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This is a situation that came up recently in a game I play in. Two player characters were riding an elephant in combat. The elephant was acting as a controlled mount under control of one of the riders, who was higher in initiative order than the second. During their turn, the controlling rider had the elephant move part of its speed and take the Dodge action. They then handed the reins to the other rider and dismounted.

What should the second rider be able to do on their turn? In our game, the second rider had the elephant move the remainder of its speed and didn't give it a new action. I feel this is reasonable, but I'm curious whether the rules can be read to give more specific guidance for situations where the controller of a mount changes during combat. In particular, does the initiative order of the first controller, the second controller, and the mount affect what can happen, and how?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Controlled mounts are the only situation I'm aware of where a creature's initiative count can change over the course of an encounter. If there were others, there might be a canonical general rule to handle turns for creatures whose initiative changes. There's an implicit assumption that each participant in an encounter gets exactly one turn per round, but as this is not stated explicitly we get situations like this. \$\endgroup\$ – sptrashcan Nov 18 at 18:37
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This ...

  1. Original rider dismounts. The mount is no longer serving as a mount and reverts to its original position in the initiative order. The mount could have taken some, none or all of its movement, action and bonus action (MAB) but any that remain are lost when the rider dismounts.
  2. If the mount's turn occurs before the second rider's turn, the mount can take its MAB as an NPC under the DM's control. It doesn't matter if it has taken any of this on the first rider's turn.
  3. The second rider spends half their movement to take control of the mount. The mount can then spend its full MAB again.

But, I hear you say, doesn't this mean that the mount could potentially have 3 turns in the same round? Yes.

Is this a problem? Maybe. It's certainly open to abuse if exploited deliberately but I'm guessing this is the first time that it has come up. Your ruling seems a perfectly sensible response.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Both answers are good and useful, but I am accepting this one because it includes the detail that the mount itself may get a full turn if its initiative falls between the first and second controller. Both answers also work from the unstated assumption that a creature gets a turn, including movement and actions, whenever its initiative count is reached. This is neither explicitly stated nor contradicted in the rules as far as I'm aware. \$\endgroup\$ – sptrashcan Nov 18 at 18:41
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RAW it gets an entire extra turn

The mounting rules state that a controlled mount has its initiative set to yours when you mount it, which would give it a full extra turn just like normally happens when your initiative comes up. To emphasize that this is in fact the case, the mounting rules state:

A controlled mount can move and act even on the turn that you mount it.

So the rules' answer to your question is that the second character could have the elephant move and act as if it was a completely different animal that hadn't acted yet.

This is absurd

Of course, as you noticed the first time this ever came up, this is a very dumb rule that has bad consequences for gameplay. Your houserule is okay.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not just bad for gameplay, it leads to weird possibilities like a horse that travels any arbitrary distance within 6 seconds as long as there's a new person to mount, ride and dismount it again. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Nov 18 at 13:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @theik Assuming of course that one can mount and dismount in the same turn: "Once during your move, you can mount a creature that is within 5 feet of you or dismount [...]" \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Nov 18 at 14:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 They could just fall prone, I assume that'd dismount them. Or somebody else could forcefully remove them by pushing them out of the horse's space or something. Either way, that horse is going to reach sonic boom speeds in a single round. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Nov 18 at 14:21

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