Mounted Combat in 2e

Hi all,

I’m really enjoying 2e so far. One thing that has me a little stumped is mounted combat, and its utility for players. My setting has some ersatz-Rohirrim horse lords, and so I was wondering how I might be able to run a conflict where the players were on mounts.

I think I’ve got the general details down: a player who wants to use a mount in combat tests Rider when equipping weapons at the beginning of combat. Then:

Success indicates you may benefit from your mount… A properly trained and controlled mount grants the benefits of its Nature, Might and weapons to its rider. In kill, capture, drive off, pursue and flee conflicts, you may use your mount’s Might and weapons instead of your own. (DHB p. 169-70)

By the wording, I assume that once a mount is ‘urged into combat’, it stays that way for the rest of a conflict. But what do the ‘benefits of its Nature’ entail? Does that just mean a rider can use the mount’s descriptors, or can they also choose to channel the Nature of their mount separately to their own?

Some mundane mounts are described in the Lore Master’s Manual, although they don’t have weapons listed. Their Natures and Mights also seem to leave a bit to be desired for the aspiring cavalier, especially if you aren’t able to tap into the mount’s Nature as an additional pool of dice.

The other key advantage to being mounted — at least, for enemies — is that they can contribute to conflict disposition, as per this thread:

Do things work similarly on the players’ side of the conflict? Should horses, for example, be taken to ‘help’ with disposition generation? Thinking about things narrative-first, it doesn’t seem to make a whole heap of sense (although I think the case could be made for something like a dragon actively helping out). Mechanically it doesn’t seem to gel either, because at the time that disposition is rolled, the mount hasn’t yet been ‘urged’ into combat. Furthermore:

  • Like the helgeits, would the horses be required to take actions in turn? If they need disposition in order to be ridden (?), that would seem to be the implication.
  • I assume they would be controlled by the players, falling under the ‘Cousins and Companions’ rule on SG p.66, meaning that they need to absorb the first point of damage directed at their controlling player.

Also, back in 1e, the Rider skill stated the following:

When mounted, the Rider skill is used for Maneuver in a kill, capture or drive off conflict or Attack in a flee conflict. (TB1e, p. 141)

To me this seemed a good, substantial benefit to training up your Rider skill and a motivation for making use of mounts. Can anyone shed some light on the rationale for the removal?

Thanks!

Hi there!

Correct. The details are spelled out in the Rider skill (DHB, p. 169):

When setting up a conflict, when everyone declares their initial weapons, you urge your mount into combat by making a Rider test using the Mounted Combat factors listed under Rider.

If you succeed, you use your mount’s Might instead of your own and your mount’s weapons are available for you to equip (you can still only equip one weapon per round, but if you’re riding a devil boar you could choose to equip its Razor-sharp tusks for a round in a Kill conflict instead of your sword, for instance).

Re: Nature: A mount will Help you with its Nature assuming its descriptors are appropriate to the test. A Warhorse, with Fighting nature, can help you in combat-related conflicts, for instance. A Riding Horse, with Running nature, can help in Chase/Flee conflicts.

It’s a bit of a gray area, but I think spending a Persona point to channel your Might’s nature is fine, with two stipulations:

  • It’s either/or. You either channel your nature or your mount’s nature, not both at the same time.
  • You cannot channel a mount’s nature for things that fall outside their nature descriptors.

For now, you’ll have to come up with weapons for those creatures on your own.

A warhorse might have something like:
Iron-shod hooves: Kill, Drive Off conflicts, +1s Attack
Charge! Kill, Capture, Drive Off conflicts, +1D, +1s Maneuver
Savage bite: Kill, Drive Off conflicts, +1D Feint

A riding horse might have:
Gallop: Flee/Pursue conflicts, +1D Attack, +1s Maneuver

Mounts should be given disposition as per the Cousins & Companions rule (Scholar’s Guide, p. 66). That allows them to help in conflicts but not take actions of their own.

Some mounts can act indepently of direction and should get their own disposition pools and action allotments. Helgeit are demons and intelligent actors in their own right. This is true of, say, dragons too. As a game master, you’ll have to make a judgement call about when this is appropriate. In most cases, it will be creatures you control rather than creatures in the players’ hands. These mounts don’t need to be urged into combat either.

In this case, players should not have access to the creature’s weapons. They’ll have to use their own.

Most mounts, though, just help their riders and don’t act independently.

It led to a lot of confusion, like people trying to use Rider to Maneuver in Kill conflicts even though they weren’t mounted. The benefit of the rule wasn’t worth the confusion it caused.

That said, it’s not entirely gone. As per the Rider skill listing (DHB, p. 169): “Also, while mounted, use Rider to Attack and Feint in pursue and flee conflicts.”

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Thanks Thor — that’s awesome and super thorough!

I think the only thing that’s still not crystal-clear to me is initial disposition generation: it seems sensical that independently-acting ‘intelligent’ mounts (like perhaps not-so-intelligent cousin Lolly) are more than capable of helping on the disposition roll in addition to conflict actions. But would you say that warhorse would be able to do the same?

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I wouldn’t in my game, but a single helping die won’t break things if you feel differently.

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Good Ol’ Lolly. Still causing trouble.