Thainlands | Stoopid Easy Encumbrance

So this is an idea that saw some experimentation at my table a while back, and I think it deserves some revisiting. GREGBRANE HAYT MATHS, so the object here is to make dealing with encumbrance stupid easy (like in the title) while retaining its value and purpose -- i.e. eliminating "pack-elephant" situations where players are toting around such a ridiculous amount of loot and equipment that it defies the (admittedly loose) reality of the typical campaign world.

All materials that a PC could wear or carry are reducible to generic Units. Units are an abstraction of weight and bulkiness and are not in any way exacting. Every piece of gear or armor has a value of 0, 1 or 2 Units. 
  • Items that clock in at 0 usually weigh less than ten pounds. Think "non-encumbering" things like a pouch of tobacco, thieves' picks, a wine bladder, etc.
  • 1-Unit items include most medium-sized weapons, small chests, sacks full of coins, etc.
  • 2-Unit items are usually things like plate armor or massive two-handed swords, big chests and the like.
  • A character can carry a number of Units equivalent to his STR score without being encumbered.
  • A character cannot carry more than twice his STR (maximum encumbrance).
  • Running is not possible, though a half-speed jog could be effected.
  • Any DEX-related checks or throws are made at a -2 penalty.

I'm purposely overlooking the largescale travel/movement rate issue because it doesn't really come into play at my table. Any instance where some sort of travel-related roll would be needed to adjudicate a situation could be pretty easily dealt with using percentile dice. 


  1. Doesn't work for me if the Str 14 fighter can run around in plate, with a 2 handed sword, halberd and a longbow and still not be close to encumbered (still 6 pts spare).

    1. Going fully loaded like that into a dungeon is impractical -- inevitably you'd be leaving stuff behind to haul around loot or unconscious/dead companions or exotic monster hides.

    2. http://imgur.com/a/3j1jA

      Just saying.

  2. Good start, but I think you've fallen into the trap of linking a concrete thing like weight to an abstract attribute like the Str score. Here's something similar I did for BRP - maybe you could adapt it.


  3. I don't futz around with movement rates. Instead, when a character is encumbered I just have them make Con checks to avoid getting exhausted (i.e. requiring rest before they can move further).

  4. You can carry a max of STR things that have a mechanical effect on combat (each "plus" past the first counts as another thing), INT magic items (magic weapons use up both categories), WIS 'boy scout' items that have rules (wolvesbane, thieves' tools), DEX pieces of practical gear, CON 'servings' of stuff that gets used up (food, coins, arrows), CHR everything else. Anytime you Max a category your encumbrance level goes up. Yeah, 63 things average seems like a lot, but once a few magic items are in the mix it plunges.

  5. I'm working on a system that integrates gear with skill checks, kinda like a 4e powers use a [W] to stand in for weapons. A skill check starts with a [G] roll, adding a relevant ability modifier.

    [G] then, reflects gear carried not by the character making the check, but the party as a whole. Anything one of the other PCs could reasonably fetch and hand to him. All the PCs share a single die, based on how much gear they can carry as a party: d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12 "worth of gear."

    Complementing this is an "eroding dice" mechanic that causes the die to drop down to the next smallest size after a '1' is rolled, so that the party either has to make due with a smaller skill check result or go back to town/forage for gear.

    I haven't had the opportunity to test it yet, but I have high hopes for "party gear" and "eroding dice."


    1. Great ideas, Dither -- If you type this up as a doc I'd love to see it and possibly put it in the next issue of Underworld Lore.

    2. What do you look for in terms of length?