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F.A.P.: The Problem Without Extradimensional Storage Space
Posted By John Arcadian On September 24, 2008 @ 2:11 am In GMing Advice | 14 Comments
While my first FAP post was about a big thing, this one is going to be about a lot of big things and how to move them around. Or a lot of small things and how to move them around, or a mix of big and little things. What the heck am I talking about? I’m talking about a frequently abused power, the ability to carry anything without ever being subject to the laws of reality. Oh wait, nevermind. I’ve got a bag of holding.
Frequently Abused Powers: The problem without extradimensional holding space.
We’ve all run across this one. The party or group acquires a lot of stuff. Looting and pillaging from the “bad guys” can really fill your pockets. How do you take care of all that loot. Anyone who has ever gone camping, been in the army, lugged books around a college campus, or moved and realized how much junk they’ve acquired knows that the amount of stuff they have easily outstrips their ability to carry it effectively.
Thankfully, role-playing games have some ways to deal with this:
Extradimensional storage space
Some games write in ways to get around lack of storage space. The Mary Poppins Bag of Holding. All items go in, all items come out. You don’t have to worry about size or weight.
A constantly accessible portal to another place where a character can store as much as will fit. This is only possible in games where there is a high enough magic level or a high enough tech level. There are a few issues with extradimensional space, mostly dealing with the commonality of it and what it can give people access to. “Of course I brought a cannon in, it was in my bag of holding.” “I slip through my portal back to my hometown and look up the family doctor. I get patched up, then walk back through to the other side of the portal where I left it in the dungeon.”
If something like this fits the game world, then there is absolutely no problem. I love it when my players overcome my carefully crafted challenges with inventive solutions. It can, however, be very irritating when it changes the paradigm that the GM set up so very carefully or becomes a one trick pony for the players. On one hand it is helpful to have the handwave that it creates. It is also interesting to see the physics breaking solutions that it enables. On the other hand, it makes the Game Master “Think with Portals” to create challenges for the players. It’s really a question of play style.
Having wheels helps
Without magical or technological storage space you need a way to cart around all that stuff. A vehicle, even if it is just a cart, helps eliminate some storage issues. Transportation eliminates issues of getting your items most of the way there, but doesn’t do as well as E.S.S. in terms of getting things into dungeons, heavily guarded buildings or generally anywhere off the vehicle. Of course, there is another solution . . .
Ehh, we just don’t worry about that.
Some groups just don’t delve into the reality crashing aspects of inventory storage. Somehow, somewhere, all those little items just happen to fit. Of course you’ve got 25 feet of rope on you at any time. Of course you took it into the fancy dress ball. Of course no one noticed. Sure you had that armoire of invincibility in your pack. Doesn’t matter that it’s bigger than you.
For some things this works. Small items might always been on a character’s person. A character might have anticipated needing their thieves tools and thus brought them along. A few games even talk about this in their rules. If a player has it on them, then assume they planned for it beforehand.
The more I think about this particularly common facet of roleplaying games, the more I think of it as a part of the groups play style than anything. One group given a bag of holding might use it in only mundane ways. Another group might plan extravagant Trojan horse style break-ins with it. Are these abuses? That is for the group to decide.
So how does your group handle extra stuff and storage space? Do you play it close to the cuff of reality and keep track of every item? Do you have any issues using magical or technical storage space? What are the most interesting outside of the box uses that you’ve come up with for extradimensional storage space?
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