Have you gotten away from using mounts and mounted combat? Or just don’t understand the rules or find them a bit wordy? Or think mounts are too expensive and don’t provide enough benefits? If you answered yes to any of these questions, get on your horse and ride!
Like ritual magic, mounts and mounted combat may be a bit of an untapped resource for your playgroup in 4e. They may not get enough play or stage time, for a variety of reasons. Well, let’s change that, shall we?
Where to start? Skim over the Mounted Combat and Overland Travel rules and charts in the Essentials Rules Compendium, and you’re well on your way to riding mastery. When you come back, just ride on through the rest of this article.
Why mount up? First, faster overland travel rates means getting to where you need to go faster – often much faster – for usually a very reasonable price if you stick with previous edition classics like riding horses and warhorses. Horses alone come in speeds significantly higher than most of your characters, never mind fantastic mounts and vehicles.
Plus, overland travel is a great time to add in some quick and easily-grasped atmosphere to your game. The passage of time, weather, and overland travel help the world seem large and wondrous. It feels more like adventuring when these journey aspects - so common to great fantasy adventures and epics across books, movies and television – are included.
Riding on through driving rain storms and into snow-blasted mountains simply looks and sounds more cinematic with one brief mention, reminding you why you need to make those Endurance checks as well as how lucky you are to have your mount to help carry you past the elements as swiftly as possible. Travel itself need not be a focus, but the mere mention of it is a dash of perfect seasoning that really adds flavor to your travels and adventures.
Just like mounts get you somewhere faster over the course of days or even weeks, so too do mounts give you the tactical advantages of superior movement and positioning in battle.
Simply being able to gallop forward with your mount and then charge at movement rates that make even an elf jealous can be a huge advantage. Your enemies might not know what hit them when you suddenly cover 80-100 feet (16-20 squares!) and strike with a blow empowered by the added momentum of your mount! Not only is this thematically enjoyable and fun to describe and roleplay, you’ve essentially created at least two new tactical advantages or bonuses (enhanced movement plus mount powers) for your attack thanks to that unique bond of rider and mount.
The Essentials presentation of Mounted Combat rules is actually fairly well done – give it a chance and you’ll see that for adventurers like you, getting the most out of your mount in combat is actually well within your grasp.
Which Mount is for You?
Want to go beyond the classic (and very affordable, mind you) horse? If you’re looking for mount variety, including some really exotic and monstrous ones, you have a lot of choices.
There are 31 mounts - both familiar and monstrous - listed as purchasable gear items, and around 80 more “priceless” monstrous mounts you might somehow figure out a way to creatively befriend, tame or otherwise wrangle during your adventures. That’s over 100 mounts in the D&D world and counting!
Some ritual magic and magic items can also summon mounts (similar to some summoning spells and wondrous figurines of power from prior D&D editions).
Stuffer Shack offers a wonderful variety of 12 horse mount miniatures and 10 exotic mount minis right now – with special room for you to fit your PC mini together with your favorite mount. (Thanks Dillon for the heads up!) Horses of varying coat color, winter wolves, bears, panthers – they got ‘em! Plus Stuffer Shack’s Steal this Mount features some entertaining fluff and a monster stat block to match their newest exotic mount, the mighty Chimera.
You now know mounts make a great atmospheric addition to your party, speed you through the the dangerous wild and its sometimes savage weather, add some easy-to-use bonus offense and tactical options, and that there’s a veritable menagerie of mounts to choose from.
So ride out and take your campaign by storm!