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 mountainous deserts.

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 prevent fighting.

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 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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