New Fighter Archetype: Knight

Inspired by D&D 3.5 PHB2 Knight class. The goal is to have a non-spellcasting (i.e. Paladin) knight archetype for the Fighter

Level Ability
3 Challenge, Knight's Code
7 Mount, Cleave
10 Stalwart
15 Daunting
18 Noble Knight
Knight's Code You don't take advantage of a disadvantaged opponent (no weapon, prone, etc.); a particularly honorable knight will wait for the opponent to regain their composure, or should they be temporarily blinded, regain their vision. A knight may seek to subdue rather than kill. An evil knight follows this standard as well, though he may have looser restrictions as to what defines a disadvantaged foe or as to when they recover. A neutral knight should pick one or the other standard. Knights are generally lawful, though some valuing personal freedom may be chaotic, though those who adhere to such a philosophy may find some issues with their code or lord at times. You help those who are in need and show hospitality. An evil knight will not kill the innocent, but that doesn't mean he won't let them suffer. You listen to your lord or sponsoring noble, so long as he acts within one step of your alignment. You gain proficiency in Persuasion and History. An evil knight gains proficiency in Intimidate and History. You are well respected in villages, towns, and cities and can always find someone willing to show you hospitality. A particularly evil knight would be feared instead. Failing to follow your code removes the Saving throw and Skill benefits of Challenge when used.

Challenge
You make a challenge one plus your charisma (minimum 1) bonus times per short short rest against a single foe within 60ft as a Bonus Action. The Challenge fails if the opponent has no language, but you need not know the language. As part of the Challenge, your foe must make a Charisma save (DC 8 + Proficiency + Charisma Bonus).
If they fail the saving throw, the opponent and you are in a battle of wits. You gain the following benefits:

  • Advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saves against the foe's abilities and spells.
  • Advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma Game (as in the tools, such as chess, etc.) checks against your opponent.
  • A bonus of 1d6 bonus damage against your foe on all weapon attacks.
The duel lasts until one of you surrenders or dies, or until an ally attacks your foe. The duel ends if the foe is more than 100 feet away from you. During the duel, your opponent suffers disadvantage on attack rolls versus targets other than you.

Mount
You can cast Find Steed as a ritual.

Cleave
Once a turn, on a successful melee attack, you can attack two foes within 5 feet of your original target. Roll a single weapon attack against them. If successful, you deal damage normally.

Stalwart
You cause opponents to treat each square within 5 feet of you as difficult terrain. When wielding a shield, you gain an additional +1 Armor Class.

Daunting
When you use Challenge, you can expend two uses to affect every foe within 30 feet. Alternatively, you can expend two uses to gain 2d6 bonus damage against a single foe and Advantage on all Skill checks, including Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, against them.

Noble Knight
If an attack would drop you below 50% hit points or if you have less than 50% hit points and are hit, as a free action you can strengthen your will to gain damage resistance against all damage for three rounds.
Additionally, you can use Challenge an additional two times per short rest.

Despite the goal and flavor text of this archetype, it really comes across as making a mobile horde breaker, rather than a defender of the weak and a vassal for a kingdom. Though the knight’s code has those aspects covered, I do not feel the archetype’s features reflect that.

I think there are two paths this can go: a Fighter archetype with Paladin emulation, or a Paladin archetype with Fighter emulation.

Fighter archetype with Paladin-like abilities makes this Knight archetype a very self-sufficient playstyle and does not help others; it’s ideal for a selfish player.

Paladin archetype with Fighter-like abilities provides a support-playstyle basis and adds some extra things to help make the Knight be more than just “i only help the weak and defenseless” and moreso “I am a valiant warrior of my kingdom”.

However, in the interest of making a non-magical nobleman, the Paladin archetype would not be ideal because the Paladin stripped of an archetype is still heavily loaded with magical effects and such. Thus, the Fighter archetype solution would still stand, but it could use a lot more Paladin flavor.
Some suggestions:

Challenge
It seems the intent of Challenge is to be very similar to the Compelled Duel spell, but with some extra benefits and roleplay features [EDIT: I misread “INT, WIS, and CHA saves” as “INT, WIS, and CHA based skill checks”. I think Challenge has a lot of room to become both a combat and non-combat feature to use, to help supplement roleplaying in an interesting way]. Why not say, “when the target fails the CHA save, they are under the effects of the Compelled Duel spell, and you gain additional benefits, as follows:”?

The usage amount of Challenge needs clarification, as it initially says 3/short rest, but the Noble Knight feature says 2/short rest for Challenge.

Mount
I feel Mount would be much more easily understood if it was just the Find Steed spell, as it is a Player’s Handbook spell already and not part of some errata material that is not so readily available.

Perhaps there should be a limitation to the kind(s) of mounts that can be summoned? My Red Hand DM, as we’ve gone through many terrains, such as hills, woodland, and swamps, has allowed my Find Steed to give me a warhorse (an attacking mount), a giant tortoise (having a swim speed for the swamps), and a pegasus (with an incredibly fast fly speed).

I think the kinds of steeds allowed depend on what kind of knight we are going for here. Perhaps only land-based horse types, such as ponies and warhorses and such?

Cleave
Ho boy, this is strange to me. It is not understood whether these 2 bonus attacks are still counted as being part of ONE attack in the Attack action or not. What bugs me is that it is free of action economy and that there are no limitations to how the player is able to implement it. Here’s what I would suggest:

Using Cleave costs a bonus action (much like the Barbarian’s Berserker Path Frenzy Attack).

On a successful melee attack, you can attack another foe within 5 ft. of your original target. If your original target was a Challenged foe, then you can attack up to two additional foes within 5 ft. of your original target, rather than just one additional foe.

Level 7 feature
I would love to see Know Your Enemy (from the Battlemaster) as part of the Knight’s level progression, but against Challenged foes. It would be a great way for the Knight to roleplay in a non-combat fashion against potential threats and enemies.

For example, the adventuring party is going to confront a gang leader in a tavern, but have no idea what he is capable of. The Knight can go in and Challenge the gang leader to a game of dragonchess while having some idle chatter and talk. The Knight garners information about the gang leader and relays that to the party so that they can prepare accordingly.

In fact, I think it could be such a strong identity feature of the Knight, that I would even propose they get Know Your Enemy (against Challenged foes) at level 3.

Stalwart
I’m not too sure what the intent here is, but it seems like it is trying to make it difficult for foes to disengage from the Knight, not only because of reduced movement, but also the opportunity attack. However, it’s weak for it being a Level 10 feature. I would suggest maybe giving the Knight the benefits of the Sentinel feat, or something closely resembling that.

Alternatively, instead of the Sentinel feat, perhaps giving the Knight the Paladin’s Aura of Protection/Courage would be a good way to capitalize on the “defender of the weak, vassal of the kingdom, brave knight for the people” thematic.

I also disagree with the +1 to AC with a shield. Being capable of getting a 22AC with only mundane gear is very powerful.

Fighting Style: Protection
To fit with the “defender of the weak” Knight archetype, I feel like Fighting Style: Protection needs to be something that is a mandatory feature of the Knight, rather than optional. I don’t know if you made it so that the Champion’s second Fighting Style feature applied to all Fighters. If not, then perhaps at level 10, the Knight gains Fighting Style: Protection. If they already have Fighting Style: Protection, then choose another Fighting Style.

Challenge definitely was a Compelled Duel thing, but I tried to run 3.5e’s Knight’s Challenge ability through it as well.

I think double fighting style was a thing, but we could definitely remove that as it could be too much. I’d have to review. Forcing Protection on them may be too much though. I don’t think all knights must use a shield, though saying when they do use one they are better isn’t a bad thing.

I like the idea of Know Your Enemy on a challenge and the suggested roleplay options. It would certainly expand the concept in a fruitful way. What if the Knight could choose two abilities? I’m thinking about how Battlemaster and Mastermind (scag) have two different halves of the same ability.

Cleave was trying to emulate a game. The idea was to give him some sort of unique AOE, but I could only concoct a stronger Hordebreaker from Hunter.

Mount as Find Steed is simple and easy. I think options should be up to a DM, though basic wording should get the idea.

Stalwart definitely was a “fighting me in melee” may not be a good idea. I’m hesitant to throw something in that forces a direct concept, as I still wanted to keep it open. What about an evil knight, or a more neutral one? I’m definitely thinking more feudal system knight than a dorect defender of the weak. I think that is strongly captured in the Paladin Protection Oath. I’m thinking of the jouster and such in this case, the black knight and the white knight. I’m not sure if an aura of fearlessness is the best option. Sentinel could bean option. Coupled with protection that could be fa scary dude. Any other thoughts here?

Thoughts on Daunting and Noble Knight? Use clarification aside.

I updated the the Code, Challenge, Mount, Cleave, and Daunting to try and make the language clearer and offer some different options. I’m unsatisfied with Cleave but am unsure of an alternative.

This Unearthed Arcana introduces a Knight.

I’m not the biggest fan overall but Implacable Mark falls in line with the idea of Challenge.

The Cavalier in XGtE is now the official Knight class.