Saturday, 11 January 2014

Experimental Encumbrance System

This is intended to go at the top of your character sheet for veins. Its at the top to make sure you are looking at your encumbrance and the stuff you have all of the time. Stuff and weight is vitally important in caving so this is intended to make it central to the play experience.

Big picture version is here.

Well this image is a bit too small, but this is how it is intended to work.

Write in your stats on the left.

Depending on your bonus or minus for that particular stat, either fill in extra boxes on that row, or cross boxes out. The end result should have your bonus showing. So if I have CON 18, I fill in three extra boxes on the first row. If I have STR 8, I cross out one box to leave only the -2 and -3 box showing.

When you pick up items, start in the top left box, go along that row until it is full, then go to the next row down and do the same thing.

(Or just write them in wherever you like?)

The column on the far right is for climbing saves. These are extra things any character can do.

Depending on what kind of problem you are in you can make a roll of some kind to escape, solve, resist or get extra possibilities. So if you are doing something that requires stamina (holding onto a rope beneath a waterfall for a long time, travelling a long way) and it goes wrong, you can say, "I roll my stamina save" and then you get a second chance.

When your row is full, you do not get the save.

That's basically it.

(CHA is still rubbish I'm afraid. Sorry Charisma.)

'Real' caving is utterly obsessed with encumbrance. It is vital to have the right stuff on you and also to have as little stuff as possible. This chart is to encourage encumbrance-obsession in the players without it driving them too mental. 

The only ones not obvious are trickiness, problem-solving and 'read the rock'

Trickiness is for 'pure' climbing problems, overhangs, broken rock e.t.c.

Problem Solving is for complex rope work, Single Rope Technique, Knots etc (more on this later hopefully)

Read The Rock is to find hidden holds, alternate routes etc.

Obviously the specifically-climby ones are the most tricky to use and need backup information in the rest of the book. I may end up changing them.


  1. I like this very much, and putting it at the top of the sheet is a smart idea. What sort of mechanical incentives (if any) do you plan on for having the "right stuff" on you? Or will that be mostly handled by fiction/circumstances?

    1. Thanks Jeff

      I was hoping the use of rope, etc would be organic to circumstances. Though I will have to produce lots of equipment with specific climbing-based effeects.

  2. Reposting this here since I just slathered it in my G+ feed earlier which isn't really where it needed to go.

    I disagree on the point of CHA and may try to write more persuasively on it later, but in the meantime:

    Have you thought about trying the charisma saves as a save that can only be applied to another and not the self?

    The cleric is hanging on that rope beneath the waterfall totally exhausted with no saves left. So the thief burns one of his cha saves and gets inside the cleric's head. Maybe he taunts him and mocks his god (-2 save, but its a save and its all he has left to give) or maybe he hits that perfect chord of personal encouragement (+3 save).

    Like in that Blind Descent book, I'm pretty sure the other members of the team attributed the leader with pushing them to do things they didn't think they could do (even though they thought he was an asshole). To me that's what charisma is all about.