Interactive Fiction often gives you an inventory but limits you to manipulating things with just “two hands.” Skyrim lets you mix up weapons and spells across both hands. Talisman lets you carry up to four items. Arkham Horror gives you “two hands worth of weapons” in combat.

Some tabletop games kind of eschew equipment all together — the White Wolf games are really fuzzy about how much and exactly what the PCs have and can carry. Those are more about what characters can do without gear anyway.

So, what if a loot-centric game like Dungeons & Dragons were somehow limited to just what the characters were holding in two hands? What if every character were defined by the four items they were allowed to carry into the dungeon?

I’ll pause here for a moment, I realize I’ve probably blown some minds.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of players crying for “Bags of Holding” for the tons and tons of stupid crap they haul around in a dungeon. I’m not even talking about the magic items they pick up and never use — I mean garbage they steal because it isn’t nailed down only to pull out weeks later in a sticky situation.

I mean the loads and loads of scrolls the Wizard is carrying around because he’s too lazy to sell them or scribe them into his spellbook or whatever, which he pulls out of thin air that randomly “breaks” whatever the party is now facing.

Sure, when he originally picked up the scroll of “Fly,” it was perfect for what the party was facing, but later completely ruins a “lost in the wilderness” adventure.

Some of you might be shaking your heads now, thinking that I just don’t get it — that’s what the game is about, or some such nonsense — but hold on. This is on the other end of that “bookkeeping” problem I was just talking about.

The same players who refuse to count arrows and wand charges used will track every random item they find with a niche effect, to be exploited later.

I’m calling “BS.”

Fine then, what am I calling for? Nobody tracks wand charges but they carry a library of single-use scrolls? Or they only get four items that count for everything they can bring to a given encounter? I think it’s time for a new gear system.

I think the point will be that “gear” plays into the skill system I’ve described — and also into the “trades” system as I’ve described it. A character is assumed to be carrying equipment that matches their profession, basically “at all times.”

Furthermore, by simplifying the skill system and making individual skills more “effects-based” as opposed to “theme-based,” less overall gear is necessary because “effect” skills fill the gap previously covered by “theme” skills.

That leaves us needing less gear for use in combat — now you just need a weapon or two, a suit of armor, and maybe a spell focus or two. Then, maybe switching between a couple items can be a viable combat tactic — then, maybe disarming or destroying equipment can be a “thing” to do in a fight.

Then, maybe recovering arrows or recharging wands will mean something.