Neo Scavenger is a "guns or butter" game. You have a finite amount of carrying capacity, determined by three things: your physical strength (do you have the Strong or Feeble traits), the containers you find or buy (backpacks, bags, boxes and so forth), and the encumbrance (weight/space) of the items you want to carry. Every turn, you make decisions on which items to carry with you and which items to leave behind. Do you carry this weapon or that one...or more than one? Do you try to carry more water and food, or more tools? "Guns or butter" - eventually you will need both, but you have to choose which to carry now. Choose wisely, or pay the price, sooner or later.
Your strength is determined by your choice of perks and flaws.
- If you pick the Strong perk, your character gets a bunch of benefits, but most importantly he can carry an extra 50 kg of weight.
- If you pick the Feeble flaw, your character suffers a bunch of penalties, but most importantly he will be severely limited in how much gear he can wear/carry (50 kg less than normal).
- If you choose to be neither String nor Feeble, you can carry a normal amount of weight.
The weaker you are, the more important it is to make good choices in your equipment, because you don't have the luxury of carrying 'one of everything you might need'. If you can't carry very much, you will need to stash important (or valuable) items in camp sites, and pray that Looters don't steal them before you return. Being weaker means you can't afford to have backups for everything you carry, so you never waste anything and you always swap newer (better condition) items in for the older (more worn out) items you carry.
These are the most valuable items in the game, though it may not be apparent to new players. You only have two hands (which can carry only one item each), and a few locations where you can wear clothing/accessories (pants, shirt, neck). You have several locations on your body where you can carry another item - but only if you have the right kind (only a backpack type item can be worn on your back, etc). Unless you have some kind of containers, you cannot carry more gear - which means you can't haul water, food, or tools. Without containers, you are going to die, simple as that.
There are many different kinds of containers in the game. Some can be placed inside other containers (nesting them), and some have limitations on where you can carry/wear them.
- Canvas backpack - rare, goes on your back, holds a massive amount of stuff, and wears out slowly. Great if you can find one in good condition.
- Kid's backpack - uncommon, goes on your back, holds plenty of stuff, wears out slowly. Great if you can find one in good condition.
- Disposable Plastic Bag - very common, can be worn as a backpack or carried, but wears out quickly. When empty, it takes up only 1x1 space, so carry several at all times.
- Soft Birch bag - rare, one of two that can be carried in the 'left shoulder' slot. Carries a small amount of gear, wears out fairly slowly. Can be bought at ATN enclave.
- Duffle bag - very rare, one of two that can be carried in the 'left shoulder' slot. Holds a lot of stuff, wears out slowly.
- First Aid Kit - rare, often found with valuable medical supplies inside. Holds 4x4 space, can be put inside other containers or carried. Wears out slowly.
- Cardboard box - pretty common, holds a lot of stuff, but has to be carried in one hand or on a vehicle (sled, travois, cart). Wears out pretty quickly, good for storing things at camp.
- Blue jeans - gives you a 2x3 space. Cargo shorts/pants are better, trade up when you can. Clothes wear out slowly, but they do wear out, so check them.
- Cargo shorts/pants - gives you a 3x3 space. Pants are better than shorts, because they keep you warmer. Clothes wear out slowly, but they do wear out, so check them.
- Hoodie - gives you a 2x3 space, can be worn over several T-shirts, and under the Dogman Fur Coat (if you have one). Clothes wear out slowly, but they do wear out, so check them.
- Glass Bottle - common, valuable because they can carry water. Heavier than plastic bottles, can boil water in them (once), makes Glass Shards when broken.
- Plastic Bottle - very common, valuable because they can carry water. Carry several at all times.
- Pill Bottle - common, can carry small items like pills, pebbles, shards inside of them.
- Soup Can - common, holds 2x2 space, but takes up 2x3 space in your inventory. Can be used to boil water, never wears out. Always have one of these in your gear.
- Potato Chip Bag - very common, compresses to 2x2 when empty. Must be carried in your hands, wears out quickly, but useful in an emergency.
- Sling - crafted from string, it attaches to crowbars/rifles (wear one over your shoulder), and binoculars/scopes (wear around your neck). Frees up a hand space, very useful.
- Makeshift sack - crafted from an 8x10 tarp and some medium thread, this bag is carried in one hand, holds a lot of stuff, and wears out fairly slowly. Always carry a spare tarp.
- Cell phone/Laptop/Flashlight/etc - can carry one or more batteries, which in turn can carry electric charges. Not really a container for anything else, so don't waste space on them except as trade goods (they have a high value to space ratio, in that respect).
Nesting and Compressing
Given the chance, you should always nest containers inside of other containers, to get the most out of your limited space. You add a small amount of weight from the empty/nested containers, but you have spare containers when you need them later. Some containers do not nest well, others can be nested several layers deep. Some containers compress to a smaller size when empty, and can then be carried inside other containers.
- Pill Bottles fit inside just about everything else, except bottles. They take up 1x2 space, and hold 1x2 inside (good for pills, pebbles, glass shards).
- Soup Cans can hold two pill bottles, and nest well (although they take up 2x3 space themselves, while holding only 2x2 inside)
- First Aid Kits take up 4x4 space, but can hold 4x4 inside. This is very useful for carrying Bottles (which take up 1x4 each).
- Backpacks don't nest at all, but they can carry other containers inside of themselves.
- Disposable Plastic Bags compress to 1x1 when empty, and can be worn as backpacks when filled. Always have several of these as emergency backup containers.
- Potato Chip Bags compress to 2x2 when empty, and weigh almost nothing. These can be broken down into Foil Scraps via crafting.
- Cardboard Boxes can be placed inside of a Shopping Cart, allowing you to carry small items that would normally fall through the shopping cart onto the ground (pills, batteries, etc)
- Plastic/Glass Bottles are 1x4 in size, but they can carry 2x3 inside of themselves (with limitations, see below).
- Clothing items with cargo spaces can be worn, then filled, then removed and carried inside a container. For Cargo Shorts/Pants, the size will increase from 3x3 to 3x4, but its a small price to pay to be able to nest items in them inside your backpack/bag.
Plastic and Glass bottles (but not 'Pill Bottles') have a unique ability to compress items inside of them. Any 'droplet' of liquid (water, Corn-a-cola, whiskey) is 2x3 when it is on the ground, but it will fit inside of a bottle just fine. Furthermore, you can stack two droplets at a time, so you can carry two (2x3) droplets in one (1x4) bottle. This helps you a lot, because water is the most valuable resource in the game - without a supply of safe drinking water, you will die from thirst (or illness) in a few days. You really want at least 3 or 4 bottles in your gear at all times, usually more.
Bottles can also carry certain other things besides liquids, and these items also benefit from the compression effect:
- string and twine (2x2, one stack of 20). The remaining 2 spaces can be filled with pills, Gelli Bears, or glass shards.
- small mechanical parts (2x2, one stack of 20). The remaining 2 spaces can be filled with pills, Gelli Bears, or glass shards.
- berries (2x2, one stack of 5). The remaining 2 spaces can be filled with pills, Gelli Bears, or glass shards.
- mushrooms (2x2, one stack of 5). The remaining 2 spaces can be filled with pills, Gelli Bears, or glass shards.
- pills (1x1 each stack, six stacks of 10 can be carried, for a total of 60 pills in one bottle)
- Gelli Bears (1x1 each stack, six stacks of 5 can be carried, for a total of 30 Gelli Bears in one bottle)
- glass shards (1x2 each stack, 3 stacks of 5 can be carried, for a total of 15 shards in one bottle)
Even though it seems like they should be able to fit, small things like pebbles, cigarette lighters, ketchup packets and batteries cannot be carried inside a Plastic/Glass Bottle.
Vehciles are things like sleds or shopping carts, which let you carry a lot more stuff at the cost of losing some of your mobility. Vehicles are rare, and there are only a handful of different types. You can smetimes find one of these while scavenging, but if you want to build one yourself, you need the Mechanic skill (except for the Sled).
- Plastic Sled (Additional inventory space: 16x12 grid, can carry small/loose objects). Rare item, just add a sling and you're good to go.
- Travois (Additional inventory space: 16x10 grid, cannot carry small/loose objects) Easily constructed from Forest resources.
- Shopping Cart (Additional inventory space: 16x16 grid, cannot carry small/loose objects) Rare item.
- Box Cart (Additional inventory space: 16x16 grid, can carry small/loose objects) made by adding boxes to a Shopping Cart, wears out pretty fast.
To me, the Travois is the winner here, because you can make it any forest hex, as long as you brought a bunch of Medium String with you (it takes 12 medium string, which requires 36 small string to make...which you can get by breaking down clothes, etc). When it wears out, or in an emergency, you can break it down and burn the parts as fuel for your fire.
Vehicles prevent you from Running, so the first thing you do in combat is 'Ditch the Vehicle'. Remember to pick it up again after combat, or you'll feel stupid later. Since you may have to abandon your vehicle (because you're fleeing for your life from a pack of Dogmen or worse), never carry your important items in your vehicle. Use it to haul trade goods, or spare stuff, or firewood, but not your only supply of water, your only sleeping bag or your only medicine. That leads us to the final topic...
Prioritize Your Cargo Spaces
Some of your cargo space is small, some of it is large, some of it is in containers that wear out, some of it is in a vehicle that you may have to abandon. Take some time to consider which items in your inventory are the most valuable, and where you should carry them. Valuable, in this sense, means how important it is to your survival, not how much is it worth if you sell it to a vendor. A stack of ammunition may be worth $50 to a vendor, and your cigarette lighter (brand new, 100% condition) is only worth $5 to that same vendor. The lighter is far more valuable to you, esepcially if you don't have a gun that uses that ammo.
- Your least valuable items go in the vehicle, because its the first thing that you will lose if you have to run away from a deadly threat.
- Your most valuable items go into your cargo pants and Hoodie, because they wear out the slowest and if you get a crippled arm (or worse) you will still have those items on your body.
- If you have more than one of any given item (two lighters for example, or two stacks of food) try not to carry them in the same cargo space. Spreading them out means one accident won't cost you all of the same items at once. Remember the old saying "Don't put all your eggs in one basket"?
- Carry spare containers, nesting them where possible, and remember to check the condition of your containers regularly.
- Wear multiple T-shirts under your Hoodie. You can always break them down into rags and string later, and they take up no cargo space while you are wearing them.
Check my other blog entries for suggestions on how to build a survival kit out of soup cans, and carry it in your clothing cargo spaces.