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In a new game, my character is going to be a steppe warrior archer battle leader, using buffs / White Raven Tactics for the leadership part.

It is a Gestalt game, and my initial thought was to use Warblade + Cloistered Cleric as the base for this character.

However, on looking at the lists of skills I can obtain, Ride / Handle Animal are not on the list, which is somewhat of a problem for the role I wish to play.

Is it possible to add these skills to class skills of either class, via feats / domains / anything else you can think of.

I've checked a large number of domains and none of them seem to grant Ride and it is proving rather elusive.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What race are you? \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Jun 16 '15 at 0:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ My race is undecided currently, although I tend to avoid Humans when I create characters. \$\endgroup\$ – Rook Jun 16 '15 at 11:17
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Getting cross-class skills as class skills

There are several ways to get this done. Some of them are outlined below.

If you are Human...

One level of Human Paragon would give you Adaptive Learning (Ex):

At 1st level, a human paragon can designate any one of his human paragon class skills as an adaptive skill. This skill is treated as a class skill in all respects for all classes that character has levels in, both current and future.


If 3rd party material is allowed...

Rokugan Campaign Setting, page 55, has the feat Versatile, which allows you to:

Select two cross-class skills. These skills are always considered class skills for you.

Kingdoms of Kalamar Player's Guide, page 91, has the feat Skill Prodigy, which allows you to:

Learn a number of cross-class skills equal to your Intelligence modifier as if they were class skills.


If any Pathfinder material is allowed...

There is a trait system in Pathfinder that I, as a DM, do allow in my 3.5 D&D games, similarly for the exact reasons you are asking this question. Allowing someone to have a class skill is not game breaking. Here is a look at traits rules to share with your DM:

Gaining Traits

When you create your character for a campaign, ask your GM how many traits you can select. In most cases, a new PC should gain two traits, effectively gaining what amounts to a bonus feat at character creation. Some GMs may wish to adjust this number somewhat, depending upon their style of play; you may only be able to pick one trait, or your GM might allow three or more. Even if your GM normally doesn’t allow bonus traits, you might still be able to pick up some with the Additional Traits feat.

This regional trait, called Cavalry Rider, would allow you:

Benefit: You gain a +1 trait bonus on Ride checks, and Ride is always a class skill for you.

And this social trait, called Beast Bond, would allow you:

Benefits: You gain a +1 bonus on Handle Animal checks and Ride checks. One of these skills (your choice) is always a class skill for you.

This approach would give you the two class skills you desire without costing you other precious resources, such as class levels, or feats.


Other tidbits of information concerning the Ride skill

Player's Guide to Faerun, page 43, has a feat called Saddleback, which would allow you:

You can take 10 on Ride checks, even if you are rushed or threatened. If either you or your mount fails a Reflex save while mounted, you can attempt a Ride check to succeed on the saving throw anyway.

That is almost like Mounted Combat vs. Spells.

Have your horse get the Warbeast template. That template provides Combative Mount (Ex), which allows:

A rider on a trained warbeast mount gets a +2 circumstance bonus on all Ride checks.

That template also gives a lot of other things as well - all positive things - and can be completely done by you with the Handle Animal skill.

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This is a bit of a “teach a man to fish” answer – I want to include all of the resources I used to research this question, as they are frequently useful for this sort of question, even though a couple don’t help with Ride. Thus, this answer may be useful to future users who are searching for help with related questions, even if the OP already is aware of these resources.

First, consult Alternative Ways to Get Class Skills

This resource is great for finding ways to get various skills in-class.

We note that Ride does not have any particular entries, but also that Player’s Guide to Eberron’s elf-only Aereni Focus, Unearth Arcana’s variant Skill Knowledge, and Dragon vol. 326’s Flexible Mind can each get you a class skill of your choice. Flexible Mind is the one most likely to work for a variety of characters in a variety of games, but Dragon material is always questionable.

Aereni Focus sounds perfect

Prerequisites

Elf, region of origin Aerenal, 1st level only

Benefit

A single skill of your choice is now a class skill for you, and you gain a +3 bonus on checks using that skill.

Special

Aereni Focus counts as Skill Focus for the purpose of meeting any requirement or prerequisite.

This is interesting, since some of the elves from Aerenal – the Tairnadal – are the best horse riders in Eberron. As elves, they are also noted for archery. Best of all, Valenar is just a colony of the Tairnadal elves – who reside primarily in the northern steppe of Aerenal, and Valenar itself consists of similar terrain.

Note that the region of origin requirement is a little strange: Tairnadal children are not born or raised in Valenar. They are born and raised in Aerenal, and only go to Valenar when they are old enough to join a warband. Talk to your DM; the other “region of origin Aerenal” feats would be a little odd for a Tairnadal elf, and there are “region of origin Valenar” feats that, while technically inapplicable to most of the Tairnadal, are clearly meant for them. But Aereni Focus itself fits the Tairnadal as well as it does the usual elves of Aerenal.

But, if that doesn’t work for you...

Second, I would look at the Alternative Class Features guide

But it doesn’t help; none of the cleric ACFs give Ride, and the warblade doesn’t have any.

Third, Skilled City-Dweller is often useful

Skilled City-Dweller is an ACF that can actually apply to most classes, swapping one or more skills for other particular skills. In this case, Ride is not on offer, but it is notable that if you already had Ride, Skilled City-Dweller would allow you to trade it for Tumble. Tumble is a far-superior skill, so a reverse-trade should be acceptable. Note that the warblade gets Tumble in-class.

As a cleric, this domain list is most exhaustive

Unfortunately, it only confirms your belief that none grant Ride.

If any useful class dip grants Ride, Able Learner would make it a class skill for life

If there is any class you might like to take a level of, that has Ride in-class, the human-or-doppelganger-only feat Able Learner from Races of Destiny will allow you to continue paying in-class skill points for ranks in it. Since your maximum for a skill is based on whether the skill was ever a class skill, Able Learner effectively makes all class skills you ever have always class skills.

Notable options here include

  • Barbarian – Rage, or its Ferocity or Whirling Frenzy variants, is fantastic. Fast Movement is kind of useless to a mounted character, but oh well.

  • Knight – Knights, obviously, are often mounted, and they even get Mounted Combat as a bonus feat at 2nd. Knight is mostly a pretty bad class, but the first four levels are fairly solid, though much better for melee than archery.

  • Ranger – Obvious choice, since they can do archery natively. The skills aren’t bad, either. Being from the steppe might be a good justification for Favored Enemy (arcanist), an option in Complete Mage which is... well, at least it’s a lot better than other Favored Enemies.

  • Druid – Saving best for last here a bit. Druid has a ton to recommend it. One, you can get a warhorse as an animal companion, which means there are options like Nature Bond to keep it up, plus you get massive bonuses to Handle Animal with your mount. Second, you can grab a few select spells, which is nice. Dragon vol. 347’s Focused Animal option might be nice; it replaces a lot of things you won’t get with a dip to give you continuous speak with animals and you count two levels higher for your Animal Companion. Races of the Wild has similar options for halflings, but if you’re a human for Able Learner, you’re not a halfling.

If you don’t go with druid, by the way, I recommend Wild Cohort. Depending on level, this may be a better option anyway.

Ask your DM for this excellent Tome of Battle ACF homebrew

While we’re on the subject, I highly recommend the crusader and warblade substitution levels from this homebrew contest entry. PId6 won with that entry, and I have used it in many games to great success. The desert crusader is a mounted warrior, while the desert warblade is an archer-warblade, and adjusts the maneuvers accordingly. It’s fantastic work, and really fits your character. You may actually want to multiclass the two, if your DM approves them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Super interesting, I was aware of these resources already, hence coming to SA to ask a question I couldn't just figure out on my own. However, it is great you linked these resources. This Tome of Battle Homebrew is super too! \$\endgroup\$ – Rook Jun 16 '15 at 17:33
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Your best bet is likely a custom item

According to this post over at Brilliant gameologists, there isn't actually a way to get Ride as a class skill unless its actually a part of your class.

It costs (Bonus squared × 100 gp) to create a magic item that grants a competence bonus to a skill. Assuming that you have a positive dexterity modifier, and operating on the assumption that you're going to be on a horse for the most part, and don't need to execute any of the more complicated DC20 Ride Maneuvers, you can get a +10 competence bonus for 10,000gp.

That's actually a lot more ride than most people need, as it only takes a DC5 check to stay in your saddle or to guide a mount with your knees so you can act using both hands. For what you're looking for you can likely rely on your dexterity bonus and a magic item that gives you +5 to Ride for 2,500gp.

However, if you can get Handle Animal as a class skill you can get a +2 bonus to ride by having 5 ranks in Handle Animal, that will net you a synergy bonus. If you put two ranks into ride as a cross class skill to get the mounted combat feats, the +2 bonus from synergy, and the +2 bonus to stay in a saddle from a Military saddle, you can meet the combat requirements to stay on your saddle if you take damage while mounted without even having to roll.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note: this is a challenge to the frame of the question, so might need to be advertised as such; however I do agree with you, I have rarely ever seen a character actually need ranks in Ride, because Dex is valuable to melee characters anyway (for Initiative/Touch AC if nothing else), a Military Saddle already gives +2, and there is not critical failures on skill rolls, so a Dex 14 + Military Saddle give you Ride +4, which is sufficient to meet a DC 5 every time (without a single rank and no synergy). Of course... you might want to protect yourself from penalties. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jun 16 '15 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the game I will be playing, Critical failures -do- apply to skill checks, much to my chagrin. Dex is = 17 currently. \$\endgroup\$ – Rook Jun 16 '15 at 17:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ You should be safe with just the +2 from the Military saddle then. Since you can't really account for failures if you're using that variant rule. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Jun 16 '15 at 18:19

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