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    Firbolg in the Playground
    Darrin's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Cleveland, OH

    Default Easy Rider - Using Magic Items as Mounts

    I've been obsessing over using magic items as mounts lately, so I thought I'd put together something of a mini-guide. Here's my thoughts on the various magic items available. However, I've never actually played with mounts all that much, so I'd be infinitely grateful if you could add your own comments/observations/criticisms.

    Most of this was inspired by Person_Man's Knight Handbook, which didn't actually talk about mounts all that much, but got me thinking about, "Well, if you had to take Mounted Combat, what would be a decent ride? And if you weren't satisfied with decent, what would be a really bitchin' ride?"

    Another inspiration was Kobold_Love's thread looking for an exotic kobold mount, which got me thinking about the rules for mounts, which I still haven't quite wrapped my head around. But Skip William's Rules of the Game: All About Mounts was considerably helpful:

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4
    Part 5

    So, looking for something impressive to ride into battle, and considering a magic item?


    * Fixed cost - no arguing with the DM over the cost of finding a creature and training it.
    * No upkeep - no need to worry about feed, maintenance, or boarding, and no stables to muck out.
    * Healing - most creatures reappear fully healed
    * Portability - magic items can be carried through narrow passages and into confined spaces where bringing a normal mount could be difficult
    * Obedience - most creatures are more intelligent than normal animals and can understand verbal/mental commands. You can order them what to do without worrying about Handle Animal or Ridge checks to control them.


    * Duration - many magic items are limited to a number of uses per day, per week, or per month. Some may not be able to stick around longer than one encounter.
    * Cost - Buying and training mounts, even exotic or magical creatures, is probably going to be cheaper than buying magic items.
    * Vulnerable to dispel magic, AMFs, and of course disjunction.
    * No advancement - Animal companions, special mounts, and familiars get better as you level up. Creatures summoned via magic items don't get any better.
    * Destroyable - in some cases, if some summoned creature is slain, the magic item that summoned it is destroyed as well. Replacing a magic item is often much costlier than buying/training a replacement mount.

    By Your Command: Controlling Your Mount

    More detailed (but not necessarily interesting) discussion on some of the discrepancies of controlling or ordering creatures summoned via magic items:

    Most ordinary mounts are animals with an Intelligence score of 1 or 2. These types of creatures generally require training, Handle Animal checks, and Ride checks to control them in battle. If a mount has been trained for combat, then all you need is a DC 10 Ride check as a free action to get them to do what you want them to do.

    Magic items that summon or transform into creatures are usually more intelligent than ordinary animals, or at the very least can understand simple commands given to them. As per the DMG, a creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or more are treated more like NPCs than beasts of burden, and thus to get them to agree to serve as a mount involves a Diplomacy check or something similar. Magic items, however, have already agreed to serve you or obey your commands, and thus no check is necessary. So for most magic items, notably all the Figurines of Wondrous Power (FoWP) which understand Common, you don't need to use Handle Animal or Ride checks to tell them what to do during combat.

    There are some exceptions, however. This is important because if a creature with an Intelligence of 1 or 2 hasn't been trained to be ridden in combat, the rider must spend a move action and make a DC 20 Ride check to control the unruly mount in battle. You also may be limited in what tricks you can order them to do, and if an animal hasn't been taught a trick (magic items generally don't provide "trained" creatures), you may have to spend a full-round action to "push" them to do something they don't want to do.

    For example, the Bag of Tricks is problematic because it doesn't specify if the animals summoned are any smarter than ordinary animals, have any specific training, or can understand any particular language. It does state they know all of the tricks described in the Handle Animal skill, which implies an Intelligence score greater than 2 (otherwise they'd be limited to 6 tricks). Only the heavy warhorse is identified as accepting a rider, but it doesn't explicitly forbid the other animals from serving as mounts. Thus, it can probably be assumed that the animals from a Bag of Tricks have an Int higher than 2, but except for the heavy warhorse, would need to be treated as unruly mounts in battle, requiring a move action and a DC 20 Ride check to control it.

    The Amber Amulet of Vermin has a more troubling problem. The MIC specifies that it obeys your commands as if summoned by Summon Nature's Ally spell. However, unlike Summon Monster, which assigns a fiendish or celestial template to every animal (minimum Intelligence of 3), Summon Nature's Ally doesn't impart any increase of Intelligence, nor does it grant the animal any ability to understand language (as a Druid/Ranger only spell, the designers most likely assume Wild Empathy would be used to convey commands). Beyond that, Summon Nature's Ally can't even summon vermin, which are mindless and even if you could communicate with them they wouldn't care anyway. It looks like the MIC goofed up here, and should have mentioned Summon Monster instead. Regardless, the magic item description says you can give the vermin commands and they respond, implying some type of Intelligence score, most likely 3.

    The Dragonfly Medallion has a similar problem, but it explicitly lists the creature does not have an Intelligence score. Again, we must assume that since the item description states that the owner can give it mental commands that it understands, it must have the equivalent of an Intelligence over 2 and does not require a move action or DC 20 Ride check to use it as a mount.

    The Horseless Saddle and Summoner's Bridle use the Mount or Phantom Steed spells to create mounts rather than Summon Monster or Summon Nature's Ally. Unfortunately, neither Mount nor Phantom Steed mention anything specific about whether the horses they summon are trained for combat, so we have to assume they aren't. They can be controlled as an unruly mount with a move action and a DC 20 Ride check.

    The Paper of Forms creates real animals with "all the normal properties of the item created". This means they would have normal animal intelligence. However, since the duration is indefinite, you can actually train these animals just like any other normal animal.

    Magic Items:

    Amber Amulet of Vermin (MIC p. 68, 500-1200 GP). These amulets probably shouldn't count as mounts because the duration is so short (1 minute), but I thought I'd mention it because they're so darned cheap. If you had a stockpile of half a dozen or so, you could switch them out every encounter without breaking the bank. Also, the Giant Wasp amulet (800 GP) is an extremely cheap method of getting 10 rounds of flight once per day. Very affordable at early levels, and you never know when 10 rounds of flight could come in handy.

    Bag of Tricks (DMG p. 248). While the duration is nothing to shout about, 10 minutes is more than long enough to last an entire encounter, and with up to 10 animals per week, you could get a lot of use out of this item. The biggest drawback is you never know which animal you'll get, although with the Rust bag you'll always know it's a medium-sized animal (suitable for a small rider), and a large animal with the Tan bag (suitable for a medium rider). While only the heavy warhorse specifies that it will take a rider, there's nothing in the description that explicitly forbids the other animals being ridden as mounts. To do so, you will have to spend a move action and make a Ride DC 20 check to control the mount in battle (except for the warhorse).

    Chylnoth's Coronet (Lost Empires of Faerun p. 155, 100000 GP). This is kind of an overpriced oddball. For the same price, you could get a Ring of Freedom of Movement and a Helm of Underwater Action that would last all the time, rather than just one hour. As far as the Sea Cat figurine, the combat stats aren't worth the price tag. For a little less money you could get two Coral Zeuglodons (see Frostfell FoWPs below).

    Dragonfly Medallion (A&EG p. 131, 29760 GP). If you're looking for a flying mount, then an Amber Amulet of Vermin or another figurine would be a lot cheaper. Even more worrisome, if you do risk activating the large dragonfly and it gets killed (not so tough to do with only 16 HP), the medallion is destroyed. However, something else you may want to note is that although it says you can transform the medallion into a large dragonfly once per day, there is no duration listed, so you could conceivably keep using it all day, which might be pretty handy for non-combat travel purposes. This is still pretty overpriced for a fairly fragile mount, but if you're just looking to pick up the Improved Initiative feat, then maybe it's worth the price.

    Figurines of Wondrous Power (FoWP), DMG:

    Bronze Griffin (DMG p. 256, 10000 GP). A favorite flying mount, good melee stats, and a decent fly speed. Uses per week and duration could be better, but 6 hours should be good for several encounters.

    Ebony Fly (DMG p. 256, 10000 GP). Great fly speed and much better duration (excellent!) but then the description says it can't attack (bogus!). So unless you're doing the ranged sniper thing, this one may only be useful for traveling.

    Golden Lions (DMG p. 256, 16500 GP). What more could you want in a melee scrapper: pounce, rake, and improved grab (grappled targets lose their Dex bonus, ideal for setting up sneak attack). Check with your DM if both lions are activated at the same time, or if they can be activated separately. If the latter, you can actually get two uses per day. One hour may seem short, but if used wisely, you could get 2-4 encounters per day out of this pair.

    Ivory Goats (DMG p. 256, 21000 GP). You get one goat for traveling, one goat for fighting, and one goat for those "I'm a Big Bad Evil Guy That Still Wants to Look Stylish and Dangerous While Riding a Goat" moments. While the various usage durations look inconvenient, the Goat of Travail makes up for this just on pure awesomeness. Even if usable just once a month, you get decent combat stats, flaming hooves, great fly speed, cone of smoke debuff, and oh, what's this... Astral Projection and Etherealness AT WILL, caster level 20.

    Marble Elephant (DMG p. 256, 17000 GP). AKA Figurine of Wondrous Trampling or Mr. Pancake. This huge melee bruiser has some of the highest trample damage in the game, reach, and great duration. It lasts the entire day, four days out of every month.

    Obsidian Steed (DMG p. 257, 28500 GP). The only thing this steed offers that isn't available in another figurine is plane shift, but if you need that then there are better ways to get it. Even without the lower planes screwjob for good riders, if you're looking for a flying mount you're better off with one of the other figurines.

    Onyx Dog (DMG p. 257, 15500 GP). I'm having a hard time seeing how this item would be much of an improvement over just buying a riding dog. At the level this item becomes affordable for a small-sized rider, it's just too darned fragile to be much good. If you need a mount with darkvision or see invisibility, you might want to invest your money in something with more than 13 hit points.

    Serpentine Owl (DMG p. 257, 9100 GP). The big knock against this one is the giant owl can only be used three times and then the whole thing is useless. However, just looking at the tiny-sized owl, it's got Listen +14, Move Silently +17, Spot +6, and it can communicate everything it sees and hears telepathically. This makes it one heck of a scout or spy. Without something to increase it's size, however, not much of a mount.

    Silver Raven (DMG p. 257, 3800 GP). Great messenger, but very lousy mount.

    Figurines of Wondrous Power, non-DMG:

    Beastly Boar (WotC Website: Fey Feature, 10000 GP). The Dire Boar can't fly, pounce, rake, or trample like some of the other fancier figurines, but for just simple blunt-force trauma it gets the job done. As a fiendish creature, it picks up DR 5/magic and SR 12, but for the same price, the Bronze Griffin is about almost the same toughness, gets pounce/rake, and can fly.

    Blue Quartz Eagle (Races of Faerun p. 173, 5400 GP). At first glance, this looks similar to the serpentine owl without the giant option, but there are many important differences. The eagle is an ideal scout, with an amazing +19 spot check, but unlike the owl can only passively send visual information, and only if the owner spends a standard action to concentrate. Another difference is it is small-sized rather than tiny, and so could accept a tiny-sized rider (a familiar, perhaps?) or possibly a kobold (see if the DM will allow their Slight Build ability to treat them as a tiny rider). It can be used up to 24 hours per tenday, but the duration need not be continuous, so you can switch into and back out of statuette form whenever you need it.

    Bone Ape (Ghostwalk p. 71, 10000 GP). This figurine is notable because it offers a couple things you don't normally see on a mount: a climb speed, and opposable thumbs. It can manipulate objects, throw things (including alchemical items or grenade-like weapons), and possibly attack with a melee weapon (most likely with a non-proficiency penalty).

    Coral Dolphin (Races of Faerun p. 173, 10000 GP). There are no stats for a "dolphin", but if you use the porpoise stats from the MM, this might be a workable aquatic mount for a small-sized character. It certainly has the best swim speed of all the figurines, but is a little too fragile for combat. It also has blindsight out to 120', and oddly enough by RAW it should work on dry land, which means you could use this figurine as a guard or watch-dolphin. Unfortunately, usage is only 4 hours, twice per tenday.

    Dark Beauty (WotC Website: Fey Feature, 25000 GP). So, here we have a fiendish flying unicorn that casts cure spells... interesting. According to the Winged template in Savage Species, the fly speed should be 80' with perfect maneuverability (Dex 17). It picks up DR 5/magic and SR 9 from the Fiendish template. It's not the fastest flying figurine, but none of the other figurines have perfect maneuverability. Its combat abilities puts it somewhere between a hippogriff and a griffon, but the various immunities and spell-like abilities make for some interesting gravy.

    Gold Beetle (Sandstorm p. 133, 11500 GP). The giant stag beetle has decent combat stats, but what makes this figurine the gold standard for mounts is the duration. It an be used up to 24 hours a week, but the "duration need not be continuous". 24 hours is the same as 14400 rounds, so if you only ride your mount while in combat, you have almost the equivalent of unlimited usage. You also never need to worry about wasting uses per week by switching back and forth from beetle to statuette form. It's intelligent and understands Common and Terran, so no need to worry about training or Handle Animal checks. Unfortunately, it's the slowest of the figurines (20' speed), so there's a good chance its rider can outpace it. As a consolation, it may be slow, but you can trample things with it.

    Ivory Camel (Sandstorm p. 133, 8500 GP). While the Ivory Camel doesn't have the combat prowess of the Gold Beetle, it has many of the same advantages, including the "duration need not be continuous" and intelligence/speech. It's also a lot faster than the beetle (50' speed), and is one of the most affordable figurines. If you're looking for something with stats similar to a horse that you can use on a round-by-round basis, then the Ivory Camel might work just fine.

    Jasper Spider (Underdark p. 74, 5000 GP). Good for climbing (20' climb speed), but can't attack. Although it's not clear what its intelligence would be (vermin are mindless but all figurines can understand Common), the description does say it can be ridden. A forgiving DM may allow you to use its web ability in combat (it attacks as a net, but does no damage). Sheets of webbing may have non-combat uses, although there's no mention of how long these sheets take to make. Tremorsense is also nice, but without any speech capabilities, it's not clear how it would tell you where it detected something. Duration (up to 12 hours, then wait 24 hours) is one of the best of the figurines, and the price is hard to beat.

    Jet Serpent (Ghostwalk p. 71, 12000 GP). If you could only figure out how to get a saddle on this thing...

    Limestone Crab (WotC Website: Far Corners, 10000 GP). AKA Figurine of Wondrous TPK. Yes, *that* damn crab. If your DM has ever wiped out a party with one of these things, well, now you can serve up a little payback. At first glance this has the same HD as the giant stag beetle, but improved grab and powerful claws turn this into a killing machine. It's faster than the beetle, too: 40' land speed and 30' swim speed. If only it lasted longer than 6 hours, twice a week!

    Pearl Octopus (Ghostwalk p. 71, 5000 GP). If you ever find yourself in a situation where this small octopus would be a useful mount, you've probably got more problems than the octopus can really help with. Still, not a bad price, but if you're looking to summon something under water, I'd start saving up for that Coral Zeuglodon.

    Pearlsteel Turtle (Stormwrack p. 131, 10000 GP). If you need something that swims, the Coral Zeuglodon will eat this turtle for breakfast. However, you can't beat the price for a huge magical beast, and although it can't be ordered to attack, it will "defend itself if threatened", so you might be able to order it into a position where it gets threatened a lot. If you're just looking for transport, then a Folding Boat is cheaper and can be used more often.

    Sardonyx Stone Flyer (Underdark p. 74, 16500 GP). This figurine offers another flyer that can't attack, but with one dungeon-wrecking difference: it can fly through solid stone. Not only does it have earthglide, but it grants earthglide to its rider. You only get an hour a day, but that should be long enough to completely map out an entire dungeon complex or medium-sized castle, wall-by-wall and room-by-room. Never miss a secret passage, and never get surprised by a pit trap again. Like the jasper spider, it has tremorsense 60', but it can also speak Terran, and thus could presumably warn you of anything it detects.

    Frostfell Figurines of Wondrous Power, Frostburn:

    Basalt Glyptodon (Frostburn p. 109, 32000 GP). Hmm... for about the same price, you can get two Marble Elephants, which are bigger, have more HP, do better damage, can be used more often, and are much better tramplers. I'd stick with the elephants. The burrow speed is really slow but might have possibilities if it leaves a tunnel behind, but the description doesn't say so, thus by RAW we have to assume it doesn't.

    Coral Zeuglodon (Frostburn p. 110, 42000 GP). The aquatic-based figurines are considerably more limited to aquatic environments... but if you're looking to summon something underwater, it's hard to imagine you'd want anything other than a Zeuglodon. Massive HP, massive damage, and oh, by the way, if it hits you, make a DC 31 Fort save or you're slowed for 2d4 rounds. While most of the Frostfell figurines tend to be overpriced, I think this one is worth it. Even better, when it returns to figurine form, it automatically reappears back in your hand, so even if something does manage to kill it, you don't have to waste time trying to find it and pick it up.

    Diamond Ice Toad (Frostburn p. 110, 33000 GP). While I have nothing against the Ice Toad, it has some problems as a mount. It's not any faster than a human, and some of its abilities would be hard to use. For example, the Sphere of Cold could damage the rider, and it's Swallow Whole ability only works on small-sized creatures or smaller. On top of that, at this price, you could afford two or three non-Frostfell figurines.

    Iron Megaloceros (Frostburn p. 110, 27000 GP). I really like the idea of a prehistoric moose made entirely out of iron with DR 5/adamantine and construct immunities, but at this price I want something more. The Golden Lions, Ivory Goats, or Marble Elephant still look like a better deal.

    Malachite Smilodon (Frostburn p. 110, 36000 GP). Better combat stats than the Golden Lions, but for a similar price you could get four of the lions. The "wait one full week" restriction if the smilodon gets killed is also annoying. While the uber-augmented critical is very nice, I'd probably look for something cheaper.

    Horn of Dragons (Draconomicon p. 121, 75000 GP). Very expensive, and can only be used once a month for one hour... but... HOLY GYGAX, a friggin' adult dragon! That's about 20 HD of pure whoopass between your legs. Even if you managed to find a mount with better stats, the dragon still wins just on coolness.

    Horseless Saddle (A&EG p. 79, 43200 GP). This looks like the high-end luxury model of the Summoner's Bridle (see below), which you may want to pick up instead for the faster speed and lower price tag. The biggest advantage this has over the Summoner's Bridle is you can keep reactivating it over and over again (so long as the phantom steed doesn't get killed), so you don't have to worry about wasting uses per day, squeezing it down narrow passages, or risking it as a trapfinder. Still, if you're going to spend that kind of money on a mount, you might want to buy something that can attack.

    Idol of the Dragon (Draconomicon p. 121, 15000 GP to 142000 GP). These are difficult to evaluate because the cheaper ones are too small to use as mounts, and the larger ones are too expensive. Another important difference with figurines of wondrous power is if the dragon is killed, the item is destroyed rather than reverting back to a statuette. If you're a small-sized rider looking for a dragon mount, the Copper or Green idol might be worth it. If you're a medium-sized rider, then a Blue idol might work, although at that price you may want to look at the Horn of Dragons for a large/huge adult dragon instead.

    Paper of Forms (Oriental Adventures p. 141, 10000 GP). Who would pay 10000 GP for just a large-sized animal, you ask? Well, take a look at the stats for a Legendary Tiger (MM2, 26HD!). If your DM isn't insane enough to allow Legendary Animals, then see if Dire Animals will work. The Dire Tiger is still the best of the bunch, but if you're looking for a flier then try the Dire Vulture in Sandstorm. If he'll allow dinosaurs, then consider the Cave Tyrannosaurus (Miniatures Handbook), Diprotodon (Sandstorm), or Bloodstriker (MM3, but requires an exotic saddle). If core-only, a Megaraptor is a large animal (check the MM errata). If he insists only on normal non-legendary/non-dire/non-dino animals, consider a Smilodon (Frostburn) or Fhorge (Fiend Folio). If you're stuck with core-only ordinary real-world animals, then a Polar Bear or Rhinoceros might be best. Unlike most figurines, the animal created doesn't understand common and has normal animal intelligence, so you'll need to make a DC 20 Ride check to control it in combat, but unlike figurine creatures it can be trained like any other normal animal. You can also add the Warbeast template (MM2) if you can spend a year training it. One major drawback is the vulnerability to fire, although you can fix that by permanently adding the Fire subtype to your animal with a scroll of Mantle of the Fiery Spirit (Sandstorm, 8000 GP). That makes it vulnerable to cold damage, but you can fix that with a scroll of Mantle of the Icy Soul (Frostburn, 1650 GP). If you're having trouble with the DC 20 Craft: Origami check, then pick up a potion of Guidance of the Avatar (WotC Website: Spell Archive, 300 GP) for a +20 competence bonus to your skill check.

    Pegasus Helm of Kloeth Ironstar (PGtF p. 124, 20160 GP). Summon a celestial pegasus twice a day for 3 hours, and it's already trained to serve as a mount. While not as tough as the Bronze Griffon, it's a faster flyer (120' fly speed) and can be used more often.

    Stone of Controlling Earth Elementals (DMG p. 267, 100000 GP). As scary as riding around on a huge earth elemental could be, if you can actually afford this item, then you can probably afford to be riding something even scarier than an earth elemental. (The Horn of Dragons is tempting, but then again the Earth Elemental can be summoned at will.)

    Stone Horse (DMG p. 267, 10000 GP or 14800 GP). Regardless of whether you go with the courser or destrier, you're spending an awful lot of money on something with the same stats as an ordinary horse (other than the hardness 10) but which is considerably more expensive to heal. Don't waste your money on either version.

    Summoner's Bridle (A&EG p. 51, 2160 GP or 12960 GP). One of the cheapest ways to get a reliable mount you can use every day, up to 12 hours. Great bargain for low-level characters just looking to save a little time traveling between cities. The phantom steed version gets really, really fast (speed 240'), and although it won't attack, you could still ride it into battle by spending a move action and making a DC 20 Ride check.

    Wand of Mount (PHB/DMG, 750 GP). Not terribly fancy but cheap. The main advantage over wands or scrolls of Summon Monster I or Summon Nature's Ally is the duration is 2 hours. That time can be spent turning your mount into a trapfinder, food taster, block a corridor, break line-of-sight, create a "wall of horses", sell/trade to disreputable merchants, or whatever you can think of.

    Magic Items for your Mount:

    Pearl of Speech (MIC p. 118, 600 GP). Ok, this one's probably not legal for animals/creatures that normally aren't capable of speech, but it might be worth a try. Need your mount to be able to activate command words, such as the Talisman of the Disk mentioned below? Try slipping this pearl under their tongue.

    Shrink Collar (A&EG p. 80, 10000 GP). If you have a figurine with a limited number of uses per week, then you probably don't want to waste those uses trying to squeeze your mount through narrow corridors or confined spaces. Just slap this collar on and you can shrink your mount down to a much more managable size. Since most figurines are intelligent or can understand common, then you don't need to worry about them panicking over the size change. Even odder, you could use this on tiny-sized or smaller creatures (I'm looking at you, Mr. Silver Raven) to bring their size up to small, maybe allowing your tiny-sized familiar to use them as a mount.

    Talisman of the Disk (MIC p. 188). This requires a mount that can speak the command word or activate magic items. Once activated, you can use it as a "floating sidecar" to move alongside your mount and get a full-round attack even when it moves more than 5'. This also comes in handy if you've got a creature with a sizing problem which doesn't allow you to ride it, such as the Silver Raven. Be careful with flying creatures, however... if it flies more than 3' above the surface, the disk will disappear.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Edmonton, Canada

    Default Re: Easy Rider - Using Magic Items as Mounts

    Excellent guide, thanks!
    "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." Kurt Vonnegut

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground

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    Nov 2008
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    Default Re: Easy Rider - Using Magic Items as Mounts

    You might also check out the item creation rules.
    Think something like;
    Command-Activated Item of SNA6
    Granted, it's pricy at 140k, but you get at-will Megaraptor or Direbear, nothing to sneeze at.
    If you can, grabbing a level of Druid and getting Greenbound Summoning would net you alot of increase in power for the mount too.

  4. - Top - End - #4

    Default Re: Easy Rider - Using Magic Items as Mounts

    Last edited by Pharaoh's Fist; 2009-08-03 at 12:31 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ettin in the Playground
    Doc Roc's Avatar

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    Oct 2008

    Default Re: Easy Rider - Using Magic Items as Mounts


    This is my favorite mount other than a nightmare or giant eagle.
    Lagren: I took Livers Need Not Apply, only reflavoured.
    DocRoc: to?
    Lagren: So whenever Harry wisecracks, he regains HP.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
    John Campbell's Avatar

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    Jul 2007

    Default Re: Easy Rider - Using Magic Items as Mounts

    You missed a fun one - understandably, because, while they're magic items created by item crafting, they're not listed in the DMG's magic item section, but in the Monster Manual. My high-level runesmith made himself one to ride.

    Golem. Stone or iron or something more exotic. They're fairly tough (very tough, for some of the more exotic types), easy to heal without even hassling the cleric over it, and, for the win, immune to most magic.
    Play your character, not your alignment.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Darrin's Avatar

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    Oct 2006
    Cleveland, OH

    Default Re: Easy Rider - Using Magic Items as Mounts

    Quote Originally Posted by John Campbell View Post
    You missed a fun one - understandably, because, while they're magic items created by item crafting, they're not listed in the DMG's magic item section, but in the Monster Manual. My high-level runesmith made himself one to ride.

    Golem. Stone or iron or something more exotic. They're fairly tough (very tough, for some of the more exotic types), easy to heal without even hassling the cleric over it, and, for the win, immune to most magic.
    I'm a little puzzled about what kind of action is required to direct/command a golem. It's mindless, so Handle Animal and Ride checks are useless. If it had intelligence, then Diplomacy might enter into it, but as a magic item that obeys your commands it wouldn't get a chance for an opposed check. Normally, it takes a move action to direct a spell (which is also generally mindless), but I can't find anything in any of the golem descriptions that suggests a move action is required. Speaking is usually a free action, so I would assume telling a golem what to do would also be a free action.

    Anyway, here's my take on golems as mounts:

    Alchemical Golem (MM3 p. 66, 70000 GP). If there was a list of "What would make a good mount?" a large, leaky bag of acid would be very near the bottom of that list. A mount that is guaranteed to go berserk and try to kill you at some point would be even below that.

    Blood Golem of Hextor (Fiend Folio p. 84, 104780 GP). A good rule of thumb: avoid owning things that bleed all over your nice new carpet and that need to SUCK YOUR BLOOD or they'll die.

    Blood Golem (WotC Website: Portal of Blood, 80000 GP). This is a much better Blood Golem than that silly Hextor thing, although with 3.0 stats you may have to tweak its HP and DR a bit. It features 1d2 Con damage on its slam attack, Blindsight 60', a limited alternate form ability, and telepathic communication with its creator.

    Brass Golem (MM2 p. 117, 366180 GP). The +3 wounding greataxe may put this one a little ahead of an iron golem, but at this price you could buy four stone golems or two greater stone golems. The tracking/scent abilities might be handy, and the maze ability is a nice save-or-lose. But it would probably be a lot cheaper to just buy an iron golem and give him a +3 wounding greataxe.

    Brass Steed (Heroes of Battle p. 153, 19000 GP). There's a lot to love here... 8HD, good AC, immunity to magic, and laser-beam heat-ray eyes. There are also some quirks, such as acid damage slows it, and fog spells entangle it (WTF?). The entangling thing is easy enough to get rid of via fire damage, which like an iron golem also heals it. Even better, excess heat damage can be converted into temporary HP, and there doesn't seem to be any cap or duration on those, which means you might as well just park this thing in your campfire every night for nigh-infinite HP. I also don't see anything that would prevent this thing from using its laser-beam heat-ray eyes on itself. And all of this potential abuse for about the same price as a Figurine of Wondrous Power.

    Brain Golem (Fiend Folio p. 85, 109000 GP). Not quite as silly as the Blood Golem, but another specimen from the deep end of the WTF pool. All that brains, and it's not even smarter than a Shambling Mound? As a mount, this would only be useful for making yourself a target of ridicule or making other players uncomfortable.

    Bronze Serpent (MM2 p. 40, 398500 GP). How can this thing have 16HD but only 88 hit points? Obviously, this thing isn't as tough as a greater stone golem, but on the other hand, it does have much better movement, including 30' burrow speed and 20' climb speed. But it doesn't have any golem-like immunity to magic, so your money is probably better spent on a greater stone golem, drakestone golem, or ironwyrm golem.

    Clay Golem (MM p. 134, 40000 GP). As a general rule, never ride a mount that will eventually go berserk and try to kill you.

    Clockwork Steed (MM4 p. 32, 2150 GP). For a 6HD construct, the Clockwork Steed is an amazing bargain. It has stats similar to an Equine Golem (sadly no immunity to magic), but can be upgraded even further for a tiny fraction of the cost of a golem (including DR 5/magic or adamantine). Although the Trample feat isn't as good as the Trample ability, all of the upgrades are worth getting. Another nice perk is the +13 Jump skill, which not even normal horses get.

    Coral Golem (Stormwrack p. 150, 124000 GP). This is an unusual golem that has unlimited ranged attacks, but for some reason no immunity to magic. While the coral stars don't pack the same punch as its slam attacks, the stun effect is quite potent. Out of the water, the range on the coral stars increases to 120', possibly making it more dangerous on land than in the water. If you are looking for something suited for a more aquatic environment, it has the fastest swim speed of the golems (30'). Similar to the Fang Golem, you can buy a more advanced version by paying +2500 GP per HD.

    Demonflesh Golem (Fiend Folio p. 86, 259000 GP). Kind of the kitchen-sink approach to golems. In addition to a few different melee attacks and a bunch of combat feats, a fear gaze, a handful fo SLAs, see invisibility, intelligence/speech, and a 100' fly speed. It makes me wonder why they left off the built-in espresso machine and the armored beer fridge. Oh, and you better be thoroughly EEEVIL and all chummy with fiends, particularly those that leave spare body parts around for you to swipe.

    Dragonbone Golem (Draconomicon p. 164, 115000 GP). One of the most frightening mounts money can buy (literally!). Once you deal with the fear aura (via Paladin 3 or the Dream Domain), there's not a lot of fancy bells and whistles on this thing, but the magic immunity is pretty airtight.

    Dragonflesh Golem (MM2 p. 117, 400000 GP). While a Drakestone or Ironwyrm Golem may have this thing beat on the combat stats, the eye-opener here is the 120' fly speed. Yes, it has poor maneuverability, but you can't have everything. Like the Dragonbone, there's also the fear effect to deal with. At this price, though, you could probably just buy the services of a few real dragons and get a better fly speed, spellcasting, and so forth.

    Drakestone Golem (Draconomicon p. 164, 175000 GP). This thing weighs in somewhere between a stone golem and greater stone golem as far as toughness, but instead of that namby-pamby slow effect, here we get a save-or-die petrifying breath weapon. The immunity to magic is almost as airtight as the Dragonbone Golem (really, who memorizes transmute rock to mud anymore?).

    Equine Golem (A&EG p. 87, 39600 GP). The Brass Steed's plain-looking frumpy younger sister. The biggest issue here is for only 19000 GP, the Brass Steed does so much more. On the other hand, after your DM permanently bans Brass Steeds from his campaign, he's more likely to approve the much more reasonable equine golem. And while shatter 3/day isn't nearly as cool as laser-beam heat-ray eyes, this thing still has the immunity to magic golems are known for, a decent 50' speed, and is explicitly trained to attack as a warhorse in combat.

    Fang Golem (MM4 p. 72, 15000 GP). This is cheapest golem in print, and one of the few that mentions a price for advancing it with additional HD (+5000 GP per HD, +50000 GP per size increase). Another rarity, it also has a ranged attack, although it's limited to 5 attacks per day. It has immunity to magic, although it is vulnerable to the most common sonic spells, and cold damage heals it. Looks like someone finally caught the infinite temporary HP trick, because they now have a maximum cap and duration. This golem pairs up very nicely with a druid, particularly one that focuses on cold-based attacks. Although the description says it can be ridden as a mount, it also says it can't carry a rider in combat situations (but is curiously silent on what happens if a rider declines to dismount). Other than that, the biggest drawback is if it gets killed, a rider would be caught in its death throes, taking 8d6 piercing damage.

    Flesh Golem (MM p. 135, 20000 GP). See Clay Golem description above. I don't care if you can regain control, pick something that never goes berserk in the first place. A Serpentflesh Golem (see below), for example, has slightly better stats, and costs the same.

    Force Golem (MM5 p. 68, 50000 GP). Although the Force Golem has the lowest HD of any of the golems, it is one of the smartest, and excels at battlefield control. Force Reactive and Pulse allows it to push opponents around the battlefield. Its intelligence makes it an ideal mount, allowing you to give it detailed directions just by speaking to it. Although it's vulnerable to force damage, the real worry is it doesn't have enough HD to last very long in combat.

    Gemstone Golem, Emerald (Monsters of Faerun p. 53, 128000 GP). Huh... teleportation circle as a spell-like ability, but the destination is completely random. Well, isn't that spiffy? In addition to shatter, it's vulnerable to the various Bigby's Hand spells. A stone golem would be cheaper and has more interesting abilities.

    Gemstone Golem, Diamond (Monsters of Faerun p. 53, 138000 GP). You'd think these gemstones get better as they go up in value, but this one may be the worst of the bunch, since the Truestrike requirement means it only makes one attack every other round. You definitely want to pick a stone golem over this shiny turkey.

    Gemstone Golem, Ruby (Monsters of Faerun p. 53, 118000 GP). Looks very fancy, but doesn't do all that much. Regeneration 10 is awful handy, but is vulnerable to shatter and sonic effects. It's nice to have a burrow speed, but the description doesn't say if it leaves behind a tunnel for the owner, and 10' is little on the "watching paint dry" side of things.

    Gloom Golem (MM3 p. 68, 40000 GP). Well, at least it doesn't go berserk, but the incessant howling would definitely get on your nerves (as well as give you -2 penalties on your attacks, saves, skill checks, and damage). There's no off-switch for the howling, either, although you might be able to pick up a mind-affecting immunity somewhere or intentionally deafen yourself. It's probably best to just say this little emo-wannabe has "issues" and find a better ride somewhere else.

    Gold Golem (WotC Website: Random Encounters, 100000+ GP). Yes, you could spend a lot of money on a golem, or cut directly to the chase and just convert your gold directly into a gold golem. Other than the tentacle attacks (30' range, provokes AoO... apparently gold golems are into Hentai...?), the distinguishing feature is the ability to absorb energy damage to either heal itself, or if it's already at full HP, reflect back on the attacker. Like the Coral and Fang Golem, you can buy more HD by spending +10000 GP per HD when the golem is created. However, if you find yourself in financial distress, you can also withdraw the gold coins from the golem, -1 HD per 10000 GP, down to half the golem's original value, and if you withdraw beyond that the golem is destroyed. Gold that is removed can't be put back, nor can you increase its HD once it's been created.

    Hangman Golem (MM3 p. 69, 144000 GP). Actually, this one's fairly decent as far as golems go. It doesn't go berserk, it's a fantastic grappler (including a dazing effect), has a nice whirlwind ability (which I assume it can choose not to hit its rider with), a somewhat quick self-healing ability, and it can be easily hasted for 5 rounds with a 1st level spell. Given its construction, you'd think it was vulnerable to fire damage, but it isn't. The only real weakness is Rope Trick paralyzes it for 1 round. It's not particularly fast (30' speed) but at least it's faster than an iron or stone golem.

    Hellfire Golem (Fiend Folio p 88, 248000 GP). One of the smartest golems in the game. And while it may look like a one-trick pony ("Hey, I have an idea... let's burn something!"), it's a pony that gets around some of the disadvantages of "Yes, all my attacks involve fire." At least half of the hellfire damage bypasses standard fire resistance, and cold damage doesn't do diddly-squat unless you manage to get past its cold resistance 20. As a mount, the rider may need to acquire a non-combustible saddle and some resistance/immunity to fire damage.

    Ice Golem (Frostburn p. 137, 60000 GP). This golem is almost as strong as a stone golem, but 30% cheaper. While the Ice Shards would probably damage and/or blind a rider, it has one of those no cap/duration "infinite temporary HP" abilities if you can figure out a way to do cold damage to it every round.

    Incarnum Golem (Magic of Incarnum p. 179, 47500 GP). "Inky" is more in the neighborhood of the Clay or Flesh Golem stats-wise, but doesn't go berserk. Other than fending off the inevitable flurry of "What the heck is Incarnum?" questions, Inky's distinguishing features are the Fast Healing 5 and the Adaptive Attack bonus, which gets better as he attacks the same opponent over and over again (+5 max). As a mount, he's got ho-hum speed (no faster than a human) and not much else to offer.

    Iron Cobra (Fiend Folio p. 103, 39000 GP). Another one of those "where do I put the saddle?" constructs. While this might be suitable as a mount for a small-sized rider, it's a bit fragile compared to most golems, and doesn't have their immunity to magic. Being able to swap in a stronger poison is a nice touch, but in this price range the Brass Steed or Equine Golem is probably a better investment.

    Iron Golem (MM p. 136, 150000 GP). Very tough, but slow and expensive. Like all golems, may be worth it just for the immunity to magic. As an added bonus, comes with the poisonous gas breath weapon as a free action, and can be healed with fire damage.

    Ironwyrm Golem (Draconomicon p. 165, 225000 GP). One of the most, if not *the* most, expensive golem you can purchase. Just about as strong, if not stronger, than a greater stone golem, but has better immunity to magic and can be healed with fire damage. The only knock against it is its breath weapon is just a cone of fire... but it's a cone of fire that does 20d10 damage.

    Jade Spider (City of the Spider Queen p. 121, 159000 GP. This is probably too big to be a practical mount for anything but a huge-sized rider. It's not a golem, so no immunity to magic, but it does SR 30, a forcecage web attack, a petrifying bite, and see invisibility.

    Juggernaut (MM2 p. 132, 135000 GP). As a mount, we can assume you've found one with an interior space that can accommodate up to two medium-sized creatures. Oddly enough, there is no mention in the description how one controls or orders the juggernaut to do something. It's not identified as a golem (nor does it have their immunity to magic), but my guess would be it follows commands from its creator/owner in much the same way a golem would.

    Magmacore Golem (MM5 p. 70, 35000 GP). The Force Golem's medium-sized "little buddy", the Magmacore has only one battlefield control ability (Molten Step), and is even more fragile than the Force Golem. It loses its armor and DR if it takes more than 23 points of damage, after which it deals 1d4 fire damage to anyone touching it. If it gets destroyed, "Volcanic Death Throes" may sound really impressive, but a rider would only take 1d6 fire damage from moving through a molten square after his mount explodes, and fire resistance is fairly cheap. At this price, you'd probably be better off with a Brass Steed or Equine Golem.

    Mud Golem (MM3 p. 70, 65000 GP). If you're looking for an upgrade to a Clay Golem, you could do worse with a Mud Golem. It has a breath weapon that can blind and also duplicates the effect of a grease spell (sneak attack, anyone?). It also has an engulf ability which can cause suffocation... unfortunately, it takes so long to drown in D&D, it seems like a victim is more likely to die of old age than suffocation. And that's probably the Mud Golem's biggest problem in a nutshell... its primary abilities are designed to disable opponents. If you want it to kill something, you may be in for a long wait.

    Prismatic Golem (MM3 p. 71, 250000 GP). No solid body, so no place to put a saddle. Even if you just try to touch it, it does random energy damage, drives you insane, or disintegrates you.

    Razor Golem (WotC Website: Monster Mayhem, 158750 GP). This thing has 3.0 stats, so the HP and DR need to be adjusted. I wanted to mention it not necessarily because it makes a great mount (it's a little bit faster than an iron or stone golem) but because of the Razor Wall ability (15d6 blade barrier), which would be extremely painful for a rider but otherwise is just an awesome battlefield control effect.

    Sand Golem (Sandstorm p. 182, 50000 GP). The Sand Golem's Brownout ability makes it a less than ideal mount, since the rider would take a -4 penalty on all Dexterity-based skills as well as any vision-related checks. The Stifle ability reminds me of the Mud Golem's engulf, although in this case clearing your mouth with a full-round action is probably a lot easier than winning a grapple check. Another concern would be someone else getting hold of a Sand Golem Amulet and taking control of your golem. So not such a great pick for a mount.

    Sardorian Golem (WotC Website: Psionic Bestiary, 175000 GP). Similar to the draconic golems from the Draconomicon, this golem gets an impressive full attack progression similar to a dragon. It also features a 60' fly speed (clumsy), immunity to magic and psionics, and a breath weapon that does 9d8 force damage, 9d8 fire damage, and blinds on a failed save.

    Serpentflesh Golem (Serpent Kingdoms p. 81, 20000 GP). This is the same price as a Flesh Golem, but has more HD, better DR, +10' speed, and an extra bite attack + poison. Best of all, no berserk to worry about, so anywhere you might want to use a Flesh Golem, you might as well replace it with a Serpentflesh Golem.

    Shadesteel Golem (MM3 p. 72, 130000 GP). Revered or reviled as one of the deadliest golems ever created, how does the Shadesteel Golem measure up as a mount? Well, it won't win any races, but the 30' fly speed with perfect maneuverability is a very nice perk. Medium-sized golems have been pretty scarce up to now, so it's nice to have something this decent for small-sized riders. It is very easy to haste with a light spell or a turn undead attempt, and can get concealment anywhere except in full sunlight. The biggest concern is the Negative Pulse Wave, which could seriously injure or kill any rider unless they've taken the Necropolitan template (in which case they've now got a nice big "I Win" button). Otherwise, a Scarab of Protection (DMG p. 266, 38000 GP) or spending two feats on Shape Soulmeld: Pauldrons of Health and Open Lesser Chakra: Shoulders might be worth picking up.

    Shadesteel Golem, Greater (MM3 p. 73, ??? GP). Odd, there's no price or cost listed for the Greater version. This one is more appropriately-sized for a medium rider. If the standard Shadesteel is just deadly, then this is deadly on toast.

    Slaughterstone Behemoth (MM3 p. 159, 170000 GP). Like the Juggernaut, no mention is made of how these things are commanded or controlled. No immunity to magic but it has SR 23 and a variety of energy resistances. Dazing Blow, Thunder Step, and Trample can be combined into one heck of a damage+save-or-suck world of hurt. The biggest drawback is the slow speed (20').

    Slaughterstone Eviscerator (MM3 p. 160, 127500 GP). Of all the non-golem constructs, the Eviscerator may be one of the best. Four adamantine blade attacks with an augmented critical, and with Enhanced Mobility it can move up to 15' and still make a full attack. On top of that, it has Whirlwind Attack with 10' of reach. Again, no mention of how it is commanded or controlled, but it does say under "Slaughterstone Constructs in Faerun" that gray dwarves sometimes ride them into battle.

    Spiderstone Golem (City of the Spider Queen p. 120, 159000 GP). Yet another berserker. Assuming you can live with that, 30' climb speed, spit web attack, and a whole bunch of melee feats.

    Stained Glass Golem (MM2 p. 116, 20000 GP). One of the cheaper golems to create, but also one of the easiest to kill. Putting a saddle on one of these things is also going to be a problem. While I suppose the ability to hide inside a window frame might conceivably be useful at some point, you probably want to stay away from a mount that can be soloed by an uppity bard with a high-pitched voice.

    Stone Golem (MM p. 137, 90000 GP). Somewhat more affordable than the iron golem, not quite as tough, but still pretty difficult to take down. Instead of the poisonous gas, it gets a slow effect every 2 rounds.

    Stone Golem, Greater (MM p. 137, 196000 GP). The stone golem on steroids. Over double the HP, triple the BAB, and an extra 5' of reach. For those days when you absolutely positively must pulverize everything in sight.

    Thayan Golem (Monsters of Faerun p. 56, 40000+ GP). On one hand, unlike most golems, this one excels at ranged damage. On the other hand, the ranged damage is nothing to brag about. Also worrisome, it doesn't have the usual immunity to magic, just an immunity to magic missiles. If you're looking for a golem that can attack from range, you might be better off buying a few Fang Golems instead.

    Wax Golem (WotC Website: Cliffhangers, 15750 GP). More of a curiosity than a threat, the wax golem may be unique in that if it went up against a warhorse, the warhorse would probably beat the snot out of it. It takes half damage from bludgeoning weapons and has electricity resistance 10, but has no other notable immunities or special abilities. It is vulnerable to fire, and pretty much anything else that does lethal damage.

    Web Golem (MM3 p. 74, 65000 GP). The biggest problem with the web golem is once you climb on top of it, its adhesiveness may not let you get off. Another problem with the adhesiveness is if something attacks it and gets stuck, you're now in a grapple so your movement is restricted, and there's no easy way to detach yourself. Another big drawback is while it may be immune to most fire spells, it is vulnerable to flaming weapons and non-magical fire. While it may have a poison attack, a web effect, and a spiderclimb ability that gives it a climb speed of 20', I think the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

    Wicker Man (MM2 p. 188, 117000 GP). This is not an ideal mount because while a rider could easily climb inside the wicker cage and direct his mount from there, the Wicker Man's immunity to fire does not extend to its rider. Any amount of fire damage sets them ablaze, which would deal 6d6 fire damage to the rider every round. If the rider manages to find his own immunity to fire, then this might work as a serviceable mount. Some other nice perks include hardness 5, healed by Entangle spells, and on top of a golem's immunity to magic, it is also immune to piercing attacks.

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