(update)Tomb of the Serpent Kings – it was a mediocre experience



Congratulations, you learn more from failures than success.

New rules, new mechanics, new play concepts, new display of information and a complex dungeon…what can possibly go wrong??? ;-p

I’m a bit agnostic when it comes to game systems until combat starts taking way too long. Except in superhero games.

My only suggestion is try a simple scenario to let everyone get used to combat and their sheets. Soon enough they are just there for occasional reference. Or tracking HP and ammo.

Remember any attempt becomes easier the second time it is tried. (As far as ICRPG rules). Let them try crazy.
Inventory control is part of the game, but you can deep six it for a different method. But 10 items can be enough if they are flexible or broad. Gauntlets give you +2 armor…not just your hands.
If a magic staff only does one thing, for high powered characters, it’s a low end item. It can add to +3 to casting, grant easy rolls on fire spells and store 3 spells in equipped status. Now we are into the high mid tear of items. If playing high fantasy.

Or do something odd and have semi~free form magic and abilities. GM decides the complexity of what they are asking for, 1, or 2 they have what they want, 3 they get part of it. Something they definitely should have, they just get, something they probably should have, roll a d4…something they should probably never be able to do, Percentile. D4 is 50/50 they get it, and 75% they get most of it. D20 is 10%~15%.

Only part I hate is them needing to write it on their character sheet so now they have it when they want it, and or players asking for crazy things for the 3% chance they might get it. But it’s a method to grant starting loot as they need it.


Hi Alex,

thanks for your reply! I’m not sure if more familiarity with the loot would help – the problem, for us, lies in the sheer number of loot items available. Too many kewl powerz :slight_smile:

This too-many-cool-powers problem is one we, as a group playing together for more than 20 years now, have always had. Take Feng Shui, for instance. Cool setting, bad system – but cool special moves and all that. But the sheer number of special kung fu techniques available was the turn-off for us because we had to memorize at least some of them, or look at the character sheet when a threat appeared. This breaks immersion, and we don’t particularly like that.

We had the exact same problem with Dungeon World or pbtA: it’s all moves, moves, moves. Interestingly enough, Hank and I had a short email conversation only a few days ago, and he mentioned it was the DW moves that made the game difficult for him. I have the feeling it’s the loot that might make ICRPG difficult for us.

We’ll see.


Sometimes you just know when things don’t fit, lol. But I have to say, I’m curious what systems out there allow a seamless gaming experience where no one has to look at a character sheet when a threat appears. That sentence honestly blows me away, as I assumed most folks look at their character sheets from to time (and if I am honest, it’s one of the reasons why I personally like RPGs as a player — all the cool loot and abilities and feeling useful moment to moment with the team). Sounds like you folks take immersion super seriously ‘round your parts. Lol.

I’ll be eager to hear how things shake out, ultimately, and I appreciate your candor. And I have to agree about DW. There’s some genius there, but I wouldn’t run it as written; I would run it a lot like ICRPG where players have a collection of gear with bonuses but aren’t constrained by a set of “moves” in terms of what they do moment to moment.


You could always just remove most of the loot and use the tag system from blood and snow. Just tell the players they have any gear that would make sense for them to have. That way you can just give them magic items as loot and tell them what it does like you said earlier.


TAGS are just great.


There are tags for weapons in the core book, too, for the weapon! I’m certain you can apply them to characters & attributes, too! :smiley:


I actually forgot about those. If you want something to make the different weapons and gear stand out immersively they might help.


There are quite a few games out there that you can play without looking at the character sheet, really. Blood of Pangea is one of my go-to systems, for instance. You can play entire sessions without looking at the sheet. Or our pre-D&D game that uses similar rules to the ones Dave Arneson used when he invented roleplaying.

Maybe “breaking immersion” is not exactly what I meant – I guess it’s more like “breaking mood”, if that makes sense.


Very helpful. I’ll take a look at Blood of Pangea too.


I’ll definitely look up that system!! Thank you for the suggestion!


Very welcome! It’s pretty similar to what people played before D&D.


Before the titular brown & red boxes?
I’m looking it up. Reading a few reviews (there are none on YouTube)… but then again, it’s only like two bucks on DTRPG!
I’ll definitely pick it up, I need to know what’s in there!


I see. This is definitely specifically marketed as a narrative game and one of its big hooks is that it doesn’t have a spell list for its magic.

If comparing to that, yes, ICRPG is crunchier and may not be up your alley as a game. HOWEVER! Some of the concepts in the game can definitely be plugged in, such as simplified heart HP, unifying difficulty for a room, monster concepts, tags.

As with any new game, it takes a few games under your belt to click. As someone who had been playing games like AD&D 2nd - 5ed, Pathfinder, Exalted, L5R, Shadowrun; this game allowed me options to play all those types of games in ICRPG with minimal fuss or confusion!

I’m glad you tried this game for sure! And I hope you get to gather some wisdom from the book, its creator, and its community!

We love to help people enhance their gaming experience in anyway they seem fit! Have fun with the precious time you have!


Before the titular brown & red boxes?

Yep! Roleplaying started around 1971 when Arneson used the concept of Dave Wesley’s Braunstein games for a fantasy game that allowed you to play a single fantasy character instead of an army. If you’re interested, maybe you like my blog post series on the early days of roleplaying (How the Grognards really played, 3rd edition).

Blood of Pangea is very similar to this, but with a modern narrative twist.


Oh, I’ll absolutely keep playing ICRPG –especially because I think I have found a way to houserule it the way I love it (Freeform ICRPG, or: TAG HEAVEN). :slight_smile:


I’ll go read a bit of that after I’m done with my little project! Thank you!