Thursday, January 14, 2010

Let loose the dogs of war

"Smithers...release the hounds"

This isn't so much a game rule design issue as an issue with players. One thing I am noticing more and more as I talk to other game groups is the lack of dogs in a party. Lack of horses I often understand, horses don't do well underground.. but dogs?

Dogs are one of the most useful things a player can have, loyal, powerful and more importantly...alert. Throw in a spiked collar and some studded barding and a war dog becomes even better. At low level my characters (if they could afford it) would bring a war dog with them (rottweiler usually), if not at least a game dog for its alertness.

At high levels, I expect one of a party's henchmen to the Kennel Master and follow them with a trio of Rottweilers in full barding and spiked collars.

Dog is man's best friend for a reason, and when you are going somewhere dangerous, you better bring along the hounds.


  1. My list for why not:

    1). They are loud
    2). Smelly (i.e., monsters can scent them coming)
    3). Are unpredictable (even Narc K-9's have been known to maul the officer's children without any previous event/provocation)
    4). When they lose Morale, they become dangerous and even more unpredictable
    5). They are really only good up until about the Orc level of encounters, and then one watches their best friend cut cut in twain (without recourse to Badass Revenge bonus).

    That said, I thought that my friend's inclusion of Dogs in Car Wars was brilliant, and for really low-level stuff, they are great.

  2. And they require additional supplies.

    However, they could be a useful addition to a party, it depends on the sort of adventuring you are doing.

    But something to think about.

  3. 1.) A trained dog can be much quieter than the unstealthy wizard, warrior or plate wearing cleric.

    2.) Smelly? 4 humans haul across the wilderness for 2 weeks without a bath to do hard grueling work through a dungeon and spray themselves with orc blood. I don't think the dog will be the first thing the monster smells.

    3 and 4..true, very true

    5.) MAYBE true, it depends on if you let dogs level up or not and how leveling works. My own games view of mythological animals means I let them gain levels. If they don't gain levels, they lose value pretty early on (Save for tracking or chasing down the fleeing remnants of the horde the PC's broke)

  4. Giving lawful NPCs or monsters access to dogs isn't a bad idea at low levels either. Nothing quite bolsters your evil 2nd-level wizard like a loyal warhound and hobgoblins with scarred bull mastiffs is a cool visual - if you're playing 3E, it's a scary combination.

    Having had a couple of PCs with dogs, there are some variables to consider. One fireball and it's back to the kennels. Additional supplies is an issue for long expeditions but having an extra pair of eyes and ears is nice and if your dog is a tracker, there are benefits...