Measuring Up

A few days ago I started to finalize the backstory and properties of my newest Pathfinder character, an Elf Paladin. After I got her backstory down and her build laid out I went to the core rulebook to look at those nice tables that give you the ability to randomly roll for height, weight, and age. My 6ft 2in Paladin turned out to be less than 120 pounds. I understand Elves are lithe creatures, but the idea of a gangley 120 pound Paladin made me a little sad. That is until I looked back at her statblock. Her 14 strength is higher than about half my current characters, shes actually kind of powerful for her weight.

Power for weight. Its an important aspect of transportation, but not so important in fighting arenas. But say for just a second, if you had to have any of the core races pull a cart, who would you pick. Before running some numbers I’d chose Half-Orc without blinking, maybe Dwarves ahead or just behind them. I went down the rabbit hole, looked to close to the face of Math-God. I decided to calculate the most effective strength to weight core-races.

For this exercise, I simplified things. I used average rolls for weight, and I averages male and female weights to get an average race-weight. In the core rulebook, the women of core races weight less than the males. Usually not by too much, but it’d be a compounding factor that’d only muddy the result. I also didn’t use any age templates. For their racial statblocks, I used the basic melee NPC statblock. We’re talking about pulling carts, you probably want melee attuned members of your respective race being your imaginary cart-pull representative. For races with an assignable bonus like Humans, Half-Orc, and Half-Elves, that bonus was assigned to Strength. I will also only be noting the pull/drag weight, which is just the maximum load multiplied by 5.

Race Base ht Base wt Modifier Wt multiplier Avg ht Avg wt Avg wt/race
Human M 58 in 120 lb 11 X5 69 in 175 lb 157.5 lb
Human F 53 in 85 lb 11 X5 64 in 140 lb
Dwarf M 45 in 150 lb 5 X7 50 in 185 lb 170 lb
Dwarf F 43 in 120 lb 5 X7 48 in 155 lb
Elf M 64 in 100 lb 9 X3 73 in 127 lb 119 lb
Elf F 64 in 90 lb 7 X3 71 in 111 lb
Gnome M 36 in 35 lb 5 X1 41 in 40 lb 37.5 lb
Gnome F 34 in 30 lb 5 X1 39 in 35 lb
Half-E M 62 in 110 lb 9 X5 71 in 155 lb 145 lb
Half-F F 60 in 90 lb 9 X5 69 in 135 lb
Half-O M 58 in 150 lb 13 X7 71 in 241 lb 221 lb
Half-O F 53 in 110 lb 13 X7 66 in 201 lb
Halfling M 32 in 30 lb 5 X1 37 in 35 lb 32.5 lb
Halfling F 30 in 25 lb 5 X1 35 in 30 lb
Base Melee NPC Human Dwarf Elf Gnome Half-Elf Half-Orc Halfling
Str 13 15 13 13 11 15 15 11
Dex 11 11 11 13 11 11 11 13
Con 13 13 15 11 15 13 13 13
Int 9 9 9 11 9 9 9 9
Wis 10 10 12 10 10 10 10 10
Cha 8 8 6 8 10 8 8 10

In the end we end up with varied weights, but only 3 different strength amounts; 11, 13, and 15. The push/drag capacity of  11 Str is 575lb, 13 Str is 750lb, and 15 Str is 1,000lb.

Next we’ll take the average racial weight and divide the races carrying capacity by that. With that we’ll get pounds per pounds also known as “How many times body weight”.

Race Push/Drag Load Avg Race Wt Lb/Lb (x*body wt)
Human 1,000 lb 157.5 lb 6.35 Lb/Lb
Dwarf 750 lb 170 lb 4.41 Lb/Lb
Elf 750 lb 119 lb 6.3 Lb/Lb
Gnome 575 lb 37.5 lb 15.33 Lb/Lb
Half-Elf 1,000 lb 145 lb 6.9 Lb/Lb
Half-Orc 1,000 lb 221 lb 4.52 Lb/Lb
Halfling 575 lb 32.5 lb 17.7 Lb/Lb

Things are pretty even across the board. All the medium sized races have Lb/Lb ratios between 4.4 and 6.35. Elves have the lowest load capability, but are slighter in build and able to keep relative pace with the other medium races. The denser Half-Orc and Dwarves score lower Lb/Lb rations, even though they’re your traditional “strong” races. The small sized races break this math however. Being able to pull/drag an astonishing 15.33 times their body weight, Gnomes are outdone by their Halfling betters who can pull/drag 17.7 times their own body weight! Pound, for Pound Halflings are the strongest core race. Horray Frodo!

Below, for some real world reference I made another chart detailing some other feats of strength.

Entity Push/Drag Load Average Wt Lb/Lb
Bengal Tiger 1,213 lb 430 lb 2.82
Valiant the Dog 1,000 lb 103 lb 9.7
Kevin Fast  416,299 lb 300 lb 1,388

Pound for pound, humans are stronger than the most numerous of Tiger species. This does not mean you should go out and mess with Tigers. Absolute strength is still a thing. There’s that random fact we all learned in school that ant can lift 100 times their body weight. Have you ever been moved by an ant? Didn’t think so. The last man on the list there, Kevin Fast pulled an airplane, 1,388 times his body weight, for about 30 seconds. The values in the Pathfinder core rulebook seem to approximate burden weights, not feats of strength. Just wait for Kevin Never-Fast the Halflings double airplane pull, it’ll be the stuff of legends.


**Barbarian in the comments caught my slip up about small and large characters. Rather than edit the article I just want you to direct down to the comments for the correct numbers.**

James Ballod

James blossomed into geekdom like a piranha plant in the crack of a sidewalk. Watered by the muscle-brained lore of Warhammer 40,000 and nurtured in the rough bosom of World of Warcraft, tabletop RPGs came late in life to James. The rich lore and real-world influences in games like Pathfinder inspire James to explore them from every angle. When not being an annoying anime-fanboy he can be found discussing the history of various cuisines and over-analyzing real world influences in works of fiction.

Pathfinder & Obsidian Entertainment


  1. Christopher Eich

    This is exactly why Cheliaxians use halfling slaves. Take up less space, requires less food, yet stronger pound for pound.

  2. milo v3

    And now there is Orang-Pendak which is small sized like a gnome or halfling and has a strength bonus. Giant amount of strength compared to body weight.

  3. barbarian

    your math is in error. gnomes and halflings with a 11 in str have a drag capacity of 431.25 putting halflings at 13.26 and gnomes at 11.5. they still take the cake but the carrying capacity of small creatures is 3/4 of what you see on the chart for each strength score