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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    So after reading this thread about the difficulty of keeping a warhorse alive at mid-high levels when its rider is far tougher than it is, I noticed something odd: animals which typically serve as mounts (horse, pony, riding dog, camel, mule) can't be advanced in HD, yet every other animal in the MM which starts with 2HD or more can.

    The only possible reason I could think of was not wanting to let low-level PCs buy mounts which are more powerful in combat than they are, but that could be easily solved by making higher-HD mounts much more expensive (for example by increasing the cost by the square of the HD increase so that a mount with twice the HD would cost four times as much, as with magic items) and by keeping the HD cap relatively low, no more than 50-100% higher than their base HD, as is the case with most other animals.

    Allowing mounts a bit of advancement would make them viable at least until mid-levels, it almost seems the rules intentionally punish those who want to ride horses and similar into combat unless they're a class which grants a special mount or animal companion. So...any idea why mounts don't get advancement? Is there any reason not to allow it?

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Iím not sure if you can find a copy of it now, but the Wild Cohort feat could reasonably be able to be applied to a traditional mount and give them a bit of advancement for any class.

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruethgar View Post
    Iím not sure if you can find a copy of it now, but the Wild Cohort feat could reasonably be able to be applied to a traditional mount and give them a bit of advancement for any class.
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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Pathfinder version is Animal Ally, which you can then fully advance via Boon Companion

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Thank you, but Wild Cohort was already mentioned in the other thread. I'm not looking for existing mechanics to allow mounts to advance, I'm asking why they can't advance at all as standard, and if there's any reason not to let them advance by at least a couple of HD like all other similar-sized animals

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    The only possible reason I could think of was not wanting to let low-level PCs buy mounts which are more powerful in combat than they are, but that could be easily solved by making higher-HD mounts much more expensive (for example by increasing the cost by the square of the HD increase so that a mount with twice the HD would cost four times as much, as with magic items) and by keeping the HD cap relatively low, no more than 50-100% higher than their base HD, as is the case with most other animals.
    Quote Originally Posted by DMG204
    The mountís Challenge Rating should be no more than 3 less
    than the riderís character level. If the mount can fly, its
    Challenge Rating should be no more than 4 less than the riderís
    character level.
    this is for unusual mounts, seems applicable to advancing HD for animals

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    PirateGirl

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    So after reading this thread about the difficulty of keeping a warhorse alive at mid-high levels when its rider is far tougher than it is, I noticed something odd: animals which typically serve as mounts (horse, pony, riding dog, camel, mule) can't be advanced in HD, yet every other animal in the MM which starts with 2HD or more can.

    The only possible reason I could think of was not wanting to let low-level PCs buy mounts which are more powerful in combat than they are, but that could be easily solved by making higher-HD mounts much more expensive (for example by increasing the cost by the square of the HD increase so that a mount with twice the HD would cost four times as much, as with magic items) and by keeping the HD cap relatively low, no more than 50-100% higher than their base HD, as is the case with most other animals.

    Allowing mounts a bit of advancement would make them viable at least until mid-levels, it almost seems the rules intentionally punish those who want to ride horses and similar into combat unless they're a class which grants a special mount or animal companion. So...any idea why mounts don't get advancement? Is there any reason not to allow it?
    I'll give my best guess at why animals used as mounts don't advance. Because as you advance, you will invariably buy a better mount. A paladin's mount gains HD as the paladin advances. Other classes will buy a better mount or rent one as needed.Specific prestige classes will also give you special mounts such as Aglarondan Griffonrider Prestige Class from Unapproachable East.

    How often does a non-paladin need a mount anyway? Note that some classes do not have Ride or Handle Animal as class skills. i'm curious as to why you are finding this to be problematic.

    Templates are another way to advance a mount. for example, Royal Animal template adds 4 HD.Unfortunately, I am not sure of the source of this template. I think WotC did a great disservice to its 3rd edition by not incorporating great templates from Advanced Bestiary from Green Ronin as Paizo did with Pathfinder.

    if any PC has outgrown a mount, it shouldn't become a source of frustration. A DM could just handwave advancement if it isn't going to unbalance the party.

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    I mean horses aren't alone in no advancement, dog, riding dog, cat, camel, and so on. Also to be frank animal hd are pretty terrible so you aren't getting much out of increasing them; a bit more hp, a bab every other level, a feat every three and an ability score bonus every 4 hd. advancing HD highlights this fact, you are better off trading out mounts getting something that has better natural armor and maybe some interesting additional tricks than paying to advance an hd or two. Honestly even if I could advance a standard horse a couple more hd I wouldn't do, it isn't worth the price tag. Let's compare a heavy warhorse with 10hd (CR4) with Dire Horse, Rhino, and Griffon; all three are just plain better than the advanced horse. Also the Dire Horse and Rhino can have warbeast and magebred added to be even more powerful relatively cheaply to put the gap even further behind when comparing them to the advanced war horse.

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Imho the decision to not let mounts advance is due to group xp calculations. When a mount is not part of a class ability and can advance, than it would be sucking up its part from the group xp.

    It's one thing if someone decides to pay gold for a mount. Another story if the group size for xp calculation changes. And this could cause different problematic situations:

    - When everybody "buys" a mount, everybody would cause the same dmg to group xp. The least problematic situation.

    - When some party members have access to a class mount or other forms of movement, he could be annoyed by the fact that he has to pay xp (by the fact that the mounts suck up their share of xp), just because the others wanted mounts too.

    - A class/build without access to animal companion but focus on Mounted Combat could be problematic at some tables, if the others don't want share group xp for mounts.


    TL;DR: To break it down, mounts that suck up xp do suck. The way it is handled, mounts are more like equipment.
    Last edited by Gruftzwerg; 2020-02-26 at 11:21 AM.
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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gruftzwerg View Post
    Imho the decision to not let mounts advance is due to group xp calculations. When a mount is not part of a class ability and can advance, than it would be sucking up its part from the group xp.

    It's one thing if someone decides to pay gold for a mount. Another story if the group size for xp calculation changes. And this could cause different problematic situations:

    - When everybody "buys" a mount, everybody would cause the same dmg to group xp. The least problematic situation.

    - When some party members have access to a class mount or other forms of movement, he could be annoyed by the fact that he has to pay xp (by the fact that the mounts suck up their share of xp), just because the others wanted mounts too.

    - A class/build without access to animal companion but focus on Mounted Combat could be problematic at some tables, if the others don't want share group xp for mounts.


    TL;DR: To break it down, mounts that suck up xp do suck. The way it is handled, mounts are more like equipment.
    This isn't a reasonable argument, we already have a valid archetype in how to handle this with the leadership feat and even ignoring that I am not seeing a valid argument why the exp for your personal mount would be taken from the rest of the team instead of just your character that owns said mount...

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    Thank you, but Wild Cohort was already mentioned in the other thread. I'm not looking for existing mechanics to allow mounts to advance, I'm asking why they can't advance at all as standard, and if there's any reason not to let them advance by at least a couple of HD like all other similar-sized animals
    Animals are NPCs, which means the GM can advance them all they want, doesn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    Advanced Heavy War Horse
    10d8+30 (70)
    Speed: 50'
    Bab +7/15 2 hooves(1d6+4) bite (1d4+2)
    AC 15(-1size, +2Dex, +4NA)
    LLV, Scent, 4 Feats
    Str 18, Dex 14(added bonus), Con 17
    Actually if you advance the heavy warhorse to this many HD, you should only double the HD at most and not increase size unlike other monsters which generally gain a size when they double their HD. This gets you an 8 HD heavy war horse. This is part of Animal Design. WotC was never good at actually setting down monster design rules. You really have to spend a lot of time with creature design to get a feel for it.

    Magical Beasts are much better mounts and they have added features most of the time: flight being a big factor as you level up. A griffon or even a hippogriff has the advantage of flight. Griffons have the advantage of understanding Common even if they can't speak. if you just want to wade into battle with a horse, what happens when your opponent shows up with an elephant? this is why CR for mounts matters.

    There is no reason you can't have a horse just for fun. My 2nd ed. Cavalier had a second horse just to use to carry her stuff because she could.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    The standard form of advancing a creature by level/HD isnít the same as a character getting levels. With the exception of druids, wild cohorts, etc., an individual creature doesnít gain hit dice like that, it simply represents a bigger or tougher individual.

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Debihuman View Post
    Actually if you advance the heavy warhorse to this many HD, you should only double the HD at most and not increase size unlike other monsters which generally gain a size when they double their HD.
    I am a bit lost on your comment the advanced warhorse I showed didn't increase in size, if it had it probably would be competitive with the other CR4 creatures I showed. I simply added 6hd so that it would increase to CR 4 according to animal rhd to CR of the rules...

    Quote Originally Posted by Debihuman
    Magical Beasts are much better mounts and they have added features most of the time: flight being a big factor as you level up. A griffon or even a hippogriff has the advantage of flight. Griffons have the advantage of understanding Common even if they can't speak. if you just want to wade into battle with a horse, what happens when your opponent shows up with an elephant? this is why CR for mounts matters.
    Hands down agree, Magical Beasts are better if no other reason than full bab and increased to d10 for hp. Beyond that you can even start getting things like pegasus and unicorn that can cast spells to be helpful to the party.

    For the most part that best idea for a mount is to simply use leadership to have a cohort you ride.

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    There's sort of a rule for animal advancement, the Warbeast Template from MM2 lets you take an animal without War in it's name (Such as Warhorse and War Pony), and give it some proficiencies, skills and ability score increases, but most importantly a +1 HD. This template can be applied via a Handle Animal check. You could use that as a basis for some homebrew, that you can make a Handle Animal check to advance your mount's HD, but with a limit that it's HD must be no higher than your HD-1 (much like a Cohort).
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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Debihuman View Post
    How often does a non-paladin need a mount anyway? Note that some classes do not have Ride or Handle Animal as class skills. i'm curious as to why you are finding this to be problematic.
    Well, the original thread mentioned Knights, and the knight on his charger is a classic medieval/ fantasy image. Some people might be happy to trade their horse in for a griffon or dragon later on, but some are going to want to keep a horse.

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    Dire Horse
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    Speed: 60'
    Bab +6/16 2 hooves(1d6+6) bite (1d4+3)
    AC 16(-1size, +1Dex, +6NA)
    LLV, Scent, 3 Feats
    Str 22, Dex 13, Con 22
    What book is the dire horse in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gruftzwerg View Post
    Imho the decision to not let mounts advance is due to group xp calculations. When a mount is not part of a class ability and can advance, than it would be sucking up its part from the group xp.
    Creatures with just racial HD and no class levels don't advance by XP do they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Animals are NPCs, which means the GM can advance them all they want, doesn't it?
    As the GM yes I can overrule the books and advance them if I want to. But it seems mounts have been specifically chosen by the designers to not be advanceable unlike all other largish animals, so I wanted to know if anyone knew why they'd done that, and if there was any good reason why I shouldn't change it. It appears that the answer to both questions is no...

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    As the GM yes I can overrule the books and advance them if I want to. But it seems mounts have been specifically chosen by the designers to not be advanceable unlike all other largish animals, so I wanted to know if anyone knew why they'd done that, and if there was any good reason why I shouldn't change it. It appears that the answer to both questions is no...
    Having an animal that advances with you is effectively an animal companion, and they only wanted certain classes to have those. I would guess that they knew the GMs who are okay with everyone having access to them are experienced enough to account for that when designing encounters.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    ..
    Creatures with just racial HD and no class levels don't advance by XP do they?
    ...
    Ain't that the question here: "Why can't animals be advanced?"


    And imho the real question is:

    Why should equipment that I buy become better over time without any kind of resource investment? Cause imho that's what the question is aimed at if you want advancing mounts without counting them as NPCs with their own xp share.

    Either it counts as equipment/part of your class and you need to invest resources to improve it (class abilities, feats, gold/resources to give it templates..) or it needs to suck up xp (as NPC) to get some kind of improvement. I mean, you don't expect that the mundane longsword that you bought at lvl 1 suddenly becomes masterwork at lvl5 and later a +1 weapon, just because you used it in so many fights. Either you buy a new & better one or invest with other resources like Kensai to improve it.

    The rules did go for the "regular mounts count as gear/part of your character" option and oddly it feels more correct this way even if I don't really like it this way. It's just that the other option is far worse.
    Cause otherwise you would give the players the instrument to alter the group size with adding NPC mounts and therefore slow down the lvl-up time. Or you would have cheap mounts for early lvl that would become stronger for free over time. Really unbalanced options to go for imho.

    And it's not the same like when the DM decides to add an npc to the group. Or the group decides to hire an NPC (and spent gold according to the lvl of the npc and the power you get therefor).
    Last edited by Gruftzwerg; 2020-02-27 at 12:12 AM.
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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruethgar View Post
    Iím not sure if you can find a copy of it now, but the Wild Cohort feat could reasonably be able to be applied to a traditional mount and give them a bit of advancement for any class.
    True, but generally you'll have access to better mounts than animals; planar bound outsiders, phantom steeds, half dragon steeds etc to name but a few. As long as you RP your intention to have an awesome mount, your dm will usually provide the means for you to get it. Or have a druid awaken your old mount and advance it by class levels.
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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post


    What book is the dire horse in?
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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gruftzwerg View Post
    Why should equipment that I buy become better over time without any kind of resource investment? Cause imho that's what the question is aimed at if you want advancing mounts without counting them as NPCs with their own xp share.
    I am sorry but your argument falls flat on its face as soon as we are talking about anything besides horses and the few other animals without any advancement options. Warbeast template can be obtained on any animal for free as long as you have the down time and enough ranks in handle animal. Similarly raising and training griffons, hippogriffs, pegasus, and other such creatures can similarly be done during down time. These mounts are also capable of increased rhd, the only issue is how as the rules are light on how that works. However, I am not seeing a valid argument as to why something I obtained would take exp away from the entire group instead of just my own share of experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    I am sorry but your argument falls flat on its face as soon as we are talking about anything besides horses and the few other animals without any advancement options. Warbeast template can be obtained on any animal for free as long as you have the down time and enough ranks in handle animal. Similarly raising and training griffons, hippogriffs, pegasus, and other such creatures can similarly be done during down time.
    Sorry but that's what I said, so where is your problem? You invest resources into obtaining those things. You invested skill points into handle animal (your class resources, obtained from your xp share) and the time (even if its downtime, it's up to everybody how he "use" that time for something useful or just let it go to waste).


    These mounts are also capable of increased rhd, the only issue is how as the rules are light on how that works. However, I am not seeing a valid argument as to why something I obtained would take exp away from the entire group instead of just my own share of experience.
    The increased HD rule is meant for especially strong exemplars of a species:
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    Increased Hit Dice

    Intelligent creatures that are not humanoid in shape, and nonintelligent monsters, can advance by increasing their Hit Dice. Creatures with increased Hit Dice are usually superior specimens of their race, bigger and more powerful than their run-of-the-mill fellows.
    So it's either born to be strong or not. And if you come with the argument that it's not full grown out yet, I would demand again XP for that and come for free.

    This leaves 2 options. Either improve your mount with your character spending the resources (providing the class abilities/skills, or resources for added templates, magic items..bla..) or it has to gain a share of the group xp to advance by class (if that is even possible for the desired creature).

    I mean, what will the next step be if we follow this direction? I buy a dog at lvl 1, don't invest anything (not even class skills/abilities, no share of the group xp) and hope it can still hold its own while the party goes to fight epic monsters...?
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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    I had stats for a Warbeast Dire Horse as a "Super Heavy Warhorse" at one point: the next step up from Heavy Warhorse.

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Animals are NPCs, which means the GM can advance them all they want, doesn't it?
    There is official advancement and house rule advancement and they are functionally identical (literally identical if not being very technical).

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Having an animal that advances with you is effectively an animal companion, and they only wanted certain classes to have those.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gruftzwerg View Post
    Ain't that the question here: "Why can't animals be advanced?"

    And imho the real question is:

    Why should equipment that I buy become better over time without any kind of resource investment? Cause imho that's what the question is aimed at if you want advancing mounts without counting them as NPCs with their own xp share.
    No, you've misunderstood my point. I'm not saying "why doesn't my warhorse gain HD as I level up?" I'm saying "why can't I buy a warhorse with more than the minimum HD?". If I want to buy and train a bear, elephant or eagle with more than the standard HD, I can, but not a horse, pony, or camel. Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    I'm pretty sure "there exist elephants with more than standard HD, that you can buy" is a houserule, and not standard.
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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    The only possible reason I could think of was not wanting to let low-level PCs buy mounts which are more powerful in combat than they are, but that could be easily solved by making higher-HD mounts much more expensive (for example by increasing the cost by the square of the HD increase so that a mount with twice the HD would cost four times as much, as with magic items) and by keeping the HD cap relatively low, no more than 50-100% higher than their base HD, as is the case with most other animals.
    You can already do that. It's called the War Camel and the Riding Dog.

    Frankly it's just WotC being weird and inconsistent again as I see no reason why there wouldn't be variation in draft animals

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    I'm pretty sure "there exist elephants with more than standard HD, that you can buy" is a houserule, and not standard.
    Well, Elephants can be advanced, and they can be purchased. I'm pretty sure A&EG have rules for buying Advanced Mounts. I'm AFB right now so I'm not sure
    Last edited by Blackhawk748; 2020-03-01 at 12:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    No, you've misunderstood my point. I'm not saying "why doesn't my warhorse gain HD as I level up?" I'm saying "why can't I buy a warhorse with more than the minimum HD?". If I want to buy and train a bear, elephant or eagle with more than the standard HD, I can, but not a horse, pony, or camel. Why?



    Thank you.
    Ah, now I get what you mean. Ok, that's a good one.

    From a logical point of view, If I where to compare the animals you mentioned I would say the first category tends to fight out conflicts with other races, while the second group tends to run away.
    Maybe Warhorse/-pony is the extend of their regular racial improvement for fighting (still leaving options like acquired templates other option to buff it).
    Or that due to centuries of domestication that they are already at the highest possible standards for that specie, who knows.

    But if you want a serious answer:
    3.5 wasn't planned nor released on a single day. It evolved. Everything got buffed up by splashbooks. Like Monster Race Characters did become a thing, better stronger and more exotic mounts did also become "normal". The original intention imho was to keep mounts weak due to balancing reasons and thus the regular mounts are restricted from advancing. Later they realized that past mid lvls a regular mount wouldn't survive even a single round under attack. I mean, a caster can teleport into other dimensions safely and a mundane class has problems to keep his mount alive, how ****ty balance is that. Well, more and more stronger mounts where added as options over time, while the original mounts kept their restrictions due to laziness or profit reasons (erratas don't sell so well like new splashbooks do^^).
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    Default Re: Why can't riding animals be advanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhawk748 View Post
    Well, Elephants can be advanced, and they can be purchased. I'm pretty sure A&EG have rules for buying Advanced Mounts. I'm AFB right now so I'm not sure
    I've checked it and I couldn't find any. The prices it gives are always for young animals. There's a separate cost for hiring a trainer to rear or train one.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2020-03-01 at 12:30 PM.
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