Resource Tracking: Chain it Up!


Resource tracking is vital to the proper feel of a dungeon crawl.

You want the archer to feel the tension as each shot empties the quiver a bit more.
You need drama present when a character weighs out their water skin, wondering if they can make it another few hours till they find a clean source, or an exit.
And you definitely want the dark humor of watching a wizard scrabble around in her component pouch for one more pinch of rodent bone dust as the monster makes its way down the hallway!

But resource tracking is also a pain in the ass and feels like homework.
So, we’re going to implement a new way of doing things!

Taken straight from Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classics, the Dice Chain is a quick, easy, and fun way to keep track of expendable resources like torches, ammo, food, water, etc.

image

The table on my DM screen

The basic concept is simple: each consumable resource will have a die associated with it in a character’s inventory. Whenever the resource is used, the character rolls that die. If the number is anything but a 1, nothing changes. If a 1 is rolled, their die type is changed to the next lowest. If they are currently using a D3 and they roll a 1, they have run out of that resource!

And that’s that.

It’s an abstraction, to be sure. Some might say, “But when I shoot my arrows, I’m shooting one arrow! How can I go from having potentially three (d3) or more to having none in one shot!?” Because you aren’t just shooting one arrow. The entire combat round is abstracted out: no facing, creatures occupy their entire 5’x5′ area, it’s six seconds long and an attack represents multiple feints and parries etc, you take more than one shot in that time to hit…

Same can be said about anything else. Just abstract it out. Frankly, hand wave it, because the alternative is marking, erasing, marking, erasing, marking erasing every time you want to use a thing and buy or find more of it. And that’s just not fun.  In my experience, rolling dice is always more fun than keeping little tallies on over-erased paper.

So.
Abstracted dice chains for resources from here on out!

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