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Is Resource Management “Fun?”

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
By the same token, once you track "hit points", you might as well break everything down and track each individual wound, right?

If you can swallow hp, I don't know why you can't swallow 'supply points'. They're no more weird an abstraction, in fact I think they're less weird.
Hit points are an old, familiar abstraction; a necessary evil, if you will. Adding supply points is increasing the amount of abstraction in the game. Its simply not a matter of "some abstraction that's been with us forever is acceptable, so adding more is no big deal".
 

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Aldarc

Legend
Hit points are an old, familiar abstraction; a necessary evil, if you will. Adding supply points is increasing the amount of abstraction in the game. Its simply not a matter of "some abstraction that's been with us forever is acceptable, so adding more is no big deal".
This argument basically amounts to special pleading by arguing that hit points are an accetable exception due to some sort of imaginary or abstract, if you will, grandfather clause.


I would nevertheless encourage you and others to try some of these games that have more abstract supply. Your experiences may vary, but I have personally found that the abstracted supply in a number of these games (e.g., Ironsworn, Stonetop, Black Hack, etc.) have somehow made supply feel more real and visceral for play than in games where supplies aren't abstracted.

Though to be clear, I don't think that there is one true way here. I don't think that abstracted supply inherently produces this outcome. I also believe that this is true for the reverse. Concrete supplies or resource management isn't some surefire way to increase realism or somehow makes this aspect of the game important or meaningful.

I understand that some strands of D&D, for example, take great pride in resource management and meticulously hand-tracking inventory of supplies. There is obviously a legitimate place for this sort of survival-based dungeon-delving game in D&D and other TTRPGs. Some claim that this represents old school D&D. However, I also get the impression that there is also an equally long tradition for a lot of inventory management and supplies to get handwaved in D&D (and its ilk) by the GM and players. This is despite D&D have unabstracted supplies. For the latter approaches to the game, unabstracted supplies seem to get in the way of the fun. In fact, this seems to be the prevailing approach to D&D at present. Matt Colville even had a fairly recent video about how a lot of the items in the equipment section in 5e D&D was mostly vestigial to make the game feel like D&D rather than being a vital aspect of its present play.

Again, this is nothing new in D&D's tradition. As @hawkeyefan says, there are a lot of magic items and spells that amount to circumventing or bypassing the resource-management mini-game and/or turning it into a trivial part of the overall game.
 

delericho

Legend
IMO, resource management isn't fun in and of itself, but it can lead to fun down the line - if the archer is laboriously tracking his 200 arrows then that's just work, but once he's down to his last two or three that's much more interesting.

So I'd strongly advocate for keeping resource management in the game, but with advice to use it sparingly - it should only be used when it matters, and in those cases it should really matter. (Of course, how do you know when moving from the one case to the other?)

The other thing I'm inclined to note is that even in old school play, a lot of resource management went away fairly quickly - spells like continual light removed the need for torches, Tenser's floating disk and then bags of holding negated encumbrance, and so on. I suspect that even back in the day the tolerance for these things was pretty limited.
 

IMO, resource management isn't fun in and of itself, but it can lead to fun down the line - if the archer is laboriously tracking his 200 arrows then that's just work, but once he's down to his last two or three that's much more interesting.

So I'd strongly advocate for keeping resource management in the game, but with advice to use it sparingly - it should only be used when it matters, and in those cases it should really matter. (Of course, how do you know when moving from the one case to the other?)

The other thing I'm inclined to note is that even in old school play, a lot of resource management went away fairly quickly - spells like continual light removed the need for torches, Tenser's floating disk and then bags of holding negated encumbrance, and so on. I suspect that even back in the day the tolerance for these things was pretty limited.
This is why I like World Without Numbers: you can’t physically carry 200 arrows. And, unless you have a pack animal, the things you can carry are fairly limited (depending on your strength). In my experience at least, getting down to your last 5 arrows is a much more common issue. It also makes tracking equipment much easier.

Of course, we don’t have a bag of holding and I imagine that their use in a game is a way of hand waiving a lot of tedious supply counting and encumbrance calculations. (Which WWN makes way easier)
 

The other thing I'm inclined to note is that even in old school play, a lot of resource management went away fairly quickly - spells like continual light removed the need for torches, Tenser's floating disk and then bags of holding negated encumbrance, and so on. I suspect that even back in the day the tolerance for these things was pretty limited.
Not in my experience. The spell bloat in D&D came long after I quit that system in the early 80s.

But there are many other games, including modern ones, that stick with the tried-and-true business of resource tracking.

I also find that players who come from video games are more inclined to respond well to resource management.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
This argument basically amounts to special pleading by arguing that hit points are an accetable exception due to some sort of imaginary or abstract, if you will, grandfather clause.


I would nevertheless encourage you and others to try some of these games that have more abstract supply. Your experiences may vary, but I have personally found that the abstracted supply in a number of these games (e.g., Ironsworn, Stonetop, Black Hack, etc.) have somehow made supply feel more real and visceral for play than in games where supplies aren't abstracted.

Though to be clear, I don't think that there is one true way here. I don't think that abstracted supply inherently produces this outcome. I also believe that this is true for the reverse. Concrete supplies or resource management isn't some surefire way to increase realism or somehow makes this aspect of the game important or meaningful.

I understand that some strands of D&D, for example, take great pride in resource management and meticulously hand-tracking inventory of supplies. There is obviously a legitimate place for this sort of survival-based dungeon-delving game in D&D and other TTRPGs. Some claim that this represents old school D&D. However, I also get the impression that there is also an equally long tradition for a lot of inventory management and supplies to get handwaved in D&D (and its ilk) by the GM and players. This is despite D&D have unabstracted supplies. For the latter approaches to the game, unabstracted supplies seem to get in the way of the fun. In fact, this seems to be the prevailing approach to D&D at present. Matt Colville even had a fairly recent video about how a lot of the items in the equipment section in 5e D&D was mostly vestigial to make the game feel like D&D rather than being a vital aspect of its present play.

Again, this is nothing new in D&D's tradition. As @hawkeyefan says, there are a lot of magic items and spells that amount to circumventing or bypassing the resource-management mini-game and/or turning it into a trivial part of the overall game.
The games you are suggesting are largely narrative, a style I have little to no interest in (though I appreciate others do like it). And I strongly dislike magic as a tool to bypass resource management, despite its prevalence in modern D&D. My version of 5e tones down a lot of that stuff, which is a big reason why I love it.
 

Aldarc

Legend
The games you are suggesting are largely narrative, a style I have little to no interest in (though I appreciate others do like it).
Black Hack is not though. Its Usage Die mechanic has already been described in this thread.

That said, I would recommend trying some of these games out at least once, even if they are outside your usual preferences. There are a lot of great mechanics in these games, and I personally find that it's worth experiencing how other games handle things like resource management in different ways.
 

Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
The games you are suggesting are largely narrative, a style I have little to no interest in (though I appreciate others do like it). And I strongly dislike magic as a tool to bypass resource management, despite its prevalence in modern D&D. My version of 5e tones down a lot of that stuff, which is a big reason why I love it.
I do not like “free” light, food or water at the lowest levels. (I wish light was a spell and not a cantrip at least).

I realize though some prefer to get to the action and don’t want to have complications like that.

Though come to think of it….I don’t think we track water in any way!
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Black Hack is not though. Its Usage Die mechanic has already been described in this thread.

That said, I would recommend trying some of these games out at least once, even if they are outside your usual preferences. There are a lot of great mechanics in these games, and I personally find that it's worth experiencing how other games handle things like resource management in different ways.
I have plans to run Star Trek Adventures, a game that makes strong use of metacurrency, aspects, and abstract resource management. I chose that game specifically because it's not too much out on a narrative limb, and because I love Star Trek. For most genres, that's not what I want.
 

Hit points are an old, familiar abstraction; a necessary evil, if you will. Adding supply points is increasing the amount of abstraction in the game. Its simply not a matter of "some abstraction that's been with us forever is acceptable, so adding more is no big deal".
They aren't a necessary evil. Plenty of games don't use hit points at all - some of them much grittier and more "realistic" than D&D. Using hit points is a choice at this point.

So I agree with @Aldarc - this is special pleading in favor of familiarity.
 

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