Hello, my friends and welcome to The Ye Olde Wayfarer’s Adventurer’s Almanac. I’m glad to see you stop in. Please, pull up a chair, grab a mug of your favorite beverage, and listen as we talk about the topic at hand. In this segment, we’ll be talking about an often-misunderstood skill. There are several misunderstood skills throughout the roleplaying hobby, especially in the D20 system. I hope that by discussing them, we can build some clarity on them, even if the clarity comes in just understanding its purpose and why it is a skill or feat. The skill/feat of discussion this time is the Ride Skill/Feat.
Anytime this has been brought up in a discussion about game mechanics, it is often debated as to why the Ride skill or feat is even necessary. To be fair, it is a good question, since the settings of most fantasy roleplaying games are set in a world be it primitive, modern, or futuristic which everyone has the basic knowledge of how to ride the proposed form of travel provided, be it a horse, bike, car, or transport. However, while the basics may be known by most anyone, there are some things that cannot be achieved without a higher level of training and specialization. For example, the average blue-collar worker has the knowledge to drive himself or herself to wherever he or she may need to go, however; put them in the driver’s seat of a Formula-1 race car, and suddenly the dynamic changes. There are new skills that must be learned. This is what makes the ride skill or feat necessary.
You see, “Ride” isn’t about the knowledge of how to ride, a horse, bike, car, transport, etc. it’s about going beyond the norm, having skills that can only be employed by those trained and specialized in riding. These skills include, stunts, evasive maneuvers, mounted shooting, mounted combat, controlling a mount under adverse conditions, and more. These features or feats come with the idea that the character taking this feat or skill has gone above and beyond the common knowledge of how to ride and is able to do things with their mount that the common villager wouldn’t even consider.
Take for example, Marcus, down at the Dripping Gauntlet Tavern, may be able to ride his horse better than anyone in the village of Highwater, however; when Garun Rengorn, Knight of Achrencort displays his proficiency in equestrian skill and horse handling in the tournament of Autumn’s Skye, Marcus is left in awe of the level of skill with which Garun can control his mount.
In the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition, these skills and feats were referred to by a more fitting name, Proficiencies. So having a Ride feat or Skill means that your character is proficient in Riding the mount and as such, gets an advantage, even a bonus for doing things that the average NPC cannot. So, what it really comes down to in this debate is- Can your character simply ride their mount or is he or she Proficient in riding their chosen mount?
If your answer is the latter for any reason, then, yes, the Ride skill is indeed necessary.
Well, my fellow adventurers, once again we have come to the end of this discussion. I am
glad you stopped in, and I look forward to seeing you again in the future. Meanwhile, I hope this clarifies the purpose of the Ride skill/feat in any of the Roleplaying systems that use it as such. It’s not about knowing how to ride but
being trained to be proficient as a rider. The time has come for us to go. May the road rise to meet you, and may your journeys be safe. Until next time, Happy Adventuring!
W. R. Frady