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Regarding mounts, especially gained through Find Steed:

  • They have only a few simple actions, without even Help let alone Attack.
  • The spells you can share with them are almost only buffs to keep them alive or let them do odd things like speak to other animals, which aren't much use if you can do the same anyway.
  • They can carry stuff.
  • Combat rules seem to mostly cause you to just have to keep trying to stay on your mount. They don't give advantages to anything except using a lance and maybe moving faster.

What am I missing? It sounds like it would be fun to have a mount, but what are the actual game benefits of having a mount?

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The game benefits to having a mount in-game are the same as the real-life benefits of having a mount.

  1. You can carry much more at a normal pace with a mount. A riding horse's carrying capacity is 480lb; a 15-strength PC's unencumbered1 carrying capacity is 75lb.
  2. You can move faster in short bursts with a mount. A mount can gallop, moving at double-pace, for an hour. I've always heard that the best way to get cross-country mileage out of a horse is to gallop an hour (8mi), ride an hour (3mi), walk the horse an hour (3mi); in an 8-hour day this will cover 39 mi (with 3 hours at fast pace) as compared to the 27 mi (with 3 hours at fast pace) you'd cover on foot.
  3. If you're specially trained to fight mounted (read: Mounted Combatant feat) you get some advantages to fighting on a mount:
    • advantage on attack rolls against opponents smaller than your mount,
    • some choice in how to distribute incoming damage,
    • some benefits to dodging damage,
    • likely doubling-quadrupling your speed: riding horse can Dash 120' while you Attack, most humanoids can only move 30' or 40' (Monk) or 60' (Rogue) and still Attack.
  4. As regards find steed: your mount's now celestial, saving you some stabling costs. And is telepathically bonded to you whenever within a mile, which is pretty convenient. And if you choose to drag it into combat with you--I hope you trained for this--it'll share any buffs you choose to provide yourself.

I've read that for much of human history the purpose of mounts was to get to the battle/position, dismount, and fight on foot.2 That is, mounts were a matter of force mobility, not force multiplication. It's not until people start very-specially training to fight in melee while mounted that the mount factors into combat per se.


1 - If you're not using the encumberance rules then you're not engaging in a part of the game--resource capacity and management--which have historically provided a basis for human domestication of animals. So we shouldn't be surprised if choosing to ignore this dimension then makes mounts seem obsolete:we've taken away the thing they're good at!

2 - It was some of the reading I did while listening to Wrath of the Khans, but I can't possibly recall now which book(s) mentioned this. The "research and book list" at the podcast website has plenty of books that delve into the history of mounted combat.

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This started off in the comments, but I'll spin it off to a separate answer. The other answer well addresses some practical RL-based uses for a Mount, and all of those are true.

Here, I will lay out the actual mechanical uses of a mount according to D&D 5E.

Standard Mount

A Standard Mount is a creature like a Riding Horse, Elk, Warhorse, Pony, Mastiff (if you're Small), or other such creature. They have a few basic mechanical benefits.

  1. Greater carrying capacity. They are a Size larger than you, and thus have a greater carry capacity than you do. This only really matters if you are playing with Encumbrance Rules
  2. Greater Speed. Riding Horses and Warhorses have a Speed of 60'...double the average speed of a humanoid. Only a high level Monk can keep pace with a horse.
  3. An Extra (limited) Action. On your Turn, you can order your Mount to Dodge, Disengage, or Dash that can be used for free on your turn. This means you could have your Mount Dash (up to 120' movement speed) and still Attack on your turn. This is a level of mobility that nothing else in the game enjoys. This is a boost to Action Economy, which is one of the most useful things to gain in all of 5E.

Now, what can you do with this?...let's look at a few examples.

  1. Spellcasting on the move: Spellcasters generally do not want enemies to get close to them. If you are on a Mount and someone gets close to you, your Mount can Disengage, move its speed (usually greater than the speed of whatever is attacking you), and you can still cast a spell that round. And very few enemies are fast enough to keep up with a Mount. This allows a spellcaster to effectively kite enemies that do not have a Ranged option, keeping them at distance while bombarding them with spells.
  2. Blitz. Enemies with a focus on a Ranged Attack, or enemies who are Spellcasters will try to keep you at range, generally because they are very vulnerable in melee. Goblins are notorious for this...their skill-set makes them fantastic skirmishers who will kite superior opponents until they are dead. If you are mounted, they simply can't move fast enough to stay away from you. You can close with a target far faster than it can get away.
  3. The Lance. The effectiveness of this weapon, paired with a Mount, is simply spectacular. It is a weapon that can be wielded 1-handed while mounted, has Reach 10', and deals 2d6 damage. The most important part of that feature is the Reach of the weapon. A benefit of a Reach weapon is that it allows you to strike at an enemy from outside of their Threatened space. When you couple this with the extreme mobility of a Mount, and you have an unparalleled ability for striking at enemies without exposing yourself to a counter attack. You command your mount to Dash and ride towards the enemy, always staying at least 10' away from them. This allows you to strike at an enemy as you pass them by, while never getting close enough to risk an Opportunity Attack, and ending your movement so far away from them that they could not possibly make it to you on their next turn. If you have the space to maneuver, melee-focused enemies are trivialized by this tactic.

And all of this is possible without the Mounted Combat Feat. Though if you intend to fight from a mount often, that feat is quite fantastic.

Do note that mounts tend to have rather poor Armor Class...but Barding is only 4x the cost of a standard suit of armor. You can take a Warhorse from AC 11 to AC 16 for only 300 gp...which is chump change to an Adventurer as you get higher level.

Paladin Mount

A Paladin's 'Find Steed' mount deserves special consideration for four reasons.

  1. You can 'instinctively coordinate' with your mount
  2. Your mount is effectively immortal (if killed...you've lost it for one day at the most, when you can prepare Find Steed again and summon it back)
  3. Your Mount has an Int of 6.
  4. It is perfectly loyal to you.

The rules for Mounted Combat specify that an intelligent mount can operate 'independently' while being ridden. This means that it has its own position in the Initiative Order and acts with its full battery of Actions and options for acting. The normal risk of working with an intelligent mount is that it may not do what you want it to do...and you're stuck on its back. It may run off, it may chase something you don't want it to, and so on.

With a Paladin's mount, this is not an issue. It is perfectly loyal, and it 'instinctively coordinates' with you. This allows you to use your mount the way a Knight would use their mount in the Medieval era. Here is an example of how this might play out, assuming you are armed with a Lance and riding a Warhorse.

You come up earlier in the Initiative Order than your mount (if not, command your mount to defer its turn until right after yours), and Ready an Action to Attack a specific enemy when it comes into range. Then you end your turn and let your Mount move. You instruct your Mount to charge and trample the same enemy you Readied an Action to attack. It charges and, at 10' out, you lash out with your Readied Action and Attack your target...possibly hitting your target with some manner of Smite while you're at it. Then your Warhorse reaches them and attacks with its Hooves. If it hits, the target makes a Save to not be knocked prone. If it fails, your horse makes a second attack against it with its Hooves, then continues on its way.

This is not what you'll want to do every time...sometimes you don't want to try to trample a foe, you want to stick to the Hit and Ride tactics normally used with a Standard Mount...but it does give you extra options not available to anyone else.

Bear in mind, having your Mount actually trample someone means it won't be staying out of attack range, and won't have its Action free to Disengage, meaning you are subjecting yourself to a possible opportunity attack. But, this is a risk you can afford to take, especially if your Mount is armored...because if your Mount is slain, you can just summon it back in the morning.

For extra goodness, pick up the Mounted Combatant Feat and enjoy Advantage on every Attack roll on anything smaller than your Mount (which, if you're riding a Large mount...is the majority of enemies), and the ability to force attackers to aim at you (and your much larger pool of hitpoints) rather than at your Mount.

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I guess I might as well dupe my answer over from When would PCs choose to walk instead of ride?

Mounts have several advantages and several disadvantages, especially for adventurers. Here's one Texan's perspective on going horsed vs not.

Advantages

  • Ability to carry a lot more grub/gear/loot than you can yourself
  • Keeps you from getting tuckered out from long marches (the horses may get fatigued, but you're still semi-fresh for a fight)
  • Faster especially in the short term, if you need to get the heck out of Dodge
  • Ability for the unusually slow - sick, wounded, infirm, paralyzed, petrified, kids, plate armored halflings, Jayhawks, etc. - to travel at the same speed as everyone else
  • Good visibility from atop a mount
  • Potentially trained for combat and can be an asset in a fight if you exercise the mounted combat rules skillfully
  • Keen senses, may detect danger before you do
  • Someone to talk to when you'd otherwise go insane from only being around elves and women
  • You appear more manly and as someone clearly to be reckoned with
  • It's a lot of food if you are desperate

Disadvantages

  • Cannot handle very rough or impassable terrain, and can easily get injured and become lame from rough terrain
  • Are very expensive, depending on your fantasy economy (realistically, they were a lot of cash)
  • May not be available for sale, or be restricted to certain classes of people (though many fantasy RPGs inherit more from the Wild West than real medieval culture); you can bypass the sale problem with find steed of course
  • Require a little bit of semi-skilled care and feeding to not get sick or otherwise ineffective; require additional food and water logistics in all but the most hospitable terrains - though a celestial horse is better off here
  • Unless trained for combat, can become a problem in a fight
  • Are Large and more easily spotted by enemies, can make additional noise as well
  • Can't go where people can - a ravine that your group could clamber across in 5 minutes can become a multi-hour detour on horseback; rope bridges, caves, ladders, etc. completely prevent horses from coming along
  • Are considered tasty by monsters and may be eaten
  • May refuse to go into areas that they don't like due to terrain, smelling like predators, giving off unholy magical emanations, or being in Oklahoma
  • Are considered valuable targets by thieves, bandits, and Indians
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Of note, practically all of those Disadvantages go away with the Find Steed spell, if not directly then by dismissing it and summoning it again later. Although I've just noticed that Find Steed doesn't appear to have the "re-summon as an Action" clause that Find Familiar has, meaning you'll need to spend 10 minutes and a 2nd-level spell slot to get it back. \$\endgroup\$ – Taxi4Dave Jan 21 at 20:42
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Mounts are useful out of combat for traveling long distances and carry lots of gear without the character ranking up exhaustion points.

In combat a mount can have some usefulness but the standard mounts are rather vulnerable. Effectively speaking a controlled mount is a buff to a player characters mobility, enabling the character to travel larger distances. This can be used in a few ways during combat.

A ranged character can use a mount to stay out of harms way. With a warhorse as mount you can effectively travel 120 feet every turn. So a turn would be like this, move into range for your weapon, use attack action and move back again to be out of range from the enemy. The attack action has te be a readied action because the mount has its own turn on the same initiative as your character.

A melee character with a reach weapon can use it to do hit and run attacks without provoking opertunity attacks (if the enemy's reach is 5 feet). The player character needs to take his turn first and use a ready action "attack when target comes in reach" because the mount moves on the same initiative count but still has its own turn With a warhorse you can move 60 feet, trigger the readied attack with lance and move another 60 feet (horse dash action) in order to not be attacked by a melee attack. Same can be done with basic speed and disengage action.

The third option is to use the mount as a battlefield taxi for a melee character to get to a priority target that cannot be reached on foot with a single movement. However mounts are vulnerable and having to replace a 400 gp warhorse after every combat is not a good thing. This can be done more effectively with the UA beastmaster ranger's animal companion because the companions stats level as well. At level 5 you can ride your mount up to the target, dismount within treat range without provoking oppertunity attacks, attack with melee weapon and use your companions reaction for another attack. The next round both the ranger and companion have access to their full action. That is the case when the mount is used as a controlled mount. If independant and the ranger goes fist you can use the ready action to attack when the mount and the mount has access to all his actions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome! You can take the tour as an introduction to the site and check the help center if you need further guidance. Good luck and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Jun 27 at 10:42
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Pointing out to the OP, considering the assumption that he is playing a Paladin with a summoned mount: Page 198 PHB

Controlling a mount ... Intelligent creatures, such as dragons, act independently. ... An independent mount retains its place in the initiative order. Bearing a rider puts no restrictions on the actions the mount can take, and it moves and acts as it wishes. It might flee from combat, rush to attack and devour a badly injured foe, or otherwise act against your wishes.

Consider that your mount is somewhat Intelligent (Find Steed makes its INT 6) and that its a

Page 240 PHB

...strong, loyal steed, creating a long-lasting bond...

There should be no reason why you cannot take advantage of your mount's attack. It has a telepathic bond with you.

Page 240 PHB

While your steed is within 1 mile of you, you can communicate with it telepathically.

It knows what foe you want to hit, and should gladly want to hit it too. Warhorse has +6 to hit, 2d6+4 attacks and a possible bonus attack. Elk has +5 to hit, 1d6+3 attack with possible additional 2d6 damage. Its free damage and a HP pool.

Yes, it vanishes when a meager amount of damage is applied (average 12.6 HP of the mentioned beasts) and has a low AC (average 10.2), but its still mobility and damage for the cost of 10 minutes out of combat to recast the spell (recommend do it at night before long rest).

Only downside is Find Familiar is a ritual, Find Steed is not.

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protected by guildsbounty Jun 27 at 12:20

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