Separating effort types from bonuses



I really love the idea behind the effort mechanic, but there are a few things that really bug me.

  • Weapon/Tool are the same category. Not being able to specialise your character in either of the two seems like a huge missed opportunity
  • If something upgrades your effort type, you loose your former bonus, which might leave you worse off (A fighter with +3 in Weapons but +0 in Magic/Ultimate would get no benefit from a magical sword which does magic/ultimate effort).

I thought about it for a while and my idea would be a slight change to the effort types, as follows:

POOR (d4): when you lack the necessary tools or they are of bad quality
BASIC (d6): the standard case
OUTSTANDING (d8): you have exceptionally good tools, a master-crafted weapon, a detailed map for the place you’re navigating etc.
MAGIC (d10): magic does everything better and magic tools/weapons are the best you can get
ULTIMATE (d12): reserved for crits and really epic stuff

Now instead of bonuses tied directly to these effort types, I would allow my characters to be trained in stuff like fighting, tool usage, casting or even just use their ability modifiers as bonuses to effort. The idea is that now you can freely combine a bonus to whatever effort type fits the circumstances (your +3 bonus to fighting stays, no matter if your using a poor or high quality weapon).

I’m still relatively new to ICRPG, so i wonder if anyone already tried something like this or if anyone has an argument why this would not be a good idea…?


Well, there’s no rule that says you can’t specialize your character. We routinely give characters a die category better if they find masterwork, magic, or even perfect tools. Mithril picks? Sure, do a D8 of effort instead. As for tools and weapons all starting at a D6, it’s never been a problem in actual play.

This piece has been addressed before. Simply use whichever bonus is better, weapon or magic. I know some tables that add both together. Again, there’s no rule that says you end up worse off.

Instead of seeing dead ends, I encourage you to see possibilities instead. ICRPG is meant to be flexible.


Well the standard character sheet doesn’t differentiate between tools and weapons, which means at least the vanilla rules don’t encourage you to specialize yourself (only through loot)

Yes that’s exactly how I imagined it!

Where has it been addressed? I haven’t found this anywhere?


The effort system is probably my favorite thing about ICRPG and tweaking it is one of the easiest way to spin things about your game. My first thought was to make the efforts a little more generic in terms- Weapon becoming “Standard,” Gun becoming “Advanced” or however it was I phrased it. Then you can get things like a sniper doing Magic damage with their rifle with the right abiliity, or a hacker with a cyborg hand doing Magic effort on electronic locks. A little reward for playing a certain class.

The tweaking of Effort is a common point of discussion, which I think is what Alex meant.


This might be one of the thread where it has been discussed, maybe you will enjoy it!


Thanks! That thread yields some interesting ideas indeed


I like that the effort categories match the thing being used; it cuts down on my cognitive load as a GM, and I think it forces meaningful choices in character design: you want to be the best swordsman ever? You can put all 4 points of effort into WEAPON, but then the great sword is unwieldy, and the will of the magical blade will not yield to yours. You can make your PC better at these things, but you have to spread some points around. Most other GMs lean into the “use your best modifier” approach, which lines up very well with the system you’ve laid out above. Keep tinkering!