Correction: This post initially presented the rules for the Brawny edge incorrectly.
Having thought a bit more and having gotten some good feedback for discussion, I’ve decided that I am going to go forward with the system I presented with the following specifics that I was previously uncertain about:
- The encumbrance penalty will apply to Agility- and Strength-related trait rolls, as well as to Pace and to Running, although running can not be reduced below 1″ of extra movement. I am still debating about allowing running to always max out or using another option I read about, which is to change the roll from 1d6 to 1d4+2 (1d8+2 for Fleet-footed).
- The Brawny edge shifts everything up one step, i.e., up to two times Str is unencumbered, up to three times Str is -1, etc.
- Backpacks allow every number of items equal to Str (or a fraction thereof) to count as a single item. So if a PC has d6 Str and has 5 items in their backpack, that only counts as 1 item. If the same PC had 8 items in the backpack, that would be 2 items — the first 6 items count as one, and the remaining two count as another one. The total number of items that can be contained in a backpack should be dictated by whatever seems reasonable.
- Any item stowed in a backpack takes two actions to access during combat, one action to take off the backpack and another action to take out the item. In some cases removing the item and using it may count as one action, in other cases the character may still need to use another action to use the item.
- Every level of provisions the party has counts a significant item for each party member. If there is at least one pack animal per 5 party members or one wagon per 10 party members, the characters do not need to carry their own provisions.
Besides the specifics about provisions above, the question of what counts as a significant item is a simple one to answer. Anything that is bigger than a coin counts as a significant item. A single potion? Significant item. A scroll? Significant item. A torch? Significant item. A set of thieves’ tools? Significant item, because the picks may be tiny but the set must be kept together or protected somehow. Also, as previously mentioned, 100 insignificant items equals one significant item.
This may seem harsh, but keep in mind how forgiving this system is for really heavy things such as armor and weapons. All aspects of armor are counted as part of one significant item, even if you have a helm (although a shield is a separate item). Only plate armor and two-handed melee weapons are counted as more than one significant item, and from a poundage standpoint those things tend to be damn heavy. Even the provisions ruling is very generous, given how much food and water the PCs would be carrying. So in exchange for getting off easy on those items, the system is a bit more punishing on all the miscellaneous other stuff a PC might carry to balance it out.
And what of the wizard with d4 Str who doesn’t want to wear armor and only carries a staff? Well, if that staff can be used as a walking stick, that’s not encumbering, and he can carry up to 16 significant items in a backpack without being encumbered. Sounds more than reasonable to me.