My horses keep dying. What do?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Serious question: How do you keep your pack animals alive? You can hire a few NPC grooms to keep watch while you're down in the dungeon, but they're more fragile than the mules themselves. Do you just abstract it all away and use the Jade Regent caravan system? Play softball and never attack the animals? When it comes time to leave your vulnerable chocobos alone in the parking lot, how do you like to handle it?

Comic related.


Buy new ones. My players have their horses killed out from under them all the time. Ignoring they're there is a video game silliness that shouldn't be encouraged in my opinion.


Bags of holding to carry the loot will take care of most of the problem.


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Animate dead + the bloody template.

Sure they still get killed, but at least you don't have to keep re-buying them.

Alternatively, you can use the mount and phantom steed spells. At mid to high levels these last more than long enough with a rod of extension. Again it's not so much about trying to keep them from dying, instead its about making the cost of those deaths negligible.

Dark Archive

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Yak: These shaggy-haired relatives to cows are more at home in mountainous terrain where they are frequently used as pack animals and to pull plows. Yaks have the same statistics as bison. Price 24 gp; Weight 1,000 lbs.hp 22

vs

Horse or Pony
Type Price Weight
Heavy 200 gp 2,000 lbs. hp 19
Heavy, combat trained 300 gp 3,000 lbs.hp 19
Light 75 gp 900 lbshp 15
Light, combat trained 110 gp 1,200 lbs.hp 15
Pony 30 gp 800 lbs.hp 13
Pony, combat trained 45 gp 900 lbshp 13

the yak is superior at everything and cost less than any of them


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LordKailas wrote:

Animate dead + the bloody template.

I came here to suggest this.

Also, here are some other options:


  • - Disguise a horse as a dragon (it's easy if you pick a dragon that doesn't have ranks in Knowledge: Arcana or Knowledge: Nature, such as a Copper Dragon, who wouldn't be able to tell a Horse from a Dragon without the disguise). Play romantic music. Rear offspring. Repeat for each energy type you need your mount to have immunity to and pick the appropriate mount for the situation.

  • - As above, but with a Giant Skunk, Buffalo, Elephant and/or Wooly Rhino. While all of these choices may not result in a stronger mount, they will keep you amused.

  • - As above, but with a Dretch and the Half-Fiend template.

  • - As above, but with a Celestial (I suggest an Agathion).

Better Adventuring Through Husbandry


I dunno. I just have PC's eventually buy a wagon, get a cook/driver and give him a little protection, and have the NPC mind the gear/food while the PC's do their thing. They can buy horses, but really taking them into a fight is a bad idea unless the horses are combat trained and you have a decent PC rider with Mounted Combat.


Summoning and Binding can work - Foo Creature Template, Shadow Creature Template, etc. create outsider animals or other critters. A Shadow Creature horse can be summoned and bound as a faithful mount. Potentially with more templates added (Dire Animal, Giant, Advanced??), as you go up in level. Not to mention horse shaped outsiders - Shadow Creature Dragon Horse? (ps. free advice : don't summon and bind things smarter and tougher than you are).

Another option is constructs, eg. Clockwork Steeds.

Another option is Simalcrums. (ps. More free advice: don't abuse the spell - your GM can abuse it more than you can...)


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Take as many horse corpses as you can, keep them in a bag of holding. Flick the bag and throw horses at people, or make a barricade of dead horses and shoot from behind it.


Early on, I have more trouble with purchased animals being better at murderhoboing than the PCs. Later on, most PCs end up using spells for transportation and extradimensional spaces for carrying capacity.


I just don't leave my donkey tied up directly outside the dungeon and put a small amount of effort into concealing its location from likely routes of passersby. If it dies anyways? I generally make sure to have a potion of Ant Haul ready, so it's back to town to buy a new donkey (and a new potion). My character might be upset but out of game I'm not that bummed about being down 58gp.

From the DM perspective, I don't handwave pack animals but I treat it kind of like how I treat carrying capacity - if the players put in the effort, I don't look too closely into the details. Those hired guards might not actually be able to take on any enemy that frequents the area but it's more about the players showing that they're not giving their horses the Blackwing treatment.


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Call every one Roach and pretend nothing happened.


Y'know with all the fun in this thread no one actually mentioned the one spell that addresses the problem from level 1: Mount

Now that's just one way players at my table have dealt with pack animals. Others have included using their Animal Companions or, at later levels, their Familiars; getting extra-dimensional carrying devices as quickly as possible, or actually making a point to actively tend to their draft animals in character.

My own personal solution the one time I played recently was Profession: Tanner, Downtime, and an accommodating GM. First session of the adventure we managed to take down some corrupt animals. My PC skinned an evil deer and took the hide. We ended the next session at a village and the GM gave us downtime.

I tanned the hide, making a Profession: Tanner roll with a 23 thanks to some spells on me. I ended up making a Masterwork Backpack that allowed me to carry more than my strength would allow. With that set as the precedent the next several sessions saw me doing the same for my fellow teammates. Eventually when we hit 3rd level and our team's Wizard took Craft Wondrous Items, we all donated money as a group to turn my backpack into a Bag of Holding.


Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

Y'know with all the fun in this thread no one actually mentioned the one spell that addresses the problem from level 1: Mount

I didn't?

LordKailas wrote:
Alternatively, you can use the mount and phantom steed spells.


Oh, oops! Teach me to skim instead of read carefully! Dangit, sorry LK!


The spell doesn't last long enough to be useful. It's what, 2 hours per caster level? That won't get useful until the PC's are of a relatively high level and can afford real mounts.


Depends on the situation. It may be not enough for overland travel, but for transporting loot from a dungeon to the closest town, it should suffice.


I dunno, I've never had a town close by a dungeon before. Most of the time there's limited access to shops in the APs it seems.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Piccolo wrote:
The spell doesn't last long enough to be useful. It's what, 2 hours per caster level? That won't get useful until the PC's are of a relatively high level and can afford real mounts.

Extend Spell.

A wizard 3 with Extend Spell can scribe (since they have Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat at 1st level)* a scroll of Extended mount for 75 gp. The mount lasts 12 hours.

Besides, for the same cost the wizard can also scribe a scroll of Extended mage armor that lasts for 6 hours. And lets them prepare other spells in their spell slots when they actually go adventuring.

As they get into middle levels, a lesser rod of extend metamagic is pretty affordable (3,000 gp) and comes in extremely handy with a lot of standard buff spells (barkskin, resist energy, greater magic weapon, heroism, etc.), as well.

For non-casters, there is (with GM permission) always the custom magic item route: an Extended mount 1/day command word item that takes up an item slot (i.e., a "bracelet of horse calling") has a market price of 2,160 gp.

*- outside of PFS


Piccolo wrote:
I dunno, I've never had a town close by a dungeon before. Most of the time there's limited access to shops in the APs it seems.

A lot of the APs have pretty consistent shop access. They tend to provide lots of opportunities to be in a town between major encounters.


For me it would depend on why they are dying. Wild animal attacks, humanoids, something else is killing them. I'll take some basic precautions (not too close to the dungeon, not in plain sight, a hireling or two) then if they still keep dying I'll just carry it myself or set up an ambush to catch the (persistent) bandits. Various spells like those mentioned above usually work until myself and my companions get enough wealth to make the jump to extradimensional capacity and other more magic required means.


3.5 had some magic items dedicated to this. I forget their names though.

Name Violation wrote:

Yak: These shaggy-haired relatives to cows are more at home in mountainous terrain where they are frequently used as pack animals and to pull plows. Yaks have the same statistics as bison. Price 24 gp; Weight 1,000 lbs.hp 22

vs

Horse or Pony
Type Price Weight
Heavy 200 gp 2,000 lbs. hp 19
Heavy, combat trained 300 gp 3,000 lbs.hp 19
Light 75 gp 900 lbshp 15
Light, combat trained 110 gp 1,200 lbs.hp 15
Pony 30 gp 800 lbs.hp 13
Pony, combat trained 45 gp 900 lbshp 13

the yak is superior at everything and cost less than any of them

Except speed (40 vs a horse's 50), which is the half the reason horses are used. Yak/Bison are great for pulling but not for getting there in a hurry.


Oh hey, this might help the OP and everyone else. There was a magic item back in 3.5's Magic of Faerun that was incredibly useful and cheap. It greatly reduces water weight and dry rations.

Travel Cloak
Costs 1200gp base cost. CL 3 (create food and water was one of the spells)

Cold resistance 5
Sheds precipitation down to the knees.
Provides trail rations (or wandermeals, or racial trail rations if you wish) for one each day.
Provides either cool spring water or sugared hot tea up to 2 gallons each day using a hidden pocket inside the cloak which has a small metal flask contained therein.
Turns into a one man tent once a day.
Weighs one pound.

With this item, all you really need while traveling is a sleeping bag, winter outfit for the harshest arctic level cold and you are good to go. If the GM wants, it could be a heirloom passed down from your family, but you really should still pay for it out of your treasure.

The Exchange

Kinda sad this turned out to be a legit question. I had a half-dozen glue factory jokes queued up.

As a GM I like to make sure the players are aware such things can happen (and that they need to carry food and water, and other "logistical" things that a lot of groups just ignore). But it's not something you should be doing constantly.

As a player, my favorite solution to the problem is also the easiest for a lot of groups. When the new (to us) PFS GM asked if we were leaving our animals unattended outside the dungeon we said "yes." The paladin added "including my bonded mount horse" and the wizard chimed in "should I leave my familiar too?"

It does wonders when the animals can guard themselves.

Barring that, spells like alarm, selective alarm, or anything that creates a mental link can alert you when your animals are coming under attack. The grooms can keep off the minor pests but you'll be able to get back for the really bad stuff.


You should also understand at what level certain challenges stop being a challenge:

Level 5: With some degree of planning a party can trivialise the challenge of having enough food and water. 1 casting of Create Food and Water will create 3 days worth of food and water for your standard 5 man party. If your party can plan to have a minimal risk free day for 1 day every 4 days they can afford to spend a 3rd level they can have free food indefinitely.

Level 9: Food and Water can be overcome with an insignificant cost (1 spell slot of Create Food and Water). The party can also devote some resources to casting mount without crippling themselves in terms of power level. Overland Flight also comes online at this level which typically sees arcane casters flying for most if not all of the adventuring day which cuts down on the need of mounts.

By 9th level it isn't "taking it easy" to avoid attacking the group's mounts. It's "not getting bogged down in trivial time wasting" to avoid attacking their mounts. Or do you also keep track of rations and non-magical arrows at this level as well?


I do, as GM, have players keep close track of arrows and rations/water even into the upper levels. Every now and then, I do an audit.


Piccolo wrote:
I do, as GM, have players keep close track of arrows and rations/water even into the upper levels. Every now and then, I do an audit.

Well if they have fun with that kudos to them. But it's certainly bookkeeping that I wouldn't enjoy keeping track of (let alone performing audits!)


Have your PCs ever requested using the Living Costs rules? Scratch off 100 gp/month and they stop having to track things like inn costs (so long as they're sensible about where they stay) and most meals. Put up as much of a markup as you like to cover things like consumable spell components for casters and arrows for non-casters (200 gp/month would even be reasonable). Make them buy an efficient quiver at higher levels so they can justify shooting a million arrows per combat.

No more time consuming bookkeeping and audits.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
Piccolo wrote:
I do, as GM, have players keep close track of arrows and rations/water even into the upper levels. Every now and then, I do an audit.
Well if they have fun with that kudos to them. But it's certainly bookkeeping that I wouldn't enjoy keeping track of (let alone performing audits!)

Normally I end up leveling up the PC's in order to save time and prevent mistakes. At the same time, I do an audit of sorts.

There are magic items that provide a steady supply of food, water, arrows/bolts you know.


deuxhero wrote:
Except speed (40 vs a horse's 50), which is the half the reason horses are used. Yak/Bison are great for pulling but not for getting there in a hurry.

How fast can a horse walk, really, compared to a human? I think the horse's speed rating is based on a horse's ability to run much faster than a human.

Furthermore, a horse's walking endurance might not be so great. (I keep finding conflicting information about it.) And then it appears that horses are good at carrying live weight (eg people) while mules are superior at carrying dry weight (eg goods)... again, the information isn't very clear.

From what I gather, the entire point of using livestock to move goods (not people) is mass. A horse is a lot bigger than a human and can carry or pull much more mass than a human could.


Piccolo wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Piccolo wrote:
I do, as GM, have players keep close track of arrows and rations/water even into the upper levels. Every now and then, I do an audit.
Well if they have fun with that kudos to them. But it's certainly bookkeeping that I wouldn't enjoy keeping track of (let alone performing audits!)

Normally I end up leveling up the PC's in order to save time and prevent mistakes. At the same time, I do an audit of sorts.

There are magic items that provide a steady supply of food, water, arrows/bolts you know.

Well if that's how you enjoy the game more power to you. But you are hampering your groups ability to learn the rules by making their character for them.


Belafon wrote:


As a player, my favorite solution to the problem is also the easiest for a lot of groups. When the new (to us) PFS GM asked if we were leaving our animals unattended outside the dungeon we said "yes." The paladin added "including my bonded mount horse" and the wizard chimed in "should I leave my familiar too?"

It does wonders when the animals can guard themselves.

That's a good point. Also, guard animals are relatively cheap and should be enough to discourage pets, if you've invested in Handle Animal. A guard dog (or a combat-trained baboon) is around 25gp. A few of those will send a message to passers-by and "gently discourage" them from trying to purloin your supplies.

Quote:
Kinda sad this turned out to be a legit question. I had a half-dozen glue factory jokes queued up.

Give it time. The opportunities are certain to present themselves.


Naw, the players still make all the choices, I just do the numerical stuff so they don't screw themselves over. It also speeds things up, since I don't want to waste game time in leveling.


Does anyone make a campsite in their games? Like, you get to the dungeon, find an entrance, then backtrack like a couple hundred yards using the Survival skill to hide your tracks.

Once you've faded back a bit from the dungeon entrance, scour the area for resources, preferably wood. Using a combination of mundane materials and spells such as Expeditious Construction, create a paddock around the area. Wind rope through said paddock, and hang pots, pans and rocks from the rope. Anything that disturbs the paddock makes a noise.

With this done you camouflage the general area with brush, pitch tents and dig a pit lined with stones for a fire. Of course, you'll want to be careful about lighting said fire because it might attract wandering monsters; scout the area well first.

The hope is that you're far enough away from the dungeon that you have nothing nearby to attack your animals. Add in the paddock for some minor defense against mundane threats. Finally, if you're REALLY worried, tie the animals in place giving them a small amount of slack, then just beyond their reach line the campsite with bear traps, deadfalls (for Tiny sized creatures), snares and perhaps even a covered pit (if you're worried about tigers and such).

Another thing to think about: don't bring mounts.

At level 1 four PCs, 1 with the Survival skill and the other three rolling Aid Another checks or adding a Guidance spell, could reasonably be assumed to have a +10 or greater bonus on a Skill check. Taking 10 and sacrificing half their base speed, this party can easily find basic food and water in the wilds.

For carrying capacity, spend some starting gold on backpacks, pouches, bandoliers, etc. Once treasure is found use the Appraise skill to determine the most valuable items that the PCs can easily transport. With this done, find a spot some distance through the wilderness from the dungeon/adventure site you just raided. Using sticks, mundane tools, or even magic, dig a hole in this place and bury any treasure you're not prepared to carry back.

Crafting a treasure map requires very few materials which you might already have on you or could easily obtain from most wilderness terrains. Return to town, sell your loot, and either return with mounts/vehicles for the excess or with hirelings, extra-dimensional carrying devices, or just make a lot of trips.

Last, but certainly not least, if the party as a whole can get to an Animal Handling skill of +10 and has a couple weeks/animal of Downtime, training the creatures to fight and defend themselves well is free. At that point spending 30 GP/LG creature (I think; let me know the right cost if I'm off) for barding means that once you park these animals somewhere they've got combat training, their nerves a bit better than their wild counterparts, and +2 to their AC.


Nope, you need mounts to haul off the loot, remember? Maybe some mules and a wagon, along with a driver/cook to take care of them and feed the PC's.

The Exchange

Mark Hoover wrote:

Does anyone make a campsite in their games? Like, you get to the dungeon, find an entrance, then backtrack like a couple hundred yards using the Survival skill to hide your tracks.

...

Why go to all that trouble when there’s perfectly good magic to do it for you?

Hide Campsite
Grove of Respite


Belafon wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:

Does anyone make a campsite in their games? Like, you get to the dungeon, find an entrance, then backtrack like a couple hundred yards using the Survival skill to hide your tracks.

...

Why go to all that trouble when there’s perfectly good magic to do it for you?

Hide Campsite
Grove of Respite

Why not put the party skill monkey to good use, instead of blowing spell slots?


Because spending a spell slot is safer is many instances and can thwart a great deal more enemies than just having ranks in hide campsite.


Magic can do many things better than mundane means can. Ask yourself then, why isn't everything done with magic? The answer is: because casters have better things to do. Like scorching goblins with fireballs.


Earlier upthread I missed where someone had suggested Mount so maybe I also missed where someone said you HAD to haul away the loot in one fell swoop, but the OP's question was how to deal with mounts when the time comes to leave them "in the parking lot" so to speak. My suggestion of not bringing them for hauling loot answers that.

I apologize if there's a suggestion that animals HAVE to be present to haul loot. If that's the case, and people are so fond of using magic to respond to such quandaries, I'll offer this humble suggestion then: scrolls of Ant Haul or Floating Disk.

Come to the dungeon with no animals but a wheelbarrow and an empty chest or two, leaving this gear outside. Hack the dungeon. Upon leaving, use Floating Disk 1 hour/CL to put 100 lbs/CL on, and put the rest of it in the wheelbarrow and cast Ant Haul for 2 hours of enhanced carrying capacity on the strongest member of the group.

Yes, a bunch of scrolls aren't cheap and yes, these spells will run out, just like the problems with the Mount spell. However this is just another example of how, from level 1 on you don't actually NEED a draft animal if you're willing to handle things another way.

I'm not trying to start a flame war, just suggesting alternatives. They are obviously less efficient than just paying for an animal, gearing it, then protecting it in some way outside the dungeon, but each of these methods involves risk.

Plus, I DID mention burying the treasure for future recovery. Overland at a base move of 20' a party can move approximately a mile if moving carefully to avoid detection, unless hindered by difficult terrain. During that hour the party could easily be expected to haul away 319 lbs worth of treasure, at level 1, with the use of a Floating Disk spell in addition to their own carrying capacity (figuring a party of 4). Getting a mile from the dungeon, digging a hole, burying the excess, and then sprinting back to town (marking the spot with an Arcane Mark) could be a way to manage your treasure.


Burying treasure takes a lot of time and organization (to keep the dirt out of the bags of gold pieces, for instance).

I think a lot of D&D players like easy logistics. This is fine. IME you pretty much never find so much treasure, unless you just killed a dragon.

(Once I was in a campaign where we hadn't returned to town to sell loot for several levels, and despite our bags of holding ran out of carrying capacity. We still took magic rings, since they apparently weigh 0 pounds. No horses, no floating disks, no burying - we were in a swamp anyway - and no encumbrance, as we refused to carry one pound past our limits. We didn't have to leave much behind, to be honest. Treasure parcels are almost never quite that large.)


Adjoint wrote:
Magic can do many things better than mundane means can. Ask yourself then, why isn't everything done with magic?

It is which is why the standard party back in 3.5 after about level 7 was 2 wizards 2 clerics and maybe a druid.


Once spell slots become common enough to solve daily problems there are much fewer uses for a mundane Skill Monkey in a game. The best hope is that your prepared spell casters have not done their homework and you can solve the hole in their spell selection with a skill.

Oh, and that they haven't just bought a wand of "Solve Skill Check" in whatever flavor it happens to be in today.

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