Saturday, November 3, 2018

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

As a game concept, ammunition sucks. There's an argument for tracking ammunition. It's realistic. It costs money. It takes up space. In the context of OD&D it makes sense to track ammunition because resource management is an explicit part of the game. The more gear you take, the more room it takes up in your pack, the slower you go. The slower you go, the more monsters and things you run into. The less room you have in your pack, the less loot you can take back. It's an intrinsic part of the risk/reward.

On the other hand, that is not something Scoundrel really cares about. Encumbrance in our game doesn't care about weight, money is mostly abstract, and even the buying of ammunition is sort of an odd proposition because it's mostly an r1 expense.

So is there any real need to track ammunition?

The only circumstance I can think of in which th game would actively care about ammunition is in the circumstance where running out of ammunition would be narratively interesting and even that doesn't necessarily require marking off each arrow loosed.

In the OSR world, some people have adopted an interesting piece of gaming praxis called a "usage die." You might have d8 worth of arrows. After every fight, roll the d8. If it comes up as a 1, it shrinks to a d6. Repeat until you either buy more arrows (increasing your die size) or you get down to a d4 and roll a 1 -- indicating that you are now out.

The main benefit of this setup is that you aren't erasing and rewriting a total every time you make a ranged attack. You're still doing some accounting, but it's something you do post-combat, rather than during.

It makes me wonder first if such an idea could be adapted to Sword & Scoundrel (there are ways, I'm sure) and then second if that would actually be desirable in a game where we have taken a substantially more simulationist approach with so many other aspects of weapons and combat.
Floating ideas. Feel free to toss in feedback.

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