Not liking the new EFFORT


I like it
It creates the distinction between normal and “superior” (but not magical) tool

I use it for electronic lockpicks, (where normal lockpicks is D6) for “masterwork” weapons, for any mechanized or assisted tool equivalent (crowbar is D6, but pneumatic tools are D8). Any weapon deemed as effective as a gun in the setting’s context gets D8 (like vibro-blades in cyberpunk settings for example, or iron weapons in primitive worlds).

It’s not a big difference mechanically, but it’s enough for players to want that upgrade.


I made all weapons do d8 and made all tools do d6. This does a few things.

  • Weapons stack up a bit better against magic and are much better than being unarmed.
  • The game is slightly deadlier.
  • You have to invest in tools explicitly to get better at using them. This bakes in the skill monkey in a meaningful way without introducing skills.
  • Guns are not just better than swords.

I was in favor of all these things so that’s the way I went with it.

Here is my edit of the recent sheet by @Tilmah using Tools as it’s own effort:


Here is your solution:

Keep having all weapons do D6 damage.


My only misgivings with “Gun” effort is the title. But it is a misgiving I have.

Mentioned above is better than anything I have to add to the topic. I’ll still add my -0.02 to the topic however.

At its core ICRPG is a great D20 mod that encourages DIY mods to fit your settings. I even believe it does this better than any D20 incarnation.

It is modular allowing that inclusion or exclusion of any mod.

However, timers and effort are strokes of genius, that leave me doubtful I’ll ever abandon them regardless of rule system, if I am running it for any length of time.

In my view each is superior to the “advantage/disadvantage” concepts popularized by D&D 5e.

I’ll dwell on each, but I propose them for a future blog.

For me the advantage of effort is the concept that things take time, regardless of skill. Picking a lock requires a practiced hand and knowledge of your tools…great familiarity with both…as well as the perfect tool for the job, it might take just a second more than the intended key.

But ask anyone about jumbling keys while adrenaline is spiking and you start seeing the difficulty.

Effort, makes it easy to guesstimate time required for a task…and offers alternative actions.

While not explored in the various incarnations of ICRPG I have seen…granting 2 or 3x effort for perfect tool/skill/power/trait/background for the job should be encouraged. Even if you only have them roll once and tabulated it behind the screen (I know blasphemy, but sometimes mystery is better than everyone on the same page). Other times just ask the player to roll effort 3 times on a success.

This should be done if this is a moment to shine for the character or it just fits.

The true glory of effort is in how it (at least in my brain pan) simulates real life, if someone is taking a quick peek down the corridor…not wanting to expose themselves and the enemy is not wanting to explain who they are…I use effort to figure out how much to explain to the PC.

Examples of details they might get at a gander…a 1 might get any base information but an exact score gets you the whole of the story.
1: surface info
2: Coriander special forces boots ( no longer used by the Corianders, but adopted or reproduced by dozens of mercenaries. Specially those with a Coriander in charge of troop training).
3: AmerMartian plate carrier ( universal among allies or Merca who have worked with the AmerMartians)
4: Gelcin visor helmets ( current issue, but users seem tall for Gelcin shock troops)
5: trying to hide origins ( not sure why, not adding up)
6: P7709 modular blaster ( blaster used by AmerMartians, but odd configuration outside city defense).
7: Coriander rank insignia ( Top Lieutenant stars, but not an angle that makes any sense for Coianders)
8: Arks text displaying on the Gelcin visor. (Gelcins never have Aliens in their basic troops).
9. Blanket building formation ( classic Coriander building incursion, two 5 person teams on top, 5 repel down to control last floor and penultimate floor, 5 keep roof clear, all others in teams of 3 flow up, announce progress only as they engage enemies).
10. 3 surface info
11. 2 surface and 1 depth info
12. Sillón Raiders. ( a merc group made of Coriander and Kriken forces forces that operate exclusively in groups of 30.)
13. 12+7
14. Palpitan gloves + 8 (Palpitans never associate with others even in rebellion) Palpitans only work in multiple of 21. 21, 441, 9261, almost 200,000.
15. Nicer Raiders, (Palpitans who are considered heretical to all, only operating in groups of 49, 2401 if contracted in total). Also known as the 50 Legions. Only incredibly deep pockets can contract them all, even one legion of 49 is worth a princess heirs ransom.

In a set of 15 perception effort list I produced the core of an adventure or even a campaign arc.

But it can be much smaller that that. Most things can point to one faction, and more details focus more on the one faction.
1: round shield
2: blue on white heraldry
3: blue on white heraldry and round shields ( Lord Krickan or Duchess Simmon)
4. 5 blue feathers on white background (Lord Krickans warriors)

Allowing the other players to add their “knowledge” after peaking of one PC to inform the party. Depending on how you value “effort”.

As to advantage/disadvantage consider using them in effort. Huge implications here. Blue on white vs narrowing down to two possible antagonists.

In one round where background is of no consequence…not an issue, but if your sworn lord is sworn to Duchess Simmon…big distinction.

Players knowledge that in 2 turns another complication is about to occur leads to rash actions. For the most part I feel as a GM rash/quick should be rewarded ( not slowing down the game) occasionally forcing the team (PCs to think) is a good counter-pace to the usual (run for your lives) I place the group in. If it furthers the narrative all the better.

Lastly advantage/disadvantage for checks or for success/fail is boring. If a hard check equals advantage and an easy check equals disadvantage on effort. You have a new mechanic that entices players to try things.

I’ll take this at advantage for disadvantage with effort allowing the players to increase variables. In D20 mechanics, I’ll take this at +5 so I increase my capacity to hit Vs. my damage potential on a d12 is huge. But on a D4 is dismally inconsequential…unless the monster is 1 point from dying.

Exploring the totality of advantage in hitting versus disadvantage in damage done. Can be surprisingly important. While no cognitive load is added to GMing. It is all on the short layers side.

(This depends on if your players don’t take too much time to detriment the value of their turn. If so, straight D20 and effort is preferable)

You know your group vs complexity better than anyone. The more you tune into the reality of your group of players the better you are prepared to entertain them.

Ultimately it is about the GM being entertained by the players, and the players being entertained by the obstacles placed in their way. Not about the complexity of the situation.


As @s5photog already said, ICRPG can be translated to DIYRPG, with cool concept you can play with. Like someone pointed out you can adapt it to a lot of systems, and you can tweak it as you wish. Want a sword-beats-gun style and just go with guns on a d6 and swords on a d8. Want a deadlier game, just put every weapons and magic to d8. Characters are negociants and nearly never touch a weapon, d6 or d8 for everything around diplomatics and relationship and d4 for weapons and guns.

You can even go further, by using tags: each tag associated to a character that match the current (and successful) attempt bring the effort die to a new level, so with 2 tags you roll a d6,w with 3 a d8, etc.

The concept of effort aren’t lock to the dice but to the idea of something to go through, like @Paxx explained by “the concept that things take time”. So do what you think fit your setting.

Also, about weapon, there’s a thread about playing with them and their dangerousness, by using 2d6 for a katana or 1d8+3 for a polearm.

@Charles_Letourneau I love your quality concept, I was thinking about something like that, and it also work nicely in post-apoc world.


Sorry you feel that way @Vinzent, but the dice categories reflect an important evolution in ICRPG. Guns were included because they were a noticeably absent tier, DMs were homebrewing them for their games, and we kept seeing questions from the shield wall over and over about how to include them. Now, there is a simple and easy answer if you want to run a pirate game, or a three musketeers setting, or even a steampunk game. The evolution maximizes ICRPG’s flexibility.

Yes. Guns are more lethal, generally, than bladed or ancient weapons. Sword wielding attackers do not mow down people at the same rate guns do. So, it is more than implied that guns are a different tier of weapon. They simply are. We were implementing this distinction anyway in Warp Shell games (energy weapons did d8 damage even back then) and ultimately, that distinction hasn’t affected the hundreds of hours of gaming we have had. Dice are swingy. There isn’t a huge difference between rolling a d6 or a d8. Most people roll 3s or 4s anyway. If you feel your kick ass character concept is diminished because of this change, you probably need to take a step back from your min/maxing life choices. Lol.

As for energy and magic becoming D10, that is an extension of my work on Altered State, where I made healing effort a D10, because I felt a healer should be able to heal a character to full in one shot. I also, selfishly, wanted to use the neglected d10. From there, the game evolved into ancient weapons doing a d6, guns doing d8, and magic and energy doing a d10.

It might seem like this change favors casters in a heavy way, but it’s not such a huge swing in their favor for a couple of reasons. One, as a player who plays a lot of melee fighters, I want the wizard in our group dropping a d10 fireball into enemies. I also want our healer doing d10 heals. Magic should feel powerful that way versus swinging a sword. Two, magic users generally collect more spells as their milestones, but their damage ends up capped at a flat d10 across all spells. Meanwhile, fighters have milestones that allow them to chain attacks, do ultimate damage, or even do double damage in certain instances. So, casters do not suddenly outclass melee fighters. If anything, this change catches them up. Three, we dropped using spellburn in our games a long time ago, but I know a lot of folks who still use that rule. Melee characters don’t share a similar limit, even in the earlier versions. Again, if anything, spellcasters were underpowered in previous editions. I suppose the fear is a caster spamming D10 attack spells every round, but if that is the case, just use spellburn or mercurial fail on a 1 — again, limits melee fighters do not face.

The ultimate die does not become less impressive. It’s still added to the base damage (and in Altered State, is re-rolled if it is ever less than 5).

So, I appreciate your concerns, but they seem a little reactionary, especially not having read through everything or used the new rules in any meaningful way. If you follow change management at all, I’ll say that I am sorry someone moved your cheese, but I promise that the new cheese is ultimately much better.


“Magic should feel powerful that way versus swinging a sword.”

I disagree on that. Assuming magic should feel more powerful with larger die types is kinda starting with your conclusion.

Not every game assumes that martials are there to spectate or to do less damage. One of the things I loved about DCC, for example, is how strong the warrior felt. It’s not “just swinging a sword” there. It’s actually the most powerful class and rightfully so. It’s freaking mortal combat of epic proportions in middle of a sword swinging melee.


Nothing restrain you to alter the effort ladder, or to reverse it. If in your setting magic is weak, put on it a d6, and give melee weapon a d8. And if there’s no guns or energy, use the d10 for powerful and unique artefact.

IT’s so simple to adapt the effort dice to a setting, why don’t do it :wink:


Hahahahaha. Well, thank god ICRPG isn’t DCC! Everyone sounds like Conan every time they thunk that tome on the table. :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s a fair point, but I am just saying, as written, as designed, magic occupies a higher dice category because ICRPG lives in a world where a mage might incinerate a one heart target with one fire bolt, whereas a fighter might take a few swings to kill the same one heart target.

If you “disagree” with that hierarchy, then just modify it. Play the way you want to play. Your earlier post above with your mod is a great way to skin it if you want more powerful fighters. I’m just saying they don’t need that help the way the base rules in Master Edition are written. The perception that they are inferior to mages somehow is a false one. Besides that, the starting dice categories for tools, weapons, guns, and effects are just that. Starting categories. They don’t 100% define your character class.

For the record, ICRPG does not “assume martials are there to spectate or do less damage.” That’s an odd assumption to make about the rules.


I have the quickstart which updates some of the rules, but not magic. What I can find seems that magic is balanced by costing hp. That seems like a good balance but I won’t know tell I actually get a copy.

Will the Magic book fill in the rest of the gaps or do I need to buy the Master edition?


The Magic Book got a major overhaul in Master Edition, to better align with the rest of ICRPG settings.

The PDF is coming out tomorrow on DriveThruRPG, so there is going to be a lot more access to the updates very soon.


free update in your inbox, Vinzent.
After playing hundreds of ICRPG games I can say, for my part, EFFORT is truly perfected. D6 wasnt enough for guns, and D8 wasnt enough for magic… also D10 was missing, so now it has a home.

Jam a few session with these effort die and report back! As always, thanks for reading!!!


Thanks a lot! I wasn’t expecting that. But there is nothing in my inbox…:neutral_face:


Did you reply directly to him? :stuck_out_tongue:
Or tagged him?


vinzent just email me for a pdf.


I’m happy to be reading everyone’s input on this topic. In past games I’ve had characters that shine more than others especially when there are detailed dice linked to specific weapons.

A lot of times my warriors would mow down people in fights whereas my casters, snipers and rouges feel like they don’t really contribute.

What I would like to add is that the EFFORT is base and there are a lot of factors that can be considered. I like the uniform d6 because to me, it helps facilitate that the PCs are not reliant on maxing their dice output but rather the LOOT, creativity and other applicable bonuses. Sure some weapons are just more dangerous than others, but I truly believe that in the hands of a skilled PC, anything can be deadly.

Just my opinion.


I was checking board messenger not email. I have update, thank you.


You know, @Vinzent, I have pondered a long time if I should reply, but here’s the thing… I wholeheartedly support the Master Edition, but the new Effort was the one thing I disliked too. I swear I totally understand why the change was made but my group and I decided to keep the old Effort dice and so can you :slight_smile:

My group decided not to use the new effort because: (1) we already had a system in place for different types of weapons, both ancient and modern, melee and ranged (see below); (2) we like the idea in the Core 2E that says that d10s are reserved for LOOT and that when the GM touches a D10 the table should start drooling for what’s to come (Core 2E, p. 186); and (3) having D8 as the highest natural effort makes the D12 Ultimate Effort much more awesome.

In some of our games, we like to have mechanical differences in weapons. In Core 2E this was done through TAGS (Core 2E, p. 29-30) but, in the true DIY tradition of ICRPG, Hank left the mechanical effects of WEAPON TAGS for GMs and Players to decide. I have extensively defined the TAGS I use in our games based on my Players’ preferences and here’s how we roll:

  • Light weapons such as daggers, darts, etc. deal (Weapon Effort -2) damage and can be dual wielded; if they have the Thrown quality, you can throw them up to NEAR. When using these you can attack with STR or DEX (even in melee!) because they’re light. Some are also fast, so you can attack again on a modified 18+
  • Normal weapons deal (Weapon Effort) damage. These are the standard short swords, staves, clubs.
  • Some weapons (longswords, spears, maces) deal (Weapon Effort +2) damage. These also have a special quality attached that triggers on a modified 18+ … longswords cause bleeding, maces can stun, etc.
  • Big weapons (your polearms, two-handed swords, etc.) deal (double Weapon Effort -2) damage (or 2d6-2 usually). These are big and heavy and HARD to use in tight spaces, but you can attack from behind allies or even make arc attacks (hit two enemies with a single swing, dealing normal Weapon Effort against each one).

Shortbows deal (Weapon Effort) and longbows deal (Weapon Effort +2) damage; shortbows can be used mounted and within CLOSE range without penalties, longbows are optimized for NEAR range and are HARD to use within CLOSE. In our games light crossbows deal (Weapon Effort +2) damage and heavy crossbows (double Weapon Effort -2) damage and have the same limitations of bows, but they compensate the higher damage with the need of an action to reload.

So, what about GUNS?

Honestly, I have only used guns in one adventure, but they would follow the same rules. A breakdown of basic guns could be:
(All guns should be optimized for NEAR range and HARD to fire within CLOSE distance, except where noted.)

Shotgun: (double Weapon Effort -2) damage, only shots up to NEAR range, causes knockdown on modified 18+
Pistol: (Weapon Effort) damage, can be DUAL-wielded for +2 damage, can hit CLOSE targets without penalty, attack again on modified 18+.
Sub Machine Gun (SMG): (Weapon Effort) damage, doubled at CLOSE range
Light Machine Gun (LMG): (Weapon Effort +2) damage, multifire mode can hit up to three targets per attack, attack again on modified 18+
Assault Rifle (AR): (double Weapon Effort -2) damage, damage dice explode
Marksman Rifle (MR): (double Weapon Effort -2) damage against targets at FAR or DISTANT range, HARD to use against NEAR or CLOSE.

Add to these some weapon mods that increase the trigger range of effects to 15+ or 12+ or add new effects (explosive ammo/damage dice explodes, ) and you have some pretty nasty guns.

The Dilemma of the Second Deltohedron

That’s actually a REALLY cool mod list there. :slight_smile:


Guys, yesterday after I read this and replied above I had a bolt of inspiration that I’m going to try.

I talked to my group about the new Effort, we played a few encounters with it, they didn’t like it for reasons I already discusses (also, we are BIG on the 6 stat/4 effort combo because of character generation reasons too long/not related to this post).

I’m going to try to bring the new rules into play again, but I’m going to do it a little bit more… organically. Help a fellow GM here, will you? Please tell me if you think this could work.

So, my fantasy campaign has hints of ancient advanced technology everywhere, very ICRPG-style (also because Phantasy Star IV was my favorite game growing up). So, I’m going to introduce visitors from the stars and an alien race of evil invaders of something who will bring technology to the world. At the beginning of this story arc:

D4 / basic, D6 / weapon & tools, D8 / magic, D12 / ultimate

There are 15th-century guns (flintlock pistols and rifles) in the setting. These use D6 effort. But with the invasion, some tinkers will produce more advanced guns and some other trinkets. And then we’ll have:

D4 / basic, D6 / weapon & tools, D8 / guns & magic, D12 / ultimate

So, the new guns will be as powerful as magic. The the story arc will take the PCs on an adventure to find ways to counter the invaders/villains powers… and they will change the world, making magic stronger overall. As a counter, the invaders will bring energy weapons and tech powers (inspired by The Division / Watch Dogs)… And I’ll introduce the new effort:

D4 / basic, D6 / weapon & tools, D8 / guns & technology, D10 / magic & energy, D12 / ultimate

I hope this might help my Players enjoy the new Effort better. I’ll also introduce trainers to give them the new abilities/mastery for their classes. Going from 2E - ME organically.

The Dilemma of the Second Deltohedron