My group finds it boring to compute encumbrance. Having to manage dozen of meaning-less items and having to sum up their individual weights is really awkward. We decided to drastically reduce the number of items we have to carry, so that characters can have at maximum a number of significative items that allow them to walk at full speed (we don't compute speed at all). Additional items have to be stored somewhere (ship/caravan/chest). So we've instituted the following house rules:
Worn items do not count toward encumbrance. A creature maximum carry capacity is as follows:
- High Base Attack Bonus: 3 heavy items + 5 medium items + 16 light items (minimum 1 heavy, medium, and light item).
- Medium Base Attack Bonus: 1 heavy items + 2 medium items + 11 light items (minimum 1 heavy, medium, and light item).
- Low Base Attack Bonus: 1 medium items + 8 light items (minimum 1 in medium and light item categories).
Current house rules forbid multiclassing.
Strength modifies these numbers as follows:
- (Str modifier) ×1/2 more or fewer heavy items.
- (Str modifier) more or fewer medium items.
- (Str modifier) ×2 more or fewer light items.
- most exotic weapons
- leather armor
- regular weapons
- armor other than leather
- two handed weapons
- tower shield
- Each character is allowed to bring with him only worn gear/weapons and 3 items
- The maximum carry capacity can be reached only by wearing "containers"
- So by wearing a backpack a character is able to put inside it 2/4/8 extra items (beyond to the 3 items limit, but up to the maximum carry capacity)
- Very small containers (like gem pouches) can contain a limited amount of many small items (like coins, gems/rings) so they can be used to fill a small slot with many small items.
- Books are small items, and scrolls can just be fitted between pages of the book.
Really heavy items
- Really heavy items can only be pulled by lifting after a Str check and will emit loud sounds (gold giant sword, statue, chest)
- Lifting a heavy items cause opportunity attacks
Other items are the DM's call. An item can occupy a heavier slot but not a lighter slot.
Will this alternative encumbrance rule unbalance the game? That is, is there a way that it can be exploited so that characters are significantly overpowered and capable of overcoming challenges significantly above their levels? Likewise, will these rules prevent PCs from doing things they could normally do to such a degree that my group would be better served tallying encumbrance the old-fashioned way?
The above list was already edited a bit keeping into account answers and comments and test play sessions.