I play a wizard in 3.5, but I was unfortunate in my dice rolls and got rather low strength starting out. Is there some way I could bulk up my wizard without sinking a fortune into magic gear? Does the game let you lift weights to increase strength? What is the most proper meal plan that I should carry out in game in order to help get massive gains?

Just to clarify I have 6 strength. I need to get it to 10 so I can carry around some stuff. But, I don't want to dump all my gold and an equipment space just to do it. Is there an easy way to do this like strength training like in most RPGs like Runescape?

Edit: Is it possible to convert EXP into strength? Like a level up, but just for one stat?


4 Answers 4


Yes and no

This is what the ability gains every four levels represent: actions your character is taking to improve an ability score. Most players don’t spend a lot of time discussing why they get those gains (since it’s “obvious” why the barbarian gains more Strength or the cleric gains more Wisdom), but the function of this mechanic is precisely to model the kinds of training that you are discussing.

In general, the game leaves the description of downtime training, maintenance, and so on very vaguely defined; that is supposed to be up to the players to describe. But leveling up isn’t magic. It’s an abstraction for exactly that kind of training and practice. You are assumed to be constantly studying, or lifting, or practicing skills, or maintaining gear, and so on, during any downtime you have. It’s all abstracted away, and then at some point it “all comes together” for you, you have that eureka moment, and you level up.

(No, this system does not bear close scrutiny.)

This is an extremely slow way to gain any ability score, however, and the game’s math has it “already accounted for,” so using it to increase Strength as a wizard is, from the game’s perspective, basically the same as losing Intelligence – since the game assumes that’s where you’ll be putting it (and monster designers take the resulting save DC increase into consideration when deciding monsters’ saving throw bonuses). But you still can.

Ultimately, wizards have exceedingly little use for Strength. A handy haversack and portable hole are great items anyway, so carrying gear isn’t all that important, touch attacks are trivial in most cases anyway (and you usually prefer ranged ones, which use Dexterity). The only real problem is the risk of being rendered unable to move by Strength drain or damage.

  • \$\begingroup\$ But what if I want to wear better armor? A wizard isn't good at taking blows, and I want to make sure that I can be hit more than once without going down for the count. \$\endgroup\$
    – twiggy
    Mar 10, 2015 at 15:00
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @twiggy In addition to controlling the universe, that's what spells are for. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 10, 2015 at 15:12
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ I have never used Mage Armor before because I thought it was like shield and only lasted a few minutes, but I googled and got d20srd.org/srd/spells/mageArmor.htm and that says HOURS per level. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – twiggy
    Mar 10, 2015 at 15:14

It is possible to convert gold to carrying capacity: hire someone to carry all your stuff (a henchman).

Gaming miniatures of henchman and pack beast

  • \$\begingroup\$ @mithrandir, you've just copied an image from stonecoldlead.webs.com to stack.imagur.com. Do you have permission of the copyright owner to do that? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 7, 2017 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm pretty sure that this falls under fair use, but it would probably be a good idea to add attribution. As for why, your image was going to be broken, so I edited it to make sure that it won't. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mithical
    Mar 7, 2017 at 21:51

I played a low-Strength wizard for levels 1 to 20 in a penny-pinching campaign. During downtime at early levels, my character would fashion masterwork crossbow bolts then have the fighter carry them because one more crossbow bolt would've put my character at a medium load.

In other words, I feel your pain.

Reasonable methods to deal with a low carrying capacity

Yes, one should acquire a magical method of hauling around all of one's stuff as quickly as possible, but retrieving items from extradimensional spaces during combat can be dangerous. Sometimes it's just better to have all of that stuff readily available. Thus the winner here is this:

  • The armor special ability easy travel (Magic Item Compendium 10) (1,500 gp; 0 lbs.) grants the armor's wearer the ability to treat a medium load as a light load. Note: In addition to being a wonderful and cheap armor special ability for a low-Strength character, it's awesome for a flying mount's barding.

If wearing armor already, this is a steal. If not wearing armor, many ways exist to reduce armor's arcane spell failure chance to 0%. Additional methods of dealing with a low carrying capacity include the following.

  • The waist slot item belt of the wide earth (Magic Item Compendium 204) (8,000 gp; 0 lb.), in addition to other effects, doubles the wearer's carrying capacity.
  • The superior item framed pack (Arms and Equipment Guide 35, 36) (50 gp; 2 lbs.) decreases the effective weight of items with by 10%, but retrieving an item from a framed pack is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity. Note: Dropping an item is a free action, therefore, although it sucks to have to, most times dropping the pack, killing monsters, then recovering the pack is totally legit.
  • The illithid graft hauling back (FF 212) (2,000 gp; 0 lbs.), among other effects (including a −4 penalty on Willpower saving throws against mind-affecting and psionic effects—yes, apparently, all of them), changes a biped's carrying capacity to that of a quadruped's.
  • The 1st-level Sor/Wiz spell hoard gullet [trans] (Dragon Magic 68) for 1 hour/level grants the caster 1 extradimensional space capable of holding up to 100 lbs./level (maximum 1,000 lbs.) of items the caster can usually swallow. Multiple gullets are impossible, as is retrieving individual items from one's gullet—either everything stays in the gullet or nothing does. Note: Especially useful for transporting large amounts of coins before item-based extradimensional spaces are available (50 coins weigh 1 lb.).
  • The 2nd-level Clr spell lighten load [trans] (Dragon #317 78) for 1 hour/level grants 1 touched creature a bonus to its Strength score for computing carrying capacity only of +1/level (maximum +10). A wand of extended lighten load (2nd-level spell modified to a 3rd-level spell at caster level 10) costs 22,500 gp (450 gp/charge) and each charge lasts 20 hours. Note: A bad spell and a worse item that's included only for completeness.1
  • The feat Natural Heavyweight (Planar Handbook 40), in addition to some minor bonuses and penalties, doubles the creature's carrying capacity. Further, a Con 13+ creature can take the feat Improved Encumbrance (Dragon #292 114), which has no penalties but for computing carrying capacity only increases one's Strength score by 4. Note: Obscurely, a drow can take the feat Increased Carrying Capacity (Dragon #327 71) but shouldn't because it's dumb.
  • The held item talisman of the disk (Magic Item Compendium 188) (500 gp; 1 lb.) for 3 hours creates a Tenser's floating disk effect capable of carrying 300 lbs. Using the talisman to make multiple disk effects is allowed, but the disk remains a disk, so, sadly, no riding it. The disk effect's carrying capacity increases if the user's also benefiting from a magic item that increases his Strength score. Note: Compare this item to the (presumably) neck slot item collar of perpetual attendance (2,000 gp; 0.25 lbs.); however, the DM must determine if the collar's unseen servant effects can carry loads.
  • The slotless item teeth of Dahlver-Nar (Savok) (Tome of Magic 77-8) (2,000 gp; 0 lbs.) grants the creature the ability to move at his normal speed in up to heavy armor with up to a heavy load. However, as written, the creature still suffers the Maximum Dexterity and Check Penalty from a medium or heavy load, but it's useful nonetheless if movement is the only concern.

Unreasonable, ill-advised methods to deal with a low carrying capacity

  • The drug devilweed (Book of Vile Darkness 42, 43) (6 gp; 0 lbs.) causes the smoker, as a side effect, to be shaken while under its influence and make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 15). Failure means the smoker is dealt 1 point of Wisdom ability damage. One min. later the smoker makes a second Fortitude saving throw (DC 15). Failure means for 1d3 hours the smoker gains a +2 alchemical bonus to his Strength score. Willingly taking devilweed means automatically failing both saving throws. The drug's low addiction rating and low bar for creation (a Craft (alchemy) skill check (DC 20)) make it ideal for beginning wizards. In moderation it won't even cause inadvertent nightmare-plagued sleep.2
  • The disease festering anger (Book of Vile Darkness 30) is difficult to catch, requiring the character to be angry all the time for, like, a year, and, even then, it's at the DM's discretion whether the character catches the disease.3 But once it's taken hold, O, boy, a creature is dealt 1d3 Constitution ability damage each day but gains a cumulative +2 enhancement bonus to his Strength score each day. Given the many ways to mitigate or negate ability damage, this is a valid, if game-breaking and DM-dependent, method of increasing Strength. From the same book is the disease warp touch (BV 30, 31-2) which, with a lucky roll, can grant a straight +2 deformity bonus to one's Strength score. An unlucky roll, however, turns the infected creature into formless jelly, killing him. Approach infected creatures with caution unless it's absolutely you're lucky day.

1 Made insulting by being A) a 2nd-level spell, and B) not a Sor/Wiz spell.
2 Yes, wizards can smoke fantasy pot to feel like fighters.
3 I strongly recommend the DM say, discretely, No.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What about Manual of Gainful Exercise? A Str of 6 is exceptionally low, and even if this is not within reach early in the campaign it's something he may want to deal with eventually to get a more balanced character. \$\endgroup\$
    – Random832
    Mar 11, 2015 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Random832 A low Strength score really only hurts early on when resources are scarce. By the time the character can afford to blow the 27,500 gp on even a manual of gainful exercise +1, he's better off spending 20,000 gp on a portable hole and some other items on the list. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2015 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ "If not wearing armor, ...", the enchantments could be placed on bracers. Anyway, this, combined with Walker's, is the complete answer. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 12, 2015 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ The tooth Dahlver-Nar used to gain a dwarf-like immunity to being slowed by armor was the one associated with Savnok, the Instigator. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 17, 2015 at 18:39

The ways to develop ability scores in game are via magic, from the items you mentioned and from spells such as Wish, and via developing them as you progress, the same as you do your other capabilities, which is represented by the +1 flexible ability score boost every four levels. Weight-lifting or special strength-building diets are simple fluff, the mechanical effects of which would be covered by that one-per-four-levels boost. Beyond that, D&D simply is not designed for the sort of organic character growth you seem to be expecting, and the rare cases where it is allowed are typically via opportunities priced as though they were loot, so using them would run into the same gold costs you seek to avoid with magical items. Granting such boosts via means that cost neither gold nor xp-progression-granted resources would break one of the most basic assumptions the game's balance (such as it is) is built on.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The low strength is causing a lot of problems because of how little gear I can actually tote around with me. But, if you're saying I could get it from Wish, I could see if I could get that spell from some source or maybe even in something like a Ring of Wishing. \$\endgroup\$
    – twiggy
    Mar 10, 2015 at 15:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Wish is for inherent bonuses. At high levels, that's the way to get a bit more of an ability score after all the cheaper bonus types are already gotten. If you're just doing it for carrying capacity, then by that point you can afford to just load up on several Portable Holes, and have all they hauling you could ever want, much more cheaply than the Strength, and without taking up an equipment slot (Portable Hole is slotless). \$\endgroup\$ Mar 10, 2015 at 15:31

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