296 Rations, Gear Counting, Resources

Tonight we’re talking about a different type of game. Some would say it’s simulationist. Some would argue it’s nit picky and spreadsheet hell. But there are some that enjoy this type of game. The type of game we’re referring to is keeping track of your stuff a bit more than having a never-ending supply of food and arrows. Does it create new challenges for PC’s?


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Looking forward to this one.

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I enjoyed being able to watch the podcast live. That was cool. So you are recording the Zoom session, and Twitch saves the audio/video. Are you also recording a Skype session? Curious where you are getting the raw file for the audio podcast.

Thanks for tuning in @LordBob, I did another thread for my workflow…

I still think the best explanation, at least early on, for Skill Challenges wasn’t in any of the 4th edition D&D books, it was in the Star Wars Saga d20 book Galaxy of Intrigue. The 1st-20th level range meant that math was a little less strained than the 1st-30th range for D&D, and it had lots of optional rules for different types of skill challenges, like complications on a failure, timed challenges, exceptional successes, and catastrophic failures. I used it a few times when I was running my Saga game and they worked well.

There are so many forgotten bits in D&D 5e, not to mention things you think are there but aren’t. There aren’t surprise rounds, there are no spell research rules, but there are rules for mapping and group skill challenges.

For example, if someone in the group is mapping, you can’t get lost if you backtrack your way out of an area you have visited. That’s in the core rules. The player character just needs to be assigned to map, and that character can’t use passive perception while they are doing so.

Group skill challenges are right in the ability checks section. If the DM thinks you could do something as a group, everyone makes the check, and if 50% or more makes the check, its s success. Great for making a good impression on someone or compensating for your plate armored paladin when sneaking past a bandit camp. Ghosts of Saltmarsh also introduces more granular results for group challenges, with Total Success/Success/Failure/Total Failure as results.

When it comes to tracking resources, I think it can work, but I do think you need some rules to add to the stakes when using those rules for meaningful tension. For example, I really think there should have been more long term exploration rules introduced in Tomb of Annihilation for things like provisions going bad, etc. WOTC had an Unearthed Arcana for exploration, but the example they gave was very specific to exploring a constrained area, and I would have rather seen it used for a more expansive general terrain.

I think there have been some games that have done a great job of looking at what exploration looks like, and designing rules based on that, like Forbidden Lands (which I have only spend a little time looking at, but it’s built to include exploration checks and attrition) or The One Ring as well as the snap on version of The One Ring rules for 5e found in Adventures in Middle Earth. That said, those are universal fixes, they are meant to evoke a very specific feeling. For example, Adventures in Middle-earth’s Journey rules don’t feel quite right for traveling in settled regions of the Sword Coast in Faerun, or the super harsh conditions of Athas, for example.

I’m a big fan of just having casters invest X amount of gold in material components, that they can declare for a spell as they cast it, so it still costs them gold, but is more flexible long term. I am even okay with declaring what YOUR version of material components for that spell is. If you attempt to sell back your spell components, you only get 50% of the cost, because not everyone wants your bits and bobs of broken, powdered stuff for anything else when you sell it back to someone.


Chris’s comment on passive Stealth checks is a really good one. It’s really just extending the idea of passive perception towards other skills.

It’s straight out of the PHB on p.175. I use it from time to time with my players, especially, with random encounters, and it helps speed up game play. Gives certain events a more narrative feel. When the players interact or explore larger set pieces I tend to revert back to active rolling since those are more high stakes and I like the randomness of the dice to effect how those segments of the game may unfold.

Something to consider within your own gaming groups.

There are a lot more possible suggestions for @DMCojo’s fledging DM (kid) out there - we could point him in the direction of various mechanisms for increasing engagement we use at the table.

  1. The episode itself mentions the GM “giving Doom points to himself” if the party is lagging. That’s one possibility.

I found some techniques (albeit the inverse of the above) to engage players who aren’t yet used to paying rapt attention: Bonuses for focus!

  1. I musically score my game, including a special combat score - I ask each player to provide me with a 90 second “theme” for their character. I make a playlist alternating the music for the encounter with the character scores. Then - the secret sauce - I give a BONUS (+1 to any roll) if they take their action when their theme is playing. The theme order is fixed, so everyone is watching out for each other to make sure they get their +1!

  2. For me, the general idea of every player is watching out for the other players is key to keeping them engaged. I’ve already shared my “Fudge Token” design [transferable +1 tokens] - investing every player in every roll (not just combat) by every player in the game.

Sometimes, especially for new players and GMs, attention is a real problem - but there are lots of idea/practices out there for helping retain attention…

[@sean Should this be it’s own topic? Maybe “Tips and Tricks for Keeping player engagement and focus”? ]

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Could be. We did it a while back, but we obviously don’t have a problem rehashing prior topics.

Oh, wait - I meant a separate topic/thread here on the forums… :slight_smile:

Ah ok. Not a bad idea.

This isn’t GREAT for VTT in the plague-world, but when we get back to in person, I think a great resource for COUNTING resources is just note cards. Just tic em off as you use em.

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I once had a player ask me, “why is it when the party is low on something or out of something you as the DM pick on that?” “Or say when the player with the mage is gone all of a sudden we as the party must deal with things a mage would be good at?” This player is still of the mind set player vs. DM most of the time. My answer was simple. "As the DM it’s my job to challenge the players and player characters. "
I find that keeping track of supplies is a challenge for lower level characters. Once a character in the group can create food and water, or has a bag of holding it’s not much of a challenge at that point. Similarly a good boss encounter should challenge the players and their characters into being creative to get passed it.


I did not see a new thread for the “All About Resources Part 2” so I will share my comments here.
Brett’s comment after reading Edwin’s remarks in Random Encounter on both of you helping new GM’s and Players was dead on with me. Going back almost a year ago when I first contacted the podcast, and in the last year I have gone through A LOT of the past episodes and all of the current ones. One of the recommendations that has been given many times in your podcast is to keep it simple. Like Edwin said KISS, as well its best to focus on one thing at a time and improve than have a crappy game because you over did it on things you did not know how to do. I have been taking your advise from an episode many moons ago about playing in games to learn what you like and how to play will help you GM. I have found this to be wise council. To everyone listening thank you for your comments and ideas, there are plenty of us out there that just want to start and getting to hear from you all makes this easier. Also @sean enjoy that Onewheel they are a lot of fun. After you get your “One good Crash” out of the way its smooth sailing. Just don’t look up on YouTube Onewheel crashes its not healthy. Thanks again to both of you and looking forward the future!
-Mike Hess


Here’s the obligatory RTFM post. You knew it was coming.

In response to a listener comment on episode 299, about D&D 3.5 spell component pouches. Again, Brett and Sean don’t know the 5.0 current rules, and it bothers them not a whit. :slight_smile: :rofl:

For the record, theD&D rules for component pouches is dirt simple:

A component pouch is a small, watertight leather belt pouch that has compartments to hold all the material components and other special items you need to cast your spells, except for those components that have a specific cost (as indicated in a spell's description).

The vast majority (by count) of lower level spells do not have component requirements or have component requirements without a cost. Here’s a list of those that have costs. [transcribed below]

With the exception of Gentile Repose (narratively requires one copper for each eye), all components listed below are 10gp or higher - so the 5e pouch is functionally identical with the 3.5 version - so “YES Brett, 5e works basically the same way.”

Every single spell my players have used regularly either have no material component, or would be covered by the pouch or an arcane focus. So - no fuss, no muss. No special accounting for normal stuff. The few things they use once-in-awhile (Identify) do not consume the component.

Honestly, it seems that the costs below are all about keeping some sense of checks and balances into the game. As a DM I’d don’t think I’d ever wave the costs listed.

It ain’t broken, and it doesn’t need fixed.


Level 1

  • Chromatic Orb (evocation): 50gp diamond
  • Find Familiar (conjuration ritual): 10gp charcoal & incense & herbs consumed
  • Identify (divination ritual): 100gp pearl
  • Illusory Script (illusion ritual): 10gp ink consumed

Level 2

  • Arcane Lock (abjuration): 25gp gold dust consumed
  • Augury (divination ritual): 25gp divination tokens
  • Continual Flame (evocation): 50gp ruby dust consumed
  • Cordon of Arrows (transmutation): 4+ arrows or bolts
  • Gentle Repose (necromancy ritual): 2cp
  • Magic Mouth (illusion ritual): 10gp jade dust consumed
  • Warding Bond (abjuration): 2 x 50gp platinum rings

Level 3

  • Clairvoyance (divination): 100gp arcane focus
  • Conjure Barrage (conjuration): 1 ammo or weapon
  • Glyph of Warding (abjuration): 200gp powdered diamond consumed
  • Magic Circle (abjuration): 100gp holy water or iron / silver powder consumed
  • Nondetection (abjuration): 25gp diamond dust consumed
  • Revivify (conjuration): 300gp worth diamonds consumed

Level 4

  • Divination (divination ritual): 25gp sacrificial offering consumed
  • Leomund’s Secret Chest (conjuration): 5000gp chest, 50gp replica
  • Stoneskin (abjuration): 100gp diamond dust consumed

Level 5

  • Awaken (transmutation): 1000gp agate consumed
  • Conjure Volley (conjuration): 1 ammo or weapon
  • Greater Restoration (abjuration): 100gp diamond dust consumed
  • Hallow (evocation): 1000gp incense consumed
  • Legend Lore (divination): 250gp incense consumed, 4 x 50gp ivory strips
  • Planar Binding (abjuration): 1000gp jewel consumed
  • Raise Dead (necromancy): 500gp diamond consumed
  • Reincarnate (transmutation): 1000gp oils & unguents consumed
  • Scrying (divination): 1000gp focus to stare into
  • Swift Quiver (transmutation): quiver of 1+ ammo
  • Teleportation Circle (conjuration): 50gp rare chalks / ink consumed

Level 6

  • Circle of Death (necromancy): 500gp crushed black pearl
  • Create Undead (necromancy): 150gp black onyx per corpse
  • Drawmij’s Instant Summons (conjuration ritual): 1000gp saphire
  • Find the Path (divination): 100gp divnation tools, object from target location
  • Forbiddance (abjuration ritual): 1000gp powdered ruby
  • Guards and Wards (abjuration): 10gp silver rod
  • Heroes Feast (conjuration): 1000gp gemmed bowl consumed
  • Magic Jar (necromancy): 500gp gem or container
  • Programmed Illusion (illusion): 25gp jade dust
  • True Seeing (divination): 25gp ointment consumed

Level 7

  • Forcecage (evocation): 1500gp ruby dust
  • Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion (conjuration): 5gp ivory portal, 5gp piece of marble, 5gp silver spoon
  • Mordenkainen’s Sword (evocation): 250gp miniature platinum/copper/zinc sword
  • Plane Shift (conjuration): 250gp planar attuned forked metal rod
  • Project Image (illusion): 5gp small replica of caster
  • Resurrection (necromancy): 1000gp diamond consumed
  • Sequester (transmutation): 5000gp powder of diamond / emerald / ruby / sapphire consumed
  • Simulacrum (illusion): 1500gp powdered ruby, snow or ice sculpture of subject, body matter of subject consumed
  • Symbol (abjuration): 1000gp mercury / phosphorus / powdered diamond / opal consumed

Level 8

  • Clone (necromancy): 1000gp diamond, 1 inch cube of target’s flesh consumed, 2000gp lidded vessel.
  • Holy Aura (abjuration): 1000gp tiny reliquary

Level 9

  • Astral Projection (necromancy): 1000gp jacinth, 100gp ornate silver bar consumed
  • Gate (conjuration): 5000gp diamond
  • Imprisonment (abjuration): 500gp per hit die of target - special item
  • Shapechange (transmutation): 1500gp jade circlet
  • True Ressurection (necromancy): 25000gp of diamonds consumed

Really nice list! Thanks for posting it.

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