Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop Gaming thread! Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop games that you nerds might be into. Tell us about the games you’re playing, speculate about future expansions, recruit your fellow Avocados into new groups, whatever you want.
This week’s discussion topic is the much-maligned Purple Dragon Knight. This Fighter subclass, published in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, focuses on using the Fighter’s base class abilities to benefit your allies as well as yourself. In the Forgotten Realms, the Purple Dragon Knights are a chivalric order from the Cormyr region of Faerun, pledged to protect the crown from evil-doers, often by wandering the lands as knights errant. Outside of the Forgotten Realms setting, this type of Fighter would be called a Banneret.
Starting at level 3, a Purple Dragon Knight can use a Rallying Cry to inspire their allies to fight through their injuries. Whenever you use your Second Wind ability to regain hit points, you can choose up to 3 allies within 60 feet of you who also regain hit points equal to your Fighter level, provided that they can see or hear you.
At 7th level, you’ll become a Royal Envoy, which allows you to double your proficiency bonus for any Persuasion skill checks. If you’re not already proficient in Persuasion, you gain that skill. On the other hand, if you already have proficiency in Persuasion, you can choose to learn Animal Handling, Insight, Intimidation, or Performance instead.
When you reach level 10, you can make an Inspiring Surge. Any time you use your Action Surge ability to take an additional action on your turn, an ally of your choice within 60 feet of you can use their reaction to make a melee or ranged weapon attack as well, provided that they can see or hear you.
At 15th level you can act as a Bulwark to your allies. Whenever you use the Indomitable feature to reroll a failed INT, WIS, or CHA saving throw, an ally of your choice within 60 feet of you who also failed their save against the same effect can also re-roll that saving throw, provided that they can see or hear you.
Finally, at 18th level, your Inspiring Surge can affect two allies instead of just one, allowing both to make an attack using their reactions.
The Purple Dragon Knight is widely regarded as one of the weakest classes in D&D. On paper, I like the idea of a Fighter whose abilities can be shared with their allies, but I think in practice it would feel a little lackluster. Especially in the low-level games that most people play in, where you’re only likely to see the Rallying Cry and Royal Envoy abilities. Bonus action healing is usually good, and being able to heal multiple allies at once is great, but the small amount of hit points restored to those allies isn’t likely to make much difference. And since your allies need to be able to see or hear you, this ability won’t be able to get an unconscious ally back into the fight. I am interested to see if anyone’s ever actually tried playing a Purple Dragon Knight before though.
I took over the GM’s chair once again, this time running the group through the D&D 5e adventure “Forge of Fury,” found in the Tales From the Yawning Portal book. The PCs are mostly returning characters from the Sunless Citadel adventure I ran a while back:
- Gash the Furious, a Half-Orc Totem Warrior Barbarian (played by Otto)
- Slowclap, a Kenku Kensei Monk (played by Josephus Brown)
- Seraphina Lathander, an Aasimar Light Cleric (played by The Wasp)
- Oona Maku, a Half-Elf Hunter Ranger (played by Wafflicious)
- Fritzi Flickerfling, a Gnome Evoker Wizard (played by The Hayes Code)
The recap comes Waffles, writing from the POV of Oona Maku. Thanks Waffles!
Our party is directed to Blasingdell with the promise of more work and more money, which is enough to motivate this group for the moment. On our way we run into Fritzi, a gnome wizard who will be joining us for the foreseeable future. It seems orcs have been attacking the village from a place three days north of here called Stone Tooth. We’re offered 25gp per orc, dead or alive, and possibly an extra if we clear the whole nest out. There’s someone observing our talk with the Mayor, a Baron Althon who takes us aside and offers us even more money if we can prove the nest the orcs are in at the moment is actually an old Dwarven stronghold. He wants maps, information and any souvenirs we can bring back to prove it isn’t just a stink hole for orcs (sorry Gash).
We buy a few horses for the journey, even when Gash can’t bully the price down for us. We manage to sort ourselves over who gets which horse and then head in to take advantage of free rooms for the night even if we still have to pay for booze. While some of us are taking in the local color Seraphina prays at the local temple, but that’s more her business than mine. The mood here seems just happy to have our help and if we come back alive we might be able to get a bit of free alcohol out of our next visit to this tavern. That had better not be a big “if”.
It takes less time on horseback than on foot, but we’re at it for quite a while and even have a tough time finding our way through the forest. Seraphina flies up above us and finds a trail of smoke that leads us to a natural chimney that we block up with whatever we can find around. With the chimney blocked a couple of orcs come our way to investigate but they are no match for Slowclap and my arrows. We keep one alive, trapping it in difficult terrain and jumping it all at once. It really isn’t too difficult.
With our captive tied up we attempt to get information out of them as to how many orcs are here and how we can get in, but they’re terribly unhelpful and we end up dispatching him before he can summon more orcs to our location. It’s easy enough to follow their trail to an entrance to what does indeed appear to be an old Dwarven hold. We make some drawings and maps as we go for use later. Fritzi makes me invisible so I can sneak ahead. There’s a rickety bridge I manage to just barely cross without fully alerting the guards. Then someone gets stabbed. What else could I do? Gash makes a run at them and Slowclap attempts to shoot them across the gap, but neither is very effective. Fritzi manages to get a firebolt off at them which keeps them both from mobbing me while I try to stab the one closest to me to death.
Slowclap takes the bridge, but even as a fleet monk he can’t handle the orc cutting one of the bridge ropes and falls into the chasm below. We manage to cast featherfall on him before too much damage is done and Gash makes a rope out of herself to nab Slowclap before he’s gone for good. More orcs start to arrive, I guess we haven’t been all that quiet about things so far, but we start making a better run at them. Seraphina casts a flaming sphere that takes care of a few of them and blocks more from entering. When we finally have all of them dispatched we decide to rest before moving on.