Most games have some sort of encumbrance system to determine the upper limits of what a character can carry, as well as any penalties associated with being overloaded. Traditionally, this involves adding-up the weight of each item carried and comparing the total against a character’s carrying capacity. Penalties for exceeding this capacity might include a reduced movement speed or negative modifiers to movement-based tasks.
From a Referee’s perspective, I like encumbrance rules. They force players to make choices. However, equally, in my experience, players are often less keen on the associated bookkeeping. Therefore, in Hack100 there is no quantitative encumbrance system to determine the limit of what a character can carry. Instead, we rely on two straightforward principles:
- For each item of equipment carried, a player must declare, on their character sheet, where that item is stored about their person. If it’s armour, it would be “wearing”. If it’s a sword, it might be “carried in right hand” or “in scabbard on belt”. If it’s a backpack, it would be “back”. If it’s a first aid kit it might be “in backpack”. And so on. By requiring characters to declare how they are carrying each item of equipment, it immediately makes it obvious as to whether this seems plausible. It also helps with visualising the character.
- The Referee has the final say as to whether a character’s proposed breakdown of items by carrying location is reasonable. If it’s not, they may require the character to forego some items, or apply penalties to Agility task rolls or movement until a suitable adjustment is made. For example, if a party wants to transport lots of loot out of a dungeon, the Referee might rule that they’ll have to free up some space in their backpacks to accommodate it.
In this way, we arrive at a system that prevents characters from carrying excessive amounts of equipment without resorting to tedious adjustments to “kilogrammes carried” as items are acquired and lost.