This column aims to provide players with tips on creating effective and interesting characters of various types. Whether you're a beginning player creating your very first character or an experienced gamer looking to put some punch into an old standby, this column is for you.
Knight Protectors from Complete Warrior have many useful abilities. Here are a few things to consider when building a knight protector:
- Good Base Attack Bonus: A knight protector's base attack bonus progresses as that of a fighter.
- Good Hit Dice: Knight protectors use 10-sided hit dice, making them tougher than most other characters.
- Good Will Saves: Knight protectors have good Will saving throws (PHB 22). Neither fighters nor paladins have good Will saves, making this a real plus for prospective members.
- Special Abilities: Knight protectors gain a whole range of special abilities that augment their offensive and defensive capabilities as they progress in levels.
- At 1st level, they gain defensive stance, which allows them to augment an ally's armor class by transferring up to 2 points of their own armor class to him. Every three levels (4th, 7th, and 10th) afterward, they gain the ability to transfer 1 additional point of armor class. They also gain the shining beacon ability, which grants all nearby allies a bonus to resist fear effects.
- At 2nd level, they gain Iron Will as a bonus feat and the best effort ability, which enables them to add a +2 bonus to one skill check per day. This bonus increases by one every three levels (at 5th and 8th).
- At 3rd level, they gain supreme cleave, allowing them to make a 5-foot step between attacks when using Cleave or Great Cleave.
- At 6th level, a knight protector gains the ability to make one additional attack of opportunity per round; at 9th level, he can make an additional two such attacks per round.
- At 10th level, a knight protector can make one retributive strike against an opponent that renders an ally unconscious or helpless. He can make a number of these attacks per day equal to his Charisma modifier.
The knight protector's advantages come at a price. Here are a few things to consider when thinking about such a character:
- Hard Qualification: Only a select few individuals qualify to become knight protectors. Prospective members must be either lawful good or lawful neutral and have a base attack bonus of +5. Additionally, they must have Armor Proficiency (heavy), Cleave, Great Cleave, Mounted Combat, and Power Attack, as well as six ranks in Diplomacy, four ranks in Knowledge (nobility and royalty), and six ranks in Ride.
- Poor Fortitude Saves: Knight protectors have poor Fortitude saving throws (PHB 22). However, some of the classes required to qualify for the prestige class -- fighters and paladins, for example -- have good Fortitude saves, offsetting this weakness to some degree.
- Poor Reflex Saves: Knight protectors have poor Reflex saving throws (PHB 22). Unfortunately, many individuals qualifying for this prestige class have levels in classes -- particularly fighter and paladin -- that also have poor Reflex saves making this a major weakness of the prestige class.
- Skill Points: A knight protector receives 2 (+ Int bonus) skill points at every class level.
Knight Protectors in Greyhawk
In the World of Greyhawk, the Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom were once a mighty order of knighthood famed for its member's honor and skill at arms. At its zenith, many hundreds of skilled fighters bore the order's device (the great crowned sun of Aerdy guarded by a white axe and red arrow) into battle. Now the order has fallen into disfavor, shattered by the foulest treachery from within its own ranks. Almost 400 years ago, Sir Kargoth -- one of the greatest of the order -- betrayed his honor and the order by making a pact with Demogorgon, Prince of Demons. As well as unleashing a terrible demon into the Great Kingdom, he seduced 13 of his fellow knights to join him in his dark compact. Their betrayal (and subsequent grizzly deaths) powered the creation of the first and most powerful death knights. The hunt for these renegade knights and political changes within the Great Kingdom tipped the order into slow decline. Now, barely two dozen scattered knights claim membership.
For more information on the Knight Protectors, check out Dragon Magazine issues 290, 291, and 293; the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Living Greyhawk Journal issue 5, and the World of Greyhawk boxed set. A 3.0 ruleset version of this prestige class appeared in Sword and Fist.
Playing a Knight Protector
Knight protectors are dedicated to the ideals of chivalry and honor, fighting moral decay wherever they find it. They adhere to a rigid code of honor which they are charged to defend above all other things. (This code is described on page 56 of Complete Warrior). Paladins, ex-paladins, fighters, and knights (PHB II) are most commonly associated with this class, but duskblades (PHB II) and samurai (Complete Warrior) also occasionally join this elite order.
Skills and Feats
While knight protectors are essentially armored killing machines adept at dealing a lot of damage, choosing the right selection of skills and feats can give them a significant advantage in battle. Remember that a prospective member of the order must have the following feats and skills:
Skills: Diplomacy 6, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) 4, and Ride 6.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (heavy), Cleave, Great Cleave, Mounted Combat, and Power Attack.
The combination of Mounted Combat and Ride gives them useful mobility in large open areas (and extra attacks if they are riding a warhorse or paladin's mount). Cleave and Great Cleave make them particularly effective at slaughtering large numbers of lesser foes such as goblins and orcs. Unfortunately, the large number of required feats for this prestige class makes any meaningful customization of prospective members difficult unless they are human fighters.
Other useful feats for knight protectors include Lightning Reflexes (to offset one of their main weaknesses), Improved Toughness (Complete Warrior -- bestows more hit points), and Weapon Focus. A knight protector planning to fight from horseback should take Spirited Charge (used in conjunction with a lance), Ride-By Attack, Trample, and Cavalry Charger (a tactical feat from Complete Warrior).
Knight protectors lead from the front, getting into melee combat as quickly as possible. They often assume positions of leadership in an adventuring group. This is particularly true for knight protectors with levels of paladin.
Knight protectors encountered above ground are often mounted, allowing them to make good use of their lances and mobility to defeat their opponents. Whenever they fight, they wear the best armor and carry the best shield that they can afford; many use tower shields. Their armor and weapons are often enchanted. When choosing their weapon of choice, many knights pick the favored weapon of their patron deity. Thus, followers of Heironeous wield battleaxes or longswords, Hextor's faithful use flails, and St Cuthbert's adherents use clubs or other bludgeoning weapons.
Because he is often in battle, a knight protector should look to augment his defensive and offensive capabilities as much as possible by enchanting his armor and weapons. They should also carry several backup weapons in case they are disarmed or they meet a foe with damage reduction. A cold iron or adamantine morningstar (dealing bludgeoning and piercing damage) is a fantastic backup weapon. Similarly, they should carry a light slashing weapon to use while grappled or while cutting their way out of the belly of some terrifying beast (such as the dreaded purple worm).
A knight protector should also carry some healing magic. Allied clerics cannot always reach a compatriot who has cut a swath through the enemy's ranks.
Sample Knight Protector: Sir Elliast Cranden
Well muscled and tall, this human male has deeply tanned skin, piercing gray eyes, and an oval face framed by shoulder-length fair hair. He is clad in full plate armor and carries a finely balanced longsword.
Sir Elliast Cranden, CR 8
Male human knight 5*/paladin 2/knight protector** 1
*PHB II, pg. 25
**Complete Warrior pg. 55
LG Medium humanoid (human)
Init -1; Senses Listen +1, Spot +4
Aura shining beacon (10 ft., +4 morale bonus against fear)
AC 24, touch 10, flat-footed 24; defensive stance +2, shield block +1
(-1 Dex, +9 armor, +5 shield, +1 deflection)
hp 62 (8 HD)
Fort +10, Ref +3, Will +10
Speed 20 ft. in full plate (4 squares), base speed 30 ft.
Melee+1 longsword +11/+6 (1d8+4/19-20)
Melee mwk lance +12/+7 (1d8+4/x3)
Base Atk +8; Grp +11
Atk Options Cleave, Great Cleave, Power Attack, bulwark of defense, fighting challenge +1, smite evil 1/day (+2 attack, +2 damage), test of mettle (DC 14), vigilant defender
Special Actions lay on hands (4 points)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 2)
At Will -- detect evil
Combat Gearpotion of bull's strength, potion of cure serious wounds
Abilities Str 17, Dex 8, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 14
SQ armor mastery (medium), knight's challenge 4/day (7 rounds), knight's code, moderate aura of good
Feats Cleave, Great Cleave, Great Fortitude (B), Mounted Combat (B), Power Attack, Weapon Focus (longsword)
Skills Diplomacy +8, Handle Animal +9, Jump -5, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +4, Ride +7, Spot +4
Possessions combat gear plus +1 full plate, +1 tower shield, +1 longsword, ring of protection +1, cloak of protection +1, masterwork lance, heavy warhorse with military saddle, 50 gp
Defensive Stance (Ex) At the beginning of his turn, Sir Elliast can transfer up to 2 points of Armor Class to any ally within 5 ft. who has less Hit Dice than him. This reduces his armor class by the amount.
Shield Block (Ex) During his turn, Sir Elliast can designate a single opponent. Against that opponent, his shield bonus increases by 1.
Fighting Challenge (Ex) As a swift action, Sir Elliast can challenge a single opponent with an Intelligence of 5 or higher, a language of sorts, and a CR greater than or equal to 6. Against such an opponent, Sir Elliast gains a +1 morale bonus on Will saves, attack rolls, and damage rolls. This effect lasts for 7 rounds and expends one use of Sir Elliast's knight's challenge. If Sir Elliast is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points as a result of this challenge, he loses two daily uses of his knight's challenge.
Test of Mettle (Ex) As a swift action, Sir Eliast can spend one of his fighting challenges to challenge all enemies within 100 ft. that have Intelligence of 5 or higher and a language of sorts to which he has line of sight and line of effect. Affected individuals must have a CR greater than or equal to 6. Targets failing a DC 14 Will save are forced to attack Sir Elliast with ranged or melee attacks in preference to all other targets. Foes using spells must include Sir Elliast in the area of affect. If reduced to 0 hit points or fewer as a result of this, Sir Elliant gains one use of knight's challenge.
Bulwark of Defense (Ex) An opponent that starts its turn in Sir Elliast's threatened area treats all the squares that he threatens as difficult terrain.
Armor Mastery (Ex) Sir Elliast ignores the speed reduction of medium armor.
Sir Elliast Cranden had the following ability scores before racial adjustments, Hit Die ability score increases, and stat boosting items: Str 15, Dex 8, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 14.
Had a chance to try out the knight protector prestige class? Let us know your thoughts on how it played or what changes you would make to it.
About the Author
Creighton Broadhurst is a member of Living Greyhawk's Circle of Six and a mad-keen World of Greyhawk fan. He has two young sons (whom he nicknames "Ghengis" and "Khan"). His house is an oasis of tranquility, tidiness, and order. In his spare time, he tries to survive the Savage Tide.