Using up ammo

In our most recent gaming session, our courageous DM suggested a house rule governing the use and storage of arrows (and I think other ammunition). The seemingly harmess rule sparked a bit of debate will I will try to deconstruct below.

But first a bit of background…

My current game is a generic 4th edition campaign, and we’re doing the adventure in the back of the DMG. I’m playing an elven archer ranger. At the start of the third encounter Lucan, that’s the elf, snuck in and fired off a shot at max damage. A few rounds, an action point and a few special powers later, I managed to fire off at least a dozen arrows.

Once the room was cleared and we called it for the night, our DM decided to suggest a house rule covering the use and expenditure of ammunition. The proposed rule was: in exchange for counting individual rounds, I’d have to have an available quiver at all times, and an attack roll of 1 would force me to spend an action to refill it.

Writing it now, it seems much more reasonable than I first made it out be. My initial reaction, of course, was negative: partly due to being singled out, but also from having a new thing to deal with when I’m still learning the rules of a new game system. The benefit of the proposed would be not to get bogged down in having to count arrows. As someone who grew up with second edition which had a bigish area for counting off ammo on the character sheet, I never really had to think twice about. Counting’s really not that bad: (a) there’s a few minutes between my character gets to act, and (b) if you’re not a stickler, loosing track of an arrow here or there is not such a big deal.

I think too if the rule was something consistent, instead of applying just on a “critical miss” it would be easier to hold in my head, and not be as big a burden while learning a new system.

I understand the desire for realism and verisimilitude in a game, and I think personality clash made it a bigger deal than either of us thought it would be.  From this incident I have a few takeaways. I don’t mean these as a criticism of our DM (other than in the literal sense), but more as a general set of talking points that I want to explore in future posts.

Lessons learned:

1) Don’t propose new rules that limit actions at the end of the night, especially when those actions were the cause of much fun that night.

2) When creating new rules, start with something that affects everyone evenly, like rations or encumbrance, or gold exchange, etc.

3) There’s probably only a limited window where such rules are effective, as characters soon get unlimited quivers, backpacks, bags of holding, etc.

Has anyone tried house rules regarding ammunition? Have they been effective?