As related to this question, can a creature utilizing a mount take advantage of pouncing charge from page 88 of Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords?

The relevant rules for pouncing charge are:

As part of initiating this maneuver, you make a charge attack. Instead of making a single attack at the end of your charge, you can make a full attack. The bonus on your attack roll for making a charge attack applies to all your attack rolls.

From the rules for mounted combat:

If your mount charges, you also take the AC penalty associated with a charge. If you make an attack at the end of the charge, you receive the bonus gained from the charge. [emphasis added] When charging on horseback, you deal double damage with a lance.

In the case of Pouncing Charge, it does not appear that it requires anything other than a charge attack. When mounted, you get the benefit of the charge for your attack. I would argue that the benefit would be the use of the maneuver in this case since the benefit is left undefined. In most cases, the benefit would simply be a +2 bonus to your attack role, but in this case, there is a larger benefit. Note that this reading would allow for the use of other feats and abilities such as spirited charge to also be used with pouncing charge.

Am I correct in my reading of this combination of abilities?


1 Answer 1


As written, the rules for mounted charges are beyond strange. I don’t know anyone who runs them as they’re written, and I don’t really think anyone should. However, given that they’re all we’ve got, they’re the only things we can analyze with respect to this question. How you choose to modify them to make them closer to most people’s conception of how they “should” work will necessarily also affect this question, and so anyone doing that would simply need to decide for themselves what they’d like the answer to this question to be.

Effectively, there are two different sets of rules that talk about mounted combat and charging. They seem like they were probably meant to align and work together, but they don’t.

If your mount charges, you also take the AC penalty associated with a charge. If you make an attack at the end of the charge, you receive the bonus gained from the charge.

(System Reference Document → Combat → Special Attacks → Mounted Combat → Combat While Mounted)

This rule says that your mount can charge, and if it does, you can attack at the end of it and get the bonus from the charge. It doesn’t say that you actually count as charging, yourself, it just says you get the bonus. Getting more attacks, as with pouncing charge, isn’t a “bonus,” per se, and certainly isn’t “the bonus” in context, which would be the +2 bonus to attack rolls you get from charging. Thus, under this rule, you would not get more attacks from pouncing charge. You would, however, get doubled damage from a lance—that says that your mount must be charging for you to get the bonus.

The problem with this is that Spirited Charge says

When mounted and using the charge action,

(Spirited Charge → Benefit)

which the above rule doesn’t let you do: your mount is charging, but you aren’t, so you don’t trigger this feat. With the above rule alone, you can’t trigger Spirited Charge no matter what you do,¹ which is absurd even by 3.5e RAW standards.

Enter the other rule, what maybe should have been the other half of one rule, but it isn’t:

Your mount acts on your initiative count as you direct it. You move at its speed, but the mount uses its action to move.

(System Reference Document → Combat → Special Attacks → Mounted Combat → Combat While Mounted)

So you can choose to charge, yourself, using your mount’s speed. Your mount has to use its move action to enable this, and you still use a full-round action (because a charge is always a full-round action). Since your mount used a move action to enable this, it cannot charge itself—it only has a standard action left and cannot make a full-round action as required for charging.

Effectively, there’s a rule that allows for the mount charging and carrying you along with it, where you get “the bonus” from the charge but aren’t actually considered to be charging yourself. You can direct your mount to do that on your initiative count. Alternatively, you can charge yourself, directing your mount to move as necessary to trigger the charge. That means you’re charging and get all the benefits of doing so, but your mount cannot charge as it doesn’t have the actions necessary after you’ve used your mount’s move action to enable your own movement for the charge.

Since the latter option is you charging, you can perform the necessary steps to initiate pouncing charge. However, since your mount is technically not charging, you would not, for example, get doubled damage from a lance, RAW, but you would get Spirited Charge, since you are mounted and charging. In fact, RAW, it seems to be impossible to benefit from both a lance’s doubled damage and Spirited Charge’s doubled damage.¹

This is all fairly well nonsense. The way everyone I ever interacted with on this subject has run things, is for both mount and rider to charge simultaneously. The first quoted rule almost gets us to that, RAW—it might arguably seem to suggest that this is what they were going for, what they intended. But it doesn’t actually get us there, just saying we take “the penalty” and get “the bonus.” But it seems very likely that you’re supposed to just be able to do both, or even that you must charge together in order to charge at all.

  1. Unless you’re a Races of Faerûn centaur, since that book says centaurs can use Spirited Charge and/or Trample without being mounted or having the Mounted Combat feat. Note that Races of Faerûn predates the 3.5e Monster Manual, which would be the “official” version of the centaur, and Monster Manual only mentions lances—which Races of Faerûn leaves out. So unless you combine the two—and note their stats differ in other ways as well—even centaurs cannot combine double lance damage with Spirited Charge doubling.
  • \$\begingroup\$ It says you direct it and "mount uses its action to move", not "mount uses its move action to move". I think this is two different things - there are many actions that allow some kind of movement. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 26, 2021 at 8:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp Oh good point! I did somehow read an extra “move” in there. I’ll have to think about what that means in context. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 26, 2021 at 12:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you think it matters that if you are on a mount that moves 10 ft, you also moved 10 ft? Because all that is required for a charge is that you move 10 ft and attack as part of a full round action, correct? If the mount is what moves you at your command, I don't know that it matters if it's your legs flapping or the mount's legs flapping \$\endgroup\$ Jul 26, 2021 at 23:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WannabeWarlock That is true, but just moving as described under the rules for a charge, and then attacking as under the rules for a charge, doesn’t actually make what you are doing a charge. You have to actually use the charge full-round action (or use another action that specifically says it counts as or includes a charge, e.g. pouncing charge). The question to me there is, when you choose to move, including for a charge, but use your mount’s speed and mount’s action, can you choose for the mount’s action in question to be a charge? That isn’t clear either way, unfortunately. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 27, 2021 at 1:53

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