Cost based attacks


I tried something recently with my group I thought I would share: Cost Based Attacks.

While much of ICRPG handwaves cost for simplicity, it always bothered me a bit that magic could be cast in a nearly unlimited fashion and was, as it seemed to me, overpowered within basic ICRPG. So, I pulled something from the real world and introduced higher costs depending on the nature of the attack, using Hankerin’s “coin” for inspiration.

Melee weapons have a single cost, can be used in an almost unlimited fashion, but are close range. Arrows are further range, but you only get 4-5 for a coin. Bullets are further range and do more damage, but cost 1 coin each, and spells can also be ranged and do more damage in general than bullets, but may cost 2-3 coins per spell charge used when casting.

Throw in the equivalent of a quiver, magazine, or yog crystal that can hold limited ammunition, and it adds in the limited resource concept forcing players to make choices. It also seems to balance out, in my limited experience at the table with it, the different play approaches, so it really feels like spellcasters are equal with their melee counterparts, without the need for artificial nerfing by making them physically weak, etc. It just comes down to economics and preference.

I’m sure this concept is not new, but wanted to throw it out there and see if there were any other recommended tweaks I could use to improve the way it plays. Thoughts? Thanks in advance.


I think a lot of balancing depends on the adventure, which is why we end up with very different preferences. If the adventure is mostly combination encounters in smallish “rooms” - like a classic dungeon - the benefit from ranged attacks is small, and magic can be fairly well balanced through spells. Arcane missile, for example, will deal more damage than an axe, but is unhelpful for smashing down a door or any of the other things where WEAPON is more versatile.

That said, I like your idea and think it works well - especially in campaigns with more consistent combat focus. It can also add an interesting thematic, in the choice of consumable needed.


Thanks Olav.

In the test campaign, we went with a West Marches/Last City style but with economic motivations in place, so the mechanic worked well. However, I hadn’t considered what spells could or could not do, which is a really good point. I think I would have allowed an arcane missile to break down a door just as easily as an axe. Putting limitations on how magic affects things is brilliant, and I am going to implement that going forward. Thanks again for your input.


Good point about economic motivations - that’s a great reason for tying magic to a consumable!