Covered Wagon
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Basic Information

Covered Wagons were commonly used to settle and travel great distances from the Colonial Era to The Wild West. The term covered wagon might mean anything from a run down old farm wagon with a tent frame on it's back, to a fancy Conestoga Wagon. Those of a more poetic nature might call a covered wagon a Prairie Schooner.

Thanks to Hollywood, we typically envision a wagon being hauled by a couple of horses, and the reigns being held by someone riding on the wagon. This is not realistic for anything other than short distances on good roads. The truth is, Oxen and Mules are better equipped for hauling heavy weights at a slow pace for days on end. Oxen are typically guided by a drover who walks to the left of the team. Most covered wagons had terrible suspensions, so anyone with a horse or the health to walk would spend as little time in the wagon as possible.

You'll also find these as the support vehicle for a team of cowboys - generally called a "chuck wagon" and driven by the camp cook or following behind a troop of cavalry in the same manner.

Besides the American West, the other great venue for wagons would be the South African veldt - more or less the same era but with voortrekking Boers rather than Americans and Bantu warriors replacing the injuns.

Also of note, but much older, is the Romany vardo - a similar design but with a hard, rather than a soft canopy, serving as a permanent, if mobile, home for a Rom family.

See Also: Wagon Train.



Game and Story Use

  • Covered wagons are a staple window-dressing of The Western. Even if your game has no Determined Homesteader or Pioneer driving one to a new settlement, you can at least use one as the Chuck Wagon for a bunch of Cowboys.
    • They're also a good place to hide a gatling gun if you fancy a Q Ship gambit on land.
  • PCs with money will want to invest in a Conestoga Wagon. It's more reliable, and a much nicer ride than most farm wagons.
    • Of course, they'll face a little envy from the rest of the wagon train, but who'd say no to plot.
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