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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default My players don't use horses!

    There is this weird thing I've noticed when playing RPGs with my group. Maybe it's just us, but my players don't like using horses. Or boats. Any time an adventure calls for the PCs to go cross country they insist on walking. Horses are available, but they'll prefer to bring a pack mule to riding. It seems to boil down to this mind-set: "If I buy a horse, the horse can get killed and I'm back to walking. If I just walk, I have nothing to lose!" A pack mule too can get killed, but somehow that doesn't register in the same manner. Why? I have no idea!

    When it comes to boats, the players seem to immediately concern themselves with "What if the boat sinks!" I've had players insisting on wearing sacks of cork attached to them at all time, and this isn't always played as a joke. There is something about moving into what is essentially a moving house that can drop into an abyss at any given moment the makes my players worried about losing all their stuff in one big Gotcha! moment. How often does this happen in our campaigns? It never has.

    I don't think this is an actual problem - if I need the players to just get with the program I can always guarantee for them that I won't use their commitment to a horse, or a boat, to screw them over. But it's still a curious quirk I wonder if other GMs have observed in their group.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Sounds like there are no consequences for taking a longer time to travel to their destination. If the time spent in-game would actually affect them I guess you would see a different behaviour.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Apply a penalty. At 30ft (assuming no dwarfs heavy armor) that is 3 miles an hour and (roughly) 24 miles a day before damage.

    Measure time and distance. If a villain will move before then have the villain win. If they call foul remind them that horses are faster and that they could of made it.


    In short; make your villains proactive

    (Bonus if they are mounted)

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    One core reason for this kind of behaviour is that the players do not perceive "normality" the same as you do.
    Your players don't question the fact that their character wear cloths, because they consider it as normal rather than evaluating the pros and the cons of having clothing. But they don't see horses as something they would "normally" use, so they do apply strict scrutiny on whether or not they are necessary.

    As said by Pelle and Alcore, you could enforce some more time restriction making horses "necessary" from an optimisation point of view, but I'd argue against. I'm more in favour of trying to make horses "normal".

    At some points, you, as a DM, have to say to the players "That's not reasonable, that's not how a sane human being in this universe would do. Unless your character has the 'greedy' or 'humble life' personality trait, he doesn't want to walk for two week straight rather than taking an horse, and if his horse is killed he will immediately seek to buy a new one."

    Something that works quite well IME is to ask to the players what kind of quality of life their character want. Do they want to live like a peasant or a beggar? A middle class artisan? A comfortable bourgeois life? An eccentric noble life?
    And explain to them that this choice contain what they wear as clothes (and how often they get to clean them), how much they care about quality food versus having disgusting ration and suspicious beer every day, where they sleep when in town and how much stuff they take to sleep out of town. The kind of transportation they use, etc.
    Then whenever in front of a RP choice, remind them that "your character probably want this" or "this is very uncomfortable to your character.". Don't force them to make choices they don't want, but act as a reality-check to them to make sure they understand that their choices would be looked upon as "weird" by the NPCs.

    Then, I'd suggest to abstract this way of life into constant weekly or monthly expanses rather than keeping track of all of that. (Obviously, in times where money is short they will get to reduce their way of life)
    Last edited by MoiMagnus; 2021-01-22 at 06:18 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    As said by Pelle and Alcore, you could enforce some more time restriction making horses "necessary" from an optimisation point of view, but I'd argue against. I'm more in favour of trying to make horses "normal".
    I disagree; i did not say necessary. It is normal. By 3rd level everyone should be able to produce four legs under them. Start having mounted NPCs when found on roads, add more horses into descriptions of villages/small towns and marketplaces.

    Make them normal.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    At some points, you, as a DM, have to say to the players "That's not reasonable, that's not how a sane human being in this universe would do. Unless your character has the 'greedy' or 'humble life' personality trait, he doesn't want to walk for two week straight rather than taking an horse, and if his horse is killed he will immediately seek to buy a new one."
    As the DM you can't tell a player what their character thinks or what their attitude to the world is. All their thoughts are happening in the player's head and are responding to the world as you have presented it.

    Quote Originally Posted by DwarfFighter
    There is this weird thing I've noticed when playing RPGs with my group. Maybe it's just us, but my players don't like using horses. Or boats. Any time an adventure calls for the PCs to go cross country they insist on walking. Horses are available, but they'll prefer to bring a pack mule to riding. It seems to boil down to this mind-set: "If I buy a horse, the horse can get killed and I'm back to walking. If I just walk, I have nothing to lose!" A pack mule too can get killed, but somehow that doesn't register in the same manner. Why? I have no idea!

    When it comes to boats, the players seem to immediately concern themselves with "What if the boat sinks!" I've had players insisting on wearing sacks of cork attached to them at all time, and this isn't always played as a joke. There is something about moving into what is essentially a moving house that can drop into an abyss at any given moment the makes my players worried about losing all their stuff in one big Gotcha! moment. How often does this happen in our campaigns? It never has.
    Both of these are the same thing.

    Your PCs do not trust you not to do those things to them. Because both of those are only things that can happen if you the DM make them happen. If your players are avoiding certain behaviours, it is because they expect punishment for engaging in those behaviours. That might be because you've done it once too often in the past or done something suspiciously similar in the past, or because they have an adversarial player vs. GM mindset towards the whole game.

    You need to assess how you're providing risk and reward in your game. If you just make walking worse and try and make them buy horses to avoid a penalty they'll resent it, you need to make having a horse better than walking without making walking worse than it currently is, sufficiently better that they want to have them.

    Then you need to not **** them over when they do it, because if you do sink the boat or kill their horses all you did was prove them right, that they should have just walked.
    Last edited by GloatingSwine; 2021-01-22 at 06:40 AM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    As said by Pelle and Alcore, you could enforce some more time restriction making horses "necessary" from an optimisation point of view, but I'd argue against. I'm more in favour of trying to make horses "normal".

    At some points, you, as a DM, have to say to the players "That's not reasonable, that's not how a sane human being in this universe would do. Unless your character has the 'greedy' or 'humble life' personality trait, he doesn't want to walk for two week straight rather than taking an horse, and if his horse is killed he will immediately seek to buy a new one."
    It's not necessarily a problem, though, just an observation.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Show the players the benefit/necessity of using horses by having NPC using horses. Either by having friendly NPCs overshadow the PCs or enemy NPCs trounce the PCs using horses. Don't do any annoying "gotchas" though, nobody likes that.
    Black text is for sarcasm, also sincerity. You'll just have to read between the lines and infer from context like an animal

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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alcore View Post
    I disagree; i did not say necessary. It is normal. By 3rd level everyone should be able to produce four legs under them. Start having mounted NPCs when found on roads, add more horses into descriptions of villages/small towns and marketplaces.

    Make them normal.
    This is very campaign dependent. I've played in games where near-campaign end characters would struggle to afford a horse between them. Also others where horses for long term travel are obsolete.

    I've also played in games where I've begun with a cart and a beast of burden. Generally a donkey or mule rather than a horse, but honestly for our purposes it worked better. Let me haul wares from city to city to sell, at the very least.

    Riding a horse also isn't a universal skill, even in a mediaeval fantasy setting. Many PCs might legitimately not know or be uninterested in learning how to control a horse, especially in settings where horses are rather expensive. Although I will admit that other mounts are available, and donkeys tend to be a good deal cheaper.

    Actually that's a point, horses are expensive and valuable, especially if you want a decent, well-trained horse. They also eat a lot, so though you're saving on time you're spending more on rations (and spending more on rations all the time if you're owning the horse instead of renting one as needed). A farmer might be able to afford a mediocre horse and make more than the extra money needed to feed it, but a small band of mercenaries might not have the money to give everybody a horse, particular a fully trained warhorse if you want to ride them into battle.

    On the other hand the D&D economy is messed up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    This looks like a case of players not trusting the GM. While the boat issue has some hurdles there’s a decent approach for easing them into trusting horses. Give them horses for free.

    Yes free horses, but layer on a bit of contrivance so they can’t sell the horses immediately. Any precaution they describe for ensuring the safety of the horses should work so long as they’re not leading them up an erupting volcano or other silliness in that vein.

    If you do random encounters there’s a few ways to play off the horses. The first is simple, let them ride away from something that can’t catch horses. If they stop to fight, again respect even modest precautions for ensuring the horses’ safety.

    If they then choose to sell the horses later give them one minor plot point of ‘getting there too late’ and an opportunity to pick up new horses shortly after. This should demonstrate to them that they made a choice that set the party back. Just penalizing then for not having horses without the setup could be received as heavy handed GM coercion. Giving them horses as loot (or anti undead, or poison curing) and them throwing it away just to encounter the given thing (provided they were a little forewarned at least before selling) will get a D’oh! moment that most players will learn from.
    By the metric of being wholly dependent on the GM for noncombat interaction Fighter is an NPC class.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    The most famous adventuring parties (The Dwarves & the Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring) didn't use horses. And the fate of the world was on the line.

    Many RPGs (D&D included) make it very difficult to keep a horse alive in combat.

    Add to this the fact that overland travel by horse is not much faster than overland travel on foot.

    In most campaigns I've played, horses are useful for pulling carts, plows, etc. But not fantastic for long distance overland travel.

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    IME, the main reason players avoid horses and/or boasts is, respectively:

    -If I'm on a horse and an encounter happens, I can't use some of my abilities, so I have to waste an action getting off my horse.

    - If I'm on a boat, it'll be attacked. The boat is always attacked. And I very likely will have to fight in the water. I can't use some of my abilities in water. I'll likely die.


    So... A good way to encourage players to use horses and boats is making those not only more common, but also less dangerous and more entertaining. Maybe add some social/fluff encounters during their travels, and make said encounters take place precisely because of their transportation (e.g.: a sea nymph is curious about the boat and decides to talk to them) or because they arrived earlier than they would otherwise (e.g.: they get to their destination 2 days earlier, so get to see the town's festival).
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by Democratus View Post
    The most famous adventuring parties (The Dwarves & the Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring) didn't use horses. And the fate of the world was on the line.
    Sure... if you watched the movies.


    The dwarfs lost theirs in the goblin caves just after Elron and the followship let theirs go just before Moria. Bookwise i do believe Strider had his personal horse the entire beginning until then. It was awhile before either group got replacements.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    It's not weird at all, it is fairly normal.

    Mounts and boats rarely add anything to the game except bookkeeping. Plus there is always the danger that the mounts might die or the boat might sink. And if the GM agrees not to attack mounts ever or sink a boat ever, then it feels a bit pointless to even use them. And it can get real silly when say a dragon breathes for 30 points of fire damage to a character, but the horse the character is ridding takes no damage.

    And unless the GM is doing a ticking clock adventure, travel time does not matter. So if it takes the characters a week to walk from one town to another, it is no big deal.

    But even if the GM does a ticking clock adventure, again it gets pointless and silly. If the characters need to get to the dark tower by midnight, it's just a game stopper to have the characters fail as their boat got eaten by a sea monster.

    D&D does not offer much support for either mounts or vehicles, other then maybe a handful a vague rules. This is a big problem as even at first level mounts and vehicles are very weak in a magical fantasy world. And they only get beyond lower then weak after first level. And there is little characters can do, as by default magic items are either rare or expensive...or both...they can't have many. Plus each would need lots of useful necessary items.

    And other then some set classes or maybe builds, any default character can't "do" much of anything with a mount or vehicle.

    Some more exotic mounts and vehicles might help for a while, but they will soon enough run into the same problems....at least until you get to "Dragon".

    So, most games keep them in the background, or just don't use them at all.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    "And the Nine Walkers shall be set against the Nine Riders who are evil."

    Also, Aragorn's common use name is literally derived from him walking all the time, Strider.

    The Fellowship had a pack pony, none of them rode until they were riding with an army later. And they are the sine qua non of adventuring parties.

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    Segev's Avatar

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Are there mechanical advantages to horses or boats that they are feeling the lack of? If not, then that's part of the issue. I agree that their paranoia is its own problem - whether because they're unreasonably afraid of something that is unlikely, or because they're reasonably afraid of something because you've hit them too hard with such events in the past - but any amount of paranoia can be overcome by altering the risk/reward calculation.

    It's already been mentioned that they don't seem to mind taking far longer to get places; start having there be more time crunches. Maybe there are others also looking for the hidden ruins, and the PCs hear that the Horseback Harriers adventuring party has already staked a claim to them from a runner that the Harriers have sent back to let their hirelings know where to bring the wagon train to start loading it up with loot. Maybe they're given a crucial message to deliver as a mission, and it has to get there as fast as possible. Maybe they encounter something they can't beat easily in a fight and need to make a quick get-away. Heck, maybe taking a boat is just the fastest way to get to a location AND cart out the maximum loot: they can take pack animals, but walking with those is slow and costly while a boat is less slow and can carry more.

    An oft-overlooked rule in 3.PF D&D is that attacking in melee from horseback against non-mounted creatures of the same size or smaller gives the +1 high ground bonus to hit. This is one tangible mechanical benefit that might tip things. If mounts can also attack, that is another reason they'd be desirable, especially if the mount attacking is easier to control/arrange for players than animals that are not ridden.

    On the other side of things, mounts are often quite fragile compared to PCs as the PCs become more powerful...because mounts don't. Either they need more exotic, hard-to-acquire-and-justify mounts, or they need ways to keep their mounts relevant and protected. When a fireball that mostly inconveniences the 8th-level fighter wipes his mount out even on a successful save, the mount becomes a liability more than a help.

    Protecting a mount gets expensive, and thus the reward again needs to be commensurate with the resources spent to make them durable enough to use at all.

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alcore View Post
    Sure... if you watched the movies.


    The dwarfs lost theirs in the goblin caves just after Elron and the followship let theirs go just before Moria. Bookwise i do believe Strider had his personal horse the entire beginning until then. It was awhile before either group got replacements.


    That's incredibly inaccurate to the books,

    The hobbits leave the Shire on ponies, which they lose when the Nazgul let all the horses out of the Prancing Pony stables. They get Bill the pony for their luggage, but the four hobbits and Strider are on foot. After Weathertop Bill carries Frodo due to the latter's weakness, and he later rides Glorfindel's horse to help get him to Rivendel quickly. At the council it is decided that they shall travel on foot, although Sam takes along Bill as a pack pony. They keep Bill with them, I believe even when attempting to cross Carradras, until they reach the entrance to Moria, where they let him go and Bill is seemingly killed. The journey through Moria to Lorien is on foot and the elves of Lorien do not provide horses for the journey to the centre of their land. The trip to the edge of Rohan is by boat, and thus horseless, and then the Fellowship splits. Frodo and Sam do not have a horse or pony on their journey to Mordor and do not have the capacity to pick one up,m Merry and Pippin are at first captured and then spend time with Ents willing to carry them about, before being carried on other's horses due to a lack of suitable mounts, and Aragorn and Legolas ride horses where advantageous and possible, while Gimli hitches a ride on Legolas's horse. The journey back to the Shgire is, I believe, carried out on horse and pony.

    Been ages since I've read The Hobbbit, but I believe the dwarves had pack animals, not riding animals? May very well be mistaken there.


    One thing I like about the 5e Middle-earth RPG is the fact that you get starting gear according to your culture. A Rohirim character probably spends a lot of time in the saddle, due to their Handle Animal skill and free riding horse, while everybody else is stuck walking until they can convince somebody to gift them a horse or raise a pretty decent sum of money. And a proper rider of Rohan will protect their horse from danger, and probably won't fight on it if it's not a trained warhorse to reduce the danger it's in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by DwarfFighter View Post
    There is this weird thing I've noticed when playing RPGs with my group. Maybe it's just us, but my players don't like using horses. Or boats. Any time an adventure calls for the PCs to go cross country they insist on walking. Horses are available, but they'll prefer to bring a pack mule to riding. It seems to boil down to this mind-set: "If I buy a horse, the horse can get killed and I'm back to walking. If I just walk, I have nothing to lose!" A pack mule too can get killed, but somehow that doesn't register in the same manner. Why? I have no idea!
    Some of this comes from the system, especially HP.

    So, at early levels, horses are expensive. You don't have much gold, and buying a horse means your armor or weapons fall behind. Pack mules are a lot cheaper, and are pretty close to pure carrying capacity, so they tend to get a pass.

    As levels rise, though, horses become impractical because anything that will threaten the players will outright slaughter the horses. Even at 5th level in AD&D, your horse has 2-3 HD, while a fireball from an opponent does 5d6 HP... so 9-15 HP for your horses (max 24, if you have a ranger), v. an average of 17 damage from a fireball or lightning bolt... your horse just became a very expensive set of rations.
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    Flumph

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    The other thing to ask here is "are my players going to have more fun if they have horses to ride?"

    Because if the answer to that is no, then why worry about them not riding them?

    And the answer probably is no, because if they wanted to have fun riding horses they'd be doing that. It would be in their character concepts and they'd be picking skills that let them do cool stuff with their mounts. (Another reason why most people don't even think about them. If you want to do anything more complicated than "not fall off" you need to invest mechanically.)


    Remember your primary role as a GM is to provide the players stuff to do with the characters they have, not punish them for not playing the game the way you want them to.
    Last edited by GloatingSwine; 2021-01-22 at 12:25 PM.

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Bill is seemingly killed.
    No, actually, Bill survives. Gandalf places a protective spell on him before they let him loose, and he finds his way back to Bree where he is eventually reunited with Sam.
    Last edited by InvisibleBison; 2021-01-22 at 12:24 PM.
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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Over the editions D&D has moved more and more character "advancement" into increasing hit points and damage. Horses and boats however have remained at roughly the same level of ability. So where the damage that characters are expected to dish out and take has doubled or tripled the horses and boats haven't significantly changed. Add to this that PCs are now expected by the normal game to purchase basic character survival in the form of magic items and exotic/tougher mounts are not default available. This creates a strong disincentive towards buying expensive mounts that will be killed in the first couple combats. The move away from hirelings, reliable hireing & loyalty rules means you can't offload mount care & replacement to offscreen npc actions.

    Boats suffer the same sort of thing. PC damage & hit points have replaced saving throws, resistances, & immunities. So things that used to inflict conditions now inflicts damage, or the non-damage actions aren't useful anymore. But items don't get saves any more and their durability hasn't doulbed or tripled like PC damage & hit points, so boats became relatively more fragile. Add that many many DMs interpret drowning as a significant danger and the average swimming check is now relatively harder to succeed at. The players now correctly believe that their characters are in more danger of drowning (bypassing the increased hit points that are a primary measure of character advancement) from boarding boats that may easily have fewer hit points than the characters do and no damage mitigation from item saving throws.

    TLDR: D&D PC & monster hit point & damage inflation over editions did not extend to mounts & boats, plus the failure states of mounts & boats are worse now. Systems without D&D hit point scaling often don't have (or have less of) a problem with these sorts of things.
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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Over the editions D&D has moved more and more character "advancement" into increasing hit points and damage. Horses and boats however have remained at roughly the same level of ability. So where the damage that characters are expected to dish out and take has doubled or tripled the horses and boats haven't significantly changed. Add to this that PCs are now expected by the normal game to purchase basic character survival in the form of magic items and exotic/tougher mounts are not default available. This creates a strong disincentive towards buying expensive mounts that will be killed in the first couple combats. The move away from hirelings, reliable hireing & loyalty rules means you can't offload mount care & replacement to offscreen npc actions.

    Boats suffer the same sort of thing. PC damage & hit points have replaced saving throws, resistances, & immunities. So things that used to inflict conditions now inflicts damage, or the non-damage actions aren't useful anymore. But items don't get saves any more and their durability hasn't doulbed or tripled like PC damage & hit points, so boats became relatively more fragile. Add that many many DMs interpret drowning as a significant danger and the average swimming check is now relatively harder to succeed at. The players now correctly believe that their characters are in more danger of drowning (bypassing the increased hit points that are a primary measure of character advancement) from boarding boats that may easily have fewer hit points than the characters do and no damage mitigation from item saving throws.

    TLDR: D&D PC & monster hit point & damage inflation over editions did not extend to mounts & boats, plus the failure states of mounts & boats are worse now. Systems without D&D hit point scaling often don't have (or have less of) a problem with these sorts of things.
    Honestly, modeling vehicles as creatures would be a good move. Maybe even letting them be creatures with derived stats that depend on the stats and abilities of their crews.

    Mounts definitely need either more hp, or a way for their riders to share their hp. I would go so far as to suggest that either a default rule, or a part of something like D&D's mounted combat feat(s), should permit a rider to determine whether he or his mount's hp get used when either takes damage.

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    Chimera

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by DwarfFighter View Post
    There is this weird thing I've noticed when playing RPGs with my group. Maybe it's just us, but my players don't like using horses. Or boats. Any time an adventure calls for the PCs to go cross country they insist on walking. Horses are available, but they'll prefer to bring a pack mule to riding. It seems to boil down to this mind-set: "If I buy a horse, the horse can get killed and I'm back to walking. If I just walk, I have nothing to lose!" A pack mule too can get killed, but somehow that doesn't register in the same manner. Why? I have no idea!
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Some of this comes from the system, especially HP.
    It could also have to do with past gaming history, or just past exposure to old gaming tropes. I don't know how much cultural penetration this kind of stuff has, but there used to be old gaming comics such as Knights of the Dinner Table that sent up old TSR-era gaming tropes. I don't remember of KoDT specifically covered this, but it certainly was part of the gamer vernacular that the instant PCs got horses, they would die. Or, instead, they would simply need tending, in which case you needed hirelings to guard your horses while you went into the trap&treasure-filled dungeon -- in which case both horses and guards would die; or conversely said guards would betray you and ride off with your horses (and whatever else you foolishly left with them) which of course you couldn't do anything about since by definition they were on horseback and you weren't (plus head start. plus you probably came out of the dungeon low on hp). No one is exactly sure how often actual groups ended up playing like that, but like Mr. Johnson constantly betraying you in Shadowrun, it became part of the 'known lore' of D&D gaming.

  24. - Top - End - #24
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Also, realistically, traveling on horse isn't that much faster. If you're traveling on a horse for a long distance, it's at a walk - which is basically the same as a brisk human walk. You might manage 20-30 mi/day walking, and maybe 30-40 on a horse. It's faster, yes, but not that much.

    The big advantage is that it doesn't leave you tired and lets you carry stuff as well.

    But... ultimately, players are optimizers. They look for the most beneficial thing to do with the least cost. If they're not using horses, that's because the perceived advantages (faster, carrying capacity, etc.) are not actually valuable enough compared to the perceived costs (the chance the GM is going to murder their horses).

    Both of these can be addressed. But the easiest thing to do is basically tell the players that enemies won't target horses, and unless the characters decide to engage in horse-mounted combat (and the decision will be on them), the horses will be allowed to just wander off and out of the combat without getting harmed. If they really believe that the mounts will be killed, they won't use them. Their logic (figuring out how to do it without a mount is a plan that survives not having a mount) is sound if they have reason to believe that the mounts will have a low percentage chance of making it.

    More to the point, if they have that opinion, I'd also look at if they have reasons to believe (legit or not) that, as a GM, you will take advantage of any vulnerability you expose. Because that feels like the normal response to "if we give the GM any rope, he will hang us" mentality. It's a turtling game style that revolves around not exposing anything to attack, rather than being proactive and doing things in the world.
    Last edited by kyoryu; 2021-01-22 at 01:03 PM.
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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Eh, just let them walk. Play up the flavor text a little, moreso if it's a nasty place, but also if it's pretty and quiet, and keep track of time traveled if you do random encounters.


    Unless the pcs are in a rush, no need to ride. Walking means they are low to the ground, more likely to see some stuff or get involved with things.


    Now if your more of a travel handwaver, have them mark off the food and water for time traveled and have them arrive in good health :)

  26. - Top - End - #26
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    Elbeyon's Avatar

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    I wouldn't try to punish players for things they don't want to do. If they refuse to get mounts/boats/houses because they don't want to lose them and you really really want them to have those things, you could just make an agreement out of character that you will not attack their horses or house. Just take such a possibility off the table. I've seen such agreements for pets that offer no combat advantage, and it has worked well everytime.
    Last edited by Elbeyon; 2021-01-22 at 01:42 PM.

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    Anonymouswizard's Avatar

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    No, actually, Bill survives. Gandalf places a protective spell on him before they let him loose, and he finds his way back to Bree where he is eventually reunited with Sam.
    Hence seemingly killed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by Democratus View Post
    The most famous adventuring parties (The Dwarves & the Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring) didn't use horses. And the fate of the world was on the line.
    LIES!!!!!! LIES!!!!!!

    The absolutely used horses for the dwarfs/Legolas/Gandalf and ponies for the hobbits. But they were all killed/lost at Moria. IIRC, the watcher in the water snatched one. Gandalf even went to find the super rare special ultra fast horse, Shadowfax.

    Same thing in the hobbit. The lost the horses at the goblin caves. Then they got more horses at the Bear-shifter and released them at the edge of Murkwood.

    In fact those stories have a theme of "pony rides and May sunshine", lost the ponies ( Hope Bill the pony is alright), walk, new mounts, lost those too, walk, new mounts.


    To the OP I will now address your topic in a strictly D&D 3.5 view...
    To ride a mount in combat requires a character to have a decent chance of controlling it in combat. That mean training in the ride and handle animals skil*S*. Notice that is plural. If combat starts the horse will startle and most likely throw even a slightly trained rider to prone with some damage. Add in the fact they can be killed rather easily and you can easily see why a PC will avoid it like the plague. Unless one invests several character options into the ability to use horses they are a major pain.

    Same thing with a boat. Unless the PCs have invested points in rope use, profession sailor, climb, and most importantly SWIM. They are worthless on a ship. Swimming is either something you are great at in D&D or its impossible especially with an Armor penalty. In D&D aquatic monsters are very very common and super terrifying. So yeah, as a PC I would avoid the boat and the water. If I go overboard I cannot melee fight, ranged attack, move, and sometimes breath. It is almost DM fiat you die. The DM isn't actually saying that but any encounter or storm at sea is pretty terrible for PCs.


    Accepting either of these "boons" are a major drawback in any sort of hostile encounter for a character that isn't built for the concept.


    EDIT:

    My post was a knee jerk reaction to the earlier posts of they walked in the LOTR and didn't use horses hardly any. There is a lot of walking in the Hobbit and LOTR. But there are many instances of riding on ents, riding on horses, eagles, barrels, ships by various members of the fellowship. Sam and Frodo have to walk the most since the last leg of their journey is up the side of a mountain, through a cave, in lava fields, goblin towers, and then more mountains. And they are referred to as the 9 walkers. And the Horse Lords of Rohan and the Riders of Rohan are a major element of the story.
    Last edited by gijoemike; 2021-01-22 at 02:03 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Boats are death traps - it's only good sense that your PCs avoid them. Award them bonus XP every time that they find an alternative to boat travel.

    Mounts are more complex. Conventional wisdom in the current "pets" thread is that (in D&D) beasties *can* be useful at low level, but that utility quickly falls off.

    Personally, I would rather walk than travel on horseback. So, were I playing *myself*, it would only be good role-playing for me to side with that party.

    Logistically, horses are scarcely faster in D&D than walking is. And there's much better (and cheaper) ways to increase your overland rate than buying a horse.

    Tactically and strategically, it depends on the system, but horses grant a few advantages, and a lot of disadvantages. They require upkeep, meaning that you have to earn more money per unit time just to break even (although they *can* be used as emergency rations, if you're willing to tell that story). They inherently split the party, as you usually cannot take them into dungeons, or sleep with them in the inn. They're one more living target for possession / vector for disease. They can provide cover, or be a pool of extra health… or, in 3e, they can increase the damage you take each round by 50% (8 vs 12 bandits surrounding you), and provide an easy means to reduce your actions (kill your mount out from under you). They usually represent 1 more skill you need to spend points on. They project your wealth and affluence in a way that invites thieves (in a way that an animated chair, crafted from the swords of your dead former enemies and adorned with the skulls of dragons does not). They attract new hazards (griffons, vegans / animal rights activists). In 3e, they grant a +1 "higher ground" bonus to hit… but so does the animated chair, or a soap box. They're one more creature you need to cast "Endure Elements" or "Invisibility" on. They cost you that much more when you Teleport, are running out of air, or crossing a rickety bridge (or, horror of horrors, boarding a boat (!) with limited capacity). They involve one more set of vocabulary to learn, one more vector for miscommunication between players and GM.

    And they're highly suboptimal next to Dragons or Teleportation.

    Anyone trying to oversimplify this issue, and tell their players what their characters think would probably be better off having their players tell them what they think.

    Anyone trying to force the players to take a course of action that they obviously are avoiding should probably reevaluate their worldview.

    But, to answer the *actual* question of the OP… no, I can't say as I really have seen such behavior before.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    Zombie

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    Default Re: My players don't use horses!

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    But... ultimately, players are optimizers. They look for the most beneficial thing to do with the least cost.
    The main problem is that they don't consider all the costs and benefits (partly because the system doesn't). Most systems that say you heal overnight while resting don't consider the difference in sleeping on cold rocky ground after eating iron rations or sleeping in a warm dry bed after eating a hot meal in a nice inn.

    Unless you step on a trap, there's no difference between walking barefoot, wearing cheap shoes, or wearing expensive custom fitted boots (or riding a horse to save your own feet).

    Some of it is just players not caring or thinking about how their characters feel. It's easy to say "We just eat iron rations every day even in town because it's cheaper" when you don't have to chew them (or live with scurvy). The same players who insist that their characters spend every moment of downtime training or studying to maximize their skills also have no problem watching three hours of reruns on TV instead of doing homework because they just don't feel like it.
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