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

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
While I partially agree, even from a gameplay experience, putting a 8 in a stat is voluntarily choosing a weakness, and a player should expect some kind of consequences from that.
There's level of "choosing" though. If you agree to rolling dice for stat generation, then you are voluntarily choosing the possibility of an 8. If the GM says the game is standard array, you take an 8 or you find another game. Only in point buy is it really all the player's direct choice to have it.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Here is the spreadsheet I made for buying gear. I'll upload it later tonight if people are interested, but I have to be off to work right now and need to add some notes for new uers.

1578679010567.png
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
There's level of "choosing" though. If you agree to rolling dice for stat generation, then you are voluntarily choosing the possibility of an 8. If the GM says the game is standard array, you take an 8 or you find another game. Only in point buy is it really all the player's direct choice to have it.
Good point.

But a 8 score in an ability is still supposed to represent a weakness, regardless whether you rolled it, assigned it, refused to increase it, or somehow chose to get one (in game offering choice of different stat arrays for exemple).

Whether the -1 on all Strength rolls is enough to represent that weakness, or whether it should also be represented by your carrying capacity, is another matter however. And while I seem to disagree with your and @Charlaquin on this, I can see the point of a carrying penalty being superfluous or unnecessary.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Whether the -1 on all Strength rolls is enough to represent that weakness, or if it should also be represented by your carrying capacity, is another matter however. And while I seem to disagree with your and @Charlaquin on this, I can see the point of carrying penalty being superfluous or unnecessary.
I don't agree or disagree. It is merely a choice of style for a game.

For me, the question is - does the rule add enough interest to the game to justify the bookkeeping? For some games, the answer will be yes, for others it will be no. That should be evaluated for each campaign.

Edit to add:

For example - a little while ago, I ran 5e to teach my goddaughter and a friend of hers to play. I took note of character carrying capacity, and then just kept an eye that the characters didn't try to carry egregious amounts of stuff (they didn't). That level of detail wasn't going to help the kids have more fun while trying to learn the basics.

Right now, I am playing a gnome artificer with a strength of 8 (we all took standard array stats). I am trying to play fair by that, which means if I don't watch it, I am toddling along with a move of 15'. I have a bit of fun fiddling the details... working out what I carry, what my mastiff can carry, and what's gotta be shoved in the infused Bag of Miscellaneous Gnomish Tools and Crap Holding.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Good point.

But a 8 score in an ability is still supposed to represent a weakness, regardless whether you rolled it, assigned it, refused to increase it, or somehow chose to get one (in game offering choice of different stat arrays for exemple).

Whether the -1 on all Strength rolls is enough to represent that weakness, or whether it should also be represented by your carrying capacity, is another matter however. And while I seem to disagree with your and @Charlaquin on this, I can see the point of a carrying penalty being superfluous or unnecessary.
I don’t mind the idea of a penalty to carrying capacity, but in practice I haven’t found it to my liking. It’s just a real bummer for me and the players to tell them that if they put an 8 in strength they either have to leave some essential gear behind or have 10 feet less movement per turn than everyone else. I much prefer giving characters with higher strength a better armor option. That feels good, that feels like you gain something special for boosting your strength instead of feeling like you lose something that would otherwise be standard for dumping strength.
 

MonkeezOnFire

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
View attachment 117313
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
The slot style of abstraction like this are systems that I hate the most. Heavy armour and weapons are given weight values that far outpace the bonus that a high strength score gives to the point where you are now penalized for playing a high strength character. In the example the small kobold wizard with a strength penalty carries more extra stuff than the cleric with a strength bonus.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
The Angry GM had an article about it. Encumbrance matter in exploration, tacking combat rules is silly, combatants could just doff their backpack and get it back after a fight. If you want encumbrance to matter you need to make what they are carrying matter
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
I much prefer giving characters with higher strength a better armor option. That feels good, that feels like you gain something special for boosting your strength instead of feeling like you lose something that would otherwise be standard for dumping strength.
Do you have any example of that in the game, or ideas of what could be added as houserules?

I guess the trick is to make whatever comes with high strength not too critical, otherwise those without it will feel penalized, and we're back to square one.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The Angry GM had an article about it. Encumbrance matter in exploration, tacking combat rules is silly, combatants could just doff their backpack and get it back after a fight.
In the action economy, that one interaction with an item can still be meaningful. Like... can't take off the pack and draw a weapon without using an action.
 

Nebulous

Hero
I was just looking at the rules for a 5e/OSR game called Five Torches Deep and it has a neat but simple Load and Supply system. Where delving into a dungeon and dwindling gear and management of damaged weapons and armor is part of the tactical game.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
In the action economy, that one interaction with an item can still be meaningful. Like... can't take off the pack and draw a weapon without using an action.
Here’s the article in question:
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
The slot style of abstraction like this are systems that I hate the most. Heavy armour and weapons are given weight values that far outpace the bonus that a high strength score gives to the point where you are now penalized for playing a high strength character. In the example the small kobold wizard with a strength penalty carries more extra stuff than the cleric with a strength bonus.
I dunno, a size small creature has 15+strength mod slots vrs a medium with 18+strength mod with worn light/medium/heavy armor subtracting 3/6/9 slots before you factor in the 0 slot use 5 food ration/5 water ration/100 coin free allotment. You could easily tweak it to say small sized armor uses fewer slots... but to be fair, that's a 3.5ism that never made it into the base 5e system either.

If you had a medium size 15 strength cleric in heavy armor he'd have the zero slot base allotments plus 11 free slots while your 8-2 6 strength kobold wizard would have 10 or 13 depending on if wearing light or no armor. Figure a 1-3 slot focus, a 1 slot spellbook, 1-2 slot toolkit, 1-3 slot instrument, 1 slot potion, etc & it's a much closer amount of wiggle room that leaves both enough to function but a tight enough budget that there are tradeoffs to consider.

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There's another page with armors (3/6/9 slots), weapons (1-3 slots), & the various packs (9-22 slots) few of those are meant to be carried but basically everyone does & ignores the weight of the individual items they'd need to manually add up IME.
 

Adamant

Explorer
I've never played in a game where encumbrance was strictly tracked, but I do want to point out that if you are using point buy or standard array that the 8 usually has to go somewhere. Unless you are playing a mostly SAD character, you just don't have enough points to put 10-12 in all your off stats. Take the standard high elf wizard as an example. You want 16 int, 14-16 dex, decent con, and as much wis as you can spare. Assuming a 14 dex, 13 con to prepare for resilient, and a 12 wis, you can have two 10s in cha and str but can't get to a 12 in either without an 8 in the other. If you want to start with 16 dex for a higher armor class the problem gets even worse. I do try to play to my weaknesses, but strict encumbrance tracking designed to make people value strength would make me much more reluctant to play a caster or any MAD non strength character simply because I can't put a decent strength score without rolled stats or dumping something equally important. I'm not saying an encumbrance system is bad, just that it's hard to avoid having a low strength if your class doesn't focus on it.

Edit: By playing to my weaknesses in this case I mean not carrying much more than my gear if i'm weak.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Do you have any example of that in the game, or ideas of what could be added as houserules?

I guess the trick is to make whatever comes with high strength not too critical, otherwise those without it will feel penalized, and we're back to square one.
I do have something I’m planning to try out for my next campaign, but it hasn’t been tested yet. The short version is, give light and medium armor users options with a strength requirement. +1 or +2 AC if you invest up to 13 or 15 Strength seems like a solid, worthwhile bonus that I don’t think will be so strong that players will feel punished if they miss out on. The long version is I’m pretty much overhauling the weapon and armor lists so that Dex can’t get you as much offensive value as Strength, and Strength has defensive value even for more Dex-focused fighters.
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
I do have something I’m planning to try out for my next campaign, but it hasn’t been tested yet. The short version is, give light and medium armor users options with a strength requirement. +1 or +2 AC if you invest up to 13 or 15 Strength seems like a solid, worthwhile bonus that I don’t think will be so strong that players will feel punished if they miss out on. The long version is I’m pretty much overhauling the weapon and armor lists so that Dex can’t get you as much offensive value as Strength, and Strength has defensive value even for more Dex-focused fighters.
Intriguing.

Let us know when you have a product finished enough to be presented.

/thread derail
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Here’s the article in question:
I don't know as I fully agree with him, insofar as he's focused on the exploration, where I'm focused on the combat. I have a character with low strength, who has reason to have a whole lot of stuff (artificers want their tools at hand). I can infuse two items, and one of them is tied up as a Bag of Holding, because otherwise there's no way to have that stuff at hand. And even with that, I have to be very careful, because I already move at 25' to the rest of the party's 30'. One pound more, and I'm moving at half the speed of the rest of the party...

I have a mastiff companion. I can use it as a pack animal... but then at any given moment my tools may not be at hand. I can ride him, but then I have to worry about having him be encumbered....

No meaningful choices indeed!
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
I don't know as I fully agree with him, insofar as he's focused on the exploration, where I'm focused on the combat. I have a character with low strength, who has reason to have a whole lot of stuff (artificers want their tools at hand). I can infuse two items, and one of them is tied up as a Bag of Holding, because otherwise there's no way to have that stuff at hand. And even with that, I have to be very careful, because I already move at 25' to the rest of the party's 30'. One pound more, and I'm moving at half the speed of the rest of the party...

I have a mastiff companion. I can use it as a pack animal... but then at any given moment my tools may not be at hand. I can ride him, but then I have to worry about having him be encumbered....

No meaningful choices indeed!
That's one of the areas 5e oversimplified from prior editions. I dunno what it was in 4e, but back in 3.5 retrieving a stored item counted as a move action & triggered an AoO to manipulate an item. In 5e phb190 there are a bunch of things you can do while moving and taking your action. That list is:

• draw or sheathe a sword
• open or close a door
• withdraw a potion from your backpack
• pick up a dropped axe
• take a bauble from a table
• remove a ring from your finger
• stuff some food into your mouth
• plant a banner in the ground
• fish a few coins from your belt pouch
• drink all the ale in a flagon
• throw a lever or a switch
• pull a torch from a sconce
• take a book from a shelf you can reach
• extinguish a small flame
• don a mask
• pull the hood of your cloak up and over your head
• put your ear to a door
• kick a small stone
• turn a key in a lock
• tap the floor with a 10-foot pole
• hand an item to another character

because all containers are apparently psychic extradimensional vats that automatically know what you are wanting to draw & instantly place it into the hand you reach inside with.

The system I linked to earlier is better in that it has these modifications:
Inventory Interactions
You must draw an item from your inventory before you can use it. During your turn, you may use your one free object interaction (PHB p190) with your inventory to

.

Add/sheathe one item (or collection of tiny items)
Remove/draw one item (or collection of tiny items
To make a second change to your inventory during the same turn, or to interact with another character's inventory, you must take the Use an Object action
...
Variant Quickdraw
If you want to make inventory access a little morerestricting for your players, try using the Quickdrawvariant rule.

Characters nominate any 3 items in their inventory asquickdraw items. Quickdraw items can be draw/removed from the inventory using a free object interaction asnormal. However, any non-quickdraw item can only be accessed using a full action.
Even without that sort of thing though, that mastif is subject to all kinds of effects including just being killed or feared & you can't draw anything from its saddlebags unless it's at least beside you. That mastiff isn't going to be alerting you if someone robs you blind while your distracted like you might if a goblin goes digging in your backpack while you fight five more goblins.

The problem is not that you can use some kind of pack animal, the problem is that 5e treats any and all packs no matter how mundane like they have the sort of isekai/hammerspace thought powered instant access storage that once needed certain magical packs like Hewars handy haversack but was denied to other magical packs like bags of holding, or portable holes
 

Undrave

Adventurer
I don't know as I fully agree with him, insofar as he's focused on the exploration, where I'm focused on the combat. I have a character with low strength, who has reason to have a whole lot of stuff (artificers want their tools at hand). I can infuse two items, and one of them is tied up as a Bag of Holding, because otherwise there's no way to have that stuff at hand. And even with that, I have to be very careful, because I already move at 25' to the rest of the party's 30'. One pound more, and I'm moving at half the speed of the rest of the party...

I have a mastiff companion. I can use it as a pack animal... but then at any given moment my tools may not be at hand. I can ride him, but then I have to worry about having him be encumbered....

No meaningful choices indeed!
The Artificer is kind of a special case compared to other classes though.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Intriguing.

Let us know when you have a product finished enough to be presented.

/thread derail
I’ll post my working weapon and armor tables in a bit, probably in another thread, just keep in mind they’re untested and likely to change in response to feedback from my players once they see actual play.
 

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