The Two Reasons I Love Resource Management

Hello. My name is Creighton, and I love resource management.

Ryan by Matt Morrow

Ryan by Matt Morrow

 

I recently published a post about why I think at-will 0-level spells are broken and how I’d fix them. It’s safe to say, the post attracted a fair amount of attention—much more than I’d thought it might garner—for a fairly minor rules tweak.

In the ensuing conversation, it became quickly apparent resource management seems to have fallen out of favour among many gamers. Apparently, it’s no longer fun or cool to track a PC’s expendable resources.

This saddens me as I think resource management is a critical part of the game. Sure, it’s not as exciting as annihilating enemies with fireballs and what not, but tracking rations, ammunition and other expendable resources is part of the Old School gaming experience and one I try to keep front and centre in my games. (Certainly resource management will feature extensively in my own megadungeon—Gloamhold).

Sure, running out of arrows in the depths of a dungeon sucks—my son’s rather aggressive ranger can attest to that—but similarly, having the right kind—or enough—of a given kind of equipment is the hallmark of an organised, superior player.

Beyond injecting a decent amount of realism and verisimilitude into the game, I track resources for two main reasons:

Tracking resources can heighten tension.

A couple of years ago, I ran B5 Horror Under the Hill—which is an often overlooked classic you should immediately run if you haven’t already.

The party got trapped in the lower levels of the dungeon when they fell foul of a well placed pit trap. With no way to climb back up to the upper levels, they had to find a way out before their food and light sources ran out. As both began to dwindle, the tension palpably grew at the table—would the party escape or would they—running out of light and food as they were—be forced to try something foolish? As it turns out, they did escape (well, most of them) and the sessions dealing with their escape were exciting because we tracked resources. They were fighting not only the dungeon’s denizens but also time’s inexorable progress. If we’d just decided they had enough food and water to last them an indefinite time, the dungeon crawl would have been much the same as a normal adventure. There would be no reason to escape quickly.

Having the right kind of equipment—and enough of it—is the hallmark of a superior player.

Plotting and planning your next exploration are part of the fun. Clever purchase and management of resources can give a canny adventurer or group a great advantage in their quest.

For example, in my Borderland of Adventure campaign the party were planning to explore the lost dwarven hold of Khundrukar (featured in The Forge of Fury—another super dungeon adventure which I muse on further here).

One of the party had learned trolls had been seen in the area. At the time, the party were relatively low-level and trolls were still dangerous enemies—the obvious, logical thing to do was to buy alchemist’s fire (in large quantities!) Tracking their supply (or lack thereof) of the stuff was a good way of building tension and rewarding clever play. Did they have enough? Should they retreat to replenish their supplies? It would have been pretty boring to just assume they had enough—and cheesy to retroactively let them buy more when they ran out. (As it turns out, the PC in question forgot about the rumour and the party turned up at the ruin without any alchemist’s fire—which I found rather amusing…)

So…Do You?

How do you feel about resource management? Do you track some resources—perhaps ammunition—but not bother with things like food and water? Do you obsessively track everything or just hand wave it? Let me know in the comments below.

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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50 thoughts on “The Two Reasons I Love Resource Management

  1. I’m in total agreement with you Creighton! The issue of resource management and its prevalence in old school rule sets like Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is a large part of our decision to revise our existing adventures, and write all future adventures for the 1st Edition of AD&D. We want to highlight all of those aspects of the older editions that we feel added depth, and created unique situations to be solved. Resource management is just one such aspect. This is not to say these aspects cannot be migrated to newer rule sets (I think it is clear that you are probably using a newer rule set for your game), just that they weren’t really designed in many cases for such things.

  2. I have a couple of things to say, one I love unlimited 0th spells, they’re mostly harmless parlor tricks that a Wizard or other caster should always be able to produce on command. Your party would still have light as long as the caster wasn’t asleep and water if you had a Cleric, but they’d still starve. A half dozen Acid Splashes will do in a normal quality iron lock, but does nothing for the trap behind it.

    I try to be judicious in my resource allocation as a player, a few alchemical items, a cold iron weapon just in case, maybe a silver one too, at least one ranged alternative, rope, rations and a blanket. Almost everyone I game with carries an everburning torch though as oil maintenance is a painful minigame all its own.

    I completely loved a Morrow Project (modern post apocalyptic) game I played in where I was the mapmaker and the loot keeper we thousands of rounds of 9mm, 5.56mm, 7.62mm and Shotgun shells rations and other sundries to track. In that game you start out with nearly everything you will ever have and every grenade you use on a low powered encounter is one less you have for some other bad guy later. The towns when you find them never have anything to replenish you except maybe food and water. Despite what you know is a vicious cycle of attrition, the game is fun and makes you appreciate what you have and any lost technology you happen to find all the more. There is a strategy among veterans to bury half your starting gear just so you don’t lose it to an ambush, scavengers or accident like losing a vehicle in a swamp or something.

    I think your problem could be self correcting, all of us old school gamers (started with D&D in 1980) are tight resource managers precisely because we’ve gotten stuck with food running out, torches running low and with not quite enough rope.

  3. Absolutely! This is one of the easiest ways to enhance the game as you said!

    I use a spreadsheet to easily keep track of encumbrance and equipment. I prefer this method as a well-designed sheet will do all of the math for me.

    Great tip!

  4. I am a big fan of resource management. On a separate, but related note, I was DMing the 5th ed introductory adventure. The players reached the mine at the end, and omitted to map. List and disoriented on the way out, weak from their battles, they blundered into a nest of ghouls, and in the ensuing rout, they became separated….. It did not end well. A salutary reminder not to forget the basics….

    • Old gaming story: We were playing a game a long time ago and the mapper got incinerated by a fireball (and flame strike). The GM took our map away. That wouldn’t have mattered, but we were three levels underground by then!

      Getting out was an epic quest (and would have been considerably easier if we weren’t being chased by a vampiric lizard folk wizard!)

    • Mapping the dungeons is my long lost love. I used to map for our party all the time and was usually playing the ranger so when it came to directions and survival outside it was down to little old me, alongside that it was my fault when it went wrong too.

      Unfortunately its something most GMs miss out on completely now as they let the party progress and when the final encounter is complete head back to town with a few wandering monster rolls. 🙁

  5. Yeah, it’s great fun to know your players have not enough of whatever to get thru the challenge you knew was coming – because of the six other things they would’ve had to have a direct intervention of a God to know about, of course – because, you know, hey, that means YOU WIN!

    Almost as much fun as your players must be having. It’s really a blast to have the realization that you’re likely not going to make it just _ground_ into your face because you’ve been attrited down to where you can’t win…

    It’s easy beyond words to beat a game to death with a rock by over-emphasizing resource management. A little bit is necessary, esp at low level. But it’s like hot sauce – it’s incredibly easy to overdo. And as a player, it’s no fun at all to be in that situation, esp when you realistically had no choice but to use those resources just to get to that point. I don’t do that. Ever. And I won’t play with a GM who does.

    • Thanks for the comment, Craig. I’m a tad mystified by some of your post. I don’t enjoy my players failing, and I don’t see how my love of resource management in the game is linked to that. If the players (for example) learned that trolls were in a dungeon and they didn’t take suitable steps to defeat said trolls (alchemist’s fire, scrolls of fireball or whatever) that’s their choice. That’s not the GM grinding them down–unless of course the GM deliberately made it impossible to get said resources. No good (or dare I say superior) GM should intentionally set up their players to fail. You are right, that would be no fun.

      • I’ll take Craig’s seat!
        Seriously, though, I’m in complete agreement with the article. In 5E, one or two of the 0-level spells that make resources obsolete have become 1st-level spells, which I like.
        I have always enjoyed resource management as a player, and I certainly employ it as a DM. It’s a part of the challenge of the game. The last torch goes out. Will you make it to the oasis with half a skin full of mediocre wine?

  6. Oooh – I have a love/hate relationship with Resource Management.

    We’ve played in campaigns where the DM micromanages every last pinch of bull’s eyelashes and bat guano, every last ounce of water, every single crumb of food.

    The game can be super slow with that level of detail – and frustrating as heck for players. So unless the campaign is SUUUUPER captivating, I’d choose to avoid that DM’s games.

    When my husband or I run, we both require our players to keep an accurate list of what they possess and where its stored (in a BoH, on their mount, in their pockets, back at the homebase…etc) and if it isn’t on their sheet when they go to use it – they don’t have it. Done. And we keep general estimates of encumbrance, but not every single last ounce of soap and arrow makings. We do keep accurate counts of food/rations, but most parties we’ve run have had someone who can create water when needed, so that’s not always as heavily watched.

    I definitely think *some* accountability is required. Where’s the danger in a game where you never run out of food or water or torches while spelunking some deep, dark, hidden cavern/dungeon or travelling through a seemingly endless wasteland?

    I do like at-will 0-levels though. Most of the time, they don’t even get much use at our table. I’ve never really seen one abused yet.

  7. In the last session of the game I’m running the party went into the flooded cave dungen with almost no resourses, the healer had 1 potion of cure light the scorcer had 1 spell and the barbarian had 1 round of rage left. But they were trying to save an NPC that one of the player had formed a romatic bond with so they weren’t about to wait for 8 hours. It turned the final boss encounter from a good fight into an awesome chase scean.

  8. I think part of your problem that is you refer to them as broken, and you clearly your style of play as superior. That sort of thing steps on toes. Of course people will mind! You are saying they are playing the game wrong! (Also that Paizo is writing it wrong, but then, hey, you do you, I think they say nowadays). I am actually surprised that you are surprised. You seem like a smart guy.

    I like some resource management, personally, but I also understand why people like the Pathfinder currently works. And resource management is not why I play the game. If a GM went further than I like with it (hard, since the GM is usually me), I’d have less fun.

    • Thanks for the comment Joe!

      In my mind, I wasn’t suggesting that Paizo wrote it wrong–Pathfinder is wildly successful and it’s a great game. I’m simply saying that one facet of the rules doesn’t work for me. So, at my table, I changed it. That’s a million light years away from saying my style is better than yours. The difference is (I think) that I’ve talked about it in a semi-public forum. I obviously prefer the changes and think they are better because they suit my play style. I’m not trying to insult anyone and I’m a little baffled people have taken it that way!

  9. I’m less concerned with light and food since I run a spell point system instead of a memorized spells approach. Light is easy to create for a wizard or cleric and food should be pretty plentiful if you’re battling monsters, so the resource I try to control is money. Typical adventures are packed with WAY too much of it, so I limit it greatly.

    To do this I say a silver piece is worth comparitative $20. Inns cost between 3 and 15 silver a night. An orc is lucky to have a copper or two in its pouch. Gems are worth about 2 to 10 silver pieces a piece. Equipment breaks you. Buying a horse is like buying a car. 50 silver for a old nag and 2000 silver for a destrier. Stuff like that.

  10. I find the use of resources a double edged sword. On one side it can be very annoying if you are counting down the arrows til the final boss and sharing the final weevil infested biscuit until you struggle back to town but these things are easily sorted. The enemies have arrows, food, water. Basically the day to day things you need are there for them as well. Orc arrows maybe shoddy and rough but they do the same damage when used against you so whats the issue with using them.

    Food and so on is one of the easiest to sort. Survival skill allows you to forage and find food. Players should be encouraged to take food along with them which they can add to as they travel. In this aspect people should also remember that todays menu is a lot different from medieval times. Small birds such as finches, sparrows and starling were on the lords table most days and they are everywhere. Roleplaying a hunt when the party have low food supplies is fun too. After one bad session in a dungeon my ranger had to cut his hands and wade into the sea to attract a shark which he then beat up and dragged ashore. This left them with plenty of food for a few days but most characters severely wounded ( this was years before channel energy and so on ).

    The other side of the sword is that players descend onto the village/town after the adventure and immediately start looking for magic items and the pub, why not the blacksmith to repair armour and so on. The market to re-supply food stocks, the village well to fill all thier water canteens and maybe find out some rumours? Correct use of resources can add to the roleplaying so much its sad that the simple things are over looked.

  11. I find it interesting that many of the comments seem to feel that the very thing you enjoy, which is a great battle that is touch and go partly because the PCs might run out of resources, is something they find frustrating and not fun. Personally, I am a resource management player, tracking food, encumbrance, treasure and taking notes. However, I have been gaming for close to thirty years. Currently, I DM a group of players all under 25 years old and they don’t even attempt any resource management. They feel that the DM will let them know if there is a problem. So, while I wish they did things differently, I go along with what they like and ignore resource management. That seems to be the new gaming attitude. Maybe they get it from video games.

    • Les, it’s funny you say that, I was just talking yesterday with one of my longtime WoW buddies how the resource management part of the game has devolved commensurately with the skill level of player base.
      I think the change in tabletop game-play from the resource management mini game to the handwave is similar to the change in audience. I think if Mad Max ware released today it would not garner much but sucky reviews. The build up is too long and the story pace is too slow. Another example being Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It sharply divided my gaming table when it came out, most of the older folks felt like it was too rushed with one over the top action scene stacked upon another while most of the younger players felt it was awesome because there was this crazy action scene that lead to this other crazy action scene that went to the roller coaster fist fight through the mines…
      All that being said, I returned the mini game of resource management with this from Kirin Robinson: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/94152/Kirin_RappanAthukLLsheets.pdf

      A cool way to start gaming fast and quick way to figure out who has got what where.

  12. Resource management: I remember that all too well when playing Twilight 2000 (TW2k) some decades ago. We had to manage food, water, ammo, etc.
    Today; now I GM as well as play; I do agree, it is a 2 edged sword; a fine balancing act.
    When I GM, I give the players enough data as in how many days travel there (and the same back); so they usually pack enough water, rations (maybe 1 or 2 spare).
    If I’m playing, I ask the GM the above concerning travel.
    Ammunition (arrows, bolts, etc), are also recorded, as well as torches, oil for lamps.
    Micromanagement of equipment. We got so used to it playing TW2k.

    If it’s a quick day (or 2) maybe, then not much record keeping (apart from ammo).
    If the GM says a week (or more), then we usually buy a cart (or similar) and use that for the equipment.
    Most of the group go by the ‘if it’s not on your sheet, you don’t have it’.
    Depending on how long the group will out adventuring, it’s worth discussing with them about equipment (recording), etc, before the game starts.

  13. Some of my players call me “The Banker” because coin is the resource I keep my eye on, and it adds some spice to the game. I tried an expriement in a low level (starting at 1st level) campaign that later bacame standard practice in my games. I gave them their starting coin as poker chips, each color denoted a different coin i.e. red for copper, white for silver, etc. and a pouch to keep their coins in. During the course of the game as the player paid for everyday goods and services such as a meal at a tavern, a mug of ale, a room at an Inn, etc. the player’s realized how fast their coin runs out (adventuring is not cheap). The players started to look at their skills to see how they could earn some coin. The bard would perform at taverns (and sometimes get in a fight), the ranger would hunt and sell his game, the cleric was a seamstress for hire, and so on. They did this to bankroll their adventures and sometimes these odd jobs lead to adventures themselves. Additionally, the players started giving their skill sets more attention (many picked up appraise and barter skills to help save money). Later I started using bingo chips instead of Poker chips (much smaller and very inexpensive). The players found the practice fun and rewarding, plus no more constant erasing your coin totals on a character sheet.

  14. I think that there is a problem of resource management in the game. However, I do not think that zero level spells are really a factor in that problem. You bring up interesting points in your original post, but also ignore the true ability of the spells, except create water (that one is broken). Detect Magic, used as a scanner, only tells the PC that there is magic…in order to get more information they need to stand there staring for up to a minute (only to realize that the magic is too complex at that point and they need Analyze Dweomer).

    Light is great but a torch is actually better, it can be extinguished. PCs can’t have the light spell going and also be wandering around in castles or dungeons not attracting attention. It lasts 10 minutes per level, the only way to break that is to go unconscious or to cast another light spell, that lasts another 10 per…

    Mending simply can not repair broken arrows, it is too imprecise for that usage. Make Whole can do so, this is because a repaired arrow is still a broken arrow.

    I think, as long as you are able to make your group understand why, it is possible to just simply make these spells mean something. Guidance only makes sense on true skill usage, we had a player who wanted to use it for Knowledge checks, as a group we realized that was silly. You know stuff or do not, you can not attempt to know stuff better before knowing it at all. However, for Disable Device, hell yeah use some guidance!

    I may be rambling a bit, but I really hate changing the rules of the game instead of using them to their fullest extent. As PF has written the zero level spells, they aren’t that great, unless the players and DM are just willing to blow off the way they should be used.

    As far as the rest of it, RM is the key! I expect that my DM will call for my ‘sheet’ (not written anymore’ at anytime and call bullshit on my record-keeping, so my record-keeping is accurate. I have 4 days of rations left, and my horse has 5 (currently). Hopefully we can get into town before that runs out, or this Rogue needs to attempt survival to find food!

  15. These are wonderful ideas, and make for excellent single adventure ideas (your examples are perfect!).

    I would argue we play a game involving heroes – sometimes it’s fun to race against resource limits – but the better race is against the villains. Rewarding players for bringing alchemists fire is great, but that falls very short after even 1 or 2 levels. There is no incentive to foster this kind of play-style past the first levels.

    In low magic games, this is the way to pump up the stakes. I run games for a lot of new players, and tediously keeping track of rations, torches, lamp oil is not fun. The Frostburn/Sandstorm books come to mind – playing against the environment works wonders too, but only lasts until 3rd-4th level. And then any party vs. nature encounter becomes more magical in nature.

    Recently, 3 of 5 new players, playing the Jade Regent game and encountering the Caravan rules for the 1st time. The 2 vets loved it, the 3 new players’ eyes just glazed over as we “planned a camping trip.” It’s a great mini-game, but it rewards the vets who know what to pack. The RPers didn’t have much to do, either.

    TL/DR: 0-level spells aren’t OP when you can cast 3rd’s.

  16. Until now, I’ve only kept to tracking ammunition but after reading this, I think I will up the ante a little. This should bring a lot more flavor to our games. Thanks, Creighton!

  17. I love this article! It highlights how even the basic mechanics of the game can be used to enhance the experience. I, personally, would love to see more ways to make a memorable experience through masterful use of the game mechanics.

  18. I feel like hand-waving resource management eliminates one of the main obstacles of exploring (and looting) a dungeon – which is to say that PCs can only stay for so long and carry so much before they have to call it a day and return to town. This might be less of a problem when the main source of experience comes from slaying creatures rather than acquiring treasure, but I still think that resource management is relevant in modern games.

    It also isn’t very realistic (I know, I know. The realism argument might seem out of place in a world where magic exists) for PCs to carry around a hundred arrows and a month’s worth of food in their little backpacks. This sort of hand-waving also makes certain spell choices (another resource) irrelevant. Why worry about spells such as Purify Food & Drink or Mending or Create Water if you are assumed to always have everything you need?

    Part of the challenge ought to be planning the expedition.

  19. I keep a checklist as action progresses. There are rows for food, water, sleep and torches. I also keep an index card as sort mini character sheet several to a page, where I *try* to tally things like arrows. If they don’t get 6 hours of sleep a night, all ability scores, rolls have a -2 penalty. Same for skipping more than one of three meals, or going without water. My alternate rule is that they can only go with out any of those things for a number of hours equal to their Constitution. Crawling through a crypt and fighting monsters is pretty hard work. I double it if they are just traveling on horseback or in a cart etc.

  20. Truth be told I’ve started my group to start tracking things like shots fired, torches, arrows but not food or water never thought about it thanks

  21. Personally I’m not a big fan of resource allocation, shopping for equipment has never seemed massively fun to me. I generally just have people keep a list of their equipment, however I only track things like rations or ammunition if running low on such things is a major focus of a story (like if the PCs were exploring a desert for instance).

  22. I think it depends on the game. If you’re in a dungeon crawl, where the tension is on the grind and survival–yes. If you’re running a high fantasy adventure, where PCs are going from settlement to settlement, restocking themselves often–it kinda becomes pointless to book keep how many arrows they have.

    It all comes down to the type of narrative you’re building. If scarcity is an important part of your setting, then focus on it. You’ll have your PCs doing things like recovering arrows from dead bodies and salvaging weapons from their enemies.

  23. Great article! I too love the minutia of resource management. When used correctly it can really up the immersion.

    For instance, I recently awarded some long time players with “fantasy coin sets”. These 30 metal coins will represent their new character’s “life savings”. The coins are part of their character sheet and are spent on in-game purchases. When the purse jingles a little less… players take notice. When they receive payment or treasure, those coins are recycled back into their purses, which makes players happy.

    As for the expendable goods; food, drink, candles, torches, etc. I use cards. I design trading-game sized cards, with fantasy fonts and art work, to stand in for the items. Then on the back of the card they can track quantities.

    Also, I use cards to represent unique or magical items; magic weapons/armour, holy talismans, potions, scrolls, prize possessions and such. These cards have all relevant information listed on them and a nice graphic to help the item become more real. I have let players draws their “unique” items on blank cards to make it more personal.

    At the start of every campaign I issue 9-pocket baseball card sheets to the players for organizing their supplies. So when the footpads and cat burglars come a calling, the tension rises when I ask to see their character binder and the item card(s) are removed from their inventory. This really lights a fire under the players, and opens up new adventuring opportunities! 🙂

  24. I love resource management, but in a slightly different way. I’m with a lot of the posters when I keep a general rule about what food/water other equipment the players have, however the one thing I am a bit of a stickler for is Time Management.

    Players have a tendency to rest up, then perhaps do a couple of encounters and say, ‘i’m going to rest now to replenish all my spells etc’.

    So I like to say things like, After breakfast, you have finished a couple of encounters and you think its mid morning. Suddenly players start to think, hmm, we’ve done nothing and start to push themselves on. They become conscious of ‘ the bad guy is performing a ritual’ or we’ve just given them 3 days to work out their defences.

    The downside, is a lot of pre-gen adventures, of which I have to use for time reasons of my own in real life, omit this, take for example The 3.5e adventure series which culminates with Fortress of the Yuan Ti. My group has just played this and done really well, till the last tower. Not only is the tower unbalanced, the timescale and assumption of what the party can do at the level they are playing is significantly overbalanced.
    This is why I became concerned with some of the old modules. Yes, players could start to min/max to the extreme, but module writers started to respond and upped the power levels rather than letting DM’s deal with it via good DM’ing.

    Anyways, rant over, keeping players grounded, you do know you are 14 days from anywhere with a raise dead is a favourite of mine. Hell dungeons are usually in the wilderness and why are 9th level clerics in the local village lol

    Comments welcome

  25. I greatly enjoy resource management. It really helps keep me in the situation and focused on finding inventive solutions to our problems. A bag of holding let’s you carry a general store with you but limited strength and lack of mounts male you think far ahead about the problems you may encounter. It also fosters good intelligence gathering as the players will need to search for rumors and truths to aid in their choices. I’m a second ed gamer that also does 3.5 and while I can’t speak much on the newer editions I can say that modern video games take some of the blame with bottomless pits for backpacks.

  26. I track the perishable resources and ammo. Any halfway decent adventurer should know to be prepared. Weapons break, armor gets damaged or falls apart, and the rations don’t last as long as you’d like. Good planning is the hallmark of a skilled adventurer.

  27. Simply put, resource management is just like everything else… it’s a tool. Used correctly, it can really up the intensity and drama of a situation. Used incorrectly or overused, it looses it’s punch and simply drags the game down. Most of the time (read: ammunition, potions, torch timers, etc), resource management can be great. Sometimes (ie, strict adherence to weight and size limits on a bag of holding), it can become a chore that makes the session boring. I think resource management is one of those “rule of cool” things that makes the most sense applied selectively, but fairly.

  28. I don’t know if I mentioned it or not but I insist on it…first for the very same reason that a Magic user needs some eye of toad or wings of newt:)….sometimes, if I’m in a good ‘DM Mood’:) I may put together spell kits and the like and sell them for a uhmm ‘reasonable’ price:) and second as I’m sure you know, it adds ‘atmosphere’ to the game…also, while not outright helping, I took the idea from the original episode of Star Trek, ‘Arena’ and throw stuff in dungeon rooms and the like and using the charts in the first hard cover DMG…STILL THE BEST:)…..I’ve even been known to ‘throw’ ‘recipe cards’ into the mix although of course it may not be a complete recipe card. But it is fun sometimes to see the magic user hire a spell maker or a necromanist to make spells and have them back Fire at times……about the only thing I really don’t do but common sense prevails is encumbrance..sure if you’re carrying 1000 copper pieces you’re going to be waded down and all but most of my PCs drop their back packs when they go into combat and if they are lucky enough to back and retrieve their stuff…I’m all for the ‘atmosphere’ of the game…..

  29. I agree with you completely. One of the things I like least about modern fantasy (tabletop) rpgs is the generalization, overabundance of magic with no societal consequences, and the invention of feats and strange powers and classes. For a culture and a time that wants inclusiveness for all people, I find this type of thing amusing (to say the least). By being afraid to say, ‘No,’ we are creating an unrealistic, entitled, and indulgent society.

    I am very clear about object placement on the body, as well as item weight and size. I have a sheet I supply my players with to keep track of their lighting, rations, and ammunition. L

    Your article addresses all the issues that make adventures fun, though at times frustrating. I remember being stuck in a minotaur maze once, trapped on a giant boulder with the monsters camped out below. We had no food, no arrows. We were throwing broken weapons at the minotaur, cursing at it. We eventually got down, but years later I remember that moment after many others have faded away. We ate some of the monsters we killed, choking on most of it, though it kept us alive (giany insects are gooey and full of protein).

    Today’s adventures and game designs, I believe, are a result of millenial coddling. What folks forget is that a hero’s beavest deeds are usually the result of great patience, tolerance, and suffering. Not all heroes live. Everyone wants to be a ‘hero’ in the comic book and movie sense. They want a character that can do back flips while shooting seven arrows, slide down the trunk of an elephant and land pefectly on his feet, make a ‘spin attack’ that somehow takes out ten guys, and all the while never starves, thirsts, or wants for anything. I dig this article because it represents good story-telling. If you want the kind game min-maxing provides, play that way, but I prefer a kind of stylized realism steeped in history and natural laws.

    • I agree, Justin. I am huge fan of realism–obviously up to a certain point; the game has dragon in it after all. I get that the fashion these days seems to be for a more cinematic style of game play, and if that’s your bag then all power to you. But, for example, even in the Avengers Hawkeye occasionally runs out of arrows in major battles. Is that not fun? Or does it add to the tension of the moment?

      I play in both type of games. When I run games for my 12-year-old and his friends resource management–and many of the rules–are the last thing on my mind. They want to do back flips and 360 no scopes to kill the bad guys and that’s cool. The point is to have fun after all. But in my normal Wednesday night group we tend to focus on a more gritty, realistic feel.

  30. I hate resource management if only because it’s way too easy for the GM to completely screw over the player and then laugh in their face. Oh, we’re going to mountains and have to pack the exact necessities? Then I get whatever my character needs. Oh, I have to actually know IRL what my character needs? Why? I’m not the character. I’ve lived my entire life in the city and never once gone camping. Oh, I’m my own character and what I think I personally would take to Mount Everest is what my character would take? Gee, guess my character’s dead then because he doesn’t have a hot clue. This is a real scenario too. I left that game that night and never looked back. There has to be some give, and your character should know what is needed. The GM should either hand wave a few things or help out the players. Otherwise you’re just a mean kid with a magnifying glass burning us ants and laughing at us the entire time.

    Also, cantrips are practically nothing. My sword doesn’t need a recharge. The wizard’s 1d3 ray of frost shouldn’t either. Even more so if everything we’re fighting has cold resistance 5.

    But you guys do what you feel works for you. If your players are fine with that style of gaming then all the better. I don’t do that sort of thing. I’ve been burned to the point of quitting all gaming. I only GM now. I don’t trust others to do it. Too many petty tyrants looking to mock others and feel better about themselves.

    • I’m sorry you’ve had so many negative experiences with resource management, Derek. I’m glad, though, you’ve found a play style that suits you. At the end of the day, it’s all about fun as you say in your comment. If everyone leaves the table happy, you’ve done your job!

      • It’s not even just resource management, but gaming in general. Nothing ruins the fun more than your GM lording over you and cackling like a maniacal madman jizzing in his pants because his CR 12 encounter beat your level 5 party. And people still chose to play with him rather than leave with me. It’s why I quit gaming. Too many sheep letting tyrants run games.

        Pathfinder Society has the players do basic resource management, and that’s fine. I have no problem with that. It’s when the fun gets sucked out of the game by GMs who do home games and you’re penalized for not having lived in the mountains your entire actual life. Doesn’t matter if your character has because you personally haven’t.

  31. I agree, it adds that much more atmosphere to a session. Personally, I think almost ALL your articles are spot on. And a reminder of Horror under the Hill was a sweet flashback bonus. Please, please keep posting.