BITS – The Equipment

There’s been the intro, the core mechanic, and the GM guide to BITS. Let’s talk now about how players use tools to interact with the game!

Defining Terms

Equipment is anything the player’s character uses to aid their adventures. These things are just that: things (objects, items, stuff, etc.), each with a common set of properties that describe how the equipment helps with possibly additional explanation as to special, specific rules for the item.

The most common properties include a base damage or an armor value, a physical range of use, a weight or other abstract carrying value, a money value (which may be derived from other properties), and name that implies common use (we all know what a “shovel” is, right? 😶).

Lastly, after diligent study of what makes-up the tools in games, equipment falls into four categories:

    1. Wielded Equipment
    2. Worn Equipment
    3. Whatever
    4. Trinkets

About Equipment

Wielded equipment is anything held in one, two, or more hands depending on how the game means to accommodate weight or carry capacity. This type of equipment is what typically has the “base damage” (BD) property, which is the bare minimum of hurt the equipment will do to a target if successfully used. In the case of shields, though, the “armor value” property exists instead.

Armor value (AV) mostly stays on worn equipment which by its namesake stays on a character’s body. AV reduces any damage from damage passively should an action to hurt the wearer  get through successfully.

Both BD and AV may be reduced over time depending on the game experience intended. This then introduces repair (at a cost) and exchanging BD and AV values to negate or ensure actions. Thus, an economy of equipment is born!

But I digress…

“Whatever” is any equipment that is the miscellaneous, well, whatever that a character would be expected to bring with them on adventures. Fantasy examples include torches, bedrolls, rations, rope, and things specific to a character’s role or background, such as lockpicks for a thief or a war horn for a soldier.

Whatever is abstracted into a value of how much is brought along by a character. When the situation needs a tool, a character can take from that resource pool to get one of the item. Needless to say, this saves a lot when it comes to bookkeeping and tedious minutia when playing.

Trinkets are special things from a character’s past. These are equipment that take none of a character’s carrying capacity and are merely conversation starters that allow players to pursue different aspects of role-play with their characters. Mysterious rings, stained handkerchiefs, and even a ruddy deck of playing cards give the imagination a running head start. (And who knows? Players will always come up with more than the game designer, so a clever player may find a context to put their trinket to work!)


Range is a finicky thing that changes based on how tactical or how abstract a game is meant to be. BITS gives tools to go either way.

A middle-ground example of the abstract and concrete is the approximation of distances like so (directly taken from the 201021 version of BITS):

Self – ~1 meter. Reach without a step.
Wagon – ~5 meters. Reach with one or two strides.
Room – ~10 meters. A road with two lanes and shoulders.
Half-line – ~50 meters. The height of a normal tower.
Field – ~100 meters. The length an arrow travels from a normal bow.
Peak – ~500 meters. When a hill becomes a mountain and a normal skyscraper height.
Horizon – ~1000 meters. Maximum visible length when on a road in wilderness.
League – ~5000 meters. Distance walked in an hour and maximum visibility on completely flat water.
Mountaintop – ~10000 meters. Mountains are not higher.

This is probably too specific – that’s why BITS is still a WIP 😂

Anywho, hand-to-hand encounters default to a wagon, or ~5 meters, away which is also the distance traveled in a single unit of movement. Therefore, positioning is preserved and other actions may roll directly into combat ⚔

There is a strict segregation between hand-to-hand and at-a-distance equipment (ie bows, crossbows, and slings). Equipment that may attack from afar first uses ammunition which is drawn from the character’s whatever, but only on critical failures. Balancing whether to keep shooting or to retreat comes because ranged equipment has disadvantage when there are opponents in hand-to-hand range while also being improvised equipment when dueling mono-a-mono.

Improvisation and Degrees of Success

Sometimes what you have is all you have to solve the problem in front of you. Thus, improvised equipment must be accommodated for.

Be it a suit made of rope acting as armor or a broken bottle in a bar, the reassigned devices work far less effectively than their purpose-built cousins. Armor value sits at 1 and is heavy while base damage is 0 (at most, 1) if using degrees of success.

Speaking of, degrees of success (DoS) offer a varying level of effectiveness with any action, and when it comes to equipment, that’s the damage caused.

DoS is how much higher a roll is than the roll needed to be. A pass of 7 but a roll of 10 has 3 DoS. This value gets added to the damage applied to the target, ensuring that an unarmored character with a shiv can still find a chink in a fully suited and shielded knight!

Other Stuff

There’s a lot to consider and accommodate for as it comes to equipment:

How do I throw my axe? Do I have a bonus or advantage if it’s a throwing axe?

So how does weight, or as you call it, “carry”, work?

Do spears also default to the same range as other HTH gear?

What about all this junk I want to bring along?

Ad infinitum…

These are important considerations which have been incorporated into the BITS designer’s guide. To really get into the meat of it all would require a whole new post for edge cases that rely primarily on the game experience sought by the designer.

However, if you have a specific question on your mind, of course it may be answered! 😃 Reach out (not with your longsword, please) to help shore up BITS, saving other designers the same wonder!

Next week will be how spells and magics apply to BITS! Stay tuned and stay healthy. Cheers ~

Published by

Jimmy Chattin

Processor of data, applier of patterns, maker of games and stories.

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