Realistically-encumbered adventurers

Of the many absurdities that have become conventions in computer role-playing games, the nigh-unlimited inventory--packed with items that are not visible[1] on your character's person--is my favorite. Trained as we are to see every last scrap of leather as a potential Chekov's Gun, the results in otherwise realistic sandbox games can get ... ridiculous.

Nintendo artists' willing portrayal of gear-yoked adventurers (right), even in decidedly unrealistic games, is to be commended.

Their officially-overloaded Link, however, clearly has a magically-reinforced spine, so I prefer WakaBee's more convincingly weighed version (above), who looks quite ready for a visit to a deep-pocketed fence, then onward to a chiropractor.

The artist is accepting commissions.

Redditor TarBarrel spotted this pic by Steve Prescott, featuring a dungeon-explorer likewise equipped for the long haul.

This fellow (from somewhere at Wizards of the Coast) has no idea how impractical his taste in equipment is, but at least he is clearly suffering the consequences.

Bethsoft games, packed with pocketable clutter of every description, are the center of the "why the hell are you carrying that?" universe. This pic by ~Edge-Works depicts the hypothetical application of gravity to a typical load from Fallout 3.

Christ, is that it? Internet, tell me of other pics of realistically-encumbered adventurers so that I may add them to this page.

UPDATE: Missed this fantastic and heavily-burdened Link by Ape Lad!

Previously: Women fighters in realistic armor

1. The conceptual "Bag of Holding" is a cop-out. Even the sciencey nullentropy ones in the Dune Universe. Sorry, but it is.


  1. I’ve been enjoying running around in Skyrim on my glass armoured, epic sword-wielding high elf blade goddess… catching butterflies. They make you invisible SO YOU CAN CATCH MORE BUTTERFLIES. Ah, more innocent times…

  2. I’ve been playing Glitch a lot lately, and have uncountable amounts of items in my various bags. I’ve thought of this a few times, just how is it possible to carry so much stuff. :)

    1. I’ve often wondered what a practical Bigger Bag would look like, particularly since you can fit 12 bowls of Awesome Stew into one slot :)
      Nevermind what a pack that can fit 16 such bags (with 16 slots each) would look like…

  3. It’s a testament to Link’s awesomeness that he STILL looks pretty fearsome when fully loaded, as in the top pic.

  4. I’ve been playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution lately and came to the conclusion that Jenson must have a Mary Poppins purse.  How else could you hold two rifles, a shotgun, a rocket launcher, 6 boxes of energy bars…

  5. When playing ADOM, I find that I frequently am carrying enough objects that in real life I would need a moving van to transport them.   Despite that, I’m still represented as a mere “@”.

    1. Woah. ADOM. All relevant conversation I may have had has all been wiped away by my sudden plunge into history. That game taught me how to touch type.

  6. Oh, and kind of the opposite of what you’re looking for, but damn, the amount of crap she carried in that bag, it must be mentioned…

  7. You just need a thing your aunt gave you which you don’t know what it is – throw that in the pocket of your dressing gown and you’re set.

  8. I think the last place I’d put a swinging hammer, is where its going to swing into my groin. Unless elves keep their bits in a different area.

    1. “I think the last place I’d put a swinging hammer, is where its going to swing into my groin. Unless elves keep their bits in a different area.”

      Wait…Since when is Link an elf?

  9. Yeah, ridiculous! It’s a world of monsters and magic, but a Bottomless Bag to put my magic items in? Not realistic. Simply not realistic enough. Hmm. 

  10. Those are totally unrealistic! What self-respecting adventurer doesn’t have at least one bag of holding to their name?

  11. Even with a Bag of Holding, yer gonna lose valuable time just rooting around through all the mithril pieces to find the spare Awesome +3 Weapon of Settling Someone’s Hash.

    Unless you hire Thing from The Addams Family to hand it to you exactly when you need it.

  12. Of course it is all about collecting stuff. Stuff which you can not collect if you can not carry it. What a more realistic game, or at least customisable in that regard. Than look no further that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series where you can readily customise the weight you carry. Of course on foot without a vehicle low weight severely limits the number of enemies you can tackle without recovering more ammo.
    The flip side of this is how come the enemies you kill only have a limited amount of gear and ammo, even though when they are shooting in your general direction they seem to have an infinite amount of ammo and a wide range of weapons and armour.
    So it all boils down to game pacing, how quickly you get good gear and how much effort you put into getting it, so just another aspect of player skill levelling.

  13. It’s one of the things I’ve often wondered about games like the various Grand Theft Auto games – take GTA:SA for example.  CJ is a fairly skinny wee guy, but he’s running around with a MAC-10 and 1500 rounds – that’s got to be about 30kg of ammunition alone, just for one of the guns he’s carrying.

    Also, how exactly *do* you ride a BMX bike while carrying a hunting rifle, a shotgun, a submachine gun and a few hundred rounds for each?

  14. “Doom’s Helper”, was a game concept idea floating around a long time ago, which revolved around being the unseen action-hero sidekick that reloads and lugs around ammo and supplies.

    1. In Doom, I’ve always thought the story should have the line “… so you finish what may be the last bottle of Scotch on the planet, make sure your electric wheelchair is fully charged, and head out!”

  15. I had a set of silly but well made parody RPG miniatures bought in the 90’s – one was called ‘Everything AND the kidtchen sink’ and showed a henchman transporting treasure on his back… and yes, one item was a kitchen sink.

  16. There have even been role playing game miniatures with such dimensions –

  17. A good long LARP can come up with hilarious encumberment in meatspace (if not in g-space: light foam weapons and props add bulk where they remove mas).  Any happy mutants got a good “…and the kitchen sink” photo to share?

  18. Never mind the actual real world of encumbrance during combat ops:

    Can’t a brother get an exoskeleton? Please?

    Picture from

  19. This used to be a standard “game” at my local roleplaying convention, where some years they would preface a dungeon crawl with you having to carry facsimiles of all your gear twenty meters without dropping anything to get it in the game, and other years it would just be a demonstration of how silly inventory lists are. A typical loadout would be something like 5-20 litres of water, around 10-40kg of metal in swords, armour and caltrops, some kilos of food, a cauldron, a 50ft. thick hemp rope, a foldable canoe, a 10ft. pole, a couple thick books,  some litres of oil and a lamp, or torches, and this is before they started getting crazy ideas like bringing ten chickens in cages, dogs, with food, a mule, with food (a mule can comfortably carry a couple days worth of its own hay, any more than that and you’ll have to balance it by hand)
    I tried finding pictures, but the internet was strangely lacking today…
    This may be the reason wheelbarrows are a common item in my groups now.

  20. I drew Link a little while ago now, ..he’s encumbered with all the items from the original NES title.

  21. I am surprised no one has mentioned Minecraft, probably the most egregious offender in this regard.

    I mean, I can carry 64 cubic meters of cobblestone in ONE INVENTORY SLOT.  And I have 50 of those, IIRC.  

    If a cubic meter of stone weighs, say, 2.5 metric tons, then that means a Minecrafter can carry 8000 METRIC TONS of stone, i.e., as much as displaced by some Second World War light cruisers.


  22. You know what else is asinine? How in novels you can often hear what characters are thinking. And the narrator knows all kinds of junk that would be impossible to know about motivations and subconscious stuff and unseen cause-and-effect. Crazy.

    And what’s with all those different angles in films? And background music? C’mon… when was the last time anybody had music going during an epic battle. And why can’t they hear it? In horror films, that would totally be helpful. Minor chord? Watch out!

    And your rock looks suspiciously like my paper… but scrunched up in a ball.

  23. Of course, every adventurer of any skill or experience carries a bag of holding, but that only helps a little.

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