The encumbrance rules were all right, as far as they went… but when I revised the movement rules, I had to redo encumbrance along with them. I needed a new category, non-encumbered, for characters to be able to sprint - as I mentioned above, someone carrying little or nothing at all doesn't gain any real benefit over someone carrying a light load. It should, however; someone in nothing but a set of clothing should be able to run faster and farther than someone wearing leather armor or carrying a 30-pound pack (trust me on this - I spent a year in Iraq wearing a 17-pound flak vest and a 5-pound helmet, and even with all the muscle I put on, I couldn't move as fast as I could unencumbered).

Carrying Capacity

Ever wondered exactly how many coins you could stuff into that belt pouch, sack, or chest? Probably not - if you're a DM, you just make up a number and call it good. But what about when one of the players tries to stuff everything including the kitchen sink into his portable hole, bag of holding, or even a normal backpack? Where do you draw the line?

I adapted this system from the Elder Scrolls games - Morrowind and Oblivion. In Morrowind, there were size limits - you couldn't stuff a suit of armor into a jewelry box, for example. they got rid of that in Oblivion in the interests of "fun", but containers still have weight limits. Oblivion also uses an encumbrance system whereby each item has a set encumbrance (the manual says weight, but I find it hard to believe that a sword weighs 15 pounds). This gave me an idea: If you assign sizes and encumbrance units (EU) to items, you can then determine exactly how much a container can hold. The basic concept is simple: a container can only hold items up to a certain size (obviously; you can't stuff a 10-foot pole into a belt pouch), but containers also have weight allowances - a cloth sack can hold several pounds of feathers, dirt, or even sand, but even one ingot of gold will probably tear a hole in it. That led to the creation of density factors to account for item density vs. size - an ingot of gold is small enough (and light enough) to carry, but it's massive enough that a normal person can't carry more than one.

From there, it wasn't hard to assign sizes and capacities to all the common containers. It took only a few hours to hack this together, so there are bound to be a few kinks. I was leery of putting it up for that reason and because people seldom bother with encumbrance, but I figured what the hell - someone might like it and use it.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, a typical belt pouch can hold 150 coins: a coin is 1/50th of a pound (0.2); it's a Fine object (x1/4) and metal (very dense, x2) or 0.01 EU. A belt pouch's capacity is 1.5 EU, so 1.5 / 0.01 = 150. A small sack can hold 1,500 coins, and a large sack, 2,500 (any more would exceed its weight allowance and cause to burst); a small chest could hold 7,500 coins. A bag of holding type I could hold 13,000 coins (again, it has a higher capacity, but not enough weight allowance); a portable hole could hold a whopping 500,000 coins.


I redid this system mostly to conform to real-world human ability, and to let the PCs do things like the long run from Lord of the Rings. An unencumbered human, assuming he's in decent shape (Con 16-18) and has training (Run and Endurance feats) can run a marathon in 2-4 hours. A human moving at a hustle could finish in 4 hours; someone running (x3) could finish in 2.5 hours, and someone dashing (x4) would finish in just under 2 hours.

The world record pace for a marathon is 2 hours, 5 minutes; most runners make it in around 3 hours, but by the rules, a D&D character can't run a marathon any faster than 4 hours (at a hustle). Granted, this is assuming that a character is loaded down with his gear, but what about a lightly- (or non-) encumbered person?

Nonlethal damage was changed to Con damage to provide a limit on how far someone could run – as it is now, a barbarian with 200 hit points and a few healing potions could run for days without stopping, even failing Con checks. With the Con damage, he could still run for a long time, but not nearly as far.

An easy way to figure out overland speeds for creatures with moves greater than 40 is this:

Walk speed is 1/10 the base speed in miles. For example, move 40 is 4 miles per hour.

Hustle speed is (2 * walk speed) + 1. For example, hustle for a creature with move 40 is 9 miles.

Run speed is walk speed + hustle speed + 1, or walk speed times 3.5. For example, run for a move 40 creature is 4 + 8 + 1 = 13 miles, or 4 * 3.5 = 13.

Dash speed is walk speed times 4.5. For example, dash speed for a move 40 creature is 6 * 4.5 = 27

These formulae aren't always precise, but they are very close – at most, you'll be off by 1, which is good enough for most games.

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