Encumbrance & Movement


How a character’s movement is affected by the stuff he carries is a constant problem for roleplaying games. These encumbrance and movement house rules are adapted from Delta’s D&D Hotspot and the Basic Fantasy RPG. In short, Mutants & Magic uses coarser units which makes the numbers easier to count mentally, and movement rates are integrated with the Revised Armour Rules.

Encumbrance is measured using the old English unit of the ‘stone’ (abbreviated ‘st’ and equal to 6.35 kilograms or 14 pounds). A grown man, for example, weighs about 12 stone.

For a character of average strength, up to 5 stone of gear is considered a light load, and up to 10 stone is considered a heavy load. These values are adjusted by your STR modifier in the case of unusually weak or strong characters. For example, a PC with STR 16 (+2 modifier) could carry up to 7 stone as a light load and 12 stone as a heavy load.

Equipment weights and container storage amounts are listed in the Revised Equipment Tables. In general, large weapons each weigh 1 stone, medium weapons weigh ½ stone, and small weapons weigh little individually. Most light armour weighs between ½ and 1 stone, medium armours usually weigh between 1 and 2 stone, and heavy armours weigh up to 3 stone. Tiny items are counted only if a character carries a large number of them; miscellaneous equipment typically adds up to 1 stone (total). Every 14 pounds of treasure adds 1 stone (a backpack or large sack can carry 2 stone).


The movement rate of a character or creature is expressed as the number of feet it can move per combat round. A normal player character can move 40′ per round. When exploring, time is expressed in turns; normal movement per turn is 3 times the movement rate per round.

This may seem slow, but this rate of movement includes such things as drawing maps, watching out for traps and monsters (though they may still surprise the party), etc. In a combat situation, on the other hand (or while fleeing), everyone is moving around swiftly, and such things as drawing maps are not important.

A character’s movement rate is adjusted by armour and encumbrance (the load carried), as given on the table below. Armour types are divided into three categories, as given on the Revised Armour Rules page.

Movement Rates

Armour Type Light Load Heavy Load
Light or No Armour 40′ 30′
Medium Armour 35′ 25′
Heavy Armour 30′ 20′

Exploration movement per turn is 3× base movement rate.
Maximum running speed per round is 3× base movement rate, or
2× wearing if wearing heavy armour or carrying a heavy load.

As noted, a character’s maximum running speed is 3 times his base movement rate if the character is lightly encumbered and wearing medium armour or less. If the character has a heavy load or is wearing heavy armour, his running speed is reduced to 2 times his base movement rate.

A character carrying a tower shield is considered to be wearing ‘heavy armour’ in terms of encumbrance & movement.

Extremely Heavy Loads

A character can lift as much as his maximum heavy load over his head.

A character can lift as much as double his maximum heavy load off the ground, but he can only stagger around with it. While overloaded in this way, the character loses any DEX bonus to AC and can move only 5 feet per round.

A character can generally push or drag along the ground as much as five times his maximum heavy load. Favorable conditions can double these numbers, and bad circumstances can reduce them to one-half or less.

2 Responses to Encumbrance & Movement

  1. K-Slacker says:

    A lot of players have a hard time believing the movement rate per turn in old-school games. Travelling between 60’ to 120’ in ten minutes certainly doesn’t seem realistic, at least at first glance.

    The way that I interpret turn movement is that it includes a thorough exploration of every area within the indicated range and allows automatic checks for traps, secret doors, ambushing foes, etc. For example, if a party with a turn movement of 90’ is scouting a ruined building, in ten minutes they can do a complete search of all areas within this range – which may include four or five separate rooms.

    It is possible for a group to explore at their regular movement rate per round, but they do not receive any chance to find hidden or concealed items and are automatically surprised by any foes that may be lying in wait.

    One house rule that I employ: I don’t consider standard exploration to be ‘strenuous work’, so characters don’t need to rest after 5 turns of movement.

  2. K-Slacker says:

    You know, in all honesty instead of performing an encumbrance audit I usually just look at the armour worn and eyeball the equipment list and assign a ‘reasonable’ movement rate based on the table above.

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