How does one fictionally and mechanically resolve reducing ammo as the result of a Volley move with a weapon that…

How does one fictionally and mechanically resolve reducing ammo as the result of a Volley move with a weapon that…

How does one fictionally and mechanically resolve reducing ammo as the result of a Volley move with a weapon that has the reload tag under tense circumstances? Say, for example, an owlbear is charging down the thief, who draws her crossbow fires at its face. The crossbow “takes more than a moment to reset” between each attack – fictionally, if the first shot were to whiff the owlbear should be able to close the distance and tear the poor thief to shreds before she has a chance to load a second bolt. Does the thief simply not have the opportunity to “take multiple shots,” effectively removing that option as a possibility for her 7-9 result? Should the thief be able to reduce ammo, with the added risk of immediately being mauled if the damage doesn’t drop the charging beast?

18 thoughts on “How does one fictionally and mechanically resolve reducing ammo as the result of a Volley move with a weapon that…”

  1. Different groups will handle this in different ways, and, as with many things in Dungeon World, the only wrong way to do it is one which your group doesn’t like. But I handle it thusly:

    For crossbows and other ranged weapons that take a while to reload, or for thrown weapons that the character only has one of, I take the “reduce your ammo by 1” option of the Volley move off the table. Yes, that does mean crossbows have unlimited ammo (unless or until you make the GM move of Use up their resources to inform the character they’re out of crossbow bolts).

    So, in your example of the Thief shooting a crossbow at an approaching owlbear, on a 7-9 the player has a choice between reduced damage or putting themselves in danger. And as the owlbear is already a very clear and present danger, I’d probably introduce a new danger, rather than keep using the owlbear.

  2. Chris Stone-Bush Funny enough, I had also been going with the call that reload weapons don’t get the option to reduce ammo on a volley, and the fact that crossbows get infinite uses of ammo as a result was the reason why I started questioning that interpretation enough to ask – but now that you’ve reminded me that use up their resources was still on the table for hard moves I have a lot more confidence in that as a ruling.

  3. It’s not a move I would use often, and I certainly wouldn’t use it to punish players, but it’s an option. I’d use it to create drama. Like if this were a movie, when would be the most awesome time for the Thief to reach back and discover they’re out of crossbow bolts?

  4. Unless it was a thrown weapon, like a dagger or a hand ax, I’ve never let characters collect spent ammo. Not because I’m a dick GM (I hope), but because the tone of the game wasn’t “gritty”. Buying or making more ammo is not an issue, so characters never feel the need to collect it. if you were playing a really street level game where the characters scrimp and save for every coin, then I can see players wanting to recover usable ammo.

  5. I don’t have my players going around collecting spent ammo either…I’m not usually going for a gritty game. Just coming up with a fictional reason why someone might allow a crossbow to use up ammo with a 7-9. Saying no to a player choice (which is what that is) just feels wrong to me if I can think of a way to justify it.

    Ammo is abstract in DW so to explain “Oh well, let’s assume that after the fight you find that bolt snapped off after you hit the guy, that’s why you lost one ammo”. I’m not having the players say they’re scrounging the battlefield for ammo….just abstracting a fictional reason to allow the -1 ammo choice. I also know that the crossbow doesn’t just have 3 bolts so that abstraction doesn’t exactly fit but it has worked for my players

  6. I’d say they can’t fire more then one shot, unless it’s a repeater crossbow, or she just has a quick draw for it.

    As for fiction I have always made it that you should declare you’re reloading at the end of your action, then the GM can know to let everyone else go till enough time has passed that the crossbow has been reloaded.

    Also just because because you can’t reload on the spot doesn’t mean you have to. Dropping the thing and drawing your blade is just as viable as dodging away and trying to make room so you can reload.

  7. Ammo is kind of an abstraction. It’s not necessarily lots of shots, just that that one shot is when you go from “plenty of ammo” to “not quite as much ammo”.

  8. You could instead fictionally position them losing bolts. Maybe they scramble to load up some bolts, drop a few but the one they load up and shoot works. Maybe the target retaliates, missing the attacker but doing damage to your ammo/wherever you keep it. Firing multiple shots is just a good justification for why a bow would use up ammo but it’s not the only one.

  9. Gary Chadwick​ and Ben Wray​ both beat me to it, but I also don’t take, “firing multiple shots” to always be that. It’s just an option that tells them they are running lower on ammo after the previous shot. I wouldn’t take the option away for crossbows. You could also narrate it to the situation. If they missed and chose that option you could say “you try to load your crossbow, but the Owlbear is on you before you can set the bolt into the weapon. It’s vicious claws swipe at you, but luckily the first strike only shattered the bolt out of your hand. What do you do?” This gives them the image of losing the ammo, while showing them the downside of their equipment (the fictional slow tag of the crossbow).

    Note: This all seems easy when you look back on something, but in the middle of a game it would most likely get overlooked. I know I do. Hindsight is always 20/20 am I right? 🙂

  10. I’ve just removed “you have to take multiple shots” from the option. It’s just “reduce Ammo by 1”. Maybe it’s because you took multiple shots, or maybe all those shots are adding up.

  11. I leave the ammo option open. With a weapon that had the “Reload” tag, i make the character Defy Danger to reload it in battle.

    Hand thrown items have only one ammo of course. If the player chooses the ammo option, then its gone. If they choose the “put into danger” option, then the fight scene is described with part of the fight where the character retrieves the thrown weapon (if able) and now in danger.

  12. Robert Doe hand thrown items don’t have any ammo. From the detailed description of Volley: “If you’re throwing something that doesn’t have ammo (maybe you’ve got a move that makes your shield throwable) you can’t choose to mark off ammo. Choose from the other two options instead.”

    And from the thrown tag: “If you volley with this weapon, you can’t choose to mark off ammo on a 7–9.”

  13. Jeremy Strandberg​, thats just how my group plays it. Their agument was that they should be able to just say “i lose my spear”. Now i came back and said, “ok but its not just ‘over there’, its also damaged”

  14. As long as your group agrees to those rules, it works Robert Doe​. I side with Jeremy Strandberg​ here though. If a PC throws a thrown weapon, the player can’t mark off ammo because there was just that one piece. Throwing that hand ax means it’s gone for now.

    Moving or breaking it the thrown weapon after it lands sounds like a GM move to me.

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