Hello, and welcome to Mount Week. This week we’ll be taking a look at one of the most under-sung heroes of the fantasy genre: the trusty steed. Sure, it may not be glamorous being the one who has to lug around everyone’s tents, bedrolls, rations, loot, and other miscellaneous gear, let alone those giant oafs in their incredibly heavy full-plate, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
Naturally, today’s article will focus on characters who are at home in the saddle (or bareback, in some cases) and who form a close bond with their mounts. So, if you’ve ever wanted a trusty companion that could also serve as your primary means of transportation, read on.
Note: Feats marked with “APG” can be found in the Advanced Player’s Guide, and those marked with an asterisk (*) can be found in this article about feats relating to mounted combat.
New Druid Archetype:
The Wild Rider
Wild riders, like many druids, form close bonds with their animal companions. In the case of wild riders, though, the druid and animal companion ride into battle together, acting as one entity to bring down their foes, their movements in perfect tandem and harmony. Each learns to anticipate the other’s actions, and the two move in concert.
Nature Bond (Ex): The wild rider must select the animal companion version of her nature bond class feature, and cannot choose to gain a domain instead. Additionally, the wild rider’s animal companion counts as one size category larger than it actually is for the purposes of what size creatures it can carry (for example, a Medium-sized animal companion could carry a Medium-sized druid, etc.)
Animal Companionship (Ex): The wild rider gains a +2 bonus on Handle Animal and Ride checks. This ability replaces nature sense.
Bonus Feat: At 1st level, the wild rider gains Mounted Combat as a bonus feat. At 4th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, she gains an additional bonus feat, chosen from the following list: Armored Cavalry*, Beast Master*, Combat Platform*, Dragoon Skirmisher*, Equestrianism*, Joust*, Mounted Archery, Mounted Shield APG, Mounted Skirmisher APG, Parting Shot*, Ride-By Attack, Spirited Charge, Trample, Trick Riding APG, or Unseat.
This replaces the additional uses of the wild shape class feature gained at 8th, 12th, and 16th level, and delays when the wild rider gains access to some forms. The shapes normally available at 8th level instead become available at 10th level. Those normally available at 10th level are now available at 14th level. Finally, those forms normally available at 12th level are now available at 18th level. At 20th level, the druid is still able to use wild shape at will.
Nature’s Stride (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, the wild rider’s animal companion may move through any sort of natural undergrowth (such as natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain) at its normal speed and without taking damage or suffering any other impairment. Thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that have been magically manipulated to impede motion, however, still affect it. If the wild rider is riding her animal companion, she is also unaffected by any damage or impairment that the animal companion avoids. This replaces woodland stride, and essentially grants it to the wild rider’s animal companion, instead.
Smooth Ride (Ex): Beginning at 3rd level, the wild rider need not make concentration checks in order to cast spells while riding her animal companion. This affects only concentration checks made as a result of vigorous motion. If the wild rider is damaged, or something besides the movement of her animal companion would cause her to have to make a concentration check, she still has to. This ability replaces trackless step.
New Paladin Archetype:
Many paladins ride noble mounts, and some paladins are even devoted to fighting exclusively on horseback, such as the shining knights, but none of them bond as closely with their mounts as the chevaliers. These paladins manifest their divine power through their mounts, which gain magnificent power and outshine the mounts of other paladins. They also train heavily in mounted combat, becoming experts of that style of fighting.
Skilled Rider (Ex and Su): At 3rd level, a chevalier does not take any penalty to her Ride skill due to her armor check penalty. In addition, any mount she is riding gains the benefit of her divine grace class feature, adding her Charisma bonus (if any) to its saving throws. This ability replaces divine health.
Bonus Feat: At 3rd level, the chevalier gains Mounted Combat as a bonus feat. If she already has Mounted Combat, she chooses a feat from the list below, instead. At 6th level, and every 3 levels thereafter, she gains an additional bonus feat, chosen from the following list: Armored Cavalry*, Beast Master*, Combat Platform*, Dragoon Skirmisher*, Equestrianism*, Joust*, Mounted Archery, Mounted Shield APG, Mounted Skirmisher APG, Parting Shot*, Ride-By Attack, Spirited Charge, Trample, Trick Riding APG, or Unseat.
This replaces the paladin’s mercy class feature. The paladin is still treated as qualifying for the Extra Mercy feat, and can select that feat in order to gain mercies. She must still meet the minimum level requirement and any other prerequisites for any mercies she selects. This does not allow the paladin to select Extra Mercy if she somehow does not have the lay on hands class feature.
Divine Bond (Su): Upon reaching 5th level, a chevalier must form a bond with a mount. Additionally, the paladin’s mount gains some additional benefits.
At 7th level, the mount’s natural attacks, if any, overcome damage reduction as though they were magic and good.
At 9th level the paladin’s mount gains the advanced template, and at 13th level, the paladin’s mount gains a fly speed equal to its base land speed.
Finally, at 17th level, the mount gains a breath weapon, which it can use once per day. This breath weapon is in the form of a 30-foot cone which deals 1d8 points of damage per 2 paladin levels the paladin possesses (maximum 10d8) to all creatures within the cone’s range. A successful Reflex save (DC 10 + 1/2 the paladin’s class level + the mount’s Constitution modifier) halves this damage. When his mount gains this ability, the paladin must choose cold, electricity, or fire: half the damage dealt by the breath weapon is of that type, and the other half is untyped damage, in the same manner as the flame strike spell.
This ability otherwise functions as the paladin ability. This ability replaces the paladin’s spellcasting.