Mastering the Master Edition (and some general GM advice asks)



I upgraded and snagged the ME through DTRPG, along with all the goodies that came with it. There are a few pieces of, I think, new ground covered. That means I have some new questions about running the system and some of the inbuilt expectations.

  1. (p 86) Milestone Rewards – If milestones are every other session, that’s 14 sessions to a maxed Mechanic, for example, assuming you don’t use Paths. How long does a “campaign” last? On average? (And what does a story arc in a game as… rough-and-tumble… as ICRPG look like against any traditional structure we’d look at as GMs trying to bring our players through a story.)

  2. Milestones vs Path Milestones? When for when? Player choice? Does the GM say, “That’s good for Milestone, but not big enough for Path?”

  3. Timers vs Clocks: there’s room for both, but when to use which? I’ve become a big Blades in the Dark fan, and I’ve started importing clocks everywhere as a mechanic. I feel there’s an important distinction, but it’s just outside my grasp to understand.

  4. The art of making treats. Hiding treats behind rolls (Scouting Check example, p 93) they may never make feels like punishment, but… just leaving them there is maybe not rewarding?

  5. Sharpshooter vs Deadeye – “next shot” vs “next successful hit.” This feels a lot like it should have been the same ability, ported from one setting to the next, but it’s a huge mechanical difference. Was this a deliberate choice, or an editing issue that slipped through the cracks? And regardless of what it was, how would you align it (and align player expectations)?

  6. I don’t like Pilots. As a class, or a job, or as a player option, in general. It becomes their own special sub-game where others watch and/or go out for pizza, or their primary function is useless 90% of the time. What’s a better archetype, or how to fix the trope/trap? (I’ve sat for Star Wars and seen it happen, Shadowrun does it with deckers and/or riggers, and even the excellent Starforged has some piloting/ace assets that… if the story takes A Turn, become a dead character choice that never sees play. I don’t want to see that repeated, or just left at the mercy of a GM to do the kind of extra lifting to make it work. This is, I guess, just a trauma-based question.)

  7. (p 94) Damage – Players used to both sides being “fair” might want to also break their weapon jagged for an additional d6 (or more damage with new hearts)… How do acclimate players moving from… “other systems” to this without just GM fiat/because I said so’s?

There’s going to be more later, I’m sure, but these are the ones that jumped out at me on my first pass. At least, from the text I’m going to use with players I’m trying to get away from other systems.

Thanks for entertaining these so far.


Your campaign can be any length appropriate to your group, game, and table—without running out of character progression options—because it is incorrect to assume that a GM’s only options are limited to the seven milestones listed for each character type. Even if you stick to rules as written and eschew the tiered milestone options in the 5 Paths, the milestone Even Stronger allows characters to advance multiple times with individual +1 bonuses applied, allowing dozens of milestones to be awarded before a character achieves the mandated +10 bonus cap in one or more attributes. Spellcasters can use Even Stronger to pad out their spellbooks (ME, pp. 42-43), so they have dozens more milestones to consider.

I subscribe fully to GM fiat on this one, as this sort of fair and reasonable arbitration is at the core of a GM’s responsibilities. A good GM develops and maintains consistent expectations at the table for milestone moments that are in sync with the ebb and flow of the narrative, always welcoming a conversation with players about where they would like to go and what might be possible with their characters progression while safeguarding the overall table experience of the campaign for all its participants.

This one is easy. Reward the behaviors and promote the styles of play you believe will bring enjoyment to your table, and confirm your perspectives with observation. Your players are putting their trust in you to do this by showing up. Guide them toward the fun they may not yet be able to see, but be flexible in adapting your vision to the desires of your group.

If you’re talking about these two powers specifically as Starting Abilities, in contrast the difference is really not that big of a deal. Using firearms, the Alfheim version deals a consistent 8 points of GUN damage, and the Warp Shell version has an 18.75% lower mean with a uniform distribution and swing potential for up to 50% more damage. Both work fine. The higher applicable bonus to the appropriate effort, the less the mechanical difference between these two powers matters. In general, Warp Shell characters tend to command a little more mechanical power out of the gate, but With regard to your question about when to apply the mechanic, I think either variation works fine if you prefer as GM to reconcile these two options in all your games.


Welcome! First and foremost, I will say that ICRPG is at it’s heart, a DIY system, meant to be molded to fit a given GMs vision at their table. I mention this because many of your questions will be, and should be answered with ‘Decide what works best for your table.’ That is the ICRPG way, the mindset behind the game, the creator, and the community.

  1. Everything in the book are just suggestions. Campaign length is highly dependent on the table and group in question. I know folks around here that have year+ long games going. Myself, I typically run 6-15 session long ‘campaigns’ regardless of the ruleset. A given game IME looks the same regardless of the ruleset at my tables, and is more dependent on my GM style than the rules I am using. Your mileage may vary of course.

  2. Use both! Come up with your own! Steal from other games and convert them into ICRPG terms. I do all of the above. Further, there are many great 3rd party resources available on DriveThru and in these very forums.

  3. I don’t use Clocks, but Timers are present in all of my games. Use them wherever tension needs to be ramped up. Use ROUND TIMERS the most, ticking them down on your GM TURN. Use TURN TIMERS that tick down after each TURN in a ROUND to really get your group squirming. And use WORLD TIMERS for those really big battles and end-of-the-world scenarios. Timers are my favorite all-time mechanic.

  4. Once your group gets used to Treats being present(even when you didn’t actually place one in the encounter) they will perserve in finding them. Also, remember that whenever a player fails an attempt/check, if they try the same exact thing again on their next turn, they roll EASY.

  5. In a game written, and created by one person, you’re bound to find things like this. In truth, I would say you can leave them as is, or if it really bugs you, change one or the other for your games. See my ‘first and foremost’ above.

  6. Ok…??? Don’t use them, create your own Type to replace them. This seems, no offense meant, to be a personal quibble and I’m not sure what the question is.

  7. You can take this in either direction. First, GM enemies don’t have to follow the same rules as Players, and that is a classical approach from the very first edition of that other game: GM controlled creatures may have abilities and features that are different from those available to player characters. Just say that. If that doesn’t work for you and your group, then go the other direction and let your player break their sword to increase damage for a single combat, rendering it useless after that. Why not?

Just get the group to the table and I’m sure your players will enjoy the hell out of the system! It is my favorite system, it’s deadly, but players are glass cannons able to perform crazy feats and accomplish crazy stuff! Welcome!


Hi and welcome
For your point no 6
I can talk about that because I have a gaming group in Warp Shell.
What I do is everyone have a job in the ship. Of course the Pilot, but also the Captain, the Engineer, the Gunner, and the Scientist (sensors)
I make a small table for each of them to do some stunts with a roll of 15+ with the appropriate stat.
So nobody have time to go eat pizza :blush:


Welcome to the shield wall! :metal::shield::herocoin:

For #1, I don’t know that I’ve ever run Milestone rewards as specifically every other session like that.

Page 86’s advice is to give it when someone “turns a corner,” “discovers destiny,” “completes a quest” It is true it suggests every other session or so, but I’ve never played “milestone every other session” as a rule.

I normally have something like a loot hose that the player soak in during sessions, and a lot of the progression in games I’ve played or run is mostly loot based. And a lot of my tricks are based on destroying or consuming that loot, or forcing tough choices about dumping stuff for better loot :smiling_imp:

We’ll do milestones for major accomplishments, which might be every session or every other session or after ten sessions. I also generally treat the milestone rewards as prompts for the sorts of things that make the class cool, and work with players to take an idea they have or even something cool they did in the session to turn it into a new ability. Or steal from another type’s milestone list. And so on.

Some community members are using ICRPG to run a West Marches set in Alfheim called the Alfmarches. So you can do long running games for sure. My current game is going into session 9. I think I’ve awarded milestones twice so far.

For #2, I don’t normally use the path milestones.

For #3, I love clocks from Blades too! Clocks and timers are similar. I agree there’s room for both. I think the main difference is that a Clock works as a combination Effort + Timer, like you do things to reduce a clock or advance a clock in Blades that could be compared to “It will take 1 heart of effort to research that spell in the library.” The other main difference is that clocks in Blades tend to not be random, whereas timers are typically rolled in ICRPG. This is a really good thread about Timers and Effort – made better because yours truly was using Clocks from Blades in the Dark as an example! :innocent:

For #4, I think that important or necessary things shouldn’t hide behind a roll, but for players who like to roll to search for things, it’s a good idea to reward that play if they value it. I’d incorporate a visible, obvious treat into encounters. “These mushroom spores heal the Fungal Warriors, but as you breath them in your realize you feel similarly energized too”. Boom, now this clump of mushrooms is a visible part of the encounter that the players can use and the enemies too. I like for a Treat to create opportunities for lateral thinking. One of my favorite moments from the Ultimate Effort Encounter Throwdown is when a player used a cook fire to create a cloud of garlic infused smoke to fend off vampires. I don’t think you plan for that in advance, rather your notes say: “There’s a roaring cook fire,” and we’ll see how players use it.

#5, home rule it! :smiley: I mean I think I would let the player use either version in either setting if they had a preference. If they didn’t have a preference, I’d use whatever was my preference. There’s a few rules in the game that will become a ruling by the GM. There’s always a lot of active conversation about Warhammers from the Alfheim loot on the forums, for instance, and some of the Priest milestones (iron fist versus master).

#6, Hank has advice on running like “ship” encounters, either pirate ships or he put out a spell jammer alternative. Idea being to give everyone something to do or roll on their turn. If you stick to “always in turns” then your pilot will lose the spotlight by necessity. As you’ll go to each other person. "The pilot has the sticks, what do you do?" well your other players have a chance to describe how they do whatever creative stuff comes up. Maybe they might open a hatch and throw garbage at pursuers or man the guns or tune up the engine to get a jolt of speed. Or maybe a boarding party is now on board and they have to buy the pilot time. Etc. Stay in turns, move the spotlight, ask folks what they are doing while the pilot is dodging, ducking, dipping, diving, and dodging. I think Hank also typically is in favor of montaging borning travel, so unless something is happening just skip it. I’m a big fan of the adage, “say yes or roll dice,” so I don’t think I’d have the pilot making rolls to pilot unless it was an interesting moment to play out, and it’s only interesting to me if it will affect all of the players and everyone has something to do.

#7, monsters always do things different than players in my game. Multiple attacks is a classic one that goes back to 1974 LBBs for D&D. That said if a player is like, “When I hit, I break my sword to do an extra d6” I’d say, “HELL YEAH TAKE A HERO COIN, YOU DO THAT!” :herocoin::metal::fire: