Dragon Encounters

Making dnd combat fun, finding monsters that fit together, monster tactics and strategies, and other ways of using the monsters of dungeons and dragons

CENTAUR: Tactics of Horse Archers


Combat rating 3


1 Centaur (CR 2)

3-4 Aarakocra (CR 1/4)


Combat rating 3


1 Centaur (CR 2)

3-5 Blink dogs (CR 1/4)


Combat rating 4


2 Centaurs (CR 2)

2-3 Pteranodons (CR 1/4)

1 Dryad (CR 1)


Combat rating 5


3 Centaurs (CR 2)

1 Githzerai monk (CR 2)

1 Hippogriff * (CR 2)


* [possibly the githzerai’s steed]

How to Use – Social Encounter

The Monster Manual doesn’t talk much about what centaurs are like. In almost every book I can think of, though, their personalities range from proud to arrogant jerks. They are certain of themselves and they look down on other creatures.

In an interaction, the centaurs will be willing to hear what the players have to say. They will not accept repeated arguments, pleading, and they especially will not accept the suggestion that they might be wrong. They will want to hear facts, concise arguments, and their decision will almost always be final. (Actually, this seems like an awfully good way to run all meeting between players and NPCs.)

I’ve discussed arguments between the players and NPCs at greater length in the beginning of my article on aarakocra.

Their pride is also the most obvious reason why the centaurs won’t help the players. They’ll consider it beneath them.

A fringe benefit of centaurs being like this is that they can be used as enemies. They are almost the only good-aligned creature I wouldn’t mind having my players kill, nor would I expect them to feel guilty if they do so. (That said, centaurs are still good-aligned. It would be very unlike them to ally with, or work for, evil creatures.)

Combat Encounter (Difficulty 4)

Centaur fighting style: With their great range and great mobility, the centaurs always fight from range. They will generally stay at the far edge of where they can shoot from [without suffering disadvantage]. They will most likely spend their turns moving until they’re just within range, and then using their remaining movement to back up out of range of any PC bows. They also know not to cluster up and make themselves vulnerable to area-of-effect spells. Finally, they live exclusively in areas which are open, with little cover.

Scenario: Like any monster which doesn’t close in on the players, this means you would be best off avoiding having the players goal be to kill the centaurs. I’m going to suggest a scenario where the players have to reach a shrine, dungeon entrance, or other special location in order to continue their mission. The centaurs maintain that the location is too dangerous, or they don’t want to share access with non-centaurs, or some other reason. They refuse to consider making an exception.

[In the Monster Manual centaurs are nomadic. You can say that these centaurs are different, or that there is a special group of centaurs that stay here to guard this site [it’s also possible that they take in in half-year shifts,] or the place is only accessible at one specific time every several years [in which case the migration takes this into account, making sure to always be here at that time.]]

Scenario Battlemap description: This scenario will need a battlemap. I would make every square or hex on this map be 10×10 feet instead of the normal 5×5 [I would make it even bigger, but that’s the biggest size that divides evenly into both the centaurs’ fifty feet of movement and the PCs’ thirty.] Even with this size change, you will need a fairly large battlemap.

The players will begin at the side of the battlemap, probably at the far edge of a forest [the centaurs can’t keep them farther back, as forests limit visibility.] The objective should be 250-300 feet from their starting position, and the map should extend another hundred feet or so.

The map should be fairly open, but there should be scattered outcroppings of stone, groves of trees, etc. The players can use them as a limited cover, as the centaurs can’t see them when they’re inside these places and the places also block line of sight, but the centaurs can and will ready actions to shoot the PCs if and when they leave these places.

The objective should be only open for an hour or so a day, sometime toward the middle of the day. Otherwise, the players will simply go to it at night.

The centaurs may well choose a specific PC to target, although their fairly low WIS lowers their ability to tell which PC should to target. If the players talked with them, the one talking will probably be assumed to be the leader and therefore the primary target.

Centaur strategy: The centaurs can ready an action to wait a second or two to see if their primary target emerges and if not target whoever. If the players try to adjust the order of their turns [through readying actions] to foil this, remind them that all turns take place at the same time and that turns are just a mechanism to give the game manageable structure.

The centaurs will probably spread out, so as to maintain eyesight over the entire plains and to protect themselves from area-of-effect spells. If you don’t have them spread out, this encounter will become significantly easier.

Suggested player strategy: If the players try to camp out in one of the outcroppings or groves, the centaurs will probably realize it [they have proficiency in survival, which includes tracking.] They can then rain arrows down on them until they surrender. A single PC might manage to hide, however, particularly if they have proficiency in stealth or survival (I would assume survival would also let them advances. Aside from that, the party will use illusions or any other means they can think of to fool the centaurs while they get close.

Scenario ending: Once the players draw within fifty feet of the target, the centaurs will charge toward them [probably using a turn to dash] and engage them in melee, rather than letting them have access. This will also give the players the satisfaction of finally being able to take them down.

This is an extremely difficult scenario for its level. I would strongly suggest that the number of centaurs should be no more than 3 centaurs for every two levels that the players have.

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About Me

I have been a DM for several years, and I was designing home RPG games since my young childhood. I have been a fan of many different types of games (computer, board, RPG, and more) and have designed several for my own entertainment. This is my first attempt to produce game content for a wider audience.