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Our Paladin just hit 5th-level and he's taking the Find Steed spell. The spell is incredibly powerful: a free mount that never disappears unless it drops to 0 hit points (you can resummon it twice per day with your spell slots), and it can attack while the paladin is mounted on it by allowing it to act independently (see: "fight as a seamless unit").

I am willing to let my player have some fun and fulfill his fantasies by taking up a mount that is not listed in the spell description. However, I am terrified the mount that can be summoned will trivialize encounters of the PCs level.

I was thinking of limiting the steed to a particular CR per level of the PC, how exactly can I do this?

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Find steed is an OK spell; I think that you are overstating its power next to other 2nd level spells but you are entitled to your opinion. The basis for mine is:

  • the 10 minute casting time
  • the fact that being able to use a steed is highly situational
  • the relative weakness of the steeds. The best is the warhorse at CR1/2 with AC11 and 19hp it can attack once with +4/11 - if this is being an inconvenience for a 5th-level party's foes (which I doubt) a second level spell or 2 attacks should kill it nicely. If the spell is AoE it will also hurt the paladin.

If you allow your paladin to choose any beast with CR1/2 or less that cant't climb, swim, fly or burrow the spell will not be more OP than the designers' intended.

However, what you are proposing is an entirely radical overhaul of the spell and is closer to what the Druid does with wild shape or the Ranger (revised) does with their beast companion. Essentially, you are proposing to allow a second level spell to do something that it takes an entire class feature to acomplish - this is OP.

If you want to ignore my concerns then I offer the following unplayed, untested and barely thought through ideas:

  1. Play a ranger instead
  2. Sacrifice a paladin ability that scales to get the steed
  3. Allow the spell to work "At higher levels" to summon a steed with a CR up to the spell's level - 2, so a 17th level paladin can use a 5th level slot to get a CR3 beast.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ If it summons a steed of CR level - 2, a 5th level slot would get a CR3 beast, right? Or did you mean something else? \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Nov 17 '16 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, because at 2nd level, it's supposed to summon a CR 1/2 creature. Scaling it up, it would be: 3rd level slot - CR1, 4th level - CR2, 5th level - CR3. I am thinking of houseruling something like: 3rd level slot - CR1 with swim speed, 4th level - CR2 with fly speed, 5th - CR3 with all of the above. No burrowing because that's just ridiculous... \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Nov 18 '16 at 0:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @erik Yes it should, however, "Unplayed, untested and barely though through" \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Nov 18 '16 at 1:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM I'll playtest it on my game and comment on how it goes. But at the rate we're going, will probably take months to get a swimming creature. \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Nov 18 '16 at 2:01
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You can leave Find Steed exactly as printed and use Find Greater Steed from Xanathar's Guide to Everything at higher levels.

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If I were you, I would be more worried about the movement speed, flying, swimming, tracking and tunneling capabilities of allowing other mounts for a 5th level player.

A limitation based on CR is unlikely to help to stop these. Lots of low CR creatures have fancy movement modes and abilities. They are balanced at low CR because they aren't able to do that much with their cool abilities. But the paladin on their back probably can.

I would say step one would be to to fix the form of the mount so that when chosen, it can be changed only with a week of prayer. This will stop the player from using this as the ultimate swiss army knife.

Or, potentially just say he can pick only mounts that only have a normal move type. No fly, climb, burrow or swim speed.

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I find the spells to be quite balanced. I would not increase the CR. I have let PCs use a giant elk instead of a warhorse. But a CR5 creature is extremely powerful compared to 5th level characters. CR does not equal PC level.

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This is assuming the player is more or less meta-gaming. I would look at this the Patronus Charm from Harry Potter, or even something the Character (And not exactly the Player) would either relate to or understand.

Paladins are not going to be mercurial with their feelings, so allowing that mindset to transpire with their spells seems odd to me.

In addition, added effects like poison attacks, (Should the Player summon a giant snake mount) would not exist as it would be against a code of honor in a fair fight, or a magically-inclined creature getting magic attacks. The steed only looks a certain way, not has all the functions there of.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you've more speculated on things rather than really answering the question here. A more complete answer should reference the rules of the system or include personal experience with the effectiveness of house rules that you've implemented at your own table. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Nov 29 '17 at 16:38

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