Adventures in Game Design: Cavalier Fighter

One of the things I love about D&D is the various fantasy stereotypes you can portray. 4th Edition has been great for this – powers feel evocative and have a ton of flavor. There are a few things missing, though. The cavalier is one of them.

Arthurian legend is full of knights errant riding off on quests with their trusty charger. Previous editions of D&D let you do this with a variety of mounted combat options. While 4E does support it (Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 46), there is a lack of options for this type of concept. The one thing I do like is that specific creatures have special attacks that can be used while mounted. Since I’d like to play a cavalier, I decided to homebrew one.

My brainstorming session came up with a few key points I wanted to emphasize with the Cavalier.

  1. They should move further than other characters. A horse runs faster than a man.
  2. They should knock enemies down or push them back. Thank you, Sir Isaac Newton.
  3. Trained mounts should get attacks and be nasty/frightening in their own right.
  4. Some weapons are better than others when mounted: heavy blades, hammers, axes and spears will have special effects.
  5. Wisdom determines your connection to the animal kingdom; a high Wisdom will enhance your mount.

With those key points made explicit, I realized there was one big problem with having a mounted fighter. If the fighter moves all over the place, how will he lock down enemies? I decided to address this with a class feature that replaces the weapon talent. It’s a bit on the striker end of the spectrum as it allows the Fighter to trigger his own Combat Challenge. One thing to watch out for is that a mount’s attack does not mark an enemy. (Though that is a good idea for a paragon or epic tier feat.)

Here are the results for low levels. I’d like to actually playtest this build for a while, see how it works and then refine it and build powers for later levels as I tweak and manage what’s been written. Feel free to use this in your own campaign. I just ask that you let me know how it works for you and pass along constructive criticism.

Cavalier

Fighter Talent
You may take Cavalier in place of Fighter Weapon Talent, Battlerage Vigor, or Tempest Technique.
Cavalier: Add nature to your class skills list. While you are mounted, you and your mount gain a bonus to AC equal to your Wisdom modifier against opportunity attacks. Opportunity attacks you provoke by moving while mounted target your mount.”

Powers

Hewing Cleave Fighter Attack 1
At-Will, Standard Weapon, Melee
Strength vs AC
Effect: You may move two squares before making the attack.
Hit: 1[W] + strength modifier damage.
Special: If you are mounted, you may use this power instead of a melee basic attack when charging.
21st Level: 2[W] + strength modifier damage

Trample the Foe Fighter Attack 1
Encounter, Standard Weapon, Melee
Strength vs. Fortitude
Hit: 1[W] + strength modifier damage and the target is knocked prone
Special: If you are mounted, you may shift two squares after the attack. If your attack was successful, you deal additional damage equal to your Wisdom modifier and may move through the target’s square as part of the shift.

Shy Away Fighter Utility 2
Daily, Immediate Interrupt
Trigger: Your mount is the target of an attack.
Effect: You shift a number of squares equal to your Wisdom modifier. If your mount is no longer a valid target at the end of the shift, the attack may target another legal target. If no other targets are available, the attack is expended.

Loose the Beast Fighter Attack 3
Encounter, Immediate Reaction
Trigger: An enemy adjacent to your mount is knocked prone.
Special: You must be mounted.
Effect: Your mount may make a melee basic attack against the triggering enemy with a bonus to the attack and damage roll equal to your Wisdom modifier.
Special: If you are wielding a spear, add 1[W] damage on a successful attack.

Feats

Mounted Defense
Prerequisite:
Wisdom 13
While you are riding a creature with the mount keyword it receives a +1 bonus to all defenses.

Invigorated Mount
Prerequisite: Constitution 13, trained in endurance
While you are riding a creature with the mount keyword and hit with an attack power that has the invigorating keyword, your mount gains temporary hit points equal to your Constitution modifier

About PK

PK Sullivan is a game designer and writer living in Chicago.

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