Is Resource Management “Fun?”

Panzeh

Explorer
I'm not sure spell components are a meaningful limitation if the game effect is 'you can just buy them in town anyway so it's just another expense'.

I'm also not sure ammo limitation is actually much of a balancer in the game anyway- the class where 'ammo' is baked in is the Vancian spellcaster, who gets to eschew hit rolls and generally has more powerful and varied effects. I don't see the balance reason why ammo exists for the effect that is just a roll to hit damaging attack like everyone else's.
 

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James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
I'm not sure spell components are a meaningful limitation if the game effect is 'you can just buy them in town anyway so it's just another expense'.

I'm also not sure ammo limitation is actually much of a balancer in the game anyway- the class where 'ammo' is baked in is the Vancian spellcaster, who gets to eschew hit rolls and generally has more powerful and varied effects. I don't see the balance reason why ammo exists for the effect that is just a roll to hit damaging attack like everyone else's.
Well as others in this thread would say, immersion and verisimilitude. While these resources don't have much real effect on the game, giving all archers limitless arrows bothers some people's sensibilities.

Personally, a good way to solve this, I think, would be to give these consumables more weight; perhaps it's not arrows, but special arrows that deal +1 damage or something? Perhaps it's not just trail rations but Elven Waybread that gives you a small buff whenever you consume a meal?
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Honestly I don't see the issue with cantrips at all. Most Wizards, for example, are going to want decent Dexterity, and a crossbow attack for d8+3 is better than firebolt in most circumstances.

Light, you say? Wizards don't use shields, so you could carry a torch, in dungeons you could even drop it on the ground when combat begins.

I've never encountered a problem with Mage Hand or Prestidigitation, and I think that covers the three most taken cantrips, lol.

Now obviously, the main point, for this thread, is that "well, those spells prevent you from having to worry about crossbow bolts or torches". But the canny mage can easily start with a bullseye lantern which is better than a torch anyways, and as long as they don't waste their oil trying to light random things on fire all the time the way my group did in AD&D, you shouldn't need to restock very often.

I actually recently thought I'd try holding onto flasks of alchemist's fire like the old days, but yikes! That stuff is expensive in the 5e PHB! 50 gp a flask? The heck with that, that cuts into the Spellbook budget!

My DM recently told me he was ok with me making scrolls, and I was like "uh....25 gp for a 1st level spell slot?!". He's lucky that the cost to scribe spells in my book is so much, or I might be tempted to destroy any semblance of game balance by buying a couple extra day's worth of spell slots, lol.

Anyways, at will magic is fine, IMO. You can argue about damage scaling, but by the time you're doing 2d10 or more with a firebolt, the threats have escalated significantly. Sure, you might take out a goblin with a cantrip. But you're fighting 20 of the buggers, lol, and they're smart enough to use bows.

(Another unsung source of ammunition and other resources, btw, the monsters need food, torches, water, and the like too!).

I'm glad you recognize the evils of the concentration mechanic, Lanefan, but I don't see your solution as being any more practical. I say no more than one duration spell running.

You say "oh no, have as many running as you want, but with a mechanic that can punish you for casting spells"- surely the end result is the same, where players are cautious and frugal about casting a lot of spells?

Then again, perhaps you simply have one of those groups that embraces the chaos and laughs whenever the wizard turns blue and erupts in a magical force explosion, lol. I mean someone besides me had to play Wild Mages in 2e!

I just found out the hard way that one should really clear it with their group before playing a Wild Mage. Or using a Wand of Wonder...or a Bag of Beans...or...

Well you get the idea. Not everyone thinks that sort of thing is "fun", so I wouldn't push it on anyone.
Does everything in a game have to be fun for everyone? Seems like an impossible standard to set.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Does everything in a game have to be fun for everyone? Seems like an impossible standard to set.
Doesn't mean you shouldn't try. I don't have the playtesting resources WotC has, or who knows, maybe 80% of players want a chance for their magic spells to transform them into potted plants on occasion or for all arrows to have a 10% chance to veer wildly off course or break due to imperfections in their crafting. Oh and for characters to have to string their bows before they use them.

Or to suffer 1d10 damage if they don't ingest some carbohydrates every few hours; adventuring burns a lot of calories you know!

But barring such survey results, I'll just assume that isn't the case until a player comes up to me wishing that they didn't feel forced to use fire bolt instead of being able to throw darts. : )
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Honestly I don't see the issue with cantrips at all. Most Wizards, for example, are going to want decent Dexterity, and a crossbow attack for d8+3 is better than firebolt in most circumstances.
True; and here again 5e gives more to Wizards than do older editions.
Light, you say? Wizards don't use shields, so you could carry a torch, in dungeons you could even drop it on the ground when combat begins.

I've never encountered a problem with Mage Hand or Prestidigitation, and I think that covers the three most taken cantrips, lol.

Now obviously, the main point, for this thread, is that "well, those spells prevent you from having to worry about crossbow bolts or torches". But the canny mage can easily start with a bullseye lantern which is better than a torch anyways, and as long as they don't waste their oil trying to light random things on fire all the time the way my group did in AD&D, you shouldn't need to restock very often.
Even bullseye lanterns aren't great - they go through oil at a fair clip. Light is a good substitute as a spell provided there's a limit on how many times you can cast it and-or casting it uses slots you might want for something else. But at-will Light right at 1st level is a bit much.
Anyways, at will magic is fine, IMO. You can argue about damage scaling, but by the time you're doing 2d10 or more with a firebolt, the threats have escalated significantly. Sure, you might take out a goblin with a cantrip. But you're fighting 20 of the buggers, lol, and they're smart enough to use bows.

(Another unsung source of ammunition and other resources, btw, the monsters need food, torches, water, and the like too!).
Yes, looting the foes of their supplies is a time-honoured tradition. :)
I'm glad you recognize the evils of the concentration mechanic, Lanefan, but I don't see your solution as being any more practical. I say no more than one duration spell running.

You say "oh no, have as many running as you want, but with a mechanic that can punish you for casting spells"- surely the end result is the same, where players are cautious and frugal about casting a lot of spells?
Indeed, but I prefer they get a bit more bang for their buck when those spells are cast.
Then again, perhaps you simply have one of those groups that embraces the chaos and laughs whenever the wizard turns blue and erupts in a magical force explosion, lol. I mean someone besides me had to play Wild Mages in 2e!
Yep, that would be us. :)
I just found out the hard way that one should really clear it with their group before playing a Wild Mage. Or using a Wand of Wonder...or a Bag of Beans...or...

Well you get the idea. Not everyone thinks that sort of thing is "fun", so I wouldn't push it on anyone.
Things like Wands of Wonder, Bags of Beans, Decks of Many Things - unless playing a very cautious or very Lawful character at the time, our lot line up for stuff like this! And Wands of Wonder can be used by anyone (or they could in 1e, anyway), meaning even a dumb Fighter can get in on the fun.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Minor correction: hooded lanterns and bullseye lanterns stay lit for 6 hours off one flask of oil, and provide way more light (30' bright/30' dim or 60'/60' in a cone) than the humble 20'/20' radius torch that burns for 1 hour. Sure oil costs 10 times as much at 1 sp, but if you're trying to conserve weight (say, being a Wizard with pool noodles for arms), the 2 lbs. of the lantern plus 1 lb. of oil for 6 hours is way better than carrying around 6 1lb. torches. Plus you can set down your lantern with less risk of burning non-stone floors.
 

I reject the idea that creating a rule for spells to fail and possibly backfire is the "easy" solution for casters having o'erweening power. And I almost resent the idea that because I don't agree with that solution, I'm somehow in the wrong.
I never said that: I said just use the rules that exist in the game.
But in the spirit of discussion, I'll give you my "easy" solution to the problem in 5e. Step 1: Remove Ritual casting; no casting spells for free just because they take awhile to cast. You want a powerful utility spell, you use a spell slot as Gygax intended.
Agreed.
Step 2: replace concentration with "you can only have one spell with a duration active at a time".
Sounds good too.

I remember once considering using some kind of arrow crafting rules, so archers could just crank out their own supply. But you'd still need arrowheads, and metal ones can't really be made in the field. Plus, apparently, it takes about 2 hours to make an arrow from scratch, so just the arrows you'd need for one adventuring day would take a couple downtime days, so that didn't work (I don't mind dispensing with some verisimilitude, of course, but at the time, I felt that speeding up the time to make arrows would only be a half-measure towards not tracking these things. In fact, in a "realistic setting", one wonders who has all these arrows laying around to purchase anyways!).
Well....I'm not an arrowsmith, but I did learn how to make native American weapons for shows. I can make an arrow in about 30 minutes, an arrow head in 15 minutes or so. The arrow is not quite equal to a treated hickory shaft with a razor sharp titanium tip......but it can still hurt someone. Rocks make fine arrow heads, note blunt arrows still hurt too. But the point is it's possible.

I'm not sure spell components are a meaningful limitation if the game effect is 'you can just buy them in town anyway so it's just another expense'.
Well, it does depend on your game play style. For example if your stlye is like this:

Example 1-- Player Bob -"Oh wait for round three of combat I want to freeze time in the game. then my character walks all the way back to town, buys another spell component pouch and then walks back to the fight. Ok, so now my character can cast all their spells so for round three they will cast....."

So like the above, if the DM just lets the players "go to the store" anytime, then the resource management does not work.

Now try:

Example 2-- Player Joe- "What more goblins are attacking? But I used up ALL my spell components for my cool attack spells on that first fight our characters had today! Now my character is utterly and complealy useless because of the way I chose to play him! It's not fair! I want to run back to town and get more!"

DM-"Well the town of Fairhaven is about three miles to the west, did you want to run in that direction now? And efectively have your character leave the game?'

Does everything in a game have to be fun for everyone? Seems like an impossible standard to set.
I would think everyone would answer no to this......
 

Asisreo

Patron Badass
The thing that makes resource management fun isn't ticking down the numbers. It's the feeling of being overwhelmed by what you need to manage and the relief you feel when you finally get a chaotic situation under control.

You don't call it resource management if you're given a situation where you need 20 rations to survive a journey so you buy 20 rations and you're fine for the entire journey. But that's the reality of most resource management situations.

Now, it becomes more impactful if you need to make sure you're stocked up on rations, water, torches, oil, ammo, spells, powers, etc.

But you still can't have everything resolved completely before the journey is done. So you have to have midjourney difficulties. Maybe while the group travels through the shadowfell, torches will randomly require multiple pints of oil to light and food can only be kept edible for a day after its harvested regardless of mundane or magical preservation methods.

Maybe while they're traversing the plane of fire, all water evaporates, all flammable equipment and food burn and become unusable and uneatable, and walking exhausts the party faster.

You can't have everything be a checklist that is not impacted by the journey itself if you want fun and challenging resource management.
 

You can't have everything be a checklist that is not impacted by the journey itself if you want fun and challenging resource management.
Well....yes.

Though for a lot of people preparations and checklists are fun too. As is being prepared for things that might happen.

But a lot of the impact comes from replenishing things. Instead of the player just sitting there, they stay engaged in the game play just to grab a couple things they think their character might need.

By default, I keep most of my games 'action' far, far, far away from shops. So the characters will be in the wilderness a lot.
 

Staffan

Legend
The thing that makes resource management fun isn't ticking down the numbers. It's the feeling of being overwhelmed by what you need to manage and the relief you feel when you finally get a chaotic situation under control.

You don't call it resource management if you're given a situation where you need 20 rations to survive a journey so you buy 20 rations and you're fine for the entire journey. But that's the reality of most resource management situations.
That's very insightful. I think a better way of describing it is that routine resource management is dull. It's when things stop being routine that the fun stuff happens.
 

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