You’re carrying what..!?!? (1e)

Yet another fix for another somewhat broken system in AD&D (and OD&D and D&D) – encumbrance… The size and weight of coins made no sense, it danced exceedingly awkwardly with the rules for armour, and just generally was ignored by almost everyone I knew – except the game essentially forced people into figuring things out for some reason and then everyone was frustrated because of the sheer kludginess of the rules.

This system owes a great many, perhaps even almost exclusive thanks to James Raggi and the Lamentations of the Flame Princess system from which this pretty much lifted and tweaked slightly.

Simply put, average the characters Strength and Constitution. Gnomes and Goblins add +2, Dwarves and Half-Ogres add +4, and Half-Trolls and Daemons add +6. This is the Encumbrance (rating) of the character. Roughly speaking, this is the total amount of items a character can carry – based on both weight and mass.

  • Small items have no value save in groups (of about 5).
    • A piece of Normal Clothing is a 0 Item, as is a Belt Pouch and Jewelry
    • Small Knives and Daggers are 0 Items, as are Needlers and Derringers.
    • Clips for Darters and Boxes of Cased Ammunition for Firearms are 0 Item.
  • One handed weapons or objects count as one item.
    • Swords, Large Daggers/Knives, Axes, Hammers, etc are 1 Item.
    • Darters and Pistols are each 1 Item
    • Staves and Spears are each 1 Item
    • A Cloak, a Normal Quiver (20), Shoulder Sack, Bedroll, 50’ Rope, a Grappling Hook, a Torch, a Lantern, etc. are all 1 Item
    • A Week of Iron Rations and Bottle of Wine are each 1 Item.
    • A standard Potion is 1 Item
  • Two handed or especially fragile weapons or objects count as two items.
    • Two-Handed Weapons are 2 Items, including Knight’s Lance and all Polearms
    • Bows, Crossbows, Rifles, and Carbines are all 2 Items
    • A Horse Quiver (40), a Backpack, a Pup-Tent, and a Large Sack are all 2 Items
  • Some particularly large or bulky items may count as three or more items.
    • A Saddle  or Sailor’s Bag is 3 Items
    • A Small Chest or a 4-Person Tent is 4 Items
    • A Large Chest or an 8-Person Pavillion is 8 Items

Armour, itself being far more bulky and a hindrance than mere clothing also has specific values of Encumbrance:

  • Fighting Sleeves, a Fighting Cloaks, Great Coats, and Great Healms are all 1 Item
  • Hunting Leathers is 4 Items, Gnomish Leathers are 2 Items
  • Leather Armour is 6 Items, Studded Leather is 7 Items
  • Chainmail is 8 Items, Elven Chain is 2 Items
  • Doublemail is 10 Items, Dwarven Doublemail is 5 Items
  • Plate and Chain is 12 Items, Elven Plate is 6 Items
  • Plate Armour is 10 Items, Dwarven Plate is 5 Items
  • A Buckler or Small Shield is 1 Items
  • A Medium Shield and a Large Shield are both 2 Items
  • A Great Shield is 3 Items

Any magical armor is 1 Item, save the very light armour types (Fighting Sleeves, Fighting Cloaks, etc) which become 0 Items.

You add up all of your Items and consult the following chart – which gives you your relative movement rate and assigns some other potential penalties for those people who want to walk around looking like a packhorse.


#of Items Move To Hit Penalty AC Penalty

Lift Penalty


Up to EV Full No Penalty No Penalty No Penalty

Lightly Encumbered

Up to 1¼ EV ¾ No Penalty No Penalty

Only 90%

Moderately Encumbered

Up to 1½ EV ½ No Penalty No Penalty

Only 50%

Heavily Encumbered

Up to 2x EV ¼ No Dex Bonus No Dex Bonus

Only 10%

Severely Encumbered Up to 3x EV 1” No Dex or Str No Dex or Shield

Not Allowed

Categories: Game Design, House Rules | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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