Prestige classes were introduced in third edition as a further means of individualizing a character. This month’s Unearthered Arcana article introduced playtest material for us to create Prestige Classes for D&D 5th Edition. I thought that testing out the creation of Dragonlance’s Solamnic Knight of the Crown as a prestige class would be a good way to try out this player option.
Prestige Classes in D&D 5th Edition
Many of the prestige classes of the past such as Assassin, Arcane Trickster and Eldritch Knight are now just archetypes for the base classes in fifth edition. I think with prestige classes in fifth edition, we are provided a way to offer players additional rewards as their characters advance. The next time I hear a player asking to multiclass, I might think about offering them a chance at a prestige class that is unlocked by having a specific background, completing a quest, training with a master or with good old fashion roleplay.
The reaction to the prestige classes article this week has been mixed, with many people worried this could bring some of the problems of D&D 3.x into the elegant simplicity of fifth edition. Prestige classes aren’t official (yet, if ever), so we all have a chance to kick the tires and check them out.
I’m taking the approach of prestige classes basically being archetypes with prerequisites that players will need to consider in advance. Any prestige classes I create for my game would attempt to be mechanically equal to any other character options. Some hooks for prestige classes could be:
- The old master asks you to start training in an order of monks, rogues, templars or knights due to your recent accomplishments.
- An invite to finally take the test and become a fully sanctioned mage arrives via messenger from the academy.
- The captain himself asks you to his office to hire you as a member of the royal guard after stopping an assassination attempt.
- After saving her fleet, the Queen gives you papers making you a royal privateer, ending your life on the run as a pirate.
I allow some multiclassing in my game (tied to roleplay versus mechanics), but I feel like working with a player on a prestige class they have to earn could create more rewarding social gameplay than with just feats or multiclassing. A prestige class doesn’t need to be an opportunity to create a character stronger than everyone else at the table, but rather to unlock a special path earned with good roleplay. Just be ready to adjust prerequisites as the game advances to make sure a good player isn’t locked out for being a point short on an ability score.
Knight of the Crown Prestige Class
- I could build a Solamnic Knight as a human fighter with a noble background, but this group of warriors is a cut above. They are trained for obedience and loyalty and are charged with upholding the honor of the knighthood and of their order.
- I looked to the Knight of the Crown prestige class found in Knightly Orders of Ansalon and to the fifth edition fighter, paladin and even barbarian for ideas.
- I leaned more on converting the 3.x version of the Knight of the Crown versus creating a perfectly balanced fifth edition character option.
- I wasn’t sure if fifth edition prestige classes should be 5, 10 or 15 levels – so I mapped out 10 levels to match the 3rd edition version.
- This prestige class gives a character new abilities every level at the cost of losing out on some ability score increases and extra attacks. Strength of Honor is the key feature providing a knight with the ability to smash through defenses up to 4 times a day by 10th level drawing on a system of honor points (similar to a barbarian’s rage).
- This prestige class badly needs a playtest all the way through to see how it compares to a fighter or paladin at the same levels.
“Est Sularus oth Mithas“, or “My honor is my life.” It is the code by which all Solamnic Knights must live. These knights stand as the greatest order of chivalry in Ansalon. Founded by Vinas Solamnus, the Knights of Solamnia are dedicated to the protection of Solamnia and Ansalon, service to the gods of Good, and above all to the ideals of honor.
The Measure divides the Knights of Solamnia into three orders, with the Knights of the Crown being the largest group who form the first tier of the knighthood. This order has given rise to some of Ansalon’s greatest heroes, such as Huma Dragonbane and Sturm Brightblade.
In order to advance as a Knight of the Crown, you must meet the following prerequisites (in addition to the multiclassing prerequisites for your existing class):
- Alignment. No prerequisite. Any alignment that does not allow a character to focus on the protection of others, serving good and the ideals of honor should be discouraged.
- Strength 15. A Knight of the Crown must be strong and able to wear heavy armor.
- Proficiencies. A knight must be well trained with martial equipment and should have knowledge about the order.
- Medium armor, shields
- Simple weapons, martial weapons
- History or Religion skill
- Background. No prerequisite. Noble, Noble (Knight), Soldier, Squire (see squire homebrew) or Folk Hero would work well.
- Character Level 4th. Being a member of Knight of the Crown is only for well trained and powerful warriors, and you must be a 4th-level character or higher before you can start gaining levels in the Knight of the Crown prestige class.
- Special. Candidate for Knighthood:
- You must be from Solamnia.
- You must have served as a squire to a Knight.
- You must be presented by a Knight in good standing.
- You must swear an oath of allegiance and to the honor and causes of the knighthood.
|Level||Class Features||Honor Points||Extra Damage|
|1||Knightly Courage, Strength of Honor||1||1d6|
|2||Heroic Initiative +1||1||1d6|
|3||My Honor is My Life||1||1d6|
|5||Heroic Initiative +2||2||2d6|
|6||Might of Honor||2||2d6|
|8||Heroic Initiative +3||3||3d6|
|9||Aura of Courage||3||3d6|
|10||Crown of Knighthood||4||4d6|
As a Knight of the Crown, you gain the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d10 per Knight of the Crown level
Hit Points per Level: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per Knight of the Crown level
Armor: Heavy armor
Saving Throws. None
Skills. Choose one from History or Religion
The Knight of the Crown prestige class does not grant any special equipment (though a knight could inherit a sword when accepted into the knighthood or receive some other symbolic gift).
You have advantage on all saving throws against being frightened.
Strength of Honor
As a Knight who upholds the ideals of honor, you can draw strength from your honor to strike hard at your enemies with the following benefits:
- You have one honor Point that can be spent as a bonus action to draw strength from your honor. For a number of rounds equal to half of your Knight of the Crown level you add 1d6 to your damage when attacking with strength based melee weapons or unarmed attacks. This damage increases by an additional 1d6 at 4th, 7th, and 10th level.
- Your total honor points increase as you advance as a Knight of the Crown. You gain an additional honor point at 4th, 7th, and 10th level.
- Used honor Points are restored upon the completion of a long rest.
Starting at 2nd level, you gain a +1 bonus to initiative. This bonus to initiative increases by +1 for every three levels the character attains beyond 2nd (+2 at 5th level and +3 at 8th level).
My Honor is My Life
At 3rd level, when you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.
At 4th level, your powerful sense of honor and loyalty to your order strengthens your will. You have advantage on all saving throws against being charmed.
Might of Honor
At 6th level, when you use Strength of Honor, you have advantage on all melee weapon attack rolls using Strength until the start of your next turn.
At 7th level, you have learned to use your armor to deflect strikes that would kill others. While you are wearing heavy armor and an attacker hits you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to half any bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage you take from non-magical weapons.
Aura of Courage
Starting at 9th level, your bravery is contagious and friendly creatures within 10 feet of you can’t be frightened while you are conscious.
Crown of Knighthood
By 10th level, you are the living embodiment of the principles of honor, obedience, and loyalty.
You have advantage on all Charisma saving throws.
On your turn you can call on your will to strengthen your resolve and gain the following benefits as a bonus action:
- You add your Wisdom modifier to attack rolls and weapon damage rolls.
- You gain 15 temporary hit points.
This effect lasts for 10 minutes and can not be used again until you finish a long rest.