Monday, April 5, 2021

Standardized equipment for PCs

Does your game feature standardized equipment for the PCs and NPCs?

The safe bet is that it probably does not.

You see this in gaming all of the time, where every person is unique. To some degree, each is run and equipped as if they were a solo hero ready to take the world on alone. Fair enough - each person has their own vision of an enjoyable paper man.

The downside, though, is when you really need someone in a particular spot to deploy a particular thing, and the group has this thing, but said person does not.

Standard loudouts help. I wrote a bunch of kits for the DFRPG for just this reason.

"Oh, I have one of those."

Standardization is really helpful.

Drawing on my recent play of X-Com: Apocalypse, I give everyone a standard loadout:

- one stun gas grenade
- one smoke grenade (rarely used, but when you need it . . . )
- one anti-personel grenade
- one promixity mine
- a medi-kit

Later in the game this may include other alien gear.

I scatter around one-per-group stuff like motion sensors (I rarely need them, but they're critical when I do) or specialty weapons (missile launchers or demo charges).

This way, no matter who is in position, they can toss a proximity mine, or stun gas, or smoke. It's never, "I don't have one of those."

It's worth identifying in a tabletop game what might be useful for everyone to have. Items that are situationally important, and for which you can't necessarily wait for a person with it to deploy it for you.

It's tougher in a game like GURPS, especially my games, where encumbrance is enforced ruthlessly, so people only carry within certain bands of weights. You want to ensure your maximum Move and Dodge, and adding a vial of holy water or a smoke nageteppo or an alchemist's fire might just be enough to push you past a threshold. And hey, you say, I won't use it anyway.

But there is an upside to doing so, and knowing that every party member is equally capable of setting fire to a fallen troll, or covering a hex or two with smoke, or spilling some holy warrior on a vampire's corpse, or whatever. In a more military-type game (like Gamma Terra), it might even suit the game image better. Worth a thought when you're prepping for your next delve or mission.


  1. Looking at my last campaigns players: rope (often upgraded to silk to save weight), smoke and flash naggeteppos and a first aid kit like you mentioned, and visibility powder. First aid got upgraded to healing potions as time went on.

    Once they had gotten a big haul, everyone bought an invisibility potion and a flight potion. THe idea was to keep those in reserve in case they had to run from a fight.

  2. In fantasy games, I never see this. Never*.

    However, in Sci-Fi or modern para-military games? See it all the time. it really does feel to me like it fights the genre, so everyone has 2-3 grenades (1-2 smoke, 1-2 conc or frag), a back-up small arm, knife, paracord, flares, etc. I think for the groups I've run with, it's just a genre thing, though you are right, it would make sense to spread the back-ups around more.

    * That said, almost everyone has a Heal Potion or two, the casters all have a Mana Potion or two, and there are usually enough stakes and torches scattered among the group that someone can toss you one, or step in to do what was needed. Now specialty gear like Alche Fire, wolfsbane, garlic, poisons, acids, etc? They tend to only be carried on a "if we specifically think we'll need it basis" (or if it's part and parcel with that character's shtick, like my Assassin/Swishybockler carries poisons for their spears, my Undead Slaying Holy Warrior has stakes, holy water, garlic, etc).


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