Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Encumbrance System

Post is up a little early while I work on some other items for future RPG posts.

This is my system for encumbrance in the Pathfinder games I GM.

The system is simple based on a stone. A stone weighs 25 pounds. Everyone can carry 5 stones with dwarfs and large sized characters carrying an extra stone and small sized characters carrying one less stone. So:

A Human with a +2 STR mod would carry 7 Stones.
A Dwarf with the same mod would carry 8 Stones.
A Halfling with that same bonus would carry 6 Stones.

Each 25 lbs of items carried equals a Stone if you have any equipment that doesn’t equal a total stone then it doesn’t count against the total number able to be carried. Light encumbrance is anything less than your base number of stones. Medium encumbrance is 2 times light encumbrance. Heavy encumbrance is 3 times light encumbrance. Push and Pull ratios remain the same as in Pathfinder. Penalties as well. *See Page 171 of Pathfinder Core Rulebook.

These rules ignore any suit of armor and non-weapon items you are currently wearing. You count weapons and shields you use.

To Summarize:
Encumbrance Level:
Light Encumbrance
Medium Encumbrance
Heavy Encumbrance
Lift Over Head
Heavy Encumbrance
Lift Off Ground
Pull & Push
*+1 for Dwarfs and large races & -1 for Small races.

Feedback and constructive criticism is welcomed and appreciated.

Background & Reasoning:
The ~25lb stone was one of the most widespread units of weight. it was used by the Greeks, Romans and many other cultures especially the Celts. It was expected for the average person to be able to carry at least 5 stones hence my baseline.

The reason for the ignoring of the armor is do to the fact training and common usage of such items results in a person getting used to the added weight and their body adapting to it. The problem with weapons, shields, Bags, and such is they are constantly shifting resulting in the inability to acclimate to the weight of said item.

Armor also encumbers more through its hindrance of movement than its weight.

Goal: Simply to use a historical expectation to make a simple system for encumbrance.


  1. Why 25 lbs as a unit? The British stone is 14 pounds, which seems to be closer to a piece of adventuring gear. What do you mean by: the rules ignore armor and non-weapon items? Armor is likely to be the single heaviest item encumbering the character, so it seems like it should count unless I am missing something. Is the point of the system just to prevent characters from carrying too many weapons? You might want to add a few sentences about your goal in developing the system. Also, I already mentioned this in a comment over on Papers & Pencils, but I would highly recommend checking out the encumbrance system in the free LotFP Grindhouse Rules & Magic book; it's one of the best encumbrance systems out there. And here's another good and influential take:

    1. I have seen the LotFP system didn't really like it. The 25lb stone is actually more widespread as the Romans, Greeks, Gauls, and Goths as well as many other cultures used it especially the Celts. I actually just finished the update so feel free to re-read it and see if it makes sense.