Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Unlimited Ammo and Cartoon Physics

All entertainment requires some level of willing suspension of disbelief. You know as you watch a movie or read a book or play a game that none of this is really happening, but you allow your brain to enter a pretend world that operates under certain rules and abides by those rules - it has verisimilitude.

It's imperative that the core rules establish the level of disbelief expected. Games can feel disjointed if one player approaches the thing from the perspective of gritty, real-world simulation while another tries to blow a predator up like a balloon with a huge air pump.  The fact that you are playing 6 mm tall insects with machine guns throws authenticity right out the window.

However, two concepts help to reinforce this. First of all, you have unlimited ammo. It's no fun to track ammo, and there's nothing inherently useful in worrying about it, so you just don't. If you have a rifle or pistol, you also have enough ammo for it on your person at all times.

The other thing is carrying capacity and props. The props in the game/comic are big - if you've ever seen a pair of my binoculars, you know they are about half the size of an ant's head. Somehow, these magically get hidden in a tiny belt pouch, and pulled out again later. In essence, because the props are so large, every character carries a bag of holding. You have a satchel, and that satchel fits everything you would ever need for your adventures. These little details help to nudge the players and referee in the direction of dropping other 'real world' concepts in favor of flavor and fun.


  1. For some reason, this makes me diabolically laugh.

  2. I was with you up until Felix's Bag of Tricks for items and ammo, LOL!

    Dealing with real world concepts is fun and flavor for me in my games. Personally, I prefer a grim and gritty style of game play so tracking equipment and ammunition is part and parcel of that experience.

    It's a weird line that I am sure is different for each individual, but I can suspend disbelief to immerse myself in the world of Army Ants and experience its verisimilitude if everything else in the game is as close to the real world as possible. However, adding cartoon physics to the game and its play will destroy my immersion and feeling of verisimilitude.

    I will probably create a House Rule for dealing with the tracking ammunition and equipment for my AA games. :)

    Or even better, if you have some space then you might consider adding an optional rule for tracking ammunition and equipment for those fans that are like me. ;) :D

    1. From what I can gather, the firefights are supposed to be fast, furious, lethal, and succinct.
      Having to track / 1)How many rounds you fire 2)Rounds in your mag and 3) How many mags you have / will artificially make fights last longer and SEVERELY slow down play.
      Meanwhile, saying you have enough ammunition for the entire mission, and that your character is adept enough to reload without it impacting them at all, will free up time in session and space on paper.

    2. Perhaps it may 'severely' slow down game play for you, however, it wouldn't be a factor for me. Now, we can generalize from here in that some people prefer not to track these things, like you, and that there are some people who do prefer to track these things, like me.

      Now, all I am saying is that it would be nice if there was an alternate system presented along with the core rules on the subject that addresses both preferences. :)

  3. I think that giving a few sidebars about the various levels of play - from gritty to high adventure - is an easy enough plug-in that fits the needs that both of you have addressed. Both of you have valid play styles, and I'd like for players from either camp to feel like the game easily mods for that style.

    Thank you both for the feedback! It's been very helpful.