I went over Mounts in one of my first articles. They are criminally underutilized in most D&D campaigns, and they are expensive. They are horribly overlooked by most people, and the DMG has less than one page of information on them (DMG, pg.155). Mounts need barding (unless you want your horse, Bob the horse, to die in combat), food and lodging. That doesn’t even include buying them. My beautiful elephant costs 200 gp, and that’s just for a normal old elephant. (No DM in there right mind will only charge 200 for an elephant, but I digress.) Body armor for an elephant is bloody expensive. And after all that gold you spend on them, they can die pretty quickly if you aren’t careful in battle. If I can’t get my elephant, then I’m playing a halfling with a mastiff next campaign!
The number of actual mounts is somewhat limited. The'“official mounts” found in 5th edition are as follows - Camel, Donkey, Elephant, Draft Horse, Riding Horse, Mastiff, Pony, Warhorse. Pretty straightforward and honestly, kind of boring. Some people use mounts all the time, take feats to assist in mounted combat, and love their mounts as much as they do their pets. But when I talk to players, most say that mounts don’t factor into their games.
Mounts are basically a faster method of transportation. While you are able to attack from your mount, it can only take the Dodge, Disengage and Dash actions during combat. Mounts cannot attack unless they are dismounted and the mount is intelligent enough to act independently or it is provoked. I’m pretty sure a Donkey would run away, but if cornered it would fight.
Some mounts have been trained for battle and excel when out in the field crushing their enemies. These highly skilled mounts are not only used for transport, but have been training in the art of battle. Training for these creatures starts when the beast is still very young and is a long, arduous process. It is not cruel however, as these animals are meant to serve their masters with courage and stamina that is not found many warriors, let alone other mounts. These mounts have different focuses - some attack, some focus on defense and all have an intimidating presence as they travel through your town.
As stated above, the Players Handbook states that “It moves as you direct it, and it has only three action options: Dash, Disengage and Dodge.” (PHB 198) None of these ‘common’ mounts have a high enough INT to act independently on their own. Most will probably run for safety until the battle is over. That makes sense for common mounts that have not been trained to fight. But what about mounts that have been trained in the art of battle?
Since these specialized mounts have double duty as something that carries you around and can inflict damage during battle, they are much more expensive than a normal mount. That said, all of the attacks listed for each mount require the rider to use their bonus action to utilize the mount’s attack. Riders can use their actions as they normally would when mounted.
War mounts are usually the largest beasts of their kind so that they can carry the weight of armor and possibly multiple riders. It takes a special kind of person to break and train these mounts, and they expect to be compensated accordingly. Barding and upkeep on these mounts is also expensive, so players will have to figure out if the cost associated with each mount is worth the benefits it provides.
For those that don’t want my thought process behind War Mounts:
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The War Elephant
The war elephant is the largest of all the war mounts. Its presence on the battlefield instills fear in even the most seasoned of warriors. The war elephant’s abilities and attacks are as follows:
Gore Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 19 (3d8+6) piercing damage.
Stomp. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5ft., one prone creature. Hit: 22 (3d10+6) bludgeoning damage.
Trunk Sweep. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d6+6) bludgeoning damage. Target must succeed on a DC 10 Strength saving throw or be knocked back 10 ft. and is prone. If the creature makes the saving throw, they are knocked back 10 ft. but remain standing.
Charge. If the elephant moves at least 20 feet straight towards a creature and then hits it with a gore attack on the same turn, that target must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
The charge feature is brutal. If it wasn’t bad enough that you just got gored by the elephant’s tusks and run over, now it can stomp on you. The trunk sweep is less of an attack than a way for the elephant to clear a path forward by knocking over those in front of him like bowling pins.
The war elephant is also the only mount that can carry more than one person. If the player chooses to, he can buy a riding tower for the elephant that can hold up to 3 people at a time. Each tower is fitted with quivers in each corner for easy access to arrows, spears and other ranged weapons.
The war elephant does have one disadvantage that the other war mounts do not. Due to its massive size and height, rider(s) may only you melee weapons with a 10 ft. range or ranged weapons.
The movie Black Panther made the war rhino famous. The scene where they charge onto the battlefield is amazing and led me to create this mount. If you haven’t see the movie yet, it’s a must see.
The war rhino’s abilities and attacks are as follows:
Charge. If the rhinoceros moves at least 20 feet straight toward a target and then hits it with a gore attack on the same turn, the target takes an extra 9 (2d8) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
Body Slam. If a creature is flanking the rhinoceros, it may slam into the creature with its hind quarters. The creature must make a DC 12 Strength saving throw of be knocked back 5ft and be prone.
Gore Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8+5) piercing damage.
The body slam is my favorite ability. I’m not a huge fan of flanking, so go ahead and try to flank the rhino. His big old butt will knock right off your feet!
I wanted to add a dinosaur to the list and since everyone loves the T-Rex, that was my first choice. Problem was, the more I looked at the T-Rex, the more I realized it just wouldn’t work. In the same ‘family’ of dinosaurs was the allosaurus, and after reading about it and looking at the pictures, I realized that we could make that work.
The War Allosaurus has a special saddle that is more of a harness which is wrapped underneath the dinosaur and that the rider puts around their arms and legs. This gives the rider the freedom to swing his sword or shoot her crossbow and also prevents the rider from being dislodged when the allosaurus uses its pounce ability.
The War Allosaurus abilities and attacks are as follows:
Pounce. If the allosaurus moves at least 30 feet straight towards a creature it can leap up to 10 feet towards a single target. That target must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be grappled by the allosaurus.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d10+4) piercing damage.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8+4) piercing damage.
Tail Sweep. If a creature hits the allosaurus while flanking it, the allosaurus may use its tail to hit the creature. Target must succeed on a DC 12 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
The Pounce feature is one that a regular allosaurus has, but the war allosaurus has been trained to do so with a rider on its back. Being grappled by a dinosaur can’t be much fun, especially when there is someone riding it and swinging their warpick at you.
There is history with my old character and turtles, but that is a story for another time. You may notice that there are no flying mounts in this list, but I did decide to add a mount that can travel in and under water. Flying is overrated anyways, and if your realm is anything like earth, there is more water than there is land, so having a mount that can swim makes sense.
The war turtle has the following abilities:
Hold Breath. The turtle can hold its breath for 20 minutes. (and hopefully you can too)
Retreat. When dismounted, the turtle can pull its head and legs into its shell, giving the turtle an AC of 20.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (3d6 + 4) piercing damage. The target must succeed on a DC 12 Strength saving throw or be grappled.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8+5) piercing damage.
Shell Protection When a creature makes an attack on the rider, the turtle's provides them with a +2 bonus to their AC. (Reaction)
Everyone knows that turtles have a very hard shell. This plays into the war turtle’s abilities in two ways. First, if the turtle is severely wounded, the rider can dismount and the turtle can defend itself by hiding its shell. Hopefully you’re not one of those jerk animal owners that would abandon it, but if you are, the turtle at least has a higher AC. The second way the shell is important is that it not only protects the turtle, but the rider. War turtles have had their shells modified so that when the rider gets on the specialized saddle, they slide their legs inside the turtle’s shell. This protection can give the rider a +2 to their AC.
So there they are, the War Mounts. They may cost a small fortune, but seriously, who wouldn’t want to go shell surfing on the back of a battle-trained turtle?
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