Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Encumbrance vs. Inventory

Who doesn't love the simple encumbrance system that James Raggi gave us in Lamentations of the Flame Princess?

Dickheads, that's who.

Seriously. Calculating encumbrance was an exercise in tedium even for the slide-rule carrying dungeoneers in the early 80's. Besides, what RPG enthusiast isn't already well-acquainted with the first cousin of Raggi's system, the video game Inventory.
We grok this shit at the cellular level.

This elegant solution still suffers from a common problem at the game table, though. People forget to write crap down. A lot. Plus, brace yourselves for this, some buttface players will occasionally lie about what their character is carrying.

Others have attempted to tackle this problem before, notably Faster Monkey Games with their Tracker Tokens product. 

It's a good idea, but a little too static for my gaming needs. Players can't be counted on to carry exclusively predetermined items. I mean, they're tooling around a dungeon with backpacks full of goblin heads, blocks of demon-cheese, and pretty much any other frightening garbage that seemed like a good idea to pick up at the time.

Never fear, three-ring binders are here. More specifically, you can print out whatever inventory items you want on this free template from Avery, and have each player store those suckers in one of these inexpensive 30-pocket binder pages
What's that, you say? "Doesn't the LotFP encumbrance system have exactly 30 slots?" That's right, and you're welcome.



= easier organization than an OCD hooker.

The pockets and the template items are all exactly 1.5"x1.5", which is also conveniently the perfect size to hold poker chips. I'm having my players use poker chips to track the number of arrows left in their quivers. How many arrows fit in a quiver? Twenty. Do they make another binder page that holds exactly 20 chips? You're damn straight they do

I recommend printing tokens out on cardstock to make them more durable than mere paper. I still need to kludge together a blank template that just has a dark border around the edges of each token so that I can print out a bunch of blanks before the game. That way, I can just write random item descriptions directly on tokens mid-game, rather than having to type them up and print them out.

I have to say that I really enjoy the tactile element of handing a token or chip to a player when they purchase gear, and having them hand it back to me when it's been used up. You can even get cutesy with the players by using inventory items printed with custom templates, like this one that looks like it's dripping with blood.

Plus, there's a certain dark glee to be had when the party is five levels deep in the dungeon, and the players look down at their inventory sheets to discover that they're dangerously low on torches.
Good times, good times.

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