By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Super Genius Games is 9 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 2/3 of a page page editorial & SRD, leaving 7 2/3 pages of content, so let’s check them out!
After s short discussion on the 6 new orders presented herein and how to implement them best in your campaign, we get to the crunch of the new organizations.
The Order of the Gauntlet is dedicated to protecting the innocent from threats and especially terror and fear-inducing ones. Stalwart defenders, they can halve the penalties they have accumulated via detrimental abilities at higher levels. The Order of the Glaive makes for interesting pole-arm wielding scions of a particular nation or lord, focusing on their weapon and the law they have sworn allegiance to. The Order of the Griffon is a cool and iconic order, being devoted to the ideals of freedom for every individual, striking home at my personal ideal of freedom of expression of one’s self in a peaceful manner. Even cooler, at 8th level they get an improving Griffon mount that gains class levels instead of regular companion HD. A rather uncommon choice, especially due to the fact that spell-casting is not per se prohibited. I’m not entirely sure whether I’m comfortable with the implications and would limit the possible class choices of the griffon to prevent a mount from outshining its master or fellow party members.
The Order of the Rose is devoted to the spread of the good cause, gaining abilities vs. their enemies and expanded morale bonuses via their banner. Unfortunately, this order somehow feels like a light-version of the paladin and doesn’t offer a compelling reason to pick it. The Order of the Secret Flame on the other hand, is rather esoteric in its outlook – it defends magic artifacts and other incarnations of the abstract nature of hidden power from those seeking to exploit it. Unfortunately, the cavalier does fall into the trap of just gaining some spells (at 15th level counting as a spellcaster of his lvl -14) and also receives the ability to read magic, cast a cantrip and get spell resistance at higher levels. I consider the mundane nature of the cavalier to be interesting and this order somewhat dilutes it. Additionally, the late spellcasting prowess does not make for an interesting ability at that level. Paladins and Rangers will outshine the Cavalier in the respective divine departments and the Magus and similar classes will do the same in the arcane department.
The Order of the Skull, dedicated to tyranny, death and similar unpleasant ideals, is practically the opposite of the order of the Rose, serving evil, demoralizing his foes and trampling foes under the hooves of his mount. Unfortunately, the order suffers from similar problems as the Order of the Rose: The Blackguard and Antipaladin already occupy the niche of the dread knight and surpass members of these orders in their abilities. If you really need an evil cavalier, you might have a reason to use this one, especially due to the mount gaining trample. For players, even those in evil parties, there are more compelling options.
Finally, there are 6 new feats for the Cavalier: One to gain an extra challenge, one to treat your level as higher with regards to challenges, a feat to use tactician as a move action and three feats that expand upon the option to belonging to 2 orders simultaneously. These three feats are obviously only available to cavaliers and can be only taken via their bonus feats. While I’d usually consider these feats over-powered, the fact that they take up a lot of feat-slots, I do somehow like them. Adhering to 2 edicts at once also makes for a good roleplaying device to prevent this mini-feat-tree from becoming op.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the three-column standard and the cover artwork by Sina Kasra is stunning. The interior art is b/w and features crests for all the orders, which is nice. Once again, I’m torn with regards to my final verdict: The orders are generic in the extreme and easy to implement into any given campaign. However, they also suffer from exactly this benefit – they are generic, too generic for my tastes. While there is nothing per se wrong with them, I didn’t consider any one of them truly exciting, the one closest to being out of the ordinary the Order of the Glaive. While I also liked some ideas of the Order of the Skull (to be precise, the 8th and 15th level ability), I still consider other classes to be more viable solutions for the tropes covered. The feats are all useful, balanced and cool and add a nice touch to the pdf – designer Marc Radle has done a good job there. While I did like the feats, I felt that the orders suffered from the lack of fluff and always felt that the Orders could have easily been made more unique. Thus, due to nothing per se being wrong with this pdf, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 3 stars – an ok buy if you’re out for more orders or feats, but not necessarily a must-buy.
Advanced Options–Cavalier’s Orders is available from: