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As a mounted archer without a feat like combat archery, I still need to worry about attacks of opportunity. However, my mount does not. It is my understanding that you and your mount basically share a move action but not necessarily a standard action. This allows you to make full round attacks even if you mount takes a double move, but a penalty is applied to your attack roll.

My question is: Could I shoot a target during my mounts single initial move action to approach an enemy, and then do nothing while my mount attacks the target for its standard action? I would still need to apply the penalties from shooting from a moving mount and roll for fight with warhorse, but this would allow me to avoid attacks of opportunity.

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Clarifying some misconceptions

It is my understanding that you and your mount basically share a move action but not necessarily a standard action.

Incorrect. You move with your mount (on your mount’s move action), but it does not consume your move action. There are limited options for what you can do with that move action, but you still have it. That’s important, because you need it for full-round actions.

Note that mounts that are not war-trained require move actions to control them during combat.

[Not sharing a standard action] allows you to make full round attacks even if you mount takes a double move, but a penalty is applied to your attack roll.

Full-round actions require both a move and standard action; if you use your move action to control your mount, you only have a standard and thus can only make an attack, not a full-attack.

But for war-trained mounts, animal companion mounts, and others, this is more-or-less correct, because you have both move and standard available. You still cannot make a melee full-attack, however:

If your mount moves more than 5 feet, you can only make a single melee attack. Essentially, you have to wait until the mount gets to your enemy before attacking, so you can’t make a full attack.

However, there are no penalties for melee:

Even at your mount’s full speed, you don’t take any penalty on melee attacks while mounted.

Unless your mount charges, in which case it counts the same as if you were charging. Also, double damage with lances:

If your mount charges, you also take the AC penalty associated with a charge. If you make an attack at the end of the charge, you receive the bonus gained from the charge. When charging on horseback, you deal double damage with a lance.

Note also that if you have the Pounce ability, you could make a full-attack at the end of a mounted charge: you get the bonus gained from the charge (usually +2 to attacks, but with Pounce, a full-attack), and the “issue” that you can only attack after moving is the norm for Pounce.

On the other hand, ranged attacks are allowed to take full-attacks:

You can make a full attack with a ranged weapon while your mount is moving.

But there are penalties if your mount moves too much:

You can use ranged weapons while your mount is taking a double move, but at a -4 penalty on the attack roll. You can use ranged weapons while your mount is running (quadruple speed), at a -8 penalty.

Now, your question:

Could I shoot a target during my mounts single initial move action to approach an enemy,

Yes, you are allowed to make ranged attacks while your mount is moving. It can be a full-attack if you did not use your move action controlling the mount.

In either case [i.e. mount double-moves or runs], you make the attack roll when your mount has completed half its movement.

This rule suggests that the halfway point of the move is the usual place to adjudicate these, though technically it applies only to the double-move or run situations. There is no rule that I can find about normal movement and where shots come from; I’d allow it from wherever and the statement that “you can make a full attack with a ranged weapon while your mount is moving,” certainly implies that it’s during the movement, i.e. somewhere in the middle, but check with your DM.

and then do nothing while my mount attacks the target for its standard action?

Yes, if your mount still has its standard action, it can use it to attack after its move. Note that double-moves, runs, and charges are all full-round actions that do not leave the mount a standard action in which to attack (though a charge involves an attack to begin with, or more than one if your mount has Pounce).

I would still need to apply the penalties from shooting from a moving mount

Only if the mount double-moves or runs, but if it does either of those (both are full-round actions), it would not have a standard action in which to attack at the end.

roll for fight with warhorse

Correct.

this would allow me to avoid attacks of opportunity.

Correct.

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There are a couple of things about this that I think are not correct. Firstly, I don't think you use a move action to control your mount unless you are in battle and using a mount that is not trained for combat. The player manual (pg. 157) says "You can make a full attack with a ranged weapon while your mount is moving." without any conditions like needing to be linked to the animal such as with an animal companion. The handle animal skill is unrelated while you are riding from my understanding because you are controlling the animal with your body, and not by commanding tricks. Also... –  Daniel Feb 22 at 18:51
    
This rule seems to cause a problem for my scenario. In Rules of the Game: All About Mounts (Part Three) it says “If your mount makes a single move, you make your attack either before or after the movement, and the rules assume your mount is stationary when you shoot.” This does seem a bit silly though, because if you can shoot while your mount is making a double move or running, there is no good reason why you wouldn’t be able to shoot during a single move. Are you familiar with this rule and where it is derived in the rule books? –  Daniel Feb 22 at 18:51
    
@Daniel You’re correct, the move action is only for mounts that aren’t war-trained; that’s my bad. As for the Rules of the Game, those articles are (bizarrely, seeing as the author worked on the core books) frequently inaccurate. I suspect they were written before the rules were completely finalized (and in fact there are some different versions of them that suggest that some editing did take place). The official rule, so far as I know, is that you may attack with a ranged weapon “while your mount is moving.” That to me does not imply any restriction on when or where during the movement. –  KRyan Feb 23 at 1:16
    
I see, thanks for the clarification. The one last thing I am wondering is what difference the part of the "improved mounted archery" feat makes that says "You can attack at any time during your mount's move." Does this do anything different from what you can normally do as a mounted archer? It may just be that with double moves you can attack whenever, since the rules say (referring to double moves or run) "In either case, you make the attack roll when your mount has completed half its movement." Does the feat have any significance for single moves? –  Daniel Feb 23 at 1:56
    
@Daniel Without Improved Mounted Archery, ranged attacks during a mount’s double-move or run definitely take place at the halfway point. With Improved Mounted Archery, you can definitely shoot from anywhere during any form of movement. These two cases are quite clear. For the case of single moves without Improved Mounted Archery, there is more ambiguity: the rules don’t explicitly say where, they just say “during.” Without an explicit rule limiting it further, RAW you can attack from anywhere during a single move even without Improved Mounted Archery. –  KRyan Feb 23 at 16:06

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