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 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 Table: Carrying Capacity. 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 Table: Carrying Loads. 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.
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 can double these numbers, and bad circumstances can reduce them to one-half or less.
Bigger and Smaller Creatures: The figures on Table: Carrying Capacity are for Medium bipedal creatures. A larger bipedal creature can carry more weight depending on its size category, as follows: Large x2, Huge x4, Gargantuan x8, Colossal x16. A smaller creature can carry less weight depending on its size category, as follows: Small x3/4, Tiny x1/2, Diminutive x1/4, Fine x1/8.
Quadrupeds 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: Carrying Capacity by the appropriate modifier, as follows: Fine x1/4, Diminutive x1/2, Tiny x3/4, Small x1, Medium x1-1/2, Large x3, Huge x6, Gargantuan x12, Colossal x24.
Tremendous Strength: For Strength scores not shown on Table: Carrying Capacity, find the Strength score between 20 and 29 that has the same number in the “ones” digit as the creature’s Strength score does and multiply the numbers in that for by 4 for every ten points the creature’s strength is above the score for that row.
Armor and Encumbrance for Other Base Speeds
The table below provides reduced speed figures for all base speeds from 20 feet to 100 feet (in 10-foot increments).