In the real world, cavalry makes a huge difference. In basic d20, you get better mobility and +1 on attack rolls vs. opponents on foot smaller than your mount.
That’s okay for armies, I guess, but (without funky class abilities) it seems pointless for a PC to be mounted. The only PCs that I hear about who are largely mounted characters are (1) Paladins and (2) characters who utterly twink out the benefits of the double-damage on a mounted charge weapons. In part, this is because a mount is a liability – they are fragile and potentially expensive. In order to make use of one well, you need to invest in the Ride skill and in a number of feats.
Some possible fixes:
- When mounted, you do not provoke attacks of opportunity from unmounted opponents smaller than your mount (though your mount may).
- On a mounted charge, you may substitute your mount’s strength for your own when calculating melee damage. Alternately, on a mounted charge, you do not take a penalty to AC (though your mount does).
- Fold the benefits of Ride-by Attack into the Mounted Combat Feat. Currently, the mounted combat feat (1) just overcomes the inherent weakness of having a mount, (2) doesn’t actually improve your combat ability while mounted, (3) relies upon a high Ride score, and (4) acts as a speed-bump. I want mounted combat to be viable without a huge feat investment.
- Create a new feat (replacing or building off of Ride-by Attack) that allows you to take attacks of opportunity more easily when mounted vs. unmounted opponents smaller than your mount. One possibility:
Ride-By Attack [General]
Ride 1 rank, Mounted Combat.
When you are mounted, you may take a full-round action to make a ride-by attack. Your total movement for the round can’t exceed your normal mounted speed. When you move into a square where you threaten an opponent who is unmounted and smaller than your mount, that opponent provokes an attack of opportunity from you. You and your mount do not provoke an attack of opportunity from any opponent that you attack. You can take a number of attacks of opportunity equal to your normal allotment or one-half your ranks in Ride, whichever is less. When making a ride-by attack you do not get to take a normal melee attack.
A fighter may select Ride-By Attack as one of his fighter bonus feats.
That last feat might be too good, though it does get at some of the big advantages of being mounted. A mounted tactical feat might be better.
Mind you, my personal horseback experience, though not nonexistent, is minimal. I’m basing this off of the depiction of mounted combat that I see in books and movies and such… which is more along the lines of what the rules should be modeling anyway.