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D&D General Backpacks and Sacks Carrying Capacity and Dimensions

Khel

Villager
Backpacks & Sacks: Dimensions & Carrying Capacity:

Let me begin by saying that 1st THERE is a MAJOR difference between a Backpack and a Sack, A Backpack is WORN on the back, A Sack is either carried in HAND, Over the SHOULDER or Possibly Tied to the WAIST dependent upon length of the Sack. 2nd Backpacks would be made of Leather(better durability than canvas or cotton), Sacks would have been made from either canvas or cotton with the weave being important as well.(Tighter weave able to hold sugar or flour, less weave better suited for potatoes or vegetables. 3rd Throughout the game from its beginning to the latest versions, there is only one place that gives dimensions & capacity for a backpack and for a sack at least from what I can find(YES looking at the difference between 2e and 5e descriptions of a backpack we see more info in 2e and change of amount carried in 5e 30 lbs compared to 2e 50 lbs WHY change???). Why hasn't a lot of Information been brought from the Old to the New? I chalk it up to Plain Laziness of Wotc and its Researchers, maybe POSSIBLY they wanted to save US players MONEY less pages less cost(personally doubt this reason though). Major Personal Note This Game from the onset was made for the using of a person's mind in bringing the Reality of an object's size to be brought into the Game by the Player’s and DM’s minds and then discussing whether to use it or not. Say “backpack or wagon” and a picture of what you are talking about forms in your mind. It was up to US, to bring the capacities and sizes into the Game which WE as Players and DM’s Did LONG LONG before the 2e came out(Please remember this when looking for other things as well).
Now where did I find the Information about a backpack & a sack? Well the 2e Player’s Handbook pg. 78 which states for a backpack: It can Hold 50 lbs and is 3 ft by 2 ft by 1 foot. Now in the SAME book it states on page 67, that a backpack costs 2gp and it weighs 2 lbs. Now using the same book same pages we can find the information about a sack which there are 2 sizes: Lg: 30 lb capacity, 2 ft by 2 ft by 1 foot, cost 2sp and ½ lb weight, Sm: 15 lb capacity, 1 foot by 1 foot by 8 in, cost 5cp and negligible weight(I would count it as ¼ lb).So with this Information in mind YOU can continue by making or using different sizes for different purposes with different weights as well. Example: Today the US Marines have a Backpack that is rated to hold 120 lbs the size of which is 27 in by 17 in by 10 in, weight 11 lbs,(yes there are different sizes stated I went with what was close to the 2e description) compare it to what we find in 2e and we see 2e stats are larger in size but lower in weight able to carry( made of less durable materials able to handle the weight so cheaper in cost) for the 120 lb capacity I would of course make it more expensive. This can be done with all the different size Backpacks we have in the world just bring them into the Game. Now backpacks being made of what they are they will tend to not be ripped or torn AS fast as a sack, but it still happens(unless magically or non magically made not to). This is of course going to influence the Price.
Now let me touch on Sacks, as stated previously they can be carried different ways. The first 2 being that one of your hands is used to hold it either in hand or on shoulder. With that said if you carry a sack in hand at your side the LENGTH will determine if it's dragged on the ground or not. The third being Tied to the waist this one is much dependent on the length of the Sack. Now Sacks being made of what they generally are we see that YES putting something sharp into them will put a hole or rip it(unless magically or non magically made not to).This is of course going to influence the Price.
Now I would like to Talk about a Magical Item in use by MOST of us. The Bag of Holding 2 ft wide opening by 4 ft length, Now for this description there are only 6 ways(I see) for it to be carried 1: Over the Shoulder, 2: Cart, 3: Wagon, 4: Reasonably Sized Animal or Creature, 5: Magically, 6: Someway I haven’t thought of.
I have seen in Posts as well heard in Games that it's carried in hand or tied to the waist. This I say, try doing that with a 30 gallon trash bag with 2 water filled milk jugs in it(roughly 16.68 lbs) and it's not even 4 ft long. (for this statement I am using size as the reference, being that Giant’s could, but a human or elf or goblin to name but a few go to the 6 and pick which way it will be transported). I am not saying that carrying in hand by one's side can’t be done just that over periods of travel the weight will slowly pull the hand and arm down till it starts to drag, then we tend to pull it back up, but by that slight drag we begin damage to the Bag, AND THERE is NOTHING in ANY of the BOOKS that says IT CAN’T BE DAMAGED THAT WAY.
In closing this, I Hope that it helps to give you the Information needed as well as maybe other things to think about.
 

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aco175

Legend
@Khel Welcome to the boards, enjoy the show.

I'm not sure there is a question in your long post. I did start to drift when most of the way through and lost track. I know a lot has changed from 2e to 5e and some may depend on the carrying capacity of characters and what strength means. A 2e 9 strength fighter and a 15 strength fighter were the same fighting-wise and only one could carry more. A 5e 15-strength fighter is a lot better than a 9 strength fighter in 5e.

A bag of holding weight 15 pounds when full (I think). Tying the 2 gallons of water to my waist is difficult for me to walk and fight with, since I'm more of a strength 10 person and not trained to do this. I would likely default to the old paperboy method of slinging over one shoulder. I would also go with the game having lots of things that do not make a lot of sense. Some I may worry about and a lot I do not. I tend to be the DM that does not worry about arrows and food unless it becomes part of the plot, say you are in a desert surviving or using the arrows in a castle siege. I could justify the bag of holding fitting comfortably by default- "It's Magic!" It could adjust like a magic ring to fit the form and function of the wearer and I would likely be cool with it.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
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You might find this article from Dragon #124 (August 1987) helpful in determining more detailed and granular things about backpacks and other common adventuring containers.

I think you will find, however, that most people are content if not completely handwaving this kind of stuff, then just playing it by ear and just asking for a reasonable description for how the PCs carry stuff without a ton of granular rules for it. Personally, I am the latter kind of person.

For example, recently the PCs in one of my groups found hundreds of pounds of copper and silver. But rather that worry about the details, we determined that between the four PCs and several NPC allies and freed captives it could be split up enough to carry it back to town. Minimal math.
 


Khel

Villager
Thanks for the responses and Yes most people do play with less granular info and thanks for the info on the magazine. I threw this out there because of just how many questions I have seen about it in Posts. While the untrained an some unthinking have put either a Bag of Holding into a Heward's handy haversack or vice-versa they soon see the error of their ways..... :ROFLMAO:. Thanks also for the welcome and yes the couple of Posts I have done have been lengthy, I do apologize , I just try to get as much facts as possible in, which in Game terms means less time to play..... again its only for those that may want or decide to use the info.
 
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I think you will find, however, that most people are content if not completely handwaving this kind of stuff, then just playing it by ear and just asking for a reasonable description for how the PCs carry stuff without a ton of granular rules for it. Personally, I am the latter kind of person.
I personally hate when players just hand wave way container capacity. I consider it no less cheating than to ignore regular carrying capacity, ammo, rations, etc. I know all of those are commonly ignored as well, but to me this is only a matter of degrees between ignoring spent spell slots, HD, and other abilities.

[/rant]
 

Stormonu

Legend
I used to care about counting coins, ammunition, days of rations, carry capacity (in coins!), waterskins and the like.

In the last few years, I've realized that tracking all of that was BS for me. There's a million stories to tell in D&D, and how you fit that solid gold statue into your backpack without it tearing a hole in the bottom isn't one of them.
 

I personally hate when players just hand wave way container capacity. I consider it no less cheating than to ignore regular carrying capacity, ammo, rations, etc. I know all of those are commonly ignored as well, but to me this is only a matter of degrees between ignoring spent spell slots, HD, and other abilities.

[/rant]
Sadly, many players today consider that "no fun" and "hard". I have had more than one tell that to my face when I DM. One quit the game on the spot rather than deal with encumbrance.
 

Composer99

Explorer
Manually counting up individual pounds of gear is a waste of time unless it's specifically something you enjoy doing during gameplay. (In which case, enjoy!)

D&D would be well-served with a streamlined abstraction to handle encumbrance, at least for ordinary "how much gear can I carry all day every day" questions. Leave the "exactly what can I lift?" kind of questions for when you have to do things like lift a heavy portcullis or try to heave rubble out of the way.

Likewise, if you enjoy playing a game where the precise weave of your bags matters, and where you have to be careful not to drag your bag of holding on the ground, go nuts if you want. But I'm very uninterested in playing that kind of game.
 

Khel

Villager
Thank you for the responses, I will state that yes keeping track of everything can and is sometimes a Pain but when handled by 2 people, DM and the player working together it can actually be resolved quite quickly. True story: I was on an adventure with 2 wagons an 14 mercs. to guard them as well as the party I was with. After said battle was done the party divided the treasure and rushed back to the city. I of course had to get the wagons going an being that I knew it was going to take me longer decided to have the mercs help look for anything more out of the ordinary. Long story short came out of it with a wagon full of treasure, I told the DM i was taking everything out of one wagon and putting it in the other, with that I was able to take all the treasure my Mercs. and I had found. Just quick and simple because he knew the size of my wagon and made the DM call.......could I had to have left things behind of course........ DM calls go either way .
 

As a DM I would really not have time for such bookkeeping! I'm super busy during the game and exhausted when we're done. I'm listening to players and keeping notes of what happened in-game, meanwhile pulling up stat blocks, maps, notes, pictures and of course describing the world to the players. I try to never stop the game-flow for administrative reasons.

In my world, Bags of Holding are quite common, and can hold an unlimited number of small items, and the players usually get at least one early on, and more as the game progresses. Also, players keep track of their inventory and coins, and I never double-check.

If it gets ridiculous, I will intervene, but that typically only happens with single large items. That's a single challenge which can be resolved.
 

Yora

Legend
I only have carry weight capacity, and even that comes in pretty big chunks "bigger than a dagger, but does not take two hands to carry" is the going definition for an item that takes up 1 space in the inventory. Encumbrance is important, because it limits what tools and how much supplies they can bring, and what they will have to leave behind to be able to take the treasure back.

Backpacks and sacks have pretty much negligible weight and value. If the players would want to, they could all just be packing 3 backpacks and 10 sacks every time they leave town, to make sure they really have the storage space to store all the stuff. But what would that add to the game? Tedious bookkeeping for the sake of tedious bookkeeping.
 


Well, I guess that's a good way to curate your player base and find the right participants for your game. ;)
It is part and parcel of a growing trend. I find it increasingly hard to find players.

I don't want to deal with rations. It is no fun.
I don't want to deal with object interactions. It is no fun.
I don't want to burn a turn to don or remove a shield. It is no fun.
What do you mean I can't carry 6 javelins, a long bow, a two handed sword, 2 quivers of arrows, 2 daggers, and my backpack over my chain mail, while climbing a wall? You are are a really bad DM.
 

I only have carry weight capacity, and even that comes in pretty big chunks "bigger than a dagger, but does not take two hands to carry" is the going definition for an item that takes up 1 space in the inventory. Encumbrance is important, because it limits what tools and how much supplies they can bring, and what they will have to leave behind to be able to take the treasure back.

Backpacks and sacks have pretty much negligible weight and value. If the players would want to, they could all just be packing 3 backpacks and 10 sacks every time they leave town, to make sure they really have the storage space to store all the stuff. But what would that add to the game? Tedious bookkeeping for the sake of tedious bookkeeping.
There is tedious book-keeping, and then players who choose to ignore the rules because they actually take effort, thought, and tradeoffs.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
It is part and parcel of a growing trend. I find it increasingly hard to find players.

I don't want to deal with rations. It is no fun.
I don't want to deal with object interactions. It is no fun.
I don't want to burn a turn to don or remove a shield. It is no fun.
What do you mean I can't carry 6 javelins, a long bow, a two handed sword, 2 quivers of arrows, 2 daggers, and my backpack over my chain mail, while climbing a wall? You are are a really bad DM.
Well, so long as you are able to find enough players to run your game... it doesn't matter if anyone else past that doesn't prefer your style. It's only if you can't find anyone to play at your table that you'd have to start perhaps changing your focus just to get people to sit down.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I personally hate when players just hand wave way container capacity. I consider it no less cheating than to ignore regular carrying capacity, ammo, rations, etc. I know all of those are commonly ignored as well, but to me this is only a matter of degrees between ignoring spent spell slots, HD, and other abilities.

[/rant]

There is a difference between a group agreeing to handwave encumbrance and individual players refusing to do so in a game where that is the expectation. Like I said, for my current groups encumbrance is eyeballed and we just use common sense to decide what is reasonable, since the time and energy it takes to do the specific math seems not worth it. That said, if something becomes a point of contention ("Whaddya mean I can't carry a 600 lb stone statue around?") then we'll do the math - but I haven't run into anyone who objects to obvious limits in decades.
 

Yeah, but for a lot of people, those are one and the same. :) It all depends on the type of D&D adventures a person prefers to play and/or run.
I always shake my head at those players that say "I am here for the RP", when dealing with encumbrance is as immersive as it gets.
Players that are truly there for the RP experience SHOULD embrace the detail oriented parts of the game. If someone spends 4 days to write up a 3 page backstory for their char, with a full lineage going back 3 generations (that is no hyperbole), then they can damn well track how many arrows they have, and how much weight they are carrying.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I always shake my head at those players that say "I am here for the RP", when dealing with encumbrance is as immersive as it gets.
Players that are truly there for the RP experience SHOULD embrace the detail oriented parts of the game. If someone spends 4 days to write up a 3 page backstory for their char, with a full lineage going back 3 generations (that is no hyperbole), then they can damn well track how many arrows they have, and how much weight they are carrying.

This is like saying that since someone likes eating apples one time, they should also like eating oranges everyday. They are not remotely the same in terms of effort, frequency, taste, and reward - at least not for many, if not most people.

As for things like ammunition, I do think there should be some system in place for dealing with the possibility of running out (some people like an ammo die, my groups keep actual track) but it should be as detailed or abstracted as the group is comfortable with.

I, too, in general, have an old school vibe with my DM style - but I also feel like there have always been a range of player preferences that have been at odds with my style since the 80s - this is nothing new. People complained about keeping track of encumbrance back in 1E days. I first ran across an ammo die optional rule in 2E, clearly because some people didn't like keeping track of arrows, some people prefer VTTs and D&D Beyond because it keeps track of that stuff for you. I also know "new school" players for whom part of the fun is detailing where every bit of gear is on their body and how, even though there are other game preferences that make us a bad match for playing together.

For me, sometimes the puzzle of "how are we gonna carry all this stuff?" can be fun - but that fun (again for me) has diminishing returns. I don't want to spend time at the table figuring it out in a detailed way every session - and I don't like assigning homework for between sessions (even though some things, like leveling up - are best done then, so it is not always avoidable).
 

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