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

Tonguez

Adventurer
Heres a simple system I saw somewhere
A PC can carry half their Str in Stones (round up) so Str 18 = 9 stones

• Light, Medium and Heavy armor weighs 1, 2 and 3 stones respectively.
• Most weapons weigh 1 stone unless they have the Heavy property (2-handed weapons, large bows), then they weigh 2 stones.
• Medium-sized, important items weigh 1 stone. (50ft of rope, a loaded backpack, a spellbook)
• Heavy or bulky items weigh 2 stones (carrying a chest, a rolled up tapestry slung over the shoulder).
• Small items and weapons (daggers, knives, slings) are not tracked and PCs can assume they have them within reason (and GM’s discretion).

Warrior (16 Str) with heavy plate (3), shield (1) a long sword (1) and a backpack is at 6 out of 8 stones.
A Wizard (8 Str) with a quarterstaff, spellbook and loaded backpack is at 3 out 4 stones.

A Cleric (14 Str) with scale mail(2), shield, mace, heavy crossbow(2), a loaded backpack and carrying a bag of gold is at 8 out of 7 stones and encumbered.

When Encumbered make a DC 10 Con check, fail gains a level of exhaustion
 

Cap'n Kobold

Adventurer
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.
That sounds like the system is working. You could choose to take less Dex, Con, or Wis, and not dump Str if you didn't want to play a character who was physically weak, with all the penalties that implies.
Note that in the absence of encumbrance, there are very few penalties for dumping your Str.
It is exactly as hard to avoid having a low strength as it is to avoid having a low any other stat.
Strict encumbrance tracking merely brings Str towards the level of some of the other abilities. - The only thing this does is make it a bit harder to min/max a non-strength character.

Strength characters have exactly the same issues: they would rather not dump Dex, for example, because ranged attacks, some useful skills and initiative all key off Dex.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Again, I would like to emphasize that a STR 10 is normal, and with the normal encumbrance rules allows you to carry 150 lbs without worrying about it and no effect on movement!

Now, if you use the variant option and have normal encumbrance of STR x5, this is still 50 lbs. Only a character in heavy armor should fine that restricting IMO unless you are trying to carry a lot of gear. And even for heavy armors, you are likely to have a STR 13 or much higher.

Even using the variant rule, though sometimes a bit tight, I have never found it to keep me from having the stuff that really matters. At lower levels and for more extended journeys, pack animals or hired bearers works well IME.

So ultimately, using the default STR x15 without the variant is plenty. If you are finding that restrictive, stop carry hardware stores on your back. ;)
 

Adamant

Explorer
To be clear, I don't find the default rules restrictive, even with my 6 strength kobold monk, but with the strength x5 variant a 10 strength character can't even carry their explorer's pack without being encumbered. A 12 strength character can carry the pack but only has 1 pound free after. Again, I don't mind trying to boost strength based characters, I just don't want to punish casters and monks while I'm at it. I think this is why the OP didn't just use the variant rule right out of the player's handbook. Personally, I hate dumping int and I try to avoid dumping str, but sometimes I have to choose between one of the two. I think monks are the most extreme example of the problem, since they have to max 2 stats for their most important abilities and their ac, but medium and heavy armor characters under the default variant rules would be unable to carry their armor and a pack without being encumbered even with 16 strength. While you could drop the pack, as someone else pointed out that means you can't draw your weapon that turn without using your action. What I think is underestimated is the impact of -10 speed in the first 2 rounds of combat.

Edit: I just realized, maybe the problem isn't the weakness of strength but the big three, little three design for the stats. The importance of dex, con, and wis means it really hurts to have a low score in them, even at the cost of being unable to have high scores in other areas. For casters it's worse, because your ac depends on dex as well.

Edit 2: Just did some math, a caster cleric would have to have 12 strength or more simply to carry their pack and armor without being heavily encumbered until they could afford a breastplate. While that is possible without going to an 8 in another stat, that's just to carry their essential equipment, leaving no room for an above average strength character to carry anything else.
 
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Horwath

Adventurer
Again, I would like to emphasize that a STR 10 is normal, and with the normal encumbrance rules allows you to carry 150 lbs without worrying about it and no effect on movement!

Now, if you use the variant option and have normal encumbrance of STR x5, this is still 50 lbs. Only a character in heavy armor should fine that restricting IMO unless you are trying to carry a lot of gear. And even for heavy armors, you are likely to have a STR 13 or much higher.

Even using the variant rule, though sometimes a bit tight, I have never found it to keep me from having the stuff that really matters. At lower levels and for more extended journeys, pack animals or hired bearers works well IME.

So ultimately, using the default STR x15 without the variant is plenty. If you are finding that restrictive, stop carry hardware stores on your back. ;)
I agree that PHB rules are far than generous with weight allowance, but then again they have missed weight of 90% of weapons by a big margin. Almost every weapon is 50-100% overweight in PHB and many armours are also too heavy.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
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.
The GLOG has something quite similar. Troika! has no strength score so it's just a default of 12 slots, which works well.
 

Arvok

Explorer
Quick thought:
At the end of each day have the PCs make a Con save vs. exhaustion with their Str modifier added in also. Anyone who fails the save suffers one level of exhaustion for every 5 points they miss the save (DC is set by DM, depending on how hard the day was). Any character carrying a medium load or heavier (and you could SWAG that as DM) suffers disadvantage on the save.
 

Arvok

Explorer
I agree that PHB rules are far than generous with weight allowance, but then again they have missed weight of 90% of weapons by a big margin. Almost every weapon is 50-100% overweight in PHB and many armours are also too heavy.
The PHB weapon weights are supposed to include the weight of the scabbard and any other associated things. That makes it a little bit better for swords and such, but the weights are still off.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
To be clear, I don't find the default rules restrictive, even with my 6 strength kobold monk, but with the strength x5 variant a 10 strength character can't even carry their explorer's pack without being encumbered. A 12 strength character can carry the pack but only has 1 pound free after. Again, I don't mind trying to boost strength based characters, I just don't want to punish casters and monks while I'm at it. I think this is why the OP didn't just use the variant rule right out of the player's handbook. Personally, I hate dumping int and I try to avoid dumping str, but sometimes I have to choose between one of the two. I think monks are the most extreme example of the problem, since they have to max 2 stats for their most important abilities and their ac, but medium and heavy armor characters under the default variant rules would be unable to carry their armor and a pack without being encumbered even with 16 strength. While you could drop the pack, as someone else pointed out that means you can't draw your weapon that turn without using your action. What I think is underestimated is the impact of -10 speed in the first 2 rounds of combat.

Edit: I just realized, maybe the problem isn't the weakness of strength but the big three, little three design for the stats. The importance of dex, con, and wis means it really hurts to have a low score in them, even at the cost of being unable to have high scores in other areas. For casters it's worse, because your ac depends on dex as well.

Edit 2: Just did some math, a caster cleric would have to have 12 strength or more simply to carry their pack and armor without being heavily encumbered until they could afford a breastplate. While that is possible without going to an 8 in another stat, that's just to carry their essential equipment, leaving no room for an above average strength character to carry anything else.
Well, when you consider the example of the explorer's pack, think about what is in it:

Backpack (5 lbs.), containing:
bedroll (7)
mess kit (1)
tinderbox (1)
10 torches (10)
10 days of rations (20)
waterskin (5)

and 50 feet of hemp rope (10) strapped to the side.

Now, a backpack can only hold up to 30 lbs. of stuff. This "pack" has 44 lbs. already, almost 50% more than a backpack is suppose to be able to hold. So, I don't put much stock in the 5E design team for this bit of brilliance.

If you assume instead the bedroll is strapped to the top (common enough), the mess kit and tinderbox are both tied or hooked to a side, as well as the waterskin, then only the 10 torches and 10 days of rations are inside, the full 30 lbs of capacity.

However you look at it, this is a good amount of gear to be carrying around. 10 days of food (even rations) is heavy and bulky, torches are not small by any means. a 50' coil of rope is bulky, and a rolled up bedroll is also a hefty thing really. So, I could see a normal person (STR 10) being hampered by a load such as this.

Here are the rough weights of the different packs in the PHB:
  • Burglar's = 47.5
  • Diplomat's = 36
  • Dungeoneer's = 61.5
  • Entertainer's = 38
  • Explorer's = 59
  • Priest's = 25
  • Scholar's = 11.25
Even if you (or whoever) feel the weights aren't accurate that's fine, but I think a lot of players bog down their PCs with too much gear without a lot of thought and then end up complaining about the weight. What you might consider essential, others might consider excessive.

As for your edit#2, IMO the weight associated with the big three scores vs. the little three is overblown in most cases. How important CON and DEX are depends a lot on how much combat your game has in many cases. WIS is used a lot in exploration and some decent amount in social even. While I wouldn't want to have a penalty in these scores, I also don't like a penalty in STR, INT, or CHA if possible.

Too much importance is placed on maxing out a prime score or two if possible, even though a good score (say 14-16) is usually sufficient, even if it makes the game a bit more challenging. :)
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Side note on this based on my experience with the variant encumbrance rules. I've run dozens of players through scenarios using them. Here are a couple of observations:

1. Players hate any hit to speed. Even when they are in a dungeon with a lot of close-quarters combat, the thought of losing 10 feet off their speed is completely unacceptable to them. They will work to get around that speed hit by any means they can, even if in context it doesn't actually matter all that much.

2. Players will not stash their backpacks - it must be on their person at all times. In my games, I make it an action in combat to disentangle oneself from a cumbersome pack on par with doffing a shield. I've suggested they just find a place to put the backpack and come back to it if they need some gear, but they look at me like I'm crazy.

These two issues combined have caused almost every single group I've run through such scenarios to bring hirelings along to carry their stuff. Also, if races with powerful build are an option, someone's probably going to take it. However, powerful build and variant encumbrance has a weird interaction by the strict letter of the wording such that you're still technically encumbered like everyone else even though you can carry more. So that would probably need an adjustment to work better.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Well, when you consider the example of the explorer's pack, think about what is in it:

Backpack (5 lbs.), containing:
bedroll (7)
mess kit (1)
tinderbox (1)
10 torches (10)
10 days of rations (20)
waterskin (5)

and 50 feet of hemp rope (10) strapped to the side.

Now, a backpack can only hold up to 30 lbs. of stuff. This "pack" has 44 lbs. already, almost 50% more than a backpack is suppose to be able to hold. So, I don't put much stock in the 5E design team for this bit of brilliance.

If you assume instead the bedroll is strapped to the top (common enough), the mess kit and tinderbox are both tied or hooked to a side, as well as the waterskin, then only the 10 torches and 10 days of rations are inside, the full 30 lbs of capacity.

However you look at it, this is a good amount of gear to be carrying around. 10 days of food (even rations) is heavy and bulky, torches are not small by any means. a 50' coil of rope is bulky, and a rolled up bedroll is also a hefty thing really. So, I could see a normal person (STR 10) being hampered by a load such as this.

Here are the rough weights of the different packs in the PHB:
  • Burglar's = 47.5
  • Diplomat's = 36
  • Dungeoneer's = 61.5
  • Entertainer's = 38
  • Explorer's = 59
  • Priest's = 25
  • Scholar's = 11.25
Even if you (or whoever) feel the weights aren't accurate that's fine, but I think a lot of players bog down their PCs with too much gear without a lot of thought and then end up complaining about the weight. What you might consider essential, others might consider excessive.

As for your edit#2, IMO the weight associated with the big three scores vs. the little three is overblown in most cases. How important CON and DEX are depends a lot on how much combat your game has in many cases. WIS is used a lot in exploration and some decent amount in social even. While I wouldn't want to have a penalty in these scores, I also don't like a penalty in STR, INT, or CHA if possible.

Too much importance is placed on maxing out a prime score or two if possible, even though a good score (say 14-16) is usually sufficient, even if it makes the game a bit more challenging. :)
Excellent analysis. I would posit that rations are probably supposed to be 1 lb. I know Mike Mearls and possibly Jeremy Crawford have said otherwise, but a day’s worth of rations was 1 lb. in 3e and 4e, and in the TSR editions iron rations worked out to about a pound for a day’s worth. Plus the rules say you need 1 lb. of food a day and talk about half-rations being worth half a day without food, despite half a 2 lb. ration being enough to meet the daily 1 lb. requirement. I am 100% convinced that rations being 2 lbs. was a typo that the devs doubled-down on instead of correcting when it was pointed out, and they are accordingly 1 lb. each in my games. This change also makes all the starter adventuring packs fit in the backpack they come with if you assume the bedroll and the rope are strapped to the top/side.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Excellent analysis. I would posit that rations are probably supposed to be 1 lb. I know Mike Mearls and possibly Jeremy Crawford have said otherwise, but a day’s worth of rations was 1 lb. in 3e and 4e, and in the TSR editions iron rations worked out to about a pound for a day’s worth. Plus the rules say you need 1 lb. of food a day and talk about half-rations being worth half a day without food, despite half a 2 lb. ration being enough to meet the daily 1 lb. requirement. I am 100% convinced that rations being 2 lbs. was a typo that the devs doubled-down on instead of correcting when it was pointed out, and they are accordingly 1 lb. each in my games. This change also makes all the starter adventuring packs fit in the backpack they come with if you assume the bedroll and the rope are strapped to the top/side.
That's completely understandable. IIRC, in 1E iron rations were 1 lbs and "standard rations" were 2 lbs per day. I agree 2 lbs seems a bit much IMO. If you adjust rations to 1 lb per day, the pack weights become:
  • Burglar's = 47.5 - 5 = 42.5
  • Diplomat's = 36
  • Dungeoneer's = 61.5 - 10 = 51.5
  • Entertainer's = 38 - 5 = 33
  • Explorer's = 59 - 10 = 49
  • Priest's = 25 - 2 = 23
  • Scholar's = 11.25
 

Adamant

Explorer
Side note on this based on my experience with the variant encumbrance rules. I've run dozens of players through scenarios using them. Here are a couple of observations:

1. Players hate any hit to speed. Even when they are in a dungeon with a lot of close-quarters combat, the thought of losing 10 feet off their speed is completely unacceptable to them. They will work to get around that speed hit by any means they can, even if in context it doesn't actually matter all that much.

2. Players will not stash their backpacks - it must be on their person at all times. In my games, I make it an action in combat to disentangle oneself from a cumbersome pack on par with doffing a shield. I've suggested they just find a place to put the backpack and come back to it if they need some gear, but they look at me like I'm crazy.

These two issues combined have caused almost every single group I've run through such scenarios to bring hirelings along to carry their stuff. Also, if races with powerful build are an option, someone's probably going to take it. However, powerful build and variant encumbrance has a weird interaction by the strict letter of the wording such that you're still technically encumbered like everyone else even though you can carry more. So that would probably need an adjustment to work better.
That seems pretty accurate, given that I'm looking from the player's perspective. In a dungeon crawl, maybe I'd be okay with -10 speed on a melee character(ranged I'd be fine with it), but I'd still worry about the occasional big room. I'd always be worried about something happening to the stashed pack, although in a city I happily leave not just the pack but also most of my weapons(and in a city i'm comfortable in even armor) at the inn when I'm not expecting trouble.

Giving it more thought, the rules make some sense, but the weights of certain armors and weapons make it not work well. I do like the ideas with slots, since that ignores the nonsensical weights of weapons and armor. One of those I'd be open to trying.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
Side note on this based on my experience with the variant encumbrance rules. I've run dozens of players through scenarios using them. Here are a couple of observations:

1. Players hate any hit to speed. Even when they are in a dungeon with a lot of close-quarters combat, the thought of losing 10 feet off their speed is completely unacceptable to them. They will work to get around that speed hit by any means they can, even if in context it doesn't actually matter all that much.

2. Players will not stash their backpacks - it must be on their person at all times. In my games, I make it an action in combat to disentangle oneself from a cumbersome pack on par with doffing a shield. I've suggested they just find a place to put the backpack and come back to it if they need some gear, but they look at me like I'm crazy.

These two issues combined have caused almost every single group I've run through such scenarios to bring hirelings along to carry their stuff. Also, if races with powerful build are an option, someone's probably going to take it. However, powerful build and variant encumbrance has a weird interaction by the strict letter of the wording such that you're still technically encumbered like everyone else even though you can carry more. So that would probably need an adjustment to work better.
I agree entirely that players will not stash anything. On the one hand there is "I might need it" and more importantly, the encumbrance system is so generous that there is no reason for anyone but the most obsessive glamper to even consider it. I run my games in eberron where teleport networks(with passage paid for by their patron!), magic trains, & more are common but even when given access to a secure house Kundarak Vault/security deposit box of their own they never once used it until I changed to a encumbrance system that worked & even then they still didn't want to use it.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
2. Players will not stash their backpacks - it must be on their person at all times. In my games, I make it an action in combat to disentangle oneself from a cumbersome pack on par with doffing a shield. I've suggested they just find a place to put the backpack and come back to it if they need some gear, but they look at me like I'm crazy.
That makes sense to me. They want to have access to their stuff if they need it, without having backtrack to get it. They probably don’t want to risk anything bad happening to their stuff while it’s unattended. And they want a container available to store loot in if/when they find any.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
That makes sense to me. They want to have access to their stuff if they need it, without having backtrack to get it. They probably don’t want to risk anything bad happening to their stuff while it’s unattended. And they want a container available to store loot in if/when they find any.
What I do in such games is look around for a place to stash my pack, then once we've made some progress and it's relatively safe, I go back and get it, then repeat. Nothing bad has ever happened in the doing. Not that it couldn't, of course, but so far so good.

Another thing I've noticed is that people get those adventurer's packs, but almost never use the things that are inside them. Rope and light sources are the exception. So it's kind of like they are holding onto stuff for dear life that they probably won't even use. It's interesting to see it play out.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
What I do in such games is look around for a place to stash my pack, then once we've made some progress and it's relatively safe, I go back and get it, then repeat. Nothing bad has ever happened in the doing. Not that it couldn't, of course, but so far so good.

Another thing I've noticed is that people get those adventurer's packs, but almost never use the things that are inside them. Rope and light sources are the exception. So it's kind of like they are holding onto stuff for dear life that they probably won't even use. It's interesting to see it play out.
Also I've noticed that almost everyone treats those packs as weightless. 5e giving any container the instant access once reserved for the handy haversack probably contributes to doing so since everything always feels just as accessible as the sheathed weapon and worn armor they have.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Also I've noticed that almost everyone treats those packs as weightless. 5e giving any container the instant access once reserved for the handy haversack probably contributes to doing so since everything always feels just as accessible as the sheathed weapon and worn armor they have.
I'm okay with that. While I can see value in certain adventures and campaigns making use of variant encumbrance, I'd be less enthused about fiddling with how to take stuff out of packs. On occasion a question is raised about whether someone can draw and stow or the like and I'm like man it just doesn't matter that much in context, move along.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
What I do in such games is look around for a place to stash my pack, then once we've made some progress and it's relatively safe, I go back and get it, then repeat. Nothing bad has ever happened in the doing. Not that it couldn't, of course, but so far so good.
I’d be very surprised if anything bad ever happens to it. It’s one of those things many players worry about despite the fact that most DMs aren’t likely to do it.

Another thing I've noticed is that people get those adventurer's packs, but almost never use the things that are inside them. Rope and light sources are the exception. So it's kind of like they are holding onto stuff for dear life that they probably won't even use. It's interesting to see it play out.
Oh, for sure! The majority of the stuff PCs carry with them doesn’t have any explicit mechanical function, and those that do are often forgotten. It’s not a rational anxiety, but no anxiety is.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
The party is travelling on an adventure. There are four of them, and the trip is expected to take one week each way - requiring 8 person-weeks of food. Rations are 2 lbs per person per day. That's a total of 112 lbs of rations...
We're on the road to nowhere?

These extreme conditions do only apply if there is no food to be gained by hunting or gathering /looting underway.
Other than that, the party better get a mule / cart to accompany them. Then, of course they might load up on scrap armor (and later on sell it for 10-25% of its worth at least that's how i rule it in my campaigns).

Water is more severe, if you play it like that. Depending on climate a human needs around 0,5 to 1 gallon a day. You can go without food for 2-4 weeks, although it is painful. You die of thirst within 2-3 days.
 

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