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Is Resource Management “Fun?”


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But that's because we are playing Pathfinder, where every gold piece you spend on a room at the inn is one less gold piece you have to spend on upgrading your cloak of resistance. And not upgrading your cloak of resistance will eventually get you killed. So everybody becomes a miser, which isn't fun.
Your first mistake is playing Pathfinder. ;)

But I believe the opposite: misers make excellent PCs, because that makes for very easy manipulation. There's nothing like debt and expenses to make them quick to take a good-paying job without looking too hard at the details.

Compound interest is a powerful force. :cool:
 


Some of the most challenging games I'm in have very rationed resources. Spell components for powerful spells are nigh impossible to find so, when you find them, you covet them. Food and resources that make exploration challenges actually challenging really push enginuity and creative problem solving. Sure, I can use Create Food and Water every day but now I'm down a 3rd level slot every day. And, in another game, we don't have access to spells like that. We are in the middle of a poisonous swamp and tracking food is incredibly important as we decide whether to push further, counting our dwindling food supply, hoping we won't get delayed.

Edit: in one game, I've we've been in the wilderness for weeks and I have 20 bolts in a world where cross-bows aren't common. Every shot counts. If I miss, the bolt is gone with no way of buying more.

These games can be super-frustrating but I find overcoming the challenges quite rewarding.

I don't find that counting torches slows the game, since this isn't done 'in-character'. What takes the most time is making the big decisions over what course of action we need to do next. The hours of strategizing over what might only take 30 minutes of the game time.
Exactly. The first rule of enhancing a campaign via resource management is doing away with the Wal Mart approach: villages don't have weaponry, armor, etc, for sale.

Then keep scenarios from being 'go to Ye Olde Ruins and return'. Make them find the ruins. Which leads to Location B. Which presents an opportunity at location C. By the time they get home again, its six months and two seasons later, half their equipment has been replaced, they've got a dozen topics to research, and their entire investment situation needs an overhaul.

Most of all, don't let scenarios be neat little packages. Loose ends should build up and lead to complications. Helping Group A pisses off Group B. Killing Villain 1 inconveniences Coven 2.

Keep the PCs hopping. They should be concerned with who is plotting what, who is angry about that, what sort of planning is needed. Problems large and small.
 


I'm inclined to say that if you're only having fun for half an hour of a three-hour TTRPG session, something has gone very wrong? Not for nothing, I think, are TTRPGs part of the "hobby game" niche. Hobbies generally can include model assembly, gardening, cross-stitch, and so on, none of which are "fun" in the sense that we usually mean the term, but are clearly very engaging and rewarding for them as like it.

Or put another way, maybe when we talk about "fun" in RPGs, we mean something different from, say, the thrill of a roller coaster ride or a game of friend-or-foe tag.

(All that said, TTRPG play still ought to be fun, even with a more "hobby"-like sense of the term!)



Apropos of resource management and fun in TTRPGs, I'm confident to assert as fact that one can and will have engaging and rewarding gameplay with any given amount of resource management, from the most detail-oriented "how many fractions of a pint of oil did I just use in my lantern?" tracking to the most abstract die roll mechanic to almost none at all (*). I think two big factors are player tolerances/preferences and gameplay focus.

Apropos of player tolerances/preferences, different players are going to prefer different levels of management, either in and of itself or as befits the gameplay focus of the game. Well and good. We only run into problems when someone starts assuming their preference is "objectively" superior.

Apropos of gameplay focus, as others have noted upthread, plenty of players seem to enjoy managing resources such as hit points or spell slots while playing D&D, even as they chafe against managing torches or rations. The game's focus has been on heroic deeds and rich tactical combat - thematically since about the mid-1980s and mechanically since 3e came out - so managing the resources that facilitate that gameplay is intrinsically rewarding; managing resources that are orthogonal to such gameplay - torches, rations, and carrying capacity - is down to player preference.

Contrast that to pemerton's gameplay examples from Torchbearer, where players are quite clearly engaged by such minutiae as whether they even have shoes! The focus of more survival-oriented games drives engagement with such matters in a way that the focus of heroism-oriented games do not.

Of course, one thing about D&D in particular is that it inhabits a weird space where people want it to enable both heroic fantasy and survival-style play at once!

One thing I think also matters is how "solvable" a resource management problem is. Hit points are rarely a "solved" problem of resource management, for instance. Even if you play a 5-minute adventuring day, you can run out of hit points in that one encounter. Going hungry in Minecraft matters - up until you have set up your pen with animals and/or your fields of wheat and can always have stacks of food in your inventory, whereupon it ceases to be an interesting problem.



(*) I'm not referring to some sort of "god-mode" approach; say rather that there are TTRPGs where managing resources as such just isn't part of gameplay. I have yet to play, say, Monsterhearts (and probably won't), but I feel fairly confident saying that resource management, at least as it's being conceived of in this thread, just isn't part of the game at all, with the possible exception of managing your relationships with other player characters and NPCs and leveraging them to achieve your goals in gameplay. (I could, of course, be mistaken and would be happy to be corrected.) Superhero genre games are another example.
 


I'm guessing the middle ground might look something like:
Your suggestions are not in the middle though: they are on the don't keep track of things side. The character can shoot 30, 50, or 100 arrows before it's said "oh you shout a couple arrows".

By the same token, once you track "hit points", you might as well break everything down and track each individual wound, right?
Though if you can keep track of HP, you can keep track of arrows too....
 


Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
You have a problem with Ashley Williams?


But I'm a sedentary dude living in the relative lap of luxury of one of the world's richest countries in a time of unprecedented prosperity. I don't know much about what kind of food a medieval/renaissance wanderer would bring on their travels, or how much of it they'd need, and how often they'd resupply. I don't have the first clue about medical supplies. But my characters do not live in this world. They live in the world where they need to know these things. Just like my character doesn't get to use my knowledge to invent gunpowder by mixing the right proportions of charcoal, saltpeter, and sulfur, they don't need to rely on my knowledge in order to survive in their world. They know what they're doing, even if I don't.
You put that in the game, right in the equipment section. That way, you can read it and then you do know what your characters are eating.
 

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