Thursday, June 14, 2018

Mechanics: Encumbrance

Someone else's
Encumbrance is a thing that can be annoying to track, and extremely deleterious when tracked; a constant enemy of the low-tech combatant. Here's a small rundown of ways that people can defeat it.


Among the most mundane ways to defeat encumbrance in GURPS, is getting some kinda mount or vehicle to carry it for us. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of stats for vehicles in 4e, so high tech people are kind of at a loss, but there are an abundance of horse stats, and some add-ons to modify them. Take a look at Basic Set pp 459-460 for some standard horses.

Hired Hands

Another mundane option is hiring a caddy. Basic Set has hireling rules starting on B517, and a really good resource for most any low-tech game are the Laborers in Dungeon Fantasy 15. With a bit of careful fluffing, they can fit into any typical fantasy or low-tech setting without much trouble.


This is where one begins to actually put points on the line for the ability to carry around more stuff. First-off, the one pretty much mundane trait that a player can buy is Strength. Capital "S" ST. It's somewhat expensive though at 10 points a level, for a somewhat meager increase in basic lift, and people need a lot, so a cheaper option is Lifting ST at 3 points a level. This has a problem of being "exotic" though, so, for the most part, a lot of GMs forbid taking several levels outside of something a little less tightly wound like Dungeon Fantasy. Though, Martial Arts allows a little bit "realistically" with certain styles and the "special exercises" perk.
Another exotic option is the Payload advantage from the Basic Set, which lets you store cargo inside yourself for pretty cheap without impacting encumbrance (though it does increase a character's overall weight where that matters, but a simple cosmic +50% enhancement removes even this condition.)

Magic (Or other Supernatural Powers)

There are a few magical solutions for increasing one's lifting ability or decreasing one's burdens. Body Control spells like Might increase a target's ST, which can help with encumbrance, and the spell can be used in enchantment to give one "free" levels of ST (needless to say, the enchantment would be astronomically expensive financially speaking.) 
The lighten burden spell in the movement college can likewise decrease the weight of stuff being carried, and can also be applied as an enchantment to make a backpack that bestows the effect as well.
The Enchantment college spell, Lighten is very similar, but applies directly to articles of equipment instead of containers.
Going all the way back to the back of the Magic book, the Fetching and Carrying elixir can be generated pretty affordably, and gives a pretty decent boost to encumbrance levels, effectively allowing someone to carry a lot more as if they had a very high level of ST.
Also note, that magical or supernatural abilities can greatly aid logistics and inventory. A wizard that can throw fireballs doesn't need a gun and ammo. The Create Food spell means not having to pack victuals. Et cetera. These things can save lots of weight for long distance hikers.
Additionally, there are systems to convert advantages into items, so even among the more exotic advantages listed earlier, something like Metatronic Generators from Pyramid #3/46 or the enchantment system from Thaumatology - Sorcery means you can generate a few custom built methods of dealing with extra burdens.


  1. You missed my favorite Magical solution: Create Servant. It'll carry your backpack, until you need it to test a trap, and then it'll do that too. And when it "dies" you don't need to feel bad because it was just some mana and you can make another one just like it.

  2. It's always seemed reasonable to allow a single level of Lifting ST as part of buying ST in installments.


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