Encumbrance and Coins per Pound

This goes out to Lord Kilgore, upon whose blog I decided not to reply because my reply would have been way too long. His post was How Many GP per Pound?

I’ve used 10 GP = 1 lb (1E/2E)
25 GP = 1 lb (3E)
72 GP = 1 lb (1,000 GP = 1 stone (14 lb)) (game XYZ I wrote)

(We’re currently playing 1E)

It does make a huge difference. For example, if I want to buy a silver dagger that weighs 2 lb, the minimum materials cost is going to be 1 GP in 1E, 2 GP in 2E, 2.5 GP in 3E, and 7.2 GP in my game. And the workmanship is a big part of the item cost!

If there’s a treasure of 1,000 GP, it will encumber a normal naked person with 9 STR down to MV 3″ in 1E. The same person in 2E couldn’t walk according to Table 47, but he could walk at MV 1″ if he took only 890 GP according to Table 48. In 3E that character could carry the 1,000 GP and another 50 lb and move at 20′ (2/3, or equivalent to 8″ in 1E/2E) (from the SRD). In my game a PC can carry 5 stone, or 70 lb, before suffering movement penalties. That means the naked 9 STR dude can carry 5,000 GP before slowing down.

So you see two dimensions: how much does money weigh, and what are the encumbrance rules? In my game, money weighs a LOT less, and the encumbrance rules are more indulgent otherwise than 1E/2E. In 3E, PCs can carry similar amounts of weight in each encumbrance category, but move much faster even when encumbered, and the coins are lighter than in 1E/2E.

But what about the other equipment? If your game has less or more focus on equipment like rope and other climbing gear, cold weather gear, food and water, ammunition, etc. then that will affect how much treasure an actual PC can carry around. That is, a PC who has enough gear to survive the expedition in the first place!

I think the trend toward more indulgent encumbrance schemes results in less need for magical storage like bags of holding, fewer trips back to town to sell loot, and far less reliance on pack animals and porters. In Game XYZ PCs do see the need for extra equipment, and certainly armor weighs something, and treasure isn’t always in the easy form of precious metals and gems. Despite the very light coins, they still feel the need to yank donkeys around and when someone found a Backpack of Holding (15 stone, or 210 lb) it was a pretty hot deal.

Currently in 1E, I tell them when they find treasure how much it will weigh them down and they decide if they want to carry it around. I note down the current MV of each PC. When they get back to town and dump the loot, I reset the current MV to their normal amount. This means if they find a series of small pieces I don’t care, even though in total it might drop someone down to the next 3″ category. Only when they find a big load do we change things (of if the PC changes his standard equipment loadout on his sheet, such as by changing armor).

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