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> Heavy Matters, A possible solution to the weight dilemma
I Hate All Life
post May 9 2010, 01:21 PM
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In the WWSD thread, I remember the issue of how much weight characters should be able to lift coming up. We sat there and discussed weight lifting records and how the game system fell way short of that. (Heck, by the rules characters shouldn't even be able to support their own body weight.) I created a house rule to try to approximate something better, but it was a little crunchy, and it made the "baseline" perhaps a bit too strong. Then it occurred to me that maybe we're going about this the wrong way altogether.

Where we seem to get bogged down in minutia is discussing actual weight values vs. what we think characters should be able to pick up. I think it would be very difficult to create something both realistic and workable using a system largely designed to model capabilities in an abstract way. So why not abstractify weight as well? Instead of worrying about determining precisely how much a character can lift, then comparing that value to the actual weight of an object (which is something a GM often has to decide off the cuff), then (if the character isn't quite strong enough to lift that) rolling to see how much more the character can lift... we can just take a step out of that and rely on Body + Strength tests. (As far as the amount one can carry with her, the RAW are quite sufficient; you're not going to be able to lug that much with you, and imposing some sort of "encumbrance" penalties even before this limit isn't unreasonable. What we need are rules for lifting and related feats that are both more realistic and more cinematic.)

The Lift Threshold Option

Rather than your attribute ratings determining what you can lift as a strict kilogram value, your lifting power depends entirely on the hits you attain on a Body + Strength test (and so varies). This is fairly realistic, considering weight lifters aren't always able to lift the same amount each time -- their results form a range, not a precise measurement. You have the potential to exceed your lift allowance on an "average" roll by converting dice to hits (and spending Edge), allowing the occasional truly cinematic feat of strength without throwing the baseline. A poor roll means a musclemonster may not manage to lift something light, while a lucky result may let a weak character tip over a car... just as in real life, even the strongest people can strain or fall prey to exhaustion, while soccer moms hopped on adrenalin can lift cars off their howling kids.

1) Roll Body + Strength: each hit allows you to lift roughly 50 kg. Item weights are abstracted as lift thresholds, which reflect how hard they are to pick up, drag or otherwise manage. This is largely a factor of raw mass (assume a threshold of 1 per 50 kg of weight, rounded up), but an awkward item may have a lift threshold higher than its raw mass suggests; meanwhile, a handle, lever or the like can mitigate the threshold of a very heavy object. Dragging or pushing an item is usually easier than picking it up. And of course, friends always help; use the rules for teamwork. Rather than worrying about precisely how much some object weighs, GMs can "eyeball" a lift threshold based on how hard she feels it should be able to lift. Sample thresholds follow:

QUOTE
Lifting unconscious 300 kg troll ally: 6
Dragging same: 4
Helping said troll with wounded leg stand: 3
Lifting SynthOak coffin containing dead troll ally (bring friends!): 10

2) You can convert dice on your Body + Strength test to automatic hits (up to half the pool), but you lose that amount from your pool and take one box of stun damage on the following turn for each "auto-hit": your character draws on her inner reserves and performs an amazing feat of strength, but pulls a muscle or exhausts herself. To continue holding the object up, you must make further Body + Strength checks, possibly taking damage for auto-hits. (Hope your character's Doc Wagon contract is current and paid!) Glitches on lifting tests may inflict a box of stun damage, cause the lifter to bump into an ally with the object, or create some other unforeseen result.

QUOTE
Maria, a physically "average" elf (Body 3, Strength 2) wants to move a dumpster to check the wall behind it for a secret door she thinks might be there. (Don't elves spot those on a roll of 1 on 1d6?) The GM figures the dumpster weighs at least 200 kg with all the trash in it, but Maria only wants to move the dumpster over (not pick it up), and there are handholds on the side; the GM rules the dumpster has a lift threshold of 3. Maria's player converts two of her six Body + Strength dice to auto-hits before rolling, giving four dice left in her Body + Strength pool; she'll take two stun damage on the next turn.
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Mantis
post May 9 2010, 06:44 PM
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Interesting. I'll give it a try this afternoon. Your math is a bit off with the example. The Body+Strength should be 5 DP not 6, since your 'average elf' has a Body 3, Strength 2. Otherwise I suppose it works. I've always just gone with what I felt best at the time but this may work well for things like the soccer mom scenario.
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I Hate All Life
post May 9 2010, 07:06 PM
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QUOTE (Mantis @ May 9 2010, 12:44 PM) *
Interesting. I'll give it a try this afternoon. Your math is a bit off with the example. The Body+Strength should be 5 DP not 6, since your 'average elf' has a Body 3, Strength 2.

How so? I think that makes a certain amount of sense (elves are leaner and so possibly have less muscle mass than people), but I'm looking at the Metatype Attribute Table and in other parts of the book and I'm not seeing anything that reflects that; they have the same maximum rating as humans. Are you quoting a different edition or is there something from the books I'm missing?

QUOTE
Otherwise I suppose it works. I've always just gone with what I felt best at the time but this may work well for things like the soccer mom scenario.

*nods* Thanks for looking it over and being willing to playtest it. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) Tell me how it shakes out.
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