Our two-week winter vacation is finally over, and it’s time to get back to business. This week’s business is distressed or captured maidens, as today marks the official beginning of Damsel Week here at Necromancers of the Northwest.
While damsels are an important part of the sword-and-sorcery style of fantasy, and it’s hard to rescue princesses from dragons if there aren’t capturable princesses lying around for dragons to take, the fact of the matter is that relatively few players are clamoring for the chance to roleplay things like fainting and languishing. So, instead of trying to come up with class features that will allow you to play as a damsel, what I’ve come up with for today are a pair of cavalier and samurai orders designed for characters who specialize in rescuing and protecting damsels.
While either cavaliers or samurai can belong to the order of the nymph, the order is comprised almost entirely of cavaliers. Only samurai can join the order of the temple dog: it is not available to cavaliers.
Order of the Nymph
A cavalier who belongs to this order is devoted to protecting the innocent and rescuing those in dire need. Above and beyond that, however, and the thing that sets this order apart from orders with similar goals, such as the order of the shield, are that members of this order are devoted to the ideals of romance, and see such things as true love or the passion of a great artist to be the most pure and beautiful things in the world, and swear to protect and uphold them.
Edicts: The cavalier must seek out those in particularly dire circumstances, or who have had fate conspire cruelly against them, and render to these people what aid he can. While it is still good to aid the common folk with simple problems, a true member of the order of the nymph knows that his time is best devoted to the more grandiose problems, above and beyond what most people must confront. The greater the peril, and the more innocent the victim, the better. The cavalier must never stand in the way of true love or artistic passion, and must always strive to protect not only the bodies of those he saves, but also their purity and innocence.
Challenge: Whenever an order of the nymph cavalier issues a challenge, he receives a +1 morale bonus to attack and damage rolls against the target of his challenge, so long as the target’s CR is at least 1 higher than the cavalier’s total Hit Dice. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels the cavalier possesses.
Skills: An order of the nymph cavalier adds Perform to his list of class skills. Additionally, an order of the nymph cavalier gain a bonus on all Diplomacy checks he makes equal to 1/4 his cavalier level (rounded down, minimum 1), even if he is not trained in Diplomacy. Finally, if the cavalier is trained in Diplomacy, he gains a +4 bonus to any Perform checks he makes which include a verbal component (such as Perform (oratory) or Perform (string instrument) if he sings as part of his performance, etc.).
Order Abilities: A cavalier belonging to the order of the nymph gains the following abilities as he increases in level.
Grand Quest (Ex): At 2nd level, an order of the nymph cavalier gains the ability to declare his devotion to a grand quest, gaining great strength of will from his devotion to this worthy cause. As a full round action, the cavalier may swear an oath that he will complete a specific great deed, such as to slay a mighty dragon, rescue a kidnapped princess, recover a lost holy relic, or bring every member of a local thieves’ guild to justice. The quest should be something suitably dangerous or difficult, carrying substantial risk to life and limb, as well as several days, if not weeks, of work or travel.
Whenever the cavalier’s actions directly correspond with his grand quest, the cavalier gains a +1 morale bonus to ability checks, attack rolls, combat maneuver checks, saving throws, and skill checks. At 7th level, 13th level, and 20th level, this bonus increases by +1.
At the same time, however, if the cavalier ever goes an entire day without making any effort to fulfill his grand quest, or if he ever willingly takes an action that works against the fulfillment of his grand quest, then the next day he suffers a -2 morale penalty to ability checks, AC, attack rolls, combat maneuver checks, CMD, damage rolls, saving throws, and skill checks for the entire day.
A cavalier can only benefit from a single grand quest at any time. If he fails at his grand quest in such a way that it cannot be completed, or if he gives up on the quest entirely, he suffers the above penalties for one week. After that time, he cannot take another grand quest for one month. If he fulfills his grand quest, however, he gains his morale bonus for one day per three cavalier levels he possesses (rounded down, minimum 1), and may immediately choose to take on another grand quest.
Token of Affection (Ex): At 8th level, an order of the nymph cavalier can receive great boosts of confidence from a token of esteem given to him by a maiden he has saved. He may have received the token itself prior to this time, but only gains this benefit when he reaches 8th level. As long as the cavalier is carrying the token, he gains a +2 morale bonus to Fortitude and Will saving throws. This bonus increases by +1 at 12th level, and every 4 levels thereafter. The cavalier can benefit from only one token at a time, though most order of the nymph cavaliers nonetheless collect many such tokens, both for the prestige they bring, and so that if something happens to one such token, he can still benefit from one of the others. Common tokens include a scarf or shawl, a locket necklace, a lock of hair, a ring, or similar.
Undying Love (Ex): At 15th level, as a swift action, an order of the nymph cavalier can declare his love for a specific individual, extolling the great lengths that he will go to in order to ensure her safety and protection. In order for this ability to have any effect, the individual in question must be within 60 feet of the cavalier, and the must be able to see and hear the cavalier.
For the next minute, any time a creature attacks the chosen individual or casts a hostile spell or spell-like ability at them (any spell that deals damage, requires an attack roll, or allows a saving throw that is not listed as “harmless”), the cavalier may make a single melee attack roll at his highest base attack bonus against that creature. If the cavalier cannot reach the attacker, the attack is lost. If the attack hits, the creature’s attack or spell is stopped.
The cavalier may use this ability once per day at 15th level. He gains an additional daily use of this ability at 17th level, and every 2 levels thereafter.
Order of the Temple Dog
Samurai who belong to this order have devoted themselves to the protection of a specific individual, almost always a priestess or priest of a local shrine. The samurai serves as the priestess’s bodyguard as well as her companion, and sees that no harm befalls her, whether in body or in spirit, and helps to keep her anchored to her spiritual path as much as her worldly one.
Edicts: The samurai must protect his ward at all times, guarding her with his life and ensuring that no harm comes to her. He must ensure that she remains true to her faith, and is not tempted to stray from it. Unlike most samurai and cavalier orders, an order of the temple dog’s edicts require that the samurai have a ward to protect. This ward can be an NPC, a PC, or even a cohort gained with the Leadership feat. The samurai should begin play with a ward already established.
If he ever allows his ward to be injured (reduced to below 3/4 of her maximum hit points), or allows her to engage in activities that are inappropriate for her spiritual path (subject to GM discretion), the samurai suffers the normal penalties for violating his edict. If his ward dies, or turns completely from her spiritual path (such as by dramatically changing alignments as a result of her own willing choices), or he is otherwise rendered permanently incapable of protecting her, he loses all of the benefits of his order for one month, during which he suffers a -2 morale penalty to all d20 rolls. At the end of this time, he may join a different order through the normal means, or may seek out a new ward to protect.
Challenge: When an order of the temple dog declares a challenge, the target of the challenge is surrounded in a karmic aura of retribution. For every 5 points of damage that the target deals to the samurai or the samurai’s ward (whether with natural attacks, a manufactured weapon, spells or spell-like abilities, etc.), the target of the challenge takes 1 point of damage. This damage bypasses any damage reduction the target might possess. At 11th level, the target instead takes 1d6 points of damage for every 5 points of damage he deals.
Skills: An order of the temple dog samurai adds Knowledge (religion) to his list of class skills. He can make Knowledge (religion) checks untrained, and, if he is trained in Knowledge (religion), he gains a bonus on all Knowledge (religion) checks equal to 1/2 his samurai level (rounded down, minimum 1), as long as the check relates to his ward’s religion or faith.
Order Abilities: A samurai who belongs to the order of the temple dog gains the following abilities as he increases in level.
Bond of Protection (Su): At 2nd level, the samurai gains a supernatural tie to his ward. As long as his ward is within 1 mile per samurai level, the samurai knows the direction of his ward, as well as a rough estimate of the distance to her. Additionally, the samurai and his ward are constantly affected as though by the spell shield other, with the samurai taking 1/2 of the damage that would be dealt to his ward. The samurai’s caster level for this ability is equal to his samurai level, and if the effect is dispelled for any reason he can resume it as a standard action. If he chooses, the samurai can suppress this ability as a standard action as well, but few temple dog samurai find any reason to do so.
Willing Spirit (Su): At 8th level, the samurai’s bond with his ward makes him more receptive to her abilities. Any spell that the samurai’s ward casts on the samurai has its duration extended as though by the metamagic feat Extend Spell. Additionally, any spell that the samurai’s ward casts on the samurai which causes him to heal hit point damage is affected as though by the metamagic feat Empower Spell. These benefits only apply to the spell as it affects the samurai, so a mass bull’s strength spell would act as though it were extended for the samurai, if he were a target, but not for any other targets of the spell.
Resolved Defender (Su): At 15th level, an order of the temple dog samurai is better able to protect his ward. He can apply the benefits of his resolve and greater resolve class features to his ward, spending his own resolve but having his ward gain the effect. For example, he could expend one daily use of resolve to allow his ward to roll twice to resist an effect that allows a Fortitude or Will saving throw, taking the higher result. Similarly, using his greater resolve ability, he could spend one use of resolve to treat a critical hit made against his ward as a regular hit, instead. At 17th level, when the samurai gains the true resolve class feature, he may apply that to his ward in the same way.