So far, The Artifact has relied on the weight of equipment and common sense to handle encumbrance. Despite being concrete, it makes handling what a character can carry a lot of work.
In play, I rarely checked a character’s encumbrance unless they were clearly carrying way too much. I usually would let things go unless there was a overt level of overpacking going on. “How are you carrying your motorcycle in your backpack?”
Another popular way of handling what a character can carry, is to have “item slots” that allow the character to load a number of “items”. The issue with that system is that not all items are the same size. A handgun is not the same as a thud stick (or a motorcycle). You could assume some averaging going on but players will hack that and load up with the largest “items” they can and be clearly overloaded.
At times I’ve thought about having a packing skill, that allowed the character to stuff as much in their pack as they had the skill for. That could work, except it could leave the character with only a few items or if they loaded up on the skill, an absurd level of items. What you’d need is a way to gauge the size of an item and the size of all the other items they’re carrying. Which puts us right back where we were in the first place, needing a system to handle the size of “items”.
Generally what’s needed are simple rules for how to access an item’s size. In theory I could assign a size value to everything in the game and call it a day but that’s a lot of work and I doubt I’d be able to do that consistently or accurately. Weight is often used as a proxy for size but as you know, it doesn’t always follow that a light item is a small or easy to carry item.
What we need is a “good enough” system. One where the math is simple and the character’s ability is recognized. What’s our goal? I usually look at a typical soldier on a 21st century battlefield that carries 45 Kg of gear.
So let’s define an “item” size. We could say that an item is 5 Kg and that anything less than 1 Kg is essentially a free carry. Yes, the free carry could easily be abused but we can figure that out later. That would put our average soldier being able to carry 9 “items”.
As a baseline, let’s say that a character can carry as many items as their Strength attribute. The average character can then carry 6 items, with a foot soldier being able to carry 7 because of their attribute bonus. (These are 4e numbers.) Then we’ll add in the character’s skill, let’s say that a character can pack their items and get a little more out of their carrying capacity by efficient use of space. That sounds like an Intuition roll to me. So a character can roll intuition and add a number of items equal to their successes.
Given enough time, you can assume a character could eventually get a roll that would maximize their packing ability. So unless they have a 1 for Int, they would be able to get to at least 9 items and possibly 10.
So far that seems to work but I’m not sure it really reduces the mental burden of encumbrance. It more or less just explains the old system with smaller numbers. I’ll have to ponder if that’s valuable or not.