Saturday, September 30, 2023

OSR: Dog Knight

Most of the art for this post comes from here unless specified otherwise
The heroes of the down-trodden, Dog Knights are those who ride to the rescue of those for whom their is no glory of rescuing.  The workers in squalid conditions, the children in state-run orphanages, the people being ignored and abused by huge, indifferent governments and their bureaucracies, all these are the charge of the Dog Knights.  They walk among the common folk, aiding and supporting them whenever they can, relying on good-will and charity to get by.  

Dog Knights do not serve the powerful or the wealthy, they scorn the elite and at best, ignore them.  At worst, they confront them and try to prevent injustice.  But despite this fact, Dog Knights are not revolutionaries.  They know that most revolutionaries are nothing more than power-hungry warmongers, more than willing to sacrifice the plebeians to get what they want.

A Brief History: 

The Dog Knights are the spawn of a fallen order of Wolf Knights known as the Knights Lupus who once protected the Grand Duchy of Yashan.  At the time, the Knights Lupus were chivalrous and powerful, lending their strength and virtue to the Grand Duke and his ministers.  They uplifted the people and were lauded as heroes.  The Duke rewarded them richly with gold and lands, partially for their great deeds, but also to tie the Knights to the throne.  This worked almost too well, as the Knights and the Throne became gradually more and more connected, until the Knights were essentially running the government, the Grand Duke a mere puppet who always did exactly what the Chief Commandant of the Knights said he ought to.  

This, however, proved the Knights' undoing.  As the Knights became more tied to the Throne, the grew fabulously rich and powerful.  Now they weren't just a place for bright souls and noble hearts, but for those looking for an easy way to make money and accumulate influence.  Over time, these corrupt recruits spread rot through the order, until even the order's leaders forgot the Gods and cared only for their own steadily accumulating fortunes.  By the end of the order's life, the Knights were closer to bureaucrats and bean-counters then they were proud defenders of justice.  And as the order declined, so did the state, as they were essentially one and the same by this point.  

When the Duchy collapsed, the Order was dragged down with it.  There were few survivors.  The Duchy eventually did recover and even managed to regain a fraction of the independence and prestige it once wielded, but the order, blamed for the failures of the Throne, were swiftly marked as the scapegoats and any remnant crushed, with their lands and wealth being confiscated to pay the Throne's great debts or stolen by outsiders under a variety of pretexts.  

Though now the Knights Lupus are little more then a memory of better days, there were still those who remembered the original creed.  They had broken away years ago and formed their own motley order, a collection of stubborn do-gooders dedicated to upholding the order's original creed.  At the time, they were mocked as inferiors, wild day-dreamers, idealistic fools who didn't understand how pragmatic solutions were the best and countless other insults, many with a degree of truth.  The most common of these was 'dog', in reference to the Lupine order they broke away from.  In time, they came to wear this name as a badge of honor.  And when the dust cleared and their forerunners were left desiccated on the ash-heap of history, those proud, broken dreamers learned that while the wolf is feared and admired, every dog has it's day.   

Seriously, what are they?

Dog Knights are a pack of itinerant Knights-errant, nomads who travel from place to place, relying on mercenary work and the kindness of strangers to survive.  They are the inheritors of an ancient legacy of chivalry, martial honor and a zeal for justice.  The order has no official standing among the leaders of the Grand Duchy or any of it's surrounding states, though the common people honor them as true Knights.  They have no lands, no headquarters and no real hierarchy.  There are those among the Dog Knights who are more respected, but they have no central leaders.

They usually travel in small groups or solo, with each Knight dedicated to the cause but pursuing their own agenda.  They will collaborate, but due to differing perspectives they often feel it is better to work alone.  Those who wish to become Dog Knights must earn the patron of one of the Knights and be accepted as a squire.  Squires under the Dog Knights train for a period of time as determined by their Knight, usually until the Squire has learned everything the Knight feels he has to teach.  

Once a Squire is ready to become a full Dog Knight, they swear the oaths.  And while Dog Knights scorn most things considered sacred by society and have the manners of stray dogs, all of them prize their honor above all else.  A Dog Knight who behaves in a strange way will be found and corrected by the others, but one who breaks his oath will be hunted down and have their corpse left in the street, as a warning to others who would claim to help while abusing their power.  


I will become a Champion of the lesser and the common.  When the poor cry out, when the needy beg for aid, when the lowly want, I will be there to help.  

I will never serve Money or Power over Honor or the Common Good.  

I will work to make society as safe as possible, to mend it's wounds and ensure justice is done.

Dog Knight: 

Prerequisites: To become a Dog Knight, one must have at least 1 level in the Fighter or Carnivore (Berserker/Barbarian) class.  Alternatively, one must have at least 1 level in any class as well as a Constitution score of 13 and a Charisma score of 8 or less.  Your stats can increase past this, but you must have these to take your first level in Dog Knight.  

How to become a Dog Knight: One can only become a Dog Knight by defeating a Dog Knight in combat or a drinking contest.  If you do so, the Knight will agree to take you on as a squire.  Additionally, one can become a Dog Knight by proving to one of them your dedication to selflessness, humility and honor.  When you gain a level, instead of taking the abilities your class would ordinarily gain at that level, you can instead take the corresponding option below.

Fighting Spirit: As per Fighting Man 
Atk Modifier: As per Fighting Man

1: Steel Stomach, Iron Liver, Cat Hatred
2: Strong Jaws
3: Dogspeech, Bloodhound
4: Four-Footed Movement
5: Enhanced Senses, Ghost Tracker
6: Leader of the Pack

1: Steel Stomach, Iron Liver, Cat Hatred

Steel Stomach: You can eat almost anything, especially things that other creatures would get sick from.  You have advantage on all saves against ingested poisons.  You also have advantage on any saves against harmful effects that would result from you eating something poisonous, toxic or otherwise unsuitable for consumption by humans.

Iron Liver: You can consume far more alcohol than your appearance might suggest.  As per the drunkenness rules, you can safely consume twice as much alcohol as your CON modifier would suggest without needing to make the saves that result in COG damage.  For example, if your CON modifier is +2, then you can consume up to 4 servings of alcohol before you must start making saves against drunkenness.

Cat Hatred: Due to the source of your magic, Sirius, King of Canines, Cats develop a sudden distrust of you.  Evil Cats will see you as an enemy and will want to hurt you, while Neutral or Good Cats will find you unpleasant to be around in some way.  This may be because of appearance, smell or some other trait, but could just as easily be the result of your boorish mannerisms and general crudity.    

2: Strong Jaws

Strong Jaws: As an action on your turn, you can make a Bite Attack.  This Bite Attack does 1d4+Atk+STR damage and on a hit allows you to automatically grapple a creature, should you wish to grapple it.  

3: Dogspeech, Bloodhound

Dogspeech: You gain the ability to speak with dogs and other canine creatures, including but not limited to wolves, foxes, coyotes, jackals and more anomalous canines.  This 'language' is mostly non-verbal, with only the most important statements punctuated with vocalizations.  Dog Knights can also use this ability to speak with each other without being understood by others.

Bloodhound: If you have tasted a creature's blood, you can track them via scent like a hound.  You can always detect their trail, unless they do something to disrupt it, such as passing through a stream, bandaging their wound well enough or marking themselves with a more powerful scent.  

4: Four-Footed Movement

Four-Footed Movement: You can drop down onto all fours to move faster.  When moving on all fours, you have advantage on all DEX checks and saves, as well as to Pursuit Rolls.  Similarly, you have advantage on any rolls made to run away.  When running on all fours, you can only make attacks with a Quick weapon (held between your teeth) or with your Bite Attack.  Switching from all fours to bipedal movement is a free action.    

5: Enhanced Senses, Ghost Tracker

Enhanced Senses: You gain the ability to enhance your senses to a preternatural level.  You can, X times per day, where X is your COG modifier, enhance one of your senses, giving yourself advantage on any check made to perceive, detect or find something.  

Ghost Tracker: You can sense the presence of invisible or incorporeal creatures within 10*(COG Modifier)' of you.  You cannot see them or identify which one they might be, but you can tell there is something there.  You can also detect invisible or incorporeal objects if they are within the area you can perceive.   

6: Leader of the Pack

When faced with a group of dogs or other canine creatures (such as wolves, coyotes, etc) you can attempt to take control of the pack by challenging the Alpha.  If you beat the Alpha in a contest, you become the new Alpha and those creatures will follow your orders as long as they are reasonable and not suicidal.

As Alpha, you will be periodically challenged by younger members of the pack who feel they can do a better job of leading.  These challenges will grow more frequent if you're not caring for the pack or want them to do something they're not comfortable with.  Even if the younger members of the pack cannot overthrow you, but feel that you are a bad leader, they will start to slink away when you're not looking.  

You can release a pack at any time, relinquishing the title of Alpha.

The Dog Knights today:

The Dog Knights continue their current mission of doing good and aiding the common people, as well as those ignored by the power structure, but the order is not as static as it appears from the outside.  There is a growing tension within the order, centered on a new faction within the order.  This faction refers to itself as the Royal Hounds or the Duke's Dogs, but they are mostly referred to by those outside their group as the 'Dogmen'.  The Dogmen believe that the Dog Knights should organize themselves into a new structure and become a proper order of Knights once more.  Additionally and more controversially, they want to use this new order to overthrow the current Grand Duke of Yashan and install a new, more just, government.

And while this does seem to fly in the face of everything the Dog Knights claim to espouse, there are a surprising number of sympathizers to this cause.  Ever since the original dynasty fell, Yashan has been ruled by a series of Grand Dukes with a varying amount of power and independence but a generally equal amount of corruption and incompetence.  The current Grand Duke is a vassal of a foreign monarch and when he isn't submitting to foreign oppression, he is pillaging the people and trampling long-held precedent to satisfy his rapacious desires.  Tales of his debauchery are famous, if likely exaggerated.  The rest of his government isn't much better, more interested in lining their pockets and cowering before the foreigners then actually helping anyone but themselves.

Plot Hooks: 

1- When the party is in a tavern or restaurant, a Dog Knight challenges the strongest guy in the party to a drinking contest.  If the Knight wins, he will work for them, for free, for 2 weeks.  If their strongest guy loses, they pay his bar tab.  And his tab is ruinously expensive.
2- The party run into a group of mercenaries or rival adventurers.  The mercenaries tell them that they were hired to protect this village from a monster attack, only when they got there they found out the monsters were way more dangerous then the mercenaries were willing to deal with.  So they left.  They also say that they left one guy behind, a Dog Knight who refused to leave, despite the near-certainty of that village being razed to the ground.  
3- The party run into a group of Dog Knights who are tracking down one of their fellows for violating his oaths.  They are going to find the oath-breaker and kill him.  They ask the party to come along and observe, so that they have impartial witnesses to the fact that the Dog Knights take their honor seriously.
4- The party come across a group of dead and dying Dog Knights.  These Knights were attempting to slay an oath-breaker and traitor to the order, only to find him much stronger then anticipated.  They ask you to bring him down before he hurts more people.  
5- The party run into a Dog Knight who is being pursued by the authorities for sedition, treason or something of that nature.  The Dog Knight simply states that he was resisting tyranny and standing up for the common people.  
6- The party runs into a Dogman who is attempting to put together a revolutionary cell to overthrow the Grand Duchy of Yashan.  He will try to recruit them to his cause.        

No comments:

Post a Comment