Metallic Knight, Dragonrider (3.5e Class)
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Dragonriders are heroic figures with the power to bond with dragons, gaining lifelong steeds, companions and allies. This bond is more than simply a close friendship, it is a mystic connection between dragonrider and dragon, creating a permanent link fueled by the arcane power inherent to all true dragons. In many societies, dragonriders are members of the lesser nobility. They are considered peers of the realm, and expected to act with the same dignity and decorum as lords and ladies.
Some dragonriders are the result of freak circumstance—youths who stumble onto hatching eggs and happen to form a bond deeper than friendship with a newly-born dragon. More than one common farmer’s daughter has been thrust into the role of hero by the sudden and unexpected change of circumstances bonding with a dragon wyrmling brings. These dragonriders often must deal with mistrust and suspicion, for they live in lands where dragonriders are rare, and most view them as servant to a monster, rather than master of a powerful ally.
Dragonriders are almost always either confident to the point of arrogance, or remarkably friendly and approachable. Oddly, alignment has nothing to do with these two attitudes. Evil dragonriders are either megalomaniacs who see their dragons as proof that they are superior to everyone else and should rule the world, or are almost humble, affable foes who cheerfully explain to ally and foe alike that they must raid, loot and destroy to keep their dragons happy. Good aligned dragonriders are similarly divided between those who are convinced it is their duty to save the world, act as a good example, and force others to see the error of their ways, and those who just wish to be among friends (which happens to include a dragon).
Making a Dragonrider
Dragonriders are fair combatants, though they tend to stay away from heavy armors as it restricts their ability to cast spells and maximize their skill riding a dragon. Though they cannot match a dedicated fighter’s skill or a barbarian’s fury in battle, a dragonrider often needs only survive long enough for their steed’s fiery breath to end any opposition they face. Dragonriders often focus on ranged combat, both to maximize the mobility they enjoy on dragon back, and to keep them away from the heaviest front-line fighting.
Abilities: Dexterity and Charisma are important for dragonriders.
Alignment: Though a dragonrider may be of any alignment, he may only bond to dragons within one step of his alignment (see Dragon Steeds, below, for more information).
Starting Gold: 5d6x50;1500 gp.
Starting Age: Simple
|Saving Throws||Special||Spells per Day||Power
|1st||+1||+2||+2||+2||Bonded Dragon steed, Link||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2nd||+2||+3||+3||+3||Low-light vision, Share spells||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|3rd||+3||+3||+3||+3||Resist Energy 5||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|4th||+4||+4||+4||+4||Summon steed 1/day||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|7th||+7/+2||+5||+5||+5||summon steed 2/day||—||1||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|8th||+8/+3||+6||+6||+6||Resist Energy 10||—||1||1||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|11th||+11/+6/+1||+7||+7||+7||Summon steed 3/day||—||2||1||1||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|13th||+13/+8/+3||+8||+8||+8||Resist energy 15||—||3||2||1||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+9||+9||+9||Summon steed 4/day||—||3||2||1||1||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|18th||+18/+13/+8/+3||+11||+11||+11||Resist energy 20||—||4||3||2||2||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|19th||+19/+14/+9/+4||+11||+11||+11||Summon Steed 5/day||—||4||3||3||2||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
Class Skills 7 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A dragonrider is proficient with all simple weapons, plus any one martial melee weapon and one martial ranged weapon. Dragonriders are also proficient with light armor and shields (except tower shields). A dragonrider can cast dragonrider spells while wearing light armor and use a shield without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. Like any other arcane spellcaster, a dragonrider wearing medium or heavy armor incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component. A multiclass dragonrider still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.
Bonded Dragon Steed (Ex): A dragonrider has a mystic bond with a youthful true dragon, a bond that guarantees the dragons loyalty to the rider (as long as it is treated with respect), and allows the dragonrider to tap into some of the bonded steed’s arcane power. A character that starts as a dragonrider at 1st level is assumed to have already bonded with a dragon of his choice. A character multiclassing into dragonrider is approached by a dragon as a prospective bonded mount within 30 days. The bond causes the dragon to grow slightly in size, and drives it to gain power as its dragonrider gains experience, rather than as it gains age categories. Many of a dragon’s normal powers (spell-like abilities, spellcasting, unlimited breath weapon use) are either suspended or modified as the arcane power that drives them is used to fuel the bond between dragonrider and dragon mount. This bond, once forged, ends only if both rider and steed decide to end it, or if one is killed and not resurrected in a timely fashion.
Most true dragons are unwilling to undergo this bond (though there is always one that will do so able to find each dragonrider without a bonded steed). For good dragons this is often done to aid good-aligned dragonriders in facing the evils of the world. In some cases it is part of ancient pacts dating back centuries that dictate service of a set number of dragons of a given bloodline, or it is forced upon dragons as punishment for some sin (or as the price demanded by a conqueror). Even among neutral and evil dragons however, there are always a few who seek out such bonds willingly.
The reason for this is a desire for power, and an ability to take a long view. A dragon bonded to a dragonrider grows in size and power as the dragonrider gains experience. The payoff comes when the dragonrider dies which almost always occurs long before the dragon steed’s death – even the longest lived dragonrider won’t see his steed reach the very old age category at 600 years, and most dragonriders die in battle long before this. At first the bonded dragon simply must survive as an underpowered dragon, but after a year and a day from its rider’s death if it has no new bonded dragonrider, the dragon begins to gain the full power of a normal dragon of its size (or the oldest category in its size class, to a maximum age category of very old).
Consider a red dragon wyrmling. It is Small, and won’t reach Large size for roughly 20 years. It won’t be Huge for 45 years, and Gargantuan size is at least 4 centuries off. But if that red serves as a dragon steed, it becomes Large immediately, and stands a fair chance to become Gargantuan within a few years. If it survives its dragonrider’s loss, the red dragon will gain the full power of a very old dragon within a few years, jumping its (ubiquitous) plans for world domination ahead 6 centuries. While most red dragons feel the price is too high, there are always a few youngsters willing to serve now (though somewhat grudgingly, see the Focus score in the descriptions of dragon steeds, below) for hundreds of years worth of powers later.
A bonded dragon can carry it’s rider as soon as it is the same size category as its rider, assuming it’s strength is great enough to bear the rider and his gear. Dragons’ carrying capacity is modified for their size as normal creatures, and as bonded dragon steeds they can fly (at full speed) even if heavily encumbered. A dragon can carry two creatures one size smaller than it, four creatures two sizes smaller, and sixteen creatures three or more sizes smaller (all assuming it has the Strength to do so).
The link between dragonrider and dragon grows in strength as the Dragonrider gains levels, allowing them to communicate more easily, feel each other’s location, and even transfer life essence to one another.
Should a dragonrider’s bonded steed die and not be returned to life, the dragonrider cannot bond with a new mount for 30 days or until he gains another dragonrider level, whichever comes first. During this 30-day period the dragonrider takes a -1 penalty on attack and weapon damage rolls.
Link (EX): A dragonrider and his bonded dragon steed always know the direction to each other, and are aware of any conditions the other is suffering.
Low-Light Vision (Ex):As the bond between dragonrider and dragon strengthens, it eventually grants the dragonrider some of his steeds amazing senses. At 2nd level, the dragonrider gains low-light vision. If the dragonrider already has natural low-light vision, the range of his low-light vision is doubled (allowing him to see four times as far as normal in dim or shadowy conditions).
Share Spells (Ex):Starting at 2nd level, the dragonrider may cast a spell with a target of “You” on his dragon steed (as a spell with a range of touch) instead of on himself. A dragonrider may cast spells on his dragon steed even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the steed’s type (dragon). Spells cast in this way must come from a class that grants a dragon steed. This ability does not allow the steed to share abilities that are not spells, even if they function like spells.
Resist Energy (Su):Beginning at 3rd level, a dragonrider gains a natural resistance to damage of the same energy type as the damage of his bonded dragon steed’s breath weapon. This begins at energy resistance 5, and increase by 5 every 5 levels, to a maximum of energy resistance 20 at 18th level. The energy resistance is tied to the dragonrider’s current steed—should he change bonded dragons steed to one with a new type of breath weapon damage, his resistance also changes to the new type.
Summon Steed (Sp):Once per day, as a full round action, a dragonrider may magically call his steed to his side. This ability is the equivalent of a spell of a level equal to one third the dragonrider’s level. The steed immediately appears adjacent to the dragonrider. A dragonrider can use this ability once per day at 4th level, twice per day at 7th level, and one additional time per day for every 4 levels thereafter, for a total of five times per day at 19th level.
Draconic Training: The unique experience and training a dragonrider receives as part of his time with his bonded dragon steed grants him a bonus feat at 5th level. The feat must be selected from the list below, and the dragonrider must meet all the feat’s prerequisites normally. The dragonrider gains an additional feat at 9th, 12th, and 17th level.
Alertness, Animal Affinity, Arcane Armor Mastery, Arcane Armor Training, Arcane Strike, Armor Proficiency (Medium), Blind-Fight, Combat Casting, Combat Expertise, Dazzling Display, Diehard, Endurance, Eschew Materials, Great Fortitude, Improved Great Fortitude, Improved Iron Will, Improved Lightning Reflexes, Intimidating Prowess, Iron Will, Leadership, Lightning Reflexes, Mounted Archery, Mounted Combat, Persuasive, Ride-By Attack, Spirited Charge, Toughness, and Weapon Focus.
Spells: Beginning at 5th level, a dragonrider gains the ability to cast a small number of arcane spells drawn from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time. To learn or cast a spell, a dragonrider must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a dragonrider’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the dragonrider’s Charisma modifier.
Like other spellcasters, a dragonrider can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: Dragonrider. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Charisma score.
The dragonrider’s selection of spells is extremely limited. A dragonrider begins play knowing four 0 level spells and two 1st level spells of the dragonrider’s choice. At each new dragonrider level, he gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: Dragonrider Spells Known. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a dragonrider knows is not affected by his Charisma score. The numbers on Table: Dragonrider Spells Known are fixed.)
Upon reaching 8th level, and at every third dragonrider level after that (11th, 14th, and so on), a dragonrider can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows. In effect, the dragonrider “loses” the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged, and it must be at least one level lower than the highest level dragonrider spell the dragonrider can cast. A dragonrider may swap only a single spell at any given level and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for the level.
A dragonrider need not prepare his spells in advance. He can cast any spell he knows at any time, assuming he has not yet used up his allotment of spells per day for the spell’s level. Through 4th level a dragonrider has no caster level. At 5th level and higher, his caster level is equal to his dragonrider level –4.
Darkvision (Ex):At 6th level, the senses of the dragonrider are again enhanced by his link to his dragon steed, granting him darkvision to a range of 60 feet. If the dragonrider already has natural darkvision, the range of that vision is increased by 60 feet.
Scent (Ex):At 10th level, the senses of the dragonrider are again enhanced by his link to his dragon steed, granting him the scent ability.
This special quality allows the dragonrider to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. The scent ability allows the dragonrider to identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights.
The dragonrider can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell. If the opponent is upwind, the range increases to 60 feet; if downwind, it drops to 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench, can be detected at triple normal range.
When the dragonrider detects a scent, the exact location of the source is not revealed—only its presence somewhere within range. The dragonrider can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. When the dragonrider is within 5 feet of the source, he pinpoints the source’s location.
The dragonrider with the scent ability can follow tracks by smell, making a Wisdom (or Survival) check to find or follow a track. The typical DC for a fresh trail is 10 (no matter what kind of surface holds the scent). This DC increases or decreases depending on how strong the quarry’s odor is, the number of creatures, and the age of the trail. For each hour that the trail is cold, the DC increases by 2. The ability otherwise follows the rules for the Survival skill. creatures tracking by scent ignore the effects of surface conditions and poor visibility.
Blindsense (Ex):At 14th level, the senses of the dragonrider are again enhanced by his link to his dragon steed, granting him blindsense to a range of 15 feet. If the dragonrider already has natural blindsense, the range of this ability is increased by 15 feet.
Spell Resistance (Su):Beginning at 16th level a dragonrider gains spell resistance. The SR is equal to 5 + the dragonrider’s level, and is shared by the dragonrider’s bonded dragon steed.
Dragonform (Sp):At 20th level the bond between a dragonrider and his dragon is so strong, the dragonrider can actually take the form of a dragon. This ability can be used once per day and acts as the spell form of the dragon III, but the dragonrider may only take the form of the race of dragon that matches his bonded dragon steed.
Other Metallic Knight Classes