In the magical world of Dungeons & Dragons, few archetypes capture the imagination quite like the chivalrous knight. We picture shining armor, upholding justice, and demonstrating unmatched grace and bravery.
But how does one transform this storied fantasy into an effective character build? The Player's Handbook provides a foundation with the base Fighter class, but lacks the heart and soul of knighthood. Looking to the Purple Dragon Knight martial archetype can bring us closer to realizing our knightly aspirations.
Also known as the Banneret, the Purple Dragon Knight first appeared in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide for 5th edition D&D. This subclass attempts to embody the courageous champion who leads troops into battle by deeds and example.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know to craft a compelling Purple Dragon Knight character. You’ll learn how to optimize the class, roleplay effectively, and realize your chivalric fantasies at the gaming table.
We’ll examine what makes the Purple Dragon Knight unique, provide build suggestions to maximize your effectiveness, and compare this subclass to other fighter options. Let’s saddle up and ride forth into adventure and glory!
Origin of the Purple Dragon Knight
The Purple Dragon Knight takes its name from an order of knights in the Forgotten Realms kingdom of Cormyr known as the Purple Dragons. They are elite warriors who pledge themselves to defending the crown.
In other D&D settings, these fighters are known as Bannerets, a term used for a medieval knight who led troops into battle under their lord’s banner.
Regardless of the name, this archetype focuses on motivating allies and leading from the front through deeds and example. Their abilities call upon romanticized ideals of knights serving their ruler and defending the realm.
Subclass Features and How They Work
The Purple Dragon Knight is defined by subclass features that trigger when they use the Fighter’s core abilities, like Second Wind and Action Surge. Let's take a closer look at what grants this knight their heroic flair:
At 3rd level, you gain this feature that lets you heal allies when using your Second Wind bonus action. You can choose up to 3 creatures within 60 feet that are allied with you. Each one regains hit points equal to your fighter level, provided they can see or hear you.
This provides minor healing akin to casting Mass Healing Word once per short rest. It costs only a bonus action and gets stronger as you gain levels. Best of all, it works on unconscious allies, getting them back on their feet to keep fighting!
Starting at 7th level, your talents increase your diplomatic skills. You gain proficiency with the Persuasion skill, or another skill if already proficient in Persuasion. Additionally, your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability checks using Persuasion.
This feature makes the Purple Dragon Knight the party face. Though you may not put your highest ability score in Charisma, this wisdom boosts your social interactions significantly. Even with a modest Charisma score, you'll hold your own at the negotiation table!
At 10th level, you learn to share your heroic Action Surges with allies. When you use Action Surge, pick one creature within 60 feet that's allied with you. That creature can use their reaction to make one melee or ranged weapon attack.
This ability improves your damage output by letting allies strike in addition to your own Action Surge. Make sure to use it strategically based on your party composition. Allowing a rogue to make an extra Sneak Attack or a paladin to smite can produce tremendous burst damage!
Starting at 15th level, your Indomitable class feature extends to others. When you use Indomitable to reroll a failed Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma save, choose one ally within 60 feet that also failed that save. That creature can reroll the save if they can see or hear you.
Situational, but clutch in the right circumstances! There are many dangerous save-or-suck effects at higher levels, so keeping your party in the fight is invaluable. It provides safety against the deadliest mind-altering magic.
Now that you understand the Purple Dragon Knight's capabilities, let's optimize this gallant guardian…
Playing an Optimal Purple Dragon Knight
The Purple Dragon Knight works best supporting a well-rounded party. Though you provide healing and boosting, you remain durable and dangerous like any Fighter. Support and offense in one noble package!
Here are some tips for maximizing your Purple Dragon Knight:
Prioritize Strength or Dexterity first depending on your combat style, followed by Constitution. Don't dump Charisma thanks to your Royal Envoy feature. Consider an unusual spread:
Str: 14 Dex: 15 Con: 14 Int: 8 Wis: 10 Cha: 13
You still fight well but the 13 Charisma takes better advantage of your skills.
Dragonborn and Dwarf races boost Strength and Charisma. Eladrin elves increase Dexterity and Charisma, ideal for archers. Half-Elves work with any ability spread. Custom Lineage can grab a starting feat.
Inspiring Leader boosts your support capabilities. Magic Initiate: Cleric grabs healing spells. Ritual Caster provides utility. martial feats like Polearm Master and Great Weapon Master optimize combat.
Plate armor and a shield with a longsword or warhammer makes you a stalwart defender. Optimize with the Defense fighting style and Protection feat. Ranged knights can wield a longbow with Studded Leather.
Lead from the frontlines to benefit your auras. Use Rallying Cry carefully to revive fallen allies. Give Inspiring Surge to rogues and smiting paladins to maximize damage spikes. Maneuver to force enemies into your Bulwark aura.
Standing Against Evil as a Purple Dragon Knight
So you’ve optimized your build, but roleplaying a compelling character is just as critical. Luckily, the Purple Dragon Knight comes with inherent personality hooks. Consider the following tips:
- Uphold a strict code of honor and ethics. This defines your quests and adventures.
- Be trusting of those who demonstrate nobility and virtue. Distrust evil until proven otherwise.
- Take your vows and promises seriously. Never break your sworn word.
- Champion justice and fairness. Stand up for the downtrodden.
- Follow lawful rulers, even if you disagree with their decisions. Remain loyal.
- Romance should be chaste and refined. Court your love with chivalry.
Use these principles to guide interactions with NPCs and make difficult choices. Playing a Purple Dragon Knight to the hilt brings life to your character!
Now that you understand optimizing and roleplaying a Purple Dragon Knight, how does it compare to other Fighter options?
How the Purple Dragon Knight Compares to Other Fighters
The Purple Dragon Knight makes an unconventional support fighter, while other subclasses are better optimized for pure offense or defense. Let's see how it stacks up:
- Battle Master provides superior flexibility and damage output with maneuver dice.
- Eldritch Knight has potent wizard spells and bonding to enhance their combat prowess.
- Rune Knight and Psi Warrior gain unique resources to bolster their attacks and durability.
- Samurai and Cavalier excel at specialized tactics thanks to features like advantage on demand and mark enemies.
The Purple Dragon Knight lags behind with situational healing and support tied to limited-use core class features. Their abilities rarely influence their own performance. They also lack a clearly defined role or specialization.
With creativity, you can build an effective Purple Dragon Knight. But most subclasses provide stronger mechanical options right out of the gate. You give up power for the sake of the knightly theme.
Should You Play a Purple Dragon Knight?
The Purple Dragon Knight won't surpass other fighters in raw effectiveness, but it provides a unique experience:
- Great for support-oriented players who still want fighter capabilities.
- Brings an element of chivalric nobility not found in other subclasses.
- Allows you to play a knightly leader without multiclassing.
- An unusual support fighter makes the subclass feel fresh and distinct.
- Low optimization floor makes it accessible for new players.
So while it has its shortcomings, the Purple Dragon Knight remains viable. If the fantasy of a virtuous battlefield leader appeals to you, this gallant guardian can absolutely fulfill that role. Just expect to make some sacrifices at higher levels of play.
A Noble Calling
Not every fighter seeks utter dominion and pure tactical supremacy. The Purple Dragon Knight answers a higher calling – to inspire allies and lead by example. While champions of freedom and virtue exist across classes, this subclass allows you to embody those ideals through game mechanics.
The Purple Dragon Knight may not claim top power, but it fills a thematic niche. With the right build, tactics, and roleplaying choices, your noble warrior will stand out from the mercenaries and wandering swords-for-hire.
Some parties may overlook your potential, seeing you as a second-rate defender or striker. But experienced players know your true worth. Your banner fluttering on the battlefield inspires allies to rally and fight harder. You lead the charge to heroism!
Perhaps the Purple Dragon Knight's abilities require a minor tune-up to match its epic theme. But a dash of creativity and roleplaying panache is all you need to bring this subclass to life. Give your tabletop group the honor and sacrifice it craves by upholding the codes of chivalry as a Purple Dragon Knight today!