Perspective on Minimalism


Shield Wall, I come to those with more experience than I to help give me a little perspective.

I had a blast running a long-term game using ICRPG in a home-brew setting: Castlevania & Bloodborne inspired monster hunting/horror gaming. I want to begin turning it into a small ICRPG setting, but I’m wanting to tweak some elements to better fit the feel of the game.

That’s where I’m getting stuck. How do you gauge when things are becoming too complex?

You can mitigate some complexity by having a character sheet that makes systems easy to track, but that only goes so far. What’s your mantra to help you stay focused on making things fast and mean without getting bogged down?


Can we hear more about the alterations and extra mechanics? It’s sort of case by case, so it’s hard to make a judgement without knowing more information.

However, the way I like to think of it is “the more things you can link, the better”. The fewer isolated mechanical loops a game has, the easier and more cohesive it is. Instead of creating a new stat, how can you integrate its uses into the other ones? Instead of crazy new gun rules that involve tracking 4 separate numbers for each firearm, can you boil it down to a number and a heart? Any way you can connect and consolidate will be better towards a more cohesive game.


I’d recommend you make things as complex as you want…but then put it all down and out of mind for a week. And take everything that does not add to requirements away.

ICRPG is a weird group. Keep things really light and allow GMs to adjust as needed.

But, @Kindred, @Khan, @Alex, @thearcanelibrary, @Dave_Thaumavore, @jordanwmartin, @Shadymutha…have experience on this very subject.


Players take on the role of Hunters, take their favorite gear, “level up” to access new abilities that deepen their connection to their concept, and hunt down baddies. This would involve more thought and tactics because low health and mean monsters make for quick work of the non-professional. The feel I’m going for here is an intimate sense of what gear you’ve got on you and trying to be ready for anything.

Where I want to really show this is in the nuance of equipment and having the right tool for the job. I’m considering using different types of damage as a core to this since it’s such an important theme in folklore/monster tropes, and can be a powerful motivator in gear selection/progression. Mechanically this would look something like every monster having a resistance, neutral, and weak thresholds, which would mean weapons/tools would need to have damage descriptors. It’s not too tough a thing independently, especially if you keep a spot on your character sheet for it.

Damage types would apply to players too, and armor/defenses could have the same resistances and vulnerabilities.

I have a clever mechanic for progression through XP I want to make use of, which allows players to acquire new abilities when they “level up.” There aren’t levels though so new characters and veterans can still play in the same games. Measurable progression was a big issue I ran in to with players, so I want to take a stab at addressing it.

Players would get a Move, Action, and a “If-Then” Reaction they can “program” each turn to help them, play with tactics more and feel more like professional hunters.

Other than that, things would stay relatively familiar. I don’t want to take things too far, but I have a few more ideas about specializing that I’d like to explore.


That’s a solid guide: leave it alone for a week and revisit it with a clear head. Thanks a ton for that.


You’ve chosen the right chassis, that’s for sure.

You could do this with TAGS. “Silver”, “cold iron”, “holy”, “hot”- all great tags that work as monster weaknesses. Take that existing mechanic and tweak it to your needs instead of reinventing the wheel.

…why? That’s another TAG. “Chimera skin: resistant to all except silver” is a great piece of LOOT, it doesn’t need to be cluttering anything but your d100 LOOT table, or perhaps your monster stat plans. This is work for the sake of work, and if that’s your jam, go for it, but I would advise against it myself.

If LOOT progression isn’t your jam, this sort of hacking may be to your tastes. The 2e quickstart has a mastery mechanic, perhaps you could start there and tweak? This seems like the most appropriate piece of homebrew you’ve proposed so far, IMHO.

That’s cool. Keep us updated through your playtesting to update us how that works for you!

I like how strong your vision is. A couple moment’s thought as to how you can tie these new narrative concepts into the existing mechanical framework can go a long way towards making it all look cohesive and run well. Excited to see where this goes!


I love where you are going with it!!!
However, you are contending with ICRPG 2.5 or better known as ICRPG QuickStart 2.
It rebranded tags (and other concepts), and worked hard to add observable progression.

Assuming you take all of what 2.5 brings. You also mentioned some things I really liked…damage types. I have a lot of thoughts on these, DM me if you want to go down the rabbit hole I realized I am in…why create a settings book, when you can create a work book to create a setting and use the setting book as an example…another topic for another day.

Anyway, nuanced damage types seems solid and easy, however one thing I sensed in your explanation or sensed lacking in it, but in theme…using that third if-then action to empower a team-mate.

Separately, please consider, the DM is playing a different game…keep the Game masters cognitive load as low as possible. After I encountered my rolling to be sub par, and my Boss man dismantled by my Miner (my Wild West version of a Guardian) I realized I needed to attack Stats.

So I gave every bad guy an alternative attack…usually near range, NPC hits on room difficulty, PC saves completely on successful stat roll of defined type.

My favorite was spit or powder requiring Con, Dex, Int, Cha. Depending on the nature of the enemy. If they fail the Target Room…they miss and reveal the nature of the attack.

Oddly the original issue never happened again, I stopped rolling like crud, and my Miner Player stopped rolling like a Goddess!!! But the alternate attacks kept players on their toes!!!

Now, there is a ton of cool directions you can go, ease of player buy-in, and keeping the GMs cognitive load low should be a priority.

I feel having Player Characters sacrifice a move, action, or “if then” to augment other characters in certain ways, furthers teamwork and sense of “ya we did it all together!!!” But you ran your thing and got what you got from it, don’t change anything…just keep in mind the advice. But stick to your vision.

And wait for the advice of those more experienced in what you are doing to advise you of the pitfalls, and their life experience!!!
But then do your thing!!! It sounds Dope and I’m sure I’ll steal more than a little of it.



Go give it a try, even by yourself, actually playing your things can usually give you a sense of how far off your original idea everything currently is (or isn’t) :stuck_out_tongue:

Other than that, complexity goes hand in hand with cluttering, you want your stuff to be easily referenced so people actually have a clear idea of what something does just by glancing the character sheet or the document. I usually find myself spending more time rethinking the “user interface” of my documentation and content than actually writing it haha. Have a well organized document with simple language, short descriptions and even use icons to make everything easy to understand at first glance.

Then you should also think about how your systems work together, ICRPG shines with “universal” little things like TAGs and chunks that can be reused through out the content. An imp who has the #Demon TAG so you instantly know that #Demon Slaying weapons and abilities deal x2 damage to it i.e.

Lastly, don’t be afraid of complexity, it is better/easier to dump all of your stuff and then crop it and reduce it rather than make a content like you are growing a bonzai tree imho. :stuck_out_tongue:



Everything I do in Games starts from (what mind scape do I want to explore)…then all the mechanics and twists and turns I think will get people there.

Later I look at how much time do we really have to explore this??? And edit, edit, play out in my head, realize a turn takes too long.
Edit, realize analysis paralysis might kick in, simplify…
Realize my mental load to run this will not allow me to be 2 cups of wine deep…
Edit and simplify again!