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The 5e DMG has rules and a process for developing combat encounters of an appropriate level: https://www.dndbeyond.com/sources/dmg/creating-adventures#CreatingEncounters

However, mounts can take actions in combat, e.g. player with a halfling PC mounted on a mastiff could sic the dog onto an enemy, effectively increasing that player's combat actions.

How should mounts factor into a party's XP threshold for calculating a budget for use in balancing combat encounters?

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    \$\begingroup\$ A sub-question of this is whether a class feature that grants a mount (e.g. paladin or battle smith artificer) is already factored into the class's power level. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25 '20 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you assuming the mount is independent and obeying the character's commands (i.e. so participating in combat)? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 25 '20 at 20:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast, yes. That the mount is capable of doing so or defending itself, so taking an action in combat or being the target of an enemy action. So, affecting the action economy of the combat encounter. \$\endgroup\$
    – StuperUser
    Jan 25 '20 at 21:21
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Yes if the mount is an intelligent ally. Otherwise no.

There isn't a hard and fast rule for this, since the rules for building combat encounters are just guidelines to begin with. With that said, I think the important question here is whether the mount is simply a tool that the player uses to enhance their movement, or an intelligent ally who will move, attack, and make decisions for itself.

For the specific example of siccing a mastiff mount on an enemy, if you allow that to happen then the mastiff is an intelligent ally and should count. However it's worth noting that by the rules, this isn't something you can normally do with a mount. Using the normal rules for mounted combat, a non-intelligent mount can only move and take the Dash, Disengage, and Dodge actions.

Even with animal companions, who are notably more intelligent and obedient than a regular pet, they generally aren't considered able to take action on their own. With that in mind, it seems that DnD generally assumes that only very intelligent (usually magical) creatures can act completely independently.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've never heard of any rule requiring the rider to take an action in order to have the mount take that action. Do you have a reference for that? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26 '20 at 1:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Whoops, must have confused that with something else. The only restriction is on what actions the mount can take. The result is similar, but I'll edit to clarify. \$\endgroup\$
    – AgentPaper
    Jan 26 '20 at 1:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RyanC.Thompson the artificer controls his pet via bonus action or the pet can only dodge/move \$\endgroup\$
    – Nullman
    Jan 26 '20 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AgentPaper you are probably confusing it with the rules for familiars from the spell Find Familiar which states that you must use your action to command the familiar to attack. Animal companions and mounts gained from other sources (such as purchasing them) do not have this restriction. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 25 '20 at 21:25

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