Counting Shots Option

Im new to the system but a 40 year veteran RPGr. Im wondering about the abstract handling of ammo. Counting arrows in a quiver has never been a bother so im wondering just what the advantage here is during play? Also, such an abstraction would seem to really bring up problems at the table.

Consider a character who makes his way to a good vantage point to provide overwatch for his comrades as they engage some guards. He gets there, rolls a complication and the GM announces he is out of ammo. Really? Would he have even gone up there if he knew he was low on arrows? Not to mention the idea that a single LOAD of arrows can last for days of adventuring but suddenly vanish in a single turn of frantic Volley fire. I just see my players balking hard at some of this.

Does anyone simply count arrows and assign Volley fire a number like 4 or 5 or something? Would such a move have effects elsewhere in the game Im not aware of?

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As you get to the top of the overwatch you stumble and the arrows in your quiver spill out and down the rock face, breaking and becoming irretrievable.

No I don’t count arrows. Complications should make sense to what is happening.

As would firing a brand new full quiver to empty in a single turn of a few seconds.

Well, you could allways cound a load as 5 arrows (to make it easy and fast when counting arrows).
I dont see that as something bad.
Also you should allow the player to see if some arrows can be re-used after combat (dont be too generous with this, since there are a Talent for that in Brigand if my memory serves me right now).

Solution to your problem, maybe:
Your main issue is the idea of Loads and how abstract they are for combat. I personally have never minded the idea of Loads for Throwing knives and arrows, but if you want to get right in there and say that a Volley is a about a third of the maximum arrows they can carry within that quiver, that should work just fine.

I would advise that you at least try the Load bit, to see how it flows with your players. It maybe annoying, or weird, but its always worth trying something new. Since you’re an experienced GM, trying something new probably won’t be too tough on you. If they kick up a fuss, next session just change it around.

Abstract Ranting:

The Idea of losing arrows during combat due to Volley and Load is mostly to be interpreted by what the player is doing

Arrows are meant to be kept in bundles, so when you do a Load or Volley, you take the whole bundle out, set it in front of you, and just shart speed-shooting like it’s the end of the world.

For complications, maybe while volleying you shot a few too many in an attempt to cover more ground. Maybe you are frantic in grabbing your arrows and drop a few. Maybe you think you’re Legolas and load like 5 at a time or something.

A complication is usually a small incident that can be solved by a single action, so dropping your arrows on the floor and forcing you to pick them up to fire seems pretty reasonable. If the GM spends some doom, they may be a little meaner - might make it that the quiver strap is loose and it all falls over a crevice, or that a rat eat them or something. I don’t know, make something cool up.

Always make the complications and the doom spend match the story - maybe you did climb that rock with like 1 arrow because you were in a hurry to get to a good posistion. Maybe you are caught unawares and grab your quiver while jumping out of a window to avoid cultists trying to take your tongue. Maybe you hit the ground hard when you fell off the crevace and your arrows broke your fall. Maybe you can’t spell Position. Whatever matches what you are doing, make the complication and the fiction match for that.


Ogedei’s response was perfect. This system is designed for interesting cooperative storytelling, hence (reasonable) complications. Traditional RPGs have numbers to represent everything and remove story opportunities in doing so. Conan does require a mental change though.

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Well said! The plague if the modern rollplayng games.

This is a big part of the reason I’m excited about playing this game. I’ve played lots of games over the past 38 years or so and we recently played a bunch of Labyrinth Lord and Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. But the book-keeping has gotten pretty tedious so we’re looking for a different kind of gaming experience. I’ve always loved the Conan stories so this seemed like a cool system to get away from the other styles. I’m still reading all the supplements, but I hope to get a group together to play in the fall when I’ll have a bit more time. Ideally I’d like to play a few times first before trying to GM so I may be posting a query looking for games in the Annapolis,Maryland area on this site before too long! I’ll be teaching at the Naval Academy this fall.