[Runequest] Meditating on Encumberance

Ravi Desai rdesai at chartermi.net
Thu Jun 27 07:22:53 EST 2013

This is a great question, because it points out that there isn't one rule set to "rule them all" especially in the area of fatigue.  There are two type of fatigue, mental (or emotional) and physical, but I've never seen rules to cover more than the physical aspects of fatigue.  We have a lot of "house rules" anyway because we like rules to match our style of gaming, but I can honestly say I've spent more time revising fatigue rules than any of the others in our games.

 One of the things we like to capture is the effects of mental fatigue especially when your character spends a lot of time doing mentally exhausting tasks like poring over books and scrolls or casting spells.  I've seen precious few rules in game system to deal with this type of thing, but over the years we've employed house rules where extreme mental fatigue can reduce your success percentage, double your fumble percentage, or simply make it so normal everyday things that you take for granted you now need to roll for.  This can play itself out so that a mentally exhausted character attempting to leave a simple note to someone, now needs to roll for success, and if she fails, ends up writing something other than she intended - perhaps with dire consequences.

We have mental fatigue start to set in based on the characters activities during the day or over the course of weeks,  We'll often have it set in just to discourage silly behavior (helpful with young players); things like when the characters begin to live life in what I like to call a "state of paranoia", where every night they are up for 3 hours taking a guard shift.  But it can also set in if a sorcerer is up studying all night to replace his memorized spells, or if a divine mage is up praying all night to recover spent magic.  A state of depression can often lead to mental exhaustion, if you play the kind of game where characters can experience depression.  Likewise a state of euphoria can often eliminate mental exhaustion, but if brought about artificially (as with drugs) the crash can be worse later.

Mental exhaustion can effect almost anything you do, so the GM has a lot of leeway to apply it however they like.  We sometimes use Hero points (or whatever they are called now in RQ6, I forget) to alleviate states of both mental and physical exhaustion.  This allows characters to pull the proverbial all-nighter studying and still be heroic the next day.  :-)

I would encourage you to experiment with whatever house-rules for fatigue that you think fits your campaign.  If handled tactfully and sensibly, it can add a very fun dimension to your game.  And the good part of using house rules for it, is that you can ignore them whenever you like, which we also do, depending upon the adventure.  Good luck.


On Jun 25, 2013, at 12:12 AM, Asher Royce Yaffee <ashersensei at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi, All,
>    I find it interesting that so many intelligent, reasonable, and experienced game designers have come up with so many inconsistent ways of describing how encumbering stuff is.
>    For me, the topic is never one I can experience first hand.  Specifically, though I've donned chain mail, and dabbled in the SCA and college fencing, I never practiced fighting in armor.
>   Generally, I don't know how it really FEELS for a 6-foot-tall guy to be encumbered.  I'm a very small fellow, only 5 feet tall, and have found myself dangerously top-heavy with backpacks that a 6-footer would proceed to take hiking without difficulty.
>    So I never really know what to make of numbers that different game designers offer for gear and armor and limitations.  But the inconsistencies nag at me, and make me curious.
>    Then I'll go read about what the ancient Athenians did at Marathon, or how long the hardy Spartans fought at Thermopylae, and say to myself, "Who are we [moderns] to tell a player that his warrior character is too weary?"
>    I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but if anyone has some insight, it would be a weight off my shoulders.  :-)
>    Sincerely,
> Asher
> _______________________________________________
> Runequest mailing list
> Runequest at rpgreview.net
> http://rpgreview.net/mailman/listinfo/runequest_rpgreview.net

More information about the Runequest mailing list