Have I mentioned the Rumors of War Relaunch Project FUNDED?
See for yourself!

The new comic has started!

I can’t tell you how annoying it is to keep track of torches, arrows, and trail rations. I mean sure, they’re fun to think about — but a video game is a way better medium for that kind of survival minutiae. On paper, that kind of bookkeeping isn’t just hard to do — it’s hard to remember to do.

I once tried to track my arrows used and recovered — every battle was like, “I’ll bet you’re asking yourself, did I fire five arrows or six?” Except that no one else was paying attention to my arrows, and I was no Clint Eastwood.

And it isn’t fun to just do away with consumable items either — they’re part of the survival aspect of the game. Getting from settlement to dungeon, and back again without succumbing to monsters or some horrible disease.

That doesn’t even take into account the fact that at any given time, only a few players at the table are even going to care about that level of detail.

I could go on about the problems of gear minutiae — there are the times when you’ll want to argue for the utility of rope or a mirror, but the rules won’t give you a bonus for those kinds of things.

There’s carry weight and encumbrance — because it’s all kinds of fun to be told that you’re going to have to choose between essential gear and shiny loot.

But now that I’ve gone over all the things about this bookkeeping that is totally un-fun, what if there were a way to get everyone at the table engaged, eschew encumbrance, make sure your gear is always relevant, and get that hard-to-attain fun that only comes from a good survival situation?

…This, is where having group-based skills really shines.

We begin with the assumption that at any given time, there’s a chance that the PCs have the gear they need, and part of that assumption is that any of the PCs could be carrying it — not just the PC who needs it right now.

I saw this method described on another blog — used for tracking wand charges — a Cascading Depletion Method. The player making the Skill check rolls a die which is shared by the party. Let’s say a d12 for the Crazy-Prepared adventurers.

He uses the result for his Skill check, and if he happens to roll a “1,” the die degrades to the next lower type (d12>d10>d8>d6>d4). The smaller the gear die gets, the greater the probability it’ll degrade again (8%, 10%, 12%, 16%, …). Now since the party shares the die, there’s a feeling of dwindling supplies…

You don’t have to track carry weight anymore because you can assume the party divides the gear among those who can best carry it — and the party can decide how much gear they want to carry when they load up in town, so you can set a party-wide encumbrance. Can I get a huzzah for pack mules?

So when the Skill checks start flying, you can almost imagine the PCs tossing necessary gear back and forth where it’s needed — and when they’re scavenging gear from fallen foes, you don’t have to roll for recovered arrows.

I’m still working out the implications across the system.