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Cavalry Officer: A Background

Cavalry Officer: A Background

Do you miss it, still? The thundering of a thousand hooves? The ringing, splintering crash of iron and flesh? Charging waves of mounted warriors collide in pageantry and spectacular violence.

Do you crave the battlefield-strategies and war-councils? The cunning ambushes, feints, and flanking maneuvers? Or the care and companionship of a well-trained steed, who both risked and saved your life in equal measure?

Or perhaps you loathe it? The memories of screams, and the cries of dying animals and people. The carrion birds feeding on the dead and the almost dead. Those memories still arrive unbidden. Sometimes in your sleep.

As a ranking cavalry officer you commanded gleaming regiments of armored lancers on heavy horse. Or was it squads of elite crossbowmen, slingers, and javelinists, atop bronze-plated war elephants? Perhaps you signaled the charge of three-score war ostrich (see Tome of Beasts 1) chariots or commanded an ambush company of pistol- and saber-wielding skirmish riders.

Skill Proficiencies: Animal Handling and Athletics

Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set, vehicles (land)

Equipment: A small collection of medals, commendations, and insignias of rank, a pair of leather cavalry boots, gloves, ceremonial (retirement) knight’s spurs, a road-worn set of fine clothes, a cloak, and a belt-pouch containing 12 gp.

Feature: Like Recognizes Like

Equestrians (merchants, sportsmen, ranchers, etc.), recognize your experience and knowledge wherever you go. Most mounted military and constabulary units also acknowledge your skills or rank. This can afford you shelter, information, and various forms of inexpensive aid. Perhaps a borrowed mount, supplies, or even employment.

While interacting with a trained riding or draft animal, you gain advantage on Wisdom (Animal Handling) checks. Additionally, if mounted on a trained riding animal, you have experience with, you and up to one passenger gain advantage on all riding-related saving throws and ability checks for purposes of controlling that mount.

Alternate Feature: Eminent Equestrian

Mounting or dismounting doesn’t cost you extra movement (beginning your turn with a speed of 0 negates this). You have advantage on rolls to avoid being forced from your mount, and you ignore any disadvantages to your attack rolls imposed by mounted combat. You gain proficiency with lance and shields.

Suggested Characteristics

Whether gruesome, or glorious to your recollection, you have spent a notable number of years honorably serving country, creed, or crown. Your deployments exposed you to the horrors and the honors of mounted warfare and command. Those triumphs and tragedies have left indelible marks.

d8Personality Trait
1I am always poised and respectful toward nobility and ranking officials.
2I no longer respect, or defer to nobles, aristocrats, or any other who sits in safety while ordering others into carnage.
3Mistreatment, or even too-harsh words directed at a subordinate or beast of burden always draws my wrath.
4I am quick to anger, but also quick to make amends.
5There are few issues not immediately resolved, by a full-tilt, head-on-charge of heavy horse.
6I take care of my appearance. Plumes dance, spurs chime, and metal gleams across a well-groomed body.
7I’ll gladly take charge of any situation. Sometimes before I’m asked.
8I am always alert to my mount’s (and other animals’) behaviors, mannerisms, and warning signs.
1Loyalist. I follow orders (and the law) if deemed just. And I follow them to the letter.(Lawful)
2Defender. The needs of my troops, allies, and the objective come before my own. (Good)
3Errant. I am a free-lance, my job is to go wherever opportunity and pay are the highest, and difficulty and risk are the lowest. (Chaotic)
4Aristocratic Elitist. I find it unfortunate and inconvenientwhen I’m compelled to sacrifice others to further my goals. But mostly it’s the inconvenience. (Evil)
5Grizzled. I have seen, and endured, too much, to be affected by, or inclined towards, things like empathy, emotional investment, or an interest in others.(Neutral)
6Battle Scarred. I have physical and emotional scars which I go to great pains to conceal. (Any)
1My mount is my best, most trusted companion.
2I carry the family signet of a fallen fellow officer. I’ve sworn to someday hunt down the barbarian chieftain, who slew them on the battlefield.
3I still willingly travel to the aid of old comrades, allies, and soldiers, who’ve served beside me in conflicts.
4I have myself, nothing else need ever bind me.
5I am bound by antiquated oaths of chivalry, abstinence, and conduct.
6I keep detailed journal notes so future bards, poets, and playwrights can accurately chronicle my exploits.
1I react poorly when common folk speak to me directly, as if they’re equals.
2I sound my cavalry bugle at every opportunity, especially as I enter combat.
3I seem devoid of normal emotions or concern for the interests of other people. This causes concern and interest in other people.
4I don’t have flaws, I have failings. Furthermore, I have no failings.
5I always pursue revenge against any misdeed, deception, or slander against my person.
6I will probably save your horse before I save you.

Like this background? Find more ways to make your character unique in Tome of Heroes!

about Robert Fairbanks

Robert Fairbanks, first plunged into the unknown in 1976, with ye olde boxed, blue-book basics. He has yet to return.

Robert’s been fortunate to be a long-time contributor to Kobold Press, with whom he broke into game design in 2014. His other publisher contributions include Inner Ham Productions, Storm Bunny Studios, and TOR books.

2 thoughts on “Cavalry Officer: A Background”

  1. Backcountry164

    I hate these sorts of Backgrounds. How do you go from being an experienced military officer to a first level adventurer?? Seems like some of that experience would have carried over. Honestly, these elaborate Backgrounds are another reason I start players at 3rd level.

    1. LittleLostPhoenix

      I totally understand why you would say that, and in your game, it’s cool.

      But I can also understand the rational. Big difference from fighting in a coordinated unit to alone or small unit combat. You use different actions, maneuvers, and though processes. You have the basic skills (as presented in the background) but you use them differently. At least, that’s my rational for starting at level 1 with these sort of backgrounds.

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