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Old February 18th, 2012, 06:34 PM
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Default Encumbrance

One point made by many play testers was that encumbrance limited players to modest amounts of equipment. This was purposeful: there was no desire in the game to allow the fantasy trend established in DnD of adventurers carrying (and fighting) with hundreds or even thousands of pounds of crap on their backs. Carry a lot of stuff, and quickly you are not going to be fighting effectively on foot or traveling across broken ground.

A game master can be flexible with this when they have an intelligent team of players. Players will naturally want to carry only the most valuable and least weighty treasures with them, or have some idea how they will haul great piles of stuff back to civilization. Silk is a great treasure - a little of it is very valuable. Jute is a foolish treasure: great gobs of it weighing down a character will bring only a few silvers when the right vendor is found. A local town will simply not have enough money to pay for a great tapestry brought back from the lair of an evil wizard, adventurers will have to figure out how to ship it to one of the great cities to get it sold. Most characters will find stripping rings and maybe fine boots more their speed, at least until they advance in level and capabilities.

There are other ways to deal with encumbrance though. A character simply cannot have five swords swinging from their belt and expect to fight with any dexterity, but a game master could rule that the five swords strapped into a bundle and worn on the back is less bulk than two swinging from the belt or carried in hand. If the adventurer really needs access to five swords, then they could consider the services of a sword bearer or a horse.

The main idea with encumbrance is to treat it as an obstacle that prevents unrealistic play, not as a straight jacket. A medieval traveler rarely carried more than five days of food with them unless they traveled by water. Most would purchase, scavenge, or hunt food and use their carried provisions as they went along. Even horses were not the most common way of travel across land because fodder is heavy and a horse rapidly eats their own weight in food when traveling. Medieval horses could rarely find enough graze of high enough quality to allow their owners to travel constantly without stopping.

Creator of Total Eclipse: the Role Playing Game. Director of Disrupted Gears Productions and The Thin Tweed Line.

Last edited by Darkfather; February 19th, 2012 at 01:09 AM..
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