Wednesday, August 3, 2011

RPG Blog Carnival - PHB Animals

My introduction to DnD was an early one, even though I didn’t get to play for many years after. My mother played in an ADnD game when I was young, and I remember sneaking the DM’s copy of the PHB to read. One of the things I liked most about it was the equipment section. Lists of fantastic weapons, armor, and farm animals.

Farm Animals? Livestock?

cell phone picture from my AD&D PHB

Cows, pigs, chickens, horses, goats. My 6 year old mind just took that in and rolled with it. I don’t really remember what I thought about the inclusion of animals, but I do know I’ve been disappointed by it’s reduction over the editions.

Why? It takes something away from the world. It seems to me, that if an adventurer saves a rancher's herd, that it’s likely he’ll thank them with the one thing he has - livestock, rather than with something he likely doesn’t have a lot of - coin.

What does it say about a world where songbirds cost a mere 4 c.p.? Have you ever looked at the cost of a canary? Ok, finches are a lot cheaper, but i wouldn't call them songbirds either. They're either really common in the wild (which would make for a very song-filled wilderness) or there are lots of people that breed and sell them!

Plus the inclusion of these animals definitely suggests that there is more to the game than just roving about and pillaging tombs. It adds weight to the importance of the "end game" aspect of DnD, of settling down, building a castle, and hiring (or breeding) new adventures to help clear the goblins out of the nearby forest. Even prior to that though, is the idea that maybe after a few adventures they'll buy a farm and retire before becoming barons and baronesses.

This month's RPG Blog Carnival topic is Animals and it's being hosted here at the Tower of the Archmage! How can you get involved? Easy! Write a post about animals, anything about animals, and share the link!


  1. The animals certainly indicate the presence of an "end game" but they also show the value of raiding and counter-raiding as it was in the dark ages for campaigns where there are lot;s of small local domains where the nearest and only true authority is a lord in his castle. Capturing 20 head of cattle is 200 exp based on sale value alone.

    I've seen many a player build a farm or small estate long before they were able to swing a true castle and they definitely needed some animals for that.

    As for the price of song birds, many used to be really cheap in the olden times of the 70's and it was pretty much any small bird that chirped and sang so the 4 c.p. PHB price makes sense.

    Songbirds are also a useable noxious gas detection system that was used in the real world and were collected and kept for that purpose in areas with mining.

  2. Here's a blog post on using livestock in dungeons

  3. One of my favorite D&D memories came from this. Janie was a sometimes player with our group. Smart, funny, and Gods and Deities, was she pretty. We all had crushes on her. In our first long term campaign, she played the cleric. The first thing she bought was at least one of every animal on that list. Everywhere our party went, we were accompanied by Janie's menagerie. After she stopped playing, we kept them with us, at least until the first fireball hit us. Then, they became good eatin'.

    *Sigh* Janie *sigh*.

  4. Thanks for hosting this month.

    My humble contribution to the Carnival:

    Animal Cunning