D&D Ideas — Knights
Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is knights, which we discussed in our weekly live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST on Nerdarchy Live to talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. Speaking of knights in Feeling Buggy if adventurers help a beleaguered bug person defeat a frightening figment of the imagination the grateful insectoid pledges themselves as a knight in service to the mighty heroes. Battle and best a fearsome imaginary beast to win the loyalty of an insectoid knight along with 54 other dynamic scenarios in Out of the Box. Find out more about it here. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates and info on how to game with Nerdarchy plus snag a FREE GIFT by signing up here.
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Delving Dave’s Dungeon
Knights are a pretty ingrained part of European medieval fantasy, which many Dungeons & Dragons settings are based off. If you’re going with this style for your game you chould be using knighthood as rewards, knights as quest givers and the organizations representing them as flavor for your campaigns.
Typically a knighthood can be meted out by a knight, lord or ruler. But in D&D religions or other organizations might have their own knights. Knights and the renown system in fifth edition D&D would work very well together and give characters who achieved knighthood a good reason to act knightly. We even have a template of what boons you could give a knight in 5E D&D. Strip away the proficiencies from the noble alternate background knight and you can confer those on a player’s character. I have done it in my own games.
Knighting a characters is also a great way of pushing adventures and stories forward in your games. As a knight you’ll have privileges but also responsibilities. The one who gets knighted could call upon you to perform a service. Peasants at a town might seek you out to ask for help when they learn of your status. Even other rulers might seek to leverage aid from you under the guise of fostering favorable relations between them and the person who knighted you.
That stuff is just the tip of the iceberg though. What kind of fun and interesting knights could you introduce in a D&D game? D&D worlds are full of far off and exotic places capable of producing equally exotic knights. In our games we’ve used eagle rider knights. Plenty of D&D settings have used pegasus, griffon and even dragon riders. All of these could easily be knights.
What kind of knight would the kingdoms of gnomes, dwarves or elves produce? Under what circumstances might an outsider achieve such a lofty title? What about other races in D&D? Do giants have knights? What would facing off against a giant knight be like? In your world dark elves might produce their own knightly orders.
What would a knightly order from an evil society look like? Would it be easier to bribe your way into their ranks? Hobgoblins seem like shoe in for having knightly orders possibly dedicated to Maglubiyet. Or how about an order of ogre magi knights. Any 5E D&D race inclined to build kingdoms or have structured religion is fair game for knighthoods in my opinion.
If you have knights that means pages and squires as well. These might be great sources for information in a game. Children are often overlooked. A page begins their career at seven years old and squires around 14 years old. If the characters wanted to get insight or information about a knight these characters would be a great way of doing it. A Dungeon Master could even just use interactions between knights, pages and squires to show the players what kind of people they are and how they treat those they employ. As DM remember if you create a knight NPC to throw in pages and squires as well.
From Ted’s Head
When you hear the word knight what leaps to mind? People clad in armor? Jousting, sword duels and defending the realm for king and country? If fantasy culture has done its job all of these things and more can be invoked with this one single word.
For me, I have recently begun watching Game of Thrones again and I recently saw the episode where they introduce the Knight of Roses. The knight is beautiful, skilled and intelligent. But looking closer at the episode the armor he wore was just amazing. I feel it could easily be a magic item for sure.
Armor (half plate or plate), very rare (requires attunement)
You have a +1 bonus to AC while wearing this armor decorated with flowers and vines. The armor calms those in distress and as a reaction you can have any ally you can see within 30 feet make a new saving throw against a charm or frightened condition. While you are wearing this armor you have advantage on saving throws against being charmed or frightened. This armor never dents, rusts or gets dirty.
If you have a proficiency bonus of +5 or higher you cannot be charmed or frightened.
How would you use such an item in your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons games? When you have an item that seems like it belongs in the hands of good guys, adventures trying to save the realm and whatnot, how memorable would it be to see an fearsome monstrous humanoid like an orc or gnoll wielding a vicious weapon but clad in pretty armor that always looks clean and shiny surrounded by rought pelts and furs? I think this would be an interesting contrast and could even be a great way to incorporate an Intelligence (History) check when a character sees such an item. This could lead to more story — like who wore the armor before and what was the sad outcome of their fate?
From the Nerditor’s desk
Knights have been in the forefront on my mind as regards fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons for some time now. During the last campaign I ran for my home group one of the characters was a knight far from home and Sir Finn Hornraven’s knightly status became a big part of the story tied to his family’s shady past and a complex society of avian creatures like aarkocra and most importantly kenku.
For me knights and knightly orders evoke a wonderful storybook quality for a 5E D&D campaign. Champions of a realm like the Knights of the Round Table create a terrific backdrop for questing and courtly intrigue. A really fantastic take on knights is Knights of Gartania, a really fun comic featuring a world of knights illustrator Nathan Hill spun into a couple of books with D&D stats included for the very unusual knights, lords and ladies of the world.
Beyond the knight background the game itself even encourages players to consider knighthood with Echo Knight, Eldritch Knight, Purple Dragon Knight and Rune Knight Martial Archetypes for fighters. (I am disappointed the Psi Knight changed to Psi Warrior!) Incorporating the concept of knighthood into these subclass options speaks to the notion of disciplined fighters dedicated to a cause or martial code. Even the Samurai is a kind of knight.
But a knight need not be tied to a particular organization whether this is an order of like minded individuals or a government. Perhaps your 5E D&D character follows their own code and considers themselves a knight. They may not possess lands or an officially granted title but they can certainly strive to embody important ideals. The knight from the campaign I mentioned earlier held no knightly sway so far from home but the player continued to develop the idea in their adventures as an avian themed knight.
In Ted’s editorial he shares the Flowery Armor inspired by Ser Loras from Game of Thrones. This set my imagination in motion and I immediately thought of the Petal Blade, a magic item wielded by the knight from my campaign. Imagine a character with this sword and armor in your game as a singular knight dedicated to fostering growth and beauty in the world. During the follow up live chat about Nights we discussed a Knight of Nights too, and how a character like a Twilight cleric might be an ideal candidate for such a concept.
I am forever a huge advocate for players contributing as much imaginative content to a 5E D&D game as a Dungeon Master. While being bestowed knighthood during a campaign or receiving treasures with knightly components are definitely super cool it’s just as awesome (if not moreso!) when players include these kinds of details with their characters all on their own.
The worlds of 5E D&D are just that — entire worlds — and no DM envisions or creates every possibility in their entire multiverse. Your character may be the last of their knightly order and carry on the traditions. They could represent a small group of dedicated individuals who consider themselves knights. Your character might even be a knight through some fantastic circumstances from their backstory tied to something like another plane of existence altogether.
No matter what side of the screen you’re on knights elicit marvelous flavor. If you’re a player I highly encourage you to think about knights for your character whether it’s something from their past or something they strive for in the future. When it comes to DMs a knight is such an iconic concept but with such incredible flexibility it makes an awesome foundation for people, places and things in the setting.
One last thing I’ll mention is how knights need not be warriors either. Think about how English actors and other contributors to the arts are often knighted. Being a knight can be an honorary title denoting prestige and accomplishments. Imagine the powerful adventurers in a 5E D&D campaign earning a knighthood. They’re celebrities!