Index Card RPG – and why it didn’t work for us

Hahaha, interesting experience… just came back from refereeing a dungeon crawl with Index Card RPG….two things on my mind:
  1. Even that game is too complex for me, too many moving parts.
  2. Dungeon is definitely NOT my preferred setting.
Oh, and a third: Going back to freeform is paramount. 

I have analyzed the experience, and these are the reasons why that session definitely didn’t live up to the hype I created myself.
  • When my players were confronted with challenges or threats, the first thing they all did was look at their character sheet – trying to find loot that might help their characters. This is a double whammy for me because we are freeform gamers (have been playing freeform almost from the day we started roleplaying, 1984), and we’re used to immersion. For lack of a better expression, we want to become our characters. Not all the time, but most of the time. ICRPG definitely did not support this play style.
  • This begs the question: Why? My (personal) answer is that the structure of ICRPG (special powers and loot galore) requires resource/loot management. As a result, as a player, you simply have to take inventory. Not looking at your character sheet means potential disadvantages in-game.
  • What are my ideals for roleplaying? Immersion, first and foremost. Challenges and fun. But immersion is crucial for our style of gaming.
  • How can I referee ICRPG so it meets our goals? First, NO game mechanics on the sheet. I’ll tell the players the name of the loot and what it does (in game world terms, not in mechanical terms). Same goes for spells. All the players know is what effects their characters get when they use their stuff. This should focus their attention and energy on their characters, and not on their sheets.
Will it work? I’m not sure. I’ll keep y’all posted how it goes. 

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