Once upon a time, many years ago, a book was published. And within that tome of Unearthed Arcana E. Gary Gygax did write of a new class for D&D: the cavalier. This was the classic Arthurian Knight in Shining Armor, but one not quite so strict in his views as the Paladin. Indeed, there were Evil Cavaliers, and Neutral Cavaliers to go alongside the Good Cavaliers. These Knights were all characterized by their Code, the Code of Chivalry. Powerful horsemen, they exemplified for those long ago games the Mounted Knight.
But the seasons have changed, and many years have passed by. Editions have come and gone, and Gygax’s company is no more. Those who called themselves the Magi by the Sea, provoked many of their loyal fans by once again changing the rules after sucking them dry of their hard-earned gold (well, paper) currency.
But there were others to raise high the standards and Paizo stepped forward with its Pathfinder rules. Once again, we had no cavalier, for such a class wasn’t in the Core Rulebook. But Paizo listened, and they delivered unto to us the first Cavalier since those heady days of Unearthed Arcana.
Unfortunately, their vision—while a good class in its own right—does not meet what I consider to be the core of the Cavalier, that Mounted Knight that rode straight out of the pages of Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, or White’s The Once and Future King.
So here then, is my own humble attempt to reforge the legend that rose from the fertile mind of Gygax and fit so well into his own world of Knights and Sorcerers and Dragons and terrible, terrible Dungeons.
I hope that you enjoy it.
As always, any criticism, critiques, advice, suggestions, or comments you care to make will be appreciated.
Alignment: Any. While the Cavalier is expected to abide by the Knight’s Code (see below), that is merely a social convention and an expectation. Some Knights, particularly those miscreants known as Black Knights, routinely ignore the Code and act as they will. Unlike Paladins, who are held to their Code by higher powers, nothing other their own discipline forces a Cavalier to abide by its terms.
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: A Cavalier is proficient with all simple and all martial weapons. He is proficient with all types of armor, and with all shields, except tower shields.
The Cavalier’s Code: Cavaliers are taught and expected to live by the Code of Chivalry. However, nothing prevents an individual Cavalier from disregarding the Code—nothing other than the displeasure of his fellows and his liege lord. Such disreputable Cavaliers are often known as ‘Black Knights’.
The Code of the Cavalier is as follows: I shall give oath to fear God and maintain His Church; to serve the liege lord in valor and in faith; to protect the weak and defenseless; to give succor to widows and orphans; to refrain from the wanton giving of offence; to live by honor and for glory; to despise pecuniary reward; to fight for the welfare of all; to obey those placed in authority; to guard the honor of fellow Knights; to eschew unfairness, meanness, and deceit; to keep faith; to at all times to speak the truth; to persevere to the end in any enterprise begun; to respect the honor of women; to never to refuse a challenge from an equal; to never to turn the back upon a foe.
Many commoners know of the Code; they also know that not all Cavaliers follow it. Still, for those who do live by the Code, these Knights find that their reputation quickly passes by word of mouth—and their respect grows throughout the lands.
Challenge (Ex): Once per day, a Cavalier can issue a challenge against a single opponent of his choice. The Cavalier gains a bonus on all weapons damage against that target equal to one-half his level as a Cavalier (to a minimum of +1). This bonus lasts until the target of the challenge is dead, has fled the combat, or the Cavalier is rendered unconscious. Once the Cavalier issues a challenge, he must attempt to engage his target in melee combat each round.
At 4th level, and again at every three levels thereafter, the Cavalier gains one additional daily use of this ability, to a maximum of seven times per day at 19th level.
Courtly Etiquette (Ex): A Cavalier gains a competence bonus equal to one-half his Cavalier level (minimum 1) on all Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Knowledge (Nobility) skill.
Mounted Combat: Cavaliers gain Mounted Combat as a bonus feat at 1st level.
Special Mount (Ex): Cavaliers gain the service of a loyal and trusted steed to carry him into battle. This mount functions as a druid’s animal companion, using the Cavalier’s level as his effective druid level. The creature must be one that he is capable of riding and is suitable as a mount. A medium Cavalier can select a camel or a horse. A Small Cavalier can select a pony or riding dog. The DM might approve other animals as suitable mounts.
A Cavalier does not take an armor check penalty on Ride checks while riding his mount. The mount is always considered combat trained and begins play with proficiency in all barding. A Cavalier’s mount does not gain the share spells special ability.
A Cavalier's mount gains the same competence bonus on attacks that its master gains from the Lance Expertise class ability (see below) on its hoofs (horse and pony) or bite (dog).
A Cavalier’s bond with his mount is strong, with the pair learning to anticipate each other’s moods and moves. Should a Cavalier’s mount die, the Cavalier may find another mount after 24 hours have passed.
Bonus Feats: At 2nd level, 6th level, and every three levels gained as a Cavalier thereafter, a Cavalier gains a bonus feat from the following list: Alertness, Animal Affinity, Combat Reflexes, Critical Focus, Dazzling Display, Diehard, Endurance, Improved Critical, Improved Shield Bash, Intimidating Prowess, Ride-By Attack, Shield Focus, Toughness, Trample, Unseat, and Weapon Focus. The Cavalier must meet all the prerequisites of the chosen feat.
Lance Expertise (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, a Cavalier gains a +1 competence bonus on all attack rolls when using a lance (either mounted or dismounted). At 6th level, and every four levels gained thereafter, this bonus increases by +1 to a maximum competence bonus of +5 at 18th level.
Spirited Charge (Ex): Cavaliers gain Spirited Charge as a bonus feat at 3rd level. If the Cavalier already possesses the Spirited Charge feat, they may instead select any feat from their Bonus Feat list (see above).
Sword Expertise (Ex): Starting at 3rd level, a Cavalier gains a +1 competence bonus on all attack rolls when using a one-handed slashing blade, including scimitars and bastard swords if the Cavalier is proficient (either mounted or dismounted). At 7th level, and every four levels gained thereafter, this bonus increases by +1 to a maximum competence bonus of +5 at 19th level.
Armor Mastery (Ex): Cavaliers learn to wear their armor like a second skin, ignoring the discomfort posed by medium and heavy armor and negating some of the penalties they normally bestowed. Starting at 4th level, the cavalier is no longer slowed when wearing medium armor. At 8th level, the Cavalier is no longer slowed by heavy armor.
Mace Expertise (Ex): Starting at 4th level, a Cavalier gains a +1 competence bonus on all attack rolls when using any of the following weapons: flail, light mace, heavy mace, or morningstar (either mounted or dismounted). At 8th level, and every four levels gained thereafter, this bonus increases by +1 to a maximum competence bonus of +5 at 20th level.
Shield Block (Ex): Starting at 5th level, a Cavalier can use a shield to deflect blows most fighters would find impossible to stop. The Cavalier gains a +1 competence bonus on his Shield bonus. At 9th level, and every four levels gained thereafter, this bonus increases by +1 to maximum competence bonus of +4 at 17th level. This bonus stacks with that granted by the feats Shield Focus and Greater Shield Focus.
Deadly Charge (Ex): At 10th level, a Cavalier can perform exceptionally deadly charge attacks. The Cavalier deals triple damage on a mounted charge (quadruple with a lance). This replaces (does not stack with) the bonuses granted by the Spirited Charge Feat.
Unstoppable Charge (Ex): A 20th level Cavalier can almost move mountains with his mounted charge. The Cavalier deals quadruple damage on a mounted charge (quintuple with a lance). This replaces (does not stack with) the bonuses granted by the Spirited Charge feat and the Deadly Charge ability.
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