every game. I think so much depends on the players of the game (including the GM), more so than the system itself. There are pros and cons to both set turns and freeform and I think both work really well in the right environment.

One setup that I did run with for an ongoing ICRPG campaign was a bit of a hybrid, and it seemed to work reasonably well most of the time. Here was the idea: A combat scene starts with an initiative roll with the GM rolling a single D20 for all the baddies and one player rolling a single D20 for all the heroes. The winning side goes first. On the heroes turn they had the ability to freeform within their turn, this allowed more dynamic choices/actions between the characters. On the GM’s turn adversaries would be run as normal, all actions at once. This was certainly not perfect all of the time but it allowed more strategic options between the players, and allowed for some cool moments.

The nice thing about keeping with strict turns is that everyone gets an equal chance to do their thing within a round in a clean methodical way. I have found with complete free-form that if you have players who are more experienced or who are more bold you may have a discrepancy of player interaction (rpg experience can play a big part here). Conversely, freeform can have a real natural flow with interlocking events that are not possible with strict turns. Again, a lot depends on the players here!

I usually do not play in turns outside of combat in ICRPG, although sometimes I do that as a “final moment” kind of thing at the end of a session. More so just to make sure everyone gets an equal chance to describe their moment. I have stopped doing much travel or down time type stuff so I have no use for turns there at this time at least.


The tension pool is great! Currently using it in my SWN game for encounters in a mega dungeon and loving it there.

I think it would translate into free form ICRPG well for looser free form time. Any tips/pitfalls for integrating it into the system?


the tension pool seems a bit much for my taste but the escalation die from 13th age is really cool, already having some interesting thoughts on implementing something similar into ICRPG. ICRPG gives so many great tools to use and thats a big reason why i love it, just slow at learning how best to use them with my gming strengths.


Totally agree that ICRPG is best during action, its just sometimes you need a chill period and that might last the rest of the session. Like the moments when you’re at the tavern or around a campfire are just as important to me as fighting the dragon.