Note The purpose of this archetype is to give a workable version of the cavalier that hearkens back to the earliest published version of this class. The standard cavalier has many aspects of the original and has evolved the class with some interesting and innovative class abilities, but the original had some interesting functionality and this archetype was designed to try and capture that feel while using the current system.
In days of yore when men of chivalry shod in metal stood against the tide of evil, those of noble bearing and heart took oaths of knighthood. These warriors became the unearthed cavalier, mastering sword, lance, and horse to become the ultimate lords of might and valor.
The unearthed cavalier is proficient with light, medium, and heavy armor and shields (except the tower shield). Heavy armor is the preferred type for the unearthed cavalier and he will opt for this type above all else, even if lighter magical versions are available. Light armors are disdained, and if the unearthed cavalier wears a non-metallic armor (such as leather or studded leather), he suffers a -4 penalty to any Charisma-based skill or ability checks when dealing with others.
Through sheer will and fortitude, the unearthed cavalier may attempt to continue fighting even when he would otherwise be unconscious. If an unearthed cavalier is reduced to 0 or fewer hp (but not exceeding a negative amount greater than his class level plus Constitution modifier) he may attempt a Fortitude saving throw to gain the staggered condition instead of the unconscious condition (unless he would otherwise be dead.)
He must also attempt another Fortitude saving throw at the end of each of his turns to remain conscious (though he remains staggered.) The Fortitude saving throw DC is equal to 10 plus his current negative hit point total. If his negative hit point total exceeds his Constitution score he dies as normal.
When no opponents remain the cavalier is no longer staggered but instead unconscious and dying until he stabilizes (or is stabilized). Even if fully healed, the cavalier remains fatigued until fully rested.
This ability replaces the cavalier’s challenge and demanding challenge class abilities including bonuses normally gained from his chosen order.
At 7th level the unearthed cavalier gains Weapon Specialization with the sword type chosen at 4th level.
At 9th level the unearthed cavalier gains Weapon Specialization with the weapon chosen at 6th level.
At 10th level the unearthed cavalier gains Greater Weapon Focus with the sword type chosen at 4th level.
At 12th level the unearthed cavalier gains Greater Weapon Focus with the weapon chosen at 6th level.
At 15th level the unearthed cavalier gains Greater Weapon Specialization with the sword type selected at 4th level.
At 17th level the unearthed cavalier gains Greater Weapon Specialization with the weapon chosen at 6th level.
This ability replaces the cavalier’s tactician, greater tactician, and bonus feats gained every six levels.
In addition to gaining a mount at 1st level, the cavalier gains Mounted Combat as a bonus feat. At 5th level and every five levels there after the cavalier may select from the following feats as bonus feats: Mounted Shield, Mounted Skirmisher, Ride-by Attack, Spirited Charge, Trample, Trick Riding, and Unseat. The cavalier must meet any prerequisites for the feats selected.
At 3rd level, the unearthed cavalier gains a +1 circumstance bonus to attacks he makes from his mount. This bonus increases by +1 every four levels thereafter (with a maximum of +5 at 19th level).
The unearthed cavalier may add ½ his class level to any Ride checks made during combat (minimum of +1).
At 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter the cavalier may coax his mount to an extra 10 feet movement increase per round for a limited amount of time. The mount may maintain the faster speed for a number of rounds equal to its Constitution score. If the mount maintains that speed until it reaches that limit, it gains the fatigued condition until it gets a full night’s rest.
The mount gained by the cavalier is especially fit and sturdy, and gains an additional +1 hit point per Hit Die the mount possesses while in the service of the cavalier. This bonus is due to the rigorous training the cavalier performs with the mount and if the mount is released from service these bonus hit points are lost.
Once the cavalier reaches 4th level, he may summon an extraordinary animal whose Challenge Rating does not exceed half of the cavalier’s class level to act as his trusted mount. Such a mount may only be gained once his previous mount is released or lost. If lost, penalties for such loss is extended to the extraordinary mount gained until the cavalier reaches a new level.
The new mount must be an animal or magical beast with an Intelligence score of 3 or less and is native to the cavalier’s general vicinity. The GM has final say as to what creatures are available as the cavalier’s mount. Typical extraordinary mounts include giant eagles, griffons, hippogrifs, unicorns (limited to cavaliers with a Charisma of 16 or greater), or many dire creatures including wolves and bears.
Summoning the new mount will take up to a week in length to complete and the cavalier must make a Handle Animal Check at the end of the week with a DC equal to 10 plus the creature’s initial Hit Dice. If successful, the cavalier has earned the trust of the creature and may begin training it for combat, requiring another two weeks and another successful Handle Animal check for animal training.
This ability replaces expert trainer, cavalier’s charge, and mighty charge class abilities and modifies his mount class ability as listed above.
The cavalier’s challenge is one of his strongest features and in some sense it may seem that replacing it with a bunch of feats may seem underwhelming. But the change does balance out by the fact that the challenge is limited to a small number of uses per day against a specific target while the bonus feat progression given under weapon mastery are unlimited in use and are not tied to just one target.
This version of the cavalier focuses heavily on the mounted aspects of the character, even more so than the base cavalier class. It may seem counter-productive to remove the cavalier’s charge class features, but the bonus feats, additional movement rate and bonus to the cavalier’s Ride skill more than make up for the two charge class abilities. The supreme charge is kept for this archetype, making the 20th level unearthed cavalier quite deadly while mounted.
Player Paraphernalia #23 Old School Cavalier (New Cavalier Archetype) ©2015, The Knotty-Works; Author John Buckley.