While browsing around I came across this interesting idea from Delta:
Calculating encumbrance can alternatively be done using the old English unit of the “stone” (that is, 14 pounds). For D&D, let’s say that 1 “stone” = 150 coins weight. For example, a grown man weighs about 12 stone. Conversions for gear are as follows:
Plate — 5 stone
Chain — 3
Leather — 2
Shield — 1
Weapon, heavy — 1
Weapon, light — 1 per 3 carried
Misc. Equipment — 1 (total)
And here’s how you use stone to determine move rate:
12″ Move — up to 5 stone weight
9″ Move — up to 7
6″ Move — up to 10
3″ Move — up to 20
It should be fairly easy to remember the 5-10-20 stone weight maximum categories (for movement rates of 12″, 6″, and 3″).
The coarse grain of the unit makes for low numbers to remember and add, meaning that tracking encumbrance isn’t such a, well, such an encumbrance. There are dozens (hundreds?) of various alternative encumbrance systems, which tells me that the problem is a tough nut and that solutions are desired but aren’t going to be elegant. Like the thief class.
I’ll have to consider this stone system.