|Load||Max Dex||Check Penalty||Speed (30 ft.)||Speed (20 ft.)||Run|
|Medium||+3||–3||20 ft.||15 ft.||x4|
|Heavy||+1||–6||20 ft.||15 ft.||x3|
|Strength Score||Light Load||Medium Load||Heavy Load|
|1||3 lb. or less||4–6 lb.||7–10 lb.|
|2||6 lb. or less||7–13 lb.||14–20 lb.|
|3||10 lb. or less||11–20 lb.||21–30 lb.|
|4||13 lb. or less||14–26 lb.||27–40 lb.|
|5||16 lb. or less||17–33 lb.||34–50 lb.|
|6||20 lb. or less||21–40 lb.||41–60 lb.|
|7||23 lb. or less||24–46 lb.||47–70 lb.|
|8||26 lb. or less||27–53 lb.||54–80 lb.|
|9||30 lb. or less||31–60 lb.||61–90 lb.|
|10||33 lb. or less||34–66 lb.||67–100 lb.|
|11||38 lb. or less||39–76 lb.||77–115 lb.|
|12||43 lb. or less||44–86 lb.||87–130 lb.|
|13||50 lb. or less||51–100 lb.||101–150 lb.|
|14||58 lb. or less||59–116 lb.||117–175 lb.|
|15||66 lb. or less||67–133 lb.||134–200 lb.|
|16||76 lb. or less||77–153 lb.||154–230 lb.|
|17||86 lb. or less||87–173 lb.||174–260 lb.|
|18||100 lb. or less||101–200 lb.||201–300 lb.|
|19||116 lb. or less||117–233 lb.||234–350 lb.|
|20||133 lb. or less||134–266 lb.||267–400 lb.|
|21||153 lb. or less||154–306 lb.||307–460 lb.|
|22||173 lb. or less||174–346 lb.||347–520 lb.|
|23||200 lb. or less||201–400 lb.||401–600 lb.|
|24||233 lb. or less||234–466 lb.||467–700 lb.|
|25||266 lb. or less||267–533 lb.||534–800 lb.|
|26||306 lb. or less||307–613 lb.||614–920 lb.|
|27||346 lb. or less||347–693 lb.||694–1,040 lb.|
|28||400 lb. or less||401–800 lb.||801–1,200 lb.|
|29||466 lb. or less||467–933 lb.||934–1,400 lb.|
Encumbrance rules determine how much a character’s armor and equipment slow him or her down. Encumbrance comes in two parts: encumbrance by armor and encumbrance by total weight.
Encumbrance by Armor: A character’s armor (as described on Table 7–6: Armor and Shields, page 123) defines his or her maximum Dexterity bonus to AC, armor check penalty, speed, and running speed. Unless your character is weak or carrying a lot of gear, that’s all you need to know. The extra gear your character carries won’t slow him or her down any more than the armor already does.
If your character is weak or carrying a lot of gear, however, then you’ll need to calculate encumbrance by weight. Doing so is most important when your character is trying to carry some heavy object.
Weight: If you want to determine whether your character’s gear is heavy enough to slow him or her down more than the armor already does, total the weight of all the character’s items, including armor, weapons, and gear. Compare this total to the character’s Strength on the above table. Depending on how the weight compares to the character’s carrying capacity, he or she may be carrying a light, medium, or heavy load. Like armor, a character’s load affects his or her maximum Dexterity bonus to AC, carries a check penalty (which works like an armor check penalty), reduces the character’s speed, and affects how fast the character can run, as shown on the Carrying Loads Table. A medium or heavy load counts as medium or heavy armor for the purpose of abilities or skills that are restricted by armor. Carrying a light load does not encumber a character.
If your character is wearing armor, use the worse figure (from armor or from load) for each category. Do not stack the penalties.
For example, Tordek is wearing scale mail. As shown on Table 7–6: Armor and Shields, this armor cuts his maximum Dex bonus to AC to +3, and gives him a –4 armor check penalty (and cuts his speed to 15 feet, were he not a dwarf and thus able to move normally even when encumbered by armor or a load). The total weight of his gear, including armor, is 71- 1/2 pounds. Since Tordek has a Strength of 15, his maximum carrying capacity, or maximum load, is 200 pounds. A medium load for him is 67 pounds or more, and a heavy load is 134 pounds or more, so he is carrying a medium load. Looking at the medium load line on Table 9–2: Carrying Loads, his player sees that these figures are all equal to or less than the penalties that Tordek is already incurring for wearing scale mail, so he incurs no extra penalties.
Mialee has a Strength of 10, and she’s carrying 28 pounds of gear. Her light load limit is 33 pounds, so she’s carrying a light load (no penalties). She finds 500 gold pieces (weighing 10 pounds) and adds them to her load, so now she’s carrying a medium load. Doing so reduces her speed from 30 feet to 20 feet, gives her a –3 check penalty, and sets her maximum Dexterity bonus to AC at +3 (which is okay with her, since that’s her Dexterity bonus anyway).
Then Mialee is knocked unconscious in a fight, and Tordek wants to carry her out of the dungeon. She weighs 104 pounds, and her gear weighs 28 pounds (or 38 pounds with the gold), so Tordek can’t quite manage to carry her and her gear, because doing so would put him over his 200-pound maximum load. Fortunately, their companion Jozan is able to carry her gear and the gold, so all Tordek has to worry about is Mialee herself. Tordek hoists Mialee onto his shoulders, and now the dwarf is carrying 175-1/2 pounds. He can manage it, but it’s a heavy load. His maximum Dexterity bonus to AC drops to +1, his check penalty worsens from –4 (the armor check penalty for scale mail) to –6 (the check penalty for a heavy load), and now he runs at ×3 speed instead of ×4.
Lifting and Dragging: A character can lift as much as his or her maximum load over his or her head.
A character can lift as much as double his or her maximum load off the ground, but he or she can only stagger around with it. While overloaded in this way, the character loses any Dexterity bonus to AC and can move only 5 feet per round (as a full-round action). A character can generally push or drag along the ground as much as five times his or her maximum load. Favorable conditions (such as being on smooth ground or dragging a slick object) can double these numbers, and bad circumstances (such as being on broken ground or pushing an object that snags) can reduce them to one-half or less.
Bigger and Smaller Creatures: The figures on the Carry Capacity table are for Medium bipedal creatures. A larger bipedal creature can carry more weight depending on its size category, as follows: Large ×2, Huge ×4, Gargantuan ×8, Colossal ×16. A smaller creature can carry less weight depending on its size category, as follows: Small ×3/4, Tiny ×1/2, Diminutive ×1/4, Fine ×1/8. Thus, a human with a Strength score magically boosted to equal that of a giant would still have a harder time lifting, say, a horse or a boulder than a giant would.
Quadrupeds, such as horses, can carry heavier loads than characters can. Instead of the multipliers given above, multiply the value corresponding to the creature’s Strength score from Table 9–1 by the appropriate modifier, as follows: Fine ×1/4, Diminutive ×1/2, Tiny ×3/4, Small ×1, Medium ×1-1/2, Large ×3, Huge ×6, Gargantuan ×12, Colossal ×24.
For example, Mialee, an elf with 10 Strength, can carry as much as 100 pounds. Lidda, a halfling with 10 Strength, can carry only 75 pounds. A donkey, a Medium animal with 10 Strength, can carry as much as 150 pounds.
Tremendous Strength: For Strength scores not shown on Table 9–1, find the Strength score between 20 and 29 that has the same number in the “ones” digit as the creature’s Strength score does. Multiply the figures by 4 if the creature’s Strength is in the 30s, 16 if it’s in the 40s, 64 if it’s in the 50s, and so on. For example, a cloud giant with a 35 Strength can carry four times what a creature with a 25 Strength can carry, or 3,200 pounds × 4 because the cloud giant is Huge, for a total of 12,800 pounds.
Source: Player's Handbook