DnD – The Knightly Charge

Introduction

CentaurI've liked playing paladins since I picked up my first AD&D book. In the 3rd edition, the celestial mount was one of the most prominent features, but I had to wait until the release of Essentials to get it back as an optional feature for the Paladin (Cavalier). It was released in Dragon #393 for those of you who are interested.
However, I still like the idea of hopping on horseback and charging at your enemies. The problem is there are still hardly any options for non-paladin characters that make you shine as a mounted combatant.

Yes, we got some mounts in the Adventurer’s Vaults, but to be honest I never have played with someone who actually used these things beyond the Heroic tier. Besides, they only added new mounts, not other options for PCs.
I do not miss the mounted combat rules from the 3rd edition – I think the 4th edition approach is much better. There is just a lack of variety, and I hope that this article will provide you with some options that catch your interest.

Option 1: Standardized Mount Prices [New Rule]

In my opinion, mounts in the higher level are overpriced, but that is not the only catch. The prices don't follow any pattern, which makes it hard to figure out how much a level 8 warhorse would cost.
So here is my solution: Mounts cost half the gold piece value of a magic item of their level and are sold for the same price.
This makes low-level mounts actually more expensive, but it would be easier to scale the level of your mount according to your level progression. From my gaming experience I learned that if something is not at least your level, it will die horrible shortly after the GM announces Initiative rolls — which is especially true in the higher tiers where monsters are able to ignite half of the battlefield.
This is also the reason I thought it would be a nice idea if mounts would sell for the same price as you buy them. You see with magic items it is rather simple — every 5 levels, you have to upgrade you weapon, armor and cloak, and every 10 level you have to purchase the paragon or epic variant of your other items. But your mount should be around your level, so you should upgrade your mount every level. If the selling price is equal to the buying price, it is cheap to level up your mount. For example, you want to level up your mount from level 4 to level 5. A fourth level mount costs 420 gp, and a fifth level mount costs 500 gp. So you can pay 80 gp, and your mount would level up. The only limit is that a mount should not be more than 4 levels above its rider.
I think that this makes mounts more accessible, and doesn't make it so painful if your beloved investment dies in combat.
Additionally, you now have price tag if you just want to pick up a standard monster from the monster manuals and use it as your mount. Some mounts will probably suffer from this house rule, while others will profit — perhaps just a bit too much. So think about which mounts or standard monsters should be allowed as riding creatures in your campaign — common sense should be exercised. You want to allow stronger mounts like elite monsters — or even solo monsters — it's up to you, but you probably should think a bit how this will influence your game.

You can find a table with the gold piece value of magic items by level in Heroes of the Fallen Lands (HotFL) on page 339 or in Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms (HotFK) on page 340.

Option 2: Lances [New Weapon Property and Weapons]

Lances are really missing in 4th edition. That is easy to fix, however.
The new weapons introduced here are all Two-handed Weapons. The Jousting Lance is a simple weapon, the War Lance a martial weapon and the Winged Lance a superior weapon.

Weapon Prof. Damage Price Weight Group Properties
Jousting Lance +3 d6 5 gp 10 lb. Mace Reach, Lance
War Lance +3 d8 10 gp 10 lb. Spear Reach, Lance
Winged Lance +3 d10 20 gp 10 lb. Spear Reach, Lanc

Weapon Property
Lance: While you are riding, you can use a weapon with this property as a one-handed weapon.

Option 3: The Centaur and the Centaur Champion [New Race and Racial Paragon Path]

On one hand, this is kind of a stretch, since this article should be about mounted combat, right? On the other hand, one of the most interesting things about mounted combat is the unity of rider and mount. Taken literally, a centaur perfectly represents this unity.
By the way I know, large creatures as player races are considered overpowered. But what can I do Centaurs are simply large creatures. It would be silly to make the medium-sized just for the sake of balancing. Therefore I have tried to make them as little harmful to your game balance as possible. If you are still consider them too powerful, you should probably pass on this option for your campaign if another player feels uncomfortable with this.
Oh and for all of you how aren't familiar with this: Hands high is the usual measurement for horses.

The Centaur [Race]

Racial Traits
Average Height: 15 to 18 hands high
Average Weight: 1,100 – 2,200 lb.

Ability Scores: +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity or Wisdom
Size: Large
Speed: 7
Vision: Low-light
Languages: Common, Elven
Skill Bonuses: +2 Nature, +2 Endurance

Fey Origin: You are considered a fey creature for the purpose of effects that relate to creature origin.
Medium-sized Torso: You use weapons, items, armor, clothing and equipment like a medium-sized creature. You do not use barding or posses a mount or animal companion item slot. When you use an effect with an origin square, you must declare which one of the squares you are standing in will be the origin square for the effect. You have a reach of 1 like a medium-sized creature.
Sturdy Build: Your carrying capacity is doubled.
Centaur Weapon Specialization: Choose one of the following:

  • You may use Lances as one-handed weapons without being mounted.
  • You take no penalty for using a bow at long range.

The Centaur Champion [Paragon Path]

Prerequisites: You must be a Centaur.

Light Step (11th level)
You ignore difficult terrain and gain a +1 bonus to speed.

Hammer Hoof (11th level)
When you perform a weapon attack with a weapon in your primary hand, you may instead use your hoofs to attack. Your hoofs count as hammers. The weapon damage is 2d4 and the proficiency bonus is +3. They may be enchanted like any other weapon.

Massive Impact (11th level)
You gain the Massive Impact power.

Massive Impact  Centaur Champion Encounter Attack 11
Encounter ♦ Weapon
Standard Action                            Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength or Dexterity vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Strength or Dexterity modifier damage and the target is knocked prone. If you performed this attack with your hoofs, you may shift 2 squares after the attack.
Special: You may use this power instead of a basic melee attack when you charge.

Unimpeded Gallop (12th level)
You gain the Unimpeded Gallop power.

Unimpeded Gallop Centaur Champion Utility 12
Encounter
Minor Action                                 Personal
Effect: Until the start of your next turn, you do not grant Combat Advantage. Additionally you take no attack penalty from running.

Improved Hammer Hoofs (16th level)
Whenever you perform a basic melee attack with your hoofs, you may push the target one square.

Fortress of Nature (20th level)
You gain the Fortress of Nature power.

Fortress of Nature Centaur Champion Daily Attack 20
Encounter ♦ Stance
Minor Action                                 Personal
Effect: You assume the Fortress of Nature stance. Until this stance ends, you may perform an Opportunity attack whenever an enemy ends its move in a position where it flanks you.

Option 4: The Cuirassier [New Theme]

OK — here we have an option for those people who are not particularly interested in playing a quadruple-legged creature.
When I first designed this theme, it was a bit more like the Chevalier from the Dragon #399, which I totally missed during that time. However, Jack Of None during her review pointed out this Dragon article, and I have to say this is a well designed mounted combat theme, so check it out… and thanks again, Jack. Nevertheless, options are fun, and so I redesigned the theme to support mounted archery.

Starting Feature:
While you are mounted and wielding a ranged weapon, you gain a +1 shield bonus to AC. Additionally you gain the Evasive Manoeuvre power.

Evasive Manoeuvre Cuirassier Feature
Encounter ♦ Martial
Immediate Interrupt                           Special

Requirement: You must be mounted.
Trigger: You or the creature you are riding is targeted by a melee attack.
Effect: The creature you are riding may shift half its speed.

Additional Features:

Level 5 Feature: You gain a +2 power bonus on Nature and Insight checks.
Level 10 Feature: While you are mounted and wielding a ranged weapon, you gain a +2 shield bonus to AC.

Optional Powers:

Cavalry Bowman Cuirassier Utility 2
Encounter ♦ Martial
No Action                                               Personal

Trigger: You perform a ranged attack while mounted.
Effect: The creature you are riding may move half its speed.

Back Kick Cuirassier Utility 6
Encounter Martial
Immediate Reaction                           Special

Requirement: You must be mounted.
Trigger: An enemy moves to a position where it flanks the creature you are riding.
Effect: You push the triggering enemy one square, and it falls prone.

The Art of Riding Cuirassier Utility 10
Daily ♦ Martial, Stance
Minor Action                                         Personal
Effect: You assume the Art of Riding stance. Until the stance ends, your mount cannot be targeted with blast or burst attacks.

Option 5: The Veteran Lancer [New Paragon Path]

Themes are usually more interesting for the heroic tier. The Veteran Lancer Paragon Path offers mounted combat options for higher levels. Since this is a 'Lancer' paragon path, you should use the Lances option in your game.

Prerequisites: You are a medium-sized creature or smaller.

Lance Expertise (11th level)
You are proficient with all weapons that have the Lance property. You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls that you make with a Lance weapon. Every time you mount a creature, you may sheathe the weapon you are holding and draw a lance as part of the mount action. Every time you dismount a creature, you may sheathe a lance you are holding and draw another weapon as part of that action.

Trusty Steed (11th level)
You gain a trusty steed as a large animal companion. The steed is an ally to you and your allies, and it serves as a mount to you and your allies. It is affected by powers like any other creature. Without a rider the steed only takes move or minor actions. If you die or your horse drops to 0 hit points, it disappears. At the end of every short or extended rest your steed regains all hit points. At the end of every extended rest your steed reappears with full hit points and freed from all conditions, if it disappeared before.

Trusty Steed
Large immortal beast (mount)
HP: your bloodied value
Initiative: equal to yours
Perception: equal to yours
Healing Surges: none, but you may spend a healing surge for the steed if an effect allows it to spend one, and it will regain hit points equal to your surge value.
Defenses: your defenses, not including any temporary bonuses or penalties
Speed 10
Traits
Swift Hoofs (mount)
The steed ignores difficult terrain.
Standard Actions
Kick (Basic Melee Attack) * At-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); your level + 5 vs. AC
Hit: 2d8 + your Strength modifier damage.

Knightly Charge (11th level)
You gain the Knightly Charge power.

Knightly Charge Veteran Lancer Encounter Attack 11
Encounter ♦ Primal, Weapon
Standard Action                                  Melee weapon
Requirements: You must be mounted.
Effect: Your steed moves up to his speed. You and your steed may move through squares occupied by an enemy without provoking attacks of opportunity. Every enemy you move through is knocked prone. You then make the following attack.
Attack: Strength vs AC
Hit: 3[W] + Strength modifier and the target is pushed 3 squares. If the target was mounted, he is immediately dismounted and knocked prone.

Elemental Steed (12th level)
You gain the Elemental Steed power.

Elemental Steed Veteran Lancer Utility 12
Daily ♦ Primal
Minor Action                                          Personal
Effect: Choose one of these energy types: fire, cold, lightning, thunder, acid or poison. Until the end of the encounter your steed gains resistance equal to your level against the chosen element. While riding your steed, you gain this resistance, too.

Freedom of Riding (16th level)
At the end of every extended rest you may choose one of the following benefits which lasts until your next extended rest:

  1. Your steed gains a fly speed of 10. While riding your steed, you have a +2 power bonus to saving throws.
  2. Your steed gains a teleport speed of 10. While riding your steed you may teleport with your steed and can no longer be dismounted via teleportation.
  3. Your steed gains a swim speed of 10 and the aquatic keyword. You and your steed can now breath under water.

Master Horseman (20th level)
You gain the Master Horseman power.

Master Horseman Veteran Lancer Daily Attack 20
Daily Primal, Weapon
Standard Action                                 Melee weapon
Requirements: You must be mounted, or your steed must not be present.
Effect: If your steed is not present, it reappears adjacent to you. After it reappears, you may mount your steed as a free action. If it is affected by the restrained, immobilized, or slowed conditions, these effects immediately end. You may then move up to your mount’s speed and make the following attack.
Attack: Strength vs AC
Hit: 5[W] + Strength modifier damage.
Miss: Half damage.

Afterword

Thank you for reading! If you think some of the options might be problematic, or you have discovered something interesting during your game sessions, I'd like to hear it.

Artwork by: Krath


Dungeons & Dragons and all associated names are Intelectual Property of Wizards of the Coast and protected by Copyright. These labels have been quoted exclusively as reference with no infringement on any associated rights intended and without implying endorsement by the copyright holder. Other contents of this articles are published [under the following license: without license].

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