Bulk?


Playing the Game


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So once again, as with Starfinder, I take a peek a bulk to see it how it works. 10lbs is roughly a bulk. People weigh, say, 150lbs. The barbarian with 18 Str can't fireman's carry that guy to safety? Just checking, since I've seen it happen in parties before


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I agree there needs to be an adjustment to this; by the rules, if I'm reading it right, a warhorse (size large) can't carry two riders (something that a Clydesdale would definitely be able to accomplish).

I don't think the encumbered bulk limit necessarily needs amending, but maybe the top limit, and establishing stagger/drag limits. (A fireman's carry would DEFINITELY encumber you severely, but still be able to move at a speed of 5 to 10.)


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Bulk is a system that seems smart and simple, but is basically dumb and complicated in practice.

It abstracts weight in such a way as to hide how strong your character actually is... thus creating massive confusion every time people need to try and translate the alien nonsense units into physical strength that is actually relatable so they can figure out if the character can do something involving strength.

Horrible 'so smart it is stupid' system that creates a mass of confusion just save people from doing some grade school addition to sum up weight numbers by replacing it with the need to do grade school addition to sum up bulk numbers and Ls that have no real meaning to the person.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I do prefer the Bulk system since players at my table are more likely to actually track it.

I do think the system could use another Strength based skill. Might (STR) for weight lifting (carrying allies for example), breaking and bursting bonds.


I'd be they don't track the Ls.

Which is exactly how people track weight. They sum up the big ticket items and tend to not look closely at the little ticket items.

Take bulk, add a zero to every number of convert every L into a 1. Tada. You are literally back to real weights... only none of the weights or carrying capacities make any sense.


TheGoofyGE3K wrote:
So once again, as with Starfinder, I take a peek a bulk to see it how it works. 10lbs is roughly a bulk. People weigh, say, 150lbs. The barbarian with 18 Str can't fireman's carry that guy to safety? Just checking, since I've seen it happen in parties before

150lbs is optimistic, there. I'm a beanpole and I weigh 170 and I'm not wearing any metal armor, neither!


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I think one of the brilliant potentials for bulk that is not yet fully developed is that it gives a number in the 1-20ish range to make usable for athletic checks.
Instead of trying to assign static number values (whether they are bulk or lbs) to the exact amount a person can carry at a time, we can do things like make carrying a person require an athletics check to see if or how much it slows them down, instead of trying to make those kinds of situations fit into an encumbrance mechanic that is every bit as awkward and gamist as bulk is.


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While I'd rather do away with bulk entirely, I have to agree that athletics as a basis for carrying capacity makes more sense than just raw strength. If you know how to pick someone up, what to hold onto, and have good overall posture, you'll be much less fatigued by carrying someone who just throws the body over their shoulder.

At the very least, they should key carrying capacity off of constitution rather than strength. It may seem a little counter intuitive, but how much you can carry and how long you can carry it is definitely a function of resilience and size not power.


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N-Sphere wrote:

Bulk is a system that seems smart and simple, but is basically dumb and complicated in practice.

It abstracts weight in such a way as to hide how strong your character actually is... thus creating massive confusion every time people need to try and translate the alien nonsense units into physical strength that is actually relatable so they can figure out if the character can do something involving strength.

Horrible 'so smart it is stupid' system that creates a mass of confusion just save people from doing some grade school addition to sum up weight numbers by replacing it with the need to do grade school addition to sum up bulk numbers and Ls that have no real meaning to the person.

Yeah this was my first reaction as well.

Realistically, they could have just rounded all of the item weights, and said that everything is either negligible weight (i.e.0 lbs), 5 lbs, 10 lbs or some greater multiple of 10 lbs to make the math easier, which is the only annoying part of the previous system.

As is , this seems like a redefinition that exists solely to be a redefinition. The term "Carrying-Capacity" as expressed in pounds or kilograms is just about as intuitive as you can get... no one will have a hard time understanding what that means or what it allows you to do.


The basic idea of using a unit of weight other than pounds or kilos isn't inherently bad, though it is going to add confusion. However the implementation is terrible. Using light bulk instead of either decimals or just a bulk 1/10 the size just makes it awkward. And because of that, nothing ways 5L, it either ways L or 1.

We were doing character creation today, and bulk is where the players were going from "a little skeptical but ready to try it" to "laughing out loud at how badly they botched it" like we were getting ready to play FATAL or something. One player in particular was amazed to find that his scimitar weighs half as much as his full suit of chain mail, and ten times as much as a short sword. It adds confusion, skews balance, and has no real advantage over the old system. Was it really that hard for anyone to understand that a short sword weighs 2, a scimitar weighs 4, and chainmail weighs 40?

Since it's a playtest, I'm sticking with the rules, but outside of the playtest I would never in a million years use the system as presented here. Either I'd bring back the rules and weights from 1E, or I'd just say that there is no encumbrance until the GM calls BS on how much you are carrying.


I have a distinct preference for Imperial units, but would rather Kilograms over Bulk. Carry capacity is far more nonsensical under this system than it was for PF1e. A few people here have already chimed in why (18 str, fireman's carry; shortsword vs scimitar...)

Time to compute lbs or kilos: ram numbers together, look up on table.
Time to compute bulk: sort by Light or not-light, ram Light together into a Number, ram those together, consult a formula aka it takes slightly longer for a more limited system.
Mabye record table/formula to sheet and skip one step from both.

The only thing I can see Bulk having for it is adjusting weight for items that don't carry well. But kilograms or lbs could just have a "bulky X" option to multiply effective weight.


I will say that after having actually used it, I don't want to scrap Bulk -- I actually like it, and unlike PF1 my characters actually have capacity to carry what they need for adventuring without either lending stuff to the 18 STR fighter, or making a Handy Haversack MY FIRST MAGIC ITEM PURCHASE.

(Literally, every character with less than 15 STR I've had for Pathfinder has prioritized a Bag of Holding or a Haversack before even magic armor, because it does more for my attack and DEX penalties than any other defensive item at low level. Between armor and supplies,I am invariably carrying 50+ lbs of gear every time.)

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