Horses and Horse Management....

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GarryHamlin
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Horses and Horse Management....

#1 Post by GarryHamlin » Tue Sep 19, 2017 12:19 pm

Looking for someone with practical experience with pack animals. My question: Are there practical limits to the number of pack animals a mounted group can accommodate in a wagonless caravan? (There must be....)
Example: Let's say you have five people mounted along with a variable number of pack animals.
...What is the threshold number of pack animals that those five people can manage without significantly reducing the rate of travel? (Yes, weather and
terrain will be a factor.) And both mounts and pack animals will require some level of daily care to avoid foundering, etc. How much time would this
take? (And, yes, I get that if your horse throws a shoe or goes lame, all bets are suddenly off.)
And it also maybe matters if your pack animals are horses vs. mules, etc.
But if you were forced to come up with some sort of rule of thumb for what was a manageable approach toward understanding this, what would it be?

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Re: Horses and Horse Management....

#2 Post by pokep » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:13 am

It's mostly in the training of the animals. Most full-time pack animals are trained to stay in line and just a couple drovers can handle a large number. Feeding and caring for them (maintaining hoof health, preventing saddle sores, etc..) are more of a problem than keeping them in line - IF they are well-trained. That's in the real world. On Harn, the larger the mule train, the sooner their odor wafts towards the gargun camp . . .

It's hard to come up with a rule of thumb. Personally, as GM, if the party makes reasonable choices up front - they hire experienced animals, don't skimp on the equipment, and have at least two characters in the group with appropriate handling skills, I would require just a single Value Enhancement Roll to establish whether the pack train moves along. The outcome of that roll would tell me whether the train gets delayed and/or loses some goods to equipment or animal failure (or maybe arrives ahead of schedule!) I don't see any particular reason to treat moving a pack train differently than forging a sword or any other professional activity.

I'd save the dice rolling for appropriate encounters during the trip - perhaps bandits, predators, gargun, lightning storms, etc.. This is where the players should give good thought to how many animals they can handle. Chasing down two or three hobbled mules is pretty trivial - chasing down thirty is not. And my guess is that probably 10% of the hobbles will break - chasing down unhobbled, scared beasts in the wilderness is . . . challenging. As a GM, I prefer if the ramifications of a bad decision (e.g. taking on too many mules) show in the actual game play, rather than in abstract, mechanical rolls.

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Re: Horses and Horse Management....

#3 Post by Rothesay » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:15 am

The Silver Way article has some fairly detailed information on this topic. 8)

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9ofSwords
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Re: Horses and Horse Management....

#4 Post by 9ofSwords » Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:03 am

As does Roy Denton's Mercantylism article, in the section on Caravan Operations:
http://www.lythia.com/harnworld/guilds- ... cantylism/

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