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Author Topic: Character Strength and carrying capacity  (Read 1009 times)

Omega

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« on: May 15, 2019, 12:32:46 AM »
A thread about something other than the latest SJW nuttery?

So have been working out the carrying limits using the 5e D&D optional system and then got curious and compared it to AD&D.

In AD&D a person of average STR can carry around35 pounds. And can stumble along heavily burdened up to something like 105 pounds. Less if the stuff is not properly packed and distributed, a 5e character of say 10 STR can carry unburdened about 50 pounds and tops out around 150. That seems to be close to many medical and military studies when looking at the AD&D potential. 5e carry seems a bit less realistic

At STR 18 it gets a bit weird as the AD&D character can tote 110 pounds unencumbered and maxes out around 180 pounds. While a 5e character can carry unencumbered 90 and tops out at 270. An interesting disparity. But then you get into the percentile strength of AD&D characters and things shift again with at the high end of 18/00 STR a PC can haul upwards of 405 pounds while a 20 STR 5e PC caps at 300. (Barbarians can potentially go to STR 24 which puts the max carry at 360.) Again AD&Ds weights seem more plausible vs 5es. But things break down a little after that.

Interestingly enough, if you convert 2e/r Gamma World's kg to pounds it is not too far off from AD&D.

From the older thread on encumbrance I know more than a few here dont like to track stuff like that. But for those that do. What do you make of the carry capacities if AD&D vs 5e? What other systems have encumbrance rules that you like or find realistic/plausible?

I did not look at BX's system as I allready knew it was not based off STR and is its own little system. A character STR 3 has the same limits as a STR 18 one. Which I allways thought was a little odd.

Spinachcat

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2019, 04:33:33 AM »
Back in high school, I dabbled in the SCA (society for creative anachronisms, aka nutters who strapped on home made armor and whacked each other with sticks) and RPG encumbrance charts never meshed with my experience. As a GM, I eyeball encumbrance (at most), but I've played with enough AD&D DMs back in the day who tracked gold piece weight. RuneQuest did ENC in shorthand so more RQ GMs actually used ENC in game, but I have no memory of any non-AD&D games where we tracked weights.

But AD&D 1e RAW needs weight tracking to make several spells and magic items to become valuable. I've always respected that, even though its not something I use, except in the most abstract.

Ratman_tf

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2019, 12:13:38 PM »
Quote from: Omega;1087897

From the older thread on encumbrance I know more than a few here dont like to track stuff like that. But for those that do. What do you make of the carry capacities if AD&D vs 5e? What other systems have encumbrance rules that you like or find realistic/plausible?


I like a simplified encumbrance system that can be eyeballed and only needs to be tallied if you're getting close to enc cap. For example, Starfinder uses Bulk, which is an abstracted system.
Tracking every coin or fraction is where most encumbrance systems break down, IMO. Make it abstract and easy and more people will use it.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 12:16:19 PM by Ratman_tf »
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kanePL

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2019, 12:45:04 PM »
When I play loose stories, I don't bother with encumbrance too much. But when playing hexcrawling and dungeoncrawling I force my players to track encumbrance, torches, food and all of that details that seem irrelevant. Currently in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea a person of average STR can carry less than 50 lbs. until encumbrance starts to impose penalties which is fine by me. In 5e it's around that, but it's hard to say what's an average STR in 5e - at 10 STR you carry 50 lbs. without penalties. But since the most powerful character in my Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea game has 15 STR and it will probably stay this way, she can carry up to 60 lbs. without penalties. In D&D 5e at STR 15 it's 75 lbs. Now it's not that much of a difference, but:

a) fighter at lvl4 will probably have around 18 STR (90 lbs. which is a lot)
b) penalty is -10 ft. movement in 5e vs -10 Movement AND -1 AC in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea which is more pain in the ass and makes players think more about equipment management and drop items when fleeing (which happens in AS&SoH more often than in 5e at least usually)

I like more AS&SoH approach, players at first were reluctant but in the end understood why it's important in the style of game we play
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Steven Mitchell

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2019, 02:01:09 PM »
I think the 5E rates are reasonable considering the inflated weights used for encumbrance of the items.   That is, the numbers make no sense compared to real-world numbers, but as a model of what a person could carry, it's close enough for fantasy, especially for a system that tries to reconcile weight and awkwardness into one number.  

What I've tinkered with myself, and prefer to any of the encumbrance systems in D&D or the off-used "eyeball" system, is something more coarse.  The one I'm working with right now is still a bit too fiddly for my taste, but broadly the concepts break down something like this:

1. Many items are negligible, except in bulk.  Ignore them.  When bulk is sufficient, eyeball a number to use for the bulk in the later steps.  Proper packing helps a lot.
2. Sufficiently heavy/awkward items count as 1 point of Str.  Extreme items might count 2 or 3.
3. Str determines how many such points you can carry without a problem in normal situations.
4. Performance degrades very rapidly when carrying more, up to about double your Str score theoretically.  (In 5E, I'd require periodic Con checks when over the limit, or start picking up levels of exhaustion.)

HappyDaze

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2019, 02:13:38 PM »
I've only used the base 5e carrying capacity rules. With those, you have to really, really try to be encumbered.

trechriron

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2019, 02:51:35 PM »
I like the idea of encumbrance from a "you shouldn't be able to carry everything" standpoint. However, I find calculating it cumbersome, boring and somewhat tedious. I would rather invent something a little more "meta" like;

* depending on your desired lifestyle, travelling fatigue, distance and security are impacted as follows;
-- Rich: Fatigue is one level per day of travel. Distance is halved. Increase encounter frequency by 50% for brigands.
-- Average: Fatigue is one level every other day of travel. Distance is reduced by 3/4. Encounters are at standard frequency.
-- Spartan: Fatigue is one level every three days of travel. Distance is normal. Encounters frequency reduced by 50%.
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deadDMwalking

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2019, 10:06:13 PM »
Accounting for every item is tedious; I prefer a more abstract system.

If you do calculate weights for every item and you add them all up, you have two factors working at cross-purposes.  The first is ease of use and the second is accuracy.

If, in real life, you can carry 100 pounds on your shoulders without slowing down (even though it will wear you out faster), it doesn't mean you can carry 100 pounds in front of you at arm's length.  Carrying a well-distributed hiking pack isn't the same thing as carrying a sack.  

From that perspective, you could have 'containers' that have a Strength rating and some maximum (ie, you can only carry one backpack).  

Setting aside accuracy, having a simple formula is easy to remember.  Ie, if average is 10 and maximum human ability is 20,  and the current world record for 'clean and jerk' is just shy of 600 pounds, dividing max lift evenly from average to maximum is tempting.  Determining 'encumbered' and 'unencumbered' from that is likewise tempting.

Using those numbers, I would set 'max lift' for STR 20 at 600; max heavy load at 400; unencumbered at 200.  That lets me pick 30x, 20x, and 10x STR.  If you have a STR of 10 (average) you can carry 100 pounds without slowing down.  For people who are fitter than modern people, I can live with it.
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Antiquation!

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2019, 11:26:08 PM »
I play a lot of GURPS and by default it's pound-by-pound (tracked down to decimals, and optionally, extra penalties to DX skills and Fatigue Point loss for poorly packed gear); however, for looser games I often adopt the sort of slot system you can find in several OSR games.

I also occasionally use the abstract inventory rules and lean heavily on advantages like Gadget and Serendipity if we're playing it really fast-and-loose with hyper-competent characters, lots of Wildcard skills, Impulse Points, etc.
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Kyle Aaron

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2019, 03:13:32 AM »
Quote from: Omega;1087897
In AD&D a person of average STR can carry around35 pounds. And can stumble along heavily burdened up to something like 105 pounds.
In AD&D1e we have hirelings.

Seriously. It deals neatly with a lot of these shenanigans.

« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 03:16:19 AM by Kyle Aaron »

Omega

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2019, 01:58:28 AM »
Yes. You get hirelings to carry the other 105 lbs of junk you carted into the dungeon. :eek:

WillInNewHaven

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2019, 09:45:06 AM »
We don't track by weight very much. Overland, the characters usually have some riding and pack animals and we don't dungeon crawl all that much.

On the other hand, weapons you can't wear limit what else you can carry. A bow can be worn but it won't be ready for use without taking some time. A spear has to be carried. Even when you aren't in combat, you don't have two hands free. A shield is just as bad but a buckler can be hooked on your belt.
This limits the popularity of spears and polearms and gets swords more work. Even when using a bow, spear, or polearm, a sword or something else that can be worn is the only choice for a backup weapon.

Toadmaster

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2019, 11:28:54 AM »
Strength only accounts for part of it, often overlooked is size and endurance. A 200lb person carrying a 25lb load is not the same as a 100lb person carrying the same load, even if they can both bench press 75lbs equally well. Carrying 1/4 of your body weight is always going to be harder than carrying 1/8 of your body weight. Add in conditioning, somebody who carries a load nearly every day gets used to the weight, and will likely perform better than a stronger person unaccustomed to carrying a load.

Also how the weight is distributed. 50lbs in a quality backpack is a heck of a lot easier to carry extended distances than 50lbs of of loose, unbalanced items in your arms.    

The other thing is I find most games are way to generous on what is considered "unencumbered". At work I typically carry 30-40lbs of gear, most in a pack. I can hike all day with that load, but it is a noticeable weight, and removing it greatly adds to my mobility and agility. My long distance walking speed isn't greatly impacted, but short distance "power walk" or jogging speed certainly is, and forget about running very far.  

At the other end in my stupider moments I've carried somewhere between 300-400lbs in a well distributed load (6-8x 45lb weight vests that needed to be moved from point A to point B and I didn't want to make a bunch of trips) about 100 feet including a few stairs. Even 100 feet was a trial. Push comes to shove I might have been able to go a 1/2 mile on a good day before my legs gave out and me knees buckled.

In my mind base encumbrance should be based on size, with a bonus for strength and perhaps Con if there isn't a size stat / or size generated by stats (otherwise everybody will weight 400lbs for the encumbrance value :p ).

For games with skills / feats etc it is not unreasonable to have one that benefits load carrying. All horses are not equal, a race horse can't carry the same kind of a load as a mule even though they are of similar size / weight / strength and physical condition.

Encumbrance levels should not be simple multiples (x1, x2, x3 etc), unencumbered should be a relatively small load, light encumbrance a fairly broad range, with moderate hindrance, moderate encumbrance up to about 2x light but a significantly greater impact on mobility, greater than Moderate should take a toll on endurance and maximum encumbrance should be large but limited to very short distances.

Terrain should also be considered, broken ground, and hills (up and down) should take a toll, particularly as encumbrance increases. Stair climbs are no joke, there is a good reason that is a popular exercise.


This of course assumes one wants to get deep into into encumbrance, which I assume one does if they are posting about it.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2019, 11:34:07 AM by Toadmaster »

RPGPundit

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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2019, 07:24:27 AM »
I tend to prefer a more abstract system for carrying. Just set a number of items you can carry, and wing it from there.
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Character Strength and carrying capacity
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2019, 09:34:20 AM »
In my systems, you're either "stripped", carrying nothing more than a single, one handed item, normal, or burdened carrying a heavy pack or wearing heavy armour.  Really, I'm not a huge fan of tracking encumbrance.  I'm torn on the RMSS system where you can carry increments of 10% of your body weight per -8 MMP with a strength bonus to the MMP.  The good thing is that most characters can carry a decent bit without being encumbered, especially fighters.  The bad thing is that anyone with a negative strength modifier is really screwed, it's a bad game for hobbits.
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