Not all combat takes place on foot. In roleplaying games, you might find yourself operating a vehicle, flying through the air, or swimming underwater. The most common form of assisted combat though, is mounted combat. Today we're looking at D&D 5e's mounted combat, how to use it, and some tips for when it's best to do so.
First off, let's look at choice of mounts. Your mount must be at least one size category larger than yourself, and have "an appropriate anatomy." The first part is straightforward. You can ride something bigger than you. Humans (a medium sized creature) can ride horses (a large sized creature.) But notice the "at least." This means a small type such as a halfling can also ride a horse. Or a human can ride something as large as a dragon. Now, onto appropriate anatomy. There's no criteria for this, so it's entirely GM fiat. Most quadrupedal things are probably fair game. But there's no rule explicitly saying you can't ride a biped. After all, the chocobo from Final Fantasy has 2 legs, and is clearly intended to be a mount. But a GM could also allow stranger things, like a gnome piggybacking on an ogre being counted as mounted combat. again though, ask your GM for how to proceed.
Once you've chosen your mount, it's time to mount up. Mounting and dismounting costs half of your movespeed, and you count mount if your speed is 0. You must be within 5ft of your mount to actually get on it, and the same rules apply for dismounts. If your mount is involuntarily moved or you are knocked prone, you need to make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or else land prone and dismounted within 5ft of your mount. If your mount is knocked prone, you can use your reaction to dismount, no harm no foul. If you don't you're dismounted anyway, but you fall prone within 5ft of your mount. So you pretty much always want to do this unless you can't. Which means keep that reaction handy just in case if you're mounted.
Now that you're on your mount, and have managed to avoid being forcibly dismounted, you get to charge forward gloriously into battle. You can either control your mount directly if it's been trained to take a rider, or allow it to act independently if it's intelligent enough to do so. Controlled mounts act on your initiative step, and can take the Dodge, Dash, or Disengage actions only. Independent mounts can take any action and do so at their own initiative, but you aren't in control of what it does. That becomes the GMs territory. Controlled or independent, attacks of opportunity against a mount or its rider can target the other, so you you might end up taking a hit for your mount, or vice versa. Note that the attacker makes this choice, so be careful of people trying to kill a mount from under you, or trying to pick you off from a more durable mount. However, recall the controlled mounts can Disengage, which prevents attacks of opportunity. Make use of that.
Mounts in general are great for speed and maneuverability. So open spaces are preferred. One common tactic is to use your superior speed to keep distance from enemies while you fire ranged attacks at them. Another handy tip is to control simpler mounts such as horses or donkeys, but allow more powerful mounts such as a dragon to act independently unless you have a good reason to take control. Generally, more powerful creatures have more useful actions, so you'll want to take advantage of that.
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- Draconick, Digital and Dice Contributor
I, Nick “Draconick” Johnson, am a writer and roleplaying enthusiast with over ten years of experience in various tabletop roleplaying games both as a player and as a GM. I am also somewhat involved in other forms of tabletop gaming such as wargaming, board games, and card games. It is my hope that by creating and maintaining this website that I can share my unique take on all things within our hobby and to foster a community of like-minded individuals.