I'm trying to get as much use out of the Halfling Ranger/Pteranodon strategy as I can, so I'm trying to use it as an independent mount while also being able to give it commands. I'm playing this character in AL, so only RAW/officially published sources.

From Controlling a Mount(PHB pg. 198):

An independent mount retains its place in the initiative order. Bearing a rider puts no restrictions on the actions the mount can take, and it moves and acts as it wishes. It might flee from combat, rush to attack and devour a badly injured foe, or otherwise act against your wishes.

From Ranger's Companion(PHB pg. 93):

The beast obeys your commands as best as it can. On your turn, you can verbally command the beast where to move (no action required by you). You can use your action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help action.

Based on these two rules segments, I don't see any reason why I can't let my companion act independently while also giving it commands. That feels really durdely to me, however. Many people have pointed out the spell Beast Bond as a way to get around the controlled vs. independent mount issue by establishing a telepathic connection so you can always command it.

If it really does work then does that mean any telepathic connection, such as The Great Old One Pact, will also allow control over an independent Ranger mount?

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    \$\begingroup\$ "I don't see any reason why I can't let my companion act independently while also giving it commands. That feels really durdely to me, however." ...What does "durdely" mean? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 22:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I learned the term from MTG, it typically refers to a deck or concept that is very flimsy or need too many things to work properly. "Alright, I've played my 12 different enchantments and 3 planeswalkers. Now I can make one creature and try to win the game." \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 23, 2018 at 2:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Durdle - slang for a slow, inefficient, or timewasting action. Possibly derived from Dawdle. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tenryu
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 3:20

2 Answers 2


You can absolutely issue it commands. Whether it listens or not is up to the mount and the conditions on the battlefield.

So let's start with a real life example first, a Warhorse. This mount can be issued commands by its rider to direct it in combat, or it can happily trample, kick and stomp whatever it sees in its path independently. Sometimes, attempts to control the mount fail thanks to over-riding factors in its vicinity. Things like fire tend to scare horses, so even a battle hardened Warhorse is likely to shy from flames or ignore its rider completely.

Now let's use the in game rules. Any mount can be independent, so there's no worries there. Once above 4 intellect, the mount is always independent. What this means is that it will actively choose whether or not to obey an order instead of reacting to training. Yes, an independent mount can also be trained, much as a person can be, in order to act reflexively. The difference is that an independent mount can also make a conscious decision to flat out ignore your order.

So to answer your question, yes, you can use telepathy to issue a mount orders in the exact same vein as you can verbally issue it orders, audibly issue it orders with a training device such as a clicker, slash it orders with a colour pattern, or spur it on with your heels. How the mount receives the order is between the rider and mount (and of course the in game theme you used to train and ride your mount). If the mount is intelligent, it will always act independently, even if the decision it takes is to follow your orders exactly and never deviate.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know if the thought was that this would circumvent that action consumption. Any command beyond move still takes up an action. \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 0:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the mount is acting independently, it doesn't take you an action to issue a command with your intent. That's literally the point of having an independent mount. The action is required when you're directly controlling the mount. So if you have an independent mount and you want it to use the Dash action on your turn, you would have to use an action. If you want it to Dash on its turn, you could just tell it to "close quickly" or "flee at top speed" telepathically on your turn, and then trust it will comply. It might NOT, but the command is still there for it to follow if it's inclined to. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 23, 2018 at 3:58

Yes, but via mount rules is acting independently.

Controlling A Mount — While you're mounted, you have two options. You can either control the mount or allow it to act independently.

The typical mount, a horse, is mainly controlled using physical means with small verbal cues. The reigns are are attached via bit and bridle, which steer the horse. Squeezing your legs is also a way, in addition to spurs or riding crop.

Rangers Companion — On your turn, you can verbally command the beast where to move (no action required by you).

Via beast master mechanics, any other action is a verbal command that uses your action for the turn. Verbal still equals telepathic, as the animal still hears your voice. Mechanics still apply for balance, in game terms thinking is the same as speaking.


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