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What happens if two people try to ride the same mount? Is this a viable strategy? I'm interested both in what happens in exploration mode and when they enter combat.

If specifics are needed, assume that the mount is a horse animal companion of character A, that character A is using a melee weapon and that character B uses a bow. Also assume both characters are happy to share the mount - this question isn't about people fighting against each other to control a mount.

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2 Answers 2

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Both can Mount

The Mount action doesn't have any restriction against a creature having two riders, as long as the creature is large enough and willing:

Requirements You are adjacent to a creature that is at least one size larger than you and is willing to be your mount.

Your mount would still be affected by encumbrance, but with the scaling rules for bulk relative to size (x2 Bulk limits for Large) and the average bulk of creatures (6 Bulk for Medium, 3 for Small) that might be less of a problem:

A Large creature treats 10 items of 1 Bulk as 1 Bulk, a Huge creature treats 10 items of 2 Bulk as 1 Bulk, and so on.

While this 90% reduction doesn't cover the riders themselves, it would cover much of their gear outside of any medium/heavy armor or big weapons.

A 1st-level large young horse animal companion can carry 16 bulk without being encumbered so it should be manageable to have 2 medium riders with reasonable gear in that limit, and this limit would grow if the companion ever matures or becomes larger.

Considerations

All three creatures have a few details worth mentioning from the rules for Mounted Combat:

Your mount acts on your initiative. You must use the Command an Animal action to get your mount to spend its actions. If you don’t, the animal wastes its actions.

The mount doesn't get any extra actions just because there's a second creature riding it, so the group couldn't push the horse into taking 6 actions. And having commands from multiple creatures might be confusing according to the rules for commanded animals, so it might be best for just one rider to be directing at a time.

You and your mount fight as a unit. Consequently, you share a multiple attack penalty. For example, if you Strike and then Command an Animal to have your mount Strike, your mount’s attack takes a –5 multiple attack penalty.

Both riders share a multiple attack penalty with their mount, so effectively both riders share a multiple attack penalty. This would likely be a big problem for the trio in combat based on your description, but they could plan around it by finding ways to use non-attack actions or by deciding who's directing vs attacking each round.

Viability

Avoiding the MAP stacking is critical, so one plan could be to have the melee combatant focus on riding and non-attack actions while the ranged combatant takes any opening shots and dismounts once they reach a good position. On subsequent turns both characters are able to act as normal, with hopefully some better positioning.

Either rider would also be wise to have things to do outside of attacking, like Raising a Shield or Demoralizing, or even picking up something like a dedication or other way to cast spells like buffs while waiting for a moment to Strike.

This is definitely a viable strategy but benefiting from the enhanced mobility and adjusted action economy would require some work, and might result in some downsides if things don't pan out.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "A Large creature treats 10 items of 1 Bulk as 1 Bulk, a Huge creature treats 10 items of 2 Bulk as 1 Bulk, and so on." But that's 2x six Bulk creatures. They're not one Bulk, so they don't get the pseudo-light Bulk rules. Plus both those creatures' gear \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    May 24, 2023 at 10:24
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It's Complicated.

As an amateur horseman, I'd say absolutely not. A mounted melee fighter is doing their best to deliver 5,000 lbs of force into a target, from the horse thru the saddle, into the rider's hips, torso, and out through the shoulder. It takes precise positioning and communication with the horse. But then, I wouldn't say I have the Ride feat or an animal companion horse like Xena: Warrior Princess and Argo: Warrior Palamino.

The rules of PF2e have a Tiny bit of wiggle room: Special Rules describes Tiny PCs riding along with another PC. It says,

If a Tiny PC rides along with another PC or similar non-minion intelligent creature, roll both their initiatives and use the lower of the two results. The two PCs act in either order on the same initiative count. While traveling in this way, the PCs each gain two actions at the start of their turns, instead of three, since the larger PC spends one action keeping the smaller one balanced on their back, and the Tiny PC spends one action maintaining their grip.

That's a Tiny PC riding a medium PC, no horse. So can a second medium PC ride a large animal companion? Assuming the encumbrance is not too much for horsey, here's how you might try to allow it:

Command An Animal or Ride feat?

You're riding the wrong way. The animal companion relationship and the Ride feat relationship don't apply to this kind of riding, so the rider must still 'Command An Animal', rolling Nature against the animal's Will DC. The animal's attitude toward BOTH riders and temperamental adaptability toward unusual situations will matter a lot. As such, a Savage vs. Nimble animal companion might have an appropriate bonus or penalty.

Failure or Critical Failure

Failure may cause the animal to Buck with a Reflex saving throw to stay on and not land prone. The second rider, without a saddle and mounted on the hindquarters, will have a result one step worse than usual. Success->failure, and failure->crit fail.

Roll twice, take lowest init

That part seems pretty clear. Roll twice and take the slower initiative.

Hold on for dear life

Without a saddle or a favorable position ahead of the horse's hips, it's like riding a half-ton pogo stick. We can extrapolate from the rules for a Tiny PC:

  • For every Command an Animal action the main rider makes, they must spend an interact action to balance the second rider.
  • For every Move the horse makes, the second rider has to spend an Interact action holding tight to the main rider.

That means it's risky for transport and approach, except with a skilled rider and a horse that's not too temperamental. Then you get a double move and the main rider gets 1 more action. That's it. So the melee fighter would do best to drop you off on the edge of the battlefield.

Valets can have their own horses

Lastly, in real life, mounted combat requires a valet to constantly hand you things. Pathfinder has paid lipservice to this as well. Look up the familiar ability, Valet, which implies that a hireling could hand you semi-bulky things during combat to preserve your economy of action. This is a decent reason to take the Hireling Manager feat, so you can just shell out 1g/day to make it work.

Handling a horse and lance in combat is a pretty busy economy of action. Just watch some jousting on youtube for a minute: Some of the competition in jousting is your pit crew. If your valet is slow to rearm you, your opponent gets a few more steps in their charge. The most common scenario for unhorsing someone is that they broke their lance on your shoulder in the last bout, and it took them an extra 2 seconds for their valet to hand them a new one, giving you extra space to charge.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you provide a citation for the "one step worse than usual" rule about bucking, or is that a suggestion for a house rule? If so, it should be marked as such. \$\endgroup\$
    – pi4t
    May 24, 2023 at 9:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @pi4t Most of this answer is a homerule suggestion \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    May 24, 2023 at 10:25

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