Seeking Guidance: A Journey into ICRPG Monster Design



Greetings to the Shieldwall,

I find myself delving into the realms of monster creation with the ICRPG Master Edition, seeking the wisdom of this community.

On page 145, the TIER levels are listed, and it mentions that a TIER 2 monster has +4 STATS. Now, my question is, does this imply a total bonus of +4 points that I can distribute among various STATS, or is it a +4 bonus to every individual STAT?

This is my maiden voyage into the creation of monsters, prompted by my desire to use my Lord of the Rings: Journey’s in Middle Earth Miniatures to bring these creatures to life. In attempting to create a monster, I want to ensure I grasp the mechanics correctly.

Additionally, as I allocate these points among STATS, can I also apply them to EFFORT?

For context, here’s a glimpse of my TIER 1 monster attempts - the Orc Taskmaster and Orc Hunter. I have a nagging feeling they might be too robust for their designated TIER. Your constructive feedback on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

+2 CON / +4 CHA / 1 ACTION / 1 HEART

A precise crack of the whip forces a target to move to a different location. Requires a successful DEX check to resist.

Strikes with the whip in a powerful lash, temporarily paralyzing the target. Requires a successful CON check to break free.

Swings the whip in a whirlwind motion, hitting all nearby foes. Requires a DEX or CON check to avoid.


Skillfully shoots an arrow with precision.

Rapidly draws and shoots an arrow at a nearby foe, forcing the target to move. Requires a successful DEX check to resist.

Unleashes a barrage of arrows, targeting multiple foes within attack range. DEX or CON check to avoid.

I am open to any insights, advice, or clarifications that the experienced members of this community might provide. Your guidance will undoubtedly shape the adventures that lie ahead.

May the Shieldwall stand strong,

sonny.crockett06, Ecuador


I think those look awesome! Excellent orc hunter monsters :smiley:

When it comes to the Tiers and pretty much anything within ICRPG, you can really think of them as guidelines. Really solid frameworks and baselines to learn with and eventually adapt as you get experience under your belt.

You can see the significant jump in bonuses from one tier to the next and that lines up with what’s possible in ICRPG. You lean into significant math and don’t bother messing around with +1 here or a +1 there. Just go for it and dial it in to match what your table is capable of and prefers.

Whatever bonuses you assign, those can be to stats, specific stats, to effort. Etc. where you want to put them and that helps you build the monster you’re envisioning in your head.


Agreed with Kane. I originally used them to the letter but once you let the feel of your monster guide you they really start to get more unique


Thanks a bunch for the thumbs up on my orc hunter monsters! Your insights are really helping me get the hang of this monster-making business in ICRPG.

Your point about Tiers being more like guidelines than strict rules got me thinking.

Inspired by your advice, I’m gonna try making different TIER versions for the same monster. I’m planning to add more +stats and throw in some extra abilities for each tier, which should add a bit more spice and variety to the encounters.

Should be an interesting experiment, and who knows what cool variations will come out of it! Appreciate your help and looking forward to more brainstorming with the community.

Happy rolling,



I would suggest—especially as you go up in tiers—that you consider departing from simple combat actions for your monsters and give them other concise abilities to differentiate them mechanically and make them unique. Destructible special abilities (“Sacrifice Multi-Shot ability to hit one NEAR target with NO ROLL”) or immunities and resistances (“Orc Taskmaster is immune to fear and makes EASY CHA checks for morale.”) can amplify the theme and lend flavor to your monster while giving it an unexpected edge.


At first, I found the DIY aspect of ICRPG a bit challenging as a relative newcomer. However, with more playtime, I’m gradually getting the hang of it.

But now, I realize – I still haven’t fully grasped it.

The recurring advice from this fantastic community boils down to one beautiful concept: let the torrent flow. Avoid too many notes, don’t overcomplicate things, and be a terror to behold. Use your imagination, make monsters do fun and awesome stuff. And if things get too powerful, just dial it down. As my favorite Jedi would say: 'Concentrate on the moment. Feel, don’t think. Use your instincts.'

Thanks to the Shieldwall for that gem of wisdom.

I will still create a trio of simple combat actions and take the Tier guidelines from the Master Edition but give the monster more flavor once it passes a certain % of its health with more creativity at that moment.

Additionally, is there a design template to note down the monster you create that can be printed, cut, and stored in a 66x88 size sleeve (or behind the card from the Monster Deck)?

To @KaneDriscol: Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could have a Monster Tier Guidelines cheat sheet/reference card for quick, random monster encounters, akin to the monster protocols you’ve shared before? I actually have them printed and sleeved in standard size sleeves.

STATS, Effort, Hearts, and maybe a table with concise monster abilities, as suggested by @chrisbynum. It could be a handy tool for those moments when you want to spice up the adventure with an unexpected creature or didn’t have time to prepare the session.

Looking forward to your insights and any additional tips from the community!




I take +4 Stats to mean +4 to all Attempts, with maybe a +2 or +4 to all Effort rolls. I would like to point out that +4 CHA for the Taskmaster, and +4 DEX for the Hunter basically works out to +4 All Rolls. The Hunter isn’t likely to roll anything other than DEX, and the Taskmaster’s abilities all rely on CHA.

ALSO, don’t feel bad about throwing a +4, or even +6 monster at your players. +6 All Rolls is a total of 36 Stat Points, but in effect, those monsters are only gonna use a couple of stats anyway. If your players are optimizers at all, they’re gonna be rolling +3/+4 quite often (unless you throw monsters at them which ignore DEF, or that call for specific Stat saves that they didn’t build around. And you should totally do that :grin:)

I often think in terms of “level” almost, with a single number that forms the basis of everything else.

So a level 4 monster would be +4 All Rolls, probably have 2 actions, 4 Hearts (or 4 actions and 2 Hearts). I’ve taken to using Crown & Skull style Tactics with a Deadly Action, a Standard Action, and a Disruption/Movement action. I noticed that your Orc hunters fit this perfectly.

If I were going to run your Orcs at the table, (and I would really like to, they look awesome!) I would format them a bit differently. This isn’t better, it’s just to fit them into how I run monsters.

Orc Taskmaster +4 CON/CHA (Target 14)
1 Action, 1 HEART

:shield: Whip Crack, TARGET must take WEAPON EFFORT or Move NEAR. DEX to ignore.

:dagger: Lash Out, NEAR/CLOSE target takes WEAPON+STUNNED. CON to resist.

:skull_and_crossbones: Whip Whirlwind, ALL NEAR, DEX/DEF vs WEAPON

WEAKNESS, Overconfidence. When the Orc Taskmaster falls, roll a morale check for other orcs in the scene.

So you can see I modified a few things, but not too much. A couple of changes are just due to how I run monsters (they don’t roll to hit, my players roll DEF). A couple of changes just take out a little complexity for my own sake.

I also really like how you called out a WEAKNESS for each monster. That’s a nice bit of detail for RP and tactics.

Timer Actions for more dangerous enemies are cool too. Aras from the Red Fang adventure casts Wither at Power 3 every d4 rounds, as long as he has a Blood Crystal intact.

Love those orcs! If you make any others I would definitely like to see them, it would be fun to throw a whole Orc Squadron at my players, with legit command, melee, and ranged fighters.


Crack the whip could also be a CHA roll


Do you mean CHA to ignore it?

I don’t typically roll for Monster actions, I just call for saves. My thinking on how I would run Whip Crack, is I would pick a target, and call for a DEX roll. If the PC fails the roll, then I would tell them, “Make a NEAR move backwards, or take WEAPON EFFORT”

I like that the player can decide whether to move or tank the damage, even after they failed the roll.

Does that makes sense?


Yes my bad wording, CHA to ignore. I just see cha as its mind affecting


That could work, the only thing that trips me up is that it also deals damage. I could see changing the ability so that it’s only forced movement?

So the Taskmaster cracks his whip in your face, not even trying to hurt you, but you roll CHA or you flinch and take a “step” back. I do kinda like that.


I dont see the not taking damage aspect. Whips are dangerous, and in many circumstances they we used because they inflicted pain. Pain is one of the most effective motivators for getting animals (humanoid included) to do stuff.

I agree with the DEX to avoid, as a CHA would get you hit, and you would take damage. However, a strong CHA or CON roll may make the taskmaster think twice about cracking his whip at an individual who either, tanked the hit so well that they were able to shrug it off, or the individual was able to take it and not let it show through. In either case the task master is thinking do I break them or do I run the risk of them breaking me.


Dang that’s a cool moment. I feel like that’s definitely something that needs to be player-driven though.

The case I can see for CHA/No Damage, is that it varies the game mechanics. Instead of another DEX/DEF roll vs a damaging effect, it’s CHA vs a Forced Move.

I do think on the balance, I still prefer DEX, with failure leaving the choice between tanking damage, or moving out of range.

An alternate take might be, “Take 2 pts of damage (no Save), Roll CHA or immediately move NEAR away from the Taskmaster.”

Rolling CHA while taking a hit to intimidate an enemy though… That’s badass.


Alternatively you could roll CON vs TN and reduce damage by BASIC +CON to attempt to shrug it off, but if you end up taking any damge you have to move because pain leaked through the Soak attempt.

But yeah, the CHA to Intimidate the task master in seeking easier or weaker opponents is badass. It reminds me of Kaladin Stormblessed from Stormlight Archive, where he gives his task master Gaz a cold dangerous look and Gaz backs down.


It’s so cool how many different ways you can handle this interaction. My big takeaway though, is that I need an Orc Taskmaster with a big whip in one of my games!


:notes: Where there’s a whip-
:notes: There’s a way…