Social intrigue



Do you think social intrigue/politics focused games are posible with ICRPG? If so… Any advice?


100% !

There’s even a Runehammer video that’ll help !



Part of this is kind of like asking, “Are intrigue/Politics focused games possible with D&D? Or pathfinder? Or insert random RPG ruleset here?” That’s because if you want to play that style of game, you can easily do that in almost any system.

As for mechanics, a lot of folks find that the Effort system in ICRPG is uniquely well-suited to handle intrigue/politics and those cases where learning and gaining information or Intel is important.


Absolutely possible. But I don’t think it is well suited. Intrigue thrives best if problems cannot be solved by direct actions. And part of this is in the adventure (which is why it is always possible to play intrigue in any game). But part is also in how starting characters relate to the world, and ICRPG (and DnD style games in general) tend to produce PCs that have a lot of action potential: fighting, casting magic, doing crazy stunts on a crit. This makes it tricky to run adventures where such actions are not really needed without losing player buy-in. If they were given the option to pick fireball and took it, it’s bad form to expect them not to cast it.

So concretely, I’d say you need players who have already bought in big, or create a very clever adventure where players feel that having fireball is awesome even when never used. Perhaps like in Vampire, where interaction with humans is all about how awesome characters are and interaction with other vampires is all about intrigue.


If you have a ruleset for intrigue you like??? you may want to adapt.

But in general, with very little modification you can do anything in ICRPG…you just may need to make some of it up yourself.
Social Intrigue does not answer exactly what you are doing, Spy, Murder Mystery, Non-combat game, Thiefs, high society politics, High Power Politics …
All different mechanics.

Favors owed may be loot, accomplishments may grant something. You will need to grant some type of economy of action.
work by yourself = basic effort.
Work using minor influence = Tool effort.
Work using Magor influence = Magic effort.

Turns might equal days.
seeing the effects of your actions you might not see for a week. but in everything, it is spending to get.

Here is a link that might help.

And I am quoting myself from June of last year. that gives a different perspective on using hearts and effort.


My question to you is, “why wouldn’t it be possible?”.

I haven’t played tons and tons of RPGs like some others here, but from what I understand a mechanic for social intrigue and politics is not a super common feature of D&D style RPGS.

I think the pitfall to making a social intrigue game is the same pitfall you can face in designing any encounter or adventure. Namely, that you’ll have a firm idea in your head about how the players should accomplish their goals as opposed to simply offering open ended problems to solve.

Instead, feel out what they want to go after, have a rough idea of the key persons involved and just set your players loose and see what they come up with. Those key persons should have motivations that are both in line and opposed to the players.

Someone else linked the social encounters decoded video, but I think this one is relevant as well:

As a last bit of advice, play some games of secret hitler to get into that role playing deceptive mindset. You can play with a deck of cards, no need to buy the boxed game for secret hitler.


You can treat political intrigue just like combat. Characters have stats to show their strengths and weaknesses, Loot/Tags that confer special bonuses, movement determines who in the room is close enough to interact with. The paradigm has changed, putting a different emphasis on stats. Using Strength to bash an opponent will get you kicked out of the bar, but a friendly arm wrestle might impress that orc chief. Constitution isn’t stopping the poison from the dart trap, but it may keep you from getting drunk and embarrassing yourself. Charisma becomes the stat that lets you directly attack another’s resolve with persuasion or intimidation checks.

Rather than Hit Points, Hearts can represent the opponent’s resolve that must be overcome. Charisma Attempts/Checks can be made HARD or EASY depending if the PC’s have pleased or angered their opponent. The overall Room Target can be reduced if the PC’s buy a round of drinks for everyone or the bard leads the band in a joyous tune. Loot should confer special bonuses, like the Ducal Signet Ring allows MAGIC Effort when negotiating with the desert tribes, but BASIC versus the Emperor’s allies. When a character’s Hearts are depleted, they’ve entered a state where they’ve lost reputation, agreed to concessions or compromise, or otherwise unable to exert their will on others in the room. Beware, NPC’s can attack the PC’s resolve too, knocking them out of the scene.

Each scene of intrigue is treated like a Room with a Target. Rooms still determine the placement of characters in relation to each other and can restrict movement. Timers can determine the length of a meeting, when the next course of a meal is served, when a new character arrives, etc.

  1. The King’s Throneroom - The PC’s are bowed before the king, who is flanked by his retainers. They must convince the king for or against a specific action, like sending troops to aid his long-time rival. The selected leader addresses the king directly while the other party members provide backup against the king’s scheming retainers. All speech is in the open for all to hear.
  2. The Ballroom Banquet - A room of freely moving characters. The goal of the PC’s is to get the right people to meet at the right time while blocking the nefarious characters. Speech is limited to those close to the speakers/listeners.
  3. The Peace Summit - The PC’s are arbiters at a negotiation to end a bloody war between two nations. During breaks between meetings, events and other factions can provide opportunities for peace or threaten to reignite hostilities.
  4. The Hearing - The PC’s are testifying before a Council. Each round, a single member of the Council addresses the PC’s. The Council member can be antagonistic, attacking the PC’s testimony, resolve, or reputation. Other members are supporters, aiding the PC’s with bonuses or bolstering their resolve. A similar format could be used for a trial.


I like your idea on the different efforts a lot. I’m definetely going to add this to my game!


Thanks but it’s not that new of a concept, only new part is the nuance that effort can be used to counter effort.

It’s how I would run a race, or a chase scene.

The down side is that it requires tracking, if there are more than one goal being pitted at the same time. ( you need a tracker for each goal).

Say it is a race, and the goal is 5 hearts, first to the bottom of the hill alive wins.

Racers/teams are
In a Ferrari

In a light tank

On 2 mountain Bikes.

Ferrari can do d8~d12 of effort and passenger has an assault rifle.

Light tank must do d4 to d6 to d8 effort and has a heavy machine gun.

Mountain bikes can do D4. But ignore the roads and ride down the steep trails reducing the trip to 2 heart but all rolls are hard for the trail, each armed with sub machine guns, and explosives.

That’s 4 or 5 trackers each.
Hp per vehicle, progression of vehicles, hp of passengers…

It’s fun at a con or something with effort markers on the road and trails with the road intersecting the trail a few times but not worth per say for a half session before the real action.