RPGsources – Item Weights

Hello all! This is the first of a new series of posts that I’m calling RPGsources! These articles will take a look at resources I use to help me run D&D at my table. Typically, they’ll be free to access, and often not really related to tabletop games at all. They might also be free things people have uploaded to social sites that have fallen out of view, but I still find extremely useful.

In this first article, I’m going to talk about average item weights. When I play D&D, more often than not I am the DM. I’ve run several long-form campaigns, and dozens of one-shots over the four or five years that I’ve been playing the game. Although I don’t consider myself a rules lawyer, I do think that recognising and placing constraints upon the players makes them more inventive, and often leads to hilarious solutions to problems. I like to think I’m capable of running with ideas that bend the rules a little, but there are some circumstances where I’ve gotta make a call quickly and accurately.

One such instance occurred recently, with the use of the mage hand spell by one of the party. Although I can’t remember exactly what they wanted to lift, I had a feeling it was probably on the heavy side; mage hand can carry no more than 10 pounds of weight. Despite the fact that I way things on a daily basis, I’m actually a really poor judge of weight (and also distance), especially when I have to convert between metric and imperial, so I took some time to try and find something that might help me. May I present ‘Set of average weights for furniture, appliances and other items.‘ from the City of York County Council!

550px-deadly_arsenal_full
Art by Wayne Reynolds.

Perhaps you think I’m mad for loving this as a RPGsource, but let me tell you, since I’ve bookmarked it, I’ve used it on dozens of occasions, both in my writing and at the table. In a matter of seconds, I can load this page up on my laptop, get a decent weight for an item like a wooden desk or a large mirror, stick it into a kg to lbs converter, and have an answer. Lots of aspects of D&D need you to know the weight of something, obvious examples include spells like mage handcatapultdrawmij’s instant summons or levitate. Other uses include carrying capacity, what triggers traps or unstable terrain, or whether the party miniature camel can carry a masterfully carved dwarven dresser.

Admittedly, the characters aren’t likely to come across a hi-fi speaker system or tumble-dryer anytime soon, but I think there’s a wide enough variety of items on the page to give you a rough idea of how much something might weigh.

Have you guys ever had to make tough calls based on the weight of items in your game? Got any other cool RPGsources you think I should check out? Let me know in the comments, on facebook or on twitter!

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