Does Muleback Cords' effect apply to something/one slung over my shoulder?

So I bought the Muleback Cords in order to carry more stuff. In its description it says (emphasis mine):

When worn, they make the wearer’s muscles appear larger than normal. The wearer treats his Strength score as 8 higher than normal when determining his carrying capacity. This bonus does not apply to combat, breaking items, or any other Strength-related rolls, it only contributes to the amount of equipment or material the wearer can carry.

But when I grabbed a guy, tossed him over my shoulder and jumped between two buildings, the GM thought that's not how it's meant to work.

I of course disagree since I am carrying the person.

So I need help with clarification of the definition "... The wearer can carry". When am I carrying things? And does it have to be in a backpack or otherwise mounted to my body?

• One thing is unclear to me here: Did your GM disagree because you were carrying him over your shoulder, and that doesn't count as 'carrying' to your GM, or did your GM disagree because a person doesn't count as "equipment or material"? May 26 '15 at 22:47
• Was the guy you tossed over your shoulder unconscious or willing? Or was he struggling? If the latter, you can't just pick him up and move him, you need to make grapple checks.
– Erik
May 27 '15 at 5:36
• My GM thinks it means that I have to strap things to my cords. He might also argue that a person is not equipment or material. I just need to convince him that I don't have to have stuff in my backpack or strapped on me :) May 27 '15 at 6:15

You can't fight the GM...

The GM is absolutely right when he says that in his campaigns the muleback cords' improvement to a creature's carrying capacity does not apply to carrying other creatures. I mean, really, the description of the muleback cords says

This bonus [to Str from the cords] does not apply to combat, breaking items, or any other Strength-related rolls, [sic] it only contributes to the amount of equipment or material the wearer can carry.

"See how there's no entry for unconscious creature in Equipment?" the GM may say. "You want to transport a creature without a cart? You bull rush, drag, grapple, or reposition that creature; you don't carry that creature."

...But the GM has staked out an unusual position

Except in the case of the cords, actual, Strength-based Carrying Capacity rarely seems to differentiate between what is carried or where.1 Further, for comparison, mounts like the griffon or the mammoth avoid distinctions between creatures, objects, or their loads' locations with their carrying capacities, treating everything as just weight.2 Although some GMs have had difficulty with the muleback cords, that's usually due to an already-high-Strength-score PC hauling around an absurd amount stuff (a bag of holding is cited as a more reasonable solution), not with the PC toting creatures.

The writer earned at most $0.70 for it only contributes to the amount of equipment or material the wearer can carry instead of$0.45 for it only applies when determining the wearer's carrying capacity. Players shouldn't be punished because writers are paid by the word.3

(That unconscious creatures can only be moved with combat maneuvers shouldn't be a thing. There are many situations the game can't or doesn't bother to cover because a human's at the controls.)

This doesn't sound like the real issue

It sounds like you surprised the GM. Some GMs react negatively to surprises, trying desperately to make plots continue despite the interference of pesky PCs. It sounds like the GM tried to stop you with a rules call to further the plot instead of accommodating you and faking the plot. That's okay. That's not, like, the Mark of a Bad GM or something. Plots are hard and GMing is hard; a bad rules call, while not the best way to keep the plot on course, is certainly a way to keep the plot on course.

Talk to the GM before next session. Explain that you're totally comfortable with events as they occurred. Then explain that you weren't trying to cheat when you wanted to carry the unconscious creature but that you bought the cords expecting to have an increased carrying capacity for everything. Then mention gently that, while it's his campaign, other GMs haven't ruled that the cords work the way he ruled, and urge him to reconsider. Finally, if creatures still don't count, ask if you could you get, instead, a heavyload belt.

As a last resort, you can, at the table, lawyer up and explain to the DM, as your character attempts to heft an NPC over his shoulder, that the NPC is food or future material components for the spell animate dead. That's equipment or material, right? Then drop the NPC and say you changed your mind. I recommend against this unless you're planning to leave the game shortly thereafter.

1 That I can't find an instance elsewhere where carrying capacity is differentiated doesn't mean there's not an instance somewhere.
2 Barding is a weird exception.
3 Alternatively, the former phrase might've fit better on the page than the latter. Players also shouldn't be punished for the decisions of the layout department.

• Thanks for the detailed answer. I'll have a chat and see if I can convince him :) May 27 '15 at 13:06
• @Steven You're welcome. Honestly, I think your GM just made a bad call when stressed out as GMs are wont to do. I do encourage you to unaccept my answer and wait at least another 10 hours (i.e. 1 day) before accepting mine or someone else's. Like seeding a tip jar, sometimes just one answer brings in others, and an early accept can discourage those other answers. May 27 '15 at 13:11
• I think he has OK'ed it. I sent him a msg on fb with some of your arguments along with links to other threads on the subject + quotes from the rules. So I think I've / we have convinced him :-D May 28 '15 at 9:12