Mounts and Animals


Care, feeding, defense, and shelter for an animal you only ride to and from adventures can become onerous. If a character spends too much time on issues that concern his mount, the rest of the party members may resent the time and energy spent dealing with a horse. One solution to this conflict is hiring a small number mercenaries, perhaps only one, to act as grooms and guards for the mounts while the characters explore the dungeon (see Prices for Hireling Services - Dungeon Master Guide, page 107.)

Unusual Mounts

If the PCs undertake more wilderness adventures than dungeon treks, mounts may be integral parts of the party, and you may face requests for mounts other than horses. Druids and rangers may attract animal companions big enough to act as mounts. Paladins may desire something a bit tougher than their typical heavy war horse or warpony.

Suitable Mounts: You have the final decision on what is or is not a suitable mount. At its most basic level, a mount should have the following characteristics:

The accompanying tables (one for Medium riders, one for Small riders) provide basic characteristics of creatures that can be used as mounts.

Mount (Medium Rider)StrFly?Carry
Camel18No900 lb.
Warhorse, heavy18No900 lb.
Warhorse, light16No690 lb.
Celestial warhorse, heavy18No900 lb.
Fiendish warhorse, light16No690 lb.
Dire wolf25No2,400 lb.
100 ft.(average)
300 lb.
900 lb.
Monstrous spider, Large15No600 lb.
Shark, Large²17No520 lb.
Unicorn³20No1,200 lb.
Dire boar27No3,120 lb.
Dire wolverine22No1,560 lb.
Giant eagle1880 ft.(average)200 lb.
Giant owl1870 ft.(average)200 lb.
120 ft.(average)
300 lb.
900 lb.
Rhinoceros26No2,760 lb.
Sea cat²19No700 lb.
Dire lion25No2,400 lb.
Griffon1880 ft.(average)200 lb.
Mount (Small Rider)StrFly?Carry
Monstrous spider, Medium11-115 lb.
Porpoise²11-115 lb.
Riding dog15-300 lb.
Shark, Medium²13-150 lb.
Warpony15-300 lb.
Fiendish riding dog15-300 lb.
Celestial warpony15-300 lb.
Direbat1740 ft. (good)172 lb.
Dire badger14-262 lb.
Dire weasel14262 lb,
Lizard, monitor17-390 lb.

1 A creature capable of flying as well as ground-based movement uses the carrying capacity on the first line of its entry if it is flying. If it is not flying, the carrying capacity on the second line of its entry applies.
2 Aquatic characters only.
3 Traditionally, unicorns only allow female human or female elf riders.
Str: The mounts typical (minimum) Strength score, from the Monster Manual. Creatures of greater size (Large, Huge, or Gargantuan) have a higher Strength score and thus a greater carrying capacity.
Fly?: The mount's fly speed, if it can fly.
Carry: The weight of the heaviest load the mount can carry - the light load limit for a flying mount, or the maximum load (heavy load limit) for a nonflyer.

If the unusual mount is for a paladin, it may gain special abilities at a different rate than a warhorse or warpony. Furthermore, some special mounts are available only to paladins of higher levels.

A paladin of 6th level or higher can use a celestial heavy warhorse, dire wolf, hippogriff, Large monstrous spider, large shark, unicorn, celestial warpony, dire bar, dire badger, dire weasel, or giant lizard as a mount.

At 7th level, the dire boar, dire wolverine, giant eagle, giant owl, pegasus, rhinoceros, and sea cat become available.

At 8th level, a paladin can use a dire lion or a griffon as a mount.

See the table below to see when a paladin's unusual mount gains special abilities. If the mount's natural Intelligence or natural armor is higher than the value given in the table, use mount's natural Intelligence or natural armor (and see Intelligent Mounts). If the mount normally has spell resistance, it does not lose its spell resistance prior to the paladin's reaching the level at which all unusual mounts gain spell resistance, and the mount continues using its natural spell resistance from that level on if that value is higher.

The expressions in the left-hand column of the table refer to the current level of the paladin in relation to the level at which a particular kind of mount becomes available. For instance, the dire at becomes available as a mount when a paladin reaches 7th level, so the information on the "level to level + 2" line applies to such a mount when the paladin is 7th, 8th, or 9th level. When he reaches 10th level, the information on the next line down applies.

Paladin Level by Mount Availability Bonus HD Natural ArmorStr Adj.Int
Level to Level +2+2+4+16
Level +3 to Level +5+4+6+27
Level +6 to Level + 9+6+8+38
Level +10 or higher+8+10+49

Another example: A 15th-level halfling paladin has a giant lizard mount. On the table of mounts for Small riders, you find that the giant lizard becomes available at 6th level, so, for the purpose of the table above, the paladin is at level +9. Checking that line on the table, you find that a 15th-level paladin's giant lizard mount has the following attributes: +6 HD, +8 natural armor, +2 Strength adjustment, and Int 8.

A paladin's mount has other special abilities and attributes beyond those mentioned on the table above; see The Paladin's Mount.

Training an Unusual Mount

The Player's Handbook covers training animals under the Handle Animal skill description. It mentions that magical beasts of Intelligence 1 or 2 may also be trained using this skill. You can decide if the skill also applies to other creatures of such intelligence.

In other cases, such as vermin, you need to make special provisions if you allow the creatures to be used as mounts at all. You may decide that goblins breed and train a special kind of monstrous spider capable of acting as a mount. You may create a magic item that allows vermin to act as mounts while wearing it. Or you may require that all vermin mounts be fiendish (your players may shudder at the idea of celestial vermin).

Intelligent Mounts

Mounts with Intelligence scores of 5 or higher are more like NPCs than they are like traditional mounts. As a result, characters must use Diplomacy checks to negotiate what the mount will and will not do (see page 128, DMG). Once the character and mount reach an agreement, they still must train together. Training time is as given under the Handle Animal skill. Intelligent mounts may insist on special care, such as a hireling devoted to that specific mount, special food, or even a share of the party treasure.

Leadership and Mounts

Canny characters may try using the leadership feat to attract a cohort that can serve as a mount. This feat cannot attract a mount with an Intelligence of less than 4. If the character already has a special mount, familiar, or animal companion, the character takes a -2 penalty to his leadership score. The table in the Special Cohorts section of the Dungeon Master's Guide (page 199) of includes some cohorts that can also serve as mounts; use these as a guideline if you want to add more examples.

Animal Companions

Druids can begin play with animal companions, which are something like cohorts, and rangers can gain them during their careers. Use the following rules of thumb to adjudicate situations that may arise when characters have animal companions.

While the class descriptions in the Player's Handbook list the animals available as companions, those lists assume the character spends most of her time in the animals' home territory and treats them well. If she spends most of her time at sea, in cities, or otherwise in places that the animals don't like, her animals are likely to desert. Remember, these creatures are loyal friends but not pets or servants, They won't remain loyal if being the character's friend becomes too onerous.

The animal is still an animal. It's not a magical beast, as a familiar or a paladin's mount is. While it may have learned some tricks, it's still no more intelligent than any other animal of its kind, and it retains all its bestial instincts. Unlike intelligent followers or cohorts, animals can't follow complex instructions, such as "Attack the gnoll with the wand." A character can give a simple verbal command, such as "Attack" or "Come," as a free action, provided such a command is among the tricks the animal has learned. A more complex instruction, such as telling an animal to attack and pointing out a specific target, is a standard action. Animals are ill-equipped to handle unusual situations, such as combats with invisible opponents, and they typically hesitate to attack weird and unnatural creatures, such as beholders and oozes.

Left to its own judgment, an animal follows a character and attacks creatures that attack her (or that attack the animal itself). To do more than that, it needs to learn tricks as described under the Handle Animal skill.

Other Unusual Mounts - Races of Stone

Dwarves, gnomes, and goliaths employ a variety of mounts. Stealthy gnome scouts sneak through the forest on riding-dog mounts, dwarf miners load supplies on the backs of steady mules, and goliath youths lead trains of sure-footed mountain goat pack-bearers.

These animals play an important part in the lives of many, but they represent only the most common and well-known mounts employed by the races of stone. Elite gnome cavalry units plan subterranean ambushes with the help of their dire badger mounts, dwarf ankheg riders charge the ranks of their illithid foes, and goliath shamans patrol the skies on the backs of dire eagles.

The table below provides specifics for various kinds of mounts that the races of stone might employ: the price of an egg (when appropriate), the cost of a young specimen ready for training, the cost of the training itself, the DC of the Handle Animal check to successfully rear the creature, and the cost of upkeep (representing food and other materials) that must be paid to prevent the mount from abandoning its owner.

Monster Manual Monsters as Mounts

The following descriptions provide rules for using some of the burrowing or earth-associated monsters in the Monster Manual as mounts.


An ankheg is a burrowing, insectlike monster with a taste for fresh meat. Its size and strength make it a powerful ally in battle, but its foul temper and low intelligence make it extremely difficult to train.

Training an ankheg is dangerous work because of its ability to spit caustic acid. Any cage or pen designed to hold an untrained ankheg must be resistant to acid damage and have a metal floor or the ankheg will break or burrow out. Like other mounts, ankhegs can be taught specific tricks and trained for special purposes using the Handle Animal skill.


A bulette is a physically powerful burrowing creature that can become an extraordinarily useful mount for the right rider. Capturing and training a bulette is quite difficult.

Bulettes have such a foul temper that all Handle Animal DCs dealing with their training and handling are increased by 2.


Training and riding a delver is largely an issue of overcoming the dangers of its corrosive slime, but for powerful or wealthy individuals with the right equipment, delvers can make useful allies and mounts.

A delver is more intelligent than the average human, and therefore riding and training one is a matter of Diplomacy checks rather than the use of the Handle Animal skill. A delver with a friendly or helpful attitude will help its allies.

Dire Badger

Gnomes train dire badgers to serve as mounts for elite cavalry units. These special units are particularly well coordinated, because the riders can talk to their mounts for 1 minute each day. Dire badgers can be trained just as other animals can be.

Optional Rule - Riding a Raging Dire Badger: At the DM's option, a dire badger can be more difficult to control when it is raging. If this optional rule is used, increase the DCs of all Ride checks related to a raging dire badger by 2, and increase the DCs of Handle Animal checks related to a raging dire badger by 5.

CreatureEggYoungTrainingRear DCUpkeep Cost
Ankheg1,500 gp2,000 gp1,000 gp2315 gp/month
Bulette9,000 gp15,000 gp1,500 gp3120 gp/month
Deep houndn/a4,000 gp250 gp215 gp/month
Dire badgern/a100 gp15 gp168 gp/month
Dire eagle2,500 gp4,000 gp250 gp205 gp/month
Thrum worm*1,500 gp2,500 gp125 gp19-
* Only appropriate for Small riders.

Dragons As Mounts

The dream mount for many characters is a dragon. While other flying creatures might be cheaper or easier to train as mounts, nothing beats the look of awe from friends and foes when they see you swoop in astride a mighty draconic steed There are two methods of getting a dragon as your mount: raising the dragon from youth or negotiating with a full-grown dragon. The first may be easier and cheaper, but requires far more time. Each method is discussed later in this section

As strong, quadrupedal creatures, dragons can carry a lot of weight, even in flight. A dragon can carry a rider while swimming, but not while burrowing.

Dragon Mounts, Overland Movement, and Carrying Capacity provides movement rates and carrying capacity for a great number of different dragons. The column headers on the table are defined below.

Dragon: The left-hand column lists a number of dragons that are suitable for use as mounts. The mounts are grouped according to the largest size of rider each dragon can accommodate. Just because a dragon can carry your weight does not necessarily mean that you can ride it as a mount. Even if a dragon is strong enough to carry a larger character than its grouping on the table would indicate, it can't accommodate such a character as a rider.

Light load or No load: Dragons, like other flying creatures, can only fly when carrying no more than a light load. The two columns beneath this line give the dragon's overland movement when it is not carrying enough weight to prevent it from flying.

Load Range: This column gives a pair of numbers representing the range from a medium load to a maximum load for the dragon. For example, the entry for a young black dragon is 101-300 lb. This means that when the dragon is carrying 101 pounds or more, it's hauling a medium load (and thus cannot fly); and it's not capable of moving at all while carrying more than 300 pounds, which is its maximum load.

Medium or Heavy load: The two columns beneath this line give the dragon's overland movement when it is carrying enough weight to prevent it from flying. (An exception is the dragon turtle, which does not have a fly speed; its numbers in these columns simply represent the reduction in land speed and swim speed that any creature suffers if it carries more than a light load.)

Raising a Dragon

Raising a true dragon from an egg until it's large enough to use as a mount can take several years. Even lesser dragons, such as wyverns, mature at such a slow rate that most characters simply aren't willing to wait the necessary amount of time.

For rules on how to raise a newly batched dragon, see the Rearing a Dragon sidebar, Draconomicon page 13. When you successfully complete the rearing process, you can begin to teach the domesticated dragon how to perform tasks.

Although intelligent, a dragon requires training before it can bear a rider in combat. Training a dragon you have reared to serve as a mount requires six weeks of work and a DC 25 Handle Animal check. Riding a dragon requires an exotic saddle. A dragon can fight while carrying a rider, but the rider cannot also attack unless he or she succeeds on a Ride check.

Even a trained or "tamed" dragon is still a dragon, not an ordinary domestic animal, with its own needs and desires. A young dragon is more like a very intelligent child than a simple animal (Intelligence score ranging from 8 to 18, depending on age and kind) and may well be smarter than its rider. With such a creature, patience and tact produce better results than harsh words and punishment. Expect a dragon to learn quickly, but allow for its inexperience to cause mistakes. like children and pets, dragons get tired, and it's best to let them rest when they do.

Negotiating Service

It's likely that a character seeking a draconic mount can't or won't put in the time necessary to rear a dragon. In such a case, the best option is to bargain with your would-be mount. (Using magic such as charm spells is a mistake, since the magic eventually wears off, and such coercion angers the dragon.) These negotiations always require some form of payment or reward to the dragon, which should take a form appropriate to the dragon variety (such as pearls for a bronze dragon) and should amount to at least 500 gp per HD of the dragon per year of service-paid in advance, of course, generally as soon as the negotiations are over.

Most potential dragon mounts begin with an indifferent attitude toward a character who approaches them. A dragon whose attitude is changed to helpful (see page 128, DMG) by a character can be trained to serve as a mount, but only as long as it's treated well and regularly rewarded. Promising an increase reward can help persuade a dragon to cooperate; each additional payment of 500 gp per HD provides a +2 circumstance bonus on any Diplomacy check made to change a dragon's attitude. You can't retry a failed Diplomacy check for the same purpose unless the DM decides that the circumstances merit giving you another chance (for instance, if you perform a great favor for the dragon).

A dragon whose alignment isn't within one step of its rider's isn't likely to serve for very long, even if the initial negotiations succeed.

Alternatively, you can select the Dragon Steed feat to gain the loyal service of a dragonnel. In this case, no payment or Diplomacy check is required.

Keeping a Dragon Mount

A dragon mount, although it may be loyal to you, is still an independent, intelligent creature with a mind of its own. Expect the DM to treat a dragon mount as an NPC, not as a passive participant. (A rider with only a modest Charisma score can expect to lose a lot of arguments with his or mount.) A dragon mount ages normally, but does not gain experience points.

Regardless of bow well you treat your dragon, a time will likely come when the dragon wants to leave. Because of a dragon's relatively slow growth rate during its extremely long life span, chances are you will gain experience (level) faster than the dragon grows (and thereby increases its effective character level). At some point the dragon will realize it is being outpaced (when your level exceeds the dragon's ECL by 5 or more), and it will leave. Also, a dragon mount that reaches adult age often begins thinking about leaving to raise a family. Trying to keep a dragon from leaving, even if you manage to succeed, is a mistake. Whether or not a dragon discusses parting company before doing so depends on its alignment and its relationship with you. (This point doesn't apply if the dragon is your cohort or a special mount; see below.)

If you keep your promises to a dragon mount and let it leave when it chooses, usually it will remain friendly toward you. If it holds a grudge against you, it may attack openly, or it may plot secretly for years before striking.

Dragon Mounts, Overland Movement, And Carrying Capacity
 Light Load or No Load Medium or Heavy Load
DragonMiles per HourMiles per DayLoad RangeMiles per HourMiles per Day
Diminutive or Smaller Riders 
Pseudodragon1.5, fly 612, fly 4829-86 lb.18
Tiny or Smaller Riders 
Black, very young6, fly 20, swim 648, fly 160, swim 4851-150 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
White, very young6, fly 30, swim 648, fly 240, swim 4851-1 50 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Brass, very young6, fly 3048, fly 24051-150 lb.432
Copper, very young4, fly 2032, fly 16051-1 50 lb.324
Small or Smaller Riders 
Black, young6, fly 20, swim 648, fly 160, swim 48101 -300 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Black, juvenile6, fly 20, swim 648, fly 160, swim 48131-390 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Blue, very young4, fly 1532, fly 120101-300 lb.324
Blue, young4, fly 2032, fly 160131-390 lb.324
Brass, young6, fly 3048, fly 240101-300 lb.432
Brass, juvenile6, fly 3048, fly 240131-390 lb.432
Bronze, very young4, fly 15, swim 632, fly 120, swim 48101 -300 lb.3, swim 424, swim 32
Bronze, young4, fly 20, swim 632, fly 160, swim 48131-390 lb.3, swim 424, swim 32
Copper, young4, fly 2032, fly 160101 -300 lb.324
Copper, juvenile4, fly 2032, fly 160131-390 lb.324
Green, very young4, fly 15, swim 432, fly 120, swim 32101-300 lb.3, swim 324, swim 24
Green, young4, fly 20, swim 432, fly 160, swim 32131-390 lb.3, swim 324, swim 24
Silver, very young4, fly 1532, fly 120101-300 lb.324
Silver, young4, fly 2032, fly 160131-390 lb.324
White, young6, fly 30, swim 648, fly 240, swim 48101 -300 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
White, juvenile6, fly 30, swim 648, fly 240, swim 48131-390 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Medium or Smaller Riders 
Black, young adult6, fly 20, swim 648, fly 160, swim 48351-1,050 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Black, adult6, fly 20, swim 648, fly 160, swim 48461-1,380 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Blue, juvenile4, fly 2032, fly 160176-525 lb.324
Blue, young adult4, fly 2032, fly 160601-1,800 lb.324
Brass, young adult6, fly 3048, fly 240351-1,050 lb.432
Brass, adult6, fly 3048, fly 240601-1,800 lb.432
Bronze, juvenile4, fly 20, swim 632, fly 160, swim 48351-1,050 lb.3, swim 424, swim 32
Bronze, young adult4, fly 20, swim 632, fly 160, swim 48601-1,800 lb.3, swim 424, swim 32
Copper, young adult4, fly 2032, fly 160351-1,050 lb.324
Copper, adult4, fly 2032, fly 160601-1,800 lb.324
Dragonnel4, fly 932, fly 72351-1,050 lb.324
Gold, very young6, fly 30, swim 648, fly 240, swim 48461-1,380 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Gold, young6, fly 30, swim 648, fly 240, swim 48801-2,400 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Gold, juvenile6, fly 30, swim 648, fly 240, swim 481,401-4,200 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Green, juvenile4, fly 20, swim 432, fly 160, swim 32351-1,050 lb.3, swim 324, swim 24
Green, young adult4, fly 20, swim 432, fly 160, swim 32601-1,800 lb.3, swim 324, swim 24
Red, very young4, fly 2032, fly 160461-1,380 lb.324
Red, young4, fly 2032, fly 160801 -2,400 lb.324
Red, juvenile4, fly 2032, fly 1601,401-4,200 lb.324
Silver, juvenile4, fly 2032, fly 160351-1,050 lb.324
Silver, young adult4, fly 2032, fly 160601-1,800 lb.324
White, young adult6, fly 30, swim 648, fly 240, swim 48351-1,050 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Wyvern2, fly 616, fly 48233-700 lb.1.512
Large or Smaller Riders 
Blue, adult4, fly 2032, fly 1602,081 -6,240 lb.324
Bronze, adult4, fly 20, swim 632, fly 160, swim 482,081-6,240 lb.3, swim 424, swim 32
Dragon turtle2, swim 316, swim 242,081-6,240 lb.1.5, swim 212, swim 16
Gold, young adult6, fly 30, swim 648, fly 240, swim 483,681-11,040 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Gold, adult6, fly 30, swim 648, fly 240, swim 484,161-12,480 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32
Green, adult4, fly 20, swim 432, fly 160, swim 322,081-6,240 lb.3, swim 324, swim 24
Green, young adult4, fly 2032, fly 1603,681-11,040 lb.324
Red, adult4, fly 2032, fly 1604,161-1 2,480 lb.324
Red, adult4, fly 2032, fly 1602,081-6,240 lb.324
White, adult6, fly 30, swim 648, fly 240, swim 48601-1,800 lb.4, swim 432, swim 32

Wasteland mounts

Getting across the waste faster is always an advantage. Many waste-dwellers use mounts for just this reason.

Two-humped camel100 gp
Dromedary camel75 gp
Dust twister1,500 gp
War camel450 gp

Ashworm: These creatures can be domesticated and trained to become mounts. The poison stingers of most domesticated ashworms are clipped.

A tamed ashworm is suitable as a mount for a Medium humanoid. However, the rider must succeed on a DC 15 Ride check once every 24 hours if in a sandy environment or be swept off the back of the ashworm as it dives below the surface for 1d4 rounds before returning to its rider.

An ashworm is hard to control in combat (see Mounted Combat) unless it belongs to an ashworm dragoon.

An ashworm mount requires an exotic saddle, benefits from stabling, can wear custom barding (specially constructed, adding an additional 50% to the price), and requires feed like a normal mount.

Camel: The camel is the most common mount in the waste. A camel is appropriate as a mount for a Medium humanoid creature. Dromedary and two-humped camels are hard to control in combat (see Mounted Combat), while war camels can be ridden into battle easily. Camels benefit from stabling, can wear barding, and require feed like normal mounts.

Dust Twister: Using a dust twister as a mount is something only the very rich, eccentric, or the magically gifted normally consider.

A tamed dust twister is suitable as a mount for a Medium or large humanoid-shaped creature. Dust twisters are hard to control in combat (see Mounted Combat). While riding, you appear to be held aloft in the center of the twister some 5 feet off the ground as the dust twister races across the sand. However, you must succeed on a DC 15 Ride check once per day or be flung from the calm eye of the dust twister, taking 1d6 points of damage. A dust twister requires no saddle or stable, cannot wear barding, and does not require feed like a normal mount.

Planar Mounts

A number of different conveyances exist - some of them creatures, some of them machines or devices - that can ease the task of traveling between planes or moving through a plane.


Common mounts such as horses allow a character to travel faster and more easily. Plane-hopping mounts allow a character to do the same, but without the wall between dimensions posing a restriction.

Elsewhale: Not traditional mounts, elsewhales are related to seagoing whales. An elsewhale has the ability to slip between planes, as long as the original plane and the destination plane have suitable bodies of water in which the elsewhale can swim.

Travelers do not ride on elsewhales; they ride within, in the creature's mouth. The mouth cavity of an adult elsewhale is large enough to hold 1 large, 4 Medium, or 16 Small creatures in the dark, cramped, and somewhat moist environment.

A "stable" housing even a single elsewhale requires access to the sea or ocean.

Gaspar: Though these creatures are difficult to acquire and train, their size and sturdiness make the time and expense worthwhile.

Nightmare, Lesser: A nightmare is a horselike creature of evil; a good-aligned owner who makes an investment in a lesser nightmare soon discovers that the mount does not serve him and escapes at the first opportunity. Lesser nightmares are bred from their more powerful brethren. Not as headstrong or as capable of traveling between the planes at will, a lesser nightmare still can carry its passenger into other dimensions.

Ur'Epona: A variety of planar horse, an ur'Epona makes the perfect mount, though domesticating one of these wild creatures is a difficult task. However, few creatures are better suited for taking riders between the planes.

Mount CostAdditional
Elsewhale8,000 gp+50 gp60 tons V
Gaspar22,500 gp+25 gp10,000 lb.
Nightmare, lesser5,500 gp+10 gp1,800 lb. t
Ur'Epona32,000 gp+5 gp2,200 lb.

Stores, Gear & Treasure