OD&D: Can Your Horse Carry You?

I had the sudden realization that since horses and mules in OD&D have a maximum load they can carry, that is applicable not only for carrying cargo but also for carrying riders plus whatever they are wearing or carrying as well. Below is the maximum load for each type of equine, in coins and pounds.

Equine Load (cn) Load (lb)
Horse, light 3,000 300
Horse, medium 3,750 375
Horse, heavy 4,500 450
Horse, draft 4,500 450
Mule 3,500 350

Below are assumed weights of riders, in pounds, at different degrees of encumbrance. We can guess that, at a minimum, they are using a saddle (anywhere from 15 to 60 lb) and other equipment in order to ride the horse. Barding (horse armor) weighs 75 lb, so count that in as well if you have it; on a tangent, maybe it improves the horse’s AC by 2 pips from 7 [12] to 5 [14].

Rider No Backpack Backpack
Unarmored 200 lb 225 lb
Leather armor 225 lb 250 lb
Chainmail armor 250 lb 275 lb
Plate armor 275 lb 300 lb

And there we go! Turning everything into 25 lb (250 cn) increments keeps it simple without really introducing new math. The horse’s surplus load basically becomes a function of what armor you are wearing, if you are wearing a backpack, and if the horse is wearing barding. Or you might not be riding the horse at all.

On the topic of treasure, we typically find it in thousands of coins (or hundreds of pounds) of copper, silver, and gold. It’s pretty clear that horses are necessary to carry all that back into town or wherever you came from, but it being in hundreds of pounds makes it easy to track in unit quantities. Below are experience values per thousands of coins:

Coin Type XP/1,000
Copper 20
Silver 100
Gold 1,000

What this means is that, conveniently, silver is worth its weight in pounds—which is historically interesting when we consider the pound sterling’s origin, as if the actual basis of OD&D’s economy is not really the gold coin but the silver pound. Or, rather, maybe this was the case, but not since the currencies were massively devalued by apparent inflation. Like in our supposed economy, a pound of silver (1 gold piece) is a month’s wages, whereas it may have been a year’s wages in the past. It’s just all convenient! Anyway.

That’s all!


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