Friday, May 23, 2014

A Bigger Pile of Gear

In a recent post I suggested letting a group of starting players pick their gear from a pool of cards.   The miserly way I tailored the gear available made the whole experience pretty hardscrabble.  Since then, I had the idea of flipping that on it's head and making the players wealthy, petty gentry.

They have as much stuff as their porters can carry.  You would need to decide how many porters, beaters, link boys, personal assistants, personal guards and pack animals allowed to the group as a whole.  And I think you would have to shift the whole delve from one of trying to find some valuables to a kind of difficult, big game hunt.  So, for example, the party is trying to kill a cave bear, or leucrotta or something.

In this kind of scenario resource management would still be an issue-- nets might get torn, lots of food consumed by the hirelings, etc-- but it would be less about survival and more about problem solving.  Should you dig some pit traps?  Drive the beast into spikes or nets?

You would probably need to have lots of gear cards on hand, because money is not an issue; if the party wants 200' of rope then they can give that to their porters.  I would also want to make cards for outrageously expensive stuff that you wouldn't consider normal dungeon gear, like fireworks, cages, and jugs of tranquilizer.

And what to do after the hunt?  This could just be a fun one-off, or you can start tallying the hireling costs-- maybe the family has finally tired of the extravagance of this bunch of layabouts-- so players will have to sell off remaining equipment and decide whether to keep any hirelings and how many.

Here is a draft sheet of how you might handle beaters:
I figure they will be average strength and be focused of flushing and driving game, but can still carry a few things.

Here is a sheet for porters:

They're strong, or know how to balance loads well, and they all carry clubs for their own defense.  The check boxes can be used to show hit points.  Yep, this is basically treating them as beasts of burden (see here and here), but you are wealthy and and consider that their lot in life.

Of course you don't need cards to do this, you could have lists of gear printed out, index cards for each hireling, and have players write down what they want to take, but the cards would make the process more visible for everyone sitting at a table and also quicker, being able to shift gear from place to place without having to erase.


  1. Liking this - i did series of goat and bear cards as used in my game based on yours - might do a open cut dungeon mine for a con game with sappers, engineers and drilled troops of the Imperial Dungeoneer corp

  2. Excellent as usual. I co-opted your idea of "kit plus three items" for starting gear for my b/x homage game. I will be in the new rules edition. Players must instead roll three times on an expanded table of items to see what their hero's family bequeathed to them before throwing them out. "Advanced" generation where you roll for money & pick out your whole kit is still an option of a player wants it.

  3. This seems like a fun sub-game, and I can see it having its own sub versions depending on the target game, i.e. is it under ground, or in mountains etc.

    Other rule ideas:
    Characters can only carry weapons/armor, because carrying "stuff" is for underlings. So no water, oil, rope, torches etc.
    You have to carry back some portion of the monster(s). Heads, tusks, horns etc. So you can not have all your bearers slaughtered without failing at the "quest".
    Morale of bearers in particular should be an issue, so if that baby dragon starts munching up bearers 1-5, then all the rest flee.
    Also, if I were to play this, elves with human bearers seems like an obvious choice...

  4. Thanks, all.

    @Konsumterra: Goats and bears, that's cool I don't think I ever made them for myself but now I'd like to. And a one off with troops as resources seem like a good chance at fun.

    @Scott: Sounds good, give them choices but keep it streamlined in case they die fast : ) I'm pretty sure I got the idea of some gear + choices from another blogger, all the more reason to keep reading blogs, ideas building on ideas.

    @Lasgunpacker: Great rules, I think having most of your gear, like light, carried by others would lead to a nice feeling of vulnerability. Thanks.