Book Review: Advanced Feats: The Cavalier’s Creed by Sigfried Trent of Open Design

When I was new to roleplaying and Dungeons & Dragons, I scrimped and saved to pile enough gold together to purchase my books. All of the beautiful TSR books of the mid-1980s were worth it, from the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Player’s Handbook to books like the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Deities and Demigods. I still have most of these books now, even nearly 30 years later in some cases.

But I’ll always remember the book that introduced quite a few new concepts to the table as being Unearthed Arcana. It was originally published in 1985 and I never got my hands on a copy except when I happened to be at a friend’s house who happened to own one. UA introduced cantrips (minor spells), new races such as the drow, and new classes to play. That was where I first met the cavalier and the barbarian.

So when I saw Advanced Feats: The Cavalier’s Creed by Sigfried Trent of Open Design, I have to admit I was a bit excited to see how the cavalier would be brought into the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. As Sigfried points out on the first page, the cavalier is a bit unique. Cavaliers are specialized fighters with no magical abilities. They simply know how to use strategy and tactics to their advantage on the battlefield. As a result, they just *seem* to have magical abilities at times.

The feats are definitely the crunchy part of this sixteen page PDF. The thirty feats included are diverse in form and function, including everything from feats for a rider’s mount, for teamwork, and generally scaring the pants off your opponents. There are also some subtle feats included that I really think can add to the depth of a character.

The first feat that caught my attention was “Campaigner,” possibly because I have sleep issues myself and would love to have the ability to “sleep well under any circumstance.” This feat, though perhaps not as useful in combat as some of the others, adds another dimension to a cavalier. The ability to half the normal amount of rest the character needs is astounding, but it’s more than that. If I was a GM and saw a character with this feat, I’d want to know how they earned it. There must be a story behind this ability, a vignette that explains it from a fellow party member’s point of view, or something… It’s too good a hook to pass up!

Feats like Pack Attack, Tag Team Fighting, and Team Initiative could seriously devastate an enemy in the field. Pack Attack grants flanking bonuses if you have a team member flanking an opponent and you are threatening the same opponent. Tag Team Fighting offers a classic one-two punch, granting an ally with the feat a +2 bonus on their next attack following your own successful hit. And Team Initiative offers a coordinated way to attack in a particular initiative order. A team who really focuses on working as a unit could work their way through a combat in record time by using these great feats.

Then there are the feats meant for a rider’s mount. Feats like Nimble Mount, which grants the rider a +1 dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves, brings to mind a brave warhorse rearing up to protect its master. And Clever Critter grants a mount a higher Intelligence than others of its breed. This made me think of Brisco County Jr.’s horse Comet, and the conversations Brisco and Comet would have on that show. (I’m not convinced that Comet wasn’t smarter than his rider at times.)

In addition, Sigfried offers a trio of character builds illustrating how a cavalier character might work in-game. My favorite of these is of course The Green Knight, who uses Intimidate and Provoke to great effect as a half-orc towering above his foes on the field. Details of the stats, skills, and what feats to take as levels progress offers a great way to use some of the new feats alongside the usual fighter standards. Also included are the Tawny
Knight as a gnomish cavalier and The Black Knight as a human. Any or all of these may be appearing in my next campaign if things go well!

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t note a couple of things.

Throughout the book are scattered little shaded boxes with notes on topics such as “Historical Bucklers” and “On Horsemanship,” which provide thoughts on their history and context within a game. Reading about the real use of buckler shields and the ancient Greek Xenophon, who wrote “On Horsemanship” back in 350 BCE made me appreciate the research Sigfried did for this book. As you read, be sure to spend a little extra time pondering these notes to gain some perspective on this storied class.

And once again, Open Design has produced a beautiful book with a simple layout utilizing white space, old-style scroll-work in the header and footer using shield standards and fleur-de-lis. If only all PDFs were as clean, decorative, and useful as this one.

Overall, I think Advanced Feats: The Cavalier’s Creed offers some great options for adding some crunch to a Pathfinder game. I was left confused by a few things (probably because I don’t have the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook and couldn’t find an answer on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document online)… On the very first page I was left wondering what a Challenge was. It’s not defined in the book and I couldn’t find it in the PRD, so I don’t know what to think about it.

And I was a bit confused by the feats list. It seems to mix and match feats for teams, for combat, and for mounts in alphabetical order, which caused me a bit of head scratching when I went from Campaigner to Clever Critter and from Moral Chameleon to Move as One. I would rather have seen the feats broken out a bit more into logical groups or seen them tagged more consistently and those tags appearing in the summary table.

That said, Advanced Feats: The Cavalier’s Creed is a great resource for crunch in a campaign – especially one with knights in shining armor. It’s great to see the cavalier resurrected and charging into battle once more. Be sure to check it out for your own campaign at RPGNow!

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