Manage Provisions

Manage Provisions

Manage Provisions

Does FotF need this move? Is it time to give it the axe?

I like resource management in a survival-oriented game, but I’m not sure it adds enough to the proceedings to keep it around.

I want tension around the need for sufficient supplies to complete a foray into the wild, but that might just be accomplished by the Judge making the “use up their resources” move to destroy rations when the fiction suggests.

Any thoughts one way or the other? Positive and/or negative examples of how you’ve seen Manage Provisions work in play?

29 thoughts on “Manage Provisions”

  1. If it is not a problem which may come often enough and with varied results and solution, remove it.

    The main problems ration give are:

    1 – should we spend money oh rations? How much?

    Once the adventurers aren’t anymore dirt poor, it is not a problem.

    2 – how much weight will we carry, in rations?

    If the rations don’t weight enough, that is not really a problem. You may decide to increase the ration weight (2 for 1 weight or 1 for 1 weight), but remember they may have horses to carry them (thought, there will be no horses in the dungeon)

    3 – the main problem rations give if one doesn’t have them are:

    – the characters are hungry, and they can’t heal or take damage.

    – the character must consume food which is not that much secure (it may poison or transform them)

    – the character should go into danger or spend time for foraging.

  2. We use it on a regular basis, and it has led to some nice tension, especially with new players who only bring along enough food for the journey assuming nothing goes wrong. I like keeping it, but won’t be overly sad if it goes away or is replaced by something new.

  3. This has me thinking of a “Roll+Rations” mechanic, where you start off with tasty, fresh, but perishable stuff that gives you some benefit, but over time you’re down to the hardtack and gruel. Failure or partial success depletes Rations.

  4. as another person who doesn’t like resource management… my opinion should be treated with suspicion 🙂 But, I really like how The Black Hack uses Usage Die to simulate consumable items (English SRD here: ) :

    “Any item listed in the equipment section that has a Usage die is considered a consumable, limited item. When that item is used the next Minute (turn) its Usage die is rolled. If the roll is 1-2 then the usage die is downgraded to the next lower die in the following chain:

    d20 > d12 > d10 > d8 > d6 > d4

    When you roll a 1-2 on a d4 the item is expended and the character has no more of it left.”

  5. I have a move problem. I cannot help making moves. Please stop me.

    When you leave a settlement, set your Supply from 0-3 (max), based on your capacity:

    – If all characters have a backpack: Add 1 Supply for 5sp

    – If you have 2 or more dedicated Porters: Add 1 Supply for 50sp

    – If you have a Pack Animal: Add 1 Supply for 50sp

    – If you have a Cart and Horse, or a Boat: Set Supply to 3 for 300sp

    When you leave any of those resources behind, reassess your Supply (if you leave a boat behind but still have backpacks, set Supply to 1). Note that if you have Porters or a Pack Animal or Cart, they can carry your backpacks.

    When you check supplies after Making Camp, roll+Supply:

    * On a 10+, Your rations are fresh and tasty, your bedding clean, tent protective, and torches abundant.

    * On a 7-9, choose 1

    – Reduce Supply by 1 (can go negative)

    – Tighten your belts and save your supplies for now; don’t get the benefit of healing, shelter, torches, or a good night’s rest

    – Burn 1d4 STAT or something?

  6. steve christensen, I love the inventiveness of that mechanic, but it seems to me that tracking die size on a per-item basis would be more of a PITA than just marking off uses or durations. Does it not feel that way in actual play?

  7. Jason Lutes The Black Hack is on my to-be-played pile, so I don’t have first-hand experience with usage die. It seems like it’d give the DM a good way to abstract “ can be used X times” with minimal book keeping.

    TBH uses it for rations, ammunition, and torches — there’s a dedicated spot on the character sheet for each.

    Variations of TBH use Usage Die to simulate different things — sanity, weapon/armor quality, radiation exposure, etc.

  8. Jason Lutes I’ve used usage dice in PbtA games before. It felt a little shoe-horned. You end up with a move like:

    When you spend wealth, roll your wealth die. On a 2-, you had to pay an arm and a leg – reduce the die size by one step. Otherwise, you were able to pay for it out of pocket, but take -1 forward to your next wealth roll.

    where a move like this would suffice just as well:

    When you spend wealth, roll+wealth. On a 10+, you were able to pay for it out of pocket. On a 7-9, it’s very expensive – if you still want to buy it, lose 1-wealth.

  9. I agree with Aaron Griffin, though composing my above move highlighted that the PbtA modifiers/roll probabilities restricts the “resolution” that is trackable, which means you have to be aware of how often the move is used, how harsh the failures are, how difficult it is to increase, etc. +4 results in a failure at 2.78%

  10. I love that move David Perry.

    You can get a greater level of resolution with the games skill system!

    Just add another row to either the character sheet or a party sheet that has a supplies stat. 0 – 19. Then you can burn supplies like any other stat. Perhaps tie weight into the equation?

  11. Maybe a useful question for me to ask the resource-management-dislikers is, “What do you dislike so much about resource management?”

    I can understand how it might feel tedious and/or detract from the drive of the fiction, but I’d love to hear some specific reasons.

  12. Jason Lutes it’s not fun to me to track single use things. If there were other benefits to rations, for instance, it would be interesting to try to use less so I can get more of the other benefits.

    But as it stands, running out of rations or torches or something like that feels more like a “gotcha” than anything else.

    Ammo works ok because you have other options – you CAN charge in with a sword, but the cost of staying safely back to fire is that you may run out of ammo.

  13. I think my dislike of ration tracking is my assumption of it being tedious/fiddly.

    I can see how it could help build tension… but I have never experienced it as a player as anything beyond “these spots on my character sheet I rarely use or pay attention to”. And, when I’m a DM I usually get distracted by everything else going on and forget to do anything with rations. I’m sure that’s my own failing in not using all the tools at my disposal.

  14. Thinking about this thread and Brendan S ‘s hazard system ( I think it could be useful to have a move like:

    When time passes in the dungeon, pick one or roll a d6:

    – Encounter denizen(s)

    – Spoor, noise or clue regarding possible encounters

    – Locality changes (mechanical change in environment)

    – Fatigue (take 1 damage unless there is water/rations and time for a brief rest)

    – Resource exhaustion (spell duration, etc)

    – Light source exhaustion (a torch or lantern low on oil goes out or a lantern runs low on oil)

    Of course this basically duplicates the DW GM moves… Maybe all that is needed is to say that the triggers for a GM move are:

    * on a miss on a PC move

    * a golden opportunity

    * when the players look at you (the GM)

    * when the PCs move to a new location

    * * when time passes in a dungeon *


    (The last one being the addition, the 2nd last one is one I picked up in storygames for AW as an implied thing that is good to make explicit)

  15. It’s tedious and often fiddly book keeping. Which rarely leads into any interesting situation or drama. As Andrea Serafini  Pointed out. You suffer slightly at the start when you’re poor. But then everyone invests in enough food for it to never matter again, ditto with torches and other consumables.

    I like the Perry move because it shields the system against players having so much they can just ignore it. While still giving an opportunity for the dramatic consequences to come up.

    So do you risk staying at the dungeon and searching for another day? Your supplies might last long enough. But it’s not a guarantee.

    (Also an opportunity to add supply results into dungeon exploring: When you explore the dungeon all day looking for loot, a 7-9 result might mean less supplies.)

    Or you could burn supplies to add to a dungeon exploring roll. It could tie back into navigation results as well. Instead of burning CON you can burn supplies.

    Aaron Griffin makes a good point. It’ll likely feel like a gotcha unless the players made the choice to risk starving.

    If they’re able to point back to that foolish choice to push on or hang out it’ll be fun.

  16. Great answers everyone, thank you for taking the time to explain the drawbacks. My group has enjoyed the tension that arises around managing rations and other supplies in the wild, so I need to take a harder look at what’s going on there.

  17. In OD&D I like that rations also function as lures and distractions. So not bringing rations has consequences other than just potentially starving.

    If you want to signal potential risk, you could build the decision into whatever the setting out on a journey move is.

  18. Jason Lutes I’ve just read your FotF2e post on “threads”. If a group doesn’t want to deal with accounting, you could always start a thread when it’s relevant.

    If a party begins what they expect to be a long journey into the wilds you could ask how well they prepare with rations and create a thread with the appropriate number of knots: 3 – not many rations; 5 – a moderate amount; 7 – tons of rations. This could be handled similarly with torches and spelunking.

    This way there’s no detailed accounting. The Judge just decides when to mark off another step in the thread. Additionally, like Brendan S points out, bringing tons of rations could be a danger in itself.

  19. That’s a great merger to call out, +Tyler Solomon. At this point I’m pretty sure I’m going to stick with ration tracking because I personally like the resource management aspect of the game. But an alternative supply system like the one you suggest might find a home in the Advanced Freebooters book.

  20. A little late to the party, but I thought I’d share some thoughts.

    First up: I’m a big fan of resource management in games that are about exploration. I think that it generates a good amount of slow-burn tension and tough decisions. I think it gives you, the GM, something to “attack” other than HP or stats.

    Like, I have trouble recalling all the different times that the party has had to wrestle with “do we keep going even though we’re almost out of rations/adventuring gear/bandages?” Or “how much of this sweet loot can we drag out of here?”

    The potential downsides, though, are pretty hefty. The bookkeeping can be a pain. The micromanagement (rations vs. ammo vs. bandages vs. adventuring gear) can suck. There are plenty of “noob traps” that an experienced explorer wouldn’t make that a player might. And there’s even some social footprint issues that come up like “Boris’s Fighter was carrying most of the party’s rations, but Boris couldn’t make it this week, so are we like actually out of food or what?”

    There’s also a fun vs. realism balance you have to find. It’s not particularly realistic for a fighter to be humping a framepack-full of rations and gear and also do all sorts of diving and rolling and fancy footwork. But it’s not super fun to dwell too much on that, either.

    The holy grail is something that keeps the slow-burning tension and tough decisions, but that avoids most of the pitfalls. I think the standard DW rules are an improvement over hardcore oldschool inventory management (mostly via the ammo and adventuring gear concepts), but they still have a lot of the pitfalls. I think pushing more in the “adventuring gear” direction might be the solution.

    Jason Lutes, I think you’ve seen this before, but in case not, here’s where my tinkering with this has led me before: – Inventory Sheet & Equipment Cards.pdf – Google Drive

  21. Regarding the OP, the Manage Provisions move has added a lot of texture to my games. Things that have come up because of 10+ or 6- results on that move include:

    * establishing that the artificer was a privileged dandy who packed nothing but fancy foods like pate and quail tongue

    * discovering that the cleric of secrets & mysteries, who was an amnesiac, must have had some professional training as cook when he busted out a delicious mushroom risotto in the field

    * a rage drake picking up the party’s trail and following them ominously, because the quartermaster did a crap job cleaning up

    * a collective sigh of relief when the quartermaster got a 10+ and managed to have the rations needed for the night, allowing the very beat-up and short-on-provisions party to regain HP by resting

    * Hirelings complaining loudly (and loyalty going down) because of rationing and crappy food

    * Descriptions of scrounging mushrooms, rosemary, honey, radishes, and whatnot… or roasting the legs of of feathered drakes that the party had just killed… or otherwise just focusing on what was for dinner.

    The move pushes “thinking about your food” to the forefront. And I think that’s a good thing.

  22. Now, combining thoughts from my past two posts… Aaron Griffin mention of ammo and David Perry’s move got me thinking: maybe rations aren’t tracked as individual uses, but more like a countdown clock. And the Manage Provisions move might result in ticking off a use.

    Plus, maybe you combine things like adventuring gear, rations, bandages, etc. into a single resource: Supplies.

    Then, have moves that 1) require that you have at least 1 Supplies and 2) might deplete those supplies.

    For example:


    Make Camp

    When you settle in for a much-needed rest, consume 1 Supplies and roll+CON. On a 10+, choose 2; on a 7-9, choose 1; on a 6-, don’t mark XP but don’t choose any.

    * Heal 1d8 HP

    * Recover 1 burned stat (not Luck)

    * You’re frugal; get back 1 Supplies.

    If you don’t have 1 Supplies to spend in the first place, tell the GM to start or advance a thread for “going hungry.”


    Tend to the Injured

    When you tend to someone’s wounds or afflictions, expend 1 Supplies and roll+INT. On a 10+, choose 3. On a 7-9, choose 2. On a 6-, choose 1 and don’t mark XP.

    * They heal 1d8 HP (you can choose this multiple times)

    * They recover 1 burned stat (not Luck) (you can choose this multiple times)

    * You stabilize one of their afflictions, or speed along its recovery if it’s already stable

    * You’re frugal; get back 1 Supplies


    Have What You Need

    When you produce some common, mundane item (rope, a sack, torches, oil, a shovel, etc.) from your gear, expend Supplies equal to the item’s Weight and roll+WIS. On a 10+, yup, there it is. On a 7-9, choose 1. On a 6-, you either don’t have it or choose 2 (don’t mark XP either way).

    * You’re running low on gear; expend 1 more Supplies

    * You’ve got something close, but not quite what you wanted; ask the GM what it is

    * It’s kind of crap; tell us why


    Manage Provisions

    When you prepare and distribute food for the party, roll+WIS: on a 10+, choose 1 from the list below; on a 7-9, the party consumes the expected amount of Supplies (1 per person if Making Camp, 1 per person per day if you Took the Well Beaten Way).

    * If you Took the Well Beaten Way, the party consumes half the Supplies they normally would

    * If you are Making Camp, everyone takes +1 forward to their Make Camp roll


    Then… on the gear list, you could have:

    Crap Supplies (10 coin, 1 use, 1 Wt): when you expend these supplies to Make Camp, Tend the Injured, or Have What you Need, take -1 to the roll

    Decent Supplies (20 coin, 1 use, 1 Wt)

    Excellent Supplies (40 coin, 1 use, 1 Wt): when you expend these supplies to Make Camp, Tend the Injured, or Have What you Need, take +1 to the roll

    Specialist Gear (25 coin, 1 use, 0 Wt): when you buy this gear, name a profession, craft, or task (such as “scrivner,” “alchemy,” or “vampire hunter”). When you Have What You Need, expend 1 use (in addition to 1 Supplies) to produce something uncommon and/or specialized appropriate to your gear.

    And there could be special items like…

    Elven Waybread (4 uses, 1 Wt): when you Make Camp, you can expend Elven Waybread instead of Supplies.

    And class moves like:

    Magpie (thief or wizard): when you Have What You Need, add “burn 1 Luck” to the list of choices on a 7-9 or 6-. Also, you can choose to produce weird or strangely specific items, but if you do, roll+LUC instead of WIS.

    Healer (cleric): when you Tend to Wounds, choose 1 extra option.

    Seasoned Campaigner (fighter): when you Make Camp, treat a 6- as a 7-9 and a 7-9 as a 10+. On a 12+, choose a travelling companion; they get to choose 1 more option on their own Make Camp roll.

  23. Jeremy Strandberg I’m playing around with a PbtA hack about pulpy explorers in old temples and the like. It also uses a “Supplies” concept, but it currently only covers the rolls for the return journey (and is used for complications during the expedition).

    I’m gonna steal some of this 🙂

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