Beginner GM advice: Encumbrance and 'The Perception Disease'


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In my opinion, encumbrance is analogous to speeding tickets. Keep it less than 10 over, everyone's happy. Start putting lives in danger, you get stopped.

The character picks up a new bag of coins? No problem. The character straps four suits of plate armor to his back to carry back home and sell? He gets pulled over.


Why are you spending 30 minutes whenever you find some new loot looking up how much it weighs and such? The GM should have written that down when he created the treasure, and tell you the weight when you get it. As for strange things the party decides to pick up (such as them liking the look of a tapestry hanging from the wall and decide they want it), just pick a random weight that makes sense.

Shadow Lodge

Umbriere Moonwhisper wrote:
but a hanbo, gladius, dagger, sabre, buckler and longbow, isn't an unreasonable thing to ask of a weakling in a chain shirt. in addition to their pack of course.

Depending on the contents of a pack, that could be quite a lot to expect of a weakling. The "bard's kit" in Ultimate Equipment contains "a backpack, a bedroll, a belt pouch, a common musical instrument, a flint and steel, ink, an inkpen, an iron pot, a journal, a mess kit, a mirror, rope, soap, torches (10), trail rations (5 days), and a waterskin" - and it weighs 33lbs.

I don't have much personal experience with armour and weapons, but the backpacking rule of thumb is IIRC to carry no more than one-third of your body weight. That's 40lbs if we assume the "weakling" weighs 120lbs. The chain shirt and shield alone are 30lbs, and the 33lb bard kit makes 63lbs plus weapons - the recommended amount for the average 180-190lb backpacker (likely not a weakling). And the backpacking load assumes a special (masterwork) backpack to distribute weight, and probably would count as a medium load for encumbrance

Using simplified encumbrance, that's 12 encumbrance points*, well over the light-load tolerance for a Str 8 character.

* One point each for light armor, buckler, sabre, longbow, 20 arrows, bedroll, rope, 5 rations, waterskin (full), and two for 10 torches. Other items may be considered insignificant (including the instrument and most of the weapons - we're generous).

Adjule wrote:
Why are you spending 30 minutes whenever you find some new loot looking up how much it weighs and such? The GM should have written that down when he created the treasure, and tell you the weight when you get it. As for strange things the party decides to pick up (such as them liking the look of a tapestry hanging from the wall and decide they want it), just pick a random weight that makes sense.

It can be annoying if multiple items are obtained at the same time, if randomly generating treasure (which does force looking up the weight at table), or if putting together a small hoard in a hurry.


Darash wrote:

So, I'm running my first Pathfinder campaign with a group brand-new to RPG's in general. We've run into two problems, one of the rule sort and one of the more general sort.

One of my players, a Barbarian, wants to play with encumbrance, which we ignored until now. However, the rules seem a bit harsh to me. Would using the rules as written mean that our poor 8-strength Bard can only carry 26 lbs. in combat without taking penalties to rolls? That means that with her armor and weapons (Studded leather 20+ bow 2+quarterstaff 4+arrows 3+instrument 3=32) she would be over it already. This doesn't even count the rest of her equipment (That would mean another 60 extra, tho I guess she doesn't really need all of it). Are there in-game solutions to this problem (they are 2nd level now) or do you think it would be better to just keep handwaving it.

The second problem is what me and the Barbarian call 'The Perception Disease'. Basically when my players encounter a challenge (say a riddle, or a dungeon room) the first reaction is to try a perception check on everything. For example, I gave them a riddle in a graveyard and the course of action was this: I Perception. I check the grave. I check the gravestone. I climb on a stone and look around. I climb in a tree and look around. I check the grass around the grave. etc. etc. I already discussed with my players that this way the solution is almost never found, however they are too afraid that they might miss something if they don't investigate everything. Does anyone have a similar experience and know how to solve it?

Thanks for reading!

On the first problem: My take is that common sense goes a long way.

Here are two excellent quotes from Sean K Reynolds on the subject.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

Core Rulebook page 168:

Encumbrance by Weight: If you want to determine whether your character's gear is heavy enough to slow him down more than his armor already does, total the weight of all the character's items, including armor, weapons, and gear.

The whole point of the "medium armor is a medium load" rule is so you don't have to track every individual item's weight and compare it to the Carrying Capacity table. You can just say, "I'm wearing medium armor, therefore I have a medium load."

Notice that breastplate armor weighs 30 lbs., but gives you a medium load whether your Str is 5 (medium starts at 17 lbs.), 10 (34 lbs.), 15 (67 lbs.), or 20 (134 lbs). That means if you're wearing breastplate, you can pack on additional gear and still be well within your medium load, even if you use the "add it up" method.

Notice that full plate weighs 50 lbs., but gives you a heavy load whether your Str is 5 (heavy starts at 34 lbs.), 10 (67 lbs.), 15 (134 lbs.), or 20 (267 lbs). That means if you're wearing full plate, you can pack on additional gear and still be well within your heavy load, even if you use the "add it up" method.

It's to your advantage to use the simple method. If you're counting individual pounds, you're (1) making more work for yourself tracking those details, and (2) doing so to find out if your gear makes you more encumbered than the flat encumbrance from your armor. You're doing more work with the potential of making your character worse off (more encumbered) than if you left it alone. There is no "use whichever method makes you the least encumbered" rule; if you add it up, at best you're the same, at worst you're worse off.

Especially considering that you're choosing to use the "add it up" method--the quoted rule says "If you want to determine..." You don't have to do it that way. In fact, the rules assume you aren't doing it the hard way.

The game allows you to eat dirt. If you choose to eat dirt, you may become confused that the game doesn't give specifics on how much dirt you have to eat in order to avoid starvation.

And.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Joana wrote:
If your character is weak or carrying a lot of gear, however, then you'll need to calculate encumbrance by weight. Doing so is most important when your character is trying to carry some heavy object.

"A lot" is the important part of the sentence. If a rogue in light armor wants to carry a couple of masterwork short swords looted from an assassin so she can sell them later, I'm not going to bother with adding up that individual weight. If she wants to carry a couple of suits of masterwork full plate looted from some cultists so she can sell them later, yeah, I may want her to add up her gear.

Assuming she doesn't have a bag of holding, the smallest of which holds 250 lbs. (about a max load for a 17 Str character), and can therefore hold 5 suits of masterwork full plate. Nitpicking pounds like this just means that a bag of holding or a handy haversack becomes an "equipment tax" for anyone in your campaign who's carrying more than about 30 pounds.

If you're going to nitpick weight, fine. If you think that's fun. Track empty/full waterskin weight and empty/full potion weight. Figure out the weight of 250 gp worth of diamond dust for your stoneskin material component (house rule!). Track scroll weight. Track clothing weight. Weigh your hair when it grows. Weigh your food and ale before you eat it. Get a weight receipt when you use the outhouse. Track how much temporary weight you gain from water when you wade through a river. Track how much less weight you have after you've been suffering from filth fever for a week.

If you think that's fun, do it.

Of course, be sure to ignore all the other parts of the game where weights are just approximations, of course. Like how full plate always weighs 50 lbs. for any Medium character, from the fattest half-orc to the skinniest elf. You wouldn't want your calculations to be off by a pound.

Me, I think that level of calculation is pointless OCD and isn't important to the purpose of the game (fighting monsters and having epic adventures). But if you want to do that in your campaign, I won't stop you.

I have bolded the last part of his quote, the purpose of the game is fighting monsters and having epic adventures. It's all about having fun. Should dumping strength come with a prize? Sure. Should you nitpick weight? No, I don't think so.

Now to your second problem.
I would let them roll their perception checks, but explain to them that perception is not all that matters. If they abuse it tell them searching takes time so their buffs may expire. That will usually help ;)


Welcome to the wonderful world of being a DM:) Make it your own. The rules are there for you to decide what works best for you. At first, I would suggest doing things RAW, Rules As Written and then make changes as you see fit. Encumberance is one of those things. In general it should have some affect on how much a character can carry. How much is up to you. Perception disease will get better once they are more comfortable with you and your game. Once they realize that they aren't missing too much they will likely cut it down, but that means you need to work with them on it. It takes time to really learn the art of DMing. It isn't just about knowing the rules. You can have players that know more than you and it can be ok. You are there to make sure everyone is generally having fun. At least most of the time.


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Don't get me wrong, I don't let my players get away with EVERYTHING (though I do give them a bit of Hammerspace for party fund...gold for resurrections, wands of healing and such, along with said potions, wands, and the loot they're just gonna sell anyway).

Your 8 Str character is fine as long as he's not carrying some ludicrous amount of heavy gear, Full Plate and such.

The party Barbarian also has a bit of an advantage since I see no need to audit them. If they want to carry around a solid gold bust of themselves, have at it.


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Vamptastic wrote:

It's weird reading this argument, because I agree with both opposing viewpoints and think they are both correct.

My brain hurts.

Haha, I agree with both sides as well.

Depends. On. The. Group.

If it isn't burdensome and adds value to your experience, your players enjoy the realism, enjoy the balancing act, etc. use it. Personally, I enjoy it, even though I am very often the noodle-armed wizard. I like weighing (haha, oh, ugh, bad pun) my options on what I should carry and what I can live without or have someone else carry.

If your players just want to get on with roleplaying or hack & slash or whatever and don't want to bother with the minutiae, skip it.

Rule of fun, people!


I think the answers provided are all right, depending on the circumstance of the game.

I'd like to offer a little solution for helping things along as perception, sense motive, diplomacy, intimidate, and bluff go. Jot down the modifiers of each player, roll it behind the scenes. Certain skills are more suspenseful to not let them know exactly how well they did. And instead of them asking to roll a check to solve a problem, they can approach it in character and you can pick the most relevant check for them.

Sovereign Court

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One of my PCs is currently engaged in an expedition crossing some salt flats. We knew that we'd be walking this wasteland for at least 20 days, maybe more. By enforcing at least some encumbrance rules, this actually became MORE interesting because we had to worry about foraging, food rations and just how much it's possible to take with us.

Without encumbrance and food supply counting, wilderniss survival is just surviving the random monster chart. These "chore" rules actually add to the game.

That said, I'm working on house rules along the Burden/Stone route to make it less of a chore, without losing the baby with the bathwater.

Silver Crusade

Vamptastic wrote:

It's weird reading this argument, because I agree with both opposing viewpoints and think they are both correct.

My brain hurts.

You aptly describe a phenomenon called Cognitive Dissonance. The 'brain hurt' effect it causes is at the heart of effective propaganda, among other things.

Sovereign Court

To make life easier, I use the Abellius character sheets.

They are a group of pdf fillable forms. Encumbrance is automatically calculated. The only thing lacking is a section for a familiar or animal companion.


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I love encumbrance, because as a player it makes me be more creative. I play a 14 str fighter (going for duelist) who really can't carry much more than his 12-14 weapons and his agile breastplate. How to solve this? i got a wagon, and bought a horse to drive it. We're playing in a low magic campaign, so at one point we had several thousand gp, but very little magical stuff to buy, so I filled this wagon with all the stuff I never could carry, such as ladders, ropes, pickaxes, hammers, nails, waterskins, food, anvils, etc. I love having all that and being creative with it, and I would never reasonably be carrying two anvils around without it, encumbrance rules or not.


I really like the Simplified Encumbrance method linked earlier. Our group's approach to issues like encumbrance is "Just barely enough realism to be relatable; never so much realism that it hurts the fun." (And slowing down the game always hurts the fun, by definition.)


I enforce Encumbrance, but not so much once they are in an encounter/dungeon. Essentially, I let them carry stuff until they get to a point of rest, and then figure out what they're going to actually carry, and what they're going to dump. That way we don't spend time when they're actually immersed in the story. So usually I wait till we're wrapping up a session to figure out how they're going to carry the 1000's of coins they've found, etc. More often than not, I give treasure as mundane items, which don't weigh as much though.

As for perception, I tend to let the players know when I want a perception check. I'll give a description of something or have them enter an area and ask for perception checks. A lot of the time, there's not even anything to see. What this tends to do is garner trust with my players that if there is anything for them to notice, I'll let them know. I also tend to use the perception check as a matter of time on items that can make or break success. In cases where they *need* that one piece of evidence for success, I have them roll, and if they roll low, it takes them a long period of time. If they roll right on target, it takes the normal amount of time (2 minutes generally), and if they roll a large success, they find things right away. Also, have the checks lead them to the extra info. So in your case, if there was something up the tree, let a perception check lead them to further examination of the tree. The PCs will start to realize that if they go into an area and roll a perception check, and roll well, you'll lead them to anything else that can be found.


In my home campaigns I hand wave the actual numbers and just go with a "does this sound right" rule of thumb based on character STR and what they're carrying. I also keep in mind how they carry it - as noted by others a good backpack will help distribute weight, lowering effective encumbrance, as will properly worn armor v hastily donned armor. I still call them out on it where appropriate.

For my players' part, they make it a habit to get handy haversacks and bags of holding as soon as they possibly can, usually before they worry about any other magical goodies. Arcane casters in my group have a habit of keeping a scroll or 5 of Floating Disk on hand. Other times they've picked up pack animals when cashflow was a problem.

This keeps the spirit of the encumbrance rule in place, while not necessarily adhering to the letter and tedium of it.

As for the perception-fest...let them, but also get them used to the idea of taking 10/20. After most of their checks are either failures or don't reveal anything helpful then eventually, over time, you'll find you have a group that don't make enough perception checks. Then they'll overreact when it bites them in the butt and they'll check everything again. It will balance itself out in the end, particularly as the players become more experienced.


Another one for "loosely enforce". When I see a STR 7 char trying to carry everything but the kitchen sink, it breaks my immersion, so I deal with that. But adding up everything, no thanks. As long as the players invest a bit of money in extradimensional spaces or at low level, beasts of burden, I'm fine with it.

Or, you can use a tool like Hero Labs. It'll handle the tracking for you.


Vanykrye wrote:
In my home campaigns I hand wave the actual numbers and just go with a "does this sound right" rule of thumb based on character STR and what they're carrying. I also keep in mind how they carry it - as noted by others a good backpack will help distribute weight, lowering effective encumbrance, as will properly worn armor v hastily donned armor. I still call them out on it where appropriate.

That's how we play it.

Question 1: Is anyone at the table's playing experience enhanced by using Encumbrance rules as written?

Question 2: Would dropping it be problematic to a group who can use the "does this sound right" approach?

I suggest that answering those two questions would answer whether or not you need to apply the RAW.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Encumbrance: I normally follow the encumbrance rules, but am not strict about enforcing it down to the last ounce -- if you're close to your light load, I'm not going to worry about your encumbrance. If you're carrying 50 lbs of stuff and you have a Str of 6, you need to account for that, however.

The bard has enough stuff that she would be considered encumbered. Things to do/consider:

- I played a low Str character who was in fact an archeologist by profession (so she had lots of heavy excavation gear). I put in her back history she had a long history of hiring porters and losing them in horrible ways. This was in an Eberron campaign; a party member showed up who was Warforged and the player had decided that the Warforged character hadn't yet found a name for herself. My archeologist said, "Congratulations, your name is Porter!" and handed the warforged her backpack. She was a rather cheeky character and the player was a longtime friend who was happy to go along with it, and not everyone could get away with that, but in the end -- have your buddies (including the high Str barbarian who is insisting upon using the encumbrance rules) carrying the gear she's not actively ruling is one easy, non costly option.

- When Porter was not hauling my character's stuff, my character just dropped her backpack before fighting as a free action, to unencumber herself. This puts her gear unattended and at risk, but it's an option. Your bard has a lot of stuff she may need right away so I do not know how well that will work.

- Get the bard a MW backpack (50 gp), which would increase her carrying capacity light load to 30 pounds and handwave the 2 lb difference (probably the arrows, which will deplete over time anyway).

- Have someone cast ant haul on the bard, or let her learn a bardic version of it (it's not a bardic spell though IMO it should be).

- In addition to the other carrying items, looking at what your bard is specifically carrying, give her an efficient quiver, which will hold her bow and arrows and a few other things mentioned, and isn't so expensive that it would be entirely out of place in a 2nd-3rd level game.

Perception Disease: I had a player with a variant of that disease. "You enter the room, there is a bookshelf, rug, and table." "I check under the rug." "I take every book off the shelf and see what they are and if moving them does anything." "You find a few interesting books and you've now made a messy pile of books on the floor. Besides the books, there seems to be nothing else of interest in the room." "I move the shelf." "Nothing." "I move the table." "Nothing. There's really nothing here." "I check the table for interesting carvings..." "It is just an ordinary table." "But I got a 20 on my Perception check." "Your Perception check allows you to count every grain of dust in the room. There is nothing else here." "What if I break the table?"

I learned from that to say clearly, "There is nothing here of interest--Perception checks and asking questions will reveal nothing further. Are you ready to move on?" when there is nothing in the room of interest. I guarantee my players that when I say this, I mean this. I certainly like to encourage my players to explore and be curious, but it can be taken too far.

I think one issue is that sometimes when rolling dice, players think a positive roll MUST mean they found something of interest. They don't want to "waste" the awesome result that they got. If this is part of the issue, I would suggest pre-rolling Perception (they can always ask to make a check, but this is for an "advance warning" Perception stuff -- noticing immediately interesting ambient characteristics of an area (e.g., hearing people talking in the distance, noticing a bloodstain on the floor) and for noticing ambushes. I do this in large blocks--have the players roll, say, 10 Perception checks, and I write down the results. When I need a Perception check for something, I check the advance rolls, use them, then cross off the first line, then go to the next line the next time I need a roll. This breaks some habits of compulsive die rolling. An alternative of this is noting everyone's Perception modifiers and just assuming a result of 10 for ambient alertness, again to reduce die rolling and to make people focus on the game. This does NOT apply to searches, but again, when searching, it is just important to be clear "You have found everything, trust me, there is nothing else here."


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In terms of encumberance. It is a bit tedious, but its also sort of important. The 8 strength bard, should have some kind of hinderance because of his low strength. I can understand the barbarian wanting such a rule enforced. Its a bit tedious, but one thing I generally ask is all that math is done away form the table. Basically, as long as you are close to your load, dont worry about it during the session, then check afterwards. IN terms of characters not being able to carry their basic gear, well thats part of the issue of having a low strength. Weaker then average people (remember a 10 is the strength of the AVERAGE PERSON) dont make good adventurers most of the time (other then wizards and such who dont carry alot of heavy gear).

In terms of the perception disease. Shift the behavior. Make sure your players know YOU will prompt them to make perception checks when they are relevant rather then them having to initiate them.

Say: "Hey guys dont worry about it, if there is something to find I will call for a perception check or I will roll one in secret if failure is meaningful like if someone is following you stealthfully."

That should help with the perception disease though it may take some time and practice to get everyone to shift their behavior. Basically your players need to become comfortable in the fact that not doing this wont result in them being penalized.


Does the barbarian have a dump stat? Because you can look right at that too, if you're going to punish the bard for "dumping" str. quotes because how does anybody know it's not a negative Str race, a 10 isn't dumping.

Perception? Ignore WHAT they want to roll on. Let them make one roll for the event. If there is something to perceive, the roll applies to it.


Darash wrote:

So, I'm running my first Pathfinder campaign with a group brand-new to RPG's in general. We've run into two problems, one of the rule sort and one of the more general sort.

One of my players, a Barbarian, wants to play with encumbrance, which we ignored until now. However, the rules seem a bit harsh to me. Would using the rules as written mean that our poor 8-strength Bard can only carry 26 lbs. in combat without taking penalties to rolls? That means that with her armor and weapons (Studded leather 20+ bow 2+quarterstaff 4+arrows 3+instrument 3=32) she would be over it already. This doesn't even count the rest of her equipment (That would mean another 60 extra, tho I guess she doesn't really need all of it). Are there in-game solutions to this problem (they are 2nd level now) or do you think it would be better to just keep handwaving it.

The second problem is what me and the Barbarian call 'The Perception Disease'. Basically when my players encounter a challenge (say a riddle, or a dungeon room) the first reaction is to try a perception check on everything. For example, I gave them a riddle in a graveyard and the course of action was this: I Perception. I check the grave. I check the gravestone. I climb on a stone and look around. I climb in a tree and look around. I check the grass around the grave. etc. etc. I already discussed with my players that this way the solution is almost never found, however they are too afraid that they might miss something if they don't investigate everything. Does anyone have a similar experience and know how to solve it?

Thanks for reading!

Fix for perception disease: Don't let them perception each feature of the area. Make them do a blanket perception check, where that number is the number used to search every feature. Tell them that this is now how perception works. Each player only gets 1 roll every room. And that roll applies to all details of that room.


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Has everyone forgot the Heavyload Belt? At 2000gp, it is quite nice for low strength characters. Compare to the Muleback Cords at 1000gp. Different slots, but nearly the same effect. You can use both.

I almost never have been audited for encumbrance. Still, I track it. I let my spreadsheet handle the calculations, and do any changes between sessions. In session, it is rare for it to come up.

For perception, in addition to the Take 20 rule, there is the Take 10 rule. Take 20 will cost time, and if you are in a tense situation, you cannot use it or cannot afford to use it. Take 10 lets them simplify the math, and if you know the numbers ahead of time, you can tell them they say whatever before allowing the roll. If the roll is the point, this does not work. :-)

/cevah

Sovereign Court

rando1000 wrote:

In my opinion, encumbrance is analogous to speeding tickets. Keep it less than 10 over, everyone's happy. Start putting lives in danger, you get stopped.

The character picks up a new bag of coins? No problem. The character straps four suits of plate armor to his back to carry back home and sell? He gets pulled over.

Agreed. Same thing with a characters picking up every single weapon he finds. Eventually, logically, he'll run out of places to put everything. if they insist on carrying everything they find (I once had a character put a giant bag of dragon crap in his backpack *for %hits and giggles*).

Luckily, we use a software program that keeps track of items carried and their weight. It's always funny when they argue with me the software is wrong and then I point out to them their list of crap they are carrying.


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Cato Taldinius wrote:
(I once had a character put a giant bag of dragon crap in his backpack *for %hits and giggles*).

Literally.


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"The Perception Disease". I've always called it "Completionist Syndrome". It's a very video-game-centric view of how the game is played. It's the idea that, "if we miss the good thing in this room, we'll never get it."

The best solution to this is to patiently explain to your players that the wealth, the clues, the hidden doors, the allies, the enemies, etc., etc., are all controlled by the DM. There are as few, or as many as are appropriate to the situation. So, finding the really cool battleaxe in room 3 is great, but means that room 4 only has a mundane piece of treasure. If they miss the cool stuff in room 3, there might be something cool in room 4 to compensate... and finding room 4 magic loot, might mean that even if they go back and scour room 3, they'll still find nothing because you substituted on the fly.

The same goes for clues, for helpful NPC's, for the gravestone with the poem that solves the riddle, for whatever... Your job is to guide them through the story, and you will not leave them naked, floundering in the dark...


For perception, I have the players make 50 rolls before the game and put them in a spreadsheet. I then randomize the results and pre-plan the adventure based on the results.

So rather than everyone having to say "I PERCEIVE" for the 90th time, I just tell each individual what they see as things happen. At that point they are free to examine other items in further detail based on what they actually look at. I can give them another roll then if I think it is appropriate.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I find the "Completionist Syndrome", in my group, comes from DMs running APs, and adventures, to a strict "by the book" method, that truly depends on finding that needed item, or clue, in the right spot, with the right Perception check, or the group loses out.

I have a newer DM, that nearly panics to the point of a stroke, when the party does anything, different, or out of order, as layed out exactly in the published adventure.

It is almost required, to take this obnoxious approach, or be heavily behind in WBL.


I generally hand wave encumbrance for my group, though I'm going to have them do a 'weight check' this week since one of the players now has somewhere in the realm of 9 melee weapons on his person (including 1 great-axe & 4 swords) so now I'm going to call it tight for a bit.

I expect they'll adjust the load across the party and we'll be good with for several more months.

As for the perception-perception-perception checks from everybody; just say "Everyone roll 1 check each for the whole graveyard" and call it done, with no re-rolls unless there is actually some truly important maguffin that none of them can find the first time through.


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Gerrinson wrote:

As for the perception-perception-perception checks from everybody; just say "Everyone roll 1 check each for the whole graveyard" and call it done, with no re-rolls unless there is actually some truly important maguffin that none of them can find the first time through.

If it's a truly important McGuffin you need for the plot to continue, best not leave it up to chance.

This is actually my problem with perception ... when people make the plot advancement essentially rest on one roll, or require rolls when they aren't necessary. For example ... a scroll in a desk drawer is not concealed and doesn't need a PER check. A scroll in the hidden compartment in the back of a drawer would.


I'm not that concerned with tracking who carries each piece of random loot the party finds, but I like being sure that a PC is able to carry the actual gear he or she uses in combat. I'm not a big fan of auto calculating character sheets, but it is trivial to create a spreadsheet for tracking your equipment's weight and value. Once you calculate your encumbrance during character creation you'll have a number for how much you're carrying and should be able to easily add to or subtract from that number as appropriate. You can print out the spreadsheet as your equipment list, access it via your phone, or just write down your encumbrance number. It isn't difficult.

Five minutes or less of record keeping between gaming sessions can keep this information very accurate. Even just calculating it once during character creation will give you a clue though. One of my current PCs ended up taking more Str in point buy specifically so he'd be able to carry more gear at 1st level, and it has affected both his combat and roleplaying aspects dramatically since the increased Strength helped him to become a very effective melee combatant and the decreased Wisdom has made him rather comical and prone to saying ill considered things which sometimes complicate his efforts at Diplomacy. He was also kind of oblivious at 1st level though his Perception eventually got very good.

Regarding excessive Perception rolls, it might help to tell the players that you'll inform them of when they should make a Perception check except to find secret doors. If you go this route you probably shouldn't allow retries though since otherwise when you call for a check and folks roll low they'll likely roll again until they find something. Of course just Secret Door Disease itself can waste quite a lot of time.


Encumbrance can be a pain to keep track of, but it is a part of the rule set. I actually have a wizard right now who has a whole battle strategy based around flying archery and debuffs like slow and ray of enfeeblement. Dropping a flying melee types strength can usually cause them to become encumbered if they are wearing armor. And once they can't catch you archery wins.


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I don't think temporary Str penalties affect encumbrance. I'll also note that the Str penalties from multiple Rays of Enfeeblement don't stack. Only the highest penalty applies.


Do you have a reference for the temporary thing? I've never heard that. The whole beauty of Ray of Enfeeblement is that even if they make the save they still take half the penalty. It is a first level spell, it is only gonna work in specific cases, but as part of a whole strategy of buffing the party and debuffing the opponents I find it helpful. It works a lot better if you target either weak humanoids like spellcasters or flying mounts.


Atarlost wrote:
Properly worn armor is vastly less encumbering than the same weight in a backpack. Effective encumbrance for properly worn (ie. not hastily donned) armor should be cut by at least 50%. That makes encumbrance rules a lot more playable.

Might make the rule more playable, but as for real life, not the case (at least for me).

-Personal experience


PRD wrote:

Some spells and abilities cause you to take an ability penalty for a limited amount of time. While in effect, these penalties function just like ability damage, but they cannot cause you to fall unconscious or die. In essence, penalties cannot decrease your ability score to less than 1.

Strength: Damage to your Strength score causes you to take penalties on Strength-based skill checks, melee attack rolls, and weapon damage rolls (if they rely on Strength). The penalty also applies to your Combat Maneuver Bonus (if you are Small or larger) and your Combat Maneuver Defense.

An ability penalty is like ability damage, and Strength damage isn't noted to reduce your carrying capacity. Needing to recalculate capacity on the fly would probably be a nuisance. Obviously a lot of folks don't even like calculating it once.

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