I’m curious what everyone’s take on the use for items is for their games.
Do you mostly keep it the same as the SRD? I’m partial to how Band of Blades changed it up a bit myself, but working out how Load / items and how many to use is still something I’m mulling over.
How have you all approached it in your game? Are items a high priority? Do they change much? Do you add things that aren’t actually “material goods” to the list?
Did you just drop the items all together?
I think it depends on what kind of genre you’re going for and if the amount of gear is meaningful to characters in that drama. Something like Blades where characters are going on a score, or anything like an old school dungeon delve, what gear you bring will be important, and therefore can be a meaningful part of the game.
Something in another genre may require very standardized equipment. Let’s say a WWII game with playbooks corresponding to different types of soldier. Each might have a set list depending on playbook.
Other games may not even consider gear or load all that important.
For hacking I love to bring special “items” which lets us see how the players view the world, come up with a creative approach to use it and bring the story forward.
The Revenant - A Memento
The Wrench&Saw - An unopened Box: Some strange box with unknown content. Is it a dark secret? Who would pay good money to get it?
The Outlaw - A Guitar Case: You may store a guitar in it or other ‘equipment’ hidden in plain sight.
All inspiriation taken from Blades session where my players were very creative how those original items could be used. You start with “vanilla usage” and then the real fun starts.
For my hacks I’ve mostly done away with the light-normal-heavy system in favor of a flat amount of load. In Moth-Light, I try to place equal narrative value on all the trappings of the playbook, with “An Important Name” costing the same Load as “A Ceremonial Weapon” or some such.
I personally feel that gear is a great way to flavor a playbook but I don’t worry overmuch about reproducing the blades formula.
This is actually one of my sticking points. I’m working on a cyberpunk hack (because no one thought of that!), and gear will have to work very differently. My three loadouts are Covert (small and inconspicuous), Tactical (ready for trouble) and Remote (off-site). Some cybernetics (limbs especially) could have gear built in as well. Beyond that, I’m probably starting each playbook and each crewsheet with a list of standard gear and working from there, hopefully without making things too complicated.
Hmm, yeah thats a bit of my issue as well. I’m doing a Wizards/Mages hack and for some playbooks items make sense, others way less so. so its hard to gauge how to treat the system as a whole. I like the aspects of “maybe not a true material resource, but something unique you can use” but those aren’t the easiest to come up with.
I did use the ideas of languages as items though, like “check this to use the native Tycherosi Language or to read the ancient scripts of this book” and what not. but not sure how “load” gets conveyed with that. all the interesting stuff is like 0-load to me and that feels like i’m bypassing the point then?
In Blades Against Darkness I struggled with gear a lot. I didn’t want there to be actual shopping, because I find that boring. But, how much you can carry, access, and economy are all sorta important to the survival horror nature of dungeon crawling. Eventually I settled on this this:
All gear has to be put in a slot, and each slot has a time cost associated with it. So, if you want to declare you’ve got a sword. That’s great, but in the heat of the moment, it won’t do you any good unless it’s Ready. Wanna grab some treasure? Stick it in a slot. Probably it’s going to be Packed but that means you have to take the time to put it away.
Armor also consumes slots when you declare it, so it’s best to declare before the mission gets started.
That’s an awesome approach! Thanks for sharing it!
I know there’s probably a way to do this with spells, in the like “at will vs takes a breath vs you need to incant this” but i’m trying to lean away from Vancian Stuff.
This gave me a new angle and perspective to consider…
I agree that @CasterShell’s approach is a good one. A nice twist on how to handle inventory.
What kind of issues are you having? You mentioned that gear makes sense for some characters but not others…how so? Are you able to set up something like how the Leech’s bandolier works for those playbooks that require gear?
I’ve been struggling with this too. Motorcycles are a big part of my hack, so theoretically you can carry as much as your motorcycle can hold. The size of your bike doesn’t usually change between scores (unless you upgrade it).
I’m planning on doing some early playtesting with the normal Blades rules to see how it feels before I make something unique.
I’m also planning on using that playtesting to help come up with items. I think it will be easier to see what someone wishes they had, then put that in the game, then try to predict the types of items now.
I have a system for tinkering/crafting items for personalization, so I’m keeping the items that are available to each playbook and to everyone fairly utilitarian, but with general descriptions so they can be personalized.
Okay, so deep dive-ish time. lol. Yes, some makes more sense that others. For instance, I have a crafter playbook that is basically the leech (more or less) and they have access to a bandolier of things. Another one one that has items is the Elementalist (they have staves and pure forms of elements and so forth)
Less obvious are the Psychonauts and Illusionists. Their items are a bit more ephemeral or cheeky? Like I think one of them has a cape and a wry grin? Its’ not super great right now. (Okay actually looked them up… here ya go)
For the Illusionist:
- A Large Cape
- A Wry Grin
- A Deck of Cards
- A Dazzling Coin
- Fine Faerie Dust
- Captivating eyes
- A hidden wand
- A false bottom pouch
- Fine Hypnotizing Crystal
- Fine Trickster’s Supply
I like neither of these… they don’t really convey anything to me and none of them have significant “load” so they really don’t become part of that conversation?
Compared to The Elementalist:
- Fine Small Sample of a Pure Element
- Fine Focusing Rod
- Cold-steel Bands
- Forge Mask/Gloves
- Fine Imbued Staff
or The Knower:
- A Summoning Circle
- A Word of Power
- Fine Tome of Knowledge
- The True Name of a Demon
- Passage to the Fae
Hope this helps. I just realized I don’t like the Crafter’s options because one of their items, I kid you not, is pockets.
Like these items don’t have the same narrative weight at all and that’s what is frustrating to me I think? Like ok, sure one gets a hidden wand and a wry grin - the other gets a summoning circle and the true name of a demon. What?!
This was long, haha. Sorry but hope it made sense as to why i’m trying to see how others figured out items…
Okay, gotcha. So it seems that each playbook has a specific list of items, and they vary greatly in actual impact. Some seem to he practical tools, others are potent magical effects/artifacts, and then some seem to be flavor. All of which is fine, I think.
The question to me is if there is room for meaningful choice of what items to select for a given score/mission. Do you have enough items for each playbook that would create meaningful decisions for the player to make as far as load? Or would it make more sense to simply grant access to all the items on the playbook list, and not worry about load and inventory?
I don’t think it would be a bad thing to not include load and item slots if it won’t create decision points for the player. Or to limit such mechanics to a specific playbook like the Leech or Crafter.
I think it comes down to the amount of items available to the playbooks and how important those items are in how the score goes.
So for a quick example, if you were making a superhero game, Batman might be the only character in the Justice Leage for whom items are a meaningful choice. He has a ton at his disposal, and the Utility Belt is a perfect way to express this. Wonder Woman isn’t going anywhere without her bracelets or lasso, and Green Lantern will always have his ring…so Load and Items don’t really mean anything to those characters.
So I think it comes down to the genre expectations first, and then it’s a question of how many Items may impact the game, and if Item selection is a meaningful choice for players.
I hope that helps.
Items are a big deal in my hack, Deathwish. Players don’t advance in Tier, but heavier items can be higher Tier than lower ones (a big hammer vs a knife) so it can effect their strong in combat. Additionally, there are a wide variety of “magic items”, like healing potions, explosives, and illusion creating items.
Because of this, one Action in each category relates to items.
Lift: Under Prowess, this is the action for feats of strength, but it also determines how much Load you can take. Characters have 3 by default, but get +2 for each point they put in Lift.
Craft: Under Awareness, this is similar to tinker for action rolls. It also gives you a special point pool called “Supply” that can be used to gain unlimited copies of an item. This is great for medics who want unlimited healing potions, assassins with unlimited throwing daggers, or even unlimited dynamite.
Dabble: Under Resolve, this is used for miscellaneous professional skills. Each point of Dabble lets you unlock an additional Playbook, gaining access to all the unique items on that Playbook (as well as their Special Abilities.)
Here is a link if anyone wants to see the full rules. It isn’t quite ready for public playtesting (no good GM rules) but I’ve got over a year of successful local playtests and the item rules fit this specific genre very well!
I added a downtime action (scrounge) to a hack I am working on. It allows the characters to refill load that has been lost due to a consequence or spent in actions. The hack ensures that the players are away from any resupply options for several sessions, so it makes sense. It probably won’t work as well for most of the games that allow a full reset between scores/missions/etc.
I really liked this alternative to Load that was put out in the somewhat jokey “Dogs in the Bark” supplement. In a game where items may be more abstract or where it doesn’t make sense to have to carry everything I thought this hack was particularly brilliant. I could see these rules being adapted to cover nanotechnology (a light load you look human, a heavy load you’re glowing with femtotechnology), magic users, werewolves and many other effects.