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So I've got a player in my campaign whose character, of chaotic neutral alignment and level 16, has been in search of a magical mount. After much research ingame, the character has grown an obsession for Nightmares.

Their story arch is bringing them to the Fire plane soon because of a city known for its magical beast/ servant trade there. Story-wise, there's no reason why she wouldn't be able to find one for purchase and begin negotiations. As the DM, I have no problem at all with this and actually promote the creative way of obtaining one.

My only question is how this may affect her, or if the nightmare will/won't serve her.

All I've been able to find regarding this has been tips like this one from realmshelps.net:

Nightmare, Lesser: A nightmare is a horselike creature of evil; a good-aligned owner who makes an investment in a lesser nightmare soon discovers that the mount does not serve him and escapes at the first opportunity. Lesser nightmares are bred from their more powerful brethren. Not as headstrong or as capable of traveling between the planes at will, a lesser nightmare still can carry its passenger into other dimensions.

She for sure isn't a good-aligned character, but isn't evil either.

Can a non-evil character realistically have a nightmare as a mount?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Are you asking about what is allowed by the rules, what is appropriate within lore, or something else? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 9 '19 at 22:48
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Yes... kind of.

The description for the Nightmare from the MM (p. 235) states:

A nightmare can be summoned from the Lower Planes, but unless a worthy sacrifice is offered to it as food upon its arrival, the nightmare displays no special loyalty to the creature it serves.

This tells me that if a good aligned character makes a sufficient offering to the nightmare, it might allow the character to ride it. However, since it is an evil creature, it would likely get bored of a paladin being the stereotypical hero rather quickly. It might endure a neutral character though, as long as it's properly sated with offerings.

Now, let's take a look at the Figurine of Wondrous Power (Obsidian Steed) magic item from the DMG (p. 170):

If you have a good alignment, the figurine has a 10 percent chance each time you use it to ignore your orders, including a command to revert to figurine form. If you mount the nightmare while it is ignoring your orders, you and the nightmare are instantly transported to a random location on the plane of Hades, where the nightmare reverts to figurine form.

Via the use of this magic item, an evil or neutral character can control it with no problem. However, a good character that attempts to mount the creature has a chance of straight up yeeting to heck. Literally.

As in all things, it's up to DM discretion. Personally, I think a neutral character would have more of a challenge taming the fiend, but could ultimately do it. A good character may get the Nightmare to allow it to ride for a short time, but given its evil alignment I don't think it would tolerate it for long.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Good to know, thanks for the answer! I was thinking something along the lines of making either some form of animal handling checks or even charisma checks. The more she succeeds the easier it gets and the opposite for fails. She's also talked about setting up an offering system to "bribe" the creature if needed or at the very least keep it entertained with combat which I thought would be a decent place to start \$\endgroup\$ – Abbey Dec 9 '19 at 22:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good analysis here \$\endgroup\$ – Eternallord66 Dec 9 '19 at 22:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Good first answer! \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 9 '19 at 22:51

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