One of our characters created a centaur Eagle totem barbarian (level 3) - which I thought was a good idea. But to duck and weave in tight spaces, she'd need high AC, so she came up with a character wielding a lance in one hand and a shield in another. Whilst wearing scale-mail, she'd have a total AC of 18. She was using the Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica rules for the centaur race.

Problem is, could a centaur be counted as "mounted" to use a lance in one hand and a shield in another?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This question has important implications for anyone who might be planning to use D&D to settle the question, first raised in MBMBaM episode 362, of who would win in a war of human cavalry versus centaurs. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson Jun 24 at 1:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ One thing to consider from a practical perpective: A centaur's upper body is in place of the horse's head, not midway down the back where a rider would normally sit, so they would probably be very front-heavy if wielding a lance. \$\endgroup\$ – DaveMongoose Jun 24 at 13:43

A creature is only considered mounted if it is riding something

The rules for mounted combat (Player's Handbook, p. 198) say:

A willing creature that is at least one size larger than you and that has an appropriate anatomy can serve as a mount, using the following rules.

So, the centaur is not considered mounted if it isn't riding something. His racial features don't say it counts as "mounted" as well, so it can't wield a lance with a shield when all by himself.

However, the Centaur can still ride other creatures, as nothing in its features prevent it do so. Then, it would count as a mounted creature.

The official D&D lead rules designer, Jeremy Crawford, has clarified this twice, although his tweets no longer serve as official rulings.

First clarification:

Asker: Are Centaurs considered mounted for the purposes of wielding a lance, for example?
Crawford: Nope.

Second clarification:

Asker: A fellow DM friend and I were discussing the if the centaur counts as being mounted at all times. Specifically for the use of one handing a lance. Could you clarify?
Crawford: If you’re not on a mount, you’re not mounted, unless a rule says otherwise.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ So just out of curiosity, what do you think the designers were intending to exclude with the "Appropriate anatomy" comment? Ghosts? \$\endgroup\$ – Bill K Jun 24 at 6:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BillK I guess anything you couldn't position yourself on top of/holding on to. It could be things like oozes or water elementals where there's no surface, ghosts that are incorporeal, or any other reason that might apply for a homebrewed creature - like a giant hedgehog, that you can't ride because of the spines. \$\endgroup\$ – Grollo Jun 24 at 7:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BillK I don't know if it still applies in 5e, but in 3.5e, the requirement was for a mount to "be willing and able to carry you in the usual fashion" (or something to that effect). They gave examples "a tiger may be able but not willing. A giant may be willing but not truly able." \$\endgroup\$ – Angew Jun 24 at 9:31

Technically speaking, no.

Mounted is a specific situation, and you don't count as mounted unless you are actually mounted or have a special ability that says you count as mounted.

A DM might decide to allow this.

However, if they do, the lance becomes by far the best weapon for a centaur. It has weaknesses (in the disadvantage for fighting within 5 feet), but trading the shield for a sword could easily overcome that problem, and you automatically avoid the biggest problem a mounted combatant faces, which is that his mount is an animal and subject to all the problems that come from mounted combat, such as the risks to your mount's safety and considerations of physical abilities (like "Can your horse even fit in the dungeon?" and "Your horse can't climb up a thirty-foot sheer cliff, come on man.")

In general, I would tend to shy away from rulings that make one specific option always the best choice for a given race/class/etc, especially when it involves removing penalties that are normally present for making that choice.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, that's why. Yeah, the comment was a joke ^^; The answer is serious. Sorry about the confusion. Downvote wasn't mine. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jun 23 at 22:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ "you automatically avoid the biggest problem" and then "Can your horse even fit in the dungeon?" and "Your horse can't climb up a thirty-foot sheer cliff, come on man." - So how exactly would centaur avoid such problems, really? It still pretty much has horse size and anatomy, doesn't it? \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Jun 24 at 10:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ A horse is Large, a PC Centaur is Medium (with Powerful Build); and PC Centaurs have special rules for how their anatomy affects their ability to climb (they're slow, but they can manage it). The PC centaur in the GGtR is a little different from the Monster Manual centaur -- they're smaller, lighter, and somewhat weaker but more intelligent. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Jun 24 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ (To clarify, Centaurs don't actually have Powerful Build per se, but their Equine Build feature does basically the same thing, letting them count as Large for certain purposes.) \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Jun 24 at 15:29

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