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View Full Version : Where did the whole "Riding Dog" thing come from?



CaptainLhurgoyf
2013-01-07, 08:11 PM
The other day, I went to see The Hobbit, and I can safely report that I found it WORLDS better than what the reviews had me expect. As I think back on it, however, there's one thing that kind of sticks out to me.

Tolkien always writes his dwarves and hobbits as riding ponies for long-distance travel. That's pretty clear to anyone who's read The Hobbit or LotR. While I am aware that Gary Gygax preferred Vance and Leiber to Tolkien, it's pretty clear that Tolkien was the reason why dwarves and halflings are playable races in DND. Why, then, did DND decide to have halflings ride big dogs? In fact, at least from what I can see with 3.5e (regrettably, that's the only one I have on hand at the moment), there aren't even stats for ponies in the Monster Manual or the DMG. You'd think that ponies would be the first logical mount for smaller characters, seeing as that's what they've been written of riding from the beginning, and I'd think that people would be more able to accept smaller horses than St. Bernards. I, at least, have always found the whole riding dog thing silly.

What makes me curious is why the idea came about in the first place. Is it a 3.0 thing, or was it always around? Is there some story I'm missing here that explains it? Did "pony" just sound too girly? And if that's the case, will they be putting ponies back in 5e to appeal to bronies?...okay, maybe not that last one. :smallwink:

Chilingsworth
2013-01-07, 08:22 PM
First off:

This (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/pony.htm) and This. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/ponyWar.htm)

Those are both also in the monster manual, I assure you.

As for the riding dog... Maybe it arose from sleddog traditions? Or, maybe one of the writers' kids tried riding the family pet and he/she got the idea from that?

CaptainLhurgoyf
2013-01-07, 08:24 PM
First off:

This (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/pony.htm) and This. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/ponyWar.htm)

Those are both also in the monster manual, I assure you.

...okay, I have no idea how I missed that :smallconfused:

Well, that'll make things easier for my games, in any rate. Now I shouldn't need to stat up ponies myself.

Chilingsworth
2013-01-07, 08:26 PM
Also, This (http://www.wikihow.com/Ride-a-Dog) shows how impractical riding dogs are for long distance transport.

Mark Hall
2013-01-07, 08:40 PM
It's a 3.0 thing. I would expect it comes from the idea that halflings are more or less domesticated goblins, so if goblins ride wolves (which they have in D&D for some time), halflings would ride dogs.

NecroRebel
2013-01-07, 08:42 PM
The earliest mention of humanoids riding caninoids was, to my knowledge, in The Hobbit itself. Specifically, it is said, "Sometimes [the goblins of the Misty Mountains] rode on wolves like men do horses" (I had my copy of the book handy, having reread it recently :smalltongue:). The "wolves" in question here were wargs, though.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it predates that, though. Lots of fictional characters ride exotic mounts, and it seems like barbarian heroes ride predatory beasts fairly often.

awa
2013-01-07, 09:25 PM
It may have appear in a supplement but 3.0 edition is I believe is the first edition to have the ridding dog in the main book. keep in mind i believe 3.0 was the first edition that the default hafling was not a hobbit knock off.

edit in regards to the earliest humanoids riding canines their are some Norse depictions of people riding wolves

Guizonde
2013-01-07, 09:41 PM
It may have appear in a supplement but 3.0 edition is I believe is the first edition to have the ridding dog in the main book. keep in mind i believe 3.0 was the first edition that the default hafling was not a hobbit knock off.

edit in regards to the earliest humanoids riding canines their are some Norse depictions of people riding wolves

forget bear cavalry, that's really awesome!

i'd have thought the logic behind riding dogs would be as you enter a charge, you jump off the dog, and attack simultaneously. no one likes getting attacked by a dog.

(but i've just remembered that there's a distinction with wardogs)

regarding long distance, i know some gutter-punks use big dogs as heat sources during nights, and as a night watcher. added security and comfort, perhaps?

awa
2013-01-07, 09:50 PM
from a benefit stand point a dog is much better going into caves is a better climber, isn't as flighty when it comes to unusual things it hasent seen before. all very useful for dungeon delving.

Acanous
2013-01-07, 09:56 PM
Horses took thousands of years to domesticate to the point where they could be ridden without injury. (They didn't even have hooves when we first got them)

I'd imagine that dogs *Could* have been bred for riding, had someone gotten the idea five thosand years ago and stuck to it.

The Riding Dogs in DnD, are in my opinion, that kind of dog. Not a regular dog with a saddle.

nedz
2013-01-07, 10:06 PM
Tolkien always writes his dwarves and hobbits as riding ponies for long-distance travel. That's pretty clear to anyone who's read The Hobbit or LotR.
IIRC in the LoTR they mainly walked, though a couple of them did ride an Ent at one point.:smallsmile:

First off:

This (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/pony.htm) and This. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/ponyWar.htm)

Those are both also in the monster manual, I assure you.
There are lots of strange things in the monster manual, which is rather the point. No Dire Dogs though ?

It's a 3.0 thing. I would expect it comes from the idea that halflings are more or less domesticated goblins, so if goblins ride wolves (which they have in D&D for some time), halflings would ride dogs.
1E had gnomes riding Giant Badgers.

I've no idea where this came from, though it does now seem quite normal.

Stories about wolves are very ancient. I reminded of Fenris and also Romulus and Remus. I suspect that Tolkein would have taken the riding of wolves from some old norse tale, though I'm not certain? That was the source of a lot of his inspiration. Wolves and Dogs are basically the same thing in many regards, so the connection here is obvious.

Togath
2013-01-07, 10:51 PM
There are lots of strange things in the monster manual, which is rather the point. No Dire Dogs though ?


If I remember right, pathfinder has a few dire dogs, or at least a dire corgi(and a ridable variant of it as well I think).

RedWarlock
2013-01-07, 10:56 PM
Horses took thousands of years to domesticate to the point where they could be ridden without injury. (They didn't even have hooves when we first got them)

That's not at all true. Horses have had hooves long before man, or even man-like apes, even existed.

Humans date back about 1 million years, and their forebears for 2-5 million years. Horses have existed in their modern form for also about 1 million years, and going back around 10 million they were nearly-identical, just a bit smaller. Before that, going back up to 50 million, they still had hooves, just on multiple toes rather than one.

Domestication of horses has been more primarily about attitude and developing various breeds for differing purposes, speed versus strength, but a wild horse before men ever encountered them was perfectly ridable. (Zebras are closely related, have never been domesticated, and while they're not as strong, are entirely rideable, and they have hooves just like horses.)

Ailurus
2013-01-07, 11:37 PM
edit in regards to the earliest humanoids riding canines their are some Norse depictions of people riding wolves

Welsh mythology claims corgis were mounts for the Fey courts. Not sure if that pre-dates the Norse depictions or not, but its another possible source for riding dogs.

Xuc Xac
2013-01-08, 12:36 AM
Horses took thousands of years to domesticate to the point where they could be ridden without injury. (They didn't even have hooves when we first got them)

It's already been pointed out, but I'll repeat it for emphasis: that's completely wrong.


I'd imagine that dogs *Could* have been bred for riding, had someone gotten the idea five thosand years ago and stuck to it.


Canines don't have the skeletal structure needed to bear a rider. Five millenia of breeding can't change that. I think that there was a "making of" feature about the wargs in the LotR movies that said the animators had to give them skeletons like hoofed herbivores to make them move correctly with riders on them. The wargs are almost literally sheep in wolf skins.

I'm pretty sure the "riding dog" idea started with Tolkien describing a particularly tall hobbit as being "tall enough to ride a small horse". Apparently, Tolkien forgot that children are perfectly capable of riding horses (and humans of all sizes can ride elephants), so it shouldn't be a problem for hobbits to ride horses. There may be older sources that mention it, but I'm pretty sure Tolkien's hobbits are the reason for halflings in D&D being unable to ride horses.

Togath
2013-01-08, 03:41 AM
but I'm pretty sure Tolkien's hobbits are the reason for halflings in D&D being unable to ride horses.

Actually any race in dnd can use somethign one size category bigger or more as a mount, so a halfing(or other small race) can use a horse or even an elephant. Or in theory a human(though I don't recall any rules stating specifically where you sit ona bipedal mount... I sort of like the idea of some sort of chair-hat for the two legged mount).

TuggyNE
2013-01-08, 05:07 AM
Or in theory a human(though I don't recall any rules stating specifically where you sit ona bipedal mount... I sort of like the idea of some sort of chair-hat for the two legged mount).

You sit piggyback, of course. :smalltongue: (Although a grig psychic warrior with augmented compression*riding a storm giant cohort would probably just perch on one of their curls. :smallamused:)

*Why would you do this? Why, to shoot from the safety of a tank, of course!

scarmiglionne4
2013-01-08, 05:59 AM
I can't believe nobody mentioned Labyrinth. Remember the little fox knight dude who rode the sheep dog Ambrosius?

NikitaDarkstar
2013-01-08, 07:22 AM
Canines don't have the skeletal structure needed to bear a rider. Five millenia of breeding can't change that. I think that there was a "making of" feature about the wargs in the LotR movies that said the animators had to give them skeletons like hoofed herbivores to make them move correctly with riders on them. The wargs are almost literally sheep in wolf skins.


While I most certainly won't argue with you since you are correct in that a dog with a normal skeletal structure would make a horrible mount (people, please stop letting your kids ride your dog, get them to a stable and give them riding lessons on horses instead!) you're also missing one key factor here. It's fantasy. Or more precisely it's a fantasy game that has extraplanar horses that are on fire, perfectly "natural" bears with owl heads, giant fire breathing lizards that can fly and are color-coded for your convenience, highly intelligent animals of all kinds (including canines) that are able to talk, and a crapton of magic in general. While dogs might not be viable mounts in anything trying to be more "realistic" there's nothing saying they can't be in D&D for whatever reason you feel like.

Now where it got started? Only myth I know of where dogs are used as mounts it the corgi-origin myth where the fae used them as mounts and considering the age of the breeds those myths can be very old indeed (corgi's are mentioned as far as 2000 years back, but it's also a little ambiguous considering the world itself just means "small dog".)

It also seems to be a fairly D&D specific thing as almost all other similar races I've seen in games, books, etc. have used small ponies as mounts, so I'm inclined to believe the theory that some of WotC's writers saw their kids trying to ride the family dog and thought that would make a fun little twist for the new edition. At least to me that seems more likely than they dug through obscure myth and book references in search of something "new".

awa
2013-01-08, 08:11 AM
actually with 5 thousand years you might be able to bread a dog designed for small creatures to ride. just look how different the body shape between dogs is. From dogs you can fit in a purse to dog bigger then a man a spine better designed for ridding seems trivial compared to that.

CarpeGuitarrem
2013-01-08, 09:21 AM
actually with 5 thousand years you might be able to bread a dog designed for small creatures to ride. just look how different the body shape between dogs is. From dogs you can fit in a purse to dog bigger then a man a spine better designed for ridding seems trivial compared to that.
Big difference between "body shape" and "body size".

awa
2013-01-08, 09:23 AM
a dachshund has a very different shape then a grey hound

hamlet
2013-01-08, 09:29 AM
It's not a pony, it's a Dwarven Warhorse!

And actually, I have no issue with the concept of a "riding dog," especially for halflings and/or gnomes, and especially since some dog breeds can get very big and stocky. An Alsatian (German Shepherd variety) is a VERY large animal and could, conceivably, be used as a mount for child sized huamnoids. I've seen it done.

awa
2013-01-08, 09:47 AM
the problem with real world dogs is it's really bad on there hips they can do it it's just not good for them (at least that's always what i have been taught im no expert)

hamlet
2013-01-08, 10:03 AM
the problem with real world dogs is it's really bad on there hips they can do it it's just not good for them (at least that's always what i have been taught im no expert)

It's not actually any good for horses, either, but we do it anyway.

Mark Hall
2013-01-08, 11:38 AM
Actually any race in dnd can use somethign one size category bigger or more as a mount, so a halfing(or other small race) can use a horse or even an elephant. Or in theory a human(though I don't recall any rules stating specifically where you sit ona bipedal mount... I sort of like the idea of some sort of chair-hat for the two legged mount).

MASTER BLASTER RULES BARTERTOWN!

tbok1992
2013-01-08, 12:37 PM
Welsh mythology claims corgis were mounts for the Fey courts. Not sure if that pre-dates the Norse depictions or not, but its another possible source for riding dogs.

Oh god that is both hilarious and adorable. I think I know what my Pixie character's mount is going to be next time I play 4e.

hamlet
2013-01-08, 12:56 PM
MASTER BLASTER RULES BARTERTOWN!

An Arduin, I created a master blaster build. A gnome techno (mad scientist) who road around on the back of an ogre in a basket and fought via repeating crossbows and a small mortar.:smallsmile:

NikitaDarkstar
2013-01-08, 01:40 PM
actually with 5 thousand years you might be able to bread a dog designed for small creatures to ride. just look how different the body shape between dogs is. From dogs you can fit in a purse to dog bigger then a man a spine better designed for ridding seems trivial compared to that.

Not really, they're still canines. What you're talking about is basically giving them physical traits the canine species don't possess and that's a whole different ballgame than just making it larger, smaller or changing the fur color.

But again, in a high fantasy (typical D&D) setting there's far more absurd things around so why shouldn't there be a dog breed that happens to have qualities that makes them more suited for being used as mounts? Just don't claim it's a specific, real life breed and I see no issues.

And on the topic of faeries and corgis.. a good friend of mien drew this a while ago, some of you might get a kick out of it. http://fav.me/d40t2mt

Spiryt
2013-01-08, 01:50 PM
Not really, they're still canines. What you're talking about is basically giving them physical traits the canine species don't possess and that's a whole different ballgame than just making it larger, smaller or changing the fur color.



What physical traits, exactly though? I hardly know feces about mammal anatomy or riding so I'm not sure, but...

It should be big enough to facilitate as a mount for child sized character - doable, and doesn't even require hundreds of years.

Dogs already have great endurance, in fact much greater than horses.

Still way more trainable than horses, that's a big plus.

Bones, tendon build etc. would have to be altered to survive repetitive stress of running around with jumping ~ 60 pounds on your back.

Probably some tougher paws too - horses have hooves, dogs would need more durable soles of feet, so it wouldn't get damaged.

In the end, those could realistically be decent mounts. Probably not really good for anything than to have more comfy journey, but still.

Mark Hall
2013-01-08, 02:28 PM
Assuming you started with something like a mastiff, I think you could easily breed a dog for riding by small creatures, given 5000 years. As one link pointed out above, you can already ride large dogs for a short period of time, if you're small enough.

Large dogs come into season as late as 2 years; we'll say, then, that a generation for dogs is about 3 years (more conservative). That means that, in 5000 years, you get ~1700 generations. In human terms? That's about 33000 years.

Now, obviously, humans haven't changed greatly in 33000 years... we're still the same species. But our breeding is pretty haphazard. Someone TRYING to make a riding dog? Especially given the existence of subtle magical influence (as opposed to flat out "A wizard made these creatures")? I think it's easily possible.

awa
2013-01-08, 02:52 PM
yheah 5000 years is a huge amount of time for continuous breeding towards a single goal.

considering the maximum base weight for a male Halfling is less then 40 pound (assuming im reading the table right) breeding a dog for that cant be that hard

hamlet
2013-01-08, 03:45 PM
Assuming you started with something like a mastiff, I think you could easily breed a dog for riding by small creatures, given 5000 years. As one link pointed out above, you can already ride large dogs for a short period of time, if you're small enough.

Large dogs come into season as late as 2 years; we'll say, then, that a generation for dogs is about 3 years (more conservative). That means that, in 5000 years, you get ~1700 generations. In human terms? That's about 33000 years.

Now, obviously, humans haven't changed greatly in 33000 years... we're still the same species. But our breeding is pretty haphazard. Someone TRYING to make a riding dog? Especially given the existence of subtle magical influence (as opposed to flat out "A wizard made these creatures")? I think it's easily possible.

The only problem with that is that we haven't even been able to do that with horses though we've tried. Yes, they are capable of doing it, but it still hurts them as there has not to this day been a spinal column designed to support a weight in that manner.

Hell, even the human spine is fairly poorly designed for what it's currently doing which is why back pain is endemic in humans.

Chilingsworth
2013-01-08, 04:00 PM
What about using some sort of harness or modified barding? Would it be possible to design something to redistribute the wieght of the rider so it does less damage to the mount? (I mean, doing a better job of it than a saddle does.) I'm no engineer, so I don't know much about how such a thing might be done.

Spiryt
2013-01-08, 04:01 PM
Hell, even the human spine is fairly poorly designed for what it's currently doing which is why back pain is endemic in humans.

Isn't it more of the case of back not being designed for whole lot of sitting before computer, knitting, making butter.... * insert some weird, repetitive stuff that puts spine trough unnatural strain*, though ?

TheThan
2013-01-08, 04:02 PM
MASTER BLASTER RULES BARTERTOWN!
I guess some days you just can’t get beyond thunderdome.


1E had gnomes riding Giant Badgers.
There’s a joke in here somewhere…

NikitaDarkstar
2013-01-08, 04:27 PM
Isn't it more of the case of back not being designed for whole lot of sitting before computer, knitting, making butter.... * insert some weird, repetitive stuff that puts spine trough unnatural strain*, though ?

Actually as it is our body still hasn't fully adapted to us being bipeds apparently.

As for dogs as mounts. If, in real life it's become some sort of ridiculous fad, but any serious vet recommends against it.

But as Cornell University Veterinarian Sarah Bassman told The Stir: "Children riding on the back of their family dog is very dangerous for the animal, and the child, even if you have one of the giant breeds as your family pet. The muscles in a dog's back are not strong enough and not designed to carry a passenger and could be damaged by this activity. We worry about muscle sprain and strain, vertebral subluxation, and disc-related problems. Lesser sprains and strains may need to be treated with pain medications or physical therapy while serious spinal injuries could lead to paralysis which may or may not be able to be surgically repaired."
In real life it is a bad idea and problems like this takes a whole lot more than 5000 years to sort out.

Horses face similar issues because animals simply didn't evolve to carry other animals around on their backs, horses have less issues since horses are bigger and it takes more weight to harm them, but there's also a reason why a 200 pound person shouldn't try to say, ride an arab, the horse is to weak to carry such a rider for to long without potential harm.

But again, in the fantasy world who cares? You can ride a giant toad for crying out loud. A halfling riding a dog doesn't stick out even if it's technically not something that would work in reality.

awa
2013-01-08, 04:44 PM
so are you using the criteria that a riding dog must be better at being ridden then a horse for it to be considered bred for ridding? That seems like a pretty steep criteria considering horses have been good enough for a few thousand years.

Mark Hall
2013-01-08, 06:22 PM
The only problem with that is that we haven't even been able to do that with horses though we've tried. Yes, they are capable of doing it, but it still hurts them as there has not to this day been a spinal column designed to support a weight in that manner.

Hell, even the human spine is fairly poorly designed for what it's currently doing which is why back pain is endemic in humans.

Yes, but horses are generally "good enough". We're not looking for "perfect design"... that's where you get owlbears. We're looking for "capable of doing the job for long enough to justify the difficulty of training them."

Icewraith
2013-01-08, 09:18 PM
Actually, we just have to designate a mechanism by which dogs that bear better loads on their backs are favorable, and the use as pack animals is fairly obvious. Even if they don't bear loads well compared to horses, small creatures and such require much less in the way of overall resources than their medium-sized counterparts.

You start off with halfling caravans way back when domesticating dogs for defence and having them carry small amounts of food or water supplies on long journeys. Fast forward a few thousand years as saddle/harness design improves and dogs are bred for increased size, strength, and load bearing capability and you end up at the point where a dog can comfortably take the weight of a halfling + saddle + combat gear or harness + lots of supplies.

Halfling caravans that travel into dangerous areas might take to armoring their dogs even if they don't use them as pack animals and just as mobile defense - providing another aveneue for larger load-bearing dogs in combat. Alternatively, you end up with a sort of Alaskan-Sled Dog style battle chariot or similar as a byproduct or side-evolution of the concept.

Fast forward more and you should end up with a riding dog + harness + rider system. Granted, A Wizard Did It is useful in speeding up the processes here.

RedWarlock
2013-01-09, 12:07 AM
Actually, one key point would be to breed them up even larger than the human/horse proportion. Horses are able to bear a rider because their spines are stiffened, almost fused, compared to canines and felines, which have flexible spines for their running styles. Canines could bear the weight better than cats, shorter torso proportion, but it's still not really load-bearing. It's where you start to get into the stage where the minor load of a rider is minimally impacting. (two categories smaller, let's say?)

Maybe breed them up to where the rider is basically straddling the shoulders and neck rather than square on the back. That takes a bit more size, though.

If I was setting up new rules for riding creatures, flying mounts would need to be at *least* two size categories larger than their riders. I prefer to use a more distinct set of sizes, though, not just 2x larger per category on a dimension. Horses and stiff-backed mounts would only need to be 1 size up, cats and wolves would need to be 2 (think halfling riding a tiger, and scale up for humans), and flying mounts would need to be 3, just due to wing-load limitations. Pteranodons had a body the size of a large turkey, no way a 3ft halfling is riding that thing. Quetzalcoatlus, which should be large, *maybe*.

Grundy
2013-01-09, 12:54 AM
Actually any race in dnd can use somethign one size category bigger or more as a mount, so a halfing(or other small race) can use a horse or even an elephant. Or in theory a human(though I don't recall any rules stating specifically where you sit ona bipedal mount... I sort of like the idea of some sort of chair-hat for the two legged mount).

Haven't you seen Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome? MASTER BLASTER!!


HMMMM.... Ninja'd by 11 1/2 hours? sigh.

hamlet
2013-01-09, 08:51 AM
Isn't it more of the case of back not being designed for whole lot of sitting before computer, knitting, making butter.... * insert some weird, repetitive stuff that puts spine trough unnatural strain*, though ?

That is an aspect of it, but really it's more that the human spine originally came from a creature with a posture more like that of a chimpanzee than an upright human. Our vertebra were not designed to be stacked up on each other like this.

Sitting all day just makes it imeasurably worse.

tbok1992
2013-01-09, 11:58 AM
There’s a joke in here somewhere…

Well, there was that race, The Wildren, in 3e's Planar Handbook created by Dwarves "riding" Celestial badgers so to speak. One of the most bafflingly squicky things to come out of 3e since the Lichloved feat.

Serpentine
2013-01-09, 12:41 PM
Pteranodons had a body the size of a large turkey, no way a 3ft halfling is riding that thing. Quetzalcoatlus, which should be large, *maybe*.I dunno, I think the designation of Quetzalcoatlus as Large is at least debatable. I mean, elephants are Huge, and...
http://cdn.akaqa.com/shared/7/akaqa_images/1919602673/1205242//8726-1337829904.0685.jpg
http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_liuf2rezBu1qc86afo1_500.jpgI do mean "debatable", mind you. I could certainly see the argument that Quetzalcoatlus, being flying, would weigh far less than an elephant and therefore be of a lower size category, but I think it'd at least be borderline.

so are you using the criteria that a riding dog must be better at being ridden then a horse for it to be considered bred for ridding? That seems like a pretty steep criteria considering horses have been good enough for a few thousand years.
Yes, but horses are generally "good enough". We're not looking for "perfect design"... that's where you get owlbears. We're looking for "capable of doing the job for long enough to justify the difficulty of training them."Exactly what I was thinking. I think it's pretty well established that, regardless of whether it's good for them, we've been riding horses for a very long time. I don't see any reason to hold riding dogs to a higher standard.

RedWarlock
2013-01-09, 03:01 PM
I dunno, I think the designation of Quetzalcoatlus as Large is at least debatable. I mean, elephants are Huge, and...
http://cdn.akaqa.com/shared/7/akaqa_images/1919602673/1205242//8726-1337829904.0685.jpg
http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_liuf2rezBu1qc86afo1_500.jpgI do mean "debatable", mind you. I could certainly see the argument that Quetzalcoatlus, being flying, would weigh far less than an elephant and therefore be of a lower size category, but I think it'd at least be borderline.

Look at the actual size of that second image's proportion. Just compare the human to the body of the Q, ignoring the neck and the juxtaposed giraffe, which does have a bigger body size (compare the torsos). The long neck gives it reach on a bite attack, sure, but not enough to justify taking up Huge's 15x15 space. Large, 10x10, with 10ft reach on the bite like a large (tall) creature.

Anyway, we're getting off-topic...

Starbuck_II
2013-01-09, 03:44 PM
There are How To sites on the internet for dog riding:
http://www.wikihow.com/Ride-a-Dog

A tip: A dog's spine is not rigid like a horse's. As a result, the dog's back will bend when you ride it. Don't worry too much about this.

hamishspence
2013-01-09, 06:53 PM
I dunno, I think the designation of Quetzalcoatlus as Large is at least debatable. I mean, elephants are Huge, and...
http://cdn.akaqa.com/shared/7/akaqa_images/1919602673/1205242//8726-1337829904.0685.jpg
http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_liuf2rezBu1qc86afo1_500.jpgI do mean "debatable", mind you. I could certainly see the argument that Quetzalcoatlus, being flying, would weigh far less than an elephant and therefore be of a lower size category, but I think it'd at least be borderline.

If anything the books tend to put flyers at the high end of the scale- the roc is on the light side for a Gargantuan flyer- and its nose-to-base-of-tail length is also slightly lower than the normal minimum.

So I'd see no problem with an advanced Quetzalcoatlus, representing the larger species, being Huge.

BraveSirKevin
2013-01-09, 08:07 PM
Just going to throw some thoughts in here...

Canine Adaptability
The thing about dogs is that they are actually a subspecies of the Grey Wolf. As of 1993 their official taxonomic classification has been Canis Lupus Familiaris. The reason I bring this up is because dogs as we know them today have only existed for about 15000 years or so, and the vast majority of breeds we know today have only been around for a few hundred. With the current diversity of that species, and the very small time frame, it's clear that dogs have an unusually high propensity for adaptation and when you couple that with deliberate breeding, I'd say that given a few thousand years, you'd have no more trouble selectively breeding a beast of burden from the line of a wolf's grandchild than you'd have breeding something that looks cute in Paris Hilton's handbag. The only reason we haven't done that is that horses were just so much better for the task. Halflings might see things differently.

Short humanoids on canine mounts
I suspect that the gnome on the back of a badger from DnD manuals may have been at least partly inspired by the Secret Book of Gnomes by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet, which itself went on to inspire the cartoon David the Gnome which frequently had the title character riding around on woodland creatures, especially a fox.

nedz
2013-01-09, 08:13 PM
Your arguments are sound, but D&D genetics don't work that way. All the halflings need to do is produce a half horse / half dog. Maybe that should be called a Horg ? It's stats would probably be very similar to the Riding Dog.

awa
2013-01-09, 08:16 PM
it would be a hog

Mark Hall
2013-01-09, 08:17 PM
Your arguments are sound, but D&D genetics don't work that way. All the halflings need to do is produce a half horse / half dog. Maybe that should be called a Horg ? It's stats would probably be very similar to the Riding Dog.

Heh. Hrulgin.

Alejandro
2013-01-09, 08:22 PM
Don't forget to consider return on investment and time. If it takes 5000 years to breed a suitable riding dog, but someone else can manage can do it with an animal that takes less re-breeding (I always thought halflings might ride war boars, and then eat the delicious pork when they aren't suitable for riding any more) then that choice will become dominant economically.

Gray Mage
2013-01-09, 08:31 PM
What makes me curious is why the idea came about in the first place. Is it a 3.0 thing, or was it always around? Is there some story I'm missing here that explains it? Did "pony" just sound too girly? And if that's the case, will they be putting ponies back in 5e to appeal to bronies?...okay, maybe not that last one. :smallwink:

Well, at least in 3.5, it's probably because riding dogs have better stats then ponies. They have better saves, hp, stats (even str and con), attacks, intiative and AC.

BraveSirKevin
2013-01-09, 08:32 PM
Don't forget to consider return on investment and time. If it takes 5000 years to breed a suitable riding dog, but someone else can manage can do it with an animal that takes less re-breeding (I always thought halflings might ride war boars, and then eat the delicious pork when they aren't suitable for riding any more) then that choice will become dominant economically.

Well, my argument is that it wouldn't take 5000 years. Starting with good stock, you could breed a suitable dog within a handful of generations and the just spend a few thousand years perfecting it.

CaptainLhurgoyf
2013-01-09, 09:00 PM
Well, at least in 3.5, it's probably because riding dogs have better stats then ponies. They have better saves, hp, stats (even str and con), attacks, intiative and AC.
That doesn't explain why the concept exists in the first place. I wasn't asking why people prefer to use riding dogs over ponies when making mounts for a halfling character, but rather why the option of using a riding dog was even considered when the reason halflings are even something that exists in DND was very clear that they rode ponies.

awa
2013-01-09, 09:31 PM
Hafling have been moving pretty steadily away from the hobbit. The haflings presented in most d&d stuff from 3rd (i honestly don't know about 4th) tended to have very little in common with hobbits their thin and wear shoes for crying out loud its like if the elves were fat bearded guys with round ears and you were wondering about where all the bows went.

Saying ridding dogs don't make sense becuase Tolkien didn't do it is not relevant for 3rd edition haflings

CaptainLhurgoyf
2013-01-09, 10:15 PM
To be honest, I've never liked how 3E had a defined style for everything and included background information in non-setting books. Maybe it's just the worldbuilder in me speaking, but I feel that it's part of being a DM to define your own setting (if you go that route) and come up with how everything fits into that framework, and stuff like, say, drawing orcs the same way every time there's an illustration or, hell, saying "halflings are nomadic caravan people who ride dogs" detracts from the DM's power to decide for himself what things look like, behave like, or work in his world.

What I want to know is how they got the idea in the first place when, to my knowledge, there has been no mythological and literary precedent for halflings riding dogs as opposed to ponies. Unless I really am to believe that they just pulled it out of their rears to be different, which frankly I don't like at all. That should be my job. :smallwink:

awa
2013-01-09, 10:38 PM
d&d has invented a lot of things (many of them were quite stupid) it seems weird to get hung up on this one.

would you prefer the monster manual was just a bunch of context-less numbers?

last time i checked wizards of the coasts would not break your knee caps for saying in my setting haflings are called hobbits have big hairy feet and ride ponies

CaptainLhurgoyf
2013-01-09, 10:52 PM
Actually, that's more or less what I'm doing already (I'm not saying they have big hairy feet or are called hobbits, but I am taking a different route for my setting, and I do plan to establish that ponies are their mount of choice).

Thing is, most of the weird stuff in DND does have established origins (Bullettes? The infamous bag of toy dinosaurs.). I'm just curious as to where the idea of riding dogs came from. Besides, the main problem I have is with having a definitive non-setting specific look or description for things that might logically differ in different fantasy worlds. For example, I don't like the implications that halflings in every world are nomadic, or that ogres in every world have horse-like faces. Nomadic dog-riding halfling caravans in a setting book? Cool! Nomadic dog-riding halfling caravans in the PHB? Is that necessary?

The matter is, DND isn't a game with a defined setting. It's one that gives you the option to pick from a number of settings or create your own, and I feel that defining a setting in non-setting-specific material doesn't jive well with that.

Anderlith
2013-01-09, 11:03 PM
Actually any race in dnd can use somethign one size category bigger or more as a mount, so a halfing(or other small race) can use a horse or even an elephant. Or in theory a human(though I don't recall any rules stating specifically where you sit ona bipedal mount... I sort of like the idea of some sort of chair-hat for the two legged mount).

Hodor... Hodor, hodor.



It is easily conceivable that halflings could breed dogs as pack animals & as combat mounts. The modern horse used to be a dog sized three toed herbivore

awa
2013-01-09, 11:05 PM
i believe the default setting is grey hawk.
I think d&d would be a much poorer game if it was A only used the most generic fluff it could find or B had no fluff at all. Fluff that haflings are nomadic in no ways prevents you from having them be different in your game. I could say additional things but at the end of the day it all comes down to various flavors of i disagree.

nedz
2013-01-09, 11:25 PM
Mmm, well why do we even have ponies at all ?
And dogs and cats too for that matter ?
Why not have completely different creatures which fill those niches ?
This is a fantasy game after all.

Vizzerdrix
2013-01-10, 03:25 AM
If I remember right, pathfinder has a few dire dogs, or at least a dire corgi(and a ridable variant of it as well I think).

Sigh... All that time I've been playing 3.5 seems wasted now.

Ashtagon
2013-01-10, 03:30 AM
it would be a hog

And it'd be a pig to ride.

BraveSirKevin
2013-01-10, 03:31 AM
I'm just curious as to where the idea of riding dogs came from.

I've got a legitimate theory on this question. I've already mentioned David the Gnome riding around on foxes and stuff, but that's really very different because David was only like 4 inches tall and halflings are at least 10 times as tall as that (and thus weigh at least 1000 times as much, square-cube law (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SquareCubeLaw)).

I think there's a better explanation for why AD&D second ed was still very obsessed with hobbits and dwarves riding ponies, and the editions that came later were into the idea of them riding dogs instead:
http://www.ccgsearchengine.com/images/cards/Magic-The-Gathering/Alliances/Kjeldoran-Escort.jpg from the Magic: The Gathering Alliances expansion, released 1996, just a year before TSR and all of their IP were purchased by Wizards of the Coast.

Stray
2013-01-10, 04:51 AM
I think this idea comes mostly from guys at WotC wanting to add to D&D some fantasy elements that they made up. They are game designers, not monks copying the sacred texts of Gygax and Tolkien.

Personally I like this addition and it makes sense to me. Gnomes and halflings are significantly smaller than dwarves and they would probably prefer not having to climb a ladder or a rope to get on their mount.
I'm no expert when it comes to equines or children or children riding equines, but can they mount a horse without assistance? How big are they when it would be easy to get on a pony on their own? If they are taller than 4' it would be reasonable for halflings and gnomes to prefer something smaller to ride.

Added bonus for a small creatures is that dogs can defend them if it's needed, being mounts, beasts of burden and bodyguards at the same time.

Edit to fix a typo

hamlet
2013-01-10, 08:37 AM
I've got a legitimate theory on this question. I've already mentioned David the Gnome riding around on foxes and stuff, but that's really very different because David was only like 4 inches tall and halflings are at least 10 times as tall as that (and thus weigh at least 1000 times as much, square-cube law (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SquareCubeLaw)).

I think there's a better explanation for why AD&D second ed was still very obsessed with hobbits and dwarves riding ponies, and the editions that came later were into the idea of them riding dogs instead:
http://www.ccgsearchengine.com/images/cards/Magic-The-Gathering/Alliances/Kjeldoran-Escort.jpg from the Magic: The Gathering Alliances expansion, released 1996, just a year before TSR and all of their IP were purchased by Wizards of the Coast.

AD&D was never obssessed with riding dogs, especially not inspired by a magic the gathering card created in 1996 seeing as 2nd edition was released in 1989 and the revised in 1995, well before that card.

BraveSirKevin
2013-01-10, 08:50 AM
AD&D was never obssessed with riding dogs, especially not inspired by a magic the gathering card created in 1996 seeing as 2nd edition was released in 1989 and the revised in 1995, well before that card.

I think you misunderstood me. I said AD&D was obsessed with having them riding ponies. I'm saying the Magic card there, and the lore behind it, influenced DnD 3e when WotC took over.

awa
2013-01-10, 09:47 AM
yheah second eddtion was still tsr and pigon holed the game into pseudo europe a lot more then third eddtion did.

hamlet
2013-01-10, 10:13 AM
I think you misunderstood me. I said AD&D was obsessed with having them riding ponies. I'm saying the Magic card there, and the lore behind it, influenced DnD 3e when WotC took over.

Ah, I misunderstood then.


yheah second eddtion was still tsr and pigon holed the game into pseudo europe a lot more then third eddtion did.

:smallannoyed:You have read about Dark Sun, right?

Ashtagon
2013-01-10, 10:32 AM
Ah, I misunderstood then.



:smallannoyed:You have read about Dark Sun, right?

And Planescape? And Spelljammer?

BraveSirKevin
2013-01-10, 10:49 AM
And Planescape? And Spelljammer?

And Kara-Tur and Al-Qadim and Maztica. There's was even a subsaharan africa themed campaign setting in the Dragon magazines, and one based on Feudal India. For the non-advanced version of Dungeons and Dragons there was a setting that took place on the inside of a hollow planet and another that had a literal interpretation of the Wild West but without gunpowder.

I don't think AD&D had a problem with getting out of pseudo-Europe. I think the real difference is that the standard TSR model was to emulate either actual history or popular literature Over the course of the 90s there was a slow evolution away from that towards the more modern style with more original content, but in the early stages, there was a lot of silliness and weirdness that doesn't get talked about very often so it's all but forgotten now.

awa
2013-01-10, 12:02 PM
Im not talking about the setting supplements tsr had a lot of weird world supplements some of which were quite interesting.

Im talking about stuff like the phb that tended to push a very Europe centric setting. If you look at say the druid class or paladin class they are not just nature warrior or holy warrior they are strongly European flavored.

Take combat and tactics which had rules for unarmed combat which included the tidbit (if i recall correctly) that players should be required to go seek out foreign lands in order to learn them because obviously no one in the default country could possible know how to punch someone.

compare that to the monk the various Asian weapons (both monk and non monk) and the fact that the art no longer attempts to depicts people in midevil European clothing (at least not pcs.)

BraveSirKevin
2013-01-10, 01:02 PM
We could have a very lengthy discussion about why it's weird that monks use japanese weapons when everything else is still pretty much a very historically inaccurate depiction of europe, but that's just going to derail the conversation from hobbits riding dogs and where that idea started.

I think it's because WotC took over and brought a lot of their traditions from M:tG with them. Looking back now a lot of the stuff we have now is pretty standard and even expected, but at the time it was a pretty dramatic shift. Dwarf women lost their beards, orcs got tall and noble and stopped looking like pigs, monks showed up and broke the european mold, and halflings discovered shoes and started riding dogs instead of ponies.:smallamused:

I think it also has to do with the fact that WotC put a lot of focus into the art direction. Pre-3e the art was all over the place with a hundred different styles... since 3e all DnD art has started to look the same. That drive for consistency definitely solidified some of the tropes and made some of the more crazy ones like "riding dogs" stick around long enough to make them the norm.

nedz
2013-01-10, 01:11 PM
Monks existed in AD&D from the beginning. I'm not sure when they first appeared in OD&D ?

NikitaDarkstar
2013-01-10, 01:22 PM
I think this idea comes mostly from guys at WotC wanting to add to D&D some fantasy elements that they made up. They are game designers, not monks copying the sacred texts of Gygax and Tolkien.

Personally I like this addition and it makes sense to me. Gnomes and halflings are significantly smaller than dwarves and they would probably prefer not having to climb a ladder or a rope to get on their mount.
I'm no expert when it comes to equines or children or children riding equines, but can they mount a horse without assistance? How big are they when it would be easy to get on a pony on their own? If they are taller than 4' it would be reasonable for halflings and gnomes to prefer something smaller to ride.


Around where I grew up kids usually stopped getting help mounting the horses when they were around 7 or 8. (Granted not the biggest of them, but the big ponies and smaller horses? No issue, drop the stirrup somewhat and then adjust it when you're in the saddle.) Ironically the biggest issues often involves getting back down without landing on your butt... But yes, children who has been riding for a few years can mount a decent sized mount without a problem.

Drascin
2013-01-10, 01:28 PM
IIRC in the LoTR they mainly walked, though a couple of them did ride an Ent at one point.:smallsmile:

In both novels it really seems that people tend to start journeys on horses but end up footing it most of the way one way or another :smalltongue:.