Mounts Revisited: Review
Months back, I DM’d a session in which the adventurers were mounted. Their exotic mounts were a homebrew creation that bore an uncanny resemblance to Chocobo. I’ve always had a fondness for those golden, adorable, rideable fluffs, and it was a home game so I figured, “why not”? The adventurers were excited too. A whole mission revolved around doing a stable master a favor in order to get a major discount on these unusual and unique mounts. Everyone was excited to see what they could do.
Unfortunately, the session fell a little flat. The adventurers got a little extra speed and managed to run down some bandits. No big deal. Really, they could’ve done that without the help of a superfluous (though super adorable) mount. The battle offered little insight into the overarching plot. The adventurers talked about the clues I laid out and then moved on. They didn’t think twice about their new feathered friends.
For me, on the other hand, the session was a complete disaster! I imagined dozens of scenarios in which the Adventurers could employ their exotic mounts. I thought of the unique battles and advantages these creatures could give them, and of the added challenges I could place within the game. I wanted them to explore and figure out how to use these unique creatures. I didn’t really understand what went wrong. Why did my mounted scenario end up so anticlimactic?
Well, I got the answer to my question upon reading Mounts Revisited. Turns out, I was doing it wrong. Big surprise, right? It’s easy to make mistakes in D&D. Though we love the game, we need to admit that hundreds of pages of rules, exceptions to the rules, and alternative rules make the world’s most popular TTRPG ripe for misunderstanding.
The game developers knew this as well, so some of the content ended up on the cutting room floor, so to speak. After all, trying to convince the public to pick up and read 3 textbooks in order to play a board game that doesn’t even have a board is a marketing nightmare. Fat needed to be trimmed. The books needed to be clean, concise, and as accessible as possible. Anything weighing down the read would need to be thinned out.
One such casualty of this content culling, mounts. Yes, the core rulebooks go over horses, warhorses, and the like, but the rules are a little thin. In the past, I’ve noticed other parts of the game appeared underdeveloped, but when I started writing my homebrew Kakaru (yes, it was an obvious nod to the Chocobo) I hadn’t realized our faithful saddle-bound companions were also victims of the word count purge.
Fortunately, someone did notice. Julio Corona not only found this lack within the core rulebooks, he took it upon himself to undo the injustice done to our trusted steeds. Realizing that the published D&D system whittled down mounted gameplay, Corona scoured the internet for clues as to what the original and complete design would have been. He found articles and interviews about the game designers discussing cuts and revisions regarding mounts. Essentially, he painstakingly collected the tattered remains of a mounted gameplay system and reassembled it.
What Corona could not find, he built, and then he polished. The system presented in Mounts Revisited is not a Frankenstein collection of rules held together by duct tape. On the contrary, Corona crafted and completed a well-written and useful supplement in line with the spirit of the core system. Mounts Revisited feels like it should have been in the original player’s handbook.
What’s it about?
We’re looking at a light read, direct and to the point. Keep in mind that this game is currently distributed for free and as part of a public playtest. Dragoncrown Games currently offers 3 other systems available on DriveThruRPG, so it’s clear that this supplement is part of the set. These books attempt to fill some lack we have within the 5E system
Within the pages of Mounts Revisited, DM’s will find suggestions for handling intelligent mounts, exotic mounts, and even training mounts. Corona provides a list of basic equipment every steed will need, like a bridle, saddle, and saddlebags. There is even a suggestion for saddling a giant spider. Of course, there are suggestions for dealing with armor and a whole appendix dedicated to magic items as well.
We even get items that add detail to the world if not mechanics. In some ways, this can be even more useful to a DM than an enchanted bridle. For example, an item suggested explicitly for detail but has no mechanical function is a mount’s banner. This type of item serves to aid the DM in telling the story. These tools are exceptionally helpful but rarely provided in system supplements.
Imagine a battle in which calvary plays a major role. The enemy tears through your front lines with devastating speed and power, and at the center of the enemy formation, a great black steed leads the charge. Above its rider, waves a crimson banner with the Royal crest embroidered with a golden thread depicting a lion fighting in Eagle. The adventurers see it in instantly know who they are facing…
Or at least they would instantly know if you’ve established a royal figure with this crest. This changes the goal and direction of the game without actually altering any mechanical function. The adventurers aren’t hunting down loot. They’re hunting down a character. They’re developing a plot point. Items like this can be a DM’s best friend.
How does it work?
You’ll use this book as an expanded set of rules for mounted play. I suggest letting your players read over the book before engaging in any serious mounted activity. I’d also asked them to brush up on the official player’s handbook rules as well. Depending on the direction the DM intends to go, the players can search for mounts or create characters that already possess a trusted and befriended steed.
Corona crafted several tables that allow for easy reference when purchasing equipment for mounts as well as the mounts themselves. One of these tables also includes the basic stats and abilities of these creatures. When the adventurers attempt to tie a chain to the doors of a keep or dungeon in an effort to break them open, you’ll be able to figure out quickly if that should succeed. You’ll also be able to use these abilities to craft challenges that will require mounted actions.
Should I buy It?
Well, it’s free, so yeah, yeah you should. Honestly, as it stands right now, I would recommend this book for purchase if its price range between $3 and $5. Mounts Revisited provides quality content; though it is small and supplemental. If you are interested at all in using mounts of any type in your gameplay, I highly recommend giving this a read-through.
I would also note that though Mounts Revisited is free, there is an option to donate to the creator. Everybody’s financial situation is different, so I by no means intend to generalize. However, whenever I download a free book, I always donate. The Dragoncrown Games shop clearly states that mounts revisited are a playtest, but they’re working hard on making quality content. Even donating one or two dollars, helps ensure independent, interesting, and good content will continue to exist in the world.
Also, every time you donate to an independent creator, a baby dragon learns to breathe fire.
I’ve already started planning my next mounted adventure. Soon, my adventurers will find themselves racing over fields and into dynamic and trying battles. I know how to make a fun session, I know how to excite and challenge players, and now I know how to do it with a saddle. This book gave me another tool in my DM Bag of Holding.
Ultimately, I found this book to be a light read with meaningful and useful content. A rare combination, to be sure. Therefore, I must recommend this book to DM’s in general, but especially to those thinking about providing horses, camels, or any other beast of burden. You’ll definitely get plenty of use out of Mounts Revisited.
I intend to read the other books published by Dragoncrown Games, so keep an eye out for more reviews. I have a feeling they will be doing a series of supplements providing answers to those murky problems we find as a result of unfortunate cuts to the core rulebooks. I’m interested in seeing their take on a whole host of issues.
If you’ve read mounts revisited, leave a comment and tell me your thoughts on it. I’d also love to hear any suggestions you may have regarding future reviews. I’m always looking for my next TTRPG.
Until next time, happy trails.
If you’re interested in picking up Mounts Revisited, the link to the game is below.