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As a forewarning, I'm working through my first ever campaign of DnD. I have read through the PHB and DMG, however.

So I made level 5, and my DM had me go on an epic quest to find my steed rather than just giving me one (This was cool and not the point here). I am now the proud caretaker of a celestial buck and I rode him triumphantly back into town.

My question though, is that since my campaign seems to mostly focus on dungeons and urban combat is it worth it for me to keep this spell prepared, or should I summon once and then only prepare it again after the mount has died?

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What this question ultimately comes down to is these two questions: Can your mount fit into the dungeon with you on it and successfully navigate the dungeon's terrain? How long are you willing to wait to recover your mount if it is killed?

Due to the cast time on this spell (10 minutes) it is fairly normal for a Paladin to keep their mount summoned. You don't want to have to expend a spell slot and spend 10 minutes while the party waits for you every time you want to use your mount. Thus, the reason to have the spell prepared is in the event that your mount is harmed. You can recast the spell to summon it back if it is killed, or dismiss it and resummon it to instantly heal it to full health.

In D&D 5E, Mounted Combat is quite powerful. Using a Lance you can strike at enemies drive-by fashion and easily be out of range of any reprisal. (Reach 10' weapon, command your mount to Dash to massively boost your movement speed up to 100+ feet. Strike your target for d12 damage without coming close enough to provoke an opportunity attack) If you have enough space in a dungeon, bringing your mount along isn't a bad idea.

Furthermore, the summoned mount of a Paladin is intelligent. This means, according to the PHB, that you can allow it to act independently while you ride it. A Paladin's mount is unerringly loyal to you and you can communicate with it telepathically. So, using your Buck (i'm guessing your DM is using an Elk stat-block) as a mount, you are able to use Readied Actions to prepare an attack, and give your Mount instructions on what it should do on your turn. This allows the mount to attack as well as carrying you around.

But, the more often your mount is in combat, the higher the chance becomes of it becoming injured or "killed." Thus, you must decide if it is worth enough to you to be able to immediately recover your mount if it goes down in combat, or if having a different spell prepared is more important and you're okay with fighting on the ground until tomorrow.

As with any 'What spells should I prepare' question...there is no perfect answer. But helpfully this can help you decide for yourself.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just wanted to add another often overlooked benefit of 5e mounts: they allow you a free disengage! \$\endgroup\$ – Pink Sweetener Apr 11 '19 at 13:40
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Yes, it's worth it, even if you don't use it very often.

On the campaign level view, you won't necessarily always be dungeon delving, and you don't always have to have it prepared. Like a cleric, you can prepare it when you need it. But once prepared, you can always use it to fuel Divine Smite if your mount is alive, or if you don't need the mount for a while.

We found that summon steed was a good use of down time between adventures to summon the steed if the next adventure was where being mounted is useful.

Paladin Spell Casting

You can change your list of prepared spells when you finish a long rest. Preparing a new list of paladin spells requires time spent in prayer and meditation: at least 1 minute per spell level for each spell on your list.

Our Experience With Our Paladin

What we found in our first campaign was that the dungeon delving intensive parts didn't often need a mounted (dwarf) paladin. When we got to a more wide open part of the campaign, in the Underdark with long journeys in high roofed caves, mounting the dwarf aided the party's tactical flexibility a lot, and allowed him to close quickly during combat. His mount was a DM homebrew that was not quite a giant boar, larger than a boar, and about the same stats as a warhorse but shaped more like a boar. (Our Dwarf loved it).

We also found that it was best to use the steed for movement, maybe one charge attack, and then the Paladin dismount while the steed withdrew. That kind of tactical detail will vary with your campaign and party, however. As our Paladin did not have the mounted combat feat, it ended up being better to keep the mount alive once initial contact was made.

Spell Choices

If what you mostly use your spells for is Divine Smite (ours did, nova damage is nice) it doesn't matter what spell you have prepared. That second level spell is as good as any as Smite fuel. In some situations it may offer you a way to mount up and travel great distances when circumstances change or the rest of the party is on a short rest and you think you'll need the steed for ... something ... to include carrying loot!

Suit your prepared spells to what you're doing

Because you can vary what spells you have prepared, the question you have to ask yourself before going into a dungeon is: will I need a steed to complete this mission? If not, prepare something else, or leave that prepared "just in case" with an eye toward mostly using it as smite fuel.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the Question was about whether or not it was worth it to keep the spell prepared on a regular basis. Not whether or not it was worth it to ever cast the spell at all. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Feb 23 '17 at 19:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ I covered that, I think. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 23 '17 at 19:36
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Depending on the mount chosen (which requires GM approval), it may be very useful in dungeons.

Ask if you can have a giant spider or a carrion crawler or a giant lizard, as all of these are appropriate underground.

In the Out of the Abyss game I play in, we have spent a lot of time in Gracklstugh, the Dvergar city. Some of the city guard there ride spiders. My Dwarf, who is skilled in Animal Handling, has spent a lot of time with the spider-wranglers. So, when I got to a level to cast Find Steed, you can imagine what I asked the GM.

I've found that the giant spider mount is great for two purposes. First, the utility of being able to climb wals and hang off ceilings. Second, the intimidation factor.

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Only prepare the spell after it dies.

However, it depends somewhat on:

1) Charisma (Higher CHA means you probably have an extra spell you can prep).

2) How often you use spell slots for anything but Divine Smite.

I typically have mediocre CHA as a Paladin (STR and CON being much better since few of the best Paladin spells rely on CHA modifier), so I'd much rather have another lvl 2 spell prepared (Locate Object, Zone of Truth, and Lesser Restoration are the best ones IMHO). But if you have extra spells to prepare and/or use few enough of the others, then you might as well keep it on hand.

If you think you're about to get the steed killed, you can always order it to stay out of the way (since it's intelligent enough to understand your language). Worst case scenario, you suddenly lose the steed and have to walk, buy/borrow/rent a horse, or ride in the cart for the rest of a day. NBD in most cases, and you would probably know in advance if you'll be in desperate need of a mount at all times.

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