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Alright so when using a mount we have two options: command it or let it act independently (PHB pg. 198). Letting it act independently is the only way to get it to attack, given that it chooses to attack (which I would expect it to do if it's naturally aggressive or trained for combat). So if you have a warrior of a mount under you, he will be attacking separately from you, essentially giving you extra attacks.

When playing the Beast Master Ranger and using its animal companion however, we can only command it (PHB pg. 93). Letting it act independently is absent from the RAW and as such, it is not possible to have it attack without wasting your own attack on it. So, essentially, you're not gaining much other than versatility and range. You are not getting any extra attacks.

So, in my desperate efforts to care about the beastmaster class, I hatched the following plan. Play a small race. Make a medium creature your companion. Mount it. Let it act as an independent mount. Independent mount does whatever it wants, hopefully it wants to attack.

This would mean giving up on Bestial Fury (which lets the companion attack twice but only if you specifically issue the attack command), but that doesn't matter.

My question is can you let your companion mount act independently or do you have to use the Beast Master's commands to control him?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The linked question doesn't say anything about making the mount/companion attack, so I'm not sure it's a duplicate. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Mar 13 '16 at 0:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not a duplicate. That question deals with whether or not it is possible to mount your companion. The answer is yes, it is possible. My question however deals with what control methods are legal to use when mounting your companion. Can you use the control methods specified in PHB pg. 198 'Controlling Your Mount' or are you limited to the control methods specified in PHB pg. 93 'Ranger's Companion'? \$\endgroup\$ – Bringer of Doom Mar 13 '16 at 0:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ [Related] Can a mount attack while it is being ridden? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 13 '16 at 0:43
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First and foremost, none of the rules in the Beast Master entry give rulings for or against using your Animal Companion as a mount. Check.

None of the rules on PHB pg. 198 concerning Mounts and Mounted Combat have any rulings for or against Animal Companions. Double Check. Looking good so far!

So now that we know we are able to use an Animal Companion larger than us as a mount by RAW, we are left with following the rules on PHB pg. 198:

"...A willing creature that is at least one size larger than you and has the appropriate anatomy can serve as a mount.... While you're mounted, you have two options. You can either control the mount (It has only 3 action options: Dash, Disengage, and Dodge...), or Intelligent creatures, such as dragons, act independently. An independent mount moves and acts as IT wishes...."

So here's the deal; unless I am missing something major here, their category of a creature intelligent enough to bear a rider while still acting independently is a DRAGON. Dragon's are pretty intelligent as far as creature types go. Down the board, Adult dragons have at the least 16 (+3 modifier) Intelligence, and Ancient dragons have up to 20 (+5). Unless you are the only exception to this pattern; a White Dragon, which seem considerably lacking in intelligence. You might find the same intelligence in a Sphinx, perhaps a Griffon or Manticore; but without a target number for the Intelligence ability score to be measured against (except that of Dragons) to find out just how intelligent is intelligent enough to bear a rider while acting independently; I must say the answer is no if we comparing 'intelligent enough' to a score of 16 or higher.

Here's why:

I would say any beast your Beast Master would ever hope to tame ( 1/4 challenge rating or lower unless you have a Dungeon Master who is quite fond of letting you have unique companions) , would be incapable of matching the given example of required intelligence for the independent movement and actions of a mounted creature. This leaves you stuck adhering to the purposeful ruling of the Beast Master having to give up one of his attacks so his companion can, and balancing out the action/damage economy as intended.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is why we go Hunter Ranger. It's damage output is sickeningly more powerful than Beast Master. Beast Master is not an appealing choice at the moment, and I truly hope they fix this somehow, and soon. It is perhaps the least used class trending right now. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Mar 13 '16 at 1:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm wondering if a good counter question to this is: While riding an Animal Companion as a Mount, can you still issue Beast Master commands to it? Or are those replaced by the rules of only being able to Dash, Disengage, or Dodge \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Mar 13 '16 at 2:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Airatome you're missing something major here. All mounts act independently regardless of intelligence. If they have been trained to accept a rider and are unintelligent then you can choose to control them. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Mar 13 '16 at 3:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed with Dale M. Refer to this answer. You mixed and matched the quote, but I think you left out important parts in correctly interpreting it. Any mount can be allowed to attack independently. \$\endgroup\$ – Bringer of Doom Mar 13 '16 at 10:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Airatome Thought it was worth its own question rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/77079/… \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Mar 13 '16 at 22:12
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The Ranger's companion is ...

... is trained to fight alongside you.

It is not trained as a mount. And ...

The beast obeys your commands as best as it can. It takes its turn on your initiative, though it doesn’t take an action unless you command it to. On your turn, you can verbally command the beast where to move (no action required by you). You can use your action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help action.

The rules are quite specific here; you do not need to use your action to command your companion to Cast a Spell, Hide, Ready, Search or Use an Object. Now some of these are not very useful but Ready has definite possibilities - "Ready to attack the first creature that attacks me" for example.

Moving on to what a mount can do.

While you're mounted, you have two options. You can either control the mount or allow it to act independently. Intelligent creatures, such as dragons, act independently.

You can control a mount only if it has been trained to accept a rider. Domesticated horses, donkeys, and similar creatures are assumed to have such training.

If your companion is intelligent (unlikely) it will always act independently. If it has not been trained to take a rider (likely) it will always act independently. If it acts independently it is subject to the rules of the companion. If you command it, it will cost you your action is on the companion list of actions. If you don't command it, it acts as the DM sees fit.

If it is both unintelligent and trained to take a rider (like a horse) it must follow the rules for both a mount and a companion. If it is controlled, it can Dash, Disengage and Dodge at the cost of your action

The three options that any other mount gets for free (Dash, Disengage and Dodge) cost your action. So a companion horse is worse than a regular horse. Now, feel free to stop and call "stupid" but that would be a house rule.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Another reading of the "You can use your action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help action" would be that those are the ONLY actions that the beast can take. \$\endgroup\$ – MrNattious Mar 13 '16 at 8:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MrNattious yeah, but that interpretation doesn't gel with "The beast obeys your commands ..." \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Mar 13 '16 at 10:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ "it doesn’t take an action unless you command it to." I don't see two ways to interpret this sentence. If you don't give it a command, it simply doesn't take an action. However, that is beside the point. More to the point, "If it acts independently it is subject to the rules of the companion". This actually sounds pretty reasonable and I could see ruling it this way. Basically, if as a mount you let it behave in the way that it naturally wants to behave, then it wants to behave as your companion. Not sure what exactly you're calling a house rule at the end there though. \$\endgroup\$ – Bringer of Doom Mar 13 '16 at 11:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BringerofDoom the question is if your command costs your action or not \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Mar 13 '16 at 19:19

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