Friday, September 12, 2014

The Evil GM - Encumbrance, do you keep track?

In all editions of all games there is always a rule about encumbrance, defining how much a character can carry on himself before it slows him down or puts a strain on things they would normally be able to do with no issues.

Players will (if the DM allows it) turn their character into little hoarders, pocketing anything and everything they can get their hands on. Hey, you never know when you will need something, right?

Normally I am not a hard-ass when it comes to keeping track or enforcing it. I will within reason say things like.."Well, I will let you carry.. X and Y, but you will be a little bogged down."

I also am upfront to my players, telling them I am very laid back and will always make sure fun ensues over a rule, and will make judgement calls on the fly to keep the action going.

With that said, when it comes to encumbrance, I tell my players there is a reasonable amount and I will let them know if its too much, which they are fine with. I also tell them, if this is not acceptable then we need to find a new method or please jot down how much weight things are, keeping track of everything so it remains true to the rules. I haven't had one player want to do that.

Face it we are in the game to have a good time and if people don't enjoy sitting around being the accounts the game wants, its always fun to have a DM just kind of waive a hand.

Now with that said, there are some people that love to play with numbers, keeping track and playing it as real as possible, which is cool too. To each their own I say.

What method do you fall towards and how do you handle it in your games?


  1. We try. I tend to use the common sense approach. I roughly keep track.of what characters are wearing and carrying and in force movement restrictions when either I or the group deems it necessary. In my current table top game I use Matt Rundle's Anti-Hammerspace Item Tracker and have grown to really like it a lot.

  2. We use a weight-based system, because in our (very crunchy) system there is even an attribute for that. The thing about "space" things occupy is played by a rule of thumb, because in our sci-fi-setting even the weapons fold up. ;)

    @Dra8er That is a really neat thing you linked there. I will give that serious consideration. :)

  3. B/X, Castles & Crusades and Seven Voyages of Zylarthen have the best encumbrance rules I have ever read and/or used. Very simple and sensible.

  4. I prefer the logistic nightmare being underground with limited food and torches and being unable to carry enough stuff. Almost everyone I've ever gamed with follows the movie logic of unlimited bullets, no one ever having to eat or go to the bathroom, being able to see just fine in total darkness, and having the kitchen sink full of stuff but never be seen even carrying anything. As DM, I try to enforce encumbrance, but eventually give up because players never even bother to keep track of their arrows.


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