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.

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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Why "Man-At-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 . . .