A Horse For my (Digital) Kingdom

It is hard to imagine a fantasy campaign without horses. The image of the mounted knight is iconic and even in those rare settings that don’t borrow anything from medieval England there are Mongolian and American Indian traditions that depend on horses and are heavily borrowed from. Even fantasy campaigns that do not have horses generally have an equivalent beast. The partnership of a large, relatively docile herd animal mount and a human rider, is one of the oldest and horses have been bred for centuries for certain traits. Modern horses bear almost as little resemblance to their prehistoric ancestors as dogs do to wolves.

And even beyond fantasy campaigns, many sci-fi games include some sort of riding beast. It may be horses, some kind of bio-engineered creature, a massive insect or even a predator. For that matter, it may not be alive. Explanations for the use of these creatures generally revolve around their efficacy in exploring uncivilized worlds.

Personally, I don’t have too much love for horses. Raised around them, I don’t see them as noble, powerful beasts but rather big, stupid animals. Still, I see the appeal. Horses are very docile, generally and can be quite loving and there is something appealing about their speed and strength and the way you can command it.

Of course, there can be an almost mystic (not just “almost” in some campaigns) bond between a rider and mount and in their way, horses can be almost as loyal as dogs, so it is just as likely that someone will want such an animal for a Distinct Ally as they will want a dog. Please review the Distinct Ally rules in the a Blog and Its Dogs post if you haven’t read it yet or you need a refresher.

Without further ado, here are a few edges such an equine (or other mount) ally can take.

Smooth Gait
Requirements: Mount, Novice
Your stride is exceptionally smooth and, more importantly, your movements in general are not jerky. It is rather easy for riders to stay on your back. Any time your rider must make a check to remain mounted, you may assist them. Treat this as a cooperative roll with your agility as your check.

Even Tempered
Requirements: Mount, Novice.
Most mounts can be quite skittish and are easy to startle. Not you. You gain a +2 to any fear or surprise checks.

And Hindrances:

Sway Backed (Major)
Rather than a straight, powerful back, your spine dips noticeably. In addition to being an unappealing look, this also demonstrates a weakness of your spine. While you can still pull as much weight, you cannot carry as much. Your carrying capacity is ¾ that of a normal mount with your strength.

Tendermouthed (Minor)
Whether it actually does hurt you or you simply do not like the feel of it, you react poorly to having a bit in your mouth. Any time a rider makes a check to try to guide you, they take a -1 penalty. This does not apply to checks to remain mounted.

Talking Horse
Most horses are simple brutes and beasts of burden. A few are quite clever. There are likely even those who have human like intelligence. This kind of horse is as intelligent as a human and quite capable of carrying on a conversation with one in his own language. It is unknown how talking horses came to be, though some believe they are an experiment by an arcane experimenter while others believe they were created by some equine god and yet others assume they are simply the result of random magic or a mutation. Some of the talking horses themselves claim that all horses can talk and they are the only ones who bother to do so. Others disdain the dumb creatures that resemble them. In any case they will not talk about the subject though sometimes it is difficult to get them to shut up about anything else. Talking horses are indiscernible from regular horses physically.

Agility: d8, Smarts: d6, Spirit: d8, Strength: d12, Vigor: d8
Skills: Fighting d6, Guts d6, Knowledge (any one) d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d6, Taunt d8
Pace: 10 Parry: 5 Toughness: 8
Special abilities:
Fleet footed: Talking horses roll a d8 when running instead of a d6
Kick: Str + d4
Size +2: Talking horses are the same size as riding horses

Zebra Centaurs
Native to wild and rugged plains, zebra centaurs do not grow to be quite as big or strong as their wood and hill dwelling cousins. They have close family bonds and will not abandon a tribesman and will sacrifice themselves to save their kin. They constantly have to travel to find enough food to eat and to avoid predators. This traveling means that they produce little technology, not able to stop in one place long enough to set up the forges necessary for such activities. Their weapons are generally constructed from wood and stone or soft metals though they will gladly trade for steel and often set up regular meetings with outside traders to garner such goods. As may be suspected from their names, Zebra Centaurs’ lower bodies are covered in black and white stripes. Each Zebra Centaur’s stripes are unique and can be used to identify them.

Size +1: Zebra Centaur’s equine bodies are relatively small and their humanoid torsos are smaller than a human’s but their bulk still makes them noticeably larger than a human.
Speed: A Zebra Centaur’s powerful equine legs make it quite fast and it has a pace of 10.
Child of the Plains: Zebra Centaurs have little interaction with technology and little need for it. They often marvel at the ridiculous amount of items strangers carry. They suffer a -2 to repair rolls and if they roll a 1 while using a piece of machinery or technology they damage it.
Strong Family Bonds: Zebra Centaurs will gladly sacrifice themselves for another member of their tribe and will not leave them behind if they are in danger.

Not exactly a horse, but a cool mount, nonetheless:
Muntjacks are omnivorous creatures native to the Ravnivori continent. On the surface they somewhat resemble sleek elk. However, closer examination quickly reveals the long canine teeth that extend from their upper jaws and out of their mouths. Although most of a Muntjack’s diet consists of grains and fruit, they have been known to eat carrion and hunt herbivores in times of need. Wild Muntjacks and most domesticated versions are just as fast and agile as other elk and deer, the creatures have been domesticated for quite some time and the Ravnivori have bred a larger, stronger version as a war mount.
Common Agility: d8 Smarts: d4(A) Spirit: d6 Strength: d12+1 Vigor: d8
Skills: Fighting: d8, Guts: d8, Notice: d6
Pace: 10 Parry: 6 Toughness: 8
Special Abilities: Fleet footed: Muntjacks roll a d8 instead of a d6 when running.
Antlers: Str+d6
Size: +2
War Agility: d6 Smarts: d4(A) Spirit: d8 Strength: d12+2 Vigor: d10
Skills: Fighting: d8, Guts: d8, Notice: d6
Pace: 8 Parry: 6 Toughness: 10
Special Abilities: Fleet footed: Muntjacks roll a d8 instead of a d6 when running.
Antlers: Str+d8
Size: +3
Some equipment for horses:

Saddlebags of plenty: One of the saddlebags in this set provides enough food and water for a single horse and a human sized rider per day. The other is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can hold as much material as a chest, approximately 30 cubic feet. The objects stored in the bag must still fit through the mouth.

Fast Horseshoes: These enchanted horseshoes can be affixed to the hooves of any appropriate mount. They imbue the animal with extra speed. Their pace increases by 2 and their die type when running increases by one.

Zephyr Horseshoes: When these horseshoes are affixed to a mounts hooves, they allow the animal to literally walk on air. The animal’s flying pace is equal to its normal pace and it may run as normal. Its climb pace is equal to half its normal pace. Additionally, the animal never quite touches the ground but rather levitates a fraction of an inch over it. It leaves no tracks, even when traveling at ground level, rough terrain has no effect on it and it may run over water or other similar hazards with no fear of sinking.

It is hard to imagine a fantasy campaign without horses. The image of the mounted knight is iconic and even in those rare settings that don’t borrow anything from medieval England there are Mongolian and American Indian traditions that depend on horses and are heavily borrowed from. Even fantasy campaigns that do not have horses generally have an equivalent beast. The partnership of a large, relatively docile herd animal mount and a human rider, is one of the oldest and horses have been bred for centuries for certain traits. Modern horses bear almost as little resemblance to their prehistoric ancestors as dogs do to wolves.

And even beyond fantasy campaigns, many sci-fi games include some sort of riding beast. It may be horses, some kind of bio-engineered creature, a massive insect or even a predator. For that matter, it may not be alive. Explanations for the use of these creatures generally revolve around their efficacy in exploring uncivilized worlds.

Personally, I don’t have too much love for horses. Raised around them, I don’t see them as noble, powerful beasts but rather big, stupid animals. Still, I see the appeal. Horses are very docile, generally and can be quite loving and there is something appealing about their speed and strength and the way you can command it.

Of course, there can be an almost mystic (not just “almost” in some campaigns) bond between a rider and mount and in their way, horses can be almost as loyal as dogs, so it is just as likely that someone will want such an animal for a Distinct Ally as they will want a dog. Please review the Distinct Ally rules in the a Blog and Its Dogs post if you haven’t read it yet or you need a refresher.

Without further ado, here are a few edges such an equine (or other mount) ally can take.

Smooth Gait
Requirements: Mount, Novice
Your stride is exceptionally smooth and, more importantly, your movements in general are not jerky. It is rather easy for riders to stay on your back. Any time your rider must make a check to remain mounted, you may assist them. Treat this as a cooperative roll with your agility as your check.

Even Tempered
Requirements: Mount, Novice.
Most mounts can be quite skittish and are easy to startle. Not you. You gain a +2 to any fear or surprise checks.

And Hindrances:

Sway Backed (Major)
Rather than a straight, powerful back, your spine dips noticeably. In addition to being an unappealing look, this also demonstrates a weakness of your spine. While you can still pull as much weight, you cannot carry as much. Your carrying capacity is ¾ that of a normal mount with your strength.

Tendermouthed (Minor)
Whether it actually does hurt you or you simply do not like the feel of it, you react poorly to having a bit in your mouth. Any time a rider makes a check to try to guide you, they take a -1 penalty. This does not apply to checks to remain mounted.

Talking Horse
Most horses are simple brutes and beasts of burden. A few are quite clever. There are likely even those who have human like intelligence. This kind of horse is as intelligent as a human and quite capable of carrying on a conversation with one in his own language. It is unknown how talking horses came to be, though some believe they are an experiment by an arcane experimenter while others believe they were created by some equine god and yet others assume they are simply the result of random magic or a mutation. Some of the talking horses themselves claim that all horses can talk and they are the only ones who bother to do so. Others disdain the dumb creatures that resemble them. In any case they will not talk about the subject though sometimes it is difficult to get them to shut up about anything else. Talking horses are indiscernible from regular horses physically.

Agility: d8, Smarts: d6, Spirit: d8, Strength: d12, Vigor: d8
Skills: Fighting d6, Guts d6, Knowledge (any one) d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d6, Taunt d8
Pace: 10 Parry: 5 Toughness: 8
Special abilities:
Fleet footed: Talking horses roll a d8 when running instead of a d6
Kick: Str + d4
Size +2: Talking horses are the same size as riding horses

Zebra Centaurs
Native to wild and rugged plains, zebra centaurs do not grow to be quite as big or strong as their wood and hill dwelling cousins. They have close family bonds and will not abandon a tribesman and will sacrifice themselves to save their kin. They constantly have to travel to find enough food to eat and to avoid predators. This traveling means that they produce little technology, not able to stop in one place long enough to set up the forges necessary for such activities. Their weapons are generally constructed from wood and stone or soft metals though they will gladly trade for steel and often set up regular meetings with outside traders to garner such goods. As may be suspected from their names, Zebra Centaurs’ lower bodies are covered in black and white stripes. Each Zebra Centaur’s stripes are unique and can be used to identify them.

Size +1: Zebra Centaur’s equine bodies are relatively small and their humanoid torsos are smaller than a human’s but their bulk still makes them noticeably larger than a human.
Speed: A Zebra Centaur’s powerful equine legs make it quite fast and it has a pace of 10.
Child of the Plains: Zebra Centaurs have little interaction with technology and little need for it. They often marvel at the ridiculous amount of items strangers carry. They suffer a -2 to repair rolls and if they roll a 1 while using a piece of machinery or technology they damage it.
Strong Family Bonds: Zebra Centaurs will gladly sacrifice themselves for another member of their tribe and will not leave them behind if they are in danger.

Not exactly a horse, but a cool mount, nonetheless:
Muntjacks are omnivorous creatures native to the Ravnivori continent. On the surface they somewhat resemble sleek elk. However, closer examination quickly reveals the long canine teeth that extend from their upper jaws and out of their mouths. Although most of a Muntjack’s diet consists of grains and fruit, they have been known to eat carrion and hunt herbivores in times of need. Wild Muntjacks and most domesticated versions are just as fast and agile as other elk and deer, the creatures have been domesticated for quite some time and the Ravnivori have bred a larger, stronger version as a war mount.
Common Agility: d8 Smarts: d4(A) Spirit: d6 Strength: d12+1 Vigor: d8
Skills: Fighting: d8, Guts: d8, Notice: d6
Pace: 10 Parry: 6 Toughness: 8
Special Abilities: Fleet footed: Muntjacks roll a d8 instead of a d6 when running.
Antlers: Str+d6
Size: +2
War Agility: d6 Smarts: d4(A) Spirit: d8 Strength: d12+2 Vigor: d10
Skills: Fighting: d8, Guts: d8, Notice: d6
Pace: 8 Parry: 6 Toughness: 10
Special Abilities: Fleet footed: Muntjacks roll a d8 instead of a d6 when running.
Antlers: Str+d8
Size: +3
Some equipment for horses:

Saddlebags of plenty: One of the saddlebags in this set provides enough food and water for a single horse and a human sized rider per day. The other is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can hold as much material as a chest, approximately 30 cubic feet. The objects stored in the bag must still fit through the mouth.

Fast Horseshoes: These enchanted horseshoes can be affixed to the hooves of any appropriate mount. They imbue the animal with extra speed. Their pace increases by 2 and their die type when running increases by one.

Zephyr Horseshoes: When these horseshoes are affixed to a mounts hooves, they allow the animal to literally walk on air. The animal’s flying pace is equal to its normal pace and it may run as normal. Its climb pace is equal to half its normal pace. Additionally, the animal never quite touches the ground but rather levitates a fraction of an inch over it. It leaves no tracks, even when travelling at ground level, rough terrain has no effect on it and it may run over water or other similar hazards with no fear of sinking.

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