My Kingdom for a Horse
A preview for Omens of War, a supplement for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
As any general knows, cavalry are a powerful force on the battlefield. Not only do they fight from an elevated position, offering obvious tactical advantages, they are also able to sweep across the field more swiftly than units on foot. So when the omens of war are heard, the wisest leaders call for their cavalry.
Omens of War introduces several brutal new mechanics to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, including detailed fighting styles and Enhance cards, which were previewed in the Fighting in Style article. Today we will take a look at mounts and mounted combat, as well as a career that makes good use of both.
Aside from quick travel between encounters and the heroic status that comes with riding into town on horseback, why would you want to invest in a beast of burden? Not only does a horse offer increased mobility, but there are direct combat advantages to fighting from horseback. Characters trained in Ride benefit from the following when fighting on horseback:
- Add a Fortune die to all Melee Attacks due to the advantage of height and leverage
- Add a Misfortune die to all opponents attacking the rider in melee, unless the attacker is using a halberd, lance, spear, or similar weapon
However, these benefits must be balanced with the disadvantages that come with riding a half-ton of horseflesh into battle. Ranged attacks from horseback suffer from an additional Misfortune die, while spellcasting increases in difficulty by adding an additional Challenge die to compensate for maintaining the reins while attempting to harness the Winds of Magic.
Acquiring a horse is the first step in unlocking the advantages of riding into battle. While some careers have immediate access to a mount (see below), most characters will have to earn theirs, either by taming a wild mount with a daunting Handle Animal check or by purchasing one with their adventuring spoils. Horses come in three broad types:
- Draught horses: These large, even-tempered horses are commonly referred to as “cold bloods.” They are bred for power and docility, not for speed. While most horses have the Swift ability, draught horses do not. They are not ideal mounts, but they are less prone to spook or startle than most other breeds.
- Riding horses: Known as “hot bloods,” these horses are normally more spirited and finely proportioned than draught horses. Most riding horses are mares or geldings, and they are commonly used by roadwardens, messengers, travellers, or anyone else trying to cover a lot of ground in a hurry.
- Warhorses: These are the finest examples of horseflesh in the Old World - just ask any warhorse breeder. Larger than a riding horse, faster than a draught horse, warhorses are the product of meticulous breeding and years of training. These mounts offer a Fortune die to their rider on any check to maintain control in battle, in addition to the Swift trait.
Know Your Limits
No matter how well-bred, no beast is without its limits. To reflect this, every horse has a Wind score, which represents how much strain, stress, and abuse it can take before it gives up or possibly dies. Players can track the Wind of most mounts by using Fatigue or Stress tokens, however some exceptional horses (with exceptional bonds with their riders) have specific Follower sheets with separate Wind trackers.
An example of a career that must maintain a strong bond with their mount is the Outrider. This career path takes advantage of the Trusty Horse Follower sheet included in Omens of War. Players aspiring to walk the Outrider’s path might want to begin their study of horseback riding post haste.
Hold on to your reins, more information on Omens of War is waiting on the horizon.
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