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The Cave Fisher from Volo's Guide to Monsters (pg. 130) has an action called Filament, which says, in part (emphasis mine):

One creature grappled by the cave fisher’s adhesive filament must make a DC 13 Strength saving throw, provided that the target weighs 200 pounds or less. On a failure, the target is pulled into an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the cave fisher, and the cave fisher makes a claw attack against it as a bonus action.

I imagine it's pretty uncommon for a Medium-sized PC's body weight and carried equipment combined to weigh less than 200 lbs. Does the Cave Fisher's weight limit on the Filament action include the weight of carried equipment?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If playing with variant encumbrance rules, many (most?) characters will drop their backpacks before combat. A 150lb warrior with chain armor, sword and board, will be below 200lb. If you don't play encumbrance, then yeah people will fight with everything they own strapped to their back. \$\endgroup\$ – user-63873687 Jun 3 at 3:22
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Yes, the ability refers to the target's total weight

The target's weight would be the total amount that the target weighs, which includes the equipment being carried in addition to its natural body weight, the same as it would for setting off a trap's pressure trigger.

There's no reason to believe that the target's natural body weight (minus their equipment) is what that ability is referring to, since the ability's wording doesn't go into that sort of detail, it just mentions the target's weight.

It also wouldn't make any sense for the ability to allow the Cave Fisher to pull a small, light but very strong halfling carrying loads of stuff such that its total weight is above 200 pounds, but not be able to pull over a large, heavy dragonborn. Either the target is too heavy, or it's not, so yes, we must assume that the weight being referred to includes the equipment that the target is carrying.

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Yes, it's total weight

The cave fisher is trying to grapple an entire creature and draw them towards it. Because the complete creature is being moved, it only makes sense that their total weight is necessary for the calculation.

If you feel that the weight is unrealistic for your party, you can always tweak the monster so that you still get what you're looking for as a DM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If you're house ruling 'encumbrance' (as many do) then you probably also need to house rule the weight limits. Seems reasonable to me that if players can 'carry' a functionally infinite (or at least 'handwaved as irrelevant') amount, then so too can a monster. \$\endgroup\$ – Sobrique Jun 3 at 16:15
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The attack considers the total weight

The attack description does not declare this specifically, but there is one instance in the rules where a similar question was specifically answered. The rules for mounts dragging vehicles (under Mounts and Vehicles in the PHB/basic rules) state:

An animal pulling a carriage, cart, chariot, sled, or wagon can move weight up to five times its base carrying capacity, including the weight of the vehicle.

This is in agreement with real-world physics where the total weight is relevant (cart with load or target with equipment) to pull or drag something. Therefore, it seems that the experience from real life should be applied to such cases even if it is not specified in every instance.

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