Friday, February 22, 2008

Cinder: land of no horses

Cowboys and knights are totally awesome, but I've never really liked horses. It's not that I hate them or anything, they just don't excite me. So I've been thinking that for my Cinder campaign world I would ditch horses altogether and go with something dumber. Idea number one for a horse substitute is big, stupid birds:

I'd probably call them Warks.

Idea number two involves various smelly and ill-tempered reptiles. Isn't that how Tekumel rolls?

I'd love to put up a screenshot of the knights who ride wingless dragons from the old videogame King of Dragons, but I couldn't find one on the google. You have failed me, internetz!

Idea three involves mixing and matching various riding beasts and monsters-of-burden, such that a typical stable would look something like the Mos Eisley cantina but with more hay and fewer Roswell aliens playing electronic bagpipes.

Note that I'm primarily looking for ideas for the PCs races (human, elf, dwarf, hobling), since as the DM I reserve the right to mount orcish knights on giant war butterflies or whatever.


  1. Anonymous9:45 AM

    10,000,000 XP for the player who finds the golden chocobo!

    I definitely dig the no horses idea. A long, long time ago I had a character that rode an ox. Other ideas for mounts:

    Giant Dogs
    Giant Pigs

  2. Jeff --

    You win RPGs.



  3. Dammit... beat to the FF reference!


  4. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Tékumel, in fact, has no riding animals whatsoever (at least in the default campaign area). A large reptile is used as a pack animal but not as a mount. Everyone walks or else uses litters and palanquins.

  5. Thanks for the clarification, james.

  6. More ideas:

    -Giant Rabbits
    -Big goats
    -Chariots pulled by teams of 1,000 squirrels

  7. Anonymous11:35 AM

    giant snails \o/

  8. Really FAST giant tortoises with palanquins!

  9. I recall an old Dragon Magazine article back in the 80s that suggested replacing horses with more fantastic equivalents. Don't remember the issue number, but it should be fairly easy to Google.

  10. Use both lizards and warks. Warks for your traditional "goodguy" races, and lizards for the Orkz and other bad dudez.

    Actually, look over the animals and dire animals and see what's available. A patrol of halfling scouts on their dire badgers are likely to inspire all sorts of commentary.

    "Badgers? We don't need no stinkin' badgers!"

  11. Sabretooth Grizzlies!

  12. Anonymous2:04 PM

    One is reminded of old school Glorantha, where various non-horse animals were ridden by the different plains tribes (Antelope, Gazelles, etc.)

    Shouldn't Halflings ride some sort of , dunno, Giant Rabbit or something?

  13. I remember well the novelty-mount craze of the 80s, but for whatever reason I was swept into a related fad: the novelty centaur. I loved Wemics back in the day (and a jillion other variants ... I think I still have my Random Centaur table in a spiral notebook somewhere around here, where you'd roll on one table for the humanoid half and another for the beastie half and set the scale primarily according to the humanoid half, so if you rolled Frost Giant/Mouse you'd have a Frost-Giant scaled front on an almost elephant-sized mouse body) ...

  14. erin: Thanks! I'll take any excuse to flip through a decade's worth of old Dragon issues!

    S. John: That is one of the coolest die charts I've ever heard of, at least in the category of die charts that don't involve buttock amputation.

  15. I may add dinosaurs as a ridding animal in my campaign, thanks for the idea.

  16. Anonymous4:16 PM

    Back in 2nd edition D&D days I ran a campaign where everyone rode axebeaks, and most of the party's mounts had the quirk of stopping suddenly to stare at random things that caught their attention. Whatever you mount 'em on, make 'em intensely stupid and the fun will flow.

    P.S. In this campaign, the badass knights got to ride velociraptors.


  17. Goodly Knights = Axebeaks
    Evil Knights = Raptors
    Merchants = Baluchitherums (pack beasts)
    Peasant Draft Beast = Mini Elephant
    Savannah Barbarians = Ostriches
    Plains Barbarians = Smilodons
    Dwarves = Brown Bears
    Gray Elves = Giant Eagles (fly)
    High Elves = Giant Swans (can fly)
    Drow Elves = Giant Black Millipedes
    Gnomes = Giant Hamsters
    Halflings = Giant Mice
    Wasteland Orcs = Komodo Dragons
    Mountain Orcs = Wyverns (can fly)
    Forest Goblins = Giant Squirrels
    Swamp Goblins = Giant Hellbenders
    Hobgoblins = Giant Roaches
    Tundra Bugbears = Polar Bears
    Gnolls = Hyenadons
    Kobolds = Giant Fleas

  18. Shoggoth-sized amoebas


    Lightning bolts

    Tame tornados a la the samurai guy in Challenge of the Superfriends

    Sharks with legs

    Golems -- you ride on their backs in adult-sized papooses.

    Giant millipedes

    Flying carpets

    Vines that grow in whatever direction you guide them

    Hamster balls

    Giant flying squirrels


    Thrones carried by zombies

    None -- everyone travels via a system of catapaults and nets

    Giant, magical boots you ride in as they stomp from place to place

    Carriages with monster feet

    Human slaves bred as mounts

  19. Anonymous7:49 PM

    Dwarves = ankhegs
    Elves = giant orb weavers (spooky looking but only interested in eating giant insects)
    Humans = Rottweilers to pull carts, maybe mastiffs as pack animals

  20. Anonymous8:32 PM

    I seem to recall in Runequest that trolls had domesticated giant insects. Or I may just have imagined that.

  21. mark - any excuse for more mastiffs in fantasy gaming is a good excuse. I think I might just be unable to play in a world without mastiffs :)

    jeff - if I find it I'll scan it and post it somewhere. Actually I should scan that entire notebook; it's full of teen-gamer oddness which suspiciously resembles stuff I'm still doing years later (or vice-versa) ...

  22. orcish knights on giant war butterflies

    "Taste the sting of the Monarch!"
    --The Monarch

  23. Anonymous8:11 AM

    That 4th chocobo picture is awesome. Where did you find it?

  24. All I did was do a google image search for "chocobo knight". That pic was on page one.

  25. Dwarves on ankhegs just seems so wrong and so right all at the same time. I just picture this dwarf, patting the slimy carapace of his trusty cockroach mount, and wiping the goo onto the elf's pants, which burst into flames. Its a dwarf thing.

  26. Anonymous9:28 AM

    It occurs to me now that it'd be tough to ride something that tunnels. Maybe the dwarves have coaches they harness behind trained bulettes. Kinda like a subway car that the bulette digs the tube for as it goes.

  27. Anonymous10:14 AM

    Would that be a bulette train, Mark?

  28. Anonymous10:35 AM

    many years ago my brother told me he was going to drop hoses and use chocobos exclusively for his D&D campaign....I told him that chocobos are gayer than aids on Tuesday and I would never game with him again if he did. the horses stayed.

  29. Anon guy, you and I wouldn't play together for very long after an exchange like that. I can't quite figure out what I would do. Part of me would want to simply show you the door. Another part of me would want to say "Okay, no chocobos" but then engineer a situation where your PC would simply have to ride a pretty pink pony to survive an encounter. And then a third part of me would want to show up to the next session in a dress, just to freak your ass out.

  30. Hey Jeff...

    If you want to borrow the Vik'rit form my Savage Worlds Avatars game, go right ahead.

    For the many unknowing out there, Vik'rit were effectively giant ants. With a rider, they could only bite folks. Sans rider, they could rear up the front segent of their bodies and attack three times (one bite, two mantis-like front legs with mighty scything action (and kung-fu grip)). Nasty critters

    peace... Dave