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King Arthur as an D&D NPC

by: Matt Conlon ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

No matter how great a king is, he will always be compared to those who came before him. Instead of modeling your kings after King Arthur, why not drop the "real" King Arthur into your game as an NPC?

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    King Arthur Stats: D&D

    king and crown   Perhaps the most famous mythical king is King Arthur Pendragon, leader of the Knights of the Round Table, and wielder of the fabled sword Excalibur. Raised by a knight, Arthur learned honesty and justice. He was proclaimed king at the tender age of fifteen after drawing the sword from the stone.

    Arthur went on to unite the Knights of the Round Table, and defended Britain against Saxons and other barbarians. It is said that he killed almost one thousand enemies in the last battle, ending the Saxon invasion.

    Who wouldn't love to have such a person grace their campaign with an appearance?

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    Identity Crisis

    bard   Just as with Merlin, King Arthur was also outlined in the first edition "Deities and Demigods", and subsequently in the second edition version called "Legends and Lore". However, once again, Wizards of the Coast did not see fit to bring them back in the third or four edition campaign settings.

    The 2E King Arthur stats say that he was a 16th level Paladin, and a 5th level Bard. Now, I'll be the first to admit, it's been a while since 2E and the definitions of these classes may have changed a bit since then, but I disagree with these class choices for a number of reasons. Please correct me in the comments if you feel that I'm mistaken!

    I'll be changing Artie's class to Fighter for 3E for the following reasons:

    1 - Bard: I don't recall any stories in which King Arthur played a hymn, or sang a song to give benefits to his party members. Certainly, I can understand that he gave inspiration to those around him, but I hardly think that warrants classes in bard.

    2 - He was righteous, chivalrous and lived by a knightly code of honor. These are most definitely traits of a paladin. He did not, however, have the ability to detect evil, have a phantasmal mount, or cast healing spells, which are also traits of a paladin. Was he a defender of honor and virtue? Yes. Was he a paladin? I think not.

    Further, when he found that his wife and Launcelot were having an affair, the letter of the law, which a paladin would be bound to uphold, being all lawful and what not, would be to have her put to death. Arthur did not do that.

    3 - Keeping these two classes for 3E presents a problem. These two classes conflict in 3E. A paladin must be of a lawful alignment, whereas a bard cannot be any lawful alignment.

    Note: I know there are probably specialty classes (Crusader comes to mind) that might fit better, but for simplicity's sake, I just went with the fighter as it's outlined in the core 3.5 Player's Handbook.

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    Building a King - D&D known Heroes

    I will maintain the 2E King Arthur stats, but he will be a simple fighter for all the class mechanics.fighter  

    Strength: 19 (modifier: 4); Dexterity: 15 (modifier: 2); Constitution: 18 (modifier: 4);

    Intelligence; 17 (modifier: 3); Wisdom: 18 (modifier: 4); Charisma: 18 (modifier: 4).

    Arthur's level as determined via the 3RD Edition Conversion Manual, is Level 17.

    Hit Points - The fighter's hit die is a d10, and his constitution bonus is 4. If at each level he were granted (or rolled) maximum hit points (a favorite house rule of mine!) by level 17 he'd have 238 HP.

    Armor class: 21

    Base Attack Bonus: Arthur would get 4 attacks at level 17 at the following bonuses: 17/12/7/2

    Saving throws: Fortitude: 10, Reflex: 5, Will: 5.

    Skill Points: The fighter gets 2 + Intelligence modifier (3) multiplied by 4 for first level. This is 20. However, because he's a Human, he gains an extra 4 at first level, bringing the total to 24. Every level after, he gets 5 (2 + int), with a bonus of 1 for being human. By level 17, King Arthur would have a total of 120 skill points to allocate. Remember, the max for Class Skill is character level +3. (It's half that, rounded down for cross class!) The most you can spend on any given skill for King Arthur is 20 for class, and 10 for cross class.

    Feats: One of the biggest benefits to being a Human fighter is the feats. Normal characters get one feat at first level, and then one every third, starting at 3rd level. So, one at 1st, one at 3rd, one at 6th, one at 9th, etc.

    Humans gets an extra at level 1. Fighters also get an extra at level 1, and then one every second level, so another at 2nd, another at 4th, etc. By level 17, King Arthur has 16th slots for feat allocation.

    Remember when allocating skills and feats, King Arthur was a highly influential and inspirational leader. I'd recommend maxing out diplomacy. You may need to scour some of the supplemental books to find the right skills and feats to account for his leadership skills.

    Given his fighting prowess, he'd almost certainly have to have at least great cleave and weapon focus for his sword.

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    Fourth Edition

    disney   As I said, I disagreed with the 2E class assignments, but I also only picked fighter because it was a basic class available in the 3.5 Player's Handbook. I'm sure there are other classes available in various source books that would have suited even better. Forth Edition opens up some more options to us.

    King Arthur is probably most easily portrayed as a Warlord. The 4th Edition Player's Handbook describes Warlords:

    "Hardy and skilled in close combat, Warlords are brilliant leaders who have the gift of inspiration. If you want to lead the Battle with the point of your sword, coordinate brilliant tactics with your comrades, and bolster and heal them when they falter, play a warlord."

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    KAicon   King Arthur Pendragon (Warlord) Level 21 Soldier (Leader)

    • Medium natural humanoid XP:3,200
    • HP: 196; Bloodied: 98
    • Initiative +15
    • AC: 37
    • Fortitude: 34; Reflex: 32; Will: 33
    • Perception +15
    • Speed 5
    • Immune to fear

    Alignment: lawful good

    Languages: Common

    Equipment: Excalibur, Plate armor, Heavy Shield, Scabbard of Avalon


    • Never Retreat - Aura 6
      • Allies who enter or start their turns within the aura gain +2 to saving throws against fear effects.
    • Scabbard of Avalon
      • Arthur is immune to ongoing damage. Arthur must be wearing the Scabbard of Avalon to gain this benefit.

    Standard Actions:

    • Excalibur (radiant, weapon) - At Will
      • Attack: +28 vs. AC
      • hit: 2d6+8 plus 1d6 radiant. On a critical hit, the target is blinded until the end of Arthur's next turn and knocked prone.
    • Aggressive Attack (Radiant, weapon) - at will
      • Effect: Arthur makes two basic attacks with Excalibur.
    • Divine Smite (radiant) - Recharge
      • requirements: Arthur must be wielding Excalibur.
      • Attack: +28 vs. AC
      • Hit: 3d8+8 damage plus 2d8 radiant damage and all allies within 5 squares gain 10 temporary hit points or make a saving through against a single effect that a save can end.
    • Blinding Glory (radiant) - Encounter
      • Requirements: Arthur must be wielding Excalibur.
      • Attack: Close blast 4; +24 vs. Fortitude
      • Hit: 3d8 +3 radiant damage, and the target is blinded (save ends).

    Trigged Actions

    • Mete Justice (weapon) Recharge
      • Trigger: Arthur is hit by a melee attack.
      • Attack (immediate interrupt): +28 vs. AC
      • Hit: 3d8 + 10 damage.
      • Special: Targets the triggering enemy.
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    exca   I hope you find this information useful in your campaigns. As always, there is more than one way to skin a proverbial cat. If you'd like to share with me thoughts you have on what you'd have done to create your own King Arthur, I'd love to hear them in the comments!

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