Thursday, May 20, 2010

Encumbrance... my strength is a 15

PET PEEVE TIME! So, if you don't like reading about game rules or pet peeves move along...


Back when I was a Dungeon Master I fought with my players over the use of the encumbrance rules (which, at one point I pronounced "IN-QIUM-BRANCE"). They never wanted to use it and I always wanted to use it. I feel that the things that challenge a character/player in the game is just as defining to the game as that which empowers the character/player. So, no, I don't think your strength 8 magic-user can carry as many coins as he wants and I don't think I am being a butthole for feeling that way. Every good piece of fantasy literature references the encumbrance rule without actually calling it that. Samwise talked about what he had loaded into his pack and what he hated leaving behind because he couldn't carry it all. Conan regularly took the sweetest treasures from those he found because he couldn't carry it all. This goes on and on and on with the result being because they couldn't carry it all. So why should the rule be ignored, or is it being ignored? Is it being avoided because of the apparent slow down to the play of the game? Maybe as a young man with less social skill than I have now I misunderstood what the players were counter-bitching about and maybe they couldn't articulate it effectively.

So.. FIX TIME! I have constructed a simple system to implement the encumbrance rules of ANY GAME SYSTEM with speed and effeciency while maintaining the integrity of the rule. I rock, don't I?

What you need----
  • rpg dice as many as you want but at least one full set
  • a container such as a small bowl or such, if you're particularly crafty make some little back packs
  • a few tokens such as stones or beads
How it works: the dice are representative of the objects being carried by the character, what ever they be, by the units being measured. Each dice is a value of its maximum face or ten times it maximum face according to the system. 1st edition AD&D used coins so ten times would be best but current 4th edition uses pounds so the regular value is fine. The dice go into the container to show current weight carried and any weight under 4 or 40 (a d4 in other words) is represented by the tokens. The DM or player can simply glance in the bowl, do easy quick math, and know the current encumbrance of the character.

To show how this works lets reference it with 4th edition D&D; a character with a strength of 15 would be able to carry 150 pounds of equipment without penalty or up to 300 pounds as a heavy load. So, if we take a standard equipped level 1 fighter he would have;
  • scale armor (45 lbs); heavy shield (15 lbs); long sword (4 lbs); dagger (1 lb); short bow (2 lbs); standard adventurer's kit (33 lbs); 30 arrows (3 lbs)
...this weighs in at  103 pounds which could be represented by the d100 (just the tens dice) and 3 tokens. Easily tracked, easily measured, easily affected. If the player picks up a magic long sword and stuffs it into his belt just drop a d4 in in the box. If he picks up a bag with 500 gold drop in a d10. So forth and so on.

A regular set of seven rpg dice is measured as 160 pounds, well within the character's normal weight allowance and pretty close for any character. Two sets of dice and y our golden, most of use have lots more than two anyway. The only real caveat to this rule is to remember not to USE those dice to roll or you totally mess up your encumbrance. :)

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