Questions from a new ICRPG fan


Hi all,

I’ve been DM’ing D&D for a while and just picked up ICRPG. As my handle suggests, I mainly play with my kids (6, 9, and 11). I ran the “trials” part of CORE today with the younger two and discovered two things:

  • 1 heart (10 hp) meant I killed one of them pretty fast
  • 1d4 timer was fun, but it would be rare to beat a 1 heart challenge before a 1d4 timer expired.

Do you have any suggestions to homebrew tweak these issues? I started my 6 year old with 2 hearts, and she didn’t die (but would have with 1 heart). Maybe I have to–what have you done?

On the timer, my kids (and I) loved them, but even with 4 rounds of a timer, it’s really, really hard to beat a 1 heart challenge. If death is on the line, it’s almost cruel! Any thoughts there?

Thanks! Love the game so far. Much better than vanilla D&D for kids (and probably all around a better game in many ways).


If your table is averse to death (with children that would be expected) then starting the characters with 2 hearts may solve that problem for you :slight_smile: As for the dm timers what were the circumstances? if it is picking locks or something similar and the rogue has lock picks you can roll 1d6 weapon effort for having the proper tools for the job, and add any relevant bonuses( a plus in weapon effort). likewise having a bonus in basic effort helps to get through many single heart challenges pretty quickly. Perhaps adding some points into those will help to beat the timer. If you want to see some wickedly awesome videos of live play you can check out Roll For Effort on Youtube, in some of the campaigns (Deadlands and Kath) there was a dwarf named Stubborn who had a huge plus to his basic effort, which totally helped him create lots of items and do lots of tasks. I have also played a high Basic Effort character and found that i was super useful at breaking through challenges. I hope this has helped, and i hope you enjoy continuing with ICRPG, this community is great.


If you don’t want your Kids to feel like you are taking it easy on them you could always make the beginning Challenges Half Heart. There is no ‘Rule’ saying there is a 1 Heart minimum. Or you can always lower the Rooms Target a couple of points to tip the average in their favour with the Dice.

Good on you for getting your kids to the Table and Gaming with them! World needs more DM Dads!


May I suggest looking through this…

I keep killing my wife!

I was having similar issues killing my wife to quickly with her being brand new to role playing games altogether.


The Trials are also especially challenging and brutal in terms of challenge tuning. I wouldn’t run those straight up with kids or new players without some tweaking of the challenges or the starting characters.


One of the timers did involve lock picks, but I had them do basic effort. I didn’t think about using a d6 instead since they’re using a tool–good idea. Thanks!


Good tweaking ideas–thanks!


Nice article. I especially like the idea of giving the kids 8-12 points to spend in the beginning instead of 6. If they had more, they might have put more into basic effort or armor (which they both neglected).


You’re right about the trials. I did tweak them too–for instance, I made one guard instead of two in the skull trial, and I nerfed the lock pick at the prison-escape style trial. But I’ll have more tweaking to do going forward. Thanks!


A technic I use instead of the d4 is the Escalation Dice from 13th Age. Look it up, it’s great!
In short, every round the PCs fight rises the dice by 1. The PCs gain +X to their attack, where X is the number on the Escalation dice.

This mechanic is very versatile and fun as the monsters can sometimes be granted the Escalation Dice’s bonus while other times event can happen based on the Escalation Dice’s number!


this is a great oppurtunity to ‘tune’ player tactics rather than game stats. Overcome these hurdles with narrative, out-thinking and the like… thats exactly why the trials are so tough… they ask players to outwit the difficult odds


Absolutely! The Scenarios are the base-line difficulties and efforts required. However, player ingenuity and thinking outside the box will allow players to find a way to lower the difficulty, increase their efforts, or completely circumvent the issue in a way that the gamemaster did not see coming, but thinks it’s awesome!

Sometimes, I set difficult encounters with a high target, but my players will find some item or think of an idea that would make that an easy check and it would make sense that a bonus would be given at that time.

Example was a DOOM WHEEL with a Warp Stone Cannon. Instead of fighting the DOOM WHEEL, one of my players had his Raven to cast spells from, had it fly close up, and destroyed matter with one of his spells (From the MAGIC book, highly recommended). Instead of fighting something I specifically said would be immune to basic attacks, this cause an explosion/meltdown that I thought made sense to immediately clear out and melt everything in the area. This caused a lot of issue later on, which only compounds the feeling that players make a huge change in the world.

EDIT: This is what I planned for them, and they just blew it up in 1 turn. NOT 1 ROUND. 1 TURN!


I agree with Hank too. My kids died many times over, but each time they learned that straight up combat wasn’t always the best answer to a situation. Over time I think it’s built up their creativity and role-playing as they tend to think twice before resorting to full on combat and will even retreat if the going gets too tough.

That said I also:

  • Leave objects around (hidden or otherwise) that may grant temporary hit points or ability increases (e.g. eating mushrooms :mushroom: that give them temporary STR increases, a large piece of tree bark that absorbs 1d4 of damage on the first hit then shatters…).
  • Teach the kids the “don't die on me man!” rules from pg. 20 of the 2e Core Rules. Can’t tell you how many times they have used this and find it so much fun to save each other by saying that phrase.
  • Freely give them EASY on attack rolls when they come up with creative ideas and/or actually role-play attacks
  • Have them create two characters so if the first one dies they can jump back into the game quickly with another. Sometimes it’s even fun for them to figure out how they come back into the story as a different character


Thanks for all the great responses everyone!