[House Rules] Ammo ruling

So i was thinking for a survival horror/post apocalyptic game. A game where firearms and ammo is rare and majority of the group would have to use melee more so then firearms. I thought of a rule to deal with the ammo on hand and one that still saves you from the book keeping of tracking each bullet.

Each gun has a condition, or ammo level.

Ammo Full

Your agility attribute becomes a CR just like that of a boon. You roll to hit the target, but that same roll also goes towards your CR of your agility. If you pass you aim well or know when your not going to make the shot and you conserve your ammo. If you fail you may hit the target but expend a lot of ammo doing so.
Could also add that if you are shooting a single target you gain a advantage on your roll. Any area or multi attack you gain a disadvantage on your roll. Though this would only work if the ammo roll was separate of the attack roll

This haven’t been tried in a game yet to see how well it works. Also for any feedback let me know would like the here what everyone one thinks.


Hey there,

Really like the idea so far. Basically how good your roll is, determines how much ammo you can conserve during combat, correct? Pretty interesting idea. Also, potentially giving out ammo as rewards when PCs find a stash or something.

If I’m following you correct then, as your agility goes up, so does the CR. Which means there is roughly a 50% chance that you’ll go down 1 level in ammo regardless of your actual attribute score. Unless you gain advantage or disadvantage on an attack. That sounds pretty brutal! I like it!

An alternative could be a flat 50% chance with the d20 on the attack. That is, if its 11 or higher on the d20 then the ammo level is reduced by 1. Either way I think it’s a cool concept


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I also thought of the flat d20, But i also feel like it should be the same roll as the attack. Just so their is no need to roll 2 dice when attacking.

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I agree to leave out the extra dice, I just mean with the attack you roll the d20 + attribute dice, the d20 on the attack

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Hmmm, that would be also a good way of doing it.

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I’d thought about similar before, but my solution had been to wrap it into the ‘every roll matters’ concept and instead if having an ammo roll, it comes into play when you roll a miss and you can have the option of causing damage, but you expend extra ammo. I’d not got as far as assigning ammo levels though. As you’ve said, it would have to be for the kind of setting where having the limited resources was part of the trope.

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So if the target misses they can choose to do the 3 extra damage at the expense of ammo. How would they track the ammo besides having levels or counting each bullet?

So i did a little test on the Ammo Rule i made, it appears to happen to much for my liking. So i was thinking of changing it so that whenever a 1 is rolled it occurs. And its based on your Attack roll and the CR is based on the Attribute you are shooting with (usually Agility).

Though i would have to test this too, because advantages and disadvantages may mess it up. But i would say that they can also count towards making you loose ammo as well.

I read of a house rule that uses dice for ammo. So you’d start off with a d12 and every time you attack you’d roll and if you got a 1 (or maybe like 1-2) your ammo would deplete a little and then you’d roll a d10 and so on. You could probably restock based on WL also. So like a WL2 would only let you have a cap of d6.

For me, I have long felt that running out of ammo (something that almost never happens since your character is right there and knows how soon their supply is out) is something that happens (very rarely) on a miss. I would just say (1 out of 10 or 20 misses).

“Your gun jams, you need to spend a round unjamming it.”


“Your gun runs out of ammo and you need to either move to another character with similar ammo, find a place nearby with more ammo, or use a different weapon”


So here are my thoughts on this: the normal philosophy in Open Legend (and the reason that bullets would, by default, not be tracked individually) is to avoid forcing players to focus on resource management. Stating that a given resource is rare (in this case ammo) means that players need to manage that resource. These two are in conflict.

In my opinion, if you really want to make ammo rare, you would be better off having players track bullets rather than having their ammo deplete at random based on a roll. This is because having it be “rare” should force players to evaluate whether or not it is worthwhile to use that resource at this time. It is harder to make that evaluation when you don’t know how much, if any, your reserves will be depleted.

Additionally, I believe that turning guns into something that cannot effectively be used at will means that you should probably grant them something to help balance them, depending on how severe the rarity is. Advantage 1 as a base on guns, for instance.

Edit: the weight of my argument depends heavily on just how rare is “rare.” If we aren’t on the same page, this may not make sense for you.


I agree. In any world that is under resource scarcity every individual is geared toward conservation. An Open Legend story of people who use firearms is a story of people who are part of a world where they are trained to concentrate on the need to make every shot count. In every situation where ammunition is required I prefer to convey the management of said resource entirely into the character. If the story brings up the topic, like say PCs happen upon a large cache of guns and ammunition, then it would be good to role play the need for certain resources, and perhaps the power presented by the resource. In normal gameplay as a mechanic I would leave it out entirely.

So, I think a lot of people responding with comments about “don’t track ammo, that would be counter to what OL is about” are missing several things here.

  1. You are flat wrong about that not being what OL is about. In general, yes, it is about not tracking as much. However, take a look at the core rules:

You can carry up to twenty pieces of gear. No more. Only track the items that will actually affect the game. So, no, you don’t need to record your pants and shirt on your character sheet. But, your armor does count.

After that it gives specific examples OF tracking ammo.

If the game/campaign/setting is based around the importance of ammo, the rarity or scarcity of it, then YES you need to track ammo. If the world has been designed around this, it should probably be based around tech levels (check weapons & equipment secttion) so that they have more advantage as someone else mentioned above.

So it’s more of a question if the ammo is so important that it affects the game, then track it.

  1. the complication with tracking just flat ammo.

When you multi-target with a pistol, how many bullets do you expend. Easy answer is the number of targets.

When you multi-target with an Uzi, how many bullets do you expend. No easy answer. You could say the number of targets, however Uzi is a type of weapon that has less disadvantage b/c of area attack (in my mind, how I would create that weapon). So it might be 5, 10, 20 shots.

The complication above with a machine or sub-machine gun is the real problem that the OP is trying to solve here. So in an attempt to make it not too much on the tracking side, making ammo have levels that you use up is a way to make the ammo more important (actually affects the game) without taking away from game play too much with tracking ever single bullet (and then having to figure out how many bullets get used up for area/multi-target attacks).

You could, for every weapon, determine how many bullets it expends for such cases. For a weapon, it has:

  • Single Shot ( 1 bullet per target )
  • Burst Fire ( 3 bullets per X )
  • Semi-Automatic
  • Full-Automatic

Not every weapon would have each of those, but then each weapon would probably differ. An Uzi vs an AR16, for example, would have different amount of expendature of bullets on semi/full auto. At least I would imagine. You could just generalize it I suppose?

It is hard trying to find a balance that the OP is going for without going extreme in either way. Doing a depletion of ammo via a low roll does make sense as the easiest way to go about it and achieve both. It is just determining the best way to decide on what roll does it deplete.


This makes sense to me; I’ll admit I hadn’t thought through multi targeting or automatic weapons. Given your explanation, the OP proposal makes more sense. I do still have one thing I think should change (unless I’m missing some other relevant point, as well):

I don’t think that your Agility attribute should be the CR. This would actually mean that LOWER Agility scores result in a lower CR. Assuming you want ammo depletion based on crunch (it could just be another option in the GM’s toolbox for making every roll matter), I think it makes more sense to have a constant CR. Alternatively, you could tie ammo depletion to rolling a 1 on the d20. This would be comparable to the idea of a critical fail.

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I just wanted to throw in clarification here:

You could, for every weapon, determine how many bullets it expends for such cases. For a weapon, it has:

Single Shot ( 1 bullet per target ) It appears to me you are thinking of revolvers or pump-shot style guns here, that’s fine.
Semi-Automatic (this should be 1 bullet per target as well. semi-auto has nothing to do with the number of bullets fired per trigger pull and everything to do with how efficiently each round of ammunition is loaded in to the barrel after a shot has been fired. )
Burst Fire ( 3 bullets per X ) This is found only in weapons sold to the military and typically has a switch allowing the user to choose single-shot, burst, or fully automatic mode, it does lend more difficulty to aim, maybe Disadvantage?)
Full-Automatic (So most modern military rifles and handguns don’t actually have this option anymore, the reason is that it’s horribly inaccurate. The best use for full automatic is to suppress the enemy (make them keep their heads down) while other allies get close enough to gain an advantage in the encounter. It’s super wasteful of bullets and I’d have Disadvantage 2 for damage rolls on this usage but allow Advantage 2 for Bane Attacks to Knock Prone or Knockback.)

yay, 8 month old thread :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

The stuff I listed wasn’t for exactness or realism necessarily, but just creating general categories, though honestly, 8 months ago, who knows exactly what I had in mind as it looks like I was just more or less throwing something out there to give more feedback/thought for others.

I think the way I would handle this now-a-days, would be abstracting it back out. Remembering the OP was wanting for a survival/horror/post-apoc type setting, since in regular OL games you wouldn’t actually worry about this at all.

Ammo as a sort of Legend Point

Weapons using Ammo

Weapons that require ammunition suffer disadvantage 1 to all attack rolls. This is a representation of the character being worried and/or concerned with the expenditure of the ammo as well as a question to the reliability of the ammo in its current condition. In addition, the environment and situation weighing down on them and the possible ramifications of using ammo (especially ammo that is loud).

  • Disadvantage 1 - all attack rolls from a weapon that uses ammo
  • This disadvantage is not negated by feats that remove disadvantage from attacks (such as multi-target specialist), but of course can be countered by feats and items that grant advantage

Ammunition Bundle

This represents ammo that has been discovered that is in excellent condition and quality. Not only can this ammo help a character when using a weapon, but it might be excellent barter in some settings.

A player may choose to expend an ammunition bundle and gain Advantage 1 to their next attack roll. In addition, they gain a flat +1 to the roll (the same as a legend point), or some other benefit as determined by the GM. This is a free action, and does not exclude the character from taking a focus action. The player may choose to expend more than 1 ammunition bundle, however the GM may limit this based on the weapon being used or other circumstances. Once the bundle has been expended, it is immediately removed from inventory.

Ammunition Bundles can stack in the inventory, and is just an abstraction. It could represent a single bullet, or a small bundle of them, but are spent the same way regardless.

A player may expend an ammunition bundle even if they are using Augmented ammo (see extraordinary items, such as Explosive Ammo), or something similar. The GM, of course, is always free to rule otherwise.

I think this helps simplify things, and makes it so ammo is clearly important. You could further this out a bit by making it so if you do not have any bundles, then you have no ammo at all. In this way, a player will always want to keep at least 1 bundle on them to be able to keep using their weapon.

If the bundle isn’t used in a certain time period, the GM could decide it goes bad. This might be for only certain settings though, and just to give more flavor or feel for the stress of the environment.


That’s really well thought out. I like it.! Sorry for the Thread-zombie :wink:

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no worries, made me rethink how I might go about this as a GM or Campaign designer. Always fun to do thought experiments.

As for my OP this is the same ideas that I had in mind in a way better fashion. Gives a fear to that type of game setting as well has giving a weight to ammo. I would make sure to count ammo bundles as inventory slot to make sure they are not stocking up. Or like action points, Make a limit of 10. But I think I will be using this. Thanks good sir.

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Gonna a pull a necro and give my two cents, for what they’re worth.

I was previously running a post-apoc homebrew setting a while back(Think Fallout, Mad Max, utter B-movie goodness), and I’d decided not to count the ammunition for common guns referred to as “Rust Busters”(Janky, makeshift fire arms of questionable quality that may-or-may-not explode. Base was WL 0, so even a homeless person could afford them!), instead I opted to restrict ammunition on pre-war guns and high-tech weapons(Of course, never made it to the point where the party got to use them.)

I think a good way to make ammo important without having to book keep would be to have Ammo-by-Scene; That is, 1 unit of ammunition for a specific weapon or weapon group is equal to 1 full battle. This would allow you to make ammunition a mechanically valuable resource without slowing down combat and shouldn’t vary too much from vanilla gameplay.

These rules are what I’d probably use now if I were to reuse that setting, as it could be applied to all firearms equally. If you wanted variation on ammo rarity or usage, you could also use a homebrew “Ammo” property on your firearms that keeps track of how much ammo is consumed per battle, allowing the weapon to be used as long as there is at least 1 unit of compatible ammunition.

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