... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tracking Ammo: The Lazy Way

Lots of talk right now about tracking ammo, with JD Jarvis complaining that it’s not that hard. He’s basically right, and in the past I have done things somewhat similar to what he describes, but I wouldn’t do it that way now. Because, you see, the point isn’t that deducting spent arrows is mathematically challenging or prone to error; it’s just tedious and could be simpler.

The typical way people track ammo is:
  1. fire a shot;
  2. erase total arrows, write new total;
  3. repeat.
That adds up to a lot of steps, and a lot of wear-and-tear on he character sheet. If you keep a running tally of arrows fired, or use JD’s method, you reduce the amount of erasure, but you are still taking a lot of steps. Mix that with the thoughts of some about how many shots are actually fired in a one-minute combat round, and you have the inkling of a desire for something else.

This is why I’ve proposed something similar to this: don’t erase or tally after every shot; just keep track of how many rolls for missile attacks you’ve made. It probably won’t be many, so it should be easy to remember. When combat ends, roll that many d6s: that is how many missiles you have used. If you have the time, you can recover up to half of those missiles; the rest are broken or stuck. Deduct the arrows you can’t recover from your character sheet, all at once instead of every round.


  1. So where do you keep track of how many shot's you've made just in case people worry about each others memory...that's gotta go somewhere? A die used as counter can work but that method doesn't work if someone grabs the die and rolls it during a fight or in multi-session adventures. Eventually the number gets written down somewhere and changed later.

    1. Think about it: you spot a monster... How many shots are you going to get off before it closes in on you? One? Two? Three is probably the max. I can remember the number "3". Tracking with dice also isn't that bad, for those rare moments when there is lots of missile fire. It's easy to get lots of d6s, so there's not much reason for someone to grab one specific set of dice.

      I do have an improved version of this idea I plan on talking about, in a day or two.

  2. I'm not sure what's difficult about making tally marks, but I guess if people find it so, a system like this would be a reasonably good one.

    1. Again, it's nott the difficulty, it's a tedium, and the interruption.

  3. Your idea is fine but n extra arrow tracking sheet and tally marks work well enough. For the more kinesthetic inclined, a couple of dice (say d20's) works too,just adjust them down as fired.

    Even magical Skyrim arrow amounts can be tracked that way.

    1. Better yet, a tracking sheet where you place dice every time there is a round of missile fire. No tally marks necessary, and sheet is reusable.

  4. Just a reminder that the one minute combat rounds is absurd and indefensible. Historically, it was clearly an error in covering Chainmail to D&D.

    If you use a reasonable round length, then you can simply use a tally.

    Your system is strictly more complicated than a tally, all to account for the absurd one minute round.

    1. If, by "absurd and indefensible", you mean "perfectly rational and saves time", then I agree with your first sentence.

      But what I'm talking about has nothing to do with one-minute rounds or six-second rounds or 3.14 second rounds or any other time increment. I'm talking about the choice between

      - "fire arrow, make tally mark or change number, repeat to end of combat"


      - "fire as many times as needed, don't worry about changing any numbers until the end of combat".

      Changing something once is always easier than changing something multiple times. I can't understand why anyone would say the opposite.