Sunday, February 25, 2018

Optional Rules: Magnificient Mounts

OR, What Color Is My Horse?

"Young Wyatt's eyes were glued to the riders on either side of the jousting list. He couldn't believe how fast their mounts moved as they barreled towards each other, hooves thundering, their rider's armor flashing in the bright sunlight as their lances locked into place. It only took seconds for the horses to reach each other and the impact the lances made upon the opposing shields was tremendous, but the horses kept stride as if nothing had happened.
The 12 year old couldn't help but be fascinated by the horses. He started working with them at the age of 6 when he entered the service of Sir Aston Wyndham, a local knight. Because of his lowly birth, Sir Wyndham could not take Wyatt on as either paige nor squire. However, he did allow Wyatt to serve as a stable hand for Wyatt loved being around all the horses. He had a knack for getting them to behave. Especially Sir Wyndham's spirited Hobby, Shadow.
The cheers from the jousting field brought the boy's attention back to the riders. One of them had just been unhorsed and his squire was chasing after the knight's loose Courser. As the squire worked to get the wayward mount under control, the crowd started to murmur. Wyatt looked to the end of the field. He had only heard tales of how large and powerful a Destrier was, but he never imagined that he would see one. The horse was so big, the boy could have walked right under its belly without having to duck. His eyes were glued to the field as the riders lined up, the Destrier pawing at the ground, ready to charge. And then the thunder began. The rider urged the Destrier forward and Wyatt could feel the ground shake every time a hoof struck the dirt. He had to duck for cover as the rider's lances hit each other's shields. There was so much power behind the Destrier, that both lances exploded into splinters as the other rider was knocked off his horse, slamming into the dirt some feet away. Wyatt couldn't believe it! He had never seen anything like this before.
"Wyatt!" A voice called out. "Wyatt! Where are you? There is still work to be done!" Wyatt jumped. He was in for it now. He was supposed to be out getting water for Sir Wyndhams Courser. He had stopped to watch the joust instead. He climbed off of the fence that he had been using for a seat, dropped onto the bucket he had used as a step stool, then ran towards the trough as fast as his scrawny legs could carry him."

Horse breeding in medieval times was very different from modern horse breeding. Unlike modern times, where breeders keep track of breeds and bloodlines, medieval horse breeders did not. The animals were seen as transportation and tools for farming. But eventually, horses made their way on to the battlefield and people began to realize how essential a good horse was. They began to breed horses for selective traits. Most medieval horses were bred for a purpose and were classified into several categories. A break down of the various categories follows.

Destriers: Destriers were highly prized and admired for their war capabilities. They were well trained and required to be strong, fast, and agile. They were not very common and were well suited for jousting. While they were big, they weren't always as big as modern draft horses (ex. a Clydesdale). They were also encourage to be spirited and aggressive. These are the equivalent of a heavy war horse

Coursers: Coursers were light, fast, and strong. They were a cheaper version of a destrier and more common among poorer knights. While they were commonly used for battle, they were also used for hunting. They are classified as medium war horses.

Hobby: A hobby is a light weight war horse that is known for being quick and agile. It was commonly used by light cavalry for skirmishing or hit and run tactics.

Rouncey: A Rouncey was a general all-purpose horse. It could be used for riding or war. Commonly used by poor knights or squires. They can sometimes be used as pack horses, but never cart horses.

Palfrey: A Palfrey could be just as expensive as a Destrier. It was popular among Nobles and highly ranked knights for riding, hunting, and ceremonial use.

Jennet: A Jennet is a smaller horse or pony, favored by the ladies. They are easier to care for than a Palfrey and many ladies would use them for pilgrimages or traveling long distances. 

Cart Horse: These are horses that are not trained to handle a rider. They are only used for pulling carts.

Donkey : Mostly used as pack animals or work animals. They can be ridden, but only by light weight riders.

Mule: Mostly used as a pack animal. They are generally more docile and easier to handle than a horse, but it cannot be used to breed. They are bigger than donkeys.

Suggested pricing for horses:

  • Destrier 400g
  • Courser 200g
  • Hobby 100g
  • Rouncey 50g
  • Palfrey 150g
  • Jennet 40g
  • Cart Horse 20g
  • Mule 20g
  • Donkey 8g

A horse's coloring can be extremely varied. There are so many possible combinations of base colors, patterns, and markings that it became next to impossible to draw up a random horse table without it being 2 pages long. So after many failed attempts, and several moments where I ALMOST threw my computer out the window, I stripped it down to the most common markings and colorings. In order to use the table, first roll to determine your horse's color. Then roll to determine if the horse has any markings. Some results may increase the value of the horse. A lack of markings, or a pure white color, was really desirable. 
Colors: Roll 1d6 to determine the base color
1: Bay: Body color ranges from a light redish brown to a dark brown with black manes, tail, and lower legs. Can have Markings
2: Black: Solid black coat. Can have Markings.
3: Buckskin: The body coloring is similar to a tanned deer skin with a black mane and tail. No markings
4: Chestnut: Reddish body color with no black. The mane and tail are the same color. Can have Markings
5: Grey: Solid Grey coloring. Can have markings
6: White: Solid White Coloring. No Markings. Increase the horses value by 50% due to a rare coloring.

Type of Markings: Roll 1d6
1-2: No markings. Increase horses value by 10% 
3-4: Facial Marking
5-6: Leg Markings

Facial Markings: Roll 1d12
1: Blaze: Wide strip of white on the face that stops around the nostrils.
2: Stripe: A thinner version of the Blaze.
3: Stripe and Nose: Stripe that runs past the nose and across the lips.
4: Irregular Blaze: An oddly shaped stripe running across the face.
5: Interrupted Stripe: The stripe is broken on the horses face.
6: Bald Face: A wide Blaze that covers most of the horses face. The horse might have blue eyes because of this.
7: Faint Star: Horse have a very small white spot (usually shaped like a diamond) on its forehead.
8: Star: White spot on the forehead, usually shaped like a diamond.
9: Irregular Star: Oddly shaped white spot on the forehead.
10: Star and Stripe: Stripe on the face that blends into a star. The star must be wide than the stripe in order for this marking to be called a Star and Stripe.
11: Snip: Just a little white spot on the nose of the horse.
12: Lip Masking: White marking on one or both lips.

Leg Markings: How many legs are marked? Roll 1d8
1: Front Right
2: Front Left
3: Back Right
4: Back left
5: Front legs, both with the same marking
6: Back legs, both with the same markings
7: Front legs, both have different markings
8: Back legs, both have different markings

Type of Leg Markings: Roll 1d10
1-2 Stocking: white marking that extends at least to the bottom of the knee or hock, sometimes higher.
3-4 Sock: white marking that extends higher than the fetlock (ankle joint) but not as high as the knee or hock. This marking is sometimes called a "boot."
5-6 Fetlock: white marking that extends just over the fetlock(ankle joint), occasionally called a "boot."
7-8 Pastern: white marking that extends above the top of the hoof, but stops below the fetlock.
9-10 Coronet: white band just above the hoof , usually no more than 1 inch high

Age of Horse: Roll 1d6
1 Foal: A young horse that is under one year of age. It can be either male or female. Subtract 25% from the base price of the horse since it cannot be ridden until it becomes a yearling. Roll 1d6. 1-3 is Male. 4-6 is female
2 Yearling: A horse of either sex that is between one and two years old. Roll 1d6. 1-3 is Male. 4-6 is female
3 Colt: A male horse between the age of two and four.
4 Filly: A female horse between the age of two and four.
5 Mare: A female horse four years old and older.
6 Stallion: A non-castrated male horse four years old and older.

About the Author

Today's article is by our special guest contributor, Rachel Williams. Rachel is a manager at a popular national food franchise, and long-time gamer in both video and table-top media. She is an avid history buff and can often be found glued to the PBS channel and streaming documentaries.. usually far later into the night than she should.

She lives in Upstate New York, with her adorable cat and equally adorable husband (the Editior). 

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