In general, I'm not really on board with the encumbrance system. It feels like its whole purpose is to justify different armor types. If that's the case, then I'd prefer the mechanic be dropped, and focus be on armor saves versus weapon type. With some armors having some movement and dexterity limitations. I don't know. But I don't think I'd be missing encumbrance. It just seems contrived, and having little fun purpose.
Mostly encumbrance feels contrived because it serves so little purpose in latest builds. originally it was a much more important part of the game and was more fun because it wasn't just that annoying background mechanic that lowers initiative.
Even without strength lowering encumbrance, it is not a useless system, in fact it is a much more interesting and balanced system than item initiative modifiers because it makes overall weight past a certain threshhold lower initiative and other stats instead of every single item just lowering or raising inititaive.
Right now daggers are much better than staffs for magi becuase even basic daggers give +6 initiative while staffs give -4. The bonuses staves give to spells does not compare to a difference of 10 initiative. A well balanced encumbrance could fix this problem by looking at the overall weight of staff and light robes instead.
I disagree a bit. I can totally see having a - for both. Otherwise just cranking strength up gets rid of all initiative penalties for heavy armor. And no matter how strong you are, heavy armor should still be slowing you down a bit.
The problem with this is that to balance we get stupid things like -1 on some pieces of chainmail and not others. Also it would be very simple to make even the strongest champions not ignore the encumbrance system.
Per item initiative penalties are just a lazy and less comprehensive version of encumbrance and it makes no sense to have both except to limit how many items a unit can carry, which is not how it is implemented anyway.