Excerpts Archive | 2/7/2013
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Unearthed Arcana: Cavalier
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"Thus, Good Reader," Gary Gygax wrote in the preface to Unearthed Arcana, "here is the 'last word'—by far not the last word ever, but the latest so far. It is, after all, high time that those who enjoy the challenge and excitement of the AD&D game be presented with a tome such as this, a package which gathers all of the new discoveries, plus a wealth of just uncovered secrets, between one pair of covers. Preliminaries aside, here is Unearthed Arcana. It is now the moment you have waited for. Read on, and may you have as much fun with your creation as we are having with ours."

Originally published in 1985, Unearthed Arcana brought a wealth of material to the game, for both players and Dungeon Masters alike. For players, the book contained new classes and races to play (including the drow!), further spells and equipment, and even an alternate ability score: Comeliness (reflecting physical attractiveness, social grace, and personal beauty, and was considered a different attribute from Charisma).

For Dungeon Masters, the book offered further explanations of everything from the new weapon and armor types (full and field plate!), weaponless combat, non-human deities, and a wide array of new magic items incorporated into usefully revised treasure tables.

Of all these elements, it's perhaps the book's three classes that are best remembered. The Dungeons & Dragons cartoon had just run (1983-1985) and introduced many young gamers to the cavalier, barbarian and acrobat (adventuring alongside the ranger, thief and "magician"). Now here was the chance to play these classes!


In today's preview, we look at the first page for one of these classes: the cavalier.

An early playtest version of the cavalier appeared back in Dragon Magazine #72. As Gary Gygax prefaced in his From the Sorcerer's Scroll article, "The Chivalrous Cavalier":

"Here is another installment of the new character classes promised for the expansion of the AD&D game system. The cavalier class, or sub-class of fighter, if you will, is predicated upon knighthood and chivalry. Because this is a fantasy game, and because every campaign certainly does not include feudalism and chivalry, the class contains changes from historical facts and legends. These changes, of course, are what makes the cavalier class compatible with the overall game system."

Emblematic of the romantic notion of knights, the cavalier "must be in service to some deity, noble, order, or special cause. The DM will determine if this requirement can be met within the limits of the campaign, and if it is properly met by the cavalier character. The cavalier must always place honor, bravery, and personal deeds in the forefront of his or her activity, and must adhere to a code of chivalry…"

For the cavalier that finally appeared in Unearthed Arcana, the prerequisites were high (and, in fact, started out at 0-level), but the class enjoyed powerful benefits that included expert parrying, the ability to function at negative hit points, and ability score percentiles that increased at each level.

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