The crusader is a travelling knight-errant who roams from quest to quest in his constant search to root out evil in the world.
Heroes of Fantasy
Author August Hahn, Tim Hitchcock, Joseph Miller, Ian Sturrock, John Thompson, Paul Tucker & Patrick Younts
Series Power Classes
Publisher Mongoose Publishing
Publish date 2005
Unlike other knights who owe fealty to a lord or seek to amass men-at-arms and their own lands, crusaders are guided only by their inherent search for justice and willingness to travel to the far corners of the world to wrest the yoke of oppression from free peoples everywhere. Gold and loot only serve a crusader in terms of its ability to make him a more perfect, dedicated fighting machine; any excess is given to the leaders of his sect. The crusader is a devoted foot soldier who single-mindedly sets about accomplishing the missions set out by the leaders of his sect.
Each sect grants different bonuses and abilities to its crusaders. The regional headquarters for these sects, called secthomes, serve as staging areas from which issue groups of crusaders bent on quests deemed worthy by that sect. Tithes from returning crusaders keep the sect’s Intelligence network active in its constant search for evil. Once allegiance is sworn to a sect, a crusader can never join a second sect (exception: see the Order of the Iron Rose, below), although crusaders from a number of sects may work together to jointly fulfil a quest set by their leaders.
Crusaders are akin to paladins in many ways, but are also very different as well. While each sect is an order founded on religion, crusaders listen first and foremost to their sect’s leader, as opposed to the priests of their chosen god. Crusaders are also not hampered by restriction to a lawful good alignment. While they do not gain the ability to cast spells as a cleric or paladin would, crusaders are given innate divine powers as they advance in level, something the common fighter could only wish for. Crusaders are second only to fighters in the number of combat feats bestowed on them as they advance during their careers, making them extremely efficient killing machines.
Adventures: Crusaders are focused, task-oriented adventurers, and are far less prone than other classes to be simply wandering in search of trouble if found outside their secthome, they are going from point A to point B in pursuit of the completion of their mission, not dawdling about the countryside, seeing what the wind might blow their way. Because of this single-mindedness, crusaders often work alone or in the company of other crusaders, or perhaps with priests or paladins of their god.
Crusaders will never willingly work in a party with an evil character. Rogues are looked upon by crusaders with disdain, but are often allowed into their party as a necessary evil. If joining with a good-aligned party will increase the crusader’s chance of fulfilling his mission, he will do so. Whether he ever adventures with that group again would depend on their actions during the mission. A crusader realises that everyone does not share his beliefs regarding wealth and, as long as the greater good is being served, such as the destruction of an evil temple or the overthrow of a tyrannical leader, what his companions do with their share of anything found while accomplishing this mission is their business.
Characteristics: Crusaders pursue their goal of the downfall of evil through strength of arms. They disdain the puffery and self-importance of the knight and the local nobles, and while they view paladins as their cousins, a crusader’s willingness to step beyond the law in pursuit of the completion of his mission forever separates these two classes. For example, a paladin would never beat information out of a captured evil cleric, whereas a crusader, if he thought the cleric was withholding information vital to his mission’s success, would not hesitate to do so, using the logic that the greater good is served. However, the fact that crusaders do not have to live by these same rules often means anyone captured by a crusader is quick to spill their information rather than risk the crusader’s preferred method of extraction.
Depending on their sect, crusaders are able to harness various divinely given innate abilities in their quests against evil. Combined with their skills with arms and armour, crusaders can make for powerful allies or unbending, vengeful foes.
Crusaders do not use mounts except in dire need, preferring to undertake their long journeys on foot so as to be better able to Gather Information on the road from their fellow travellers. Crusaders will often dress to call as little attention to themselves as possible on their travels, so as to be able to glean items of information from those they share the road with, who might be a bit more closemouthed to a mounted knight.
Crusaders, no matter what level they attain, can never own personal lands or have men-at-arms or a paid retinue of any kind. Any loot garnered from the completion of a mission is brought back to the secthome. Templars may then grant permanent use of necessary items to that crusader; other items are kept for future use or used to raise the funds needed to keep the secthome’s Intelligence web in operation.
Alignment: Because of their ultimate goal of the defeat of evil, only good characters can become crusaders but the wide variety of sects, and individual missions and inherent enemies and goals of these sects, allows for great diversity in the creation and evolution of any crusader.
Religion: All crusaders are members of para-religious, secretive groups called sects. Members of a sect swear fealty not only to the chosen good aligned god (certain neutral aligned gods may also serve as well) of that sect but to the leader of the secthome, who serves as the mortal voice of the god within that sect. These sect leaders, called Templars, direct the actions of the individual secthomes, keeping in constant communication with other secthomes, forming a communications web that can pass information quickly and reliably. Templars are always high-ranking crusaders, never clerics or paladins although characters from these classes are often called upon to serve local secthomes in an ancillary role.
Each sect differs slightly in its mission, purpose and granted abilities. Each game world can have an unlimited number of sects, and each sect can be custom-built by the Games Master as he sees fit. Some existing sects ready for usage by prospective crusaders include (different gods can be plugged into each sect depending on the campaign’s game world):
The Order of the Star: Crusaders of this order are tasked with seeking out and destroying the infrastructure (temples, guilds, spy networks, and such like.) serving the pantheon of evil-aligned gods. Because these temples and cults are often well hidden, members of the Order of the Star are well versed in back-alley Diplomacy and intelligence gathering, receiving an additional +1 bonus to the following skills at both 1st and 4th level: Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Sense Motive. The most streetwise of the sects, members of the Order of the Star are able to easily blend into the pulsing throngs of major cities. In combat, crusaders from this sect often use shields emblazoned with the order’s crest, a white eight-pointed star set on a dark blue field.
The Order of the Flame: Removing any trace of evil extraplanar creatures from the Prime Material is the goal of these crusaders. Demons, devils and their kin are the chief enemies of this group, as well as the allies of these creatures, such as drow. Members of the Order of the Flame receive Aura of Courage at 3rd level, and Knowledge (planes) is a class skill. The symbol of this order is an ice-blue longsword tinged in flame, floating on a sea of clouds.
The Order of the Chain: Slavery and oppression in all its forms are the chief targets of the members of this crusading order. Networks of slavers or regional governments who align with such scum typically do not last for long once they have been branded as such by the Order of the Chain. Members of this order receive a +1 bonus to their Disguise and Intimidate skills at 1st and 4th levels. Crusaders of the Order of the Chain do not emblazon their shields with a symbol; choosing instead to wear a simple loop of fine, gold chain around their necks.
Hundreds of years ago, minions of the demon lord Baphomet infiltrated the crusading Order of the Iron Rose. Baphomet‘s operatives began to openly work as members of the Order, taking over a number of secthomes, which quickly became riddled with corruption, greed and rampant lawlessness. Local authorities waged a bloody campaign against these secthomes, eventually crushing them, but the damage was done. The order, even those secthomes unaffected by Baphomet‘s minions, was outlawed.
The remaining Roses continue their quest against Baphomet in all his guises, although the order is now, by necessity, by far the most secretive of all sects. Apart from its members, only a few Templars from other sects even know the order still exists; and they do what they can to help the order survive.
The Order of the Iron Rose is the only other sect that a crusader can join once he has already pledged himself to his original secthome, as it is viewed as the highest possible honour a crusader can strive for. Members of this order do not receive any additional special abilities, but they are allowed to keep the abilities bestowed by their original sect. Its clandestine nature means that no crusader can start off as a member of this order; only after proving oneself for years might an invitation to join the Order of the Iron Rose be offered, and this offer is often the first time a crusader even realises the Order still exists. Being outlawed, this order does not have any symbol or heraldry to speak of.
Background: Crusaders come from all walks of life. Often they are the offspring of other crusaders, paladins or clerics. Not many characters are willing to lead the spartan lifestyle directed by a secthome, as the pull of gold and potential riches of all kinds is usually too strong even for most good aligned characters. Crusaders own nothing but what they can carry with them on any given quest, a fact that deters all but the most faithful from pursuit of this class.
Races: Crusaders can be members of any race, although the vast majority are human. However, many secthomes are actively recruiting non-human crusaders to help in their infiltration efforts.
Other Classes: As mentioned previously, crusaders will work in a party with members of other classes as long as these characters are good-aligned, and the party is working toward the goal of fulfilling that crusader’s mission. Crusaders find themselves most akin to paladins and good-aligned clerics, as these classes have also felt a calling that they have devoted their lives to.
Game Rule Information
- Abilities: The life of a crusader is an inherently dangerous one, as the crusader seeks to pit himself against the forces of evil wherever and whenever he can be it an organised mission from his secthome or the impromptu defence of an unarmed caravan against a horde of raiders. Strength and Constitution are a necessity, and a high Dexterity is beneficial as well. Charisma is helpful in gathering information, a key part of any crusader’s mission, and adds a bonus to his divinely given Smite Evil ability.
- Alignment: Any good
- Hit Die: d10
The crusader’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Strength), Intimidate (Charisma), Jump (Strength), Knowledge (religion) (Intelligence), Swim (Strength), Sense Motive (Intelligence), Rope Use(Dexterity) and Diplomacy (Charisma).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Intelligence modifier) x 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Intelligence modifier
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
|1st||+1||+2||+0||+0||detect evil 1/day|
|3rd||+3||+3||+1||+1||Lionheart, aura of courage (Order of the Flame only)|
|4th||+4||+4||+1||+1||Life on the road|
|5th||+5||+4||+1||+1||Smite evil 1/day, detect evil 2/day|
|10th||+10/+5||+7||+3||+3||Grizzled campaigner, smite evil 2/day, detect evil 3/day|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+9||+5||+5||Templar, smite evil 3/day, detect evil 4/day|
|20th||+20/+15/+10/+5||+12||+6||+6||Smite evil 4/day, detect evil 5/day|
All of the following are class features of the crusader:
Weapon and Armour Proficiency: A crusader is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light, medium and heavy armour, and shields.
Detect evil: Beginning at first level, crusaders are able to detect evil once per day, as per the spell. At 5th level, and for every five levels thereafter, the crusader gains an additional detect evil per day, to a maximum of five times per day at 20th level.
Lionheart: At 3rd level, crusaders are granted a +2 bonus to all morale and Fortitude checks, allowing crusaders to persevere in the face of unspeakable horror.
A Life on the Road: From 4th level onwards, crusaders are able to cover half again as many miles on foot as the average person. Whereas an average character can cover 24 miles of overland travel in an eight-hour period without a forced march, crusaders, their bodies far more tuned to a life of travel, can cover 36 miles in the same time period. Note that this does not affect tactical combat speed or local movement, just overland movement rates.
Smite Evil: Beginning at 5th level, a crusader gains the ability to smite evil with one normal melee attack. He adds his Charisma bonus (if any) to his attack roll and deals one extra point of damage per crusader level. If a crusader accidentally smites a creature that is not evil, the smite has no effect, but is still used up for that day. At 10th level and for every five levels thereafter, the crusader gains an additional smite per day, to a maximum of four times per day at 20th level.
Grizzled Campaigner: By the time a crusader reaches 10th level, he will have seen and experienced enough of the horrors from the unending battle against evil that he has become hardened to many of the cares that affect normal people. From 10th level on, crusaders can make forced overland marches for up to 16 hours a day without paying a fatigue penalty or making a Constitution check; they add an additional +1 to all Fortitude saves, and gain Divine Health, as per the paladin.
Templar: At 15th level, a crusader is bestowed with the title of Templar. The crusader then has the option of either starting and directing a new secthome or continuing the life of the crusader until the day comes when he realises he can help the fight against evil more by running a secthome than by questing. A Templar does not need clearance from a secthome to undertake any mission; he may begin any quest that he sees fit to pursue. Moreover, a Templar is allowed to keep a small cache of magic items and adventuring gear for his own use, as determined by the Games Master.
Bonus feats: Crusaders get additional combat feats every two levels gained, unless a special crusader-specific ability is given. These feats allow the
crusader to continue to hone his mastery of arms and combat to extremely high levels.
A crusader who takes a level in another class may never take another level of crusader. However, as long as this character remains good aligned, he keeps any abilities given to him during his time as a crusader. These abilities are immediately lost should he stray from the path, and may not be regained.
Human Crusader Starting Package
- Weapons and armour: longsword, Dagger, chain mail, large wooden shield.
- Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 2 + Intelligence modifier.
- Skill Ranks Ability Climb 4 Strength Diplomacy 4 Charisma Intimidate 4 Charisma Jump 4 Strength Knowledge (religion) 4 Intelligence Sense Motive 4 Wisdom Swim 4 Strength Rope Use 4 Dexterity
- Feat: Power Attack.
- Bonus Feat: Cleave.
- Gear: Clothing appropriate to mission, 50 feet of rope, bedroll, waterskin, trail rations, flint and steel, backpack.
- Gold: The Templar assigning any quest may choose to issue a small stipend for buying supplies while the quest is being undertaken.
Alternative Crusader Starting Package
As human crusader except:
- Race: Dwarf, elf, gnome, halfling, half-elf, or half-orc.
- Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 2 + Intelligence modifier.
- Bonus Feat: None.