I like the idea of archers running out of arrows, or wands and staves running out of charges. I like the idea of the duelist disarming his opponent, or the barbarian shattering a shield with a single, mighty blow.

But the bookkeeping isn’t worth it.

Anyway, I mentioned all of the above things because I see overlap between them — arrows and charges have a clear “ammunition” connotation, as the counter ticks down to the inevitable “zero.” Then you have to either reload or run away.

With the disarming example, you don’t so much have a weapon that’s run out of uses as you have the absence of a weapon. What do you have then? How do you continue fighting? Can you pick up the weapon off the ground? What do you do if someone else seizes your weapon and uses it against you in a fight?

What if the monster runs away with the weapon it just took?

Then there’s the problem with sundering gear. If a player can shatter the villain’s soul-sucking sword, what does the villain do for the remainder of the climactic battle? In some ways, losing equipment is as big a setback as dying.

In 4e, incorporating rules for disarming or destroying equipment is impossible, given the sheet amount of math involved in simply calculating what a character can do. Losing a weapon practically requires an entirely new character sheet.

I saw a post on another blog recently — forgive me for not remembering — that employed a “d6 + modifier” whenever a charged item was used, perhaps at the end of combat, to determine whether it had been exhausted or not.

I like this mechanic, but I wonder if there isn’t perhaps a more effective way of doing it. In the original version of the rule I read you had to keep track of a dwindling modifier, which still requires some bookkeeping — which I don’t like.

Then there’s the per-use, or per-encounter checking of items — as much as I like the idea of say, waiting until the end of combat to check for disease exposure, I’ve never found it useful enough to even remember. In fact, there’s such a disconnect from “short rests” in 4e, sometimes my players forget to spend healing surges.

Now, there may be a way to fix this — if encounters are shorter for example, it may be easier to go through the post-combat “cleanup” phase, where PCs catch their breath and clean the blood off of their blades. You know, the usual.

But there are still problems. What do you account for, and how do you handle it? What do you do if a monster grabs your weapon and runs away with it?