How is Load and encumbrance handled in your games?

How is Load and encumbrance handled in your games?

How is Load and encumbrance handled in your games? Does it come up often enough that you actually think about it? Or do you usually handwaive it away, or ignore it entirely even?

I put a poll below, for unscientific purposes.

15 thoughts on “How is Load and encumbrance handled in your games?”

  1. Hmm. I think there are more approaches than the dichotomy implied by the choices. You could enforce encumbrance as a hard move, as a way of taking away their stuff, or giving them a hard choice (“yeah you could put that metal idol in your pack, but the seams are starting to split already”)

  2. Phillip Wessels Of course! I just meant to ask: Do you guys actually use a bit of the Load/Encumbrance mechanic? Or ignore it, in part or in total?

    Just wondering how useful a mechanic is.

  3. The mechanics for LotFP and the Black Hack are easy so I use them. Encumbrance in D&D is so ridiculous I normally hand wave and intervene only when it gets out of hand.

  4. It’s a very situational and table based topic. Somethings like money I don’t worry about, but if a player wants to haul 3 sets of plate mail back home I’m going to have it weigh him down.

  5. When numbers are kept low enough, I tend to use it.

    Although, I house rule that you just can’t carry more than your Load. Sure you could push or pull more, but not carry. I don’t even recall the DW rules for being over your Load…

    It’s weird because encumbrace is meant to be more realistic, but then it doesn’t make much sense as you wouldn’t be able to carry much more than what you can fit in a bag, no matter how strong you are.

    TBH, I don’t care about encumbrance in RPGs in general.

    Now that I think about it, I’d be more satisfied with a “you can carry 8 things”.

  6. Addramyr Palinor I’ve been thinking about simply removing Load, and adding a “Heavy” tag (or some similar mechanic); then assign each playbook a simple maximum.

    The question is: what constitutes a Heavy object?

  7. We always keep it by the book. Weight of coin and all. It encourages players to spend like crazy or buy carts to carry stuff around. We think it’s fun but I’d aways say do what is most fun for your group.

  8. Encumbrance/Load makes a lot of sense for games that are about dungeon delving or hexcrawling or something similar: exploring a dangerous area and removed from safety and civilization & easy resources, probably looking for phat lootz. Also, for games that last multiple sessions.

    If that’s the game I’m playing or running, I want us all paying attention to load and other scarcity-based mechanics, and I want the rules to be sensible. I want the decision to bring less food and more ammo or adventuring gear, to mean something, and be a source of potential conflict. I want to be able to use up their resources and have it hurt.

    In that kind of game, I find the standard DW approach works pretty well and I try to “keep it real,” as you say.

    By contrast: a city-based game, or ship-based game, or a game where the PCs are attached to something like an army… these all make encumbrance/load feel unnecessary and fiddly. If you can easily get food, resupply, find someone to stitch you up, etc., then how much you can carry becomes a lot less interesting than how much you choose to haul around on your back moment to moment.

    Also by contrast: one shots. If we’re basically doing 3-5 scenes and then wrapping it up, the amount of supplies you’ve got becomes kinda meaningless.

    Yochai Gal, I think a happy medium between your “you can carry X heavy slots” and the full-fledged Load/Encumbrance system DW would be something like Blades in the Dark’s concept of “light load” vs. “normal load” vs. “heavy load.” When you go on a score, you decide what type of load you’re taking, and that positions you fictionally but also gives you X/Y/Z slots that you can use to produce “gear.”

    Light load = clothes, belt, maybe a few pouches or purses. A knife in your boot, maybe a rapier at your hip. A cloak if it’s cold or rainy. Basically, a person on the street or in a pub or maybe even hobnobbing with the nobles, or ninja slipping to the camp at night.

    Normal load = some light armor, a bunch of pouches and/or a bandoleer, maybe a satchel or light pack. A scout or a hunter in the field. In town, folks be like “going somewhere?” or else get nervous about all the steel you’re packing.

    Heavy load = a marine humping 80 lbs of armor, gear, weapons, and ammo on their back.

    Pick your loadout = how many slots of gear you’ve got. Someone you’ll always have filled (your armor, your main weapon, some ammo). Other slots will just be empty, and you resolve empty slots in normal gear as needed, on the fly. If you’re tracking coin, just pay for them as you use them. Small items don’t take up a slot (but still cost coin). Big items take up 2 slots.

    Tie in some class moves/benies to having a Light load or less.

    Maybe have a “All out of __” list, so that the GM can be like “oh, crap, that was your flask of oil” and it sticks, until you get a chance to resupply.

  9. In DW it’s a lot easier to manage. I tend to announce that they need to keep track of it themselves and if it feels at any point like someone’s taking the piss, myself or any player can call for an ‘encumbrance audit’ of their sheet. So far everyone’s been decent about it which suits me fine, inventory management is not something I’m a fan of in RPGs.

  10. To be honest it’s never came up in my games carrying large objects or caring about it so mostly handwavy.

    Agree though that if you are doing a proper dungeon crawler I think it should probably used more.

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