Cavalier Archetype (5e)

A home brew cavalier inspired by the original 1e AD&D Unearthed Arcana version as well as the updated knight version from Castle & Crusades, merged with the weak sauce version from 5e.

 


Cavalier (Knight)

Upon windswept battlefields where armies struggle for supremacy, there are those who make war their daily bread. They are the professional soldiers who lead and guide in war and in peace. They serve kings, emperors, lords, nobles, merchants and guild houses. War is their vocation, the battlefield their home, and death is their constant companion.

ARCHETYPE

The knight is the archetypical military leader. They are trained from an early age in the use of weapons, armor, siege engines, tactics, strategy and horsemanship. They live by a code of behavior that sets them apart from normal warriors. Though this code may vary between cultures, it follows several basic tenets: courage in the face of battle, service to one’s lord, honor, faith, humility, generosity and loyalty. Knights are not necessarily nobles, though they may be of noble birth. They are a caste of professional, mounted warrior-leaders. They do not judge another’s wealth in terms of land or money, but rather by action and deed. To a knight, a pauper who unseated forty foes in a tournament is wealthier than a potentate whose foot has never touched a field of battle. By the same token, a knight able to supply their fellows with fresh mounts, armor, and weaponry is respected far more than one who hoards wealth. The knights’ ability on the field of battle makes them leaders in almost any situation.

A knight’s power flows from their strength of will, leadership and individual charisma. The latter is the most salient characteristic of all knights. They are men and women of great bearing and powerful demeanor. Knights are as constant and unyielding in their codes as they are upon the field of battle.

PURPOSE

Knights follow codes of conduct and honor, dictated by culture and environment. These can vary in many aspects, and the details of a knight’s patterns of behavior, acceptable battlefield conduct and use of weapons are unique to their culture and caste; but a knight’s virtues stem from certain universal values, strict adherence to their code, bravery, honor and faith. They serve both evil lords and good kings, but all must follow the tenets of their code, or risk losing their knighthood. An example of the typical virtues present in a knightly code of conduct appears below. Knights must conform to this strict code of conduct, known as courtesy, at all times.

WEAPONS

A knight’s selection of weapons is limited by the knightly code of conduct. A knight may use any melee weapon except whips, the sap, chains or the like. In general, they cannot use weapons associated with cowards or cowardly deeds. Bows are rarely used by knights, though occasion does permit their use in siege warfare or at a tourney. The Castle Keeper should make that determination.

ARMOR

From an early age, knights train in the art of war. They master the use of armor and weapons; they inure themselves to the trials and tribulations of battle, becoming fearless through confidence. Knights prefer an honorable death in combat to a long life lived as a coward. As a member of a caste of warriors, the knight may expect noblesse oblige, or hospitality, from any other knight. At times, even knights in conflict will extend this hospitality to one another. The knight, however, is expected to return such courtesy in kind, even to an enemy. At least 10% of a knight’s income must be given as scutage to the knight’s superior lord or order as soon as possible after it is acquired.

To the cavalier, armor is a much as badge of station as it isa means of protection. Thus, a cavalier character will always seek to possess the very best and finest-quality armor the cavalier is able to own. In this endeavor, appearance is as important as function, so engraving, in- laying, and decoration of the armor will always be sought. Plate armor is the cavalier’s first choice; other preferences ranking beneath that are (in order of desirability) plate mail, banded or splint mail, chain mail, scale mail, and ring mail. Leather, studded leather, and padded armor are the dress of thieves and peasants, and as such are beneath the cavalier’s station, such that the cavalier will not wear these armor types. This list of preferencesapplies even in the case of magical armor, so that chain mail + 2 will not be worn if banded or splint mail of normal sort is available.

CHIVALRY

The cavalier must follow a code of conduct and ethics, akin to chivalry. Upon being sworn to knighthood(by a cavalier of at least 2 levels higher, in a ceremony as simple as a dubbing with the sword or a full ritualoffasting,vigil,sacredvows,andcelebration),thecavaliermust pledge himself or herself to this code. Failureto sustain the oath is not sufficient reason to revoke knighthood, unless the order or liege lord of the cavalier specificallydemands such. In the latter case, the cava- lier becomes a mere fighter, though weapon specialization is not gained and the privilege of weapons of choice is retained.

A cavalier must serve someone or some cause normally a deity, greater noble, order of knighthood, or the like. The cavalier must seek to sustain the virtues and the code of chivalry. The knightly virtues are these:

  • Liberality
  • Glory
  • Courtesy
  • Honor
  • Unselfishness
  • Bravery
  • Good Faith
  • Pride

The code for a feudal campaign may be summed up as follows. The DM may adjust this code to fit his or her own campaign.

  • Noble service cheerfully rendered
  • Defense of any charge unto death
  • Courage and enterprise in obediences to rule Respect for all peers and equals
  • Honor to all above your station
  • Obedience and respect from all beneath your station
  • Scorn for those who are lowly and ignoble (this includes knightly limitations on weapons and armor)
  • Military prowess exercised in service to your lord Courtesy to all ladies (if the cavalier is male)
  • War is the flowering of chivalry
  • Battle is the test of manhood
  • Combat is glory
  • Personal glory above all in battle Death to all who oppose the cause Death before dishonor

In enforcing this code, the DM may reduce or eliminate experience that is gained by the cavalier if its gaining violates the spirit or letter of the code. A cavalier who retreats from battle, even to save fellow partymembers,wouldreceivehalfexperienceforthebeastsslainin his or her retreat. Similarly, a cavalier who dons leather armor to infil- trate a thieves guild to effect a rescue will gain no experience, since the rescue would be done in means not approved of by the code. Note that even neutral and evil cavaliers are bound by this code, but in their cases the obedience is to non-good masters.

As a result of the code and desire for battle, cavaliers cannot be con- trolled in battle situations. They will charge any enemy in sight, with the following order of preference:

  1. Powerful monsters (dragons, demons, giants, etc.) serving enemy leaders, then the leaders themselves.
  2. Opponent cavaliers of great renown, enemy flags and standards.
  3. Opponent cavalry of noble or elite status 4. Other opponent cavalry
  4. Opponent elite footmen
  5. Opponent camp and headquarters
  6. Opponent melee troops
  7. Levies or peasants

The cavalier’s charge will be made at full speed, regardless of army cohesion, interveningfriendly troops, or other such considerations.

CAVALIER FEATURES

Fighter Level Feature
3rd Birthright mount, Bonus Proficiency, Born to the Saddle, Inspire, Unwavering Mark
7th Warding Manoeuvre, Embolden, Tenacity
10th Hold the Line, Demoralise
15th Ferocious Charger, Battlefield Dominance
18th Vigilant Defender, Call-to-Arms

Bonus Proficiency

When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in one of the following skills of your choice: Animal HandlingHistoryInsightPerformance, or Persuasion. Alternatively, you learn one language of your choice.

Birthright Mount

A trained and healthy mount is important to a knight’s station and status. In addition to their starting money, knights begin play with a fully outfitted riding horse (saddle, blankets, saddlebags, bit and bridle, harness, horseshoes, and meal). The mounts are hardier then most, having maximum hit points. A riding horse is not trained for combat, and a knight has some difficulty fighting from a riding horse (see mounted combat). Once the you reach level 5 your riding horse becomes the equivalent of a warhorse with maximum hit points.

Horsemanship

Starting at 3rd level, your mastery as a rider becomes apparent. Knights are trained in mounted combat and are familiar with all types of horses, from mounts used for riding to heavy war horses. Without the need for an attribute check, knights can saddle, mount, ride and dismount; perform simple leaps and obstacle maneuvers (no more than 3 feet in height and move around small items such as barrels); fight from a mount during combat (melee and ranged) without penalty; control the mount in combat; guide a mount with the knees; and stay in the saddle when a mount rears or bolts. When viewing a horse or a group of mounts, knights can determine the strengths and weaknesses of each horse, and can generally pick out the strongest, fastest or all-around best horse. When fighting from a war-trained mount (light to heavy war horse), a knight can direct the mount to attack and still make their attack normally.

You have advantage on saving throws made to avoid falling off your mount. If you fall off your mount and descend no more than 10 feet, you can land on your feet if you’re not incapacitated. Finally, mounting or dismounting a creature costs you only 5 feet of movement, rather than half your speed.

With a successful check, and by foregoing any attack or other action, knights may direct their mounts to perform the following actions while mounted: cover, deflect, fall softly, leap and charge. The ability used, or skill used and DC of the check is determined by the DM, but by default a DC 15 and DEX, and Animal Handling are generally appropriate.

  • Cover: A knight can drop and hang alongside a mount, using it as three-fourth’s cover.
  • This grants a +6 bonus to the knight’s armor class from those on the opposite side of the horse. The knight cannot attack or be holding anything while using this ability.
  • Deflect: This entails the mount being moved between the opponent and the knight or positioned to offer maximum cover for the knight, while at the same time allowing the mount to avoid blows. This maneuver gives a +4 bonus to the knight’s armor class and a +2 bonus to the mount’s armor class.
  • Fall Softly: A knight can attempt to take no damage after falling from a mount, by rolling to the side or leaping off, including when the mount itself falls. A character takes 1d6 points of falling damage on any failed check.
  • Leap: The knight may direct a mount to leap obstacles as part of its movement. The obstacles jumped can be no taller than two thirds the height of the horse.
  • Charge: A knight is well trained in the use of a lance. When fighting from a mount and charging, a knight inflicts triple damage upon a successful hit when wielding a lance.

Inspire

Starting at 3rd level, the mere presence of a knight upon the field of battle can alter the mood of armies and change the tide of combat. This gives the knight the ability to inspire companions and followers. Any person friendly to a knight’s immediate endeavour gains advantage on attack rolls. This ability can be used once per day and lasts 1 minute. The number of persons that are affected increases as the knight gains levels. At 1st level, the knight can affect up to 12 creatures. The ability affects up to 25 creatures at 3rd level, up to 50 creatures at 5th level, up to 250 creatures at 7th level, up to 1000 creatures at 9th level, up to 5,000 creatures at 12th level and 20,000 creatures at 16thlevel. This ability cannot be used in conjunction with embolden or demoralize.

Unwavering Mark

Starting at 3rd level, you can menace your foes, foiling their attacks and punishing them for harming others. When you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, you can mark the creature until the end of your next turn. This effect ends early if you are incapacitated or you die, or if someone else marks the creature.

While it is within 5 feet of you, a creature marked by you has disadvantage on any attack roll that doesn’t target you.

In addition, if a creature marked by you deals damage to anyone other than you, you can make a special melee weapon attack against the marked creature as a bonus action on your next turn. You have advantage on the attack roll, and if it hits, the attack’s weapon deals extra damage to the target equal to half your fighter level.

Regardless of the number of creatures you mark, you can make this special attack a number of times equal to your Strength modifier (minimum of once), and you regain all expended uses of it when you finish a long rest.

Warding Maneuver

At 7th level, you learn to fend off strikes directed at you, your mount, or other creatures nearby. If you or a creature you can see within 5 feet of you is hit by an attack, you can roll 1d8 as a reaction if you’re wielding a melee weapon or a shield. Roll the die, and add the number rolled to the target’s AC against that attack. If the attack still hits, the target has resistance against the attack’s damage.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum of once), and you regain all expended uses of it when you finish a long rest.

Embolden

At 7th level, the knight’s confidence and fearlessness in the face of danger instills courage in their companions and followers. Any companions or followers within 30 feet of the knight gains a bonus of +1d4 to strength, constitution, dexterity, and intelligence saving throws, and a +1d6 to wisdom and charisma saving throws. This ability can be used once per day and lasts a number of rounds equal to the knight’s level. This ability cannot be used in conjunction with demoralize or inspire.

Tenacity

At 7th level, cavaliers of good alignment are able to function at 0 hit point, unlike members of other classes, or cavaliers of neutral or evil alignments. The number of negative hit points the cavalier can func- tion at is determined by the cavalier’s hit points at 1st level (4-13). When a negative number of hit points is reached, the cavalier does not become unconscious, but cannot further attack and must rest, bind wounds, and seek further healing. Cavaliers heal as other characters, but those of good alignment gain an additional +1 points for each HD spent to heal.

Hold the Line

At 10th level, you become a master of locking down your enemies. Creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they move 5 feet or more while within your reach, and if you hit a creature with an opportunity attack, the target’s speed is reduced to 0 until the end of the current turn.

Demoralize

At 10th level, the knight causes fear and dread in the ranks of foes and enemy forces. Enemies to the knight’s immediate endeavor suffer a penalty of -4 to charisma checks. In addition, the affected foes must successfully save versus fear at a -4 penalty or suffer a -1 penalty to hit. This ability can be used once per day and lasts a number of rounds equal to the knight’s level. The number of creatures that can be affected increases as the knight gains levels. At 5th level, the knight can affect up to 25 creatures. The ability affects up to 100 creatures at 7th level, up to 250 creatures at 9th level, up to 1,000 creatures at 12th level and 5,000 creatures at 16th level. This ability cannot be used in conjunction with embolden or inspire.

Ferocious Charger

Starting at 15th level, you can run down your foes, whether you’re mounted or not. If you move at least 10 feet in a straight line right before attacking a creature and you hit it with the attack, that target must succeed on a Strength saving throw (DC 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier) or be knocked prone. You can use this feature only once on each of your turns.

Battlefield Dominance

At at 15th level, you can use demoralize, embolden and inspire in the same round as a single bonus action. This is in addition to their regular use individually.

Call-to-arms

At 18th level, a knight reaches a level of renown that allows them to attract followers to their cause. By establishing a stronghold, a knight can attract 2d10 followers of 0 level every month. For every 40 followers that flock to the knight’s standard, a 1st level knight heeds the call as well. When 80 followers have been attracted, a knight of at least 5th level is attracted. This cycle repeats until the knight can no longer pay for the upkeep of their followers. Thus, when 120 followers are reached, another 1st level knight comes, and when 160 followers are reached, another 5th level knight arrives.

Followers must be supported or they leave. 0 level followers require 2gp per month and 1st level knights cost 100gp per month. Every knight of a higher level requires 100gp per level per month.

Vigilant Defender

Starting at 18th level, you respond to danger with extraordinary vigilance. In combat, you get a special reaction that you can take once on every creature’s turn, except your turn. You can use this special reaction only to make an opportunity attack, and you can’t use it on the same turn that you take your normal reaction.

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