Sunday, 24 July 2022

Horsebread! & some pony economics for elf games

History of Horsebread!

Based on work of William Rubel, author of English Horse-bread, 1590-1800
A good medieval pricelist here
Horse weigh calculator - don't forget to add your armour and equipment and fighting saddles weigh more - 16kg. Horse plate armour 30kg. 

Now I'm wondering if you could turn car wars into a knight combat game.

So apparently bread for horses was convenient for the thousands of working horses and produced more than human bread. I hear an Estonian say in old days (pre WW1 when german aristocrats ran like northern crusade fiefs) peasants as a "benefit" got to make bread for themselves from the leftover chaff horses left. Humans eating horse-breed are seen as animals like the lowest class and desperate. Possibly it is healthier and tastier and better value than posh white bread. Bohemians would probably eat it. Possibly used for welfare food for the poor if not used by horses while good. Posh versions of horse bread exist for rich horses and for training or a horse's birthday or to build up its condition, not every day and luxurious for a common family like cake.

So based on these horrible takes on the value of human and animal labour I'm going to make horse bread a campaign standard and possibly the desperate would eat it. So the purpose of my game it is a 
puck-like loaf convenient horse ration weighing 5lb/2.5kg. 

a horse eats 1.5 to 2 kg of feed per 100 kg of the horse's body weight
riding horse 200+ I would need a 700kg horse apparently and a pack horse
28-45 litres or water or 5-10 gallons

Horsebread loaf 1cp (
2-for-1 if old or mouldy)
Crown Horsebread 1sp (high protein blend with eggs and beanmeal)
A quarter of oats 1sp in a sack 28lb or 13kg

In my setting 1cp gets you a beer, a cheap meal or a days worth of minimal food and lodging. So horses quite a bit more effort to run. 

these numbers kind of work for small horses and larger range horses. 1-2 loafs for a horse a day or a sack of oats lasts 1-2 days depending on size. Imaging a horse carrying all the party horse feed and extra water - be a shame if something happened to it. In Pendragon's RPG a knight has his main war horse and a riding horse and several pack horses. The squire might need a horse or walk. Every year your horse gets a saving throw to live based on how well you treat it.

I have horses and chariots in my current bronze age game and horse riding is rare. Capping the weight of horses can help a DM encourage a more pre-cavalry mindset. Small guys might ride message ponies or konga: wild ass-donkey hybrids. Armoured warriors should be rarer on horseback. I have battle donkeys as more common than horses plus my barbarians have some weird beasts pulling chariots. I always wondered if the Set head beast was an ass with trimmed ears but just wild speculation. I do like the Arab trick of two men on a camel one with a bow at least. Older pre chariot 4-wheeler battlewagons pulled by oxen or bulls can be a thing too. I always like the archaic greek system of chariots with support soldiers that drop off super heavy infantrymen in bronze plate off to strategic points often with long lances. Players will probably end up with multiple chariots in the party. One player is already wanting an upgraded bigger war one and will save his magic light 2 man chariot for other uses. Centaur chariot with a mobile balistia anyone?

Considering horse-keeping logistics a bit makes them much more suited to mid-level characters and having rules for horses and elders appearing in expert sets was probably a good thing.

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