We're throwing a new wrinkle into the D&D Miniatures game with Desert of Desolation: rules for riding specific creatures. The D&D Minis game has had many mounted creatures in previous sets, but they've all been one piece with riders and mounts together. From the Halfling Outrider (which I'm sure inspired many war dog-riding halfling paladins) to my favorite, the Skeletal Courser (I just think it was really well done), mounted minis have been a staple in sets gone by.
But mounted minis provide their own challenges, too. From a production perspective, they're more difficult because they must be molded with more pieces than a typical mini and then assembled. When they are painted, the mount and the rider essentially amount to two separate figures, which quickly eats into the overall paint budget for a set. Even once we get them in a set, their utility in RPG games is limited, because sometimes you just want the mount or you want the rider to look just like your PC/NPC.
There was also a lot of call for a simple mini, like a horse, that could be used by RPGers. So we looked at what it would take to add a horse to a set. We investigated ways of making various steeds rideable, such as by leaving a space on which another mini might stand, but we couldn't figure out a way that didn't look corny. Instead, we decided to add creatures that could serve as mounts but not worry about placing riders directly on them. For the most part, there's enough room on the base for a Medium-sized creature to stand next to the mount, so you can still figure out who is on which horse.
For the skirmish game, however, we looked at how a horse or other mount might work. It would have been pretty easy to just stat it up like the warhorse from the Monster Manual and leave it at that, but having a horse that wasn't also a mount was unsatisfying. With some work, along with the input of others in R&D such as Mike Mearls, we put together the Mount rules to allow certain creatures to bear certain types of riders. Creatures designated as mounts have the Mount special ability, usually with a qualifier like "Humanoid Mount" or "Orc Mount." A creature of the appropriate type can ride that particular mount. We've put a space on the mount's stat card to place the rider -- in the skirmish game, the rider is taken off the board when it mounts up (if it didn't start the battle already mounted) and placed directly on the mount's card. A mount and rider together are referred to as a mounted creature.
The mounted creature (mount and rider) activate as one creature. It uses the mount's speed and acts much like any other creature -- it can move twice its speed, move and attack once, not move and make all its attacks, or charge. If it moves and attacks only once (including a charge), the player can use either the mount's attack or the rider's attack.
When attacking the mounted creature, the attacker can target either the mount or the rider. Area attacks affect both.
When making morale saves, the mount can use its own level or the rider's, but if it routs, it starts running toward the exit, carrying the rider with it. If the rider routs, it doesn't immediately run to the exit (the mount stays there), but it will run if it fails its rally check. The nuances to the morale checks will make these combinations interesting.
Some mounts gain a benefit when carrying riders, and others grant abilities to their riders, as noted on their stat cards. For example, the Rage Drake's Rage ability normally gains a +5 damage bonus when it is below half its starting hp total, but its Raging Mount ability also grants Rage to the rider (which is some sort of Orc). Similarly, the Nightmare's Smoke (Conceal 6, or Conceal 11 against nonadjacent enemies) is shared with its Humanoid rider.
The Mount rules are probably enough to digest this week. The full rules are printed on the booster insert and cover other important situations such as dismounting. Next week's preview will involve a poisonous turkey. (Wait, that can't be right… oh. Huh. Interesting.)
Editor's Note: Those of you waiting for more information on the All-Star polling need to be patient just a bit longer. Check back on Monday for an update. Assuming the creek doesn't overflow its banks, we'll have full details then, and the actual voting will start later in the week.
About the Author
Stephen Schubert is a Developer for RPG R&D and has been involved in many facets of the D&D product line. He's recently been Lead Developer for the upcoming Monster Manual V, Lead Designer on the Eberron adventure Eyes of the Lich Queen, and he's the Lead Developer for the D&D Miniatures Game.
Now we bring the return of the mystery silhouette. Shown below are all the figures that we'll feature in these previews. Can you guess their identities? Feel free to try!