Few things are more iconic than the image of someone charging into battle on horseback. Yet, 5e doesn’t have satisfying rules to make mounted combat a fun part of play. So I created these rules to provide thrilling options for mounted combat by players, while maintaining balance with existing rules and abilities. As with all rules, these are guidelines and the DM should do what is fun and fast, using what adds to the game, and ignore the rest.
Fit with Existing Rules
These rules work well with the existing Mounted Combat and other rules in the core books, and expand on them in a few key ways. First, it differentiates between rider training and different types of trained mounts. Second, it blends better with martial character options like Extra Attack, and adds additional options for bonding with a mount. Third, it provides a dynamic experience when working with and controlling mounts in combat. Together, these options can be used by any class to make mounts effective in the right circumstances.
Arcadia issue #1 released an excellent set of Mounted Combat rules also. Those rules are aimed toward monsters and action oriented combat, and are an excellent addition to any game. You’ll find some excellent options for mounted opponents and I recommend you check those out.
These rules focus on the players experience while mounted, to give a greater depth of options and more fun.
Rules in a Nutshell
- Anyone can get from place to place on a gentle trained mount.
- Untrained riders have disadvantage on most rolls while mounted.
- Trained riders can control mount movement with an object interaction and have them take a dash, disengage, or dodge action.
- Riding mounts are fast and light but may panic in combat, war mounts are hearty and aggressive.
- Trained riders may be able to bond with mounts to do things like swap rolls or use a bonus action to allow the mount to attack.
Anyone can get from place to place on a trained mount in good conditions, but a trained rider is capable of some amazing exploits. Any character proficient in Animal Handling, land vehicles, or with any ability that works with being mounted is a trained rider.
Riders one size smaller than a mount have their melee reach measured from the edge of the mount. However, riders more than two categories smaller would need a special circumstance such as adequate reach to perform a melee attack.
Untrained riders suffer disadvantage on any attack roll and ability check when on a trained mounted. Additionally, they must use an action to control a trained mount to take the Dash, Disengage, or Dodge action. Otherwise, the mount acts independently as makes sense for its type.
Trained riders make ability checks and attacks normally when controlling a trained mounted. Also, in combat, the mount and rider share the same initiative count allowing the rider to act as a unit. Further, a trained rider who shows great care and spends adequate time may become bonded with a mount. This allows the bounded mount to use the riders ability modifier, saving throw bonus, or AC in place of their own or vice versa.
Riders must spend half their movement to mount a willing creature within 5 feet or to dismount. The movement cost to mount or dismount may be reduced to 5 feet with a successful DC 15 Dexterity (acrobatics) or Wisdom (Animal Handling) check. A failure means you either fail to mount and stop moving, or fall prone if dismounting.
A creature requires considerable training to serve as an effective mount. This training familiarizes them enough to follow common commands and directions. While more advanced training may produce mounts with great skill to work with riders in battle. Note the type of training in the creatures stat block.
Riding mounts are trained to skillfully move and maneuver under the command of a trained rider. They will not willingly move toward danger and require a DC 12 Wisdom (Animal Handling) check by a rider to force them to do so. A sudden surprise, nearby combat, or attack may cause a riding mount to panic. If the mount panics, the rider must make a DC 12 Wisdom (Animal Handling) check or the animal will bolt. Intelligent mounts are not subject to panic and behave normally as a creature of its type and personality.
War mounts are specially selected and trained to be hearty and aggressive in combat. They begin with a hostile attitude toward most creatures, including a new rider. In fact, they will attempt to buck any rider they are not at least indifferent toward. However, their nature makes them well suited for fighting and they are _not panicked by attacks, combat, or w_hen surprised. Additionally, they will freely move toward danger under control of rider.
Controlling a Mount
Mounts may either act on their own, or a trained rider may use their object interaction ability to control them. The initiative of a controlled mount changes to match the rider. Once controlled, the rider and mount work as a unit. This means the** rider uses the mounts movement in place of their own**. Additionally, the rider in control may direct the mount to take a dash, dodge, or disengage action. Bonding with a mount offers riders in control additional abilities as listed below.
A character may draw or sheath a weapon as a free action as part of the object interaction required to control a mount.
Summoned & Companion Mounts
Consider any mount summoned with Find Steed or Find Greater Steed a war mount bounded to the character that summoned it. Mounts created with Phantom Steed follow the rules of a bounded riding mount but are not subject to panic.
Animal companions used as mounts follow their normal rules where appropriate, are considered bonded war mounts for purposes control and abilities while mounted.
Forming a bond with a mount requires effort to establish and maintain on the part of the rider. Following a process similar to social interactions in Chapter 8 of the DMG, a mount has a particular attitude toward the rider based on how it’s been treated. Untrained mounts and War Mounts usually start with hostile attitudes, riding mounts start as indifferent. Typically, after each full day of riding or training with a mount, the rider may make a DC 10 Wisdom (Animal Handling) check. This roll is made with disadvantage if stressed or in combat combat during that period. A success means the mounts attitude improves by one category.
Once a mount is friendly, the rider may designate the mount as bonded. A rider and mount may only have one bond at a time. The DM may call for the bond to end after extended separations, or other circumstances like hard treatment or conditions.
Bounded mounts that are integrated strongly into play may use the sidekick rules from Taha’s Caldron of Everything if approved by the DM. Doing so uses the sidekick Warrior rules in most cases.
A trained rider controlling a bonded war or riding mount may use their reaction to swap an ability check, saving throw, or AC. Meaning the mount or the rider may use the ability check, saving throw, or AC of the other. This effect lasts until the beginning of the riders next turn, or until the rider dismounts or is unseated.
A trained rider controlling a bonded war mount may use their bonus action to allow the mount to use any action in their stat block, including an attack.
Bolting & Bucking
In some circumstances, a mount may have cause to flee a situation and bolt. This means the mount is uncontrolled and uses its action to move away from the source of its fear. Normally, a mount will use the dash action but may opt for dodge or disengage as is appropriate for the creatures intelligence and situation. During this, a rider may attempt a DC 15 Wisdom (Animal Handling) check as an action, to regain control of the mount. While running, or after a rider fails to regain control, a mount may also attempt to buck the rider as an action.
A mount that tries to buck its rider makes a strength check, opposed by the riders Strength or Dexterity (Animal Handling) check. If the rider fails the check, they are unseated.
Unseating a Rider
Riders are knocked off a mount if some effect separates them, such as a successful shove. Additionally a rider that is knocked prone is also knocked off their mount. If an effect moves a mount against its will, any rider must make a Dexterity (Animal Handling) check either at the DC for the effect that moved the mount or 10, whichever is higher.
A rider knocked off a mount takes falls prone in a logical spot next to the mount. Additionally they may suffer other appropriate effects depending on the circumstance, such as falling off a tall or flying mount. In addition to any other effects, a rider knocked off a moving mount makes a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save they take 1d6 damage, or 2d6 if the mount was dashing, or half as much on a successful save.
Most mounts require some sort of bridle and saddle to control properly. In most cases, any rolls to control a mount or avoid being unseated are made with** disadvantage without the proper equipment**. The core books list a number of options for saddles, all of which work well with these rules.