Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Sunfall Cycle Playtesting Rules: Equipment and Encumbrance

Hello friends!  Recently I ran a twitter poll asking if folks would want to buy playtesting rules for The Sunfall Cycle before they're final- about 35% of folks are interested, but I got the suggestion to instead just publish them on my blog, and then sell them when they ARE final!

So... without further ado... Here we are:

(There are some easy examples at the bottom!)

Slot-Based Equipment and Encumbrance for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons

5e’s standard rules for Encumbrance are based on calculating your maximum carrying weight, and then adding up the weights of all the items you have equipped or are carrying- which could be dozens of individual items.

That’s a lot of math.  I wanted a 5e compatible system that:
  • Doesn’t ask me to do math;
  • Reduces the number of items I have to think about down to ~5-10, MAX;
  • Simplifies Ammo and Resource tracking;
  • Adds meaning to the choices I made when I decided what to bring with me.

I give you… [NAME REDACTED].


Encumbrance At a Glance

Item Size

Items have a size attribute that determines how they fit into slots.  The general rule is:
  • Anything the size of your forearm or larger is Large, and occupies one slot.
  • Anything smaller than your forearm is Small, and fits three-to-a-slot.
  • Anything smaller than your fist is Trivial, and doesn’t count against slots.

There’s one main exception, which is that “a set of weapons” (Longsword and Shield, two Shortswords, a Bow and its Arrows, etc) always fits into one slot.

Carrying Slots

You have about 4-7 “carrying slots” total, depending on your Strength.  You can equip whatever fictionally makes sense, but when you’re carrying an item, it has to go in a slot.  They are:

  1. Equipment Slot 1
  2. Equipment Slot 2
  3. Equipment Slot 3
  4. Belt Slot
    • May only carry Small or Trivial items, like Healing Potions
    • Can be accessed immediately in combat
  5. Back Slot
    • May carry a Backpack, which has STR+1 slots, with a minimum of at least 2, and a maximum of 6.
    • If you carry more than STR+1 (min 2) slots filled, you have disadvantage on your rolls.
    • Requires an action to access a stowed item in combat
  6. (Optional) Class Slot
    • Carries class-required items for free; like a Bard’s instrument, or a Wizard’s spellbook.
    • Can be accessed immediately in combat

Thrown weapons, Ammo, Light Sources

If you’re carrying one slot’s worth of Ammo (eg, a bow and its arrows), Thrown weapons (eg, Handaxes), or Light Sources, then after every encounter (for ammo), use (for thrown weapons), or 10 minutes (for light sources) you make a test.  Roll 1d6: on a 1-2, you’re running low and have only one use left.  If you’re carrying two slots’ worth of Ammo, Thrown weapons, or Light Sources, you’ll never run out under normal use.  When you buy ammunition, thrown weapons, or light sources as listed in the Player’s Handbook, rather than buying a set number, you’re buying “one slot’s worth.”

Equipment Kits

Equipment kits are bundles of items.  You can use a normal equipment kit a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus.  When you mark off one use of an equipment kit, you produce an item from the kit’s item list; you had it with you all along.  Treat this new item as is fictionally appropriate; rations may be consumed, a rope might or might not get stuck depending on a skill check, etc.  If you want to bring the item with you, put it in a slot!

Carrying Slots

If you’re fan of video games, you might be familiar with the idea of inserting items into slots on a “paper doll” of your character, to equip them.  THESE slots, however, aren’t “equipped slots”- they’re “carrying slots.”  These slots limit what you can carry- not what you can wear or equip.  Fill ‘em all, and then you’re done!  That’s it!  If you carry any more, you’re at disadvantage on everything until you unburden yourself.

You can equip whatever fits in the fiction; if you’re holding your sword, you have it equipped.  If you have two rings, a necklace, and a magical cloak on, they’re equipped.  If you have fourteen bracelets on your left arm and your DM doesn’t bat an eye?  They’re equipped, and you don’t need to account for them in your carrying slots.

But… if you’re already carrying: a Longsword, a Bow and its Arrows, a belt full of Healing Potions, a Holy Symbol, and a Backpack containing a Climbing Kit, a Medical Kit, and Torches- AND you want to carry that golden idol you found?  Better shuffle some things around, or hope you’re fairly strong!

The Slots, In Detail

You have the following character slots, and- depending on your class- might have access to a special Class Slot.

Generally, any slot can be filled with anything, with one exception- a Backpack can only be worn in the Back Slot.  Below you’ll see a list of each of the slots, and a suggestion for how to fill them- but you can feel free to be creative!

Equipment Slot 1
  • Quick build: Put your first weapon set here, such as your Javelins, or your Bow and Arrows!

 Equipment Slot 2
  • Quick build: Put a second weapon set here, such as your Longsword and Shield, or two Shortswords!

Equipment Slot 3
  • Quick build: Put a second weapon set here, such as your Longsword and Shield, or two Shortswords!

Belt Slot (Quick Slot)
  • Quick build: Put three small items you want instant in-combat access to here!
    • Three vials of poison; Three scrolls; A healing potion, a portable hole, and a component pouch, etc.
  • Items in your belt are freely accessible during combat, and don’t take an action to retrieve.

Back Slot (Backpack Slot)
  • Quick build: Put a backpack here!
  • If you put something here that’s not a backpack, it’s freely accessible during combat.

Bag Slots (Inside Backpack): 1+STR, Min 2
  • Items inside your Backpack are Stowed, and must be retrieved before they can be used. 
    • In combat, it costs an Action to retrieve an item from your Backpack, or to Stow it back.
    • Make smart use of your Belt Slot for in-combat items like potions and scrolls!
  • A Backpack gives you a number of additional slots equal to 1 + your Strength modifier, but a minimum of 2 slots.
    • Rune Diggler has a Strength of 7, with a mod of -2.  His backpack gives him 2 additional slots (because a backpack gives a minimum of 2 slots).
    • Brother Brad Incognito has a strength of 16, with a mod of +3.  His backpack gives him 4 additional slots (because his Strength modifier is 3… plus 1 for the backpack).
  • If you go over this number, you are Encumbered, and have Disadvantage on everything you do; a Backpack provides a maximum of 6 slots total.

Class Slot (Optional, depending on Class)
  • A “free slot” which can contain one class-required item while it’s not in use, such as:
    • Bard: one musical instrument
    • Cleric or Paladin: one holy symbol
    • Druid: one druidic focus
    • Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard: one arcane focus, component pouch, or a wizard’s spellbook
  • DM’s, be a little forgiving with this one.  Any one thing that a character MUST HAVE to do their class thing?  That class can put that thing here, by virtue of their class training.
  • Items in your class slot are freely accessible, and do not take an action to retrieve.  You have learned to keep these items close at hand!

What fits into a slot?

Remember!  Generally speaking, if it’s forearm-or-bigger, it’s Large: one slot.  Smaller, it’s Small: three-to-a-slot!  Smaller than your fist, it’s Trivial: free.
  • A longsword?  10’ pole?  Takes one slot.
  • Healing potions?  Magical Scrolls?  A book?  Three to a slot.
  • Rings?  Bracelets?  Gems?  Gold coins?  Free.

Here are some specific exceptions and clarifications on the general rule.  Each of the following can fit into one slot:
  • One usable weapon set.  Any of the following options takes up one slot:
    • A single one-handed or Versatile melee weapon and a Shield
    • A Two-Handed melee weapon
    • Any two melee weapons, if both have the Light tag (ie, two Shortswords!)
    • A single Ranged weapon and a bundle of its ammunition
      • See below, under Thrown Weapons, Ammo, Light
    • A handful of Thrown weapons
      • See below, under Thrown Weapons, Ammo, Light
  • A full set of clothes, or a full suit of armor
    • If it’s carried, rather than equipped!  Remember, these are Carrying Slots.
  • An Equipment Kit
    • See below, under Equipment Kits
  • A Quiver of Ammo or a handful of Thrown weapons
    • See below, under Thrown Weapons, Ammo, Light
  • A Bundle of Torches, or a Flask of Oil
    • See below, under Thrown Weapons, Ammo, Light
  • A sizable Treasure
    • A priceless Vase
    • A jade statue
    • A masterwork painting, etc

And of course, some things don’t take up slots at all.  They’re free!
  • Coins and Gems
    • Nobody wants to count coins and gems.  These go into your Wallet, into a magical mystery place that can hold an infinite amount of Coins and Gems.
    • Finding a gold statue with engravings of supplicating dwarves and angry elephants?  Awesome.  Finding 5 sapphires?  Awesomer.
  • Small Jewelry
    • Rings, Necklaces, Bracelets, etc
  • Small flavor items from Backgrounds, such as:
    • A prayer book or prayer wheel
    • A lock of hair from an admirer
    • A letter of introduction from your guild
    • A scroll of pedigree
    • A trophy from an animal you killed
    • Etc.

Equipment and Resources

Thrown weapons, Ammo, Light Sources

Thrown Weapons, Ammo, and Light Sources have Use Intervals as follows:
  • Thrown Weapons Use Interval: Per Use
  • Ammo Use Interval: Per Encounter
  • Torch Use Interval: Per 10 Minutes
  • Lantern Use Interval: Per 20 Minutes

Two Slots

If you have filled two carrying slots with the same Thrown Weapon, Ammo, or Light Source, then you effectively have an infinite amount of this resource for normal use.  If you use these items in a special, unusual, creative, or highly consuming way, you roll a 1d6; on a 1 or 2, you emptied one of your slots, and must start tracking your use as indicated below.

Example: Torches
Rune Diggler brought two slots worth of Torches, and will never run out of torches to light his way.  He wants to burn down a big oak door, so he lights a handful of them and sticks them at the base.  The door catches a merry blaze, and Rune rolls 1d6 to see if he needs to empty one of his slots; he gets lucky, rolling a 6!  He’s got plenty of torches left.

One Slot

If you’ve only brought one slot of Ammo, Thrown Weapons, or a Light Source, then the following rules apply:
  • Your first “use interval” of this resource is free.  Don’t test.
  • At the end of your second and subsequent Use Intervals, roll 1d6.  On a 1-2, you’re Low: you have enough of this resource for one more Use Interval.
  • When you spend that final Use Interval, you run out.

Thrown weapons are special; if you’ve run out, you can use an action to pick one up.  At the end of the encounter, you recover all of your thrown weapons, and start fresh in the following encounter.

With this, you never track individual items; you always have at minimum 3 use intervals with you, on average you’ll get 5 use intervals, and if you’re lucky, much more.

Example: Ammo
Dess Lackle Morny Ny brought a Shortbow and its Arrows- effectively, she has one slot of ammo.  She fights some orcs, shooting them all.  This is her first Use Interval for her arrows, so she does not test.  She then later shoots some goblins across a bridge; at the end of this encounter, she rolls a 1d6 to see if she’s running low.  She rolls a 5; she’s fine.  At the end of her third encounter, slaying some cursed wolves, she tests again, rolling a 2; she knows she has enough arrows left for only one more fight.  If she’d brought a second slot of Arrows, she wouldn’t have to track it at all.

Example: Thrown Weapons
Rat likes throwing daggers.  She’s fighting with her friend against some Orcs.  She throws one dagger, which is her first Use Interval, so she doesn’t test.  After throwing her second dagger, she tests to see if she’s running low: bad luck, she rolled a 1.  She has one dagger left.  She throws it, and on the next turn she ducks down behind a barrel to pick up one of the daggers she threw earlier.

At the end of the fight, she grabs all of her thrown daggers and stuffs them back in her bandolier, ready to tackle the goblins.  Of course, if she brought a second slot of daggers, she wouldn’t need to worry about it.

Example: Torches
Rune Diggler brought one slot’s worth of Torches.  He lights one, and begins tracking.  He gets 10 minutes of light for free.  At the end of the second 10 minutes, he tests to see if his torch is running low, rolling a 3.  He’s fine for now.  He keeps going, getting lucky- at the end of 50 minutes, he tests, rolling a 2.  He knows he’ll be out of light at the end of the next 10 minute segment; but then, 60 minutes of light from a torch is pretty good.  If he wanted, he could bring a second slot of Torches and not worry about it at all.

Food and Drink

Food, drink, and other pleasantries can be produced from certain Equipment Kits, below.

Generally speaking, adventurers are highly capable; they can forage, scrounge, or hunt for what they need, and we don’t track their food or water intake.  However, at certain moments, a little luxury can make all the difference.

When you take a short or long rest, you may consume rations, drink water, wine or ale, or share a relaxing pipe together.  These items are spent and marked off, and confer the following benefits:

  • Rations: If you share rations over a short rest, anyone who spent hit dice to heal may reroll the amount healed and take the higher of the two rolls.
  • Drink: If you share water, wine, or ale over a short or long rest, everyone may gain temporary hit points equal to their level.
  • Pipe tobacco, fine liquor, luxuries: If you share pipe tobacco, fine liquor, or other luxuries over a short or long rest, each of you may tell a short tale from your past.  If you do, you gain inspiration.

Sharing any of these with folk who enjoy them confers an advantage on social interactions.

Equipment Kits

When you buy an Equipment Kit, you are preparing yourself for your journey ahead, by guaranteeing you can do a certain activity.  An Equipment Kit is a bundle of items and takes up one slot.

A Normal Equipment Kit can be used a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus.

Each Equipment Kit has an associated list of items.  Each time you use an Equipment Kit, you can pull forth a single item on its list of items; you had it with you all along, and can use it now.

Arcanist’s Kit
Normal: 25gp
+2 Uses: 50gp
  • One use of the Arcanist’s kit allows you to pull out any one of these items:
  • Candles (5) (and Tinderbox)
  • Chalk
  • Hammer
  • Manacles
  • Mirror, Steel
  • Needle, Silver
  • Spikes, Iron (10)
  • Stakes, Wood (3)
  • Vial

Criminal’s Kit
Normal: 25gp
+2 Uses: 50gp
One use of the Criminal’s Kit allows you to pull out any one of these items:
  • Ball Bearings (Bag of 1,000)
  • Bell
  • Caltrops (bag of 20)
  • Crowbar
  • Fishing tackle
  • Hammer, Sledge
  • Mirror, Steel
  • Signal Whistle
  • String (10 feet)

Dungeoneer’s Kit
Normal: 25gp
+2 Uses: 50gp
One use of the Dungeoneer’s Kit allows you to pull out any one of these items:
  • Block and Tackle
  • Chain (10 feet)
  • Grappling Hook
  • Hammer
  • Pick (Miner’s) or Shovel
  • Pitons (10)
  • Pole (10-foot)
  • Rations to share
  • Rope, Hemp (50 feet)

Entertainer’s Kit
Normal: 25gp
+2 Uses: 50gp
One use of the Entertainer’s Kit allows you to pull out any one of these items:
  • Blanket
  • Cards or Dice
  • Clothes: Common, Costume, or Traveler’s
  • Flasks or Tankards (6)
  • Jug or pitcher of ale or wine
  • Rations to share
  • Pipe and tobacco to share
  • Waterskin

Explorer’s Kit
Normal: 25gp
+2 Uses: 50gp
One use of the Explorer’s Kit allows you to pull out any one of these items:
  • Bedroll
  • Hammer
  • Hunting Trap
  • Rations to share
  • Rope, Hemp (50 Feet)
  • Spikes, Iron (10)
  • Tent, Two-Person
  • Waterskin

Scribe’s Kit
Normal: 25gp
+2 Uses: 50gp
One use of the Scribe’s Kit allows you to pull out any one of these items:
  • Abacus
  • Candles (5) (and Tinderbox)
  • Case, Map or Scroll
  • Ink (1 ounce bottle) and Ink Pen
  • Paper (5 sheets)
  • Perfume (vial)
  • Sealing Wax (and Tinderbox)
  • Signet Ring

Some Examples In Action:


Armaros, a human fighter, has a strength of 18 (+4).  His equipment list looks like this:

He has:
  • Armor: wearing his Chain Mail armor- this doesn't count against his carrying slots, because he has it equipped and is wearing it!
  • Equipment Slot 1: A longsword and shield
  • Equipment Slot 2: a Light Crossbow and its Bolts
    • Note that Armaros doesn't have a second set of Bolts!  Each encounter, he will have to test to see if he's running low... or just buy a quiver of bolts.
  • Equipment Slot 3: Empty
  • Belt Slots: All empty, are flagged with a reminder that they can only fit **Small** items
  • Back Slot: He has a Bag, which has a capacity of 5 slots (Strength bonus of +4, plus 1), and a maximum of 6: 5/6
  • Bag Slot 1: A Go set
  • Bag Slot 2: Common Clothes
  • Bag Slot 3: A Dungeoneer's Kit with two uses
  • Bag Slot 4: Empty
  • Bag Slot 5: Empty
  • Bag Slot 6: Empty, but if he fills it, he'll be Encumbered, and have disadvantage on all rolls
  • Trivial Items:
    • An Insignia of Rank, and an Ear from an Enemy.
Armaros, being a Fighter, doesn't have a need for a Class slot, so he doesn't have one.
Armaros, being very strong, has lots of extra room for carrying more gear if he wants.

Let's see a different example:


Enkara, a wood elf druid, has a strength of 8 (-1).  Her equipment list looks like this:

Just to go over the key differences:
  • Enkara has a Class slot, because she has a Druidic Focus!
  • Enkara uses a Shortbow and Arrows, and doesn't want to ever run out of Arrows, so she's filled her Equipment Slot 3 with A Quiver of Arrows
  • Enkara has a strength of 8, so her Bag only offers her 2 slots (Strength Mod + 1 = 0, but a minimum of 2 slots- so she gets 2)
  • Notice that, in contrast to Armaros, Enkara is full up; she can't carry anything else major without either dropping something, or becoming encumbered.

What are your thoughts?  Please feel free to try this out at your tables, and tell me how it goes!


  • How would a bag of holding work in this system??
    • This is the most common question I get!  The answer is, like this:
    • A Bag of Holding costs 1 slot.  It contains 10 slots!  However, it costs 1dX actions to pull out the item you want, (where X is the number of items in the bag).
      • Basically, it lets you carry WAY more than you would normally be able to, but it's not convenient to access!


  1. This system looks really cool, and I love the Ammo/Slot/2-Slot mechanics in particular :)
    About the "Arcanist Kit" though, some of those things dont seem very Manacles, Hammers, and Iron Spikes. Maybe something like Incense or Holy Water could be more thematic here?

    1. Manacles to shackle a demon, a hammer for hammering iron or wooden spikes into a demon... ;)

      Holy water is above the price point- I tried to make all the individual items cap out at 5gp each- but incense might be a good replacement for something else there!

    2. Hammer for Spikes, totally - Wooden Spikes for Vampires, totally - but you can probably replace the Iron spikes with Incense rather nicely :)
      Unless you make 'em Silver Spikes or some anti-werewolf business ;)

      I like the Manacles-for-Demon, interesting take!

  2. Hey Steven, I didnt see any places to comment on yesterday's show so I'll do it here.
    One of the main changes to regular DnD you've been talking about is player resources and how the adventure would continuously chip away at the players until they were forced to fall back or until they died. However I noticed that the short rests the party did seemed to have the usual effects such as restoring Warlock spell slots or allow players to use their hit dice.
    Will these rules change only when they are inside the palace proper? I assume at least some of them are tied to the clock that has yet to resolve anything for now. Can you give some insight to what these changes will be, if they exist.
    The first episode was a lot of fun and I cant wait to see what is inside that palace.

    1. Hey friend!

      You will see what I mean very soon... but ask yourself this question: with that clock ticking down.... how will the players take a LONG rest? ;)

    2. Basically, short rests allow players to spend resources like hit dice, but most resources (like most spell slots, hit dice, etc) only return on a long rest!

      Warlock spells come back, yes- but Warlock spells aren't about restoring resources to the party, so overall, the party still runs low over time.

      But I'm very excited when people start really feeling the impact of the system!

  3. I'm excited to see how the Clock interacts with the game/party, and what effects it has...

  4. LOVE this stuff. Would 100% buy it when it's released.