Avalanche Knight (3.5e Class)
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Charging head-first into battle and wiping out entire scores of foes in seconds much like an avalanche, the avalanche knight is the go-to for when a weakling dares enter the fray against master adventurers. Not only does he slay two, three, or four Goblins in a mere second, he can even strike down ogres, treants, and dragons in a single blow as his might reaches the realms of truly epic heroes.
I made this class to allow DMs to increase the scale of fights without causing excess increase to their length. If they know that every lesser enemy has 12HP and the avalanche knight does 36 damage, he can simply remove three minis off the map for that attack. It's similar to how 4th Edition and 13th Age handle minions. I would like to note that some abilities dictate a "hostile" target to prevent loopholes like "Whirlwind a bag of rats for infinite bonus damage".
This class is geared towards a certain type of campaign, and thus may not be for all groups and DMs. If you run a low-power game with low-power enemies, this can be a good addition. If you utilize weaker enemies while using this class, I highly recommend boosting their overall combat ability so they remain a consistent threat.
Making an Avalanche Knight
The avalanche knight's most important ability is not a stat, but his damage modifier. Whenever this is brought about by Strength or otherwise is irrelevant, as long as he can strike hard enough for his blows to continue onwards through the unlucky fools in his wake.
For the purposes of prerequisites, Avalanche Knight levels are treated as Fighter levels.
Abilities: The avalanche knight should focus on his Strength if he has no means to apply other bonuses to his damage modifier.
Races: Though any race can apply, the ones with great strength who fight against great numbers like orcs and dwarves are greatly suited for this class.
Starting Gold: 6d4x10. (150 gp)
Starting Age: As fighter
Saving Throws: An avalanche knight has good Fortitude, but poor Reflex and Will.
|1st||+1||+2||+0||+0||Cascading Attack, Warrior Training|
|2nd||+2||+3||+0||+0||Bonus Feat, Mountain's Confidence|
|4th||+4||+4||+1||+1||Bonus Feat, In The Fray|
All of the following are class features of the avalanche knight.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The avalanche knight is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor, and shields (Except tower shields).
Cascading Attack (Ex): When an avalanche knight's attack drops an opponent (Reducing them to 0 hp or lower, or knocking them unconscious via nonlethal damage), he may choose to have the attack Cascade to other target, as follows:
- A Cascading Blow (Melee attack) applies the excess damage to a creature who is both adjacent to the dropped target and within the Knight's melee reach.
- A Cascading Shot/Throw (Ranged attack) applies the excess damage to a target beyond the first in a straight line.
In either case, the Avalanche Knight's original attack roll (From the attack that initiated the Cascade) is applied to each subsequent target. This continues until the original attack roll fails to hit the next target, or until the Avalanche Knight runs out of damage to spread around, at which point the Cascade ends. In the case of ranged attacks, most obstacles, and creatures with things like Deflect Arrows, can also prevent your attack from continuing its Cascade; Though, in the case of object barriers like walls, you can of course expend your damage to break through the obstacle by damaging it, and if you still have excess damage, the Cascade will continue.
Subsequent attacks, such as from a full attack, are resolved only after the Cascade has ended. This includes the attacks granted by feats such as Cleave, Manyshot, or Whirlwind Attack; In Great Cleave's case, you only receive one Cleave attempt per attack, regardless of how many targets you dropped with that attack.
Precision damage from any source (Such as critical hits or sneak attacks) only applies to the initial target.
Example: Cypren the Avalanche Knight lashes out against a Fighter (10 hitpoints) with his greataxe, rolling a total of 17 on his attack roll, and doing 22 damage. He can choose whenever to apply all 22 damage to the Fighter, or 11 damage (enough to render him unconscious) and another 11 to his friend, if the Fighter's friend's AC is 17 or less.
Warrior Training: Levels in Avalanche Knight count as levels in any class you possess level in that gets +1 BAB each level and/or uses martial maneuvers. However, Avalanche Knight levels only count as such for the purposes of advancing class features you already possess, not gaining new ones. So, you could advance your Rage strength and Damage Reduction as a Barbarian, but not your uses of Rage per day; Likewise, you could increase your Lay On Hands value, Smite damage, Special Mount power, Turn Undead level and Caster Level as a Paladin, but you couldn't gain new spells, more Smite uses, or etc.
Additionally, even if you do not possess any levels in Fighter or a martial class, your Avalanche Knight levels still count in full toward your Initiator Levels and effective Fighter level, but do not count twice if you possess levels in such classes.
Bonus Feat: The Avalanche Knight may take any Fighter Bonus Feat he qualifies for. He may add his avalanche knight levels to his Fighter levels for the purpose of qualifying for Feats.
Mountain's Confidence (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, when you roll a 1 against a target whose HD is equal to or less than his own -2, you do not automatically miss, nor do you fumble if using fumble rules.
Execution (Ex): When an Avalanche Knight drops a target whose HD is equal to or lower than his own -2, he instantly kills it, dropping it to -10 hp (Or knocking it out, if using a nonlethal attack), unless it succeeds a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 Avalanche Knight's BAB + Avalanche Knight's Con modifier), in which case the target is instead brought to -1 hp; This allows him to conserve the damage that would be required to get the target from 0hp to -10hp. Executing a target also adds +2 to his excess damage; This can trigger multiple times during a Cascade, applying the damage each time. Monsters with less than 1 HD do not grant this damage bonus, but are still slain.
In the Fray (Ex): Beginning at 4th level, for every attacker the Avalanche Knight successfully damages with a Cascading Blow in the last round, he gains a stacking +1 Morale bonus to AC against creatures he's successfully damaged with a Cascade, so long as the creatures are of a HD equal to his own -2 or lower, but have at least 1 HD. This AC bonus lasts until the beginning of his next turn, or until such an enemy successfully strikes him despite the AC bonus; If this happens, you lose the bonus AC until you land another Cascading Attack, and the creature that managed to hit the Knight ignores the AC bonus from that Avalanche Knight's Into The Fray for 24 hours.
Champion's Strike (Ex): At 5th level, the bravery and sheer strength of the Avalanche Knight reaches a point where he can mow down an entire band of what he deems as lesser foes, in a single strike. When making an attack against a target with HD not exceeding his own -2, he may declare it a Champion's Strike. The damage from this attack is applied to the target's total hit dice instead of their hit points; If it is equal to or exceed the target's HD, the target is instantly slain or knocked out as appropriate (Though they are allowed a Fortitude save to remain at -1 HP instead, save DC 10 + 1/2 BAB + Con modifier).
The bonus damage from Execution applies, and the effects of Champion's Strike can be applied to any eligible target in the resulting Cascade. Should the Avalanche Knight's damage fail to exceed the target's HD, or he chooses an invalid target (One of a higher HD than the Knight's -2), the attack automatically misses and the Cascade ends.
I reworked Cascading Blow and Champion's Strike from the originals for balancing purposes, and I added a few abilities. Originally, the class only had Cascading Blow, Execution, Champion's Strike, and the Bonus Feats. If you want to use the originals from before I adopted the class, here they are:
- Original Cascading Blow (Ex): When an avalanche knight's melee attack drops an opponent, he may apply the excess damage to the opponent's nearest ally without an attack roll (damage reduction and miss-chance still applies. If there is a tie, the monster with the lowest HP is targeted), following through until he has run out of targets or damage. The avalanche knight must have a line of effect to the target. He may damage enemies outside of his melee range, but common sense should be exercised by the DM in extreme cases. Should the avalanche knight use feats such as Cleave or Whirlwind Attack, the extra attack rolls are resolved after all of his damage has been expended.
- Example: Cypren the avalanche knight lashes out against a Fighter (10 hitpoints) with his greataxe, doing 22 damage. He can choose whenever to apply all 22 damage to the knight, or 11 damage (enough to render him unconscious) and another 11 to his friend.
- Original Champion's Strike (Ex): The bravery and sheer strength of the avalanche knight reaches a point where he can mow down an entire band of what he deems as lesser foes in a single strike. When invoking this ability against a hostile target, the avalanche knight applies only the damage modifier of his successful melee attack to an enemy that has two less hitdice than him. Should his damage meet or exceed the target's total hitdice, it is instantly slain or knocked out as appropriate, and gains the +2 damage bonus from Execution. The avalanche knight can apply Champion's Strike to any eligible enemy in the resulting Cascade. Should his damage fail to exceed the target's hitdie or he chooses an invalid target (including one that is not hostile), the attack automatically misses and the cascade ends.
Epic Avalanche Knights
Avalanche knights have no need to take epic levels (And they can't, technically, since the class only has 5 levels anyway).
Playing an Avalanche Knight
Religion: Avalanche knights tend towards Gods who have domains of War, or even portfolios around patriotism, strength, or protection.
Other Classes: An avalanche knight works best when his spellcasting friends can soften up his targets for the incoming carnage.
Combat: Getting into that horde of goblins and wiping them out effortlessly is what you do best. By clearing away the trash, you have a clear line to their leader.
Advancement: Frenzied berserker and barbarian go well with the avalanche knight, as the additional attacks and higher damage bonuses allow even larger scales of sheer destruction. Dervish Dancer may also work well.
Avalanche Knights in the World
|“||"It doesn't matter if it's one or one thousand. Send them all to me, I'll cut them down in droves!"||”|
|—Amducias Cypren, Half-Giant avalanche knight|
Daily Life: An army's trump card, a powerful force against riots, an orc chief who wields a massive sword that even the strongest of men would struggle to lift
Organizations: The Fighter's Guild is likely to have a beast of a man who is known to walk into a den of goblins and send the survivors running a mere five seconds later.
NPC Reactions: Nobody will be impressed at your ability to kill ten men in a single strike... until they see first hand that you can do just that.
Avalanche Knight Lore
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (Local) can research avalanche knights to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|5||Wielding a large sword or a mighty axe, an avalanche knight has devoted his entire combat style to crushing those who are beneath his might.|
|10||The idea of slicing down multiple foes comes naturally to those of great strength, as does cleaving into their weakest point.|
|15||After bulking up muscles to where ten men die in five seconds, an avalanche knight's potency grows to where his blade will crash through flesh and bone of even veteran warriors.|
|20||The sheer love of battle and carnage drives an avalanche knight on harder than any taskmaster or goal.|
Avalanche Knights in the Game
Adaptation: A world overrun by scores of monsters who rely on sheer numbers will likely have plenty of these army-slaying specialists at hand for when the going gets rough.
Sample Encounter: A grizzled warrior tied up in an enemy camp thanks you for freeing him, and asks if he can borrow your axe for "exactly one minute".
|Article Balance||High +|
|Base Attack Bonus Progression||Good +|
|Class Ability||Other +|
|Class Ability Progression||Full +|
|Fortitude Save Progression||Good +|
|Identifier||3.5e Class +|
|Minimum Level||1 +|
|Rated By||The-Marksman + and Franken Kesey +|
|Rating||Rating Pending +|
|Reflex Save Progression||Poor +|
|Skill||Climb +, Craft +, Handle Animal +, Intimidate +, Jump +, Listen +, Ride +, Survival + and Swim +|
|Skill Points||4 +|
|Summary||With a single swing, this warrior cleaves through scores of minions. +|
|Title||Avalanche Knight +|
|Will Save Progression||Poor +|