Oathlorn (Cavalier)

Round 2: Design an archetype

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Phloid

Oathlorn (Cavalier)
An oath taken in the River Kingdoms, is an oath taken seriously. Cavaliers who swear loyalty to their orders and the causes they serve know this well. There are some, however, called oathlorn, who can't seem to stick to their convictions. The oathlorn moves from one kingdom to the next and appears to swap loyalties on a whim. But whether he's a compulsive liar, or just keeps finding a more worthy cause, in the River Kingdoms, he's a wanted man.

Class Skills: An oathlorn adds Disguise (Cha) to his list of class skills. He gets the additional class skills granted by his order as normal, but does not get any additional ability from his order's skills entry. Instead, whenever the oathlorn uses Bluff to conceal information about his identity or his broken oaths, he receives a competence bonus equal to 1/2 his cavalier level (minimum +1).

Oathbreaker's Challenge (Ex): At 1st level, whenever an oathlorn issues a challenge against someone who intends to punish him for breaking an oath, he gains a bonus against the target of his challenge. He may choose a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls or a +1 dodge bonus to his AC. The bonus increases by +1 for every four cavalier levels the oathlorn possesses and lasts for one minute. The oathlorn can benefit from this ability at the same time as his order's challenge ability, as long as both criteria are fulfilled. This ability replaces tactician.

Fleeting Devotion (Ex): At 2nd level, an oathlorn gains one opportunity to change his order without waiting an entire level. He may do this anytime before gaining his next level, but must give his oath directly to representatives of the new order, and they must be willing to accept him. The new order's abilities replace his current abilities immediately, and he is bound by the new edicts. The oathlorn cannot choose the order of the cockatrice.
The oathlorn gains one more use of this ability at 5th level, 9th level, and 14th level, but cannot swear an oath to an order he has chosen previously.
This ability replaces banner, greater tactician, and greater banner.

Order of the Oathbreaker (Ex): At 17th level, the oathlorn becomes a free-lance without an official order. He retains his order abilities, but is not strictly beholden to any edicts. Each day at dawn, he may change one of the following order abilities: bonus class skills, challenge ability, ability gained at 2nd level, at 8th level, or at 15th level. He replaces it with the like ability from any order he has previously belonged to. This change remains until he alters it again on a subsequent morning. This ability replaces master tactician.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Oathbreaker's Challenge: I don't think this would come up very often unless the campaign is about how you've broken a lot of oaths.

Fleeting Devotion: I see the versatility of this ability, but an ability you can only use once per level is pretty weak (imagine if you could only use your highest-level spells once per wizard level). I'm not sure if the "one more use" at the higher levels is per level or for the lifetime of the character.

Order of the Oathbreaker: Ok, this makes up for "closing the doors" of the earlier ability, but in general you don't want to give weak abilities at low level and "compensate" that with a more powerful ability at a higher level.

I see this more as a unique NPC's ability rather than an archetype a PC would want to take. And the idea of "guy who doesn't follow the rules of the River Kingdoms" technically is appropriate for the River Kingdoms, it's a really tenuous connection.

I do NOT recommend this archetype for advancement.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Nickolas, I thought the sandals just slid in to the top 32. I was hoping for a big step up here and I don't think that happened, I'm sorry to say. To me, this feels like a backstory for a fallen cavalier NPC rather than an archetype (Edit: I see Sean agrees with this).

That said, I don't think there are 16 clearly amazing entries this round so the voters may well bring you to the next round. Good luck!

I DO NOT Recommend this archetype for advancement.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Nickolas, congrats on making the Top 32! The choice of cavalier is interesting, it's not the most popular class and this archetype gives it a big of a rogue-ish, I-don't-play-by-the-rules vibe that is a little weird for a cavalier, but ok, run with it.

The abilities leave me wondering why play a cavalier, though: you might be happier as a wandering fighter or the like. Clark's right, this is a backstory for a cool fallen cavalier. It's fun to be an anti-hero or rebel, but there are other classes for that, and I'm just not sold on the wavering loyalty theme in a class built on duty and loyalty.

Not recommended to advance.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

I'm torn, because I can see him making a promise during parley before a fight, when we all vainly try to Diplomacize our way out of a fight (which we're actually all aching to fight) and then as soon as the big bad's guard is down, boom, you hit him with a power attack/challenge. And suddenly you're getting the Oathbreaker's challenge.

That said, everything thereafter until you get to Order of the Oathbreaker makes me say meh.


So wait, your "oathlorn" cavalier doesn't become a freelancer who does what he wants until 17th level? What was he doing for the previous 16 levels? I honestly don't like this one; the mechanics aren't very strong (Seriously? One of your abilities is to not have to wait ONE DAY to change your Cavalier Order?) and not only that, but one of the River Freedoms laws is "Oathbreakers Die." This entire archetype feels like it goes against the River Kingdoms setting because of that one, fundamental freedom.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

I will give general impressions, but with 3 areas of particular focus that suit my personal interests. Archetype and ability names: do they show flair? How closely tied to the River Kingdom is the archetype? And last but certainly not least, do I want to play this archetype?

Archetype and ability names: Above average. I like the archetype name a lot. The ability names are consistent with the theme.

River Kingdom tie: Above average. This is the exception that proves the rule, so to speak. I see nothing wrong with using the big RK freedom as something to define yourself against. It's a perfectly legitimate approach, and cavalier is a good choice to make the point stronger.

Desire to play: Below average. Having said the above, the real payoff with this character comes too late. It could be I'm missing some use of Oathbreaker's Challenge and maybe Fleeting Devotion would be more useful in practice, but the 17th level ability seems to be the core of the archetype, and that's a long road to walk.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka surfbored

So, I was going to write up a big review of this archetype, but then I read Clouds Without Water's review and I agree 100% with each point.

So let me just recap quickly...

  • I like that this archetype is the opposite of what would be expected, and that's the link to the RK environment.

  • Again the name, Oathlorn, is great. But the flavor text, could be a little smoother.

    e.g. "There are some, however, called oathlorn, who can't seem to stick to their convictions." = "There are some, however, who can't seem to stick to their convictions; they are oathlorn." (Maybe?)

  • I want more crunch, more meat with my potatoes.

Overall: Not the best archetype in the round, but also not the worst.

Good luck!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

Good: Name and riverlands ties are strong here. Idea of flipping the theme with terms of oaths is pretty cool, and the late power is awesome.
Bad: You have to live that long.
Ugly: Breaks the theme of the Cavaleer too much, also draws comparisons to prior year archetype hound master and this is no hound master.
Overall: Lower middling to me and not getting my vote.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

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Is this cavalier Oathlorn? No. He is a traitor. His focus is in killing people who punish him for violating the laws of the land he chooses to reside in for abandoning his honor, and betraying those who placed their trust in him. He should probably not be an adventurer as he hurts the ones he swears oaths to. He should definately not be somewhere where "oathbreakers die."

I see you were trying to echo the design of the heretic archetype. unfortunately that isn't superstar. Escpecially since you can't, as written, tranfer over to vanilla cavalier after breaking an oath and back to oathbreaker after renewing alligiance and atoning for the oath you broke.

I will not be voting for this.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8 aka nate lange

good template use; your writing isn't bad; the link to the RK is certainly a bold one.

the ability to switch orders like that is interesting but doesn't seem unbalancing- though in all honesty i don't know the class well enough to foresee every use of this. i feel the same way about the 17th level ability- it sounds reasonable but i'm not sure if there might be some combo of powers that are too much. sorry i can't give you the same depth of analysis most of the other entries got.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

This archetype doesn't work for me. The abilities are poorly balanced, it feels useless for a PC unless the whole campaign was built around it, and the flavor isn't particularly exciting to begin with.

Good luck this round, you're going to need it.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

I like your writing and I like your ideas!

That said, this really smacks of NPC. I could not see this getting use and if it did, the GM would get tired of whining "why doesn't anyone attack us that knows I broke an oath?". This is pretty cool in the theming, it just falls apart in the practicality.

Oathbreaker's Challenge: How does he know an intends to challenge him for breaking an oath?

Fleeting Devotion: Again, theme is cool, practicality is not so much.

Order of the Oathbreaker: It's cool...again...but would anyone stick around 17 levels to get this?

Overall, I wanted to like this, but I just can't look past how absolutely NPC and PC useless this is.

I do NOT recommend.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

I don't think I get the intention here. This whole archetype seems to be to ret-con your character. While I've played with people who always want to try a different character out, they normally want to actually do a different character, not just swap their character's main choice around. It would be like playing a specialist wizard who presumably built his character around their specialty, then saying...no, evoker isn't for me anymore, gonna be a necromancer now.

It might have worked better if once per day the oathlorn could swap an order ability with a different one, to give them the flexibility as they adventure, but the permanent change doesn't fly for me.

As for the RK tie in - this works better just about anywhere but the RKs. Keeping your oath in the RK is about the only bit of law and order that's a constant - so I think oathlorns would quickly find people in the RK looking to kill them far more often than elsewhere - they take oathbreakers VERY seriously, and the next kingdom over isn't very far to pursue someone who broke one.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Phloid

I'm not here to tell everyone how awesome my archetype is and how you guys all screwed up in not voting for it. I agree that in most ways it is not Superstar. Heck, I almost didn't vote for it. Bare with me though, as I point out a few things and do a bit of a self-critique.

It seems to me based on some of the reviews here that the oathlorn was in some ways misinterpreted. Some people got it and some did not. Obviously this is a problem with my writing or with my inability to gage how the public's preconceptions would affect how they would see my archetype. Though he was meant to be a bit of an antihero, many people believed that the oathlorn was a "traitor." They seemed to think that he keeps changing sides in a confrontation. That was not the hard written intent at all, though I did try to leave that open for individual characters. He just changes orders and thereby breaks his oath to a particular order. He might go from defending the good king, to defending the good church, to defending the good, common people, but might never be on two different sides of a particular conflict. He could just change his focus on the side of good but never really commit a crime other than breaking one oath for another. He may have commitment issues, but still be a good guy at heart. Cavaliers don't have any alignment restrictions (although maybe they should be lawful or at least not chaotic). Maybe it was the name? I used the word "lorn" for its "abandoned" meaning as he abandons his oaths on a regular basis. I guess a more common synonym is "without" and maybe that was the kicker. I reread my flavor text and the only thing I can think of to make it clearer, and still keep the traitor option open, is to change the word "loyalties" to the word "commitment." I actually don't know why I left "loyalties" there. I must have looked for another word for that spot 3 or 4 times. Ah well, it is not the archetype's only issue.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Phloid

Some people also thought that his purpose was to kill those he had previously sworn loyalty to. This was not the intent. The flavor text and his first two abilities explain that he is a "wanted man" and give him the ability to hide from/lie to those he has broken oaths to, and to defend himself from them. I did give him the option for an attack bouns so that he could possibly use it with his current order's challenge ability that already gives the other combat bonus. I know that the dodge bonus always stacks and maybe I should have just left it the AC bonus only, but since it was somewhat limited in its use, I thought it better to keep the versatility.

Some thought that the River Kingdoms tie-in was weak, while others thought it was strong. Obviously I'm in the camp that says it is strong, and this is why. The Kingdoms are a very loose knit group of states with plenty of conflict, that can easily support a roving soldier. Much of the population of the River Kingdoms are people who are in hiding from one group or another, or are escaping their old life. The Oathlorn was intended to be one of these people. Though I could have written this archetype generically, its first two abilities require a location where "oathbreakers die" and where the oathlorn is a "wanted man." I honestly think he doesn't fit as well in other locations where NPCs are not so concerned that he took an oath and then skipped out on them. Of course some might ask why such a man would stay in the River Kingdoms at all, and that's a good point. The only thing I can say to that is "because its a River Kingdoms campaign" and it is the oathlorn's home. Maybe he loves freedom. Freedom from oppression and freedom from his own oaths.

Another big issue is the mechanics. The oathlorn gives up three abilities for the versatility to change his order four times during his career without having to be without order abilities for an entire level. I knew this was weakening the class when I submitted it as it takes away abilities and doesn't replace them with anything except some versatility to change other abilities. He gives up nothing to change his order the first time and I tried to beef up the final ability to make up for these weaknesses. Sean and others realized this, but it was a mistake to try and fix weakness in early abilities by increasing power in later abilities (though it is probably better than the other way around).

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Phloid

Lastly, this is a roleplayers archetype and fits my personal style of play way too much. The theme and the first two abilities are problematic as they cause problems for the character and then put a bandaid on those problems. The oathlorn cavalier loses a little bit of power to hide from enemies he wouldn't ordinarily have if it weren't for his archetype. Only someone who likes to have a difficult time dealing with NPCs and fighting off enemies he has made for himself would like to play this archetype. It would only appeal to players who like to have deep roleplaying opportunities and GMs who enjoy putting personal character stories into the game. I'm all about these kind of things in the campaigns I run. I know it is not totally mainstream and I keep falling into that trap when I design. Does the campaign have to be "all about the oathlorn's broken oaths." No, but it requires the GM to have it come up every so often. This might be considered the same for particular orders that defend certain things. The difference is that those order abilities don't require the opponents to be trying to kill the king, or destroy knowledge, or attack the church, where the oathlorn challenge ability requires the enemy to be avenging a broken oath. Even though it stacks with the cavalier's order challenge ability, it is likely too limited. I'm not sure even I would be interested in taking this archetype, unless I was certain the GM would be able to handle the story elements needed to make it worth while.

Although I love the idea behind the oathlorn, I know where I went wrong with this archetype. I think I could redesign the mechanics in order to salvage the idea, and make it balanced to appeal to the mainstream player. I think it still has potential.

I learn more every time I enter RPG Superstar. I feel honored to have made the top 32 this year and I will try again next year. Thank you to the judges and the other competitors, and to those who commented on my item and archetype. And to the very few of you who may have voted for the oathlorn. Thanks,


RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

Nickolas Floyd wrote:
Lastly, this is a roleplayers archetype and fits my personal style of play way too much.

Spot on! I've learned that lesson participating in the crowd this year.

Good ideas, keep your head up and remember that you were Top 32 of XXXX! You're still a Superstar!

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