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I'm currently DMing with the Encumbrance variant, and both my players and I love to add some depth or realistic sense to almost every aspect in the game (that we are able perceive). But, as a matter of fact, we don't like to homebrew rules indiscriminately, so we try to play the rules as RAW as possible in the vast majority of cases.

So, here's our case: Our Human fighter (17 STR) wants to carry the unconscious body of our Half-Orc Warlock (242 lb). Starting from this, his max carrying capacity is 255 lb. (15 times his STR), therefore, he shouldn't have a problem carrying the body, so, he should have a penalty of -20 speed and disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls, and saves that use STR, DEX or CON, but at least he should be able to carry the half-orc body.

We are fine at this point, but, does it count the weight of the carrying gear of both creatures in the total lifting weight?

For example, the Fighter is actually carrying 56 lb. of gear, and the half-orc warlock is carrying 10 lb. as well. Even adding the additional weight of the warlock gear, the fighter should be able to carry him (252 lb.) without getting the exceeding carrying capacity penalty, as the PHB on p.176 says; but if I need to add the fighter carrying gear weight as well, he should get the 5 speed drop penalty.

Push, Drag, or Lift.

You can push, drag or lift a weight in pounds up to twice your carrying capacity (or 30 times your Strength score). While pushing or dragging weight in excess of your carrying capacity, your speed drops to 5 feet.

So, how should I resolve this situation? And what is the real penalty that our fighter should suffer?

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If the fighter carries the warlock

He is carrying:

  • 56 lb of his own gear
  • 242 lb of half-orc
  • 10 lb of warlock gear

Total: 308 lb versus a carrying capacity of 255 lb so he's going nowhere.

If the fighter pushes, drags or lifts the warlock

He is still carrying 56 lb of his own gear which is less than the 85 lb for being encumbered so he isn't.

He can easily push, drag or lift the warlock because 245 lb is less than 255 lb. If he pushes or drags him, his speed is unaffected because what he is pushing or dragging is less than his carrying capacity. If he lifts him, he can't move because he is now exceeding his maximum carrying capacity.

TL;DR

Whatever you are carrying goes to your encumbrance - this affects your speed. If you are carrying stuff and also someone who is carrying more stuff then you are carrying all of that.

In addition, you can push or drag up to your carrying capacity without changing your (encumbered) speed, however, if you push or drag more than this (up to twice as much) your speed drops to 5 feet.

At the absolute maximum, you can carry 15 times your strength score and push/drag twice that much again.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For clarify are you suggesting that carried weight does not count at all against the total that you can drag? So someone carrying their full capacity could drag just as much as someone carrying nothing? \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri May 14 '18 at 10:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri Yes, however, remember the drag/lift rules are standard - encumbrance is a variant \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M May 14 '18 at 11:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri Trying to get too simulationist causes a variety of odd things to crop up in D&D rules, and not just in this edition. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 14 '18 at 12:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's very unclear what the difference between lifting and carrying is. Do the rules clarify that at all? \$\endgroup\$ – Vigil Feb 11 at 17:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Vigil what a good question - I suggest you ask it. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Feb 11 at 22:40
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The fighter has 17 str. That's a carrying capacity of 255 lbs, and a push/pull/lift capacity of 510 lbs, as laid out in the PHB.

The fighter is carrying 56 lbs of his own gear. The half orc weighs 252 lbs (242 + 10 pounds of warlock gear). He can't carry the warlock because the grand total would be 308 lbs which is in gross excess of his 252 carry limit.

While pushing or dragging weight in excess of your carrying capacity, your speed drops to 5 feet.

Anything you drag, push or lift doesn't include the weight of what's on your character (clothing, armor or backpack and so on) because you're not lifting those things; you're already carrying them. At least that's my interpretation.

With my interpretation, you could drag or push the warlock with no speed penalty because the weight of your backpack and/or armor is not factored in for lifting, pushing or dragging. If I push a 40 lbs cabinet, it doesn't magically become a 96 lbs cabinet on the basis that my backpack weighs 96 lbs. It's still a 40 lbs cabinet.

I could further this example with regards to lifting by using heavy sabatons as an example. They might weigh enough to be the deciding factor if picking up the warlock exceeds my carry limit or not, but for the purposes of merely lifting the warlock, they have no impact, as lifting is an upper body/arm exercise.

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