|Good Saves:||Low fort/ref High will|
Knights are a charismatic melee class. Knights are significantly lacking in power compared to other classes and are difficult to roleplay or even fight with them, due to their strict morality code. Thus new players are advised not to try this class. Although they are below average as a whole, they can be challenging with some optimization touches.
Due to your class abilities and armor proficiencies, it is obvious that knights are front liner tanks. Also most special knight abilities are charisma related.
- Strength: Since you are going to be engaging enemies in melee, strength will be important to you.
- Dexterity: Your heavy armor will interfere with high dexterity modifiers. However you do need the reflex bonus and some of your skills are dexterity based, so don't dump it completely.
- Constitution: As a tank, this is your first priority. You do get an impressive amount of hit points per level, but your fortitude save is too low for a front liner.
- Intelligence: This is an attribute you can actually dump. Negative modifiers will be bad for your skills though. Other from that though, it doesn't help much.
- Wisdom: You already have a good will save progression and none of your skills are based on wisdom. Dump this.
- Charisma: This should be your second higher attribute. It helps your skills and most importantly your Knight's Challenge class ability.
To sum up:
Con > Str > Cha > Dex > Int > Wis
Generally you should try and boost your strength, constitution and charisma. Moreover try to look for races that give you extra constitution based abilities or help your role in the party. In addition because you are going to use reach, don't choose races that are small in size.
- Human (PHB): Excellent race that boosts your skill points and gives you an extra feat.
- Dream Dwarf (RoS): Pretty much the same benefits with the standard dwarf, but they get a hit in their dexterity instead of charisma. Their stability ability is great and boosts your tanking attributes. Spell Power though is useless to you.
- Neanderthals (Frostburn): Bonuses to useful attributes, while taking hits in those you can afford to lose.
- Hellbred (FC II): The Body (Ex) aspect is great for you, giving you bonuses to constitution and lots of bonus feats.
- Dragonborn of Bahamut (RotD): A template-like race that is great with the Heart (Su) aspect. Also boosts your constitution and a penalty to dexterity.
- Draconic Creature (RotD): A template that aside from various other bonuses, boosts the attributes you most need. If you are allowed level adjustment buy off this is a nice template.
- Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Knights are proficient with all simple and martial weapons and all armor and shields, with the exception of tower shields.
- The Knight's Code: You have to follow a code of ethics as a knight. That affects you in battle, since if you break any of the following rules, you violate your code. This means that you lose a Knight's Challenge use for the day.
- You don't gain a bonus on attack rolls from flanking.
- You can't attack flat-footed opponents.
- You can't deal lethal damage to helpless foes.
- Mounted Combat: Gain the Mounted Combat (PHB) feat as a bonus feat.
- Shield Block (Ex): Excellent ability that increases your shield's AC bonus against the designated opponent. You can gain greater benefits from this, using feats like Shield Ward (PHB II), which lets you add your shield's AC bonus to your touch AC. Since it is a non-action on your turn to designate an opponent as the target of this ability, use this ability to your advantage, targeting ranged opponents (blasting spellcasters, archers) before you engage in melee and the most dangerous melee opponents after that.
- Bulwark of Defense (Ex): Opponents that begin their turn in your threatened area treat all the squares that you threaten as difficult terrain. Difficult terrain means that it costs double the normal movement to move inside it. What is great with this ability is that it's like a rogue using spring attack (PHB) and hamstring (CW) or trip attacks, but with no saving throw and you must stay close to them to be effective. The best solution to this would be a reach weapon and an enlarge person effect.
- Armor Mastery (Ex): Ignore the speed reduction by medium armor and later from heavy armor as well. This means that you will be able to move better in the battlefield. Moreover, note that the tumble skill description mentions that you can't tumble only if your speed has been reduced. With this ability you will be able to tumble even in the heaviest of armors. Normally tumble isn't a class skill for knights, however the solution to this is the Cityscape web enhancement, in which an alternative class feature lets you swap Ride with Tumble.
- Bonus Feats: You gain some bonus feats from a small list. Unfortunately only some are useful if you aren't going for a mounted build, probably Diehard and Quick Draw. Totally you are going to have three bonus feats, so consider a feat like Iron Will or Great Fortitude to boost your saves.
- Vigilant Defender (Ex): Increase the difficulty class of tumble checks of all opponents trying to move through an area you threaten. The DC is increased by a number equal to your class level. Again, having reach and the ability to threaten more squares, helps this feature.
- Shield Ally (Ex): Use an immediate option to absorb half of the damage dealt to an adjacent ally. The attack must be physical, like that of a sword or arrow. The best way this is going to be effective is with damage reduction. If both you and your ally have damage reduction you are going to seriously reduce the amount of incoming damage.
- Improved Shield Ally (Ex): Once per round absorb all the damage against an adjacent ally, while retaining the ability to absorb half the damage from other sources.
- Impetuous Endurance (Ex): You don't automatically fail a saving throw on a roll of 1. Nice ability to have, but not to die for.
- Knight's Challenge: This is the signature ability of the knight, manipulates enemies by using his force of personality. You can use this ability 1/2 your class level + your charisma modifier. There are different options you can use with knight's challenge, which you learn by gaining levels.
- Fighting Challenge (Ex): Issue a challenge to a single opponent as a swift action. The opponent must have a greater CR that your character level - 2 and gain bonuses on attack rolls and will saves. As you gain levels the bonuses will be significantly greater. What is great about this ability is that it has no saving throw, but if your enemy reduces you to 0 or fewer hit points, you lose two uses of your knight's challenge. This effect lasts for rounds equal to 5 + your charisma modifier.
- Test of Mettle (Ex): As a swift action expend a knight's challenge. All enemies within 100ft with a CR greater than or equal to your character level - 2, must make will saves (DC 10 + 1/2 your class level + cha modifier). Creatures that fail this save are compelled to attack you with ranged or melee attacks. Even if the foe attacks by casting a spell, he must target you or include you in the spell's area. Remember that this ability doesn't make your opponents act dump, they won't attack you if doing so would provoke attack of opportunity against him. Moreover, if anyone other than you attacks an affected target, this effect ends for that target. If you are reduced to zero or less hit points by an opponent due to this ability, you gain another use of knight's challenge for that day. The effect lasts for 5 + charisma modifier rounds.
- Call to Battle (Ex): The least useful function of knight's challenge, this allows you to spend one use of your ability to grant an ally another saving throw against a fear effect equal to your charisma bonus.
- Daunting Challenge (Ex): Expend one use of your knight's challenge for the day to strike fear in creatures within 100ft and of a CR less than your character level - 2. The difficulty class is 10 + 1/2 your class level + cha modifier.
- Bond of Loyalty (Ex): Spend a knight's challenge use as a free action to grant yourself an additional saving throw against mind-affecting spells or abilities. You can use this ability even if an opponent controls your actions.
- Loyal beyond Death (Ex): If you are reduced to 0 or less hit points that leaves your body intact, you can expend a knight's challenge and continue to act each round. You can use this ability even if you are below -10 hit points. If your body is destroyed, you cannot act, but you can continue to expend uses to survive. Later you can receive healing and survive, or run out of uses before you receive it and die.
Alternative Class FeaturesEdit
You have a small number of skill points per level, but your skill list has a nice amount of class skills:
- Climb: This skill is one of those physical that are most needed when you don't have them. Not your first priority but if you have the extra points to spend on this skill, do it.
- Handle Animal: Not particularly useful to knights, but the fact that you can swap this out for gather information through the cityscape web enhancement, is worth it, since it gives you a social touch and you are going to have high charisma scores.
- Intimidate: This is the skill you want to max out. It is a lite debuff to help the spells and the special abilities of your party members that require a saving throw and is charisma related. Also you can stack fear effects with your teammates to greater effect.
- Jump: As with climb. However, you'll probably want to get this skill to five ranks, to get a synergy bonus to your tumble checks.
- Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty): Unfortunately this knowledge isn't related to any creature type to help your party. If you want to spend skill points in this skill, you will probably want to get it to five ranks, since it will boost your diplomacy checks by two, as a synergy bonus.
- Ride: This is a useful skill. If you are going to be mounted, you should max this out. This is even useful even if you are not going for a mounted build. This is because you can swap it with tumble, with the cityscape web enhancement. Look at the armor mastery class feature to see how tumble helps you and their synergy.
- Swim: As with climb.
- Back on your Feet (Movement): If you fall prone, you can stand up as an immediate action without provoking attacks of opportunity. This is a nice ability to have against trippers and the such. It also has synergy with your tanking abilities. Requires tumble 12 ranks.
- Dismount Attack (Movement): If your mount has moved at least 10ft and you succeed on a fast dismount, you can use a standard action to attack an opponent as if you have charged that opponent. Nice for mounted knights. Requires ride 5 ranks.
- Never Outnumbered (Interaction): Use intimidate to demoralize all enemies within 10ft rather than a single enemy you threaten. Since you are going to use intimidate as a skill, this is a nice addition to your arsenal. Requires intimidate 8 ranks.
- Nimble Stand (Movement): As with back on your feet, but you must still spend a move action to get up. Requires tumble 8 ranks.
- Steadfast Determination: Use your constitution modifier instead of your wisdom modifier on will saves, which is a good thing since wisdom becomes a dump stat. Moreover you don't automatically fail fortitude saves on a 'natural 1', but that isn't that important. All in all, since you can get endurance as a bonus knight feat, this is ok to reduce MAD.
- Armor Specialization: Gain some damage reduction (2/-) when you are wearing a specific type of armor. Since damage reduction doesn't stack, this should be your last resort.
- Heavy Armor Optimization: Improve AC bonus and reduce armor check penalty by 1. Since your job is to tank and you are most probably going to need some lessened penalties on your physical skills, it is useful, but average as a whole.
- Greater Heavy Armor Optimization: You essentially trade two feats for +2 AC and -3 armor check penalty. I don't think the trade is worth it.
- Diehard: Automatically stabilize when reduced to negative hit points and you can act even if unconscious. Since you get endurance as a bonus feat, this offers nice tanking abilities. Also note that diehard appears in the list of bonus knight feats.
- Endurance: This is not a great feat, it is actually below average. Unfortunately it is listed regularly as a requirement for tanking feats/classes. You get it as a bonus feat also.
- Dragon Cohort: Nice option if you want to play a mounted build. Dragonnels are actually nice and the requirements for this feat are low.
- Leadership: Your charisma is already one of your best attributes and this must be one of the most powerful and abusable feats there are.
- Undead Leadership: As above, but for the more grim-inclined knights.
- Nymph's Kiss: +2 bonus on charisma-based skill checks, +1 bonus on all saving throws against spells and spell-like abilities and finally one bonus skill point per level. It has some great synergy with your abilities, but still an average choice. Can help offset an intelligence hit, or a bad saving throw attribute.
- Daunting Presence: Charisma-based feat that gives you the ability to shaken opponents within 30ft of you as a standard action. This ability helps spellcasters land their spells (as the shaken condition reduces the saving throws of the target among other stuff). The downside to this is that you can't use it to stack fear effects, as it has no effect on already shaken characters.
- Frightful Presence: Project an aura of fear each time you attack or charge. Unfortunately this only affects creatures with less HD than you, but is otherwise great.
- Goad: Make an opponent attack you, but it only affects melee attacks. This feat isn't that great, but it's charisma-based, easy to acquire and complements your tanking role.
- Martial Training: Even if you can't multiclass to a warblade or crusader, this feat gets you some extremely usefull manuevers (Recommended: White Raven Style) that'll give any orc a nasty surprise.
This is generally a bad idea unless you plan on taking a class like the Ronin or you're an Illumian, which can multiclass freely no matter what. If you are one of these living sentences, you can take some levels in another martial class easily. Going fighter will get you nice bonus feats, though a highly recommended combo is taking some levels in warblade. The White Raven is especially good, since you're usually the one charging at the hobgoblin raiding party that just broke through the door.