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Zaydos
2013-05-26, 01:06 PM
Dragon Knight:

Balance point and why I did this explanations in red.

Fluffy bits (spoilered for those who just want to get to the crunch first)
Many of those born with the blood of dragons find its outlet in the mighty magical powers of sorcerers. Some, though, find that their draconic power allies itself better with the martial arts. Training their blade they find that certain elemental powers, and lesser magic, come naturally to them even as they attain some of the toughness of their draconic ancestors. Feared warriors, these are Dragon Knights.

Adventures: A dragon knight adventures for much the same reasons as any other who is skilled in the clashing of arms. Dragon knights may be more driven than most, as their powers often make normal humanoids uneasy in their presence, and they are prone to some of the same passions of their draconic ancestors including their love of gold and material wealth. Those descended from metallic dragons often find themselves motivated to right wrongs and overthrow injustice. Those descended from chromatic dragons often follow baser motivations, seeking power, wealth, and position.
Characteristics: Dragon knights are powerful warriors, but in their martial skill alone they fall behind more dedicated specialists, such as warblades, barbarians, and fighters. They have their own talents, though. The simplest is that their draconic heritage manifests itself in the form of thick, often scaly, skin which resists un-enchanted blows. They can also channel their inborn elemental powers through their weapons causing them to burst with elemental force. In addition to these powers they demonstrate auras of fear and minor mastery of inborn arcane arts.

Alignment: Dragon Knights tend towards the extremes, glorious paragons of Law and Good, depraved warriors of Chaos and Evil, rebels championing Chaos and Good, and dread enforcers of Law and Evil. These tendencies likely come from the blood of dragons within them, and many Dragon Knights are capable of resisting their call and pull, and still others are descended from less commonly known dragons and exhibit pulls towards other alignments.

Background: Many dragon knights come into their power through no means beyond natural instinct and heritage. While some Dragon Knights must train to release the power sealed within them, others find that it comes naturally to them as they grow to maturity. As a dragon knightís draconic power can come from a mixing of even trace amounts of draconic blood or the awakening of relatively weak draconic heritage, and how wide spread draconic blood is, a Dragon Knight can come from almost any background.

Races: Dragon knights can come from any race where dragon blood runs through their veins. In some races the arcane powers of dragons flows more easily than others. As such Dragon Knights are found more often amongst humans, elves, and even amongst orcs and their half-breeds, than amongst dwarves, gnomes, and halflings.

Other Classes: As inheritors of draconic power, Dragon Knights share much in common with sorcerers and dragonfire adepts. While many find common ground with these who share their draconic powers, others find that their emphasis on martial prowess over arcane is a divisive wedge when dealing with these more arcane dragonbloods. When dealing with those who do not bear the heritage of dragons, Dragon Knights often find themselves pulled between the worlds of swordsmanship and arcane powers. They get along well with barbarians, who rely on instinct as opposed to intensive training, and even crusaders for the same reason. Depending upon their heritage Dragon Knights may find stalwart companions in paladins, or their direst foes. When dealing with clerics it often depends upon their patron godís opinion on dragons. As Dragon Knights rely primarily on inborn talents and natural power they often find it hard to earn the respect of those who have instead gained their skills through intensive training such as swordsages, monks, and psions. This last is especially evident in some wizards who see a Dragon Knightís preference for martial skill as an active rejection of magic; they have a natural knack for magic and yet they choose the way of the blade.

Role: A Dragon Knight is a front-line combatant first and foremost, his skill with the blade, good HD, natural defenses and ability to wear heavy armor (although he cannot cast spells in it without a feat) allow him to fight from the front line. While his magic gives him some versatility, especially due to his Immediate Sorcery, but they have very few battle enders.

Abilities: As Dragon Knights tend to be in melee they need the trifecta of Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution. In addition they are capable of casting Arcane spells and have several other class features based off of Charisma, meaning that this stat is necessary as well.



Level
Base Attack Bonus
Fort Save
Ref Save
Will Save
Special
1st
2nd
3rd
4th


1st
+1
+2
+0
+2
Elemental Strike (+Cha to hit, +Cha 2/level to damage) 1/encounter, +1 natural armor, Dragonís Resistance, Dragontouched
-
-
-
-


2nd
+2
+3
+0
+3
Dragonís Toughness
-
-
-
-


3rd
+3
+3
+1
+3
Frightful Presence, Detect Magic
-
-
-
-


4th
+4
+4
+1
+4
+2 natural armor, Elemental Liberty
1
-
-
-


5th
+5
+4
+1
+4
Mettle, Elemental Strike 2/encounter
2
-
-
-


6th
+6/+1
+5
+2
+5
Instant Sorcery (I)
2
-
-
-


7th
+7/+2
+5
+2
+5
+3 natural armor, Wings of the Dragon
3
-
-
-


8th
+8/+3
+6
+2
+6
Darkvision
3
1
-
-


9th
+9/+4
+6
+3
+6
Fear Aura
4
2
-
-


10th
+10/+5
+7
+3
+7
Elemental Strike 3/encounter, +4 natural armor, Instant Sorcery (II)
4
2
-
-


11th
+11/+6/+1
+7
+3
+7
Keen Senses
4
3
-
-


12th
+12/+7/+2
+8
+4
+8
-
5
3
1
-


13th
+13/+8/+3
+8
+4
+8
Primal Terror, +5 natural armor
5
4
2
-


14th
+14/+9/+4
+9
+4
+9
Instant Sorcery (III)
5
4
2
-


15th
+15/+10/+5
+9
+5
+9
Elemental Strike 4/encounter
5
4
3
-


16th
+16/+11/+6/+1
+10
+5
+10
+6 Natural Armor
5
5
3
1


17th
+17/+12/+7/+2
+10
+5
+10
Elemental Immunity
5
5
4
2


18th
+18/+13/+8/+3
+11
+6
+11
Instant Sorcery (IV)
5
5
4
2


19th
+19/+14/+9/+4
+11
+6
+11
Natural Armor +7, Blindsense
5
5
4
3


20th
+20/+15/+10/+5
+12
+6
+12
Elemental Strike 5/encounter, Elemental Blade
5
5
5
4



HD type: d12. HD is d12 because it's the same as a dragon's.
Skills: 4 + Int Skill points are 4 + Int because I see them as a low skill point class, but honestly think 2 + Int is unfun and try to avoid it.
Class Skills: Appraise, Bluff, Concentration, Craft, Diplomacy, Escape Artist, Intimidate, Knowledge (Arcana), Knowledge (History), Knowledge (Nature), Listen, Profession, Search, Sense Motive, Speak Language, Spellcraft, Spot, and Use Magic Device. I started with a base of skills that are class skills for all dragons, removing many of the knowledge skills as these are not lore master type characters who know something of everything, and adding Appraise, Bluff, Speak Language, and Spellcraft because all three actually quite fit draconic themes. They have Craft and Profession because... if you want to take one you should not be stopped by your class unless it has a good reason you could not have developed non-adventuring skills as a child. Even so I'm a little unsure about whether I should leave UMD or remove it.

Class Features: The following are class features of a Dragon Knight.

Weapons and Armor: A Dragon Knight is proficient in all simple and martial weapons, with all types of armor (heavy, medium, and light), and with shields (except tower shields). Standard melee proficiency here.

Elemental Strikes (Su): A Dragon Knight's draconic blood manifests through combat, and the first way a Dragon Knight learns to channel it is through their blade. At 1st level choose either Acid, Cold, Electricity, or Fire. Once per encounter you can channel your draconic essence through a melee weapon giving you a bonus to hit equal to your Charisma modifier, and causing your attack to deal additional damage of your chosen energy type equal to twice your Dragon Knight level. If wielding a dragoncraft (see Draconomicon) weapon made from a dragon type that deals the same energy damage you gain an additional +2 damage. At 5th level and every 5 levels after that you may use this ability an additional time per encounter.

This ability is obviously based off of a paladin's smite. I made it per encounter because, smite evil could use the boost. I doubled the damage because where Smite Evil lumps with your base damage to overcome DR this gives your enemy a second chance to resist through energy resistance or immunity, I might drop the doubling or reduce it to 1.5 but that's what feedback is for. Added the dragoncraft weapons thing just because those don't see much use (300 gp for +1 energy damage isn't bad though) and wanted to encourage it. Finally I considered adding Charisma to the damage to help it compare to maneuvers a little better at early levels but decided it was too much with their defensive abilities; think I should add it back?

Natural Armor (Ex): A Dragon Knight's draconic heritage toughens his skin, often making it grow thick and scaled as his draconic power waxes. At first level your natural armor improves by 1 (if none listed natural armor is +0), and this improves again at 4th level and every 3rd level thereafter to a maximum of +7 at level 18.

At low levels this is a nice, though relatively minor defensive boost. You will have 1 more AC than a character with the same Dexterity and armor. At high levels this might be enough to make your AC relevant against a few more creatures than it normally would be, but many creatures can still hit on a negative number so it should be fine.

Dragon's Resistance (Ex): Your activated dragon blood lends you a defense against draconic fury even as it gives you its semblance. You gain Energy Resistance against the type of energy damage dealt with your Elemental Strike equal to twice your class level. If wearing dragonscale armor made from a type of dragon which had a breath weapon dealing that damage type you also gain a +1 Dodge bonus to AC.

Energy resistance to 1 type, nothing too big but noticeable at most levels. The dodge bonus is just a means of encouraging the use of dragonscale armor which is usually worse than mithral or adamantine and this gives you a little nudge towards something that I find thematically cool.

Dragontouched (Ex): You gain the Dragontouched feat (Races of Dragon).

Cleaner than saying "You gain the Dragonblood subtype and may take Draconic feats as if you were a sorcerer of your class level." Which was the other option.

Dragon's Toughness (Su): Your draconic blood hardens you in preparation for battle, granting you some of the resilience of a true dragon. You gain DR equal to one half your class level which is overcome by magic weapons (DR X/magic, X = 1/2 Dragon Knight class level).

A nice little defensive ability at the level you get it, as few things will overcome it, waning a bit during the mid levels as damage increases more quickly, attacks tend to deal non-weapon damage, and creatures have DR X/magic of their own granting them the ability to overcome it, and at high levels still useful since not everything falls under one of the latter two categories and it can give you a nice buffer against damage. Then again I don't think it's too strong at high levels because it's something a DM can easily work around and which the game already has many built in workarounds.

Frightful Presence (Ex): A Dragon Knight carries with him the fierce demeanor of a dragon causing lesser creatures to quake with fear in his presence. Beginning at 3rd level whenever you attack, charge, cast an arcane spell, or perform a weapon flourish/drill (as a standard action) creatures within 5-ft per class level that have less HD than you must make a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 Dragon Knight level + your Charisma modifier) or be shaken for 1 round per Dragon Knight level you possess. A creature that successfully saves against your frightful presence is immune to it for 24 hours, and a creature that is currently under the effects of your frightful presence is also immune to it. Creatures of the dragon type, but not the dragonblood subtype, are immune to this effect.

A classic dragon ability. It ought to be comparative with evil paladin auras (it has a stronger effect but allows a save to negate), but it is also a longer range and could be combined with other fear effects. At the same time many creatures have immunity to fear, mind-affecting effects, or even Frightful Presence abilities. Also, due to the HD cap, this can't affect a good number of mooks and very few boss level encounters making it noticeably worse than a paladin of slaughter or tyranny's aura.

Detect Magic (Sp): Beginning at 3rd level you may use Detect Magic a number of times per day equal to your class level.

Elemental Liberty: As a Dragon Knight masters their skills they learn how to channel the elemental powers of the draconic kindred even if it is not the power of their own direct ancestors. Beginning at 4th level you may use your Elemental Strike to deal damage of any of the five energy types, but if you choose one other than that chosen at 1st level you do not gain any bonus for a dragoncraft weapon and only add your class level in additional damage (instead of twice your class level). In addition you gain energy resistance to all 4 energy types other than the one chosen at 1st level equal to one half your class level.

Some minor energy resistance that is actually one of your more relevant defenses at high level but nothing too great (a few 2nd level spells). The bigger thing is the ability to change your Elemental Strike's damage type. This means that the ability will almost always be at least + Class level to damage making it range from a little worse than a relevant martial strike to a lot worse as you level, but you retain the option to make a full attack and you retain the option to deal your initially chosen damage type and deal more damage although still less than the raw damage of some martial maneuvers (the full attack should more than make up for that, though). I am thinking about taking away Sonic meaning that at high levels this can get you around immunity but many creatures (tanar'ri) will still mitigate at least half the damage from an Elemental Strike. Not sure, though.

Spells: A Dragon Knight casts spells as a sorcerer, but their spells have simpler somatic components and a Dragon Knight may ignore the arcane spell failure chance of light or medium armor and of shields, as well as that caused by any armor made of dragon scales. In addition any Dragon Knight spell lacks non-costly material components and foci. At 11th level and every 3rd level thereafter a Dragon Knight may swap out one of their spells known from any level lower than their highest for another spell of the same level.

Spells the most powerful ability in the game. Well a Dragon Knight's spells only go to 4th level and their only Save or Lose style spells are Enchantment which tends to be relatively easily resisted (Protection from X). Beyond that they have a similar problem as Paladins in that if they spend an action to cast a spell it's an action not spent attacking and most of their spells are low enough level as to not be big battle changers; although their access to sor/wiz spells pushes them somewhat towards battle changing spells. Even so Paladins get around this with the Battle Blessing feat which makes all their spells swift actions.

Spells Known
{table=head]Level|1st|2nd|3rd|4th
1st|-|-|-|-
2nd|-|-|-|-
3rd|-|-|-|-
4th|2|-|-|-
5th|2|-|-|-
6th|3|-|-|-
7th|3|-|-|-
8th|3|2|-|-
9th|4|2|-|-
10th|4|3|-|-
11th|4|3|-|-
12th|4|3|2|-
13th|4|4|2|-
14th|4|4|3|-
15th|4|4|3|-
16th|4|4|3|2
17th|4|4|4|2
18th|4|4|4|3
19th|4|4|4|3
20th|4|4|4|3[/table]
You learn more spells than you can cast (unless you have high Charisma) when you gain a new spell level, giving you a little versatility, and are capped at learning the same number of spells per level as a sorcerer. I didn't use Duskblade's 1 a level style because this would have resulted in more than 4 spells of each spell level.

Mettle: At 5th level you gain the Mettle ability.

Mettle is a good ability. It lets you completely mitigate the damage from Disintegrate (eh a successful save already reduced it to less than 20), Finger of Death (again eh), Avasculate (ok, now that's good), and even the Orb of X line (:smallbiggrin:). At the same time you don't have any built in save boosters so it should be reasonable.

Instant Sorcery: A Dragon Knight's magic is born of, and flows out of, battle, it does not impede a Dragon Knight's ability to fight with ponderous gestures and long winded incantations. Beginning at 6th level whenever a Dragon Knight casts a 1st level or lower spell granted to them by their class they may Quicken it (as the Quicken Spell feat) without increasing its spell level. At 10th level, and every 4th level thereafter, a Dragon Knight may apply this ability to spells of 1 level higher.

This is their equivalent of Battle Blessing. It's stronger and weaker. A paladin never has to wait for 2 levels, after 6th level that is, for their newest spells to be quickened. At the same time a Dragon Knight gets spells like Wings of Flurry which are rather powerful when quickened. In the end I think it balances out to make the class tier 3ish, but... there's a reason I'm asking for PEACHes.

Wings of the Dragon (Su): Starting at 7th level you may manifest your draconic power in the form of two wings made of colored energy. To do so is a free action and grants you a fly speed equal to twice your land speed and average maneuverability. Deactivating this ability is a free action and if this ability is deactivated (or ended) in the air you gain the effects of a Feather Fall spell with a caster level equal to your class level. You may use this ability for a number of rounds each day equal to your class level plus your charisma modifier, and duration is counted from end of round to end of round with any round in which it is activated also counting.

Flight. You're a Dragon Knight, a warrior as much dragon as mortal, you're going to get flight. It's got a very limited duration and its average maneuverability is a downer, but it does allow you to engage flying foes which is its main purpose. While you'll probably want to upgrade to a spell at higher level, this lets you parcel out a few round of utility in and out of combat which I think is a nice little feature. Warlocks already have a better version continuously and your abilities focus on melee attacks which ought to help balance it further (no fly kiting).

Darkvision (Ex): At 8th level a Dragon Knight develops Darkvision 60-ft, their eyes taking on some of the keenness of a true dragon's.

Fear Aura (Su): At 9th level a Dragon Knight's frightful presence improves. It may now affect creatures immune to frightful presence, and with HD less than your character level plus your Charisma modifier. In addition its duration is extended by a number of rounds equal to your Charisma modifier and a creature with 5 or less HD that fails its save is Panicked instead of Shaken. All these improvements are lost in an area where Supernatural effects fail to function.

An improvement of Frightful Presence. Notably it increases its HD cap making it able to affect more creatures. Even so I think that due to the quicker increase of monster HD than CR this is still probably too little to make it as powerful as the paladin auras, though the increased range might make the difference.

Keen Senses (Ex): Beginning at 11th level a Dragon Knight gains the powerful senses of a true dragon. You gain the ability to see four times the distance of a human in shadowy illumination and suffer only half the penalty to spot checks in bright illumination. Finally you gain Darkvision 120-ft if you do not already have better.

I see this as almost completely a fluff ability at this point, am I wrong?

Primal Terror (Ex): A Dragon Knight strikes fear into the very heart of an enemy, a fear which grips their body instinctively ignoring their mind completely. Beginning at 13th level you no longer lose the improvements to your Frightful Presence from your Fear Aura ability in an event where supernatural abilities do not function, in addition you may now affect a creature with your fear aura regardless of hit dice. Finally immunity to mind-affecting effects, or the mindless trait do not prevent creatures from being affected by your fear aura, specific immunity to fear, though, still does.

So your fear effect is not easily negated. Still it's a Will or debuff of -2 to things, potent, but hopefully not game breaking.

Energy Immunity: No flames can burn a red dragon, no acid mar a copper wyrm, and no lightning hinder a blue dragon, and a Dragon Knight is no different. Beginning at 17th level you gain immunity to the energy type chosen for your Elemental Strike at 1st level.

Woo hoo a worse version of a 6th level druid spell (7th sorcerer/wizard). Still it can be useful but is really just an attempt to give you something to help a little in comparing to 9th level spells and maneuvers. Doesn't do much, but ought to help a little.

Blindsense (Ex): Your draconic senses continue to improve, beginning at 19th level you gain Blindsense out to 60-ft.

Like the Elemental Immunity this is really not all that much at high levels (and would probably help more earlier) but still has some utility and helps keep up with things like 9th level maneuvers (not even trying to keep up with 9th level spells).

Blade of the Elements (Su): A master Dragon Knight's sword carries the fury of their elemental power always. Beginning at 20th level whenever you make a melee attack it deals additional damage of the energy type chosen for your Elemental Strike at 1st level equal to 1/2 your class level. This stacks with your Elemental Strike ability.

It's 20th level, +10 damage an attack is still noticeable, but Energy Resistance 10 is common enough that you can't rely on it and it's really just a nice perk.

Dragon Knight Spell List
1st Level Spells: Charm Person, Command, Comprehend Languages, Endure Elements, Enlarge Person, Feather Fall, Grease, Jump, Magic Aura, Magic Missile, Magic Weapon, Mending, Prestidigitation, Ray of Enfeeblement,
Dragon Magic: Detect Dragonblood, Hoard Gullet, Primal Hunter, Rot of the Ages
Races of the Dragon: Power Word Pain, Mighty Wallop, Wings of Bounding, Wings of Swift Flying
Spell Compendium: Appraising Touch, Benign Transposition, Deep Breath, Dispel Ward, Ebon Eyes, Low-Light Vision, Persistent Blade, Ray of Clumsiness, Shieldbearer

2nd Level Spells: Blur, False Life, Gust of Wind, Levitate, Locate Object, Mirror Image, Scare, See Invisibility, Spider Climb, Resist Energy
Complete Mage: Arcane Turmoil, Heart of Air
Dragon Magic: Magic of the Dragonheart, Primal Instinct
Players Handbook 2: Animalistic Power
Races of Dragon: Essence of the Dragon, Steal Size, Unfettered Grasp, Wings of Cover
Spell Compendium: Baleful Transposition, Battering Ram, Entice Gift, Scintillating Scales, Snakeís Swiftness, Swift Fly, Wings of Air, Wraithstrike

3rd Level Spells: Arcane Sight, Dispel Magic, Fly, Greater Magic Weapon, Haste, Keen Edge, Protection from Energy, Suggestion, Tongues, Vampiric Touch, Water Breathing
Complete Mage: Caustic Smoke,
Dragon Magic: Ferocity of Sanguine Rage, Primal Senses
Players Handbook 2: Energy Vulnerability, Dimension Step
Races of the Dragon: Greater Mighty Wallop, Sense of the Dragon
Spell Compendium: Dragonskin, Manyjaws, Mass Snakeís Swiftness, Mesmerizing Glare, Nauseating Breath, Weapon of Impact

4th Level Spells: Charm Monster, Dimension Door, Fire Shield, Freedom of Movement, Lesser Globe of Invulnerability, Overland Flight,
Dragon Magic: Primal Speed
Players Handbook 2: Greater Mirror Image, Meteoric Strike, Mystic Surge
Races of Dragon: Hoard Life, Power Word Disable, Wall of Scales, Wings of Flurry
Spell Compendium: Flight of the Dragon, Greater Wings of Air, Mass Fly, Ray Deflection, Treasure Scent