Friday, February 18, 2022

ICRPG - Star Wars!

I have found a new love for ICRPG, mostly from watching Kane's Kiln videos on YouTube. If you want to understand how ICRPG runs and works, I highly recommend these videos. Certainly changed my thinking on the game. Above is the KX model droid I made last night for the game.

I am going to be running a small game, what I call a mini-series, for a friend of mine set in the Star Wars universe, ripping off of Solo a bunch for the general concept. I will be using many of the ideas Kane discusses in his videos. One I particularly really want to give a go and see how it plays out is using art instead of maps in the VTT. 

Now, hold on. I know what all my OSR peeps out there are saying. What?!?! No map, Matt?? How??? What the fu...??? If you watched this video:  there is a moment where Kane uses an image of a town and has the player move through the town, consulting with merchants here and there looking for Rings of Power.

Not finding them, he pushes on to another merchant.

Not finding them still, he pushes to a third merchant

The thing I really like about this is that you can convey a theme, atmosphere, or feeling for a location through artwork far better than a map. This works for encounters too and can really set up a scene beautifully. For an example, look at this amazing artwork he found online to use for an encounter at a waterfall.

I know what my OSR grognards are already thinking; "But..but...the tactical positioning...yadda yadda". I get it, I thought the same thing at first, how do players move around the map, how do you measure distance, range, etc. What it comes down to is "Does that really matter?" or does the dynamic feeling of the image matter more? Depends on your style of game I guess. 
Me personally, I really like the use of that image, and players can still drop their tokens/minis on there and move around. I do not see how the differences in measurements across that image would make that much of a difference. IMO if you are measuring inches on the map and determining if characters can do something based on a difference of a few inches or a foot....that sounds less than exciting, but maybe that just me. 

Another example of atmosphere being conveyed in ways that a map probably never could. I am actually not sure how one would draw a map of this location!

For example:
old school style
Player: I want to blast that ghost with my Fireball of Spookblasting spell!
DM: (gets out ruler, measures distance) Sorry, the range on that is 15 feet, and that ghost is 16 feet away.
Player: ....bummer

ICRPG style:
Player: I want to blast that ghost with my Fireball of Spookblasting spell!
DM: Looks like you are in Near range, blast that sucker!
Player: (happily rolls some dice)

I have always been a little loosey-goosey with the nitpicking of rules anyway, so I am starting to think this fits my style of GMing anyway.

A couple other interesting locations you could use that would be difficult to use in a map form and still get the atmosphere and feel of the place:


  1. Hurm. That's an interesting approach. Not one I seen or thought of before.

    1. I was 100% against it until I saw it in action, then I realized how powerful and frankly, easy, it is to use. So long as you can find concept art, photos, screen captures from movies, etc. it will work.

  2. I've been using backgrounds for years just like this. Works perfectly. Sometimes we go to a top-down map for a dungeon or castle.

    Good stuff, thanks for the blog post and the video link.

    1. Excellent. I certainly think in some situations this is far, far superior to a map for VTTs.

  3. Thanks for a nice read and the video link. I've been doing this for years for online games and love it. Sometimes we switch to a top-down map for a dungeon. But this works fine for most scenarios too.

  4. I played in one game where the DM used this approach. It was almost all roleplaying and no combat. That was when I realized, I tolerate roleplaying, but I really want a war game where I have to calculate things like: I'm 16 ft from the monster, so I either need to move closer and suddenly be in range of three monsters or use my Fireball of Spookblasting knowing that at 16 ft it has a high miss rate or does significantly less damage. Calculate the odds and figure at this range I probably can kill it after 5 attacks and still be at full hp, but if I move up I can kill it in one and the 3 monsters will only bring me down to 1 hp. Oh and what would my character do, he only has an 8 intelligence, he can't do this kind of math, his friends are in danger and we can't rescue the damsel in distress if we don't get past these monsters, so ... CHARGE!

    Maybe I should stick with playing Risk. :(

    But seriously, if this fits your style of playing better, you should use it. Your players might prefer using their imagination a bit more as well. And if not, you can always throw in a map once in a while.

    1. Yeah, I certainly agree it depends on your play style. I personally do not like to get into the fiddley bits like determining feet, angles, etc. Honestly, it feels unnatural to me and more like a chess game where you have minutes to calculate things, I prefer a much more dynamic and fluid game (like watching an action film). Players that break out their calculators at the table scare me. ;-)

      But yeah, play it how you have fun! I can certainly see where this will not work in all situations and at times a map would actually be better than an image.