Adventurous Occupations: Man-at-Arms
by Sean Manning
For many centuries aristocratic heavy cavalry had an important role in society and on the battlefield. While good heavy infantry could always give them a tough fight, and priests and merchants often challenged their power in peacetime, cavalry had a special glamor. With their combat skills, gear, and political connections, men-at-arms can make excellent adventurers. This template is designed for a starting PC or major NPC in a fairly realistic campaign set at TL2-4, but can also serve as a quick set of stats for nameless opponents. Bronze Age societies used chariots, not cavalry, while quick-firing rifles and cannon relegate cavalry to the fringes of the battlefield at TL5. In history, the template could represent a knight, samurai, Macedonian Companion, Turkish or Persian spahi, or a professional cavalryman or noble from many societies. The classic "knight in shining armor" was a lancer and swordsman first and foremost, but heavy cavalry in other cultures were skilled with bow, javelin, or pistol to soften up tough opponents before a charge. This man-at-arms is respectable and owns his own mounts and arms.
In late medieval Europe, a man-at-arms was any heavy cavalryman with full metal armor, whereas a knight was a gentleman who had been given the honor of knighthood by a lord. In earlier periods there was less distinction among those who could fight as heavy cavalry, as long as they had their own arms . . .
This article originally appeared in the second volume of Pyramid. See the current Pyramid website for more information.
Article publication date: November 2, 2007
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