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Playing a human artificer battle smith with the spell Enlarge/Reduce, I want to use the Steel Defender as a mount. It is a medium size construct that becomes large size under the effects of the spell.

You may design the Steel Defender as you like, given that:

You determine the creatures appearance and whether it has two legs or four; your choice has no effect on its game statistics. (Eberron - Rising From the Last War, pg.61)

Even though it has "no effect on game statistics," we can assume we care enough to design it in such a way it may act as a suitable mount.

The PHB rules for a mount in combat state, on pg.198:

...and it has only three action options: Dash, Disengage, and Dodge.

But also says, shortly after:

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. (emphasis mine)

The Steel Defender has an intelligence of 4, meaning it does not automatically (and always) act as an independent mount (it is not sufficiently intelligent). Yet, according to this question and accepted/upvoted answer all mounts may act independently.

Yet in the rules-text for the Steel Defender (pg.61 of Eberron - Rising From the Last War) it says:

It can move and use its reaction on its own, but the only action it takes on its turn is the Dodge action, unless you take a bonus action on your turn to command it...

One more relevant rule:

...the Steel Defender shares your initiative count, but it takes its turn directly after yours.

Which is the same as the PHB rules for a mounted creature.

If I use my bonus action on my turn to command it while mounted, may it still use its Force-Empowered Rend or Repair action on its turn?


Related Questions


Essentially what I'm going for (Image from Final Fantasy Brave Exvius):

Power Armour

Not that the rules care what it looks like. It could just as easily be a mechanical horse.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of How does a Gnome Battle Smith artificer (UA) riding his iron defender control it? \$\endgroup\$ – Smart_TJ Nov 24 '19 at 20:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Smart_TJ That question is about the UA, that's why I asked this one separate. It's not even called Iron Defender anymore. \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Nov 24 '19 at 22:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm also not asking if it is controlled or independent. I'm asking, if considered independent, that allows it to respond to the bonus action command. \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Nov 24 '19 at 22:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but it hasn't changed that much. From just a cursory look, it's function does not seem to change from that of the old one, hence me simply filing that it may be a duplicate \$\endgroup\$ – Smart_TJ Nov 24 '19 at 22:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ While certainly related, they're not duplicates. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 22 at 7:45
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Yes. Your steel defender can attack, so long as it's acting independently.

From the Controlling a Mount entry..

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.

And then from the Steel Defender entry, it reads..

It is friendly to you and your companions, and it obeys your commands. .. It can move and use its reaction on its own, but the only action it takes on its turn is the Dodge action, unless you take a bonus action on your turn to command it.."

Given this, when your steel defender is acting independently, it's obeying your commands. There is no indication that commanding your steel defender and controlling your mount are the same thing.

You can control a mount only if it has been trained to accept a rider. Domesticated horses, donkeys, and similar creatures are assumed to have such training. The initiative of a controlled mount changes to match yours when you mount it.

And here is why. A steel defender hasn't been trained to know that you want it to go faster when you kick its sides, or that you want it to right or left by pulling on the reigns. The steel defender just obeys your commands, which is separate and distinct from controlling a mount.

There is also no mechanical benefit to controlling it; its initiative is already the same as yours, and it already moves as you direct you, and those are the only benefits of controlling a mount. Controlling it would only limit the actions it could take.

I heavily edited my original post because, after thinking about it, I was kind of all over the place and wanted to give a more concise, sensible answer.

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The challenge here is in trying to mesh the concept of a mountable creature and a steel defender which was clearly not designed specifically around the idea of being able to act as a mount.

Yet, according to this question and accepted/upvoted answer all mounts may act independently.

I think you might be misinterpreting some part of the language used in those rules and in that question/answer. The whole part about intelligence with regards to mounts is to identify the scenario by which someone has the option to control a mount. A sufficiently intelligent creature, such as a dragon, can never be controlled by a rider (although it can certainly choose to follow commands if it were so inclined)... in other words, it always acts independently if it so wishes.

When you get to creatures that aren't nearly that intelligent, then the option opens up for a character to take control. But, yes, all mounts may act independently: when the rider opts not to take control.

Which is the same as the PHB rules for a mounted creature.

You should reread those rules carefully as, though similar, the rules are not the same...

In any case, a steel defender:

a) must takes its turn immediately after yours in the same initiative order. b) can only move, take its reaction, and use the Dodge action on its own. c) requires that you use your bonus action to instruct it if it is to use the Dash, Disengage, Help, Hide, or Search action or make one of its attacks.

These rules apply regardless of whether you take control of it as a mount or allow it to act independently as a mount.

Thus, on your turn, if you do not wish to use your movement to dismount and to move away from your steel defender, you actually cannot even move since you have to wait until its turn for it to move... and you must use your bonus action to instruct it to take an action other than the Dodge action on its turn, which immediately follows your turn.

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The steel defender cannot use Force-Empowered Rend or Repair if commanded to complete some other action.

From the PHB (emphasis mine):

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

The keyword here is "or". If you choose to control the mount by issuing it a command with your bonus action, then you are preventing it from acting independently. As, such, following the text you quoted from the PHB:

... it has only three action options: Dash, Disengage, and Dodge.

Therefore, if it is controlled by you, it can only take one of these three actions, and it will be unable to take the other actions defined in its statblock.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The bonus action used, though, is different from controlling the mount. I wonder if it's covered by that line. It's a specific class feature. \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Dec 6 '19 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o it is admittedly strange that it requires a bonus action, as normally controlling a mount is "free" (no action, reaction, bonus actions, etc. required). I don't have access to the remainder of Eberron's text atm, but unless it further elaborates on the options available to you, the usage of the word "command" implies to me that it follows standard mount rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrendire Dec 6 '19 at 18:00

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