Thursday, April 18, 2013

Improving the Effectiveness of Knights in Dungeon Fantasy

Improving the Effectiveness of Knights in Dungeon Fantasy

Knights are already a very effective template at what they do, but they do have some weaknesses. There are a few tweaks that can be made to the template or to the game rules to make them slightly more effective.

Getting Rid of Connoisseur

Knights have to take Connoisseur (Weapons), even though there's no canonical use for it in DF: Dungeons. Superior weapons are identified by an Armory (Melee Weapons) roll. Replacing Connoisseur (Weapons) with Armory (Melee Weapons) is a simple fix that gives knight a little more utility in identifying and repairing weapons and armor.

Improving Born War Leader

Knights' mandatory Born War Leader Talent covers only 5 skills, 2 of which aren't normally used in Dungeon Fantasy. It's actually not a very good Talent. A simple fix would be to add Intimidation to the list of covered skills, giving knights an Influence skill they can use at some level of skill. Since Intimidation is already useful for forcing foes away (DF2 p 12), this is reasonable and appropriate.

Other skills could reasonably be added to Born War Leader. Adding Armory dilutes the concept of the talent somewhat, but it adds to knights' out of combat utility. Heraldry is a more appropriate addition, and lets knights identify organized foes like bandits and orc tribes. An unconventional option would be to add Kiai to both the talent and the knights' background skill list, letting Born War Leader act as the appropriate background advantage. Using Kiai to represent a powerful battle cry is a canonical option for Medieval European knights, so this isn't as strange as it sounds, and knights tend to be good at Kiai due to their high HT.

Wildcard Knight!

Knight! is already an excellent wildcard skill, but there are some changes that can be made to it to better encompass the knight concept. The obvious options are to add some or all of Knights' primary skills to the wildcard skill.

Adding simple unarmed combat skills, like Wrestling, Brawling, and Boxing seems like it would overlap with the Martial Artist, but it doesn't really. Knights are still going to focus on heavy armed and armored combat, though they would have better options for dealing with threats when unarmed. Martial Artists would still be better, with a better base skillset (Judo and Karate) and Trained by a Master giving them improved Rapid Strikes and repeated parries.

Another option would be to let Knight! substitute for all heavy thrown weapon skills, Crossbow, Sling, and Bow. Again, at first glance this is niche invasion into Scout, but I don't think it would work that way in practice. Heroic Archer defines Scouts, and can't be replaced merely by a high level skill. However, adding missile and thrown attacks to Knight! does mean that more people in the delving band can contribute in ranged combat with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

Finally, adding Knife to Knight! saves Knights to save 1 point. Given the general uselessness of knives in almost all dungeon fantasy situations, this is not likely to overlap with Thieves much at all.


  1. Do you use the wildcard skills when you play DF, Mark? From either side of the screen, I mean.

    I'm generally averse to them, preferring to keep skills as finely grained as possible, but am starting to come around to them in a more "like skills" sense than in an "archetype" sense of their use.

  2. I use wildcard skills both for my own character in Nate's online game ( and for the DF game I run locally.

    I have mixed feelings about them. Some I really like, such as Knight!, since it simplifies the creation of multi-weapon fighter types. Similarly with Thief! and Bard! and to a certain extent Cleric!. I'm less fond of Wizard! and Scout!, at least from a GM's viewpoint, after having been burnt by Kevin rolling Scout! for Survival in any and all circumstances ("Scout! for surviving on the molten lava plains of the Abyss. Scout! for surviving in the endless ocean of the Elemental Plane of Water. Scout! for..."). Though as a player, I really like being able to say "Hidden Lore for Wizard! or Cleric! is 14, what do I know?" It may be too fine a distinction about stuff I don't care about.

    They're also very useful for beginners and rule dilettantes. If you're a thief with Thief!, you don't have to remember to buy Filch or Traps or Climbing or Hold-Out or Smuggling. You just roll Thief! when you want to do stuff that thieves do. Since my F2F group rotates between 3-4 system and not everyone is a GURPS fanatic, simplifying the rules is a good thing.