In a dark and dangerous world, having the right gear at the right time can make all the difference between life and death. Great emphasis is placed on your inventory—what you carry and where you carry it are important things to keep track of.
This chapter introduces new systems to help track and manage your inventory easily.
Inventory is managed using item slots, not item weight. These abstract slots represent the combined storage capacity of your bags/belts/weapon sheaths/etc—the more item slots you have, the more items you can carry.
Your Inventory Capacity
To calculate your character's inventory capacity, first check your character size—the bigger you are, the more space you have about your person to carry items.
Next, check your character's strength—the stronger you are, the more items you can carry. You gain (or lose) a number of item slots equal to your STR modifier.
Finally, check the type of armor you are wearing. Armor is big and bulky—the bigger the armor, the less inventory space you have for other gear.
Valiant, a human cleric, is a medium-sized creature (18 slots) with +2 STR (+2 slots) wearing heavy armor (−9 slots). He can carry 11 slots of additional gear.
Crackle, a kobold wizard, is a small creature (15 slots) with −1 STR (−1 slot) and no armor. She can carry up to 14 slots worth of equipment.
Food, Water, & Gold
In addition to item slots, your character can freely carry one ration box, one waterskin, and one purse. These don't occupy any slots and can store a small amount of basic supplies—food, water, and money.
- Ration box: Stores up to five basic food rations.
- Waterskin: Holds enough liquid for five drink rations.
- Purse: Holds up to 100 assorted coins.
While these extra containers don't occupy any item slots, they can still be affected by NPCs and monsters—stolen, damaged, destroyed, etc—so beware.
If you find yourself carrying more than your inventory capacity allows, you are encumbered. While you are encumbered:
- You have disadvantage on all rolls.
- Your speed is halved
- You gain hunger, thirst, and fatigue at twice the rate.
You must draw an item from your inventory before you can use it. During your turn, you may use your one free object interaction (PHB p190) with your inventory to:
- Add/sheathe one item (or collection of tiny items).
- Remove/draw one item (or collection of tiny items).
To make a second change to your inventory during the same turn, or to interact with another character's inventory, you must take the Use an Object action.
Krazak wants to draw out his axe and charge forward, bashing open a door in his way. To do this, he must use his free object interaction to grab the axe from his inventory, his movement to rush forward, and the Use an Object action to bash open the door.
Viridian, meanwhile, wants to draw both a sword and a healing potion from his bag on his turn. He draws the sword as his free object interaction, and uses his full action to take out the potion.
Some containers have magical—or otherwise enhanced—properties that change their capacity or durability:
- Bag of Holding: This magical creation works much like a normal bag, but can hold many more items. Equipping a Bag of Holding gains you +6 item slots.
- Handy Haversack: This magical bag acts like an improved Bag of Holding. Equipping a Handy Haversack gains you +12 item slots.
- Portable Hole: This magical object can be carried as a small item, occupying 1 item slot. When folded out, a Portable Hole acts as a separate bag with 18 slots.
A character can only equip one Bag of Holding or Handy Haversack at a time, and—while equipped with one—cannot store a Portable Hole in their expanded inventory without destroying both items (DMG p185).
In the ruins of the Arcane Sanctum, Valiant is fortunate enough to find a Bag of Holding—still intact after all these years. He replaces his ordinary leather bag with the Bag of Holding, increasing his total inventory space by +6 slots.
Wearing armor means that you can't carry as much, but there is a trade-off—you become more resistant to harm. If you are wearing medium or heavy armor—and you are appropriately proficient—you gain the following perk:
- Medium Armor: Reduce any bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage that you take from non-magical weapons by half your proficiency bonus (rounded down), to a minimum of 1.
- Heavy Armor: Reduce any bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage that you take from non-magical weapons by your proficiency bonus, to a minimum of 1.
This perk doesn't stack with any additional armor feats or bonuses you might gain—use the highest value.
Item size is measured in slots, telling you just how much space an item requires in your inventory. Items generally fall into one of four sizes: tiny, small, medium, and large.
|Tiny||Very small (smaller than a hand); Can hold many in one hand.||0.2|
|Small||Short length (up to a handspan / 9 inches); Held comfortably with one hand.||1|
|Medium||Medium length (up to an arms-length / 2ft); Held with one hand.||2|
|Large||Long length (longer than an arm); Requires one or two hands to hold.||3|
When categorizing an item, consider the overall size of it against the average person—don't worry too much about weight unless there's good reason to.
You can store up to 5 tiny items, 5 gemstones, or 100 assorted coins in a single item slot.
Some items may be extra-large—a big water barrel, a giant's sword, a stone boulder. When deciding the size of these items, use multiples of 3 slots—6, 9, 12, etc.
- GM:Clanda, inside the chest you find 300 silver coins and a small marble carving of a horse.
- Clanda:Brilliant. I'll pour it all into my bag.
- GM:300 coins will take up 3 slots, and the statue another 1 slot. What's your load?
- Clanda:Damn it, 4 slots puts me way over my limit. Hey, dwarf—you have room, carry this for me.
- Krazak:Sure thing, witch. For a price.
- Clanda:Son of a...
|Name||Armor Class (AC)||Cost||Size|
|Light, Padded||11 + DEX||5 gp||L, 3|
|Light, Leather||11 + DEX||10 gp||L, 3|
|Light, Studded Leather||12 + DEX||45 gp||L, 3|
|Medium, Hide||12 + DEX (Max 2)||10 gp||XL, 6|
|Medium, Chain Shirt||13 + DEX (Max 2)||50 gp||XL, 6|
|Medium, Scale Mail||14 + DEX (Max 2)||50 gp||XL, 6|
|Medium, Breastplate||14 + DEX (Max 2)||400 gp||XL, 6|
|Medium, Half Plate||15 + DEX (Max 2)||750 gp||XL, 6|
|Heavy, Ring Mail||14||30 gp||XXL, 9|
|Heavy, Chain Mail||16||75 gp||XXL, 9|
|Heavy, Splint Mail||17||200 gp||XXL, 9|
|Heavy, Plate Mail||18||1,500 gp||XXL, 9|
|Shield||+2||10 gp||M, 2|
|Battleaxe||1d8 slashing||10 gp||L, 3|
|Blowgun||1 piercing||10 gp||S, 1|
|Club||1d4 bludgeoning||1 sp||M, 2|
|Crossbow, Hand||1d6 piercing||75 gp||S, 1|
|Crossbow, Light||1d8 piercing||25 gp||M, 2|
|Crossbow, Heavy||1d10 piercing||50 gp||L, 3|
|Dagger||1d4 piercing||2 gp||S, 1|
|Dart||1d4 piercing||5 cp||T, 0.2|
|Flail||1d8 bludgeoning||10 gp||M, 2|
|Glaive||1d10 slashing||20 gp||L, 3|
|Greataxe||1d12 slashing||30 gp||L, 3|
|Greatclub||1d8 bludgeoning||2 sp||L, 3|
|Greatsword||2d6 slashing||50 gp||L, 3|
|Halberd||1d10 slashing||20 gp||L, 3|
|Handaxe||1d6 slashing||5 gp||M, 2|
|Javelin (5)||1d6 piercing||5 sp||L, 3|
|Lance||1d12 piercing||10 gp||L, 3|
|Light Hammer||1d4 bludgeoning||2 gp||S, 1|
|Longbow||1d8 piercing||50 gp||L, 3|
|Longsword||1d8 slashing||15 gp||L, 3|
|Mace||1d6 bludgeoning||5 gp||M, 2|
|Maul||2d6 bludgeoning||10 gp||L, 3|
|Morningstar||1d8 piercing||15 gp||M, 2|
|Net||—||1 gp||S, 1|
|Pike||1d10 piercing||5 gp||L, 3|
|Quarterstaff||1d6 bludgeoning||2 sp||L, 3|
|Rapier||1d8 piercing||25 gp||M, 2|
|Scimitar||1d6 slashing||25 gp||M, 2|
|Shortbow||1d6 piercing||25 gp||M, 2|
|Shortsword||1d6 piercing||10 gp||M, 2|
|Sickle||1d4 slashing||1 gp||S, 1|
|Sling||1d4 bludgeoning||1 sp||S, 1|
|Spear||1d6 piercing||1 gp||L, 3|
|Trident||1d6 piercing||5 gp||L, 3|
|War Pick||1d8 piercing||5 gp||M, 2|
|Warhammer||1d8 bludgeoning||15 gp||L, 3|
|Whip||1d4 slashing||2 gp||S, 1|
|Camel||Large||50ft||50 gp||24 slots|
|Donkey or Mule||Medium||40ft||8 gp||23 slots|
|Elephant||Huge||40ft||200 gp||33 slots|
|Horse, Draft||Large||50ft||50 gp||25 slots|
|Horse, Riding||Large||60ft||75 gp||24 slots|
|Mastiff||Medium||40ft||25 gp||19 slots|
|Pony||Medium||40ft||30 gp||20 slots|
|Warhorse||Large||60ft||400 gp||25 slots|
|Burglar's Pack||16 gp||17 slots|
|Diplomat's Pack||39 gp||9 slots|
|Dungeoneer's Pack||12 gp||22 slots|
|Entertainer's Pack||40 gp||11 slots|
|Explorer's Pack||10 gp||20 slots|
|Priest's Pack||19 gp||11 slots|
|Scholar's Pack||40 gp||5 slots|
|Note: 1 days-worth of rations = 2 rations|
|Abacus||2 gp||S, 1|
|Acid (vial)||25 gp||T, 0.2|
|Alchemist’s Fire (flask)||50 gp||S, 1|
|Ammo, Arrows (20)||1 gp||S, 1|
|Ammo, Bolts (20)||1 gp||S, 1|
|Ammo, Bullets (20)||4 cp||S, 1|
|Ammo, Needles (50)||1 gp||S, 1|
|Antitoxin (vial)||50 gp||T, 0.2|
|Arcane Focus, Crystal||10 gp||S, 1|
|Arcane Focus, Orb||20 gp||S, 1|
|Arcane Focus, Rod||10 gp||S, 1|
|Arcane Focus, Staff||5 gp||L, 3|
|Arcane Focus, Wand||10 gp||S, 1|
|Ball Bearings (1,000)||1 gp||S, 1|
|Barrel||2 gp||XXL, 9|
|Bedroll||1 gp||M, 2|
|Bell||1 gp||S, 1|
|Blanket||5 sp||S, 1|
|Block & Tackle||1 gp||S, 1|
|Book||25 gp||S, 1|
|Bottle, Glass||2 gp||S, 1|
|Bucket||5 cp||M, 2|
|Caltrops (20)||1 gp||S, 1|
|Candle||1 cp||T, 0.2|
|Case||1 gp||S, 1|
|Chain (10 ft)||5 gp||S, 1|
|Chalk (1 piece)||1 cp||T, 0.2|
|Chest||5 gp||XL, 6|
|Clothes, Common||5 sp||S, 1|
|Clothes, Costume||5 gp||M, 2|
|Clothes, Fine||15 gp||M, 2|
|Clothes, Traveler’s||2 gp||S, 1|
|Component Pouch||25 gp||S, 1|
|Crowbar||2 gp||M, 2|
|Druid Focus, Mistletoe||1 gp||S, 1|
|Druid Focus, Staff||5 gp||L, 3|
|Druid Focus, Totem||1 gp||S, 1|
|Druid Focus, Wand||10 gp||S, 1|
|Fishing Tackle||1 gp||S, 1|
|Flask or Tankard||2 cp||S, 1|
|Game, Cards||5 sp||S, 1|
|Game, Dice||1 sp||S, 1|
|Game, Dragonchess||1 gp||S, 1|
|Game, 3 Dragon Ante||1 gp||S, 1|
|Grappling Hook||2 gp||S, 1|
|Hammer||1 gp||S, 1|
|Hammer, Sledge||2 gp||L, 3|
|Holy Symbol, Amulet||5 gp||S, 1|
|Holy Symbol, Emblem||5 gp||S, 1|
|Holy Symbol, Reliquary||5 gp||S, 1|
|Holy Water (flask)||25 gp||S, 1|
|Hourglass||25 gp||S, 1|
|Hunting Trap||5 gp||S, 1|
|Ink||10 gp||T, 0.2|
|Ink Pen||2 cp||T, 0.2|
|Instrument, Bagpipes||30 gp||L, 3|
|Instrument, Drum||6 gp||M, 2|
|Instrument, Dulcimer||25 gp||L, 3|
|Instrument, Flute||2 gp||S, 1|
|Instrument, Horn||3 gp||M, 2|
|Instrument, Lute||35 gp||M, 2|
|Instrument, Lyre||30 gp||M, 2|
|Instrument, Pan Flute||12 gp||S, 1|
|Instrument, Shawm||2 gp||M, 2|
|Instrument, Viol||30 gp||M, 2|
|Jug or Pitcher||2 cp||S, 1|
|Kit, Climbers||25 gp||S, 1|
|Kit, Disguise||25 gp||S, 1|
|Kit, Forgery||15 gp||S, 1|
|Kit, Healer’s||5 gp||S, 1|
|Kit, Mess||2 sp||S, 1|
|Kit, Poisoner’s||50 gp||S, 1|
|Ladder (10 ft)||1 sp||L, 3|
|Lamp||5 sp||S, 1|
|Lantern, Bullseye||10 gp||S, 1|
|Lantern, Hooded||5 gp||S, 1|
|Lock||10 gp||S, 1|
|Magnifying Glass||100 gp||S, 1|
|Manacles||2 gp||S, 1|
|Mirror, Steel||5 gp||S, 1|
|Oil (flask)||1 sp||S, 1|
|Paper (1 sheet)||2 sp||T, 0.2|
|Parchment (1 sheet)||1 sp||T, 0.2|
|Perfume (vial)||5 gp||T, 0.2|
|Pick, Miner’s||2 gp||L, 3|
|Piton||5 cp||T, 0.2|
|Poison, Basic (vial)||100 gp||T, 0.2|
|Pole (10 ft)||5 cp||L, 3|
|Pot, Iron||2 gp||S, 1|
|Potion of Healing||50 gp||S, 1|
|Ram, Portable||4 gp||XL, 6|
|Ration (1)||1 sp||T, 0.2|
|Rope, Hempen (50 ft)||1 gp||S, 1|
|Rope, Silk (50 ft)||10 gp||S, 1|
|Scale, Merchant’s||5 gp||S, 1|
|Sealing Wax||5 sp||T, 0.2|
|Shovel||2 gp||L, 3|
|Signal Whistle||5 cp||T, 0.2|
|Signet Ring||5 gp||T, 0.2|
|Soap||2 cp||T, 0.2|
|Spellbook||50 gp||S, 1|
|Spikes, Iron (10)||1 gp||S, 1|
|Spyglass||1,000 gp||S, 1|
|Tent, Two-person||2 gp||L, 3|
|Tinderbox||5 sp||S, 1|
|Tools, Alchemist||50 gp||M, 2|
|Tools, Brewer||20 gp||M, 2|
|Tools, Calligrapher||10 gp||S, 1|
|Tools, Carpenter||8 gp||S, 1|
|Tools, Cartographer||15 gp||S, 1|
|Tools, Cobbler||5 gp||S, 1|
|Tools, Cook||1 gp||M, 2|
|Tools, Glassblower||30 gp||M, 2|
|Tools, Jeweler||25 gp||S, 1|
|Tools, Leatherworker||5 gp||M, 2|
|Tools, Mason||10 gp||M, 2|
|Tools, Navigator||25 gp||S, 1|
|Tools, Painter||10 gp||M, 2|
|Tools, Potter||10 gp||M, 2|
|Tools, Smith||20 gp||M, 2|
|Tools, Thieves||25 gp||S, 1|
|Tools, Tinker||50 gp||S, 1|
|Tools, Weaver||1 gp||M, 2|
|Tools, Woodcarver||1 gp||S, 1|
|Torch||1 cp||S, 1|
|Vial||1 gp||T, 0.2|
|Waterskin||2 sp||S, 1|
|Whetstone||1 cp||S, 1|
Vehicles—mules, carts, ships, trains—store items in the same way as characters: using item slots. Vehicles generally come in four sizes—anything larger is assumed to have as many slots as it needs.
|Small||Mule, Horse, Donkey, Wheelbarrow||18|
|Medium||Cart (2 wheels), Chariot||32|
|Large||Wagon (4 wheels), Carriage, Boat||64|
A vehicle's storage capacity may be divided into separate compartments. A mule, for example, may carry two 9-slot bags, while a cart has a single 32-slot space.
Chests, Crates, & Barrels
Some items can only safely be transported in bulk within storage containers—chests, crates, and barrels. These containers hold a number of slots equal to their size:
- A small chest fills 1 slot and holds 1 item slot.
- A large crate fills 3 slots and holds 3 item slots.
- An xx-large barrel fills 9 slots and holds 9 item slots.
Here are two examples of new characters buying some starting equipment and stashing it in their inventory.
Valiant, Human Cleric
Valiant, a human cleric with +2 STR, can hold 20 item slots of inventory. Rolling 15 on the Starting Wealth table, he starts with 150 gp to his name.
Expecting to be in the thick of battle, Valiant wants thick armor and a sturdy shield to keep danger at bay.
- War Pick (5 gp, 2 slots)
- Shield (10 gp, 2 slots)
- Healer's Kit (5 gp, 1 slot)
- Prayer Book (25 gp, 1 slot)
- Torch (1 cp, 1 slot)
- Bedroll (1 gp, 2 slots)
- Chain Mail (75 gp, 9 slots)
- Basic Ration (5)
- Clean Water (5)
- 28 gp, 9 sp, 9 cp (46 coins)
Wearing heavy armor cuts Valiant's inventory space down to 11 slots. He fills 9 slots with adventuring gear, leaving 2 slots for trinkets and treasures.
This leaves Valiant with 2 item slots and just under 29 gp to live on—enough for two weeks of a modest lifestyle.
Krazak, Dwarf Barbarian
Krazak, a dwarf barbarian with +3 STR, has 21 item slots to fill with 60 gp. With Unarmored Defense, he doesn't need nor want any additional armor—except perhaps a shield for those cowardly archers. But he does have a weakness for weapons—the bigger, the better.
- Handaxe (5 gp, 2 slots)
- Shield (10 gp, 2 slots)
- Greataxe (30 gp, 3 slots)
- Gaming Set, Dice (1 sp, 1 slot)
- Whetstone (1 cp, 1 slot)
- Chain (5 gp, 1 slot)
- Torch (1 cp, 1 slot)
- Cook's Utensils (1 gp, 2 slots)
- Basic Ration (5)
- Dwarven Ale (5)
- 9 gp, 9 sp, 8 cp (26 coins)
Of his 21 item slots, Krazak fills 13—plenty of room left over to store loot aplenty from the next wild adventure.
Spending half his gold on a beloved greataxe was a costly investment, but a barbarian is nothing without his weapons. Krazak is keen to put them to good use.
If you want to make inventory access a little more restricting for your players, try this Quickdraw variant.
Characters nominate any 3 items in their inventory as quickdraw items. Quickdraw items can be draw/removed from the inventory using a free object interaction as normal. However, any non-quickdraw item can only be accessed using a full action.
Krazak nominates his greataxe, handaxe, and shield as his 3 quickdraw items—he can take out these 3 items using a free object interaction as normal.
During a descent into the Shadowed Maw, the dwarf tries to take out a torch to light the way. As this isn't a quickdraw item, it takes Krazak a full action to dig out the torch from his bag.
A character may rearrange their inventory and change their quickdraw item selection during a short rest.
Viridian has a shortsword, dagger, and rope as his 3 quickdraw items. However, as hit points are running low across the party, Viridian swaps his quickdraw rope for a healing potion in the next short rest—just in case someone should need a quick restorative to hand.
If you want a more granular system of inventory management that puts more focus on item placement, then try using these variant rules for Containers.
Characters divide their total number of item slots into distinct containers—bags, belts, sheathes, etc—that they name, categorize, and place about their person. These containers describe where an item is on your character.
Viridian has 11 item slots in his inventory. He divides this into a 4-slot weapon sheath (for his war pick and shield), a 3-slot belt (for his healer's kit and torch), and a 4-slot bag (for his prayer book and bedroll).
Containers can be broadly separated into 4 categories. When creating your inventory containers, assign a category to each—you can mix and match categories however you like, or rename them to something more fitting (purse, bandolier, backpack, etc).
Some containers can only hold items of a particular size, or require more time to retrieve an item—so pick the right containers to suit your needs.
- Bag: A bag holds items of any size. You can draw an item from a bag with a full action.
- Belt: A belt can hold only small and tiny items. You can draw an item from a belt with a free action.
- Sheath: A sheath holds weapons and shields. You can draw an item from a sheath with a free action.
- Quiver: A quiver stores bows, crossbows, arrows, quarrels, and javelins. You can draw an item from a quiver with a free action.
Krazak wants rapid access to his weapons—he puts them in a sheath so he can draw them as a free action.
His downtime equipment—cooking tools, gaming sets, whetstones, etc—is unlikely to be needed at sudden notice, and can be stashed away in a bag.
Characters can change their containers for free during a long rest, providing they have access to basic supplies and commodities via a village, town, or city.
While in town, Viridian swaps out a 6-slot bag for a 4-slot bag and 2-slot belt to hold his healing potions.
To demonstrate how containers work, here are two new characters who—after buying equipment—divide up their item slots into appropriate containers.
Chansi, Halfling Ranger
Chansi, a halfing ranger with −1 STR, can only carry 14 item slots due to her small size and strength—humans have it so easy. Rolling 12, she starts with 120 gp.
Some decent leather armor is a must when ranging through the wild forests—animals have sharp claws. Chansi favors the trap and shortbow, but carries a sword and dagger for times when her prey gets too close.
- Shortbow (25 gp, 2 slot)
- Arrows (1 gp, 1 slot)
- Shortsword (10 gp, 2 slots)
- Dagger (2 gp, 1 slots)
- Hunting Trap (5 gp, 2 slot)
- Rope (1 gp, 1 slot)
- Studded Leather (45 gp, 3 slots)
- Basic Ration (5)
- Clean Water (5)
- 31 gp (31 coins)
The armor was costly, but it's saved Chansi's life on more than one occasion—well worth the price, and there's plenty of work for a talented ranger nowadays anyway.
Vikan, Goliath Sorcerer
Vikan, a goliath sorcerer with −1 STR, can carry up to 20 item slots thanks to his Powerful Build—he might smash his head on a few ceilings, but being big does have its advantages. Rolling 6, he starts with 60 gp.
As a sorcerer, Vikan eschews armor—it gets in the way of his raw arcane energies. He carries a quarterstaff for some basic defense and a crossbow for hunting.
- Quarterstaff (2 sp, 3 slots)
- Light Crossbow (25 gp, 2 slots)
- Bolts (1 gp, 1 slot)
- Focus, Orb (20 gp, 1 slot)
- Gaming Set, Cards (5 sp, 1 slot)
- Lamp (5 sp, 1 slot)
- Oil (1 sp, 1 slot)
- Painter's Supplies (10 gp, 2 slots)
- Blanket (5 sp, 1 slot)
- Bedroll (1 gp, 2 slots)
- Basic Ration (5)
- Clean Water (5)
- 1 gp, 8 sp (9 coins)
A keen painter, Vikan carries painting supplies with him to capture inspirational scenes out in the wild. His art isn't going to win any awards, but Vikan paints for the love of the craft and not the reward.