The Knight

Introduction

Knights are professional warriors whose role in civilised lands is to defend the people and uphold the law. The knight protects the weak, deals swift justice to lawbreakers, and wages war against evil monsters that threaten the land. Knights are also known as cavaliers in many lands.

This class is based on the samurai from Oriental Adventures. The samurai and knight fill much the same role; namely, the epitome of the ideal warrior as seen through the eyes of a particular culture. In game terms the knight is very similar to the samurai, with details like the ancestral daisho and the class skills and feats being changed to reflect cultural differences. In a campaign where paladins are exemplars of the heroic ideal, the roles of the knight and the paladin will overlap; such a campaign should include either paladins or knights, but not both. If paladins are instead assumed to be simply holy warriors or champions of a particular religion, the two classes can coexist.

Needless to say, the knight base class also subsumes the role of the cavalier prestige class from Sword and Fist.

Adventures

Many knights pledge their services to a lord, such as a baron or other land-owning noble. Such characters may be ordered on missions by their lord, such as rooting out a nest of bandits, helping to repel an invasion of monstrous humanoids, or investigating a disturbing rumour. In times of peace, the knight may also be given a relative free rein to seek adventure on his own, although the lord reserves the right to recall him should the need arise.

Other knights do not have a lord. Such knights-errant may adventure for the same reasons as adventurers of common birth — to accumulate wealth and power; to seek out evil and destroy it; to test themselves and their devotion to justice; or simply for its own sake. Particularly idealistic knights sometimes have a tendency to speak of their adventures as “quests”, and are referred to as questing knights. These characters are either the stuff of which legends are made, or the subject of bemused comment, or possibly both.

Characteristics

Knights are distinguished from ordinary fighters by their adherence to the knight’s code of honour (also called the chivalric code in some lands). The details of the code vary depending on race and culture, but all knights share a devotion to the principles of duty, selflessness, personal honour and heroic courage. A knight does not have to be an idealist or a paragon of virtue, but he does have to be bold in the face of danger, and have the strength to do what he believes is right.

A character who does not believe in the code, or who shares its ideals but lacks the willpower or discipline to follow its dictates, is not a knight. Such a character can be a member of the nobility and can still be a “knight” in terms of social rank, but for game purposes would be treated as an aristocrat or a fighter (or a black knight — see here for the description of this prestige class).

Alignment

The knight epitomises the heroic ideal for his people. He must be lawful good, neutral good or lawful neutral.

Background

In cultures with a traditional class distinction between nobles and commoners, knights are members of the nobility. As such, they are entitled to the benefits and subject to the strictures and obligations that apply to nobles. Most knights were born into their station, but this is not necessary; it has been known for commoners to be knighted as a reward for great deeds. It should be kept in mind that just because one is a member of the noble class does not mean one is rich. In fact, many knights remain poor all their lives, and this is one reason why they (or their children) may be found adventuring. In more egalitarian societies, knights still form an elite by virtue of their training and their devotion to honour.

Races

Humans are the most commonly encountered knights in most lands, but dwarves, elves and gnomes are also often members of this class. Each race has its own specific vision of martial prowess, which is reflected in the class features listed below. Human cavaliers are usually mounted (hence the origin of the word “cavalier”), although they can also fight on foot if need be. Dwarven foot knights are among the most renowned heavy infantry in the known world. Elven cavaliers favour the sword and bow, and gnomish champions are subtle and stealthy, but no less valiant.

Of the other races in the PHB, halflings do not have an established martial tradition, and so produce few knights; those that exist tend to follow the example of their gnomish cousins. Half-elves follow either the human or the elven path, depending on their upbringing. Half-orc knights are rare, but those that are so inclined can sometimes be found in human orders of knighthood.

Note that race is used here simply as a shorthand descriptor for the ways in which different cultures approach the art of war. It is possible (subject to DM approval) for a character to take a starting package that is different to that specified for his race; for example, an elf might be accepted into a human order, or a gnome might join a dwarven brotherhood. Such characters would be rare, but have been known to exist.

Other Classes

Knights occupy a privileged place in society, and they know it. How they choose to use that knowledge, however, is up to the individual knight. One knight may view fighters and barbarians as brothers in arms, while another may consider them to be nothing better than ruffians.

In an adventuring party, knights realise the contributions that other classes make. They work well with any character of good or lawful bent, and usually have a particular respect for priests and wizards. They view characters like rogues, bards and sorcerers with a certain amount of suspicion, due to the shady reputation that these classes have in many lands. Knights of good alignment are usually open-minded and give their companions the benefit of the doubt (at least initially), while neutrally aligned knights tend to be more judgmental.


Class Statistics

Hit die: d10

Class skills: Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (nobility and royalty) (Int), Profession (Wis).

The knight gains the following additional class skills based on his background, as determined by race:

Human — Handle Animal (Wis), Ride (Dex)

Dwarf — Knowledge (engineering) (Int)

Elf — Balance (Dex), Tumble (Dex)

Gnome — Hide (Dex), Move Silently (Dex)

Skill points/level: 4 + Int modifier (x4 at 1st level)

Alignment: Lawful good, neutral good or lawful neutral.

Starting gold: 5d4 x 10 gp

Level

Base Attack
Bonus

Fort
Save

Ref
Save

Will
Save

Special

1

+1

+2

+0

+2

Device of honour

2

+2

+3

+0

+3

Bonus feat

3

+3

+3

+1

+3

 

4

+4

+4

+1

+4

Bonus feat

5

+5

+4

+1

+4

Aura of courage

6

+6/+1

+5

+2

+5

 

7

+7/+2

+5

+2

+5

Bonus feat

8

+8/+3

+6

+2

+6

 

9

+9/+4

+6

+3

+6

 

10

+10/+5

+7

+3

+7

Bonus feat

11

+11/+6/+1

+7

+3

+7

 

12

+12/+7/+2

+8

+4

+8

 

13

+13/+8/+3

+8

+4

+8

Bonus feat

14

+14/+9/+4

+9

+4

+9

 

15

+15/+10/+5

+9

+5

+9

 

16

+16/+11/+6/+1

+10

+5

+10

Bonus feat

17

+17/+12/+7/+2

+10

+5

+10

 

18

+18/+13/+8/+3

+11

+6

+11

 

19

+19/+14/+9/+4

+11

+6

+11

Bonus feat

20

+20/+15/+10/+5

+12

+6

+12

 

Class Features

The following are class features of the knight.

Weapon and armour proficiency: The knight is proficient with simple and martial weapons, shields, and all types of armour (light, medium and heavy).

Device of honour: The knight gains one item of his choice that bears his coat-of-arms or other insignia prominently, thus indicating his membership of this class. If the item is a weapon, suit of armour or shield, it is of masterwork quality. The item can have a value of up to 500 gp (including the masterwork cost, if any). Typical choices by race include the following:

Human — breastplate, medium shield, longsword, or greatsword

Dwarf — banded mail, battleaxe, warhammer, or greataxe

Elf — chain shirt, composite longbow, longsword, or spear

Gnome — breastplate, chain shirt, shortsword, or shortbow

The knight does not have to display his insignia at all times — for example, he could don a disguise if he was on a mission requiring stealth or subtle diplomacy. He could also take part in tournaments without revealing his identity, if he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. A few knights even prefer to remain incognito at all times, but this is very rare (and usually impossible for knights who serve a lord).

Aura of Courage: At 5th level, when the knight is in possession of his device of honour, he gains immunity to fear (magical or otherwise). Allies within 10 feet of him gain a +4 morale bonus to their saving throws against fear effects. Granting the morale bonus to allies is a supernatural ability.

Bonus feats: At 2nd level and then at 4th level, the knight gains a bonus feat. Every three levels thereafter, starting at 7th level, he gains an additional bonus feat. These feats must be chosen from a list reflecting the knight’s training and background, as determined by his race:

Human — Emphasise mounted combat with melee weapons and shock tactics. Feats: Dodge, Combat Expertise, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Power Attack (Cleave, Great Cleave), Mounted Combat (Trample, Ride-By Attack, Spirited Charge), Weapon Focus (longsword, greatsword, heavy mace, light flail, heavy lance)

Dwarf — Emphasise endurance, staying power, and the close-packed melee. Feats: Endurance, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (dwarven waraxe), Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Power Attack (Cleave, Great Cleave, Improved Sunder), Toughness, Diehard, Weapon Focus (battleaxe, dwarven waraxe, greataxe, heavy mace, warhammer).

Elf — Emphasise speed, fast reflexes, and archery. Feats: Combat Reflexes, Dodge (Mobility, Spring Attack), Combat Expertise, Lightning Reflexes, Point-Blank Shot (Precise Shot, Far Shot, Rapid Shot, Shot on the Run), Weapon Focus (composite longbow, longbow, longsword, rapier, shortspear).

Gnome — Emphasise mobility and elusiveness. Feats: Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge (Mobility, Spring Attack), Exotic Weapon Proficiency (gnome hooked hammer), Combat Expertise, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Run, Weapon Focus (battleaxe, gnome hooked hammer, shortbow, shortsword, warhammer).

At the DM’s option, the knight can also choose any of these Charisma-related feats as bonus feats.

Code of Honour: The knight must be of lawful good, neutral good or lawful neutral alignment, and besmirches his name and his people if he ever willingly violates his code of honour or commits an act that changes his alignment to anything else. The ramifications of this will vary depending on the seriousness of the transgression and the circumstances of the campaign. Unlike the code of bushido, the knight’s code does not specify seppuku (ritual suicide) as the ultimate punishment for dishonour, but this usually just means the knight remains alive to face the consequences of his folly.

A knight who grossly violates his code of honour or the class alignment restrictions retains his bonus feats, but loses his aura of courage (if he is 8th level or higher) and may not advance further in this class. Such fallen knights, if they are sufficiently corrupted, can take the black knight prestige class.


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