Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Simple Ammunition Tracking

Using poker chips as a means of tracking isn't a new idea. Lord Kilgore blogged about it here. But I don't know that I've heard anyone talking about using them to track ammo on an encounter basis.

Arrows, sling bullets, and darts are an important part of the resource management aspect of adventure gaming. But you don't want to get bogged down keeping tallies of everything. And you certainly don't want to end up rolling saving throws for every arrow to see if a player can recover it after use.

Here's an easy solution. Like many of them for adventure gaming it involves abstraction. Give the player five poker chips and have them give you one after every encounter. When they're out of chips they're out of ammo.

You can adjust the number of chip up a little, but keep in mind an archer can get 2 arrows off a round and if you have multiple round encounters they may be using quite a few arrows. So, I think it is a fair trade off for the ease of use in play.

You might do something similar with spell components if you want to be a stickler with magic-users.


  1. I like this. I've been having a bit of trouble keeping track of players resources and I think that is an important part of the game. It's a good physical representation and could add to more intensity when things begin to run low.

  2. This can be expanded for other resources as well (food, oil, torches, so forth). Mini poker chips can be had in ten or more colors on the cheap.

    Tracking resources like you describe is similar to the system in Savage Worlds. It's been adapted after a fashion in posts here and here.

  3. Thanks folks. Try it out and let us know how it works.

    @Restless, one problem with other resources is when to call the chip in. You could probably do rations every time parties sleep, but I'm not sure about torches. You could do every dungeon entrance, but parties might stay underground a looooong time.

    And thanks for those links. I've seen someone else post about rolling a "save" to see if resources were available (can't remember where). But it seems a little too abstract for my old simulationist ways. Have patience with me, ha ha.

  4. Yes, that's why I don't like abstracting. I think some players would balk, since they aren't able to control more precisely (although I am positive there are players who would balk at having to keep track).

    I've considered just writing a program to keep track of all of it.

  5. Sorry for a delayed additional response (been doing a lot of other posts). I don't like the abstractness of rolling a "save" to see if you have any ammo/rations/torches left, because it seems too, well random. And theoretically I could fail my save the first check after we resupplied in town.

    But the way I'm using these poker chips players can still exert control; they know exactly how many chips they have left. So, this is only abstract in the sense of making the number you have to keep track of smaller. It's less granular. Sort of the way Delta simplified encumbrance by shifting the units to 15 pound "stones."

    I'm thinking I should be more precise in thinking about granularity vs. abstraction in the future. Though granularity is a kind of abstraction, there could be cool but different opportunities in each case.