DM Note #5

Rules for Horse Riding

This refers to Episode 5 Agora Core: Escape.

The conclusion of the episode involves the party trying to escape on horsebackPevel’s attempt has to be a series highlight.

This leads me onto today’s topic.  How do you decide how capable a Player Character (PC) is at riding a particular creature?

In version 3.5 on Dungeons & Dragons, there was a Ride skill, and so the simple way to determine if you could successfully ride a creature was for the player to roll a d20 and add their Ride skill number to the total.  If this was equal or higher than the Difficulty Class (DC) total that the Dungeon Master (DM) decided on, then the player would have succeeded.  If not, the player failed to complete the task, in this case, ride a horse.

In the 5th edition (5e) of Dungeons & Dragons there is no such thing as a Ride skill and no set way of determining
the skill according to the Player’s Handbook. Instead there are a series of ability-based skills that PCs can be proficient in – proficiency is a bonus number added to particular skills.  Here is how I applied the ability-based
skills to this task.

As the horses were no familiar with the players, they had to see compatible they were, in other words, how comfortable the horses were being handled by a PC.  I used the skill Animal Handling (a Wisdom-based skill) for this.  However, even if a horse is comfortable around a PC, that doesn’t make the character agile enough to be a rider.  So the second roll I believe the players should do is an Athletics check (a Dexterity-based skill) to see if they could
successfully get onto the horse and balance whilst the horse moves.   Both these challenges can be done against a Difficulty Class determined by the DM.   If the PC and creature have a history together I wouldn’t ask for a check to be made as the rider and horse already have this level of understanding and ability.

This was my solution to this challenge.  In the finale (episode 5) to Series 1, I just got the players to roll animal handling as we were running short of time.  To further save time, there were two levels of Difficulty to the rolI – 15 or above to start riding in 1 round (6 seconds) and 10 or above to start riding in 2 rounds (12 seconds).  In the case of Pevel his desperate second attempt was more desperate and needed a swift move, so I got him to make an additional Athletics Check as well to pull it off.

So how do other DMs and groups work out their riding skill?  Let me know.

This is the end of the DM Notes for Series 1.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the content and found some of them useful.  Stay tuned for Series 2 later in the summer.