Encumbrance

Characters have a stat called Encumbrance Threshold. This number abstractly represents the amount of weight they are able to carry before the carried gear becomes too much. Equipment is given an encumbrance rating, which represents the difficulty of carrying it. Encumbrance is not specifically correlated to weight, although that is of course one important dimension to it. Encumbrance also accounts for overall awkwardness of carrying it. So, some items might have a higher-than-expected encumbrance rating for their weight (rolled-up tapestries, ten-foot poles), while others might have a higher-than-expected encumbrance for their size (loose coins).

Encumbrance Threshold

Characters begin with a base Encumbrance Threshold determined by their race. For Medium characters, the base Encumbrance Threshold is 10. For Small characters, the base Encumbrance Threshold is 8. To this base ET, add both your Strength and your Constitution modifiers. The result is your Encumbrance Threshold.

Storage

Some items help you carry more equipment, distributing the weight efficiently.

  • Backpack: A backpack holds essential gear for long periods of time. Most are made of canvas, and some have internal frames that add support for heavier loads. While wearing a backpack, increase your Encumbrance Threshold by 5.
  • Pouch Belt: A pouch belt is commonly worn by adventurers in need of quick access to important gear. While wearing a pouch belt, increase your Encumbrance Threshold by 2.
  • Satchel: A satchel hangs at waist height, supported by a strap across the opposite shoulder. It may have internal pockets to separate different items, or it may be a loose assortment of knick-knacks that only you know how to rummage through. While wearing a satchel, increase your Encumbrance Threshold by 2.
  • Scabbards, bandoliers, quivers, etc: Weapons and other single items don’t get a reduction in their encumbrance for the sake of being carried in a sheath of some kind. This carrying device is assumed in the item’s base encumbrance rating.
  • Pack Mules: If it moves on its own, it has its own Encumbrance Threshold and inventory, rather than being represented as storage. Animals, porters, and Hodor all fall into this category. Quadrupeds generally have much higher Encumbrance Thresholds than bipeds.
  • Carrying another creature: If you pick up another creature (an unconscious ally, for instance) you add that creature’s encumbrance to your own, plus the encumbrance of the creature itself. Medium creatures have an encumbrance rating of 10. [Conveniently, the same number as their base Encumbrance Threshold, as a human of average fitness could carry the dead weight of another average human over his shoulders, albeit encumbered.]

Exceeding Your Encumbrance Threshold

You act normally as long as the total Encumbrance of all items carried by you is less than or equal to your Encumbrance Threshold. If your Encumbrance is greater than your Threshold, however, you are encumbered. If your Encumbrance is greater than your Encumbrance Threshold plus your Strength or Constitution modifier (whichever is greater), you are restrained. You cannot carry more weight than your Encumbrance Threshold, plus your Strength modifier, plus your Constitution modifier. At this point, you fall prone. Those conditions are reproduced below for convenience:
Encumbered: Your speed drops by 10 feet, and you have disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution checks and saving throws.
Restrained: A restrained creature’s speed becomes 0, and it cannot benefit from bonuses to its speed. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s attack rolls have disadvantage. The creature has disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws.

Example Encumbrance Ratings

Item Encumbrance
Bedroll 3
Climber's kit 3
Coins (50) 1
Healer's kit 1
Manacles 2
Pole (10 ft.) 3
Rope (50 ft.) 2
Tent 7
Thieve's tools 0
Tome 2
Trade bar 1

Trade bar: Used to transport large amounts of wealth, a trade bar is cast from precious a metal, stamped with the bank that issued it, and is worth 500 coins of the same metal as the bar’s composition. So, a gold trade bar is equal in value to 100 gold pieces, although it would only be accepted as payment by a well-established merchant and probably only within the same political region. Regardless of composition, a trade bar has less weight than the same amount of wealth in loose coinage.

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