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It Figures: the Pack Animals

Because in the end you have to show, not tell

As a chronicler I’ve gone to what some might find unseemly lengths to document my witness to the Lands of Hope. Occasionally I show you the photographic proof of its existence, but usually I choose a major hero or villain. This time, not so much! Still, where would the heroes of the current day be without some multi-footed help?


I decided to show some of the most common pack animals seen in adventuring mule2groups of recent times. The Restorants (Percentalion, 1995-6 ADR, Treaman and company) had a mule at the start of their career. At times the Candidates (Yula and company) hired out draft horses or mules, but never for long. The Tributarians (Shimmering Mindsea, 2001 ADR, Solo, Cheriatte and company) briefly made use of a camel (but not much use).


The pack animal is a common, but not universal feature of many modern-day adventuring bands. It’s interesting that hardened fighters with bloodthirsty, law-breaking reputations would take such close care of a helpless animal, but that’s exactly what I’ve seen time and again. And from some of the least likely camel2heroes. Treaman’s adventuring band, sometimes called the Hand of Destiny, briefly acquired a mule after their quest to slay the dragon of Maladon. Bildon, the Halfling Stealthic normally responsible for pranks of misery and daring in combat, was unusually protective of the animal and tried to sacrifice his life (uselessly) to save her. A few years later, the Tributarians took their first long journey into the unknown dangers of the Shimmering Mindsea, and thought they were being prudent by hiring out a camel. Their relationship with the beast, dubbed Lover by Trilien, took a turn for the better when the animal ran away (despite the loss of treasure, some argued they were better off).

Without wheels or magical assistance, a human-sized person can only carry mule1about a quarter of their weight for any length of time. Heroes of the Lands universally hate being caught unprepared, and tend to pack heavy. Of course, bringing along a pack animal to carry “everything” brings a load of its own problems, from feed (which also weighs something!) to temperament and of course the animal’s vulnerabilities. Sooner or later the group seems ready to head into a dangerous place. Taking a mule where quiet, and perhaps space, are at a premium is suicide: but leaving it behind, in the eyes of some, approaches murder. Adventurers seldom argue in front of strangers, but privately I’ve heard some disagreements that would make your hair UNcurl. And several times, it was about what to do with the animals.

Those same Tributarians on the Mindsea thought they had the problem licked when they hired on a person, a servant to carry and fetch but also fight for them. For a while, Parnon worked out fine, but eventually… well, one day I might be able to tell what happened before The Plane of Dreams. (But seriously,  you’ve never seen Treaman as angry as this.)


This was my first figurine blog using my recently acquired LG tablet. It has no special lens and doesn’t zoom as far, but the form factor makes it a lot easier to camel5get close by itself. I had a good sense which photos were going to “make the cut” just from looking, though of course it’s still very much the work of an amateur. I maneuvered my table into better light (for a change) and that clearly helped as well.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the look and the thoughts! Let me know your views on the unsung four-footed heroes of the Lands.