Thursday, March 19, 2015

Race Horses and Horse Races

Racing Horse Stats

So, everyone knows that horses have a Movement score.  But horses also have two more hidden stats: Sprint (derived from Dexterity) and Constitution.

Horses have a Movement of 18.
Exceptional horses might have a Movement of 19, 20, or 21.

A horse has a Sprint of 1d4, which is derived from Dex 10 (the horse average).
Dex 8 = cannot sprint
Dex 10 = Sprint 1d4
Dex 12 = Sprint 1d6
Dex 14 = Sprint 1d8
Dex 16 = Sprint 1d10
Dex 18 = Sprint 1d12
When a horse sprints, it gains its sprint value to Movement for a round, but afterwards the horse tires, getting a point of Exhaustion.
Exceptional horses might have a Sprint of 1d6,1d8, or 1d10.

A horse has a Constitution value of 10.
At certain points in a race, there are opportunities to take short cuts, charge through a fence, that sort of thing.  Success on these actions depends on Constitution checks.  Certain difficult parts of the race (running up a hill, for example) require a Constitution check to avoid gaining a point of Exhaustion.
Exceptional horses might have Constitutions of 12, 14, or even 16.

Each point of exhaustion applies as a penalty to Movement and Constitution.  When a horse is fully exhausted (6 points of exhaustion), that horse can no longer Sprint, nor gain any further exhaustion points.

Buying Horses

An average horse costs 50g (in a gold standard system) and has Movement 18, Sprint 1d4, and Constitution 10.

25% of horses are exceptional horses, and are generated on the table below.  If PCs already have horses and enter into a race, roll at the start of the race to see if they have an exceptional horse.

If a horse dealer specializes in racing horses, all of their horses will be exceptional.  A regular horse dealer has a 40% chance to recognize the exceptional ability a horse, and price them appropriately.  A racing horse dealer has a 60% chance to recognize the exceptional ability of a horse and price them appropriately.

What's Exceptional about this horse? (d8)
1-2 Movement
3 Sprint
4 Constitution
5 Movement and Sprint, final price x1.5
6 Sprint and Constitution, final price x1.5
7 Movement and Constitution, final price x1.5
8 All 3, final price x2

Exceptional Movement (d6)
1-3 Movement +1, +200g to price
4-5 Movement +2, +400g to price
6 Movement +3, +600g to price

Exceptional Sprint (d6)
1-3 Dexterity +2 (Sprint 1d6), +100g to price
4-5 Dexterity +4 (Sprint 1d8), +200g to price
6 Dexterity +6 (Sprint 1d10), +300g to price

Exceptional Constitution (d6)
1-3 Constitution +2, +100g to price
4-5 Constitution +4, +200g to price
6 Constitution +6, +300g to price

Under this math, it's possible for a horse to be worth 2500g.  Like, Shadowfax or something.

oh my god
Race Mechanics

Everyone starts at the same zone, the starting line.  As the characters race, they'll move forward and backward in the zones, but this is all relative to one of the racers, the pacer.  Think of the pacer as the racer that the camera is centered on, with everyone else either being ahead of or behind them.

Each round, each racer will roll Movement + 1d12 and compare it to the pacer's result.  If they are at least 3 points higher, they move forward a zone.  If they are at least 3 points slower, they move back a zone.  They can't move more than 1 zone in a turn, and they can't be farther than 2 zones in front of or behind the pacer.  At the finish line, you can determine the finishing order within a zone by looking at the individual movement rolls for each racer.

You can roll for the pacer if you want, but it's probably easier just to use average values.  Here are average values if the pacer is a horse with Movement 18.

21 or less: fall back a zone
22 to 27: no change (pacer Movement +4 to Movement +9)
28 or more: go forward a zone

That's the basics, anyway.

Before rolling movement each turn, each racer has a chance to take some actions.  They can attack, drop things, throw things, whatever.  Basically the same stuff they could do in a combat round.  You can only make melee attacks against the racers in the same zone as you.  Bows attacks are made with a -2 penalty per zone, due to the fact that you're shooting from the back of a galloping horse.  Thrown weapons have no penalty, but they have a range of 1 zone.

Sample Race - Two Laps Around Lake Sentimental

All of the PCs can race against a pair of NPC racers.  Trying to kill the other racers disqualifies you.  So does the use of magic (if they catch you).

Morgan Bronzewind on a black destrier, (horse, Movement 19, Sprint 1d4, Constutition 10).  She is the pacer.

Manzel Bronzewind on a white destrier, (horse, Movement 19, Sprint 1d4, Constitution 12).  He is a regular racer, so the DM will have to roll for him each round.

The race is two laps around a small lake.  There are five sections (each of which will be repeated twice).  The listed pace is what is required on the Movement check to remain in the same zone.  For example, the first lap up Section 1: the Hill has a listed pace of 22-27.  If they roll a 21 or lower, they fall back a zone.  If they roll a 28 or higher, they move up a zone.

Section 1:  The Hill

All horses running up the hill must make a Con check or gain a point of exhaustion.

Lap 1 pace: 22-27
Lap 2 pace: 21-26

Section 2:  The Briars

The first horse running into the briars must make a Con check or automatically fall back a zone.  On the first lap, the racers will disturb a bunch of ugly, disheveled men sitting around a campfire.  The second lap through the briars, the brigands will fire arrows at 3 random racers (+1 to hit, 1d6 damage).

Lap 1 pace: 22-27
Lap 2 pace: 21-26

Section 3:  The Village

There is also a shortcut here.  Instead of making a Movement check, make a Con check to forge through the side streets.  Success results in the racer gaining a position; failure results in losing one.

Lap 1 pace: 22-27
Lap 2 pace: 21-26

Section 4:  The Bridge

The road narrows onto the bridge, which is only wide enough for two horses.  All horses must succeed on a Constitution check or be forced back a position.  The first and second fastest horses within each zone are immune to this requirement.  The pacer is immune to this requirement, too.

Lap 1 pace: 22-27
Lap 2 pace: 23-28

Section 5:  The Ruined Fort 

The race course includes several spider web-filled hallways and the ruins of a mead hall.  The first lap through, the racers will be attacked by 1d3 dire bats (HD 2), who will attack racers in the back zone (Pacer -2) until killed.

Lap 1 pace: 22-27
Lap 2 pace: 21-26 (finish 23.5)


The winner gets a horse from the losing side and 700g.  Those racers who took advantage of the shortcut will be in trouble with the town guard the next time they are in town.

Things That Aren't Horses (and Horses, too)

HD 2, AC 12, Kick 1d6, Move 18
Dex 10 (Sprint 1d4), Constitution 10
*Horses freak out in combat and cannot be commanded to kick things.

*Same as a horse, except HD 3 and are trained for combat.
**Cost is x2 what a horse would normally cost.  They are not bred for speed, and they will never have exceptional movement or sprint.  (All exceptional war horses roll on the Exceptional Constitution table.)

Orn (giant riding bird)
HD 2, AC 12, Peck 1d8, Move 18
Dex 12 (Sprint 1d6), Constitution 8
*Cost 75g.
**Exceptional orns exist in the same way that exceptional horses do.  They cost +50% more than a comparable horse.  Orns with Dex 18 have Spring 1d12.

Gorolisk (giant riding lizard)
HD 2, AC 14, Bite 1d6, Move 18
Dex 8 (cannot sprint), Constitution 12
*Cost 75g.
**Exceptional gorolisks exist in the same way that exceptional horses do.  They cost +50% more than a comparable horse.


  1. This is possibly the most useful horse related thing I have ever seen in my entire life. You have made my entire day.

  2. Thanks for this! On the fly, I made up a holiday for the kingdom the players are in. It was a religious holiday with a feast and cart race championship. They thought it was would be a good idea to enter the race...and I had no idea how to run it.

    Until now.