Custom Skill Knacks: Equestrian, Animal Bond

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supermooboo
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:06 am

Custom Skill Knacks: Equestrian, Animal Bond

Post by supermooboo » Wed Sep 29, 2021 2:18 am

My group is doing a side-gig for a Saurid Tribe right now so I took to drafting some Skill Knacks that my character might ask to be taught as payment. No particular reason why the Saurids might know these skill knacks (other than that I want them for my character lol) but I'll try to come up with a reason below. Looking for feedback.

Fight and Flight
Skill: Equestrian
Rank: 7
Strain: 1 (see text)
The character avoids injury by dodging attacks while mounted. This Skill Knack uses the rules for Avoid Blow (Player Guide pg. 183) but substitutes the Equestrian skill for Avoid Blow. The mount must be Loyal with the rider. Both the mount and the rider take the strain.

As for a reason I'm thinking that the Saurids might have developed innovative ways to use mounts in combat since the Buff is a considerably quicker and more tractable animal than the horse (at least according to the stat block). Generations of using vastly different animals for combat has caused a divergence in tactics one of which could be represented here. On the fence about requiring a karma point but the Avoid Blow skill does not so I figured it fine to not. The strain cost is the same as Avoid Blow and I figured it made sense for the mount to also take the strain (there are other Equestrian Skill Knacks which do similar). The rank is Arbitrarily 7 because my character has it as a core skill at rank 5 and the other Rank 7 Equestrian Skill Knack Feinting Retreat (Players Companion pg. 161) is loosely similar in nature to the above.

This is My Ride Now!
Skill: Animal Bond
Rank: 5
Strain: 2 per round (see text)
The character is skilled at commandeering and riding other characters mounts in battle. Spend a Karma Point and pay the strain cost, but do not make an Animal Bond test. Instead the mount will temporarily become Loyal so long the rider continues to pay the strain cost each round. If the rider does not pay the strain cost the mount will attempt to throw the character off its back. An Equestrian (8) check may be attempted to stay on the mount but it will no longer listen to any commands of the character unless they reuse this Skill Knack (paying the Karma and Strain cost again). At the Gamemasters discretion prolonged use of this Skill Knack may make future Animal Bond tests with this mount easier.

Further developing the idea of divergent tactics among mounted Saurid combatants to include stealing your enemies mount mid combat! My character actually does this all the time in game which is why I want a skill knack for it. That said I like the idea of combatants being knocked off their mounts and then having them stolen by the enemy. It makes for a very dynamic combat at least. This Skill Knack combines the two Equestrian Skill Knacks Swift Mount and Taking the Slope (Players Companion pg. 170,171) and reflavors the text for animal bond. I took the Rank requirement from Swift Mount because the core mechanics of the knack come from that one (also my character only has Rank 3 in Animal Bond as a core skill <_<).

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 978
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: Custom Skill Knacks: Equestrian, Animal Bond

Post by ChrisDDickey » Wed Sep 29, 2021 2:54 am

Fight and Flight pretty much seems to duplicate some of the effects of the Trick Riding base skill, but uses Equestrian as the test instead.

Just to be clear, does the "This is my ride now" knack assume that the previous rider has already been dismounted beforehand? Or does this knack dismount the previous rider as well? I am confused by this one, since as far as I can tell, making a mount loyal does not do much (as I understand it, generally speaking trained mounts follow the orders of whomever is on their backs, and most mounts are pretty much just neutral to whom that is). Also the commentary says that it combines swift mount and taking the slope, but neither is even hinted at in the description. So this one seems very confusing as to what it does or does not do.

supermooboo
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:06 am

Re: Custom Skill Knacks: Equestrian, Animal Bond

Post by supermooboo » Wed Sep 29, 2021 3:34 pm

ChrisDDickey wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 2:54 am
Fight and Flight pretty much seems to duplicate some of the effects of the Trick Riding base skill, but uses Equestrian as the test instead.

Just to be clear, does the "This is my ride now" knack assume that the previous rider has already been dismounted beforehand? Or does this knack dismount the previous rider as well? I am confused by this one, since as far as I can tell, making a mount loyal does not do much (as I understand it, generally speaking trained mounts follow the orders of whomever is on their backs, and most mounts are pretty much just neutral to whom that is). Also the commentary says that it combines swift mount and taking the slope, but neither is even hinted at in the description. So this one seems very confusing as to what it does or does not do.
Oh! I did not know trick riding was a skill! Yeah that's a bad skill knack if all it does is copy what another skill intends to do. There are so many skills in 1879 it's easy to miss some. Yeah I'll just take that skill instead. There's another one in the book called Feinting Retreat (Players Companion pg. 161) that I might take instead.

For the second one it combines the mechanics of the two knacks mentioned. Swift Mount uses Karma to circumvent a roll and Take the Slope uses the continuous strain cost in place of a roll. The knack combines both of those ideas. The Knack itself does not combine the narrative text of either knack. It does not dismount the target and assumes the rider has already been dismounted beforehand. There are rules already associated with knocking a rider off their mount. In the Animal Bond skill an animal who is Loyal will "willingly take risks for the character" which implies it won't unless Loyal. The Players Guide pg. 254 mentions a charisma based Equestrian for taking a Mount into combat. It also talks about untrained mounts. What do you think about circumventing the negatives for untrained mounts as well with this knack? My character has had to roll to tame a mount and change it's attitude every time they have tried to steal a mount in combat. Also there are a number of abilities which only work if the mount is Loyal (like Trick Riding). That said my character doesn't have any that would be applicable to combat persay since he uses firearms not melee weapons (but there are some skill knacks that would be useful that require it). I'm also open to suggestions on how to make this Knack better. Basically I want a skill knack that makes stealing other characters mounts easier. Maybe the knack should include dismounting the rider but require a roll with 2 successes or more? I'll brainstorm more and come back as well.

supermooboo
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:06 am

Re: Custom Skill Knacks: Equestrian, Animal Bond

Post by supermooboo » Wed Sep 29, 2021 8:24 pm

Alright here is my version 2.

This is my Ride Now!
Skill: Animal Bond
Rank: 5
Strain: 2 per round (see text)
The character is skilled at commandeering and riding other characters mounts in battle. Make an Animal Bond test and pay the strain cost. The TN of the check is equal to the WILL of the mount plus any ranks the rider has in Animal Handling. The Spook Test Adjustment Table (Game Master's Guide pg. 212) also adjusts the TN as appropriate (add instead of subtracting where appropriate). If you succeed with two or more successes then the mount Spooks, bucking the rider off its back (Game Master's Guide pg. 212). If the character has remaining movement they may spend a Karma Point to immediately mount the creature. Doing so makes the mount immediately become Loyal so long as the character continues to pay the strain cost each round. If the rider does not pay the strain cost the mount will attempt to throw the character off its back. A Charisma based Equestrian (8) check may be attempted to stay on the mount but it will no longer listen to any commands of the character unless they reuse this Skill Knack (paying the Karma and Strain cost again). At the Gamemasters discretion prolonged use of this Skill Knack may make future Animal Bond tests with this mount easier.

So now the Skill Knack does two things instead of just one. The first one is the dismount. The TN is based on the Skills that a rider and mount typically use to prevent spooking and falling off after the fact. Two or more successes seems to be a common theme among these skill knacks, and I guess 1879 does use two or more successes to allow players to do special maneuvers (like grappling, knocking down, and the like). Now I just wonder if the Rank requirement should be higher or if the knack is too much for a single knack. Perhaps the Spook is more than enough for the Knack and the Mounting portion should not be included? Oh and I'm also wondering if Animal Bond is even the right Skill anymore. If all I'm doing with the Knack is Spooking then perhaps just Animal Handling instead? Open to thoughts.

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 978
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: Custom Skill Knacks: Equestrian, Animal Bond

Post by ChrisDDickey » Thu Sep 30, 2021 12:27 am

I think the standard usage is not to say "make an Animal Bond test" but to say "make a This is My Ride Now test".

I think the Equestrian test to stay on an actively bucking mount is Dex based, not Cha. The Cha test is to make a mount stop bucking.

Changing the action required to Mount from a Standard to a Simple Action is a pretty big change, and I don't think that was something that the developers simply left out of any other knacks by accident. I think they left that out on purpose because they did not want to grant that ability. That said, if a GM is fine with granting that ability, it ought to be expensive. Strain and Karma both. But some GMs simply would not allow it.

In my last message, my query if it also dismounted the previous rider was more of a question than a suggestion. I think your comment that there are already ways to dismount a rider has great merit. If you do leave the dismounting part in, I would make the knack a standard action and change the part about "plus any ranks the rider has in Animal Handling" to plus any bonus the rider has to staying mounted such as ranks in Animal Handling or Equestrian".

But it might be better to focus on taking control of an already dismounted mount in a useable way. Something that would include the following.

Action: Simple or Free (see text). Karma: (see text)
When next to an unoccupied mount, the character may spend a karma point and two strain to mount it as a simple action. When mounted upon a hostile mount, the character may make a "This is My Ride Now" test to ...


Note that the knack as I have written it gives a character the Quick Mount ability even on their own mounts, not just opponents (which is huge) and many GMs might not allow that.

I would also point out that a big problem with taking over a mount in combat is how the mount was trained. For example few mounts are combat trained, and some mounts that are fine with having arrows shot from their back might spook when firearms are shot. But I am not sure how overcoming that could be worked into a knack, or even if it should. So one might take over an opponents mount, just to find that it spooks each time you fire a firearm.

As to whether Animal Bond is the right skill. I think you really need to figure out and focus in on what this knack is doing. To me there are four problems with taking over an opponent mount.
(1) getting the opponent off the mount. I think that is best done through existing routes such as attacks to knock down.
(2) Getting on the mount. Normally that would require a standard action all by itself.
(3) Establishing control over a strange mount, and the fact that some of your skills require a mount to be of a certain attitude or greater. (that would be linked to Animal Bond).
(4) You don't know how the animal is trained, it is probably not trained to do everything you want it to do, and might spook at some things you attempt. (that might just be unsolvable).

supermooboo
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:06 am

Re: Custom Skill Knacks: Equestrian, Animal Bond

Post by supermooboo » Fri Oct 01, 2021 10:27 pm

Alright I did some thinking and I think I have a good compromise for the skill knack I want. I'm not sure why changing the mounting action from standard to simple is a big deal but I'll take your word for it. I'm pretty new to the mechanics anyway. Rather than messing around with the mechanics for mounting I think instead I'll focus on using animal bond to transfer loyalty temporarily (for a continued strain cost). Here's what I am thinking that would look like.

You Use the Stick I Use the Carrot
Skill: Animal Bond
Rank: 5
Strain: 2 per round (see text)
Action: Standard

Your character has the uncanny ability to prove your worthiness to animals over others. Make a You Use the Stick I Use the Carrot test targeting an animal whose owner you either know or can see and interact with. The TN of the check is equal to the Social Defense of the animal plus any ranks the owner may have in animal handling or animal bond (owners choice). If you succeed the animal takes a neutral attitude towards the character. If you succeed with two or more successes then you transfer one level of Attitude per extra success from the owner to your character that persists so long as the character continues to pay the strain cost. If this would result in the characters Attitude level to be higher than the owner then the character may attempt to issue simple orders to the animal that supersede the orders of the owner (such as "buck", "sit", or "stand down"). The animal must be able to interpret the orders of the character and be within the realm of its training. The animal will not attack or take risks for the character unless it is Loyal. The effect of this skill knack immediately ends if the character takes hostile actions towards the animal. At the Gamemasters discretion prolonged use of this Skill Knack may make future Animal Bond tests with this animal easier.

A few notes. So right now the TN for the test is potentially quite high. Social defense of a horse or buff is 7 so a Journeyman character with a Profession that has Animal Handling at Novice would put the TN at 12-15. I was thinking maybe removing the animal handling component and only allowing animal bond. The tic for tac nature of the animal bond vs animal bond makes sense to me. Also any Profession that can take animal handling also eventually gets animal bond (but at a higher tier typically). The only Profession that has animal bond core is Pioneer and only ones that have access to animal bond at Novice are the previous and Shaman (the rest get it at Journeyman). The action is a standard same as Animal Bond. I looked it over and I don't think there are any Skill Knacks that change the type of action for the base skill from standard to simple in the book. I assume this to be by design and the reason why Skill Knacks do not have an Action section in the default template. Also the change to neutral on a success is the same effect as base animal bond just reprinted in the skill knack.

Slimcreeper
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Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:44 pm

Re: Custom Skill Knacks: Equestrian, Animal Bond

Post by Slimcreeper » Thu Nov 04, 2021 1:11 am

I do think there's room for an Equestrian knack to force a spook check on a horse.

For carrot/stick, are you interacting with the owner or the animal? The animal makes more sense, but the phrasing is ambiguous. For the TN, its a bit more complicated. I've got a couple thoughts: If the owner is present, it should probably be a contested animal handling/animal bond roll. But I feel like animal bond should be stronger than handling against this roll. Turning Silver against the Lone Ranger should be harder than turning Stock Horse #2 against the Lone Ranger, even if his animal bond and animal handling ranks are equal. Maybe if the animal is Animal Bonded to Loyal, it requires an extra success, and if it is Awestruck it requires 2 extra successes.

Most mounts are directed by reigns/stirrups. I don't know if I love the idea of being able to convince a horse being ridden by another to do something so contrary to the what the rider is asking. That seems like magic. I'd rather see a simpler mechanic. I think the purpose of this knack should be: I find a random mount and it is Loyal to me for as long as I'm willing to invest 2 strain per round. It won't Combat Train the Mount. That would require another knack - maybe equestrian, maybe animal Handling?

Honestly, I should look up animal handling/equestrian and see what the real difference is.

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