To all three of the people who have ever read this blog, I have to apologize. Some of us went on vacation for three weeks or so, and neglected to post anything in the Emporium. I, the Mighty Crab of Anger, deserved such a vacation, as the burden of being the international gold standard of awesome is a heavy one to bear. Mohr, on the other hand, should be flogged. Now that vacation is over, we return to our regularly scheduled series of irregular updates on a topic nobody is interested in because it’s been done before. Repeatedly.
In any event, the two skills covered below are good skills, and work as intended, so this should be easy to digest.
Ride represents the ability to ride things. Things like horses, not things like bikes.
What can you do with this skill?
- Guide with knees
- Stay in saddle
- Fight with a combat-trained mount
- Soft fall
- Spur mount
- Control mount in battle
- Fast mount or dismount
Look, all of these things are spelled out in the rules, and pretty clearly at that. It’s easy to see what they’re meant for, and how they work. C, over at Hack & Slash, sees no need for a Ride skill; I have to respectfully disagree. It’s true, 1 rank of Ride combined with taking 10 (where allowed, in most cases not in the stress of combat) allows the rider to do most things without rolling. As long as the character has no Dex penalty, 1 rank of Ride as a class skill means that there is no risk of failure with anything having a DC of 5, covering the first two items on the list. The skill itself points out, however, that riding a horse does not require a check at all; any adventurer of any class and level can buy a horse and ride that thing from place to place without hindrance. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a problem, as even someone who has never ridden a horse can probably manage a calm mount, and the game really doesn’t need a way to model saddle soreness. So what do we need this skill for?
For all of those cool things that one can do with a horse. Why should just anyone be able to guide a horse with their knees while swinging a greatsword to hack down their foes? Horsemanship is a skill, and when it comes to medieval combat, it’s a major advantage to be a skilled horse combatant. The feared Mongol horse archers were well trained, disciplined, and knowledgeable about the capabilities of their horses. It’s not unreasonable to model this using the Ride skill.
Maybe the only thing I would change is the Stay in Saddle roll. This doesn’t really reflect the difficulty of staying in the saddle after taking a crushing blow while riding. Then again, we can’t model reality, only an approximation of it. So using the skill as is works too, or you can go with 5+damage dealt, if you feel it appropriate.
Final Analysis: Ride works just fine. The situations in which you will need to make rolls dwindle away to nothing the more skilled you are; this encourages the mounted combatant to maintain skill levels. The Mounted Combat feat chain synergizes nicely with the skill, and, let’s be honest, there are a million different ways to prevent mounted combat, if it’s not your cup of tea. Also, shooting your opponents in the face while riding by 50 feet away is cool.
Sleight of Hand represents the ability to perform legerdemain, to use prestidigitation, to misdirect and fool or entertain an audience or enemies (sometimes by defining a word in a circular fashion).
What can you do with this skill?
You can be Penn, or Teller, or David Copperfield, at least as far as the skill allows. Want to pick a pocket? SoH! Want to palm an Elemental Gem? SoH! Want to fool the guards into thinking that you dropped that dagger? SoH! Like Ride, Sleight of Hand does what it’s supposed to do. If you can find a problem in this skill, let me know, ‘cause I’m not seeing it.
Final Analysis: It’s good. Use it.