Recently, in my play by post D&D group, my fellow players and I decided that after completing a few adventures, we could afford to upgrade to proper shelter and transportation. Up until now, we have been traveling from town to town, place to place either by walking, or asking our hapless druid character to Wild Shape into a horse.
Adventurer’s League modules don’t normally enforce things like travel, camping, etc, and so we could continue to gloss over that, but since we had been adventuring as a group for so long, it only made sense to make it more comfortable for our characters. Further, as one player wisely pointed out that it doesn’t really make sense for a character to walk 8-10 hours a day while wearing 55 lb of chain mail armor. My character, Fenmaer Wasanthi, would no doubt appreciate stowing that armor on a wagon instead.
Thus, the party decided to get a vardo wagon. More specifically, we purchased a carriage from the Player’s Handbook with “vardo” flavor, and two mules to pull it. Mules are inexpensive in the PHB, but have good carrying capacity and could easily pull a wagon. This gives our player characters both a place to use as shelter, but also transport our goods more easily.
So far so good.
Since my forge cleric character had some extra cash to spend, and nothing to really spend it on,1 I decided to also get a horse. Not a warhorse, but purely for riding and transportation. Having an extra horse, in addition to our mule-driven wagon, might also come in handy later.
However, then I realized that I had no idea what is needed to properly outfit a riding horse. I assume we need a saddle, but is that it?
I did some poking around on the web, and found a great discussion on Reddit here about outfitting a horse in Dungeons and Dragons. In short, the following equipment with cost are:
- A riding horse (75gp), evidentially a pack horse is not necessarily trained to handle a human rider in real life, so a riding horse, though more expensive, makes sense.
- A saddle (10gp), namely a riding saddle for a riding horse. Pretty simple. One could forgo the saddle, and Bronze Age horsemen often did, but not only is the saddle more comfortable, but in real life keep the rider from falling off.
- Saddlebags (4gp), again not strictly required, but often a sensible idea.
- A bit and bridle (2gp), this is how a rider directs and drives the horse, so it makes sense to have this.
Total cost: 91gp by my estimate. I didn’t factor in grass and feed as I assumed that the horse can reasonably find food while on the road, and lodging will be treated as needed. I may have to start factoring that in though in the same way my character manages rations.
In D&D Beyond, I also updated my character sheet, and added my riding horse under the “Extra” section, so that it’s stats would be reflected. I also customize the horse and renamed it Tantanel which sounded Elvish to me.
Given that I know nothing in real life about horses, I have to admit I learned a lot of basics about horse riding, what’s needed, what kind of horses work and what aren’t suitable for traveling. In medieval times, only the wealthy nobility could usually afford a horse, so it was certainly a luxury to have, but after surviving a few dangerous adventures, it seemed appropriate to finally invest in one. 🐴 😄
P.S. On the subject of wagons and animals to pull them, you can find many good resources, such as this one, based on historical records from the Oregon Trail. In real life, turns out mules have good carrying capacity and endurance, but are easily spooked compared to oxen. Strangely, oxen are not listed in the PHB.
1 Unlike wizards, clerics don’t need to add spells to a spellbook, they are endowed with their spells from their deity (Darahl Firecloak in Fenmaer’s case). Further, armor upgrades for Fenmaer are out of the question as his strength score is just too low, and at this time it isn’t worth increasing his strength score to compensate. Fenmear had already spent some money on necessary spell components as well, so the rest was just pocket change to spend.