Find Steed, Find Greater Steed, and Combat

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
These spells don't allow you to summon a steed and command it to attack the boss independently of you while you're not mounted on it, and still take your own regular attacks--do they? I have a player who wants to use "Find Greater Steed" that way, and it doesn't seem right to me. But I know she's going to ask why the telepathic bond between the character and the steed doesn't allow her character to command the steed to attack.

Even if you do have to stay mounted on the steed, does it get its own attacks? Again, that doesn't seem right to me--it looks like the intent of summoning a steed is just to give the PC greater mobility--but if that's so, I don't know what I can point to as a rule to show the player that this is the case.

Does a creature serving as a mount retain all its special abilities? For example, if the PC summons a peryton as a mount, can it still do a flyby move and avoid opportunity attacks? The player has been eyeing this option...

It all seems way too powerful for a single 5th-level spell.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
So far as I can tell, nothing about the spells seems to suggest the mount can't attack independently of the summoner. The rules for mounted combat say that intelligent creatures (and any summoned steed has an Int of 6 or better) can act independently. I see no reason why they would also not have their own attacks and traits.

Casting this spell means it's one fewer 4th-level paladin smite (likely on a critical hit which would do +36 (10d8) damage) to deal with. So that's something to consider when thinking about its relative power. Plus there's likely nothing stopping you from having your monsters take out the steed either if that makes sense in the context of the combat challenge. Further, certain adventure locations might not be reasonable places to take a steed, so at least some of the time, this is not a good choice of spell.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
So far as I can tell, nothing about the spells seems to suggest the mount can't attack independently of the summoner.
I edited the original post to clarify. The PCs were in a rowboat attacking a creature in the water, with the steed not present. The player wanted to have the PC summon the steed and then command it to fly over and attack the creature on every turn, without having the PC mount and with the PC still taking all his regular attacks.

Casting this spell means it's one fewer 4th-level paladin smite (likely on a critical hit which would do +36 (10d8) damage) to deal with. So that's something to consider when thinking about its relative power.

Unfortunately, the PC casting the spell is a 13th-level bard, so there is basically no downside or sacrifice apart from a spell slot.

It just seems like this one single spell makes any character who takes it into a better version of the beastmaster ranger. I know the beastmaster is universally considered to be poorly designed, but it doesn't seem like one spell should be able to outdo an entire class.

Further, certain adventure locations might not be reasonable places to take a steed, so at least some of the time, this is not a good choice of spell.

Precious few for a flying mount, apart from maybe being indoors, but you wouldn't want a mount in that situation anyway.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Unfortunately, the PC casting the spell is a 13th-level bard with the magical secrets feat, so there is basically no downside or sacrifice apart from a spell slot.

It just seems like this one single spell makes any character who takes it into a better version of the beastmaster ranger. I know the beastmaster is universally considered to be poorly designed, but it doesn't seem like one spell should be able to outdo an entire class.

Given the threats you can throw at 13th-level PCs, I wouldn't worry about a relatively low CR monster being added to the fight. I'd be more concerned about it slowing the game down (as with any summons) than impacting difficulty of the combat challenges.

As for whether this spell overshadows a beastmaster ranger, I'd say that requires a presupposition that there should be some kind of "balance" between the classes and I don't think that's necessarily a huge priority in D&D 5e. I think a generation of players has been trained by D&D 3e and D&D 4e to focus obsessively on "balance" when, in reality, close enough is likely good enough since the DM manages the spotlight anyway. Rangers can also do stuff the bard cannot, and vice versa. And if there's no beastmaster ranger in your group anyway, it's an irrelevant consideration.

Precious few for a flying mount, apart from maybe being indoors, but you wouldn't want a mount in that situation anyway.

That argues for more dungeons in your Dungeons & Dragons game then. :)
 

tglassy

Adventurer
It’ a 4th level spell. It’s in the same class as Mordenkeinan’s Faithful Hound and Charm Monster, both of which make a minion that can attack at will. Also, only two classes can get it: the Paladin, and the Bard. The Bard can get it at lvl 10, due to magical secrets, but the Paladin, who this spell is for, can’t get it until level 13 at the earliest. At this point, Wizards are casting Force Cage, Plane Shift and Simulcrum. And you’re getting uppity because he might have a flying mount that he can command that can have its own initiative?

Mount rules would apply, I presume. According to the player’s handbook, you need:
1. A willing creature at least one size larger. The spell makes this
2. When in combat, you have the option of controlling the mount, or letting it act independently, but intelligent creatures act independently. This means they do their own thing.
3. You can control a mount that is trained to accept a rider. The spell makes one of these.
4. The initiative of controlled mounts change to match yours when you mount it. It moves where you tell it to, and can Dash, Dodge or Disengage.
5. An independent mount (including all intelligent mounts) retains its own place in initiative order, and can take whatever action it wants. It moves as it wishes.

Now let’s look at the spell:

1. Summon a loyal majestic mount
2. It gains an intelligence of 6 if it does not automatically have one
3. You control the mount in combat

The rest is incidental. What I take this to mean is that the mounts are intelligent, so they act on their own initiative place and can do whatever actions they want, but as an exception to the normal rules of mounting, the summoner controls it during combat. Remember, specific trumps general. Note, the third point is NOT included in the normal Find Steed spell. This, to me, indicates a change. Some of the main differences to these mounts from normal steeds is they have special abilities. What is the point of having special mounts who can use flyby, charge people with a horn, or rake them with claws if you’re not allowed to actually use these abilities?

It’s a pretty high level ability, which most players won’t even get to. Bards get to it a little quicker with Magical Secrets, but that’s it. I see no problem in letting them use it the way they want to. You can always do what my DM did when I abused my Winged boots: he had us be attacked by a flock of griffins. And I was alone, cause I was flying all over the place. Scared the bajeezus out of me. If you don’t like how they use it, don’t nerf them, give them a challenge meant to counter what they are doing.

And about having them attack independantly, I don't see why they couldn't. In fact, now that I'm looking at it, i'm a little confused by your post. Are you saying you don't believe the mount should be able to attack without being mounted, but when mounted they shouldn't be able to attack? Forgive me, but that seems to reduce the spell to a cosmetic upgrade from Find Steed, where your mount is basically a larger speed number.

The mount is a creature that does what the summoner says. It should be able to attack regardless of whether or not it is mounted, in my opinion, but certainly when it is not mounted. There is literally nothing that says it shouldn't be able to attack when not mounted.
 

tglassy

Adventurer
However, don't forget this is a cast and forget spell. it's like Find Familiar, it has no time limit. Once cast, the steed is there until dismissed or it dies. It doesn't actually take up a spell slot.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Given the threats you can throw at 13th-level PCs, I wouldn't worry about a relatively low CR monster being added to the fight. I'd be more concerned about it slowing the game down (as with any summons) than impacting difficulty of the combat challenges.
It does slow the game down, considerably, which is one of my concerns.

As for whether this spell overshadows a beastmaster ranger, I'd say that requires a presupposition that there should be some kind of "balance" between the classes
Not exactly. It just seems to me that you shouldn't be able to replicate and improve upon the schtick of an entire class with a single mid-level spell. That seems like a design flaw, if it's really allowable.


What I take this to mean is that the mounts are intelligent, so they act on their own initiative place and can do whatever actions they want,

The mount is a creature that does what the summoner says.

Well, that's my question: if the summoner is not mounted on the mount, does it do what it wants, or does it do what the summoner says? And how intelligent does a creature have to be in order to be considered something that acts independently? I would think it would at least have to be capable of speech.

Are you saying you don't believe the mount should be able to attack without being mounted, but when mounted they shouldn't be able to attack?
I'm asking whether it works that way, because the spell description doesn't say anything about mount attacks. The section on "Controlling a Mount" (PHB p. 198) says that it depends on whether the mount is "controlled" or not, but it's vague about what that means or how it works at the table.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It does slow the game down, considerably, which is one of my concerns.

Unfortunately, I have not found any way around this except to tell my players that if they plan to use summons, undead minions, mounts, or the like, they need to get good at resolving their turn quickly. And for their own benefit, too, since that means their next turn will come around faster. If they cannot do that, for the good of the group, they need to not take these options. Most folks rise to the challenge in my experience.

Not exactly. It just seems to me that you shouldn't be able to replicate and improve upon the schtick of an entire class with a single mid-level spell. That seems like a design flaw, if it's really allowable.

I think you'd have to do a side-by-side comparison of the quality of the steed vs. the companion at the levels we're discussing. You may be correct that the steed is better, but I bet there's sufficient parity there to make these concerns overblown. Plus, the ranger's deal is exploration challenges, and less so combat challenges. I think judging their abilities solely on the action economy of the beast companion is too narrow a view to be useful. Depending on the campaign, I really amp up the exploration challenges and a ranger is a godsend compared to a paladin or bard.
 

Dausuul

Legend
But I know she's going to ask why the telepathic bond between the character and the steed doesn't allow her character to command the steed to attack.

Even if you do have to stay mounted on the steed, does it get its own attacks? Again, that doesn't seem right to me--it looks like the intent of summoning a steed is just to give the PC greater mobility--but I don't know what I can point to as a rule to show the player that this is the case.

There is some room for interpretation here, but if you look in the mounted combat rules:

Player's Handbook said:
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. The initiative of a controlled mount changes to match yours when you mount it. It moves as you direct it, and it has only three action options: Dash, Disengage, and Dodge. A controlled mount can move and act even on the turn that you mount it.

And from the spell text:

Xanathar's Guide to Everything said:
You control the mount in combat. While the mount is within 1 mile of you, you can communicate with it telepathically. While mounted on it, you can make any spell you cast that targets only you also target the mount.

Generally, when spells allow you to give orders to summoned creatures, they are very explicit about how the process works (see animate dead, for example). Since find greater steed merely states that you "control the mount in combat," I think the intent is that you have a "controlled mount" according to the mounted combat rules. That means the mount is limited to Dash, Disengage, and Dodge. It cannot attack.

If you aren't riding the mount, I would rule that you have no control over it. You can tell it what you think it should do, but it's under no compulsion to obey, and it will act according to its alignment and intelligence. All of the options other than pegasus and peryton have Int 6; their tactics will be instinctive and may be less than helpful. The peryton has Int 9, but it's Chaotic Evil. You really do not want to leave it on its own in battle. That leaves the pegasus. At Int 10 and Chaotic Good, it is the most likely to be helpful and effective... but it doesn't have much in the way of attacks.

Does a creature serving as a mount retain all its special abilities? For example, if the PC summons a peryton as a mount, can it still do a flyby move and avoid opportunity attacks? The player has been eyeing this option...
Yes, the mount retains its abilities; it just can't take any actions other than Dash/Disengage/Dodge.

Again, however, keep in mind that perytons are Chaotic Evil, and I don't see anything in the spell that changes the mount's alignment.

It all seems way too powerful for a single 5th-level spell.
I think of it as a 13th-level paladin class feature (or a 10th-level bard feature, if you're willing to expend a Magical Secrets slot on it) rather than a spell.
 

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