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Rules for mounts in 5E and The Horse Breeds of Mystara, 5E conversion

by Sheldon Morris

5E Horse Rules

Movement

Most horses (and ponies, but I'll just be saying horses for brevity) have a walking speed that is not all that different from a characterís walking speed. When a character wants to go faster they take the dash action to move their speed again. Some exceptionally fast characters have additional ways to dash, moving even farther in a round.

Horses move in a similar fashion; they have their normal walking speed, and can also take the dash action to move up to their speed again. To give this some additional flavour we can call this a Trot. Horses have some addition methods of moving much faster than our characters.

A horse may take a bonus action to dash again after they have used their action to dash. This is called a Canter, and in total would equal movement up to 3 times its speed Ė movement equalling a distance up to their speed, plus an action to move their speed a second time, plus their bonus action to move their speed a third time.

Finally, a horse that has used their bonus action to dash, may use their reaction to Gallop. A Gallop is additional movement equal to 3 times their speed (essentially doubling what the horse can do at a Canter). Therefore, a horseís maximum movement can be up to 6 times their speed.

Pace | How to move | Total Move
Walk | Move distance up to your speed | 1 x speed
Trot | Use action to dash | 2 x speed
Canter | Use bonus action to dash | 3 x speed
Gallop | Use reaction to move 3x speed | 6 x speed

A horse is not able to move at these greater distances and faster speeds all day long. See the table below to see how long a horse can move at greater paces and when it needs to make Constitution saving throws. (This is based on the Forced March rules found on page 181 of the Playerís Handbook).

Pace DC | Add to the DC | After
Walk 10 | +1 for each hour past | 8 hours
Trot 10 | +1 for each 30 minutes past | 1 hour
Canter 15 | +1 for each 10 minutes past | 30 minutes
Gallop 15 | +1 for each minute past | 5 minutes

A horse can Walk for 8 hours, Trot for 1 hour, or even Gallop for 5 minutes. It can push on beyond that limit, at the risk of exhaustion.

For example, for each additional 10 minutes of Canter beyond 30 minutes, the horse moves at 3 times its speed, and must make a Constitution saving throw at the end of those 10 minutes. The DC is 15+1 for each 10 minutes past the first 30 minutes of Canter. On a failed saving throw, the horse suffers one level of exhaustion (see appendix A in the back on the Playerís Handbook).

 
Jumping

These rules are based on those found on page 182 of the Playerís Handbook.

Horses, being quadrupeds, use their Dexterity for jumps rather than strength. (This simply works better within 5E mechanics than the normal Strength-based mechanics used for PCs & NPCs. Without this change, elephants would become better jumpers than horses.)

When a horse makes a long jump or a high jump, their base distance or height uses their dexterity. A horse making a long jump clears a distance equal to their Dexterity score if it moves at least 10 feet immediately before the jump, otherwise it can leap only half that distance.

When a horse makes a high jump, it can leap into the air a number of feet equal to 3 + its Strength modifier if it moves at least 10 feet immediately before the jump. Otherwise, it jumps half that height. Whether a long jump or a high jump, each foot cleared on the jump costs a foot of movement.

The horse can make a Dexterity (Athletics) check [yes, that is correct] to attempt to jump farther or higher. Depending on the result, the horse may be able to add additional distance or height to its base amount.

DC | Long Jump | High Jump
10 | +3 feet | +1 foot
15 | +6 feet | +2 feet
20 | +10 feet | +3 feet

 
Carrying & Pulling

These rules are based on those found on page 176 of the Playerís Handbook.

As a Large creature, if a horse carries weight in excess of 10 times its Strength score, it is encumbered, which means its speed drops by 10 feet. (Medium characters can only carry weight up to 5 times their Strength score before they are encumbered.)

If it carries weight in excess of 20 times its Strength score, it is instead heavily encumbered, which means its speed drops by 20 feet and it has disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws that use Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution.

A horse may not carry weight that is in excess of 30 times its Strength score. When trying to pull a weight that is not on wheels, a horse can pull up to twice what is described above. If the weight is on wheels, such as on a cart or wagon, those numbers are multiplied by 5.

 
Qualities of a Horse

It is said that you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but if you're spending some good coin for one, I suggest you have a good look. Not every horse is a good as the other, even if the asking price is the same.

Each of Mystara's horses and ponies can be categorized in one of 5 different quality ratings; Nag, Poor, Common, Superior, and Superb. Every breed has individuals in each category. Most honest horse traders price their beasts at the appropriate level, but not all are honest.

The quality of the horse determines which set of ability scores it has, what it's base speed is, hit dice, etc.

 
Horses and Lycanthropes

Horses (and some other animals) have a natural fear of lycanthropes and usually react in fear upon smelling the scent of one. If a lycanthrope moves within a 60 foot radius of a horse, the were-creature must make a Charisma (Persuasion) check. If a lycanthrope moves within 30 ft. of the horse, the check may have to be made again, and may even be with disadvantage. The DC for the check equals the animal's passive Wisdom (Perception) score.

If the lycanthrope's check succeeds, the horse does not react negatively. Depending on how successful, or not, the check was, the lycanthrope may have to make another check if it moves within 30 feet of the horse. This check may be Charisma (Persuasion) or Wisdom (Animal Handling), as chosen by the lycanthrope. If the lycanthrope's check fails, the horse reacts poorly to its presence. A handler (if available) may attempt to calm the horse. Consult the following chart:

Check result | Immediate Animal Reaction | If move within 30' | Handler's Intervention
Failure by more than 5 | attacks or flees | no check; animal attacks or flees | DC 20 WIS (Animal Handing) check calms horse to nervous
Failure by 5 or less | aggressive or nervous | CHA (Persuasion) or WIS (Animal Handling) check, at disadvantage; fail - horse attacks or flees | DC 15 WIS (Animal Handing) check calms horse to cautious
Successful | unsure and cautious | CHA (Persuasion) or WIS (Animal Handling) check, at disadvantage | DC 10 WIS (Animal Handing) check calms horse
Successful by 5 or more | no reaction | CHA (Persuasion) or WIS (Animal Handling) check | none required
Successful by 10 or more | no reaction | no further checks required | none required

Tools - Rider's Kit

The Riderís Kit is based on the Tools section of the Playerís Handbook (page 154) and inspired by the additional Tool Proficiencies section of Xanatharís Guide to Everything (page 78).

Rider's Kit
A person who is proficient with a rider's kit feels naturally comfortable in the saddle, and the creature beneath.
Components. A typical rider's kit includes a bit and bridle, a riding saddle and blanket, saddlebags, and a hoof pick.
Acrobatics. Maintaining excellent balance and being able to move in harmony with your mount can also provide advantage whenever it attempts a long jump or high jump.
Animal Handling. Your expertise and natural affinity with animals causes your mount to place exceptional trust in your guidance while you are in the saddle.
Intimidation. Your effortless control and use of threatening postures creates a presence of power around you and your stead.
Up in the Saddle. Mounting a saddled creature requires only 10 feet of movement instead of movement equal to half your speed.

If a character is proficient with the Riderís Kit and is also proficient with any of the skills listed above (Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Intimidation), and the use of the Riderís Kit and skill both apply to a check, that check may be made with advantage.

More to come? On the rules side, certainly. I want to post the rules on training a horse to be a war horse and the changes it makes to the horse. Possibly some other optional ideas as well. Plus, these may not be 'finalized' if they can be improved upon.

But more importantly will be the up coming Horse Breeds of Mystara to follow, updated for 5E (see the 3.5E versions here).

[Edit: I actually just posted the first one, the Akhal-Teke of the Ethengars. The headings contain the name in larger text, followed by the type (light, medium, heavy, pony) and then in brackets, the real world horse it is based upon. Keep in mind that these are merely based on real horses, but are freely re-envisioned for a made-up fantasy world. I suggest that the real world horses are used mainly for finding pictures and other flavour as desired.]

Akhal-Teke Light Horse
Alasiyan Light Horse
Antalian Cob Light Horse
Arapaloosa Light Horse
"Painted" Light Horse
Cayuse Medium Horse
Elstrick Medium Horse
Guadalante Medium Horse
Kerendan Medium Horse
Ythronner Medium Horse
Bombfar Heavy Horse
Kaltstein Heavy Horse
Percherval Heavy Horse
Rahedan Heavy Horse
Randellyn Bay Heavy Horse
Stregger Heavy Horse
Tilsdale Heavy Horse
Cabalsaw Pony
Cruth Mountain Pony
Krugel Pony
Ostlandic Pony

Since I'm currently working on the uncommon lycanthropes for my Rules Cyclopedia monster conversions, the notion of animal reactions came up in my mind (inspired by the RC entry and especially PC4 Night Howlers). Instead of creating rules embedded in the monster stat block itself, I thought it would be good to insert them here. These rules have been included in the first post as well but I'm posting them here as a new post so people might actually notice them.

They are a touch more complex than they need to be but I believe the roleplaying potential with this approach can be worth it.

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Horses and Lycanthropes

Horses (and some other animals) have a natural fear of lycanthropes and usually react in fear upon smelling the scent of one. If a lycanthrope moves within a 60 foot radius of a horse, the were-creature must make a Charisma (Persuasion) check. If a lycanthrope moves within 30 ft. of the horse, the check may have to be made again, and may even be with disadvantage. The DC for the check equals the animal's passive Wisdom (Perception) score.

If the lycanthrope's check succeeds, the horse does not react negatively. Depending on how successful, or not, the check was, the lycanthrope may have to make another check if it moves within 30 feet of the horse. This check may be Charisma (Persuasion) or Wisdom (Animal Handling), as chosen by the lycanthrope. If the lycanthrope's check fails, the horse reacts poorly to its presence. A handler (if available) may attempt to calm the horse. Consult the following chart:

Check result|Immediate Animal Reaction|If move within 30'|Handler's Intervention Failure by more than 5|attacks or flees|no check; animal attacks or flees|DC 20 WIS (Animal Handing) check calms horse to nervous Failure by 5 or less|aggressive or nervous|CHA (Persuasion) or WIS (Animal Handling) check, at disadvantage; fail - horse attacks or flees|DC 15 WIS (Animal Handing) check calms horse to cautious Successful|unsure and cautious|CHA (Persuasion) or WIS (Animal Handling) check, at disadvantage|DC 10 WIS (Animal Handing) check calms horse Successful by 5 or more|no reaction|CHA (Persuasion) or WIS (Animal Handling) check|none required Successful by 10 or more|no reaction|no further checks required|none required