Update: The Sword Coast Adventure’s Guide is now out, you can purchase it via Amazon here.
It has been well over a year since the release of the Player’s Handbook for D&D 5th Edition by the time this article is posted, we saw a surge of returning players and even new players emerge. The first few years of a new iteration of an iconic system typically, at least to me, feels like a cultural renaissance. Whether Wizards of the Coast can maintain the momentum is another matter entirely. The community as a whole seems to be quite enthusiastic of the resurgence of the roleplaying genre as a whole, the main evidence would have to the rise of live or recorded gameplay. Go look on Twitch, you will find plenty of channels for live D&D gameplay, there have been dozens of D&D podcasts for nearly half a decade or longer, and there are even shows just on the lifestyles of roleplayers. If you were to tell me ten years ago that the hobby I loved dearly was going to have such a cultural impact, I would have said it was unlikely. It’s amazing now to see people really find the actual joy the genre truly gives to its players, it’s that breadth of creativity and imagination that other mediums often times falls short.
In one year, dozens of campaigns and adventures have taken place across the Forgotten Realms, we have seen the tyranny of dragons, the rise of the evil elementals, and recently the rage of the abyss. In that same year, dozens more had adventures in their own homebrew worlds, like my D&D group. Players and DMs have had plenty of time to test the waters on the abilities and traits of the various races and classes available, the community as a whole has been busy creatively constructing variants and their own mechanical ideas for the system. Eventually Wizards of the Coast (or WotC) has to come up with its own content quickly if they wish to curve out against competition. Enter the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide! This new and powerful tool is supposed to aid DMs and players in adventuring along the Sword Coast of Faerun by giving new options for “the setting, story, and characters”. What does this mean? Well so far, it has been hinted (with great emphasis) of new archetypes for the established classes from the Player’s Handbook. There maybe new backgrounds to suit the region of the Sword Coast, along with additional lore on the region itself. As the product details indicate, this product is geared towards the players and their options more so than the DM’s. I’m excited to be honest, the bouts of rumors of what character concepts may return to the new edition has me enthralled. So in the spirit of the new product arriving soon, I’m going to devote this whole week (specifically Tues & Thurs) to my own homebrew concepts for iconic Forgotten Realms classes (or prestige classes for those 3.5E crowds).
We’re going to cover two of them today, Purple Dragon Knight and Bladesinger. We’ll cover the Shadow Adept, Red Wizards of Thay, and Harper Agent on the Thursday article.
The Purple Knights of Cormyr are the elite officers that uphold law and justice, they coordinate with the War Wizards when in battle to destroy their opposition. Keeping with the spirit of the class, we shall be implementing this valorous warrior. After some thought, I believe the best class to fit thematically would be if we this a Paladin oath.
Looking from this vantage, it makes sense since the Purple Dragon Knights are valorous knights of Cormyr, some are more lawful than good but there are a fair amount that fight for the greater good. All paladin oaths offer two Channel Divinity abilities, the Purple Dragon Knights are renowned for their oath to slay an enemy of Cormyr, as well as inspiring courage in their comrades. With that in mind, I think the best course of action would be have one of Channel Divinity its abilities mirror the Oath of Vengeance’s Vow of Enmity but with some tweaks.
Oath of Wrath: As a bonus action, the Purple Dragon Knight swears an oath to defeat their foe, typically an enemy of Cormyr. The knight selects an enemy within 60 feet, whenever the knight hits with a melee weapon attack, the weapon deals an additional 1d8 damage. This benefit lasts until the creature is down to 0 hp, otherwise the knight has disadvantage on attack rolls against other enemies that are not the designated target of the knight’s wrath.
Final Stand: As an action, the Purple Dragon Knight rallies his allies and finds them the strength to continue the fight. All allies within 10 feet of the knight gains 2d6 + Cha modifier temporary hit points.
Instead of spells, we’re going to try a different idea, we can this oath to be as inspiring as a bard but as powerful as a trained knight. So we will implement maneuvers and superiority dice, and add some new uses for them.
Combat Training: The Purple Dragon Knight learns two maneuvers (see Battlemaster Fighter archetype) and gains 4 superiority dice. The knight gains an additional maneuver at 5th, 9th, 13th and 17th level. The knight also gains additional superiority dice at 9th and 17th level.
Here’s where we do something unique with the superiority dice.
Rallying Cry: At 7th level, as a reaction, the Purple Dragon Knight can give one of his superiority dice to an ally within 30 feet to use for saving throws or damage rolls. The knight rallies his allies from harmful effects and encourages death to their foes. At 18th level, the knight can give his superiority dice to an ally within 60 feet.
Cloak of the Purple Dragon: At 15th level, the Purple Dragon Knight channels the essence of the ancient dragon that once ruled the region that is now Cormyr and was made into the very emblem and heraldry of the royal family. As an action, the knight can invoke fear at a creature within 30 feet. If the creature can see or hear you, it must succeed a Wisdom saving throw (DC 8 + prof. bonus + Cha mod) or be frightened for a number of rounds equal the knight’s Charisma modifier. This effect ends if the creature ends its turn out of your line of sight or more than 30 feet away from the knight. If the creature succeeds on its saving throw, the knight cannot use this feature on that creature again for 24 hours.
Champion of Cormyr: At 20th level, the Purple Dragon Knight has become the symbol of the ideals of Cormyr and upholding its laws and its people. Using an action, for 1 minute, the knight undergoes a transformation and gains the following benefits:
- The knight is no longer hindered by difficult terrain or magical bindings, as the Freedom of Movement spell.
- You have become a beacon of protection for your allies, whenever you use your Final Stand Channel Divinity ability, your allies now gain 4d6 plus your Charisma modifier temporary hit points. Whenever you use your Oath of Wrath Channel Divinity ability, you deal instead 2d8 additional damage on a successful melee weapon attack.
- The Cloak of the Purple Dragon feature’s range increases to 60 feet can affect all non-friendly creatures within range.
Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again until after a long rest.
From the kingdom of Cormyr, we venture towards another iconic role in the Forgotten Realms, the Land of the Purple Dragon was once part of the legendary elf kingdom of Myth Drannor. There were a select number of elves who mastered weaving sword and spell together and learn the Bladesong, a means to chime their spells through song and use the instinctual rhythms for their swordplay. Now in the majority of the lore, most bladesingers were of elven descent, namely the role was largely for elves and half-elves. In the spirit of the new edition, I do not think such restrictions are necessary anymore, and the features that we have for this particular path should not alienate other races.
Bonus Proficiencies: At 3rd level, the Bladesinger gains proficiency with martial weapons, and the Performance skill (if the Bladesinger is already proficient, choose another skill under the Bard class list).
Bladesong: At 3rd level, the Bladesinger learns the intricate dance of sword and spell, whenever he casts a spell of 2nd-level or lower (except cantrips) with a casting time of 1 action, he may elect to cast the spell as a bonus action. By 9th level, the bladesinger can use feature for a spell of 5th-level or lower. Once the bladesinger uses this feature, he must finish a short or long rest to use it again.
Extra Attack: At 6th level, the bladesinger can attack twice instead of once whenever he uses the Attack action on their turn.
Battle Magic: Whenever you use an action to cast a bard spell, you can make one weapon attack as a bonus action.
Yes I know the Bladesinger is not much different from the College of Valor option, but the Bladesinger of old was a ‘gish’ (a technical term for a melee spellcaster character) and the current iteration of D&D covered that role very well. I would imagine there can be some other adjustments or abilities to toss to the mix. These are just my impressions on the whole idea and what I sort hope to find in the Adventurer’s Guide once it comes out in November. Thanks again for reading along, please feel free to comment down below. I have more on Thursday as I’ll be covering some other iconic classes from the Forgotten Realms so please tune and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.