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Alternative Riding Animals


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I've recently taken a liking to building a campaign within a desert setting, and I'm contemplating replacing horses and camels with something a bit more exotic that might fit the terrain as a tamed riding animal. Most such alternatives that I've seen in fiction are either some kind of large lizard (like a Star Wars Dewback) or a flightless bird (like an ostrich maybe) big enough to work as a riding animal.

 

What are some suggestions for a desert riding animal that I might consider? I'm also open to having several options available, such as one sort of beast for a draft animal pulling wagons and another for riding fast.

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The big flightless birds most often seen in fantasy or sci-fi are based on the extinct Phorusrhacidae, or "terror birds." Part of their coolness comes from being predators, and looking the part. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c1/Phorusrhacos.jpg

 

Tolkien's Middle Earth stories gave us the wargs, giant canines/lupines. Personally I've always been fond of the image of giant felines as riding beasts. Or how about giant insects? Deserts in particular are loaded with ants, spiders, beetles. Maybe scorpions? Beetles would likely make good draft animals.

 

And on that note, I have to add this picture:

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I have a lot of stuff on training and using mounts in your game in the Jolrhos Bestiary, including talents for pets and mounts, different quirks and traits (such as the animal is super loyal but tends to chew on things, etc), and tips on making the mount more than just a car characters drive to locations and park.

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What are some suggestions for a desert riding animal that I might consider? I'm also open to having several options available, such as one sort of beast for a draft animal pulling wagons and another for riding fast.

 

It's already been mentioned above, but giant beetles, giant lizards, giant worms and rhinos (or elephants!) all fit a desert/arid setting. You could up the ante by having giant riding scorpions :) or go Princess Mononoke with large antelope-types big enough to carry a rider. Any of the creatures of Barsoom, would fit the bill too. How about a nice Thoat?

john_carter___thoat_concept_art_by_micha

 

If you want to try something a bit more different, in my own fantasy world, Ogres are a race of very large humans, sorcerously modified to create strong, but none-too-bright shock troopers. Their old masters/creators are long gone, but the ogres survive and in a few places, ogres work with normal humans, serving as ... yes, well, shock troopers, or muscle. But a few places actually raise and train them as mounts. A mounted warrior on an armoured ogre - who has a couple of spiked gauntlets of his own! - is not very fast, but makes a fearsome opponent  on the charge!

 

cheers, Mark

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 I actually thought about Kangaroos, but the idea of riding one leads to thoughts of seasickness :) Some of the other paleolithic Australian megafauna could be worth looking at though.

 

cheers, Mark

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HPL had Randolph Carter riding a zebra in Dream-Quest.

post-239-0-34598300-1425394175_thumb.jpg

 

And Jack Vance mentioned oasts in "Guyal of Sfere," the last story in the book The Dying Earth:

Guyal turned his head at a hoarse snuffling and saw a pen of woven wattles. In a litter of filth and matted straw stood a number of hulking men eight or nine feet tall. They were naked, with shocks of dirty yellow hair and watery blue eyes. They had waxy faces and expressions of crass stupidity. As Guyal watched, one of them ambled to a trough and noisily began gulping gray mash.

 

Guyal said, "What manner of things are these?"

 

The hetman blinked in amusement to Guyal's naivete. "Those are our oasts, naturally." And he gestured in disapprobation at Guyal's white horse. "Never have I seen a stranger oast than the one you bestride. Ours carry us easier and appear to be less vicious; in addition no flesh is more delicious than oast properly braised and kettled."

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We had a very-well trained cat (now very sadly, recently deceased) who would come at a call and respond to simple hand signals (sit here, don't sit there, don't touch that, etc). Our D&D GM has a similarly well-trained cat. There are also plenty of well-trained cats on TV and film. Cats are not at all difficult to train, maybe not as easy as pigeons or dogs, but certainly not difficult.

 

It's more that there's this myth that cats are hard to train, so most cat owners don't even try.

 

Cheers, Mark

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