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October 19th, 2013, 01:35
The Rampant Coyote has a new blog post about RPG design and expendable items.

One of the issues that I face when playing any RPG – computer, dice & paper, whatever – is my tendency to hoard expendable items. Expendable items (AKA consumables) are those things that can get “used up.” Potions, magic items with charges, scrolls, etc. Often, at the end of a game, my level 60 character will retire victorious with an inventory still containing items he acquired back at level 2.

I hold on to these items for the time that I might really need them… only to discover I still have them long after they are no longer very useful. Then I’ll say something like, “Oh, yeah, that wand of magic missiles. You know, that would have been useful in some of those early battles.”

Occasionally I’ll go on binges. I’ll remember I have a bunch of expendable items that really should get used, and I’ll just start blowing through them. This continues until I’ve used up a good selection of my inventory, and I’ll get to hoarding again. Saving up for the next binge or something.

I wonder how much that reflects my behavior in real life… hmmm….
He talks about how he deals with it in his games next.

I’ve seen this in my own game, too. Realizing that the intro dungeon – and the general threat to low-level characters in the game system – could get a little rough for new players, I compensated by providing some really potent, expendable items – in particular, potions of Liquid Sleep, and Chloe’s magic wand of fireballs. My hope was to help train players early in the game to use these resources, and get in the habit of expending them. Between those, plentiful additional potions to be discovered in that dungeon, and an all but guaranteed leveling up in the middle of the dungeon (which automatically restores health and endurance), it seemed like a good plan, and that the dungeon was really not that hard. But people still have trouble with it, and don’t always use these resources. Maybe it’s because it’s too hard to use them, too confusing when players are still learning the basics of the game system. That’s certainly possible. Or maybe the hoarding mentality is not limited to me, and people are reluctant to use these resources, or even think about them. I don’t know.
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October 19th, 2013, 01:35
I have the same problem, mainly because expendables are useful for getting through boss battles.
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October 19th, 2013, 14:04
I tend to go through them in waves. I'll remember I have them, and then start using them up for the next few semi-difficult combats, and then start running a little low (at least of the more general-purpose items), and then quit using them for several hours. MAYBE I remember them for the next boss battle.

I'm getting better at it though. But it's still something that bugs me, particularly with my own game. The expendables are supposed to be there to make the first adventure much easier (especially since you can't return to the inn and rest up in mid-adventure). But people are still having a tough time with it. I'm relatively certain that most players who are having a tough time with it aren't taking advantage of their expendable magic items that they start with or find during that first adventure.
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October 19th, 2013, 19:28
I always have this problem. I remember it most vividly in MM6. You could pick up so many herbs throughout the land, and my inventory would eventually consist of almost all herbs and potion bottles, even though I never use them. My wife watched me play that some and eventually insisted that I stop being a hoarder. I enjoyed and finished FK, Rampant, and I think I rarely used expendable items, although I think I might have used the wand a little bit as you say. Your drama points feature was really innovative and kept the tension up much more than similar games (interestingly, the drama points were another type of expendable).

even worse than normal expendables are the things that improve one character stat permanently in a six character party game. I always agonize over who to give the item to and end up not using it at all.
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October 19th, 2013, 20:05
I'm a hoarder as well - but funnily only in C-RPGs. Never in pen & paper.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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