Do mechanic drones inherit the rules for mounted combat from AA3?


Rules Questions


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Starfinder Superscriber

And if so, how?

((I'm asking this, because I expected it to be explicitly stated somewhere in the mount rules, and I can't find it.))

I'm most interested in how this block of text may or may not apply to a Drone Mechanic riding their mount via the Riding Saddle drone mod.

Alien Archive 3 wrote:
Speed and Movement: While you’re riding your creature companion, your mount’s speeds replace your own speeds, and you use them in place of your own when moving your speed, including when using abilities that allow you to move your speed (such as the operative’s trick attack). When you use an action that includes movement, your mount uses the same action (even if it couldn’t normally take that action otherwise). This counts as granting your creature companion an action. If you can grant your mount additional actions (such as with a creature companion feat), it’s still limited to its maximum number of actions per turn (see Actions on page 138).

I'm mostly concerned specifically with the bolded phrases. I've always assumed that the intention for Drones with the riding saddle is for those two phrases to apply, but literally no one is playing them that way.

It'd be nice if after two years we could finally get a FAQ on that.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I think no one has been playing them that way because of the lack of that rule.

I don't have AA3 yet (slow sub shipping this time around), so I don't know about any other rules you didn't post, but I don't see any grounds to argue that drone mounts wouldn't inherit both of those rules, the drone is your mount, and Master Control is an ability that grants the drone additional actions?

Is there an ambiguous part that I'm missing?


Starfinder Superscriber

All of the rules in that section refer explicitly to creature companions used via the feat chains and purchased under the rules for purchasing them. There's literally no reference, that I can find, to drones in that entire section. The companions have a fairly similar action economy to drones, but similar != equal.

I'm pretty sure that the 'intent' was for drones to work the same way (wherever drones have lacked clear rules, thus far), but it never explicitly says that. And I'm loathe to turn a specific rule into a general rule without text that tells me to do so.

That's the only ambiguity, to me. These rules are specific to creature companions, so they aren't necessarily applicable to anything else.

Sovereign Court

AA3 doesn't change the mounted combat rules very much, it just includes a few feats to make the skill checks a bit easier.

It doesn't feel to me like it's intended to apply to drones, there's absolutely no mention of them.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I don't see why drones would need to be specifically mentioned. Anything that is a general mount rule should apply, if it doesn't run into the specific provisions a drone mount has, like not needing any survival check to direct it in combat.

Sovereign Court

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Well since Starfinder's survival skill absorbed much of Handle Animal, you could question whether survival to ride a mount is about balancing on the mount, or about controlling the critter. The first one seems quite applicable to drones too, the second one would not be necessary on drones.

I'm hoping drones get more love in SCOM.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

There isn't really a qurstion, there. Riding a creature is divided into a lot of skill tasks, and only some of them are controlling the creature.

Drone riders have always still needed to use survival for ride tasks like Cover, Fast Mount, Stay Mounted and Soft Fall, that aren't about controlling the mount. There is nothing about drones that makes those checks not required.


Starfinder Superscriber

I'm not so much worried about the checks part of it, as the action part of it.

As it is currently being played (at least in all the online lodges), Drone Mechs with rideable drones are getting to move both themselves and their drones without the drone spending the move action to move. This gives the drones, effectively, an extra action beyond what is described under Limited AI and makes riding saddled drones the default best option to pick.

Those two bolded parts, above, signal that with non-drone mounts that definitely isn't the case (since the mount has to spend their move action and cannot end up with more actions than are allowed by the companion feat(s)). I've always argued that it shouldn't be the case for Drones, either.

That rule (and in fact that whole section of AA3) doesn't have anything to do with drones. It's a specific set of rules that only (apparently) applies to creature companions.

I'm really just trying to restart the discussion of drones/riding saddles in the hope that we can finally get a FAQ about it.


The really sticky point is that Mechanics don't have Survival as a class skill. They'd have to take a Theme with it or invest a feat into Skill Synergy just to use the riding tricks.

It seems a bit unfair to expect them to invest into Survival just to make full use of a class feature (that specifically calls out not needing Survival).


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The feature says you don't need survival for some things. They don't need survival for those things. There's nothing unfair about still needing the skill for other things the feature doesn't affect. You can get by fine with just enough survival skill to make the DC 5 Stay Mounted check, and not use tricks.


pithica42 wrote:
Drone Mechs with rideable drones are getting to move both themselves and their drones without the drone spending the move action to move.

Hmmm?

What i Usually see is

mechanic on mount uses their move action to give their drone a move action

readies an action to come into range/ their drone moves to a more favorable position

drone moves (bringing the mechanic with it)

drone attacks. Rider attacks.

yes there's an "extra" move but only because the rider didn't need to spend a move action to move, which is ... kinda the whole point of a saddle.


HammerJack wrote:
The feature says you don't need survival for some things. They don't need survival for those things. There's nothing unfair about still needing the skill for other things the feature doesn't affect. You can get by fine with just enough survival skill to make the DC 5 Stay Mounted check, and not use tricks.

I'd like to get this clarified. The implication in the Riding Saddle entry is that you don't really need Survival to do any of the basic things. Needing to roll at all to stay mounted is still a big penalty for a class that is usually pretty tight on skill points (sure their primary stat is Int, but their base is only 4 ranks).


Starfinder Superscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:

Hmmm?

What i Usually see is

mechanic on mount uses their move action to give their drone a move action

readies an action to come into range/ their drone moves to a more favorable position

drone moves (bringing the mechanic with it)

drone attacks. Rider attacks.

yes there's an "extra" move but only because the rider didn't need to spend a move action to move, which is ... kinda the whole point of a saddle.

That's exactly what is happening, and that's an extra move action. To ride a mount in combat (per the survival skill) costs a move action on the part of the rider. To ride a non-drone mount (per the rules in AA3) also requires a move action on the part of the mount. This is entirely separate from the move action to control your drone under limited AI. People have been conflating the two, as nothing in the description of Riding Saddle says it does anything to the action(s) needed to ride a mount (just the checks), and it screws up the action economy for drone mechanics in a way that's fundamentally unfair.

For example, if you have a Drone + Mechanic want to move to point X and attack.

Without the riding saddle, the mechanic has to either sacrifice their own attack or movement to have the drone both move and attack. They can either both move and get one attack between them, or both attack and only one of them move. You can literally never do both in one turn.

With the riding saddle, as it's currently being run, both the mechanic and the drone get to move and attack in one turn. So instead of getting the intended '1.5' turns, they're essentially getting 2 turns (well, just short of it).

I've had this argument numerous times, and I've let it go because A-everyone else is running it the other way and B-we kept being told rules for mounted combat were coming in AA3. AA3 is out, and the rules don't seem to have anything to do with drone mechs, so now I want a FAQ (again). If it's intentional for riding saddle drone mechs to be superior to all other options, then I'd like that stated. If it's intended for drones with riding saddles to work under the same limitations as other mounts, I'd like that stated.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Lead Designer

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Thanks, all!
Please mark the first post as a FAQ candidate, if you would, and know that I'm keeping an eye on this with the intent of clarifying things soon™.


Starfinder Superscriber

FAQ'd. And thank you.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

While we're talking about debated mount rules, does AA3 also still not address the question of bulk of the rider and if/how it applies?


Starfinder Superscriber

It does. But again, only for Creature Companions.

The rule (to simplify) is that if the rider is encumbered, the mount inherits the condition. I'm AFB but I can quote the full rule text later if needed.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Lead Designer

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HammerJack wrote:
While we're talking about debated mount rules, does AA3 also still not address the question of bulk of the rider and if/how it applies?

Page 140: "Bulk: You can mount your creature companion as long as the total amount of bulk you’re carrying doesn’t exceed your carrying capacity. If you have the encumbered condition (or gain the overburdened condition) while mounted, your creature companion gains the same condition while you are riding it."


Joe Pasini wrote:
HammerJack wrote:
While we're talking about debated mount rules, does AA3 also still not address the question of bulk of the rider and if/how it applies?
Page 140: "Bulk: You can mount your creature companion as long as the total amount of bulk you’re carrying doesn’t exceed your carrying capacity. If you have the encumbered condition (or gain the overburdened condition) while mounted, your creature companion gains the same condition while you are riding it."

Whether that applies to mechanic combat critter would determine if only ysoki and gnomes need apply for riding saddles.


Pithica wrote:
I've had this argument numerous times, and I've let it go because A-everyone else is running it the other way and B-we kept being told rules for mounted combat were coming in AA3. AA3 is out, and the rules don't seem to have anything to do with drone mechs, so now I want a FAQ (again). If it's intentional for riding saddle drone mechs to be superior to all other options, then I'd like that stated. If it's intended for drones with riding saddles to work under the same limitations as other mounts, I'd like that stated.

I don't see how the mechanic is getting anything extra there . The mechanic uses a move action to tell the drone "go over there" (move action) Then gets their standard action.

A horse rider uses his move action to tell the horse to go over there, makes an easy ride check, then gets their standard action.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I suppose the other question that will spawn out of this is people trying to ride their dragonkin friend, like ryphorians canonically do, and whether the bulk rules carry over. Still, I'm very glad to hear that they weren't forgotten.


I don't know how everyone else is using their mechanics that ride drones, but in my group's game if the mechanic has the riding saddle he and his drone still basically get 3 actions that they share. For example the drone can move and attack and the rider can attack. One always gets 2 actions and the other 1. Usually what happens is the drone will move and attack and the rider will attack. Since both are melee builds when they are close enough without moving one might full attack and the other do a single attack.

We've never used the riding rules in the survival section since we interpret them as having to related to riding an animal. Spur Mount does not sound like something that applies to a drone. I've never used Cover because If I needed to protect the rider I would just go Total Defense while on the drone and let the drone take the 2 other shared actions.

The only thing that might apply is the Survival roll to stay on the mount if you take damage. My group has never used that rule though.


Starfinder Superscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:

I don't see how the mechanic is getting anything extra there . The mechanic uses a move action to tell the drone "go over there" (move action) Then gets their standard action.

A horse rider uses his move action to tell the horse to go over there, makes an easy ride check, then gets their standard action.

You're ignoring the actions available to the mount in your math. In the case of every other mount (now actually defined, but this was also true in PF/3.5), both the rider and mount have to spend their move action for the mount+rider to move. If the mount has limited actions (and the creature companions do, same as drones), it can't then also spend a standard action to attack if it has moved.

A mechanic normally gets one move, one standard, and one swift. A drone (with limited AI) normally gets one move OR one standard (not both). With the control action, a drone mechanic can give up a move to grant a move to the drone or a move+swift to give the drone a full round action. This is not the same as the move action (under the ride section of the survival skill or defined further in the rules of AA3) to move the mounts land speed.

By treating the two move actions as the same move action, you end up with the mechanic getting one move (for control+ride), one standard, and one swift and the drone gets one move (for the movement) and one standard (rather than the normal OR). By treating them the same, at level seven, a drone could potentially move AND full attack at the end of it (I don't know of anyone actually playing it that way, but it's the same action economy math).

This is inherently superior to every other drone mech option (at least on any turn in which you might want yourself and your drone to move). I don't think it's intentional. I had hoped that the AA3 rules on mounted combat would be for all mounted combat and would fix this. They didn't.


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pithica42 wrote:


You're ignoring the actions available to the mount in your math.

How? The mount moves and attacks. The rider attacks.

Quote:
In the case of every other mount (now actually defined, but this was also true in PF/3.5), both the rider and mount have to spend their move action for the mount+rider to move.

That wasn't true of the rider in pathfinder 3.5. The only thing a rider could not do was full attack in melee, but only because they would have to wait for the mount to get where it was going and then attack. An archer could full attack, a caster not worried about the concentration check could cast etc.

Your mount acts on your initiative count as you direct it. You move at its speed, but the mount uses its action to move.

Note you don't use your actions to move. Further evidence

Casting Spells While Mounted

You can cast a spell normally if your mount moves up to a normal move (its speed) either before or after you cast. If you have your mount move both before and after you cast a spell, then you’re casting the spell while the mount is moving, and you have to make a concentration check due to the vigorous motion (DC 10 + spell level) or lose the spell.

You can specifically move cast move on a mount

You can use ranged weapons while your mount is taking a double move, but at a –4 penalty on the attack roll. You can use ranged weapons while your mount is running (quadruple speed) at a –8 penalty. In either case, you make the attack roll when your mount has completed half its movement. You can make a full attack with a ranged weapon while your mount is moving. Likewise, you can take move actions normally.

I think you had an error in how you ran pathfinder mounted combat and its carrying over.

If the mount has limited actions (and the creature companions do, same as drones), it can't then also spend a standard action to attack if it has moved.

Quote:
A drone (with limited AI) normally gets one move OR one standard (not both). With the control action, a drone mechanic can give up a move to grant a move to the drone or a move+swift to give the drone a full round action. This is not the same as the move action (under the ride section of the survival skill or defined further in the rules of AA3) to move the mounts land speed.

I think you're trying to double bill the mechanic for the same action twice, once to tell his drone to go over there and then once to ride his drone over there.

Quote:
This is inherently superior to every other drone mech option (at least on any turn in which you might want yourself and your drone to move). I don't think it's intentional. I had hoped that the AA3 rules on mounted combat would be for all mounted combat and would fix this. They didn't.

I don't have a problem with a mech in a saddle being the most mobile fighter in the game. I mean.. its mounted combat. Mobility is a lot of the point. It doesn't let you or your drone full attack, which isn't insignifigant. I haven't seen this combo do more than be just good.


Joe mentioned on Starfinder Wednesday a week ago that the mechanic's drone is supposed to be better than a pet. He said that they didn't want mechanics to feel like their drone was not as good as a pet that any class can take since that is their special ability. The interview is available on Paizo's Twitch.tv channel.


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Starfinder Superscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:
That wasn't true of the rider in pathfinder 3.5. The only thing a rider could not do was full attack in melee, but only because they would have to wait for the mount to get where it was going and then attack. An archer could full attack, a caster not worried about the concentration check could cast etc.

... You are correct. I have been wrong about that for 19 years. That explains a lot about why people have been running it that way. So, thank you.

I also think I see in the mounted combat rules in the AA3 how it works similarly for creature companions (you still spend the move as the character per the Survival skill, but that counts as granting the mount a move action per AA3 p.141 which it spends on movement per AA3 p140).

I still think this is unfair to drone mechanics that don't take the riding saddle, but I understand the rules argument now. They still get extra (effective) actions compared to drone + mechanic without it. But apparently this is intentional.

So, you're right, I'm wrong, and I withdraw.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Lead Designer

Thanks for marking as FAQ; clarification is up.

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