Author’s Note: This article uses the Knight core class from the Player’s Handbook II. To avoid copyright violation, I will not reproduce the core class, but instead heavily reference it.
Knights in Krynn
Certainly, knights play a HEAVY role in Krynn. At least two orders of knighthood exist in Krynn: The Knights of Solamnia and the Knights of Takhisis/Neraka (aka the Dark Knights), representing the axis of Good and Evil. How each order views its knights, and the membership requirements, will be detailed below.
As an additional bonus, all core knights receive the feat Honor-bound as a bonus feat at 1st level. Violating any of the Knightly Code of Conducts counts as an honor transgression for the feat, thus the feat and the class feature are forever intertwined.
Knights of Solamnia
Almost all good knights reside within the Knights of Solamnia. While some may reside within the Legion of Steel, or as independent lords of lands, the good knight is epitomized with the Knights of Solamnia.
Without exception, all Solamnic knights possess at least one level of Knight, and most Solamnics spend their entire lives in the Knight class, branching out only into the two higher order classes and occasionally dragonrider, legendary tactician, clerics and Solamnic Clerist (see Knightly Orders of Krynn) classes. A knight is considered a squire until 3rd level, at which he may start multiclassing into the knight classes. If the GM desires, she may simply remove the Knight of the Crown class and allow all 4th level and beyond knights to be called Knights of the Crown, so long as they have the skills required.
Another alternative is to simply combine the Solamnic classes as recommended in Legends of the Twins sourcebook, and allow the Knight of Solamnia prestige class for knights. Knights in magical eras may gain the Spell ability as mentioned in Legends of the Twins at 2nd level if they become a Sword Knight, with a caster level equal to their Solamnic Knight levels – 1, stacking with levels of Cleric or another divine casting class. Personally, I think Solamnics shouldn’t be able to cast spells at all. That’s what Solamnic Clerists are for. I use the Single Class variant and remove all spellcasting abilities, thus keeping my knights Knights, in my games.
Evil knights are far rarer than one would think. Most Knights of the Lily are not actually knights, but fighters or rogues. True honorable knights of Neraka are those few who follow the teachings of Lord Ariakan. While still honorable in their own right, other knights of Neraka are not above using vile techniques as stabbing others in the back or poisoning foes. The truly honorable dark knights are a dying breed, and they know it.
Remember that Sneak Attacks violate the knight core classes’ Code of Conduct, and thus no true knight will ever stab someone else in the back. Those with knight core class levels (considered true dark knights) who take levels in Knight of the Lily may trade Sneak Attack with the Knight of the Crown’s Strength of Honor class feature as a variant.
Rarely will a Knight of another order take levels in the Knight core class, but it’s not unheard of, so long as the evil knight commit herself to the code of conduct.
Certainly, other knights exist in Krynn. The most noticeable is the Legion of Steel, which allows Lawful Neutral knights into its fold. While not all Legionnaires are true knights (as more members are chaotic than not), many claim the core Knight class as theirs, and it’s not impossible. Furthermore, many honorable lords in other lands may be considered knights. While almost all knights are human, occasionally a non-human may become a knight, though they must have been taught by a previous knight. Even more so than other campaigns, the Knight core class must be one that is taught, not improvised, even if the lessons are from tomes.
A special note is the Rogue Knight class. Any character with levels in the core Knight class may take levels in Rogue Knight, even if they never fully made it into an Order. The only requirement is that the knight abandon his oaths and become a renegade. A lord of a castle who abandons his family and fief would qualify just as readily as a Solamnic knight who turns his back on the Order and Measure. The only requirement is that you have at least 1 knight level.
As I mentioned in Dark Knights, those with rogue levels loose uses of Knightly Challenge and subsequently gain penalties if they sneak attack. The only choice is to become non-lawful, which lifts this penalty. You loose a lot more doing so, however, so be warned.
NPCs and Knight Class
Most of the statted Knight NPCs should trade their fighter levels for knight levels. The only exceptions are Knights of the Lily known for less… honorable tactics. But I’ve found few, if any, NPCs that shouldn’t be knights instead of fighters. Most certainly, characters like Sturm, Huma, and Ariakan should be Knight rather than Fighter. It makes more sense. There might be some needed feat changes, but nothing too harsh, considering the bonus feats the core class provides (mounted combat and honor-bound, at least).
A special note needs to be placed on the Armored Mobility ability. This ability stacks with the Armor Mastery class feature of core knights. Thus a knight with both Armor Mastery and Armored Mobility treats all armor as light armor for purposes of movement penalties (i.e., none).
Hoped you like this little post. I saw the knight core class in my copy of the Player’s Handbook II, and I thought it would be awesome to do a little essay into how it fits into the world.