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Game items that are use as resources for using weapons.

Like in the real world, ranged weapons in many games require Ammunition. This makes them a resources that needs to be conserved but may also provide possibilities to choose the ammunition types most suitable for specific situations.


The board game Frag has limited Ammunition for many of the more powerful weapons that players can receive through drawing from the aptly-named deck of "weapon cards".

Many combat-oriented computer games require players to keep track of ammunition, e.g. the Quake, Half-Life, and Crysis series. All games in the Fallout series requires different types of Ammunition for different types of Weapons. In addition all games but Fallout 3 provide several different types of Ammunition of most types of weapons, e.g. hollow point and armor piercing, giving players opportunities to specialize their equipment for various combat situations.

As for computer games, roleplaying games where guns can play a significant role, e.g. GURPS and Mutant, have rules for many type of specialized Ammunition (for GURPS, a whole section of the sourcebook High-Tech is dedicated to Ammunition and warheads[1]).

Zombie Lane uses Ammunition as a way of strictly regulating how many times a purchased weapon can be used before a new copy needs to be bought.

Using the pattern

Ammunition are Resources modulating Weapons. Designing them consists of selecting first which Weapons need to use Ammunition and then how players can get hold of it.

While Ammunition is a Resource and can quite naturally be a Limited Resources that need to be collected as Pick-Ups or from Loot or Trading, it does not need to be so. Resource Caps are a quite common modification that limits players possibilities to hoard Ammunition when it is plentiful, and thereby make it more of a Limited Resources. However, Ammunition can be Limited Resources in another way - having to reload (which requires Downtime) makes the shots in one's magazine a Limited Resources even if they are unlimited in the game. While depletion of Ammunition is typically the cause of using Weapons, they can also be removed as Damage as Energy Penalties.

Several different types of Ammunition can exist for one type of Weapons, and is typically done to allow Improved Abilities. This can be simply as part of creating increased power levels as gameplay progresses so that Red Queen Dilemmas can be maintained. It may however also be to let players selected between different types of Improved Abilities, e.g. ones that target specific Vulnerabilities. The Improved Abilities may be balanced by Decreased Abilities to require players to do Trade-Offs. Varieties of Ammunition may in some cases provide New Abilities rather than Improved Abilities, e.g. by being incendiary.

Regenerating Resources can be used on Ammunition but may only work for certain thematic types of Ammunition if Thematic Consistency is to be maintained. An alternative to using Ammunition in a game is to instead use Cooldown since these have similar effects on gameplay, and may be more thematically compatible with Regenerating Resources.


Ammunition is a design choice for requiring Resources to use Weapons, and are typically Non-Localized Resources when attained. When they are Limited Resources, or even when reloading Ammunition requires Downtime, the use of the Ammunition pattern promotes Tactical Planning. Resource Management often becomes an issue when Ammunition is a Limited Resources. It can be either be a Facilitating or Sustenance Reward depending on the situation and overall game design.

When players have several different types of Ammunition to choose from for a particular type of weapon, this provides players with a Freedom of Choice. When the access to more specialized Ammunition is limited, this can in principle make the Abilities they provide into Temporary Abilities.


Can Instantiate

Abilities, Facilitating Rewards, Freedom of Choice, Non-Localized Resources, Resources, Sustenance Rewards, Temporary Abilities

with Damage

Energy Penalties

with Downtime or Limited Resources

Tactical Planning

with Decreased Abilities and Improved Abilities


with Limited Resources

Resource Management

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Decreased Abilities, Downtime, Improved Abilities, Limited Resources, Loot, New Abilities, Pick-Ups, Regenerating Resources, Resource Caps, Trading, Vulnerabilities

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created for this wiki by Staffan Björk.


  1. Official page for the High-Tech sourcebook for GURPS.