New Inventory System for Stonetop

I’ve spent the last few weeks updating Stonetop to use a new inventory system. Here’s the new system at a glance: And here’s the detailed explanation. When you prepare for an expedition , decide if you’re carrying a light, normal, or heavy load-this tells you how many slots you have available.


  1. Hot take: The [?] thing feels complex to me. I think I’d more like to see something like: light has 3 slots, medium has 5, heavy has 5. Small items take 1 slot, medium items 2, big items take 3.

  2. The thing where an item is 3, but a big item is 2 is causing a lot of mental friction for me. Also while I appreciate the logic of it all, I feel like the additional layer of abstraction from “Adventuring Gear” or “Supplies” to “[?]” removes an important(?) layer of haptic feedback. Obviously I haven’t played it so it might be fine in play, but reading it didn’t get me excited to think about what I could use [?] for in the same way I think about what I could use adventuring gear for. Maybe just a different icon could solve this problem (for me at least).

  3. That seems like it would work well. How has it played at your table? Do your players find it easier than the original DW “load” system (or the previous Stonetop inventory system for that matter)?

    Actually, can you remind us of what’s changed from the previous Stonetop system? I recall that you had “clumsy” items which could only go in the second category (so you couldn’t have a light load when carrying even a single such an item)… I’m glad that’s been simplified.

    I really like the way that players choose their load level as the opening decision… are they travelling light, normal or heavy? You could basically have each player make that single decision and just jump into adventuring right there, pulling out items from their possessions and their steading’s wealth level as required.

  4. Robert Rendell haven’t actually had a chance to use it yet. Initial playtest reports from others have been generally positive, but data are limited.

    The old system was standard DW Weight vs. Load, with the Encumbrance move that never got used (it never occurs to people that they can carry more than their Load, so they just don’t). The Outfitting part was: roll +Fortunes (for the whole party) and pick 6 items (10+) or 3 items (7-9) from the Prosperity List. You could “trade down” a list 3:1. E.g. on a 10+ and Poor Prosperity, you could get 5 Poor Items and 3 Dirt items. (You could also get an extra 3 picks by burning Fortunes, which I don’t think I ever saw actually happen in play.)

    Problem was, every Outfitting turned into a 45 minute shopping trip, trying to balance the # of “picks” the party got from Outfit vs. the available Load across the party and the requirements for rations and the utility of other options. And counting your gear’s total Weight never really worked out. Just… yuck.

    So, this is indeed a big pendulum swing in the other direction. As you say, you can theoretically just pick your load level and be out the door. In practice, I expect that people will end up with typical “loadouts” over time (the ranger always brings a Bow, Arrows, a knife, and [?][?], unless it’s cold, then they also bring a cloak and a leather hauberk and 3x[?] more. But, yeah, you can just go “we travel Light, let’s go!”

  5. Nick Nunes Aaron Griffin Yeah, I hear you on the “conversion” issue. It’s like trying to solve the Knapsack Problem on the fly.

    The [?] thing is there to distinguish “empty” slots from “undefined” slots, which I feel is important for a game where travel and loot play a big role. There might be other ways to do it.

    Nick… I think I get what you mean about the “haptic feedback.” Like, when you’ve got “Adventuring Supplies (3 uses)” on your sheet, you’re looking at it going “ooh, I wonder what those adventuring supplies are!” and looking for opportunities to turn them into something interesting. Whereas with more abstract “slots” or [?] you don’t have quite that same feel.

  6. So I’ll preface this by saying that I haven’t tried the game and I’ve just recently started going through the public material, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

    I guess a character will be able to drop one of their [?] items to replace it with loot or something else they acquire during travel. Wouldn’t this make the distinction between “empty” and “undefined” less important?

    Also, maybe actually showing the slots on the playbook would help with the conversion problem, i.e. turning the lines into some form of a grid.

    In any case, I’m really digging the game so far and I’ll be watching the Gauntlet hangout games closely for any chance to try it out.

  7. Alex Tsourakis thanks for the feedback!

    The [?]s and the 3-small-items-per-slot thing are both going away. Small and tiny items are getting collapsed into “things that don’t take up slots” and the gear list will get a revamping to account for that.

    It still has a few design problems to work through, and then a lot of ripple effects to account for in playbooks, etc. But watch this space!

  8. I am a fan of BitD’s loadout approach thus I am inclined to be a fan of this one. The rest of my comment is filed under DELETIA as it appears you are making changes to the parts where I have handwringing (mostly regarding communicating the “[?]” placeholder concept.) Looking forward to seeing the changes!

    Also: I have a some folks that are itching to spin up a weekly West Marches campaign and we’d love to give Stonetop a run. Most of the players are experienced nigh-exclusively in D&D (B/X & 5e) and FFG Star Wars — and a few will be new to the hobby altogether. So playtest feedback would be from the celebrated “PBtA neophyte” demographic. Not sure whether you’d see that as a feature or a caveat. 🙂

  9. Gart Larissa cool! Have you pitched Stonetop to the group? And they’re on board?

    By West Marches, do you mean “big pool of players, different folks each week depending on who can make it?” Or something else? From my understanding, it’s a very specific style of play and you might find that Stonetop doesn’t quite suite all its parameters. But tell me more!

  10. Jeremy Strandberg Yes it is as you suppose: The parties will vary each session according to player availability. In our case it each session will likely have a lineup of 2-3 PC players, with a total bench of 5-6 players. All sessions in the campaign will take place in a the same persistent setting, a region contained enough for the events of a session to impact subsequent sessions. Players will do their best to begin and end in a “hub” location (city, village, keep), though I suspect adventures will often spill over into two sessions. Those are the major aspects I’d associate with our configuration of a “West Marches campaign.”

    Not canonically associated with West Marches: We plan to find opportunities to stretch a bit and try out different systems and “schools”, probably in the form of mini-arcs. Also worth noting that there is already an ur-setting for this campaign. As much as I would like to start with a PbtA-based arc, Dungeon World — by design, natch — is a bit too…Gygaxian out of the box to work with the setting. Meanwhile, everything I have gleened regarding Stonetop indicates it would be very compatible with our setting, but there would still be a bit of re-skinning. If you currently need setting-specific feedback I suspect you already have better-suited volunteers.

    My hunch is that you may be at a point where you are wanting to focus on gameplay aspects outside of the area of “rookie engagement.” No worries! Your design notes have provided a lot of inspiration to riff on. We will keep an eye out for the final product when it comes out.

  11. Gart Larissa one of the things that I want to eventually do with Stonetop is “open it up” so that tables can make their own home steading, region, etc. With the exception of the inventory system and rough edges here and there, I’m feeling good about the mechanics and the general processes, so it might be time to see how things go with someone intentionally trying to hack it for their own purposes.

    As long as you’re down with using the Stonetop playbooks themselves, and the Major Arcana that the Seeker starts with, and the flavor they all involve… it shouldn’t be too hard reskin stuff to fit into your established world.

    The particular elements of West Marches play that you mention should, in theory, work pretty well with Stonetop. The three biggest things that I think you’d want to watch out for are:

    1) You probably want everyone around at the beginning for character creation, because the PCs and player decisions about them have a huge impact on the tone and general feeling of the village and therefore the whole game. I think it’d be tricky to have, like 3 of your 6 players do the initial setup and decide big-picture things about the world and then have 3 other players try to “drop in” to that.

    2) I’ve often had the intent of doing adventures that took 1-2 sessions, but it rarely works out that way. The West-Marches approach of having PCs decide on their plans away from the table should help, but you’d also have to be pretty intentional about your pacing. Expeditions themselves often take a good chunk of time, never mind the actual exploration of the point of interest. But! Playing with only 2-3 PCs at a time should help.

    3) A lot of the steading-development stuff (Improvements, the Trade & Barter move, etc) involves the PCs deciding as a group that they want to expend certain resources or pursue certain goals. You’d need to be careful about, say, 2 players not spending all of the steading’s Surplus on some hairbrained scheme to build a rainwater collection system and then Winter rolls around and everyone is screwed as a result.

    If you and your players are comfortable with that, I’m actually quite interested in seeing what you’d all do with this. It’ll help/prompt me to write out some guidelines for “Making Your Own Stonetop”.

  12. Gart Larissa Jeremy Strandberg Re: two players spending all the steading’s Surplus… normally, two citizens of a settlement couldn’t make unilateral decisions about community resources, even if they are influential. There would probably need to be an all-hands village meeting or something to discuss the plan, and that would be a cue to everyone playing the game that the other PCs would get some input too.

    Perhaps such village-wide decisions, and the turning of the season moves in general, would be things that (in a Westmarches-style game) happen between sessions, with everyone participating via email/forum/whatever? The sessions focus on expeditions and adventures and acute threats to Stonetop like a Crinwin attack, but you can’t do large time-passes during the sessions.

    Actually, not doing large time-passes when not everyone is around to contribute is probably a good approach in general, even if you’re not doing Westmarches. Doing such a time-pass immediately requires you to say “we’ll ret-con in what (missing person/people) did during that time”, which rather limits how much impact their down-time activities can have.

  13. Robert Rendell the flipside is that Stonetop is intentionally set up as the sort of place where the PCs can basically make those decisions for the steading as a whole… there’s no formal government, folks follow the lead of the clever, the brave, and bold (i.e. the PCs). As play happens, you definitely end up with rivals and other respected NPCs that sometimes get in your way (these folk often arise in response to failed rolls, just in general or on steading moves).

    Also, in my ongoing game, we had 6 PCs and generally tried to play when everyone (or almost everyone) could play. But we didn’t always, and if we ended an “arc” mid-session we’d generally do the Seasons Change move based on who was there. Otherwise, we just lost a bunch of time. The folks who were there would usually make big picture decisions/choices, but there was also a lot of trust and shared goals among the players. Plus, at most half of the players were ever really thinking at a strategic level… the others would just go with the flow because of personality. But that’s my table, and I can easily see it working less well with a group of 5-6 really invested players.

  14. I much appreciate these helpful considerations, Jeremy Strandberg!

    > As long as you’re down with using the Stonetop playbooks themselves,

    > and the Major Arcana that the Seeker starts with, and the flavor they

    > all involve… it shouldn’t be too hard reskin stuff to fit into your

    > established world.

    Of the Major Arcanum I’ve only seen the one: Azure Hand. Does a Major Arcanum have more mechanics associated with it than is shown on its card and in the Seeker playbook?

    > 1) You probably want everyone around at the beginning for

    > character creation…

    I like everyone around for the inaugural session, in general! Underscoring that bullet item, now.

    > 2) I’ve often had the intent of doing adventures that took 1-2 sessions, but it rarely works out that way…

    Again, noted and thanks! I am not wagering any money in this area.

    > 3) A lot of the steading-development stuff (Improvements, the Trade &

    > Barter move, etc) involves the PCs deciding as a group that they want

    > to expend certain resources or pursue certain goals…

    That is a great heads-up. I do not anticipate this being a problem with this specific enterprise. There is precedent for sorting out decisions via the campaign mailing list, as Robert Rendell mentions. And based on previous experience I expect engagement with strategic-level mechanics will be much the same as the one you reference.

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