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Simple Inventory

Aug 13, 2022

Inventory is annoying to manage. Players need to track the (sometimes pages and pages of) items they have, often forgetting about items altogether. This is both boring and metagame-y. So instead, don’t!

A simpler inventory system

When it makes sense that a character would have an item in the fiction (like a doctor having a stethiscope, for example), they do. Simple as that. If the item is common enough for anyone to have it, then sure. They have that thing. Why not. This will remove a lot of unnecessary inventory management, but also will allow for more player creativity.

However, we can’t just let players have anything they want of course. For more rare and influential items, players must collect the item to have it (as per usual). The important thing is to not write it down. When the players forget about an item, its gone! Incredible important and memorable items will stay in the collective’s memory for many games. Those that are more random may be forgoten. The benifit is that you never need to track inventory (you have what you remember you have), and no charater ever uses something that people don’t remember that character having.

Why it works

The concept of this inventory system is inspired by film and television. In visual mediums like these, viewers are not able to open the protaganist’s “inventory”. They are simply expected to remember what the character has on them. If the character pulls something out that the audeince has forgotten they had (or would be unlikely for that person to posess), people find it cheesy or call it a “deus ex machina”.

In order to get around this, screenwriters use items that make sense for that character to have. When they obtain something unique, they make sure to remind the audeince periodically of the items existance — either by making references to it, using it for things, or simply showing it on screen (often following the Rule of Three). We suggest you do the same: if you want to keep an item, keep people aware of it.