Item-Based Encumbrance Play Test

Gavin Norman oldschoolessentials

Encumbrance is one of those parts of the game that different groups tend to handle in a lot different ways. Some groups simply ignore encumbrance altogether (it is, after all, an optional rule), some use one of the standard systems presented in Old-School Essentials, and others implement their own tweaks or alternative systems.

To provide more options to players of Old-School Essentials, we're developing an alternative encumbrance system which is now ready for play testing!

Standard Encumbrance Systems

Old-School Essentials presents two systems for tracking encumbrance:

  1. Basic encumbrance: A character's movement rate is determined by the armour they wear and whether they are carrying a significant amount of treasure or not.
  2. Detailed encumbrance: A character's movement rate is determined by the total weight of equipment and treasure carried.

These two systems are derived from the classic Basic/Expert rules, of course, as Old-School Essentials is designed for compatibility with that game.

Play Test: Item-Based Encumbrance

In recent years, item- (or slot-) based encumbrance has become one of the most popular alternative systems for tracking encumbrance: instead of tracking the weight of items carried, players track the number of significant items carried.

Necrotic Gnome is currently developing an item-based encumbrance system for Old-School Essentials (to be featured in Carcass Crawler issue 2) and would like to offer the draft version of the rules for play testing. You can download the draft files here:

Changes from v0.1 to v0.2:

  • Unified wording around tiny items and jewellery.
  • Clarified that a character's movement rate is determined by looking up equipped and packed items in the table and using the slower rate.
  • Added a section on calculating item-based load limits for mounts and vehicles.

Feedback?

We hope you enjoy the new system! If you have any feedback on these rules, please post in our Discord server or email summon@necroticgnome.com.



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  • Dextolen on

    Great addition! I’ve been pulling weights from AD&D 1E for all my equipment.

  • tonezime on

    Oops, I see John Justice already suggested this, so please ignore :)

  • tonezime on

    I wonder if it might make sense to treat worn armor as a packed item for these purposes; it’s not taking up a hand and it’s not something you can put on or take off quickly, just like items in your pack take some time to get out or put away. That would also play nicely with the optional rule for high-STR characters being able to carry more packed items.

  • Gavin Norman on

    >Should the Strength bonus also help with Equipped items? As it stands it seems like a fully kitted out fighter, even with a high strength, is going to be slow.. which makes sense for low-average strength but feels wrong for big burly types.

    The idea is that it only affects packed items. The intention of this system is to stay pretty close to the basic assumptions of the standard OSE (B/X) encumbrance systems, so heavy armour just makes characters slow.

  • Jamie on

    Should the Strength bonus also help with Equipped items? As it stands it seems like a fully kitted out fighter, even with a high strength, is going to be slow.. which makes sense for low-average strength but feels wrong for big burly types.



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