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One of my players is playing a mounted character, and is claiming that since a lance is a two handed weapon, that it deals double Strength damage, even when wielded one handed while mounted. While this doesn't make sense, does it follow the rules as written?

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No.

The lance does double damage if used from the back of a charging mount.

Benefit: A lance deals double damage when used from the back of a charging mount. While mounted, you can wield a lance with one hand.

This has nothing to do with the separate rule that if you wield a one-handed weapon two-handed, or a two-handed weapon, it does 1 1/2 x STR damage (not 2x).

One-Handed: A one-handed weapon can be used in either the primary hand or the off hand. Add the wielder's Strength bonus to damage rolls for melee attacks with a one-handed weapon if it's used in the primary hand, or 1/2 his Strength bonus if it's used in the off hand. If a one-handed weapon is wielded with two hands during melee combat, add 1-1/2 times the character's Strength bonus to damage rolls.

Two-Handed: Two hands are required to use a two-handed melee weapon effectively. Apply 1-1/2 times the character's Strength bonus to damage rolls for melee attacks with such a weapon.

I will note that in Hero Lab it correctly simulates this behavior. My cavalier with a +4 STR mod, when mounted, can hold in one hand for d8+4 or two for d8+6. If I am charging, this becomes 2d8+8 one-handed or 2d8+12 two-handed.

Furthermore, this isn't some strange superheroic fighting style - before the development of the vamplate, holding on with both hands was really the only way to employ a spear or lance on horseback. Also note that lances aren't fragile or designed to break (jousting lances perhaps, but not ones made for war).

Lancing Two Handed Also Lancing Two Handed

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Thanks for the enlightenment mxy! –  C. Ross Jul 17 '12 at 14:56
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Kind of.

The Lance has this special quality:

Benefit: A lance deals double damage when used from the back of a charging mount. While mounted, you can wield a lance with one hand.

Note that wielding the lance one-handed is optional. You can, not you must.

The Ride skill gives you the following benefit:

Guide with Knees: You can guide your mount with your knees so you can use both hands in combat. Make your Ride check at the start of your turn. If you fail, you can use only one hand this round because you need to use the other to control your mount. This does not take an action.

So yes, RAW you can wield a lance with two hands, while guiding your mount with your knees.

However to do so, you must still meet all the normal requirements of a two-handed weapon. So, no shield. You must be guiding your mount with your knees to have the weapon ready to strike. Etc.

Here's what the rules say about two-handed weapons:

Wielding a Weapon Two-Handed

When you deal damage with a weapon that you are wielding two-handed, you add 1-1/2 times your Strength bonus (Strength penalties are not multiplied). You don't get this higher Strength bonus, however, when using a light weapons with two hands.

Note that the higher strength bonus is a function of wielding a weapon two-handed, not of using a two-handed weapon. So wielding a two-handed weapon one-handed (as can be done with the lance) doesn't grant a higher strength bonus (if he wants to use a shield, for example).

(And to clarify: One-handed vs. two-handed changes the strength bonus from 1x to 1.5x. The double damage from using a lance on a charging mount is always present, whether wielded in one or both hands)

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