Still thinking about inventory puzzles.

I mentioned Diablo and Fallout 3 before — both use their inventory management to help reinforce the themes of the game. Diablo does it by making the dungeon a very alien place, and by limiting what the player can carry with them.

Fallout 3 does something similar, but uses the “scavenging repair” to reinforce the themes of foraging, self-sufficiency, and even loneliness.

Oblivion has lots and lots of random stuff to pick up and carry with you — similar to Fallout 3. This should come as no surprise since they’re both produced by the same company. Oblivion benefits from having plants growing throughout the world that you can harvest for ingredients in potion-making.

Now in Oblivion, when you put the ingredients together you receive a potion — and as I said before that potion can weigh less than the ingredients used to make it. Especially if one of the ingredients was a two-pound cheese wheel.

Not only does making potions clear your inventory of items, it contributes directly toward your level advancement by improving your Alchemy skill, it also gives you a steady source of income — which can in turn level-up your trade skills, and thus level up your character some more. It’s a great little system.

Halo is kind of the odd duck here, but I included it because it does something interesting with its inventory management. You can carry two weapons, both of which you will collect ammo for, and can swap between more or less at will.

Though I think it became a bigger deal later in the series — each weapon has an alternate attack/fire mode. The pistol is arguably one of the better weapons in the game, since it’s small, fast, accurate, and can be used for a quick melee attack.

It’s been years since I played the game so I couldn’t really tell you much about the alternate attack modes — I might even be confusing them with a different game, I remember Half Life 2 had alternate fire modes as well, I don’t know who did it first. Regardless, it helps offset the player’s limited carrying capacity.

The reason for bringing up Halo is that I think there’s a decent possibility for an inventory puzzle system which involves juggling a very small number of items — say, no more than five at most. Something like that might work for D&D.

Actually, Talisman presents an interesting representative for tabletop games which feature inventory management — each character may carry only four items unless they’re accompanied by a pack mule, at which point they can carry eight.

Whereas the items in Talisman are easy to use and nearly all useful — Arkham Horror inundates players with loads of useless garbage, which they must then sift through — the trade-off being there are no item limits in Arkham Horror.

Would cards make item management worthwhile in a tabletop roleplaying game?