Theater of the Mind tips?



I’m always inspired by art, especially for writing up a character. The stronger the image I have in my head, or to look at, the easier it is for me to ‘know’ my character, it seems. Thanks for the compliment S.u.r.f. & Lon.


I’ve played ICRPG both ToTM and Minis (tabletop and VTT). I like both methods and have no preference one over the other.

I think ToTM is a lot less work for online games (no sourcing maps, mini figures, writing macros etc). My F2F group first ever online game was ToTM using Discord GoLive to share images and basic maps (most of them don’t have webcams or have poor bandwidth which makes video chat not possible for the group) .

They found audio and ToTM very easy for online play. We alternate weekly between ToTM games and Virtual Tabletop games so have a nice blend of both. I have also tried music and sound effects using a music bot (but at even 1-2% sound level they said they preferred it with out). Music on Zoom is a no-go the levels fluctuate wildly.

In a game I played the other night the GM gave a link to some ambient music off YT that fitted with the genre and told the players if they wanted to play it locally then they could. I think this was a good compromise - up to the individuals if they wanted it and not forced on all players…


Giving them the playlist is a great idea. I really wish I could control the moments, but that maybe could suffice. It could cause audio interference though.


I have seen some great advice, but have not read it all, so my advice may be a repeat of more eloquent words;

Work with the advantages of ICRPG on Distance. Avoid number descriptions unless those numbers are absolutely necessary, instead use their own character as a reference for things. (IE. “The table, built for giants, is beautifully crafted though you can only properly see the etchings along the legs as the rest of the decor towers above you head, just beyond your spear’s reach. “)

Give players options when faced with obstacles, to help them understand it a little better
(IE “You chase the gutter punk down, though he had the lead on you, you arrive just on his heels, coming Around a corner you spot a drop, with pallets used as makeshift ladders up and down. There you see the gutter punk getting his pals to grab guns and aim towards you.” Player: “Can I get to him with my vibroblade?” “Only if you leap, doing a Str check to land properly. This will get you there fast enough to strike before they shoot. Or you can climb down of course, not risking fumbling, but it will take you the rest of the turn to find cover”) Even if they don’t want to take option A or B they will understand the situation better enough to make their own ideas.

Lastly , Theatre of The Mind demands more of a flow and focus than using a board. So sometimes when you accidentally get side tracked it’s hard to recover your players back into the immersion. This being said I don’t use music like ever because of this. Only if it’s sung by a party member, or made for the scene directly. I have dabbled but my current group just gets distracted too easily and we all have to go through the awkwardness of trying to rearrange the chess pieces so to speak.