Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Encumbrance and Equipment (A.K.A. Why wagons are handy in D&D.)

For a long time I've played in and run games where the players didn't have to worry about encumbrance with their equipment. Usually due to having magical bags to store the stuff in or having easy access to transports. However, in this new D&D campaign I'm starting, encumbrance is an issue. Players are not only having to watch how much they are carrying, but where they are carrying it (I need to be able to determine what pickpockets can get their hands on, hee hee).

Back long ago when I was playing AD&D, I had to worry about encumbrance and the weight of my character's equipment. After struggling with it for a little while, I realized that I could use a wagon! So from that moment, when my characters started getting enough loot/equipment they went and got a wagon. We almost always had hirelings that would watch the party's camp so I just gave them a bit extra gold and they watched my wagon as well. It caught on with other members of the group and soon everyone had wagons and boy did it get interesting. The best time was when the group had about 10 wagons, most of them were covered or enclosed and they all had magic on them in some form or another. We would circle them around our campsite, set up the watch, then put a cover over the whole thing with a hole in the center of the cover for the smoke to go out, and then activate the magics to make it secure. The group was about 15th level when doing this. We called it our portable canvas tower. Then the group would leave their hirelings and followers there at the camp and trudge into the dungeon, if we needed anything that was at camp, our mage would teleport back to it, grab the stuff and port back, it was easy.

Then someone ticked off a demon.

But that is another story. This is about the encumbrance and equipment.

Treasure has a weight, all treasure, and equipment has weight, so what happens when you combine both? Things get heavy, characters start to slow down. No more are the characters going to be carrying around 1000s of gold pieces at at time. Now, I'm not doing this to be mean (Though part of me is getting a bit of a sadistic kick out of it), but I wanted to do a "back to basics" game, even though it is in 3.5 D&D. So I wanted to count encumbrance again, get people to think about how they are going to accomplish these tasks they set out to do. And having to keep track of what your character is carrying is part of that. You have to plan more to get through. In all honesty, I think that the players will get more out of it since they are going to have to put more into it. And this is where a wagon would come in very handy.

Recently, I've found groups(not just members of my group, others that I have talked to as well) scoffing at the idea of having a wagon coming along with the group. This boggled my mind until I realized that no one was used to encumbrance. At the time it was easy to transport thousands of gold pieces and treasure, but not this time. This stuff can get heavy so it's time to figure out how you get the treasure back to town to sell it off. My suggestion? Get a wagon and a bunch of sacks. Big ones if you are lucky enough. Oh yeah, a horse to pull the wagon. I've seen groups forget to get a horse for their wagon. But remember, someone needs to watch the wagon while the characters are in the dungeon otherwise things might go missing.

Never underestimate the usefulness of a wagon.

1 comment:

  1. The barbarian refuses to pull the wagon. And she wields a greataxe. 'nuff said.