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Author Topic: Homebrew simple encumbrance system  (Read 626 times)

3catcircus

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Re: Homebrew simple encumbrance system
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2021, 08:28:53 PM »
I think that encumbrance should be a primary factor impacting initiative.  An easy system uses a set of encumbrance levels, with a "combat load" being the difference between unencumbered and encumbered, where items have a "bulk" that isn't just weight alone (carrying a 30 lb baseball in a backpack is a lot less encumbering than carrying a 10 lb bag of trash in your hands).

Adventurers should, at the first sign of combat, be dropping their 100 lb backpacks that they're carrying everything but the kitchen sink in...  Yet no one does that.

Combat load can effectively be considered the character's strength score plus 10 kg (i.e. a STR of 10 equals a Combat load of 20 kg).  That isn't to say you are ineffective above that, just that your initiative is worse.

Vic99

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Re: Homebrew simple encumbrance system
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2021, 09:27:16 PM »

Stephen Tannhauser said:
"The Advanced Fighting Fantasy system from Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone used exactly this system."

Vidgrip said:
"I use exactly that system for a game that involves frequent raids on small dungeons. It works beautifully. "

That's really great to hear.  I don't want to spend a lot of time on encumbrance, but I think it's something that I should include that is at least somewhat realistic within the realm of playing a fantasy game.

Some of those other systems seem really well thought out.

Thanks.

Jaeger

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Re: Homebrew simple encumbrance system
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2021, 10:28:15 PM »
Starfinder and PF2 use a 'bulk' system, where items have a fairly abstract encumbrance rather than a specified weight. Sounds kind of like what you're looking at.
What you describe sounds a lot like encumbrance (ENC) in Runequest. ... ENC is a measure not just of weight, but also how much space the item takes up. ...

I think that "bulk ENC" systems are the way to go.

When you go purely by weight players will always carry the kitchen sink itself if you let them.


FFG Star Wars used a similar Encumbrance system except that certain  gear (like backpacks, utility belts, and combat webbing) increased your character's Encumbrance Threshold (what could be carried before penalties set in).

I would personally allow a pack to increase what you can carry on your person, but not to increase the encumbrance threshold. Heavy is heavy.

Maybe it could increase it slightly - but not to the point that packs can be used to perpetually make yourself "unencumbered". because the additional weight should still count for something.

Coins are usually handled far to generously as well. A $10 roll of 40 quarters is 8oz. you start carrying around 200+ coins that weight really adds up. No one would regularly carry more than 40-80 coins day to day in a world without paper currency...

Hauling the treasure out of the dungeon, getting it back to town, and securing it somewhere safe should be a mini-quest in and of itself.


...
Adventurers should, at the first sign of combat, be dropping their 100 lb backpacks that they're carrying everything but the kitchen sink in...  Yet no one does that. ...

This!

Most ENC systems are far too generous.

My go to reference for what PC’s can carry:

Medieval Fantasy Realistic Weapon Loadouts: scholagladiatoria
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeGe7L5zCkU

Especially going to 28:20  and 30:20 in  -  you stat to see just how limited you really are for carrying things into combat.

At best only one or two PCs out of a party of 4-6 are actually carrying backpacks into a dungeon where they are all expected to move fast and fight when needed! And your archer is gonna have to rely on other PC's to bring more than 20 arrows into the dungeon.

For my next campaign I'm definitely doing a slot and bulk based ENC system.

Because part of the reason ENC gets handwaved so much in most RPGs is because it is so generous as to be inconsequential.

I am of the mind that if I want my players to proactively engage with the ENC system; It has to force them to make hard choices as to what they can carry and not be considered "encumbered".

Because being encumbered should involve move penalties, initiative penalties, and ability/saves check penalties all at once.

In my experience players will bend over backwards to not have their PC's suffer penalties of any kind, for any reason.

So ENC systems need to be tight with real penalties for "being encumbered", otherwise players will not willingly or proactively engage with them.
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Eric Diaz

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Re: Homebrew simple encumbrance system
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2021, 01:09:24 PM »
Completely agree that ""Most ENC systems are far too generous".

In 5e, STR 10 let's you carry 150 lbs. while unencumbered - 50 lbs. in the "variant" system.

Try to walk around - let alone march for minutes or hours - carrying a 20 lb. sack. If you feel no difference, maybe the usual numbers make sense.
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Steven Mitchell

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Re: Homebrew simple encumbrance system
« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2021, 01:52:42 PM »
For my next campaign I'm definitely doing a slot and bulk based ENC system.

Because part of the reason ENC gets handwaved so much in most RPGs is because it is so generous as to be inconsequential.

I am of the mind that if I want my players to proactively engage with the ENC system; It has to force them to make hard choices as to what they can carry and not be considered "encumbered".

Because being encumbered should involve move penalties, initiative penalties, and ability/saves check penalties all at once.

In my experience players will bend over backwards to not have their PC's suffer penalties of any kind, for any reason.

So ENC systems need to be tight with real penalties for "being encumbered", otherwise players will not willingly or proactively engage with them.

I think this depends on the players, and the kind of penalties that work best will vary depending on what you want to achieve.  Where this really shows up is in how fast the penalties escalate.

Consider an absurd system by way of illustration.  There are 3 levels of encumbrance:  Naked, Normal, and Nailed to the Floor.  Naked characters have nothing on their person whatsoever.  They get a +20 to Dodge skill, run at double rate, and hit for 1 point of damage.  Nailed to the Floor characters are even 1 encumbrance unit over the line, move 1 foot per minute, can't defend themselves, and any successful hit kills them instantly.  Normal characters wear armor that absorbs from 1 to 4 points of damage and carry weapons that deal 1 to 8 points of damage.

That's about as fast as penalties can escalate.   While there are some hypothetical, niche situations where someone might deliberately run around Naked or try to drag stuff while Nailed to the Floor, in practice there effectively is no encumbrance system, except every character has to carry a few things and stay under the upper cap.

Therefore, to have any meaningful choices (let alone hard ones), the escalation of benefits/penalties has to be a mix that tempts players to use it but has those costs.  Since this gets into individual player tendencies, a system that tempts one players causes another to move straight into the "standard" range and stick to that no matter what.  The range of what you can carry in each encumbrance band matters, too.

In my case, I've nearly always got relatively conservative players on these kind of issues, that will avoid the outlying bands if at all possible.  Therefore, it's less important that the central band be tough, hardcore, etc. than it is that the central band be relatively narrow.  That is, I'm fairly generous with what a character can carry with no adjustments, and thus not fool with the encumbrance system on a regular basis, making the next bands tempting by having slight escalation, but also setting the middle band relatively narrow, which means that there will be times when it matters. 

Of course, in a system that really wants to go hardcore with this, you can have more realistic baselines, narrow bands and stronger escalation. 

Trinculoisdead

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Re: Homebrew simple encumbrance system
« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2021, 03:40:19 AM »
Instead of bothering with tracking the total equipment that a character is carrying around, just limit how much of that equipment they can use.
Whether you base encumbrance limits off STR or CON or Class, characters will have a number of "equipment uses" per day or game session or whatever. And once they run out of those, their equipment is off limits to them.

In, say, a D&D game, your main combat gear and your armour aren't counted for this, but consumables like torches and rations would be, as well as tools and specialty equipment. A weak character might have an Encumbrance score of 4, while a beefcake could have one of 12. If you light up a torch, that's a use. Or if you pull out a coil of rope, that's another. If you want to push past your limit, you could a number of times, but at a cost.

Arguments against? Well, it means keeping track of your Encumbrance uses. But adding to a tally mark on a sheet is pretty quick and easy. It is abstract, and I'm sure some autists will find the idea detestably fake, but on the positive side, never having to track equipment weight or used slots is nice.

And what about encumbrance as a way to track how much treasure can be hauled back from a dungeon? Just have gaining a significant amount of treasure take up one use.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2021, 03:43:06 AM by Trinculoisdead »