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From Rolemaster Creatures and Treasures [1] we gather that Horses (and other draft animals) have several attacks, some for stationary, some for charge attacks.

According to the rules (p. 9):

Biting and trampling allow the rider to attack also, rearing does not.

When looking at the actual attack tables it seems however, that trampling is really just a lot stronger than any of the other attacks (in terms of damage and crits)...

  • Am I missing something? Why would the attack that allows the rider to also attack, be the one that does most damage anyway?
  • Why would a rider (given a successful riding maneuver to do so) ever tell his horse to use anything beside 'trample' as an attack?

[1] Creatures and Treasures # RM 1400

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    \$\begingroup\$ Answers to this question are expected to discuss the actual rolemaster rules as they relate to the question asked. I've now deleted two answers which do nothing but talk about horses in real life, with no visible connection or reference to anything in Rolemaster whatsoever. These kinds of answers are not acceptable, and will continue to be removed. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 2 '17 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ As for the "why", you might be looking at a situation where the rider does not want to do maximum damage. Picture yourself standing guard on horseback, with a crowd in front of you. Someone is getting brave, and a bit too close for comfort, and you want to scare him off -- making an example, but not killing the fellow outright. Making your horse take a bite at that somebody would be quite effective, while having it trample him to a pulp might just make the whole situation erupt. \$\endgroup\$ – DevSolar Jan 8 '19 at 14:21
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I had some time to dig through more RM books over the weekend and found the answer, it seems I wasn't careful enough in my study the first time around. (Although this might have to do with our translated German version of the rules also...)

  • The Trample1 attacks done by riding/draft animals cannot generally be freely 'chosen' as a mode of attack by the rider.
  • However, Trample attacks happen in some special cases 'automatically', i.e. the horse will use this attack once certain conditions apply. Namely, these are:
    • For stationary attacks, if a Rearing2 attack ends up doing a non-minor critical damage, the animal will attack using Trample in the next round.
    • For charging attacks, if a Ramming3 attack ends up doing a non-minor critical damage, the animal will immediately follow up with a Trample attack in the same round.

Thus, the conundrum of trample attacks is solved: while clearly being the objectively strongest attacks, they can't purposefully be 'triggered' by the rider and are more a matter of luck.

N.B. Horses also have a Biting4 attack, that can be chosen when the horse is attacking stationary. This biting attack is generally a bit weaker than the Rearing attack and doesn't give the chance of getting a strong Trample follow-up -- however, it allows the rider to attack as well, making for a neat little bit of tactical decision making on the side of the player.

1 Table used: Trampling
2 Table used: Crush/Fall
3 Table used: Ramming/Battering
4 Table used: Biting

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