Today is the hobby store release day for Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and apparently one of the things it includes is a cavalier martial archetype for the fighter class. It just so happens I also wrote up a cavalier martial archetype for my own Players Guide to Greyhawk 576, so I thought I’d share that here for comparison (I haven’t seen the WotC book yet, because I pre-ordered it on Amazon, and apparently the hoi-polloi don’t get the book for another couple of weeks).
My version is based on the cavalier sub-class from the 1st edition Unearthed Arcana book. Wherever possible, I’m trying to go back to the 1st edition material for inspiration.
Cavaliers are the quintessential “knights in shining armor” of the Flanaess. Dedicated to honor, prickly about the deference due to someone of their social standing, they are yet still the product of intense training that makes them among the deadliest warriors in the realm of horse born combat using heavy weapons and armor. No matter their alignment, cavaliers follow a code of chivalry that includes hospitality, honor, courtesy, bravery, and pride. As a rule, cavaliers will wear the heaviest armor available (even if such is not the most efficient, and magical bonuses are not counted), and will seek to attack the most powerful foe available to prove their bravery. Cavaliers never used ranged weapon attacks; such are considered dishonorable. Failure to observe these restrictions may result in forfeiture of half or full experience points and/or renown, at the discretion of the Dungeon Master. Those not in service to some lord, religious cause, or other figure of authority are considered “knights errant” and will have as a primary goal finding service with such a figure.
When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you automatically gain advantage when using a lance, mace, or flail from horseback. You are also proficient in heavy armor, if you are not already. In addition, you can expect up to three day’s hospitality (food and lodging) from any other fighter with the cavalier archetype, and other characters who would recognize such feudal hospitality obligations as appropriate. You will have a coat of arms which will be flown on a pennant on the cavalier’s lance and/or held by a retainer as a battle flag. If this standard is lost, the cavalier will make every effort to recover it, or suffer a great loss of personal honor.
At 7th level, you will attract a group of retainers like that detailed in the Variant Noble: Knight background in the Player’s Handbook. If you have already chosen that background variant, your retainers will follow you into dungeon environments, once you reach this level, but will still expect to be protected and not put in the forefront of danger.
At 10th level, you always gain advantage when attacking from horseback. In addition, you are an excellent judge of horses in general, and can always pick the horse with the highest number of hit points from a group, when evaluating them (for instance, when picking one out of a herd to buy or ride). You can ride any ordinary mount without effort, and when attempting to ride special mounts (pegasi, hippogriffs, unicorns, etc.) you have advantage. Finally, you have proficiency in animal handling, when it comes to horses and horse-like creatures.
Mastery at arms
At 15th level, you can take an additional action each round to perform a melee attack. If you are wearing heavy armor when making this attack, you get advantage automatically.
At 18th level, you are automatically immune to magical fear. In addition, you gain advantage when making saving throw vs. any sort of mind-affecting magic or other effects.