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I am asking about an edge case based on the three paragraphs under "Encounters with PC Mounts" on DMG 46. So far as I can tell these paragraphs are not reproduced anywhere else, and these paragraphs are why I am asking this question. Please bear this in mind when you answer; thank you.

When a PC with Mounted Combat uses another PC as a mount, how do their turns and movement interact?

I've got a player who wants to build a pixie (Tiny) with the Mounted Combat feat, and ride another (Medium) PC as its mount. The players involved are fine with however this works out. The Mounted Combat mechanics are pretty clear, and there are often different rules for an NPC or a PC:

  • The mount and rider act on the rider’s initiative count.

  • A monster and its mount have separate turns, whereas an adventurer and his or her mount have a single turn.

  • An adventurer and his or her mount have a shared set of actions: a standard action, a move action, and a minor action. However, they each have their own free actions.

...But then there are three paragraphs on DMG 46, beneath the heading "Encounters with PC Mounts." I have snipped out the relevant bits:

[...] You can allow the PCs and the creatures they ride to get their own sets of actions, especially if a character rides a powerful, intelligent monster such as a dragon. However, at that point you have effectively added an additional member to the party. [...] You should use this rule if the mount’s level is at the party’s level or higher, or if its level is no more than two below the characters’ level. [...]

This is clearly counter to the PC Mounted Combat rules in many ways, and is more akin to the rules for mounted NPCs. Obviously a PC is an intelligent mount (despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary), and in this case the level of mount and rider will be equal. With that in mind...

  1. Should the mounted PC be treated as a normal mount for a PC, losing his turn and becoming subordinate to the rider?
  2. If 1 is "no", do they share initiative counts?
  3. If 1 is "no", can the rider use his move action to make the mounted PC move, or force the mount to act by spending his own actions in any other way described by the Mounted Combat rules?
  4. Can the mounted PC use the rider's base skill check bonuses as described in the Mounted Combat feat (e.g. a human with a pixie on his shoulder uses the pixie's Stealth modifier)?
  5. How would feats like Holy Steed, which gives a rider's mount bonuses to defenses and damage, be applied?

EDIT: It had not occurred to me to treat the character being ridden as not a mount at all; in light of this, I added question number five.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Given that you appear to have all the rules already, it seems that the problem is in interpretation. Given that, my view is :

  1. Should the mounted PC be treated as a normal mount for a PC, losing his turn and becoming subordinate to the rider?

    • Answer: No. The mount is the same level and equal in power
  2. If 1 is "no", do they share initiative counts?

    • Answer: No. They each roll initiative, and act on their turns. If one wants to move and the other doesn't, then the rider either dismounts (if the rider is the source of the move) or falls prone (chosing not to move with the mount). As a generous DM I'd allow an acrobatics check to avoid falling prone.
  3. If 1 is "no", can the rider use his move action to make the mounted PC move, or force the mount to act by spending his own actions in any other way described by the Mounted Combat rules?

    • As above; if one wants to move an the other doesn't, then it's either a dismount or a fall-prone for the rider, depending on who's turn it is.

    • Per the comments; the mount should only be able to be move normally once per round - whichever commands the mount uses their move action to move, the other still has a move action but can't use it to move (unless it's the rider dismounting). Clearly other sources of movement (e.g. warlords) would still have the expected result - and the mounted combat rules cover that sort of thing already.

  4. Can the mounted PC use the rider's base skill check bonuses as described in the Mounted Combat feat (e.g. a human with a pixie on his shoulder uses the pixie's Stealth modifier)?

    • If the rider has mounted combat and the mount is willing, then I would go along with this.
  5. How would feats like Holy Steed, which gives a rider's mount bonuses to defenses and damage, be applied?

    • I would go along with this. As a DM, I'd much rather my players bunch up than spread out. A small bonus is worth the penalty.
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I would give the players two options:

A) The player being ridden is a dumb mount and is treated as such by the rules, sharing actions, initiative counts, skills and turns. (Obviously this would be a bit boring for one character)

B) The player being ridden is not a mount at all, it just happens that the pixie is using him or her as a mobile platform. (And so features like Holy Steed would not affect the player being ridden.)

In the latter case, I would ask that the pixie spend a move action to maintain position on the "not-a-mount" character (my thinking being that saying on a character doing things in combat requires some effort, and that this means there's no big tactical advantage gained by doing this)

I'd also probably rule that if the "not-a-mount" doesn't move (and maybe isn't meleeing) then no action is required to say aboard, and also (perhaps) that the action cost can be prevented by a successful acrobatics test (medium DC?), but that failing such a test results in being knocked prone, and no longer "mounted"

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Basically, what you see in the various rules is an underlying assumption about Mounts and their interaction with their riders. From the perspective of a PC, 99% of the time, the mount is a creature which does not exhibit a high degree of intelligence or independent thinking. (AKA a horse or other large animal, or magically controlled being) The mount therefore must be instructed by the rider what to do and this uses up a move action, or a standard action depending on what the mount is being commanded to do.

For most enemies however the reverse is true. Both the goblin and the warg are using basic instincts in their fight, and the beasts are not so much being commanded, as being made use of. The monstrous beast that some death knight is riding, is acting on it's own accord, since it wants to go and eat the players.

However, when the PC is mounted on an independently intelligent mount, such as a friendly dragon, or another PC, then the Mount is given it's own standard actions and movements. The dragon is not so much taking orders from the rider, but rather working as a team with the rider.

As for spells which specify a mount, yes the other player is a mount. I would "hand wave" the magic working with the explanation that such magic works on the basis of a rider/mount relationship which both PCs have agreed to enter.

Perhaps a more general rule which you might apply is to ask yourself if the Mount in question is capable of "disobeying" the rider. If they are, then they have separate actions, if it can't, then they share their actions. (If there are counter examples to this, please let me know, I just thought about it this minute.)

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I've done this. My Pixie, Sisyphus, used the grab rules to grab onto and ride along with the other PC. Normally grabbing would result in immobilization, however he was not grabbing and trying to hold the PC still, we just used the same basic actions to balance riding along.

Standard Action: This action to initiate a grab is for unwilling opponents. We dropped this part of the action to a minor action for willing participants, no different than...

Minor Action: Maintain a grab on a creature. This allowed Sisy to hold on and ride along on the other PC's movements, standing on her shoulder.

Free Action: To let go. This allowed him to actually let go of her anywhere, any time, being left behind wherever he wanted as she moved.

I leave the first action for clarity and also because on occasion he did the same thing to unwilling creatures. Often to NPCs and in battle with other creatures as well. This was loads of fun, and ends up being pretty nicely balanced. It works out like how you see Pixies moving in films. And it uses the existing rules in a way that at least somewhat makes sense.

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I guess the same question applies here as it did to my answer - how do you rule mount effecting powers and feats? (4 and 5 in the question) –  Simon Withers Dec 12 '12 at 0:24
    
@SimonWithers They don't apply, she wasn't my mount, I was grabbing onto her and riding along. In fact, nothing stopped her from then taking a mount herself. –  DampeS8N Dec 12 '12 at 1:20

I would decide based on this criteria: How are you splitting XP?

If the mount gets XP split with it, then it gets its own actions. If it doesn't receive XP, then it doesn't get its own actions.

Since a PC obviously gets a cut of the XP, then it gets its own actions.

Edit: I'm thinking of the rules for ranger companions here too. If you look at those rules, and at a lot of the summoned creature powers, you don't get extra actions (which you effectively would if they got their own turn), you have to use your action to command the creature. The exception is certain daily powers.

2) They don't share initiative. Unless they want to (one can delay until their initiatives match)

3) I'm thinking no. But I'm not sure how it works for the second paragraph you quoted. In any event, I would not allow both the rider and the mount to take double moves, the mount can't double it's speed by having a rider. But warlords do have powers that command their allies, so I might allow the mount to take a second standard action if the rider uses their standard action to command them.

In fact, that might be a good build if you're going to do this: Have the rider by a Warlord. Or else a beast companion ranger.

4) Yes, but I might rule "no" on certain cases. Basically on a case by case basis but there might be more "yes"'s then "no"'s.

5) Yes, but it might be over powered. If you decide no, let them retrain the feat.

Something else to consider. PCs to not have the Mount keyword, so I don't think any of this is legal according to the rules as written. (But I never let that stop me)

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