I have been working on a Kickstarter project recently, and that led me to research stagecoaches. I had always thought that the stagecoach was exclusive to the American Western frontier; a trope unique in time and space like cowboys, prospectors, and gunslingers. I was so wrong. I had no idea that stagecoaches were medieval.
The first crude drawing and story featuring a stagecoach appears in a 13th Century English manuscript. That may mean nothing to you, but here is some context. Significant events during the 1200's include the signing of the Magna Carta, the rise of the Mongol empire, the 4th through 9th Crusades, and the journey of Marco Polo. It's possible that stagecoaches could have existed in more civilized areas during these times, but hard evidence cannot confirm their existance untill the early 1600's when a stage line was known to operate from Edinburgh to Leith. Stagecoaches were NOT just an English idea either. France and Spain had diligences, while in Germany passengers rode in a stellwagon from town to town
By the late 1600's, a number of different coaching inns stretched from London to Liverpool. In fact, William Shakespeare's first plays were peformed in such an inn, named The George. By now, I'm sure that you can see the vast gaming potential in the stagecoach in numerous settings beyond that of the wild west.
If you do love the wild west (or the weird west), please check out our ZineQuest 2 Kickstarter,The Promise Town Gazette. Our goal is to create a system neutral set of adventure hooks and more for weird/wild west rpg's in the form of a frontier newspaper. We are fully funded and hoping to make stretch goals for multiple issues. The Kickstarter ends at Midnight tonight, so don't delay.
Without further ado, I present two differently themed lists. 13 Things to Find on a Western Stagecoach and 13 Things to find on a Fantasy Stagecoach. I hope that they help you to create interesting scenarios for your gaming table.
13 Things to Find on a Western Stagecoach
1) Mailbags (1d8 of them worth $1d6 per bag)
2) Money Box (This might be a government payroll, a large bank transaction, or an inheritence, whatever it is, it's worth 1d10 x $1000)
3) A set of surveying equipment including a surveying instrument, sighting poles, a compass, a pen, ink, paper and other map-making supplies.
4) A set of four hooded oil lanterns mounted to the outside of the coach.
5) The Cook Box. A three foot long by two foot wide sixteen inch deep wooden box containing everything required to start a fire and cook for the stagecoach crew and passengers.
6) 100 feet of Rope
7) Bundles of skins being brought in for sale. Includes various quality skins from bear, beaver, buffalo, deer, elk, rabbit, and wolf.
8) Cases of Wine or Liquor (Brandy, Rum, Tequila, or Whiskey) 1d6 cases worth $13 - $20 each.
9) The Long Box. An eight foot long by two foot wide tool box for the coach containing tools needed to fix it on the road, including long pry bars and perhaps a spare axel.
10) A Bundle of 2d12 Newspapers from "back East".
11) 1d10 Bundles of The Sears and Roebuck Mail Order Catalog. Each bundle has 10 catalogs.
12) A Box of Dynomite
13) A large tripod portrait camera with flash powder flash and other photography supplies.
13 Things to Find on a Fantasy Stagecoach
1) A Collection of Maps covering the areas the Stage travels.
2) A Shipment of 1d6 small chests of Rubies and Sapphires coming from a mine and going to a Gem merchant.
3) A full set of Gnomish Tinker tools and a mostly constructed Tinker Gnome invention for butchering animals. It is terrifying to look at while in pieces and actively scares children when assembled.
4) The Cook Box. A three foot long by two foot wide sixteen inch deep wooden box containing everything required to start a fire and cook for the stagecoach crew and passengers.
5) A set of four hooded oil lanterns mounted to the outside of the coach.
6) 100 feet of Rope
7) An alchemical supplies chest with candles, chemicals, glassware, stands, and various strange instruments with unknown uses. The chest is bright blue and covered in golden arcane symbols.