Jul 12, 2011

Dungeons and Dragons 3.5: Strength and Lifting

D&D 3.5, the d20 OGL line that spawned a flood of content, actually seems to have the most accurate simulation of human lifting ability.  I have almost finished making graphs for the systems I have, and 3.5 looks best so far.  I dislike Dungeons and Dragons in general, and this came as a surprise to me, but there you have it.  It still pretty consistently overestimates people's lifting abilities, even men's by about 5-70 lbs at each score, but it has an appropriate curve.
To better simulate a real person, figure out your character's strength using the table below, then add 2 to it.  For example, if you are simulating someone who can deadlift 300 pounds in real life, the table would assign the character a Strength score of 13, but a score of 15 is more appropriate based on the proportion of the population with that lifting ability.  Here is the table of encumbrance thresholds for 3.5.  Is this the same for Pathfinder?  I do not have the Pathfinder system, but I am under the impression that it uses the same rules as 3.5.


  1. Okay, I'm not quite sure how I first stumbled onto your posts about strength simulation in RPGs, but I would wonder a bit about your assumptions back a few pages. It's been my experience with strength training that most moderately active young males of reasonable weight will easily deadlift almost 300# on their first try at the exercise (let's say 250#). Those who train a little or do manual labor may do a little more. The "average" may be a little weaker, but I don't think it's right to say that deadlifting 100kg puts you at the 80th percentile of men unless you're including all males of all ages - if you're looking at, say, ages 15-40 it should be below median. Then again, I have mild selection biases given my hobby (powerlifting).

  2. Very astute! The information I used is from men ages 18-74. Our strength does tend to substantially decrease as we become old. I did also have to make some unpleasant assumptions because I had a hard time finding the specific types of data I wanted, so I am open to any good data that can be shared. You may enjoy an older post better: http://simantics.blogspot.com/2011/07/mens-maximum-deadlifting-distribution_07.html