It also meant keeping track of encumbrance -- something I've never enjoyed. I did it, of course, because the rulebooks said you were supposed to do so, but I didn't like it; I still don't. It's one of many ways in which I am a less than ideal old school referee. It's also one of the reasons why I've been hoping to find an alternative to the various persnickety approaches to encumbrance found in the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons. The closest I have seen so far is the system presented in Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which tracks not weight but the number of items, the rationale being that "encumbrance" is as much about bulkiness as it is about weight.
Tracker Tokens from Faster Monkey Games (no designer is listed) employs a similar line of thought, but with the addition of a simple graphical interface to facilitate the tracking of a character's equipment. This interface consists of two cardboard container sheets and 50 cardboard tokens, both illustrated in full cartoonish color by Jim Wampler of Marvin the Mage fame (about which I've spoken before). These sheets depict several different types of containers -- backpack, quiver, sack, bandolier, and small and large pouches. Each type can hold a certain number of items, ranging from 25 for the backpack to 1 for a small sack.
The tokens represent different types of adventuring gear -- torches, oil, rations, etc. -- each of which can occupy a single space in a container, though several arrows or bolts can do so. As the instructions on the back of one of the sheets explains:
Don't worry about exact weights or sizes: when a container is full, it's full. The referee decides how much is too much to carry, and can collect used tokens or hand out new ones as supplies change.There are thus no rules associated with Tracker Tokens; it's just a tangible way to keep track of the fiddly little items that many lazy players and referees -- like me -- would otherwise not keep track of. In that respect, it's not so much a replacement for an encumbrance system so much as a way to get a handle on how many arrows or flasks of oil a character is carrying. The only drawback, of course, is that every players needs a set of Tracker Tokens for himself and, while the product isn't expensive -- $7.99 -- it is an additional purchase, meaning that not every player will want to buy them.
That cavil aside, I really like the idea behind Tracker Tokens and can imagine using them at my table. Yes, it could be called a "gimmick," but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Often gimmicks are just what players need in order to be encouraged to pay attention to things they might otherwise overlook -- like whether they brought enough iron spikes to nail those double doors shut before the rampaging minotaurs squash them.
Presentation: 9 out of 10
Creativity: 7 out of 10
Utility: 7 out of 10
Buy This If: You'd like to make keeping track of adventuring supplies easier with the use of a simple graphical interface.
Don't Buy This If: You think pencil, paper, and a good memory are all you need to remember how many torches your character has.