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Examples of Good Encumbrance/Capacity Systems?

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I'm in the process of doodling up some rules for a Fantasy 4x game. I'd like to vary the races more than usual, but that requires some sort of generic system for weights, sizes, and capacities. [edit: not require, but I think things would be far easier with one] I'd like something a little more than the "4 units no matter -what- they care can fit on this boat" sortof capacities common in previous games, but less than spreadsheets of weights and measures. Having units take up multiple slots is okay, but unless there's only a few sizes and units tend to be multiples of sizes, it kinda gets unmanagable. Most PnP RPGs go the usual "let the GM decide" route, while supplying some numerical guidance on how much things actually weigh. That's mainly to prevent players from abusing the game. For my project, I'm looking for detriments to offset some of the racial benefits of being big and strong. I tried to doodle something up myself, but the idea [similar to the multiple slots] became a little broken as one parameter [which increased exponentially] out raced another [lower base exponent]. At least on paper. Anyways, what are some good examples you've seen that handle weights, sizes, encumbrance, and that sort of thing?

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Hrmph. Well, without suggestions, I kept at the one that I was working on. I think it might now be something more feasible.

The general concept is that there are size levels, starting at level 0, which is 1 unit of measure. Ideally, having the stratiated levels will allow for iconic representation, and better abstraction of what that unit of measure is, and the relation between the levels should it be needed.

The different rules will then refer to differences in levels. For example, a tenative rule for weaponry would read "A creature may wield a weapon in one hand if it is 5 levels smaller than it.". This allows objects ranging from weapons to creatures to spell areas to follow a common sizing structure. It also allows for a common formula for creation of objects and metabolism for creatures.

For my current project, I've tenatively doodled up an example table:

Level Units Example

0 1 Mouse
1 2 Pigeon
2 4 Puppy
3 8 Cat
4 16 Pixie
5 32 Goblin
6 64 Dwarf
7 128 Human
8 256 Orc
9 512 Ogre
10 1024 Warhorse
11 2048 Giant
12 4096 Griffin
13 8192 Dragon

I've also tenatively set the full-move carrying capacity at 2 sizes lower, and encumbered-limit at a size and a half lower [48 for a human for example]. This would allow a Warhorse to carry [limit 256] a human [128], all the human's stuff [+32=160], and a bit [96] more. I'll probably add some sort of Tack or other penalty for mounts, especially for aerial mounts or perhaps a carrying bonus for quadrupedal creatures/constructs.

Again tenatively, a 2-handed weapon is 1 size larger [-4 sizes] than it's 1-handed companion [-5]. This leads naturally to the "small creatures may use medium creatures' weapons as 2-handed" sort of rule, which is common amongst RPG systems. Level 4 is expected to be the lowest playable race size.

Armor is penciled in to weigh -4,-3,and -2 sizes for light/medium/heavy respectively. The reasoning there is to make heavy armor require a seperate wagon or horse to move unencumbered, essentially limiting it as a defensive advantage. The medium armor should be heavy enough to restrict food stores, but still allow full movement for short periods. The light armor should be light enough to allow lengthier scouting missions, and use in flight.

More left to flesh out, but comments, concerns, criticisms, thoughts? *shrug* I figure all of this is going to get ditched anyways since I'm not sure it will provide meaningful gameplay.

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Original post by Telastyn
For my project, I'm looking for detriments to offset some of the racial benefits of being big and strong.

Food and energy consumption are the obvious ones here.

I'm not sure the weight thing is a great choice because then I can imagine people will get frustrated with not knowing instantly how many people will fit on a boat or whatever. And wouldn't giants just build proportionally larger boats anyway? Do you really want them worrying about weapon sizes?

One very simple option (especially for transports) would be something coarse like:
Halfling: +1 unit carrying capacity on all vessels/vehicles
Giant: -1 unit carrying capacity on all vessels/vehicles

It's not very believable or very finely-grained, but it is quick and easy to take into account in a player's strategy.

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Indeed, food consumption will need to be proportional. I expect that reproduction rates will be inversely proportional as well.

Good points. The main concern comes as players may have mixed race empires. Giants may build proportionately larger boats, but halfings might be riding in them.

Granted, a "unit" of halflings could always be a hundred or so of the little buggers to balance things out. That's probably how the abstraction will go if I find this provides little benefit. I'm not sure I like that too much though, since a single halfling might be as powerful as a single giant in every non-physical field.

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I've always like the systems that limit you to like 30 slots and everything worth carrying fills one slot. Something psychological about it, I'm more willing to use up items when the emptiness of the list is more important (to carry other things I may find).

What you could do is a simple unit setup where everything either uses 1, 2, or 3 units, and give an additional unit of capacity every few levels or so. Not too hard to figure out for the player.

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