... now with 35% more arrogance!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Cavalier Class

As you could probably guess when I wrote my version of the Barbarian class, I do not really approve of classes written in the style of "these are exactly like this other class, except that they have more hit points, and they're better, and they also have a bunch of abilities from other classes, plus a bunch of other other abilities, and they are the best at everthing forever and ever and I love them, so there."

The other major offender from Unearthed Arcana was the Cavalier. Time to give them the same fix.


Concept: The arrogant, high-class mounted warrior, like the knights of chivalry.

Alignment: Any, but Law and Neutral predominate; they prefer a srrong social order that supports class distinctions (as long as they benefit,) and some expand that to include a strong cosmic order as well. Still, the occasional Rogue Knight aligned with Chaos will attempt to enforce obedience and subservience to themselves, without any regard for a social order at all.

XP/HD: As Fighter, but prime ability is Charisma. Invert the experience bonus for Charisma: they have an XP penalty for high Charisma, a bonus for low Charisma.

Weaponry and Armor: As Fighter. All standard Fighter abilities apply, too.

Limitations: Cavaliers suffer from a crippling sense of custom and tradition; when confronted with a situation that violates their sense of the way things ought to be, they are horrified and even frightened. If confronted by a lower class opponent pretending to be a knight or noble, or if forced to do something they consider shameful or beneath their station, NPC cavaliers make a moral check at -2, and PC cavaliers must save vs. fear at -2 or be effectively ovrburdened for the remainder of the combat (Move 3, always go last in combat.) What exactly counts as lower class or shameful depends on the culture, but the GM should include at least two arbitrary conditions, such as "being/dressing like a woman" or "using long-range weapons". Players should pick one personal point of honor that counts as well, such as "being unhorsed". Note that these "points of honor" are not necessarily enforced or even shared by those who aren't Cavaliers; in fact, it's better if commoners think of the cavalier code as weirdly old-fashioned.

Cavaliers get a -1 reaction from peasants.

Other Abilities: Aside from their code of honor, Cavaliers never check morale or save vs. fear from mundane threats. They also never fall from a horse by accident, only if cursed, affected by a spell, or deliberately unhorsed. A warhorse trained by a Cavalier for at least a year will have unusually high intelligence and will act like an illiterate, mute henchman instead of a mere animal.


  1. Aside from fitting Cavaliers into the line of Fool-Tourist-Barbarian, why the inverted CHA bonus XP?

    "never fall from a horse by accident"
    I believe this means that unless the enemy's manoeuvre is intended to unhorse the Cavalier, there is no possibility of his falling from the horse, am I correct?

    1. The "inverted classes" post was a partial answer, but why Cavaliers specifically get inverted *Charisma* is based on the idea that upper classes tend to be less liked, or at least must work harder to be liked by larger number of people. I know it's prejudiced to think of the upper class as arrogant, boorish, tyrannical or slightly sociopathic, but that's the way I roll...

      And yes, the Cavalier's horsemanship means there's almost never a roll to avoid falling from a horse. Of course, I wouldn't roll that often for *other* characters falling from horses, but (for example) a snake scaring the horses might trigger rolls for most characters, but not the cavaliers in the party.

    2. Is CHA about being liked or about leadership?
      Lots of nobles were hated but their commands were obeyed, not just out of fear, but out of some kind of ingrained acceptance of the order of things. Is that Charisma or something just covered by role playing?

    3. "Is CHA about being liked or about leadership?"


      OK, serious version: it's a bit of both. By the book, high Charisma both (A) makes a character more likely to be selected by a witch, nixie or dryad (among others) to be selected for kidnapping instead of murder, and (B) sets the range for command control when directing troops in combat. It affects the chances of making a deal with a monster, and it affects the loyalty of hirelings. So, definitely both a measure of innate likeability and a limit on leadership ability.

      It's certainly possible to roleplay an arrogant character, but we're talking here about a character who comes across as arrogant even when they think they aren't. Social rules will govern whether others feel the need to obey despite their dislike of a character's personality, but Charisma is going to affect whether people are going to like a character despite their arrogance.

      I've been re-bingeing the TV series Merlin the last couple weeks, and Prince Arthur seems like a good example of an arrogant character with a high Charisma, vs. King Uther as one with a low Charisma. People still like Arthur despite his flaws, and still obey Uther despite his unpleasant nature.