Care of Animals
Although player characters should not be forced into the role of grooms, all
animals do have some basic needs that must be provided for. However, each animal
is different, so the requirements for each are listed separately.
Horses: While strong and fast, horses are not the hardiest creatures for traveling.
Horses need around ten pounds of forage and fodder a day. Furthermore, good
quality mounts should be fed grain, such as oats. A heavy war horse can't survive
the rigors of travel by grazing on grass. Characters who can't provide enough
food of high enough quality will watch their horses weaken and die. Horses must
also have water every day. This can become particularly difficult in the desert.
During daily travel, horses must be allowed to stop and rest with regular
frequency. During these stops the mount should be unsaddled or all packs removed.
If this isn't done, little profit is gained from the rest. At night horses
should be hobbled or tethered on a long rope so they can graze. If one or two are
tied, the others will generally not wander off. Horses need not be shod, unless
they walk mostly on hard-surfaced roads or rocky ground. Horseshoes should be
replaced about once a month.
Ponies, Donkeys, and Mules: These animals have much the same needs as the horse. One of their main
advantages is their ability to survive by grazing. Well accustomed to grass, there is
no need to provide them with separate fodder. Their happiness is such that
saving throws vs. death made for double movement gain a +2 bonus. This does not
apply to triple movement.
The other great advantage of these creatures is their sure-footedness. They
can travel through rugged terrain at one less than the normal movement cost.
Thus, low mountains cost only three movement points.
Camels: Camels are either suited to sandy deserts (as in the case of the dromedary) or
rocky deserts (the bactrian camel). It's worth nothing that dromedaries are
ill-suited to rocky deserts, and bactrian camels aren't appropriate mounts in
sandy deserts! Dromedary camels reduce the movement cost of sandy desert by 1
point. Bactrian camels have the same effect in rocky deserts.
All camels march better by night, when it is cooler. Dromedary camels are able
to withstand a few days of cold weather (the temperature drops drastically in
the desert at night); and some bactrian camels actually live in freezing and
Although camels can manage for long periods of time without water, they must
be fed every day. They do not need special fodder so long as grazing is
possible. On the average they should have water at least every four days, although they
can be trained to do without for longer periods, even up to several months if
green grass or leaves are available for grazing. Like horses, camels should be
hobbled or tethered to prevent them from wandering off.
Dogs: Particularly tough breeds can be used to pull sleds and sledges. Some are
suited to cold weather and will withstand a great deal of hardship. They require at
least a pound of meat a day, so characters should pack dried meat for the
dogs. If necessary, one dog can be killed to feed the others, but this is not
recommended. Beyond the needs of feeding, sled dogs tend to care for themselves
fairly well, although the characters may have to keep certain animals separated to
Elephants: As can be expected, elephants eat a prodigious amount of fodder every day. In
thickly forested areas, this can be supplied without reducing the beasts'
already slow speed. Elephants can also be found in sparsely forested plains, though.
Here, if left to graze for itself, the beast will move at ¼ its normal
movement rate. Except for the carrying capacity of the beast, the characters might as
well walk at these speeds! Elephants should bathe (or be bathed) every day and
will avail themselves of dust baths to keep biting flies away.
It should also come as no surprise that elephants can't negotiate cliffs. They
can bound down steep slopes—indeed, it is the only time they go fast—but only
at great peril to themselves and their riders. If the beast fails a saving
throw vs. breath weapon (used for general tests of dexterity), it stumbles, falls,
and rolls the rest of the way down the slope. The fall may kill or severely
injure the elephant; the choice is left to the DM. Elephants are affected only by
the deepest mud, so the movement penalty for mud is ignored.
Yaks: Yaks are suited to the cold regions of high mountains. While slow, they are
sturdy, unaffected by the cold. Their sure footing allows them to reduce all
mountain movement rates by one. They can survive by grazing on a meagre amount of
grass. Yaks also provide meat and milk for travelers. They live in cool regions
and cannot survive long in warmer climates since they are prone to collapse
from heat exhaustion.
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