log in or register to remove this ad

 

Rules FAQ How Does Mounted Combat Work in D&D 5E?

Mounted combat in D&D is often a point of confusion because unlike past editions, the systems for it are fairly slim.


This is the part of a weekly series of articles by a team of designers answering D&D questions for beginners. Feel free to discuss the article and add your insights or comments!

Mounting A Creature
To mount a creature:
  • You must be within 5 feet of it.
  • It must be willing to bear you as a rider.
  • It must be at least one size larger than you and have an appropriate anatomy (DM discretion; horse yes, gelatinous cube, probably not.)
  • You must spend an amount of movement equal to half your speed; 15 feet if your speed is 30 feet, for example. You can’t mount if you can’t spend this movement for any reason. Dismounting is the same process, and you dismount into a space within 5 feet of your mount.
old page 85.jpg


When Mounted
You can only mount or dismount once per turn, and once you’re mounted, the following rules apply:
  • If your mount is a trained one, such as a horse or mule, you choose to either control it, or let it remain independent.
  • When you mount an intelligent creature, such as a dragon, it always retains its independence. This also applies for an untrained creature.
  • If you control a mount, its initiative changes to match your own, but it can only choose from three actions; Dash, Disengage, or Dodge. It can act immediately on the turn when you mount it.
  • An independent mount retains its place in the initiative order, but can take all its actions normally.
  • In every case, if your mount provokes an attack of opportunity, the attacker can choose to target either you or the mount, so long as it can reach you.
Here’s an example of mounted combat with an independent mount:

Merlina the githyanki dragonrider is mounted on her young red dragon Cinder and making diving attacks on a storm giant. Initiative has already been rolled, and since Cinder is an intelligent creature, he has his own initiative. Merlina has a 19, the storm giant has a 14, and Cinder has a 7. On her turn, Merlina readies an action to strike with her halberd when she’s within reach. The storm giant acts, then Cinder’s turn comes up, and he flies in, making his full multiattack against the giant. At the same time, Merlina’s readied action goes off, and she attacks with her halberd. As they fly away, the giant gets an attack of opportunity on the dragon, but decides the rider is more dangerous; he targets Merlina instead of the dragon, and hits her with his greatsword, wounding her severely as the pair fly by.

Disrupting Mounts
Naturally, being mounted carries some drawbacks, as well.
  • If your mount is moved against its will, such as by a thorn whip spell while you’re on it, you must immediately make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, you’re thrown off your mount, and land prone in a space within 5 feet of it.
  • If your mount is knocked prone, you can use your reaction to immediately dismount, “bailing out” and landing on your feet within 5 feet of the mount. If you can’t or don’t use your reaction for this, you are instead prone within 5 feet of your mount.
  • Apart from this, a DM can call for a Strength (Athletics) check to remain mounted in response to sudden disruptions. Of course, these checks will be much easier with the…
Appropriate Equipment
If you’re riding in a military saddle, you “have advantage on any check you make to remain mounted”. Note this doesn’t mention saving throws, unfortunately. Furthermore, if you want to ride an aquatic or flying mount, like a gryffon or a dolphin, you’ll need an exotic saddle instead; prices can be found in Chapter 5 of the Player’s Handbook under Mounts and Vehicles.

In addition, you can also buy barding, which is armor for your mount. Barding works exactly the same as armor for humanoids, but is four times as expensive and weighs twice as much; expect your DM to up this price if you’re buying barding for an especially unusual mount!

But Where Am I?
If you play on a grid, you’ll encounter the question of where, exactly, the rider is on the mount. In the center? Do they share the mount’s space?

The answer in the rules is that the rider is in a space the mount occupies, and can use its own movement to move freely on the mount.

Many people, unsatisfied by this answer, either put the rider in the center of the mount (sometimes placing them on an intersection) or just treat the mount and rider as a single creature that occupies the mount’s space. Any of these three solutions can work, but—and say it with me, folks—talk to your DM and get their interpretation before proceeding. Remember that, for especially large mounts, you may need a reach weapon to even attack from atop it!

Additional Rules
Some other game elements interact with mounted combat in various ways; a few examples are explained below:
  • Lance. The classic weapon of a riding knight, the lance is normally two-handed, but can be wielded one-handed while mounted. This technically means you can dual-wield lances while mounted with the Dual Wielder feat. Do with that knowledge what you please.
  • Mounted Combatant. Of course we had to mention this one. You gain advantage on melee attack rolls if your mount is bigger than the target you’re hitting; a major boon if you fight a lot of Medium creatures. You can redirect attacks on your mount to you instead, which is great if you’re sick of mounts dying. And creatures you’re mounted on gain the rogue’s Evasion feature. Very sweet all around.
  • The Saddle of the Cavalier prevents you from being dismounted forcibly, and imposes disadvantage on attack rolls against your mount. A decent upgrade so your mount won’t have to Dodge so often.
  • Cavalier. A bit much to dive into here, but if you’re looking to make a mounted combatant, check out the Cavalier Fighter Archetype in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

log in or register to remove this ad

Cassandra Macdonald

Cassandra Macdonald

BookTenTiger

He / Him
The rules work okay for horses, but 5E’s mount rules fall apart when you get to things like riding raptors, flying mounts and anything more exotic than a horse. I stopped using the base rules after a combat with goblins riding wolves.
Can you say more about the problems you had?

I ran a combat with Meenlocks riding Giant Boars and it worked out great!
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Stormonu

Legend
Can you say more about the problems you had?

I ran a combat with Meenlocks riding Giant Boars and it worked out great!
As written, either the mounts would use the goblin’s initiative and only allow movement, or would have had to track initiative separately so the wolves could attack but would make ride-by attacks difficult to perform and clutter up tracking initiative (for 10 goblins + wolves). So I just ditched the rules, had the wolves act on the same initiative as the goblin rider, allowing a move up, goblin & wolf attack, then ride away (provoking AoO as it did so).
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
As written, either the mounts would use the goblin’s initiative and only allow movement, or would have had to track initiative separately so the wolves could attack but would make ride-by attacks difficult to perform and clutter up tracking initiative (for 10 goblins + wolves). So I just ditched the rules, had the wolves act on the same initiative as the goblin rider, allowing a move up, goblin & wolf attack, then ride away (provoking AoO as it did so).
Ah, I see. Yeah I think as a DM you get to fudge this a bit since you can decide to cluster enemies together in Initiative or not. I think I did the same thing with my Meenlocks + Giant Boars
 

Argyle King

Legend
A round is 6 seconds (still?). Heaving your armored behind off the horse and getting your footing... saddles tend to be high not like modern riding saddles. Seems reasonable, and if you decided to get back in the saddle it would take you into the next round irl I think. Game wise it makes sense to separate the actions into 2 rounds as well.

I disagree.

As worded, if I mount, I cannot also dismount in the same turn.

From a fiction standpoint, that makes a lot of fantasy scenes impossible in D&D. The classic example is the hero quickly mounting a horse, dashing to where they need to be, and then doing a quick dismount to face whatever the challenge is.

From a D&D standpoint, there is (I think) a feet which reduces the movement cost of mounting and dismounting. On a turn where I were to mount, I don't see how that feet would have any benefit because having extra movement which I cannot use (by virtue of not being allowed to dismount in the same turn) is pointless. It seems odd to me that the game would include an option which only works for 1/2 of the action it is defined as working with.

From a time perspective (or some attempt at realism... which I'm actually okay with in a fantasy game) I'm not seeing how intentionally mounting/dismounting would be less time consuming than being knocked off of a mount and then using part of my turn to stand up. It seems odd to be that -as per this rules interpretation- it would be better for a hero to clumsily fall off of a mount than to intentionally mount or dismount. Surely, falling from a horse and then needing to take the time to stand up would be more effort/time-consuming than simply getting out of the saddle.
 


Argyle King

Legend
Cavalier's Born to the Saddle subclass feature.

Does that feature allow more than one mount/dismount per turn?



Further thoughts: It would appear that, as per how mount/dismount is being expressed to work, that switching horses while riding would be impossible in D&D. Dismounting the first horse would be your 1 mount/dismount; as you're now off of the first horse and not allowed to mount the second horse, do you just fall to the ground? Float in the air in like some sort of Schrodinger's Rider?

There are a lot of scenes from both westerns and fantasy movies (and even action movies with motorcycles and such) which would be not be allowed.

There's an entire sport in Canada based around the idea of a horse race involving multiple horses for the rider:
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Does that feature allow more than one mount/dismount per turn?



Further thoughts: It would appear that, as per how mount/dismount is being expressed to work, that switching horses while riding would be impossible in D&D. Dismounting the first horse would be your 1 mount/dismount; as you're now off of the first horse and not allowed to mount the second horse, do you just fall to the ground? Float in the air in like some sort of Schrodinger's Rider?

There are a lot of scenes from both westerns and fantasy movies (and even action movies with motorcycles and such) which would be not be allowed.

There's an entire sport in Canada based around the idea of a horse race involving multiple horses for the rider:
I feel like you've now passed over into the realm of Rulings Not Rules.

D&D doesn't need specific rules for all the different mounted techniques you're describing because they come up rarely. But D&D does provide a lot of rules you can use to make it work.

Player: I want to jump off my horse and onto the other one.
DM: Okay... How about an Acrobatics check to make the leap, and then an Animal Handling check to not freak out the other horse.
 

Argyle King

Legend
I feel like you've now passed over into the realm of Rulings Not Rules.

D&D doesn't need specific rules for all the different mounted techniques you're describing because they come up rarely. But D&D does provide a lot of rules you can use to make it work.

Player: I want to jump off my horse and onto the other one.
DM: Okay... How about an Acrobatics check to make the leap, and then an Animal Handling check to not freak out the other horse.

That's true.

However, I would posit that a rule which has so many situations in which it doesn't apply perhaps ought not to be a rule at all -or may be a sign that an area of the game needs to be re-evaluated. There are more situations in which I feel this rule shouldn't apply (even in the limited space of being internally consistent with D&D) than there are situations in which I believe it should apply.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
I disagree.

As worded, if I mount, I cannot also dismount in the same turn.

From a fiction standpoint, that makes a lot of fantasy scenes impossible in D&D. The classic example is the hero quickly mounting a horse, dashing to where they need to be, and then doing a quick dismount to face whatever the challenge is.

From a D&D standpoint, there is (I think) a feet which reduces the movement cost of mounting and dismounting. On a turn where I were to mount, I don't see how that feet would have any benefit because having extra movement which I cannot use (by virtue of not being allowed to dismount in the same turn) is pointless. It seems odd to me that the game would include an option which only works for 1/2 of the action it is defined as working with.

From a time perspective (or some attempt at realism... which I'm actually okay with in a fantasy game) I'm not seeing how intentionally mounting/dismounting would be less time consuming than being knocked off of a mount and then using part of my turn to stand up. It seems odd to be that -as per this rules interpretation- it would be better for a hero to clumsily fall off of a mount than to intentionally mount or dismount. Surely, falling from a horse and then needing to take the time to stand up would be more effort/time-consuming than simply getting out of the saddle.
If you mount the horse (say a second or two) "dash" for say 4 seconds and then dismount in the same round you might as well of just run over to that point. If you were covering any appreciable distance you would mount in one round and dismount in subsequent one (depending on the distance) imho.

While I can see a character dismounting and mounting in the same round that doesn't leave a lot of time to do anything else. Maybe change mounts and get ready to move out in the next round? If you allowed anything like this I would tie it into a check impacted by the characters encumbrance. Fail it and you actually mount the beginning of the next round.

Kind of corner case stuff... most of the time my players are in a hurry to get off the horse or are trying desperately to stay mounted :D

edit And then you have a video :D Horsed nomads were a possibility for this type of thing (I mentioned them upthread) but still racing up, dismounting, mounting, and getting the horse turned in the right direction seems to take the whole "round" and that's with someone holding the reigns for you and no gear. Fun to watch and maybe "doable" in some circumstances. That's why we have DMs I think.
 
Last edited:


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I feel like you've now passed over into the realm of Rulings Not Rules.

D&D doesn't need specific rules for all the different mounted techniques you're describing because they come up rarely. But D&D does provide a lot of rules you can use to make it work.

Player: I want to jump off my horse and onto the other one.
DM: Okay... How about an Acrobatics check to make the leap, and then an Animal Handling check to not freak out the other horse.
I know it's just an example, but two ability checks to accomplish one task can increase the chance of failure a great deal.
 


Argyle King

Legend
If you mount the horse (say a second or two) "dash" for say 4 seconds and then dismount in the same round you might as well of just run over to that point. If you were covering any appreciable distance you would mount in one round and dismount in subsequent one (depending on the distance) imho.

While I can see a character dismounting and mounting in the same round that doesn't leave a lot of time to do anything else. Maybe change mounts and get ready to move out in the next round? If you allowed anything like this I would tie it into a check impacted by the characters encumbrance. Fail it and you actually mount the beginning of the next round.

Kind of corner case stuff... most of the time my players are in a hurry to get off the horse or are trying desperately to stay mounted :D

I think it depends on the situation.

But, in all cases, the whole idea behind why a mount (or vehicle) is beneficial is because it increases mobility. In a fantasy game, the mount may also have movement modes (i.e. flight, swim speed, climb speed) which I do not normally have.

I might want to cover distance or obstacles and get to an enemy to be able to engage them. I might want to be able to dismount upon reaching a destination so that a wounded ally can mount and be taken to safety.

I'm of the belief that it's more than corner cases; there are actions which are common in movies and fiction (and even a few in real life) which would fit the style of story that D&D is used to game out. To be fair, vehicles and mounts are areas of rules which typically do tend to be a bit meh in many editions of D&D.

Still, I would be interested in hearing what the design thought process (behind making the rules, as they are in 5th Edition) was.

In home games, I intend to rule differently.
 

Dausuul

Legend
From a time perspective (or some attempt at realism... which I'm actually okay with in a fantasy game) I'm not seeing how intentionally mounting/dismounting would be less time consuming than being knocked off of a mount and then using part of my turn to stand up.
If you have, within the last six seconds, mounted a horse and gotten it up to a full gallop... there is exactly one way off that horse before your six seconds are up, and a safe, controlled dismount ain't it.

I think requiring you to fall off the horse, take 1d6 falling damage, and end up prone is a perfectly fine way for the rules to handle this situation. Though I admit it's a bit funky that you can (if you didn't have to move to get to the horse) stand from prone that same turn.
 

Argyle King

Legend
If you have, within the last six seconds, mounted a horse and gotten it up to a full gallop... there is exactly one way off that horse before your six seconds are up, and a safe, controlled dismount ain't it.

I think requiring you to fall off the horse, take 1d6 falling damage, and end up prone is a perfectly fine way for the rules to handle this situation. Though I admit it's a bit funky that you can (if you didn't have to move to get to the horse) stand from prone that same turn.

The standing is part of what I was considering.

Beyond the first few levels of the game, 1d6 is barely noticeable by most characters. In some cases, class features and abilities might make it so that 1d6 is reduced even further.

So, I can fall prone from the back of a horse, stand up, and be relatively fine, but I can't even attempt to dismount? Something about that seems odd to me -even before considering the other situations I mentioned.
 

Dausuul

Legend
The standing is part of what I was considering.

Beyond the first few levels of the game, 1d6 is barely noticeable by most characters. In some cases, class features and abilities might make it so that 1d6 is reduced even further.

So, I can fall prone from the back of a horse, stand up, and be relatively fine, but I can't even attempt to dismount? Something about that seems odd to me -even before considering the other situations I mentioned.
That is how you dismount in that situation. You are throwing yourself off the back of a galloping horse. Because you are a cinematic hero, you can bounce to your feet with a few bruises instead of lying there screaming with a broken leg and a cracked skull. What you cannot do is bring the horse to a stop and dismount normally within six seconds of starting.

And in the vast majority of cases, you will not in fact be able to stand up that turn--because you almost certainly had to move at least 5 feet to get to the horse. So you lie there for a few seconds, winded and vulnerable, before scrambling to your feet.

I don't see the problem.
 
Last edited:

The Interception Fighting Style from Tasha’s helps to slightly mitigate attacks against mounts, allowing you to reduce the damage of one attack a round against the mount.

Unfortunately, since D&D is primarily focused on adventures indoors (i.e., dungeons) on foot, there has been little attention paid to making mounted combat robust, and therefore viable - just enough for the occasional charge from horseback.
I'll have to take a look at that part again. I have to admit, my eyes were glazed over for much of Tasha's.
 

As written, either the mounts would use the goblin’s initiative and only allow movement, or would have had to track initiative separately so the wolves could attack but would make ride-by attacks difficult to perform and clutter up tracking initiative (for 10 goblins + wolves). So I just ditched the rules, had the wolves act on the same initiative as the goblin rider, allowing a move up, goblin & wolf attack, then ride away (provoking AoO as it did so).
That's what I basically do, too. If you have a trained combat mount, it makes sense that part of that training lets it attack and not just move when it is being controlled.
 


Argyle King

Legend
That is how you dismount in that situation. You are throwing yourself off the back of a galloping horse. Because you are a cinematic hero, you can bounce to your feet with a few bruises instead of lying there screaming with a broken leg and a cracked skull. What you cannot do is bring the horse to a stop and dismount normally within six seconds of starting.

And in the vast majority of cases, you will not in fact be able to stand up that turn--because you almost certainly had to move at least 5 feet to get to the horse. So you lie there for a few seconds, winded and vulnerable, before scrambling to your feet.

I don't see the problem.

There's no need to completely stop a mount to dismount.

In fact, many heroes (and even some real-world techniques) don't do that. That doesn't mean the rider is just flinging themselves into the ground.

It's further weird to me that a character who invests resources into being able mount/dismount quickly is somehow less competent than someone who chooses to just fall off.

Personal preferences, but I see a lot of problems with how that situation plays out
 

Related Articles

Visit Our Sponsor

Latest threads

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top