Summary of my latest game (sorry for post size)



So as requested by some of the folks on discord im posting a summary of the game I ran on Saturday.
Bit of context. I’m an autistic, socially awkward person with high standards for myself and was very nervous as it was my first time DMing for 5 people. I’ve ran for 3 of them before and the extra 2 were new rpg players (1 of whom I thought would be okay, the other 1…i knew he would ‘game’ it big time).

The previous game I ran with 3 players was played as a very stripped down version of d&d. note quite icrpg though as at this point dungeon world held sway over me for certain aspects like success at a cost, free-flowing gameplay rather than turns and armour reducing damage rather than armour class. This is something I’ve spent forever thinking about… But after this recent session… Everything has now changed. More on this later.

The first mission they played was very, “you meet in a tavern, a young girl has been abducted by a strangely behaving doctor. Go to the caves, kill the monsters, deal with the doctor, save the girl, have a boss fight, the end”.

This new game had to be different. It had to be more… ‘me’, I guess. I felt that before I had held back on the epicness to just introduce people into the game. This time… I wasnt going to. And definatley was not going for a slow start.

I opened the first scene with a brief description of how the five of them were a relatively new group of adventurers investigating a thieves guild who was rumoured to be ran by a mysterious mage. They had acquired knowledge of a rough location of his hideout and had hired a ship to help them intercept a thieves guild ship en route to the location. Take control of it and use it to get close to him. (I just wanted a ship encounter in the game).

I had previously spoke to all of them and we spoke about brief backstory and figured out little links that tied them all together. I did this to ensure that they were all friends and colleagues to try and avoid anybody being silly and selfish.
I described them below deck on a boat and were called up to the top deck as the interception point was approaching.
On the deck I described it as extremely foggy with almost zero visibility, windy and cold. They were told to stand on the edge of the ship and handed a stone with a feather symbol on it. They did… Unsure about what was going to happen. Then they felt a light jolt as their ship began to sink, not as you would expect. But in altitude. Visibility came to them as they moved below the clouds and now realised they were standing on the edge of an airship.
A couple of hundred feet below them was the thieves airship. Immediately they were informed to dive off and when they got close to the ship, to crush the feather stone containing a one use feather fall spell. I pressed play on the rock music and made them roll for skydive. Their faces were a picture. NATURAL ONE!! shouted the ninja player! I described him flailing about and clearly was going to miss the target. The hunter rolled a NATURAL 20! So I let his character essentially go over and save the ninja.

They all landed and proceeded to clear the deck of thieves. the first mate was thrown overboard (along with a piece of loot I put on him), the captain was slain after trying to sabotage the ship knowing he was done for. And the ship was taken with not too much damage done to the PCs.

It was during this fight I noticed a few things…

  1. the player I had concerns with (from now on shall be referred to as DAVE) was playing the way I thought he would. Trying to make his mage more powerful than everybody else by adding in that now he had the ability to turn into ‘spirit form’ out of the blue. Taking ages on his turn. Trying to decide peoples turns for them. Explaining how because he could shoot a lightning bolt spell he should be able to control the weather. Just all around being very gamey and unpleasant.

2)due to DAVES constant interruptions I was struggling to maintain what I thought was a good flow and speed to the game. No problems with the other players though.

3)TURNS! … due to the influence of dungeon world. My view on using turns was clouded. I was thinking, turns are evil’ and that a free-flowing cinematic style of play was best and dramatic scenes can’t be created using a turn based format. And the DM rolling for the bad guys would take away some fun for the PCs. In short, is a load of :poop::poop: :poop: .
Without a turn structure it was difficult to tell DAVE to chill and wait his turn.

  1. TIMERS! … Oh boy. I’ve watched every runehammer video. Multiple times in fact. And I still thought I knew better. Without a timer… These guys, under the leadership of DAVE would of spent the whole evening planning on how to clear the bottom deck of the airship.

On route to the location of the mages hideout the players were constantly discussing how they should dress up as the thieves. One should be the captain (which involved the artificer removing the captains face and putting it on his own face as a mask… Wow). I had planned on them just parking the airship in a clearing and after a short walk through the woods they would arrive at the mages hut.
So I changed things… I had them park at a spontaneously invented dock with a bunch of thieves guild members watching over it. They Charisma checked their way up close and killed them. Then set off into the woods.
(I was really happy with what I did here as it was clear all of them wanted a sneak-past-in-disguise moment. So I gave it to them).

Going through the woods I suggested the ninja and hunter (new player) go ahead to scout (make them feel special) and they located a trap which they allowed the whole group to avoid.

Eventually they reached a clearing with a crooked wooden hut in the centre. They spent a few mins deciding what to do and eventually one of them took the lead and approached. Inside the hut was a minefield of traps and wierd loot. The bed was a venus fly trap style thing if you touched it. The chest had a cloak in it that when examined it, wrapped around you and kept squeezing until destroyed (that will teach DAVE to grab every piece of loot first). The way through the hut was to blow out the candle on the fireplace. This would kill the fireplace and reveal a portal that could be crawled through. Just after the artificer examined the transparent liquid in a cup and concluded it was a potion of invisibility I decided we needed some pace. The game needed some pressure.
So I revealed to the ninja player the huge angry Treant coming to crush them. I believe I left this too long and DAVE (bless him) was trying to be alpha gamer. If I were running this game just like icrpg. I would of just immediately said you have 4 rounds before tree beard on steroids arrives. Then proceeded in TURNS and declared someone notice the fire flicker when candle flickers after a round or so of fighting it (if nobody found it sooner).
So they fought and killed the big tree and were like. Phew… I immediately declared 2more treants coming and the fire portal was discovered.

The next and final area was a cave like room roughly 100ft long and a similar shape to a donut. Large mirrors on the outside and inside walls. And a big magical door on the opposite side to the entrance. Going through this area when they investigated mirrors I had them make WIS checks, the ninja, the hunter and his pet were all pulled into the mirrors and temporarily vanished.
The players investigated the door and the mage started to focus magical effort on the door and it started to slowly open. This is where I had the centre “donut ring” explode and the mage who runs the thieves guild appear, along with the missing PCs now with eyes glowing purple and an overwhelming urge to destroy their friends. So now we have one room, mirrors on the outside, a mage with some controlled PCs and the rest of the PCs focusing on protecting the mage at the door.

After the players refused the mages offer at working together for some tasty magical items a fight ensued. I had the mage be able to swap places with a controlled PC and any bad guy able to hop into the mirrors on the wall and pop out another, which was fun to use. I had the mage finally knocked out in the corner of the room but the players didn’t pay attention to him for a round so I had him escape. (future big bad maybe?).

They opened the magic door. Looted the place. And left.
This was pretty much the end of the game. The mage was still alive somewhere, the hunters pet nearly died, but they now have use of an airship.

I rounded off the game and everyone said they enjoyed it and want to play again.

A few take aways I had from this game were massive for me. Rather than theorising ideas, actually having 5 people to run for was brilliant. Over the last few days I’ve watched various videos of Hanks again, like timers and challenge tuning encounters. I’ve spoke to all the players and we are running pure icrpg next time.

I had a glorious message of feedback from DAVE saying things like “if I want to shoot a badguy with lightning I should be able to aim it around a person who is in the way”.
To which I responded “as long as it makes sense you can. If its an ogre between you and the target, probably not. If it’s a friend you can shout get down and can do it. If it’s another enemy you can make the shot but it will be a Hard Target”.

He was worried that the ranger having 3 loot and all others having 1 could cause inbalance in future games if the ranger doesn’t play.
I explained that I had 2 loot ready for everyone in the adventure and 1 extra for whoever used a special key. Due to destroying chests and throwing people overboard not everyone got 2 loot.
The hunter almost single handedly killed a Treant, decided to loot the body. So as he was actually a hunter, fought a good fight, thought to loot his body and rolled a NAT 20 I said he obtained wood from its body and salvaged its heart. Which could be used to craft a +1 forest long bow (artificer rubbing his hands together at chance to make something cool).
I also told him that sometimes the stories, luck and loot fall to certain people and in other sessions it would fall to others and not to worry about ‘not having a chance if they don’t have 5 people’. As a DM I don’t want to kill your character but I do want you to get close to a fair death or else we may aswel play world of warcraft and kill sheep for 4 hours.

Overall I have come away with TURNS, TIMERS, AC and high pressure ICRPG. things I’ve heard many times. But other systems have made me curious. I have seen the light and can’t wait to run the next session. Everyone has given me feedback, told me they thought it was epic. Ive told them my adjustments for next session and all seem excited. Even DAVE apologised for his “being an idiot”. I told him it’s cool. I just want him to see that the rules and game come second to the story. The rules I run are just to keep everyone involved, keep the game moving and try make everyone have fun. Which is why icrpg2e is by my side right now.

Thankyou so much to everyone that gave me a pep talk before my game it really calmed me down to hear a few words of encouragement. And take a hero coin if you actually read this jumbled ranty mess of a post.

TLDR. Icrpg is God


Awesome story! Thanks for sharing :herocoin:


I wrote my wedding speech in less time that this post lol


Hahahaha! One could make the argument that just about anything is easier than GMing sometimes :rofl:


Awesome recap and awesome experience!

It seems you have done well. GMing is a high stress job, so I understand. Especially if you are new and especially if you are a socially awkward person. Thankfully, GMing helps a lot in these areas; it teaches you how to be a leader, how to be authoritative and understanding at the same time, how to think on your feet, how to adjust, how to act (also as in acting) and how to roleplay and so much more.

Like you’ve seen, having experience first hand in the game is the best way to see what works and what doesn’t. Theorycrafting is great but “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. Keep going!

I appalud you for your courage!

I’d like to part with a word of caution. Players like DAVE are usually incurable in their behavior because it is who they are. They cause issues for everyone during play and for the GM when not playing. Be prepared to boot him from the group.

I had a similar issue last month. I had created an online D&D group with some new players and some of my old players which are and have been my best buddies (also my highschool friends) for 25+ years. One of them is a ferocious alpha gamer and had ruined multiple rpg and board games over the years. Some devolved into nasty fights even. We couldn’t change this because I mean how could we… He doesn’t think anything is wrong with him (technically nothing is wrong but his behavior is disruptive).

I thought, me finding new players and playing online would change things. I tought he would behave around strangers but no, I was wrong. He started to cause issues for the new guys as well and long story short I had to boot thim from the game. I resisted to do this for 25+ years but I will play with him no more because it is impossible to play with him and enjoy the game.

Alpha gamers don’t tend to change because it is a character trait.

Be prepared to let DAVE go and don’t feel bad.


Everyone has played with or DMed a DAVE. Either get used to saying “because I’m the GM and that’s my ruling” or prep the ejector seat button for activation because it’s going to be an uphill battle my friend.

I love the summary though and glad you had so many revelations.


GMing is hard…but rewarding when you are able to participate and root for your players while challenging them to the brink.

Dave, don’t know him/her. Might be an experienced gamer…but probably not with serious gamers. Also, having weird powers out of the blue is…well odd.

Rules of thumb I have learned recently.

  1. Yes, but…can be really fun.
  2. Movement is just movement…
  3. Hero Coins!!! Are awesome!!!

Player wants to become mist at no cost, or earning it…sure, but you can’t control your movement or use items…but you are aware of everything your new mist body touches. You float and spread where I say you do…you only see what you touch…as you do it more you may gain more control and senses about it.


Sandra wants to throw her great sword…sure hard roll weapon damage…


I want to climb that cliff…sure roll for TN and if you have no tools for climbing d4 effort. Not making TN you don’t advance, modified roll of 6 or less, you slip, and add d4 to effort, roll a 1 and you fall.

  1. Walking there, jumping on the chandelier to get there, jumping off a branch, jumping off 4 walls to get there…it’s all just movement…if they can get there one way…let the player embellish however they want to gain style points…if you think it was fun…give a hero coin for success!!!

  2. Depending on the type of story you are playing…Hero Coins/surge points/bennies, and allowing ever larger broad use of them…can increase the coolness factor of your player characters while keeping things limited.

I ran 4 hero coins at the beginning of each session and gave more whenever a player impressed me, or changed the flow of combat in the PCs favor.

Hero coins In my last game could re-roll any roll, or add d12 to any roll…I had to modify that with AoEs and or controlling timers…but beyond that it allowed me to throw the kitchen sink at the PCs and not really fear their deaths, until there where only one or two hero coins left in the party. It was a really good control lever/sensor.

Ultimately, you will find your speed and style. As to problem players…don’t worry about it, having a talk…seeing no improvement and kicking them out is not hard to do…but it will change the dynamics of everything. And while socially awkward and younger …I used the Space Cow!!!

“Make me an epic check…basically roll a nat 20 for half damage” “hmmm that was not a 20…in your head you are hearing this very resonating but high pitched Mmmmooooooooo” grab like 20 D6s and roll them “ you where hit by the trans dimensional space cow for 52 points of damage…sure you can use your hero points to lessen the damage…”” ok with all of your hero points and those of your friends your character steps to the side as a 2 meter wide and 10 meter deep hole explodes next to you…give me a hard dex check to avoid …

It’s the idiotic finger of god crushing their character, it is inevitable, it should be memorable so you can give your players a hint (you think you’re hearing a distorted mooo in your head).

Their character was getting idiotic.
Now if the player is getting idiotic…a talk and/or dismissal if there is no point to talking is fine. Toxic players are toxic to the whole group.

But keeping to ICRPG can keep that to a minimum…we are going in turns, even in conversation, Dave what is your character doing? Dave? Your character is frozen in in analysis paralysis…Ok, Jim, what is Bandik doing?

No need to be cruel, 5 to 7 minutes for everyone to go including the GM allows for each character to get about 12 actions/rolls per hour of fast pace combat. 4 actions per hour of “fast paced combat” gets boring and people looking at their phones.


Thanks for that. Like you, I’ve known my DAVE for years. Since the game the other day players have spoke to me independently about him. They all pretty much say the same thing and I get the same vibe from each of them (that he’s not a nasty person, but future sessions would be better without him). DAVE himself even knows his flaws. And like you said I don’t think it will change. To be fair I did see it coming but didn’t want to leave him out. He can join in the next one if he wants. But if he is a doofus during that session then that will be his last game with us.


I love the cow… Brilliant.
I do allow almost anything really. Somebody wanted to choke a guy with a yoyo, cool. Jump through window? Done. Wizard powers hunters bow with fire for next shot? Sure.
Its just things like me putting Pcs in a cell and all of a sudden DAVE reveals he can go into spirit form… Ummmm… But when we spoke about your back story there was nothing of the sort mentioned. And also just into the session he was like “I’m a midget so I’m stealthy”…
Firstly, say halfling or knome you turd. And secondly. You put many points into stealth there buddy??? No??? Then stop trying to steal the ninjas thunder. And also as you try drift through the bars in “spirit form” you bump into the magic barrier fucko. :joy:

My son in his second game ever learnt a powerful lesson. He and his friend boarded a pirate ship and began fighting up it. He got grumpy his friend didn’t shoot the closest skeleton so he said “okay then… I jump off the ship”
You sure son, because you have abandoned your friend?
“yes!!! :angry:
Okay then my boy… So I made him swim half speed and make CON checks and take damage every round. When he got to the ship they boarded from it started to sink from the impact of the collision.
All the time his friend was SLAYING skellies and earning hero coins. Reluctantly my stroppy 9year old rejoined the fray.
The next hour or so was awesome and they jumped in the air cheering and high fiving when they killed the bbeg.
Afterwards I asked him what he had learned. He just said “a lot dad”. And since then he’s been amazing.


An extra side note. It was mentioned during the game something along the lines of “I don’t care how many hp he has, if I stab him in the neck with my sword he dies”.
I said that’s true, that’s realistic. If you weren’t in full combat with an aware foe I’d consider something like that. But not in a fair fight.
If you want me to I can implement that kind of play from this turn onwards. If you would like. But what’s possible for you is possible for the bad guys. You can now be stabbed in the neck. I guarantee in 6 rounds you will be missing an arm, leg, have a punctured lung and be making a new character…
“Oh yeah! Now you say it like that I get it. I’ll just roll for damage”


Totally!!! And last year, hell 4 months ago I would agree with your style of instant cause and effect.

Now I am at once more malleable and much more strict.

Sorry, I’ll go into a bit of mechanics talk here, and I am using my phone…Edit: I had to jump onto the Laptop this got long.
For those who don’t want to read my drivel but are interested…3 main takeaways.

1. RPGs are really simple, but the right level of complexity tickles the brain.

2. Keep Things abstract unless reality is all you are going for.

3. After session questions are a fast way to improve as a GM, zero in on your tables wants, earn the trust of your table, if you use it appropriately Just keep them short and sweet…and put your Ego aside at that point, it’s about subjective perception, not your ability, or value…just how your players feel after that session.

Subjective Reality, RPGs are at their base, GM presents obstruction, PCs overcome the obstruction. The rest is window dressing and further complication of that theme. The window dressing is the fun part.

After session 3, assuming no new powers on the part of the PCs, the GM knows how many rounds of what type of effort the PCs can put out.
Assuming weapon effort the party of 5 is doing around 14 points of effort per round, but of lock-picking, it’s only 10…and 1 PC is bringing 6 of that.

So you as a GM can create rooms or obstacles (Rooms) that equal 3~8 rounds of effort, low lethality. Now, because the dice gods have a wicked sense of humor, the reality is 0.5~infinity rounds and not a scratch ~ TPK is the reality of any room design, but you as GM are playing with the averages.

For these games to work, trust must be placed throughout the table…the players to play along in the minds scape the GM crafts, the GM to give you and your character moments to shine and be cool!!!

The area we as GMs cannot control at all, but we can encourage…that the players trust us, and that the players give each other the space to have moments of glory.

My Point I try to limit rule changes/clarification/interpretation and their discussion until after the session. And unless clutch, I try to leave the final decision for other communications between me and the PC/PCs in question until before their next session. That way we can all agree on a good outcome. Also agreeing that the rule might need to be changed.

So, I love Post session review. at the end of the session, I ask each player in turn.

  1. What was the coolest moment?
  2. What did I as the GM do right?
  3. Where did I Suck?

Allow for a bit of round table discussion, but you as the GM are just chairing the discussion, and taking notes at this point. You are not giving feedback or defending your actions other than to ask for clarification so you understand the issue. As well as moving the conversation on. E-mail, discord, or whatever can be used later. You want everyone to get their immediate thoughts right now, that it.

Now, for the Exciting Part!!!
Player: I stab the Goblin King in the heart!!!
GM: So Korith is stabbing for the central chest of the Goblin King, just to Korith’s left, with his Short Sword?
Player: No, I am stabbing him in the heart, I’m invisible, Korith is an assassin, 5 other reasons why it should be so.

Dilemma; Goblin King is supposed to be 4~6 rounds of fun for the group, and present the possible death of 1 or 2 of the Party…he hits hard!!!

GM: Give me a Hero Coin roll a natural 12 or better, and You tell me how the Goblin King dies, under 12 and it’s a normal strike as if you are hidden.
Player: Rolls an 11
Player: I use a hero coin to reroll?
GM: No, that was a one time offer…you can augment your roll however you want, but it was meant to be a natural 12.
(At this point as the GM you want to look at the other players and see their level of engagement if into this critical moment continue, but if getting bored…move on).
GM: (seeing engagement) I’ll let you re-roll it for the cost of 2 Hero coins, I know you only have one, but one of your comrades can give you another.
Player: Rolls a natural 1
GM: Well I don’t suppose the Table is willing to give Korith 3 hero coins to re-roll?

It doesn’t matter how it goes from there. The Player playing Korith knows his players have his back, or at least debated it…he had the Spot Light.

Later in the after after Game discussion, you can explain that combat is an abstraction, or every game would be about getting Korith in the same room as the Boss, and that is it…but as a milestone, we can add a heavy debuff called Assassins Strike! It’ll have 3 variations, one per milestone. For the rest of the combat type effect.
After going back and forth in a few messages, Movement, Sight, Magic.
Magic Assasins Strike, Blocks the object from casting any magic,
Sight Assasins Strike, Blocks the Bosses sight.
Movement Assasins Strike halves their normal movement and allows only a one time special movement for the rest of the combat.

Each would do D12 Damage or some such, but this allows for effects against bosses that are elementals, undead, magical constructs!!! You don’t want to increase damage, but the flexibility of the character to hamper the Boss.

You, don’t need to explain that as the GM, all you need to do is get the PCs, a sleep spell, and then slit their throats…it should be implied…then there is always the multi-dementional Space Cow!!!


It is totally awesome that your son is getting life lessons from playing games with his Dad!!!

My buddy is currently running some of the most engaging games he has ever run in his life (35+ years of GMing) with 20 something-year-olds…except he has been running these 17~20 somethings since they where 12…they are sophisticated and silly, and hopefully will be friends for life…and Dad knows exactly what type of friends his daughters are hanging around with!

Sad part…he is not so willing to run for his old groups, cause we collectively don’t bring it to the level his current players do…


I appreciate all feedback, I see it as a way for me to improve and tweak the game so the players have the most fun.

I like what you’re saying about playing with the averages of effort. I never thought about effort per round when designing rooms/encounters. Not that I need to go all “good will hunting” with huge maths equations but it’s good to at least think on.

My main reason for communicating with DAVE afterwards was because I wanted to convince him to trust like you said. To trust me and the others at the table.

Using hero coins as a currency for chances at unlikely awesome moments? Brilliant! I shall be using hero coins in this way a bit more. Never really thought of them as a currency (probably due to 5e inspiration).


Blame @Alex for his use/introduction of edge in Altered State. I just took the next step and combined Edge, hero coins and an easy out for the GM to say “Yes, but!”

The number they start each session with, it really can adjust the danger level. 4 starting per session makes it Fast and Furious level action. Semi-normal. But silly levels from time to time.