5E Simple Encumbrance system (to make Strength matter)?

toucanbuzz

Adventurer
I'm looking for feedback from those who've found an encumbrance system they like (the simpler the better!). We play at the table, so having a computer figure encumbrance is not viable. I've looked at slot systems but have no idea in actual play if people find they work.

Ultimately, simple is the goal. I don't want to hold up the game with micromanagement, but on the other hand, I do aim to reward high STR characters by making that STR matter more than just in combat damage. And, I'd like to hammer home more effectively how little an 8-STR character can actually carry before becoming burdened.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
From SRD Variant STR * 5 + 1 feather lose 10 feet of movement. Heavy is STR *10 +1 feather lose 20 feet of movement. Disadvantage on ability checks, rolls, saves using Str, Dex, Con.
 

Len

Prodigal Member
I think there will still be some amount of micromanagement required, if you insist on low-STR characters being appropriately encumbered. There will always be the temptation for the wizard or whoever to pick up just one more piece of loot after each encounter, if the player isn't being held to account for each item their character is carrying.
 
Here is an idea off the top of my head.

1. Expand the Strength requirement for heavy armor to medium armor as well. Maybe half plate would require a 13 strength and a chain shirt would require a 12. Maybe even expand it to light armor as well.

2. Weak Characters with a Strength below 10 wield Heavy weapons with disadvantage regardless of their size.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
I agree with Len, but I'm also curious to see if anyone has come up with anything that actually works.

Maybe the simplest, most reductive system is to assume that all the characters are carrying a lot of gear (as all D&D characters do) and simply tie Strength to movement. So...

3-7 Strength = -15 movement
8-11 Strength = -10 movement
12-15 Strength = -5 movement
16+ Strength = unchanged

You end up with very similar results, but without the endless housekeeping.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
From my experience, the variant encumbrance rules in the PHB definitely help with making STR more valuable. I use this rule for every campaign where such things matter to the theme (typically, dungeon delving or hexcrawling). There typically is not a ton of adjusting weights, however, so it's not very fiddly despite the frequently-stated concern that it is.

Also, one thing I've noticed is that a lot of DMs don't include a lot of reasons to jump in their games compared to mine. Pressure plates, areas of difficult terrain, chasms, pits, and other hazards are very good incentive to have a higher STR. I've seen parties completely separated in combats due to something as simple as a 10-foot pressure plate in a hallway that sets off a gas trap. Stuck or barred doors are also very good, though it's important to remember when to call for ability check and when not to in those situations. Jumping and stuck doors are arguably easier to implement as well than an encumbrance system.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I take the Black Hack inventory management system:

Number of slots = to str score, x 1.5 for those with the Powerful build trait
Most items take 1 slot.
Small items (gems, same type potions, daggers) of the same types can be stacked up to 5 per slot
Coins stacked up to 250 pieces per slot
Heavy items or those with str requirement take 2 slot.

Rations/light/ammo take 1 slot each and are tracked with dice: 1d4 to 1d20. Roll when you camp or after combat, depending on the usage. On a roll of 1 or 2, reduce the size of the die by one.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
I find the slot based inventory in the 5e darker dungeons suppliment (link) to work very well, the biggest problem in my experience is the same as any other house rule... Namely "OMG!!! DDB doesn't support it or any of WotC's own variant rules and muh subscription must limit your game so I'll fight you tooth & nail at every chance I get". The solution to that is to simply ban dnsbeyond without mercy or exception at your table
1578601967817.png

There is some leeway for a basic amount of things that don't count against your slots (100 coins, some rations/water) so a low strength character can still function without a packmule while mid & high strength characters can carry a large but believable amount
 

hawkeyefan

Adventurer
Five Torches Deep is an OSR version of 5E that has a pretty cool way of handling this.

Each item has a Load. You can carry Load equal to your STR score before you become Encumbered.

Heavy Armor has a Load of 5.
Light Armor has a Load of 2.
Weapons have Load equal to the number of hands they take to wield.
Shields have a Load of 1.
All other items (or bundles of items like ammo or rations) have a Load of 1.

If you exceed your Load, you are Encumbered. You lose 5’ of movement per Load beyond your STR and gain Disadvantage on all checks.

I feel like this is a meaningful system that would actually be easy to manage in play.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
You have equipment slots equal to your strength.

Armor requires 1 slot for every pre-dex value above 10 (unenchanted). Shields are 2.

Each named item you have is 1 slot at least. Heavy weapons are 3, light weapons are 1, other are 2 (this assumes you can also draw them easily).

Backpacks and other similar containers don't take up equipment slots (they are presumed to help with carrying stuff as much as they hinder from weight).

Every time you use a named item (torch, dagger, etc), make an equipment check against DC 10. On failure you ran out of it. On success, you have more.

The pre-built "Packs" require 5 units of encumbrance when properly stowed. Discount!

---

You have Lewt capacity equal to your leftover equipment slots.

Each named item of Lewt costs 1 unit. Heavy lewt costs more (if 10lbs+, 1 per 5 lbs roughly).

If you run out of slots you become encumbered. If you go over by your strength score, you are heavily encumbered. If you go over by 2x strength score you cannot move.

Note that this discounts many kinds of armor, but makes other stuff heavier. It also assumes anything you name you could have backups of.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I find the slot based inventory in the 5e darker dungeons suppliment (link) to work very well, the biggest problem in my experience is the same as any other house rule... Namely "OMG!!! DDB doesn't support it or any of WotC's own variant rules and muh subscription must limit your game so I'll fight you tooth & nail at every chance I get".
shrug. D&DB doesn't actually support any encumbrance rules, does it? It puts up some text when you are over your limit, but it doesn't change your speed for that. Nor does D&DB support use of encumbrance-reducing items (like a Bag Of Holding).

So, if you are tracking encumbrance, you are very likely having to do so outside the app anyway, so D&DB arguments are null and void.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
shrug. D&DB doesn't actually support any encumbrance rules, does it? It puts up some text when you are over your limit, but it doesn't change your speed for that. Nor does D&DB support use of encumbrance-reducing items (like a Bag Of Holding).

So, if you are tracking encumbrance, you are very likely having to do so outside the app anyway, so D&DB arguments are null and void.
It will add up the weight of everything you have carried as far as I've been told by players who insist their subscription is of utmost importance

edit:
1578604145763.png
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It will add up the weight of everything you have carried as far as I've been told by players who insist their subscription is of utmost importance
Yes, it will do that.

But, as I said, as soon as they get a Bag of Holding (or honestly, so much as a saddlebag they typically put on a horse and then throw in a room at the Inn), that total will not be meaningful.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
Yes, it will do that.

But, as I said, as soon as they get a Bag of Holding (or honestly, so much as a saddlebag they typically put on a horse and then throw in a room at the Inn), that total will not be meaningful.
That's only true if you maintain the moving van carrying capacities. The rules I linked earlier do this for those.

1578604308767.png


It's kinda silly to change encumbrance to matter and not also change the things that make it irrelivant
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I would suggest that, if you are running a game where you want to incentivize Strength via variant encumbrance rules, then bags of holding and the like are not available. At the same time, it's a good idea in my view to be prepared for the players to want mounts and hirelings in a way that they might not have before. So some rules on that are probably a good call if you go this route. I tend to limit the number of hirelings the PCs can have to their Charisma modifiers and make Recruiting a downtime activity.

Most importantly, I would say that variant encumbrance rules are best used when they speak to the kind of campaign or adventure you're trying to run, one wherein concern over what to take into an adventure location and what to take out is of some importance to the theme of the game. I wouldn't bother with such rules in anything other than dungeon delves, hexcrawls, or other survival situations. If you're running a standard event-based game that I see is so common these days, I would take a pass on encumbrance rules in favor of including more challenges that involve jumping.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
That's only true if you maintain the moving van carrying capacities.
I think you misunderstood. I am not arguing against yoru variant. I am sweeping away an argument against your variant.

I am noting that D&D Beyond functionality doesn't even fully support the normal game rules for encumbrance So, "But D&D Beyond doesn't support your house rule!" is a silly argument in this case. Normal rules, or variant rules, I'm tracking it outside of D&D Beyond.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
I think you misunderstood. I am not arguing against yoru variant. I am sweeping away an argument against your variant.

I am noting that D&D Beyond functionality doesn't even fully support the normal game rules for encumbrance So, "But D&D Beyond doesn't support your house rule!" is a silly argument in this case. Normal rules, or variant rules, I'm tracking it outside of D&D Beyond.
yes, it's a silly argument that I hear all too often about too many things in the phb & dmg listed as variant & optional rules from wotc along with rules changes of my own. People are quick to point out how easy it is to mod 5e to your needs, but ddb manages to shift that "easy" into "needlessly difficult".
 

Salamandyr

Adventurer
Try the thing system. You can easily change the thing to stones or encrumbrance points or whatever you wish. It works like this:

You can carry a number of "things" equal to your strength score. Carrying more than that incurs encumbrance penalties. For every increment of 5 over your strength score (rounding up), you lose 5 feet of movement.

One handed weapons are 1 thing
two handed weapons are 2 things
each quiver counts as 1 thing
100 gp are 1 thing
every 4 small items count as 1 thing
1 day of standard ration counts as 1 thing
1 week of iron rations counts as 1 thing
Light armor counts as 2 things
Medium armor 4 things
Heavy armor 6 things
The logic is-if it's something you can carry in one hand, it's 1 thing, if it would require 2 hands, it would qualify as 2 or more things. So other equipment can be extrapolated from there.
Oh, and remember, spellbooks are minimum 2 things.

so you just count up all your item, and adjust from there. If you want to make it a little harder on the little guys-up the number of things for armor, rope, and such that are truly bulky.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
I'm looking for feedback from those who've found an encumbrance system they like (the simpler the better!). We play at the table, so having a computer figure encumbrance is not viable. I've looked at slot systems but have no idea in actual play if people find they work.

Ultimately, simple is the goal. I don't want to hold up the game with micromanagement, but on the other hand, I do aim to reward high STR characters by making that STR matter more than just in combat damage. And, I'd like to hammer home more effectively how little an 8-STR character can actually carry before becoming burdened.
Well, I don't know if this is what you are looking for, but is an idea I've had for a while.

You don't write down standard equipment (anything less than 25 gp or so). Instead, you have your player make a check against a DC for how rare the item is. The DC is modified by STR (yep, stronger can carry more stuff).

A small, common item would have a DC 5 (likely to be in the PC's gear), a larger, uncommon or rare item might be DC 15 or higher.

I'm still playing with the idea but maybe it is something you can work with?
 

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