This 4th reimagining of a base-class to make it more customizable/versatile would be the cavalier, with the pdf clocking in at 30 pages, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 28 1/3 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
Now on a basic level, the talented cavalier gets a full BAB, d10, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light and medium armor and shields – yep, no standard heavy armor proficiency. The class also gets good fort-saves.
Now much like the monk-class, the cavalier gets edges and talents to choose from, but unlike the monk, the cavalier has some other potential issues: The base-class is EXTREMELY rigid. The talented cavalier is reimagined as essentially a retainer of a warrior (not the NPC-class) serving or belonging to the noble caste -and yes, this includes options one would associate with the samurai. Now unlike the monk, edges are spread throughout the levels – cavaliers start with 2 edges and get an additional edge at 4th level and every 3 levels after that. Conversely, not every level nets a talent – rather, talented cavaliers start game with 2 talents and get an additional one at every level they don’t get an edge with the exception of the 10th level, at which the advanced talents become available. Much like previous installments, the origin-archetypes of the respective talents/edges are noted for ease of reference in brackets behind the abilities.
Exotic mounts, challenges, hunting companions (animal companion!) etc. are possible via edges – as are iaijutsu, challenges and a ranged option for challenge (yes!) are provided, as are the musketeer’s options. Of course, the heavy armor proficiency can also be attained as an edge alongside the improved armored riding. What is weird, though, would be that there’s no talent that nets you heavy armor proficiency alongside e.g. weapon-class proficiency – though e.g. the resolute-talent requires the use of heavy armors to work, it only requires a particular order-talent to work. Yes, orders have been broken down to multiple talents, but de facto, the power-progression, while still more versatile than the standard cavalier’s, still hides some direct hierarchies of talents – more so than with other talented classes.
Like the other talented classes, advanced and grand talents expand the options/make for the capstones and yes, membership in multiple knightly orders is finally possible with this pdf. The pdf also provides an extensive list of talents by group, though honestly, I would have liked the order-list to have the respective order-themed talents be listed by order. Rather cool is the mention of overlap with the talented fighter, providing multiple solutions to allow for blending of the two – two thumbs up for that.
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to SGG’s 3-column full-color standard with gorgeous pieces of artwork spread throughout. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.
The talented cavalier has a hard legacy to live up to – its base-class is considered one of the most rigid ones and breaking it down must have been a nightmare. Now first of all, the pdf does something VERY smart – it takes away the restriction of mounted combat-focus and provides a new focus – the noble warrior. I wholeheartedly applaud this focus ad love the spreading of edges throughout the levels. That being said, this pdf still let me down at a very high level – unlike the monk, I felt that the talented cavalier still was more focused on mounted combat and studded with “hidden” hierarchies than the monk – with so many talents requiring certain prerequisites, there’s less customization, less freedom here than I personally would have liked. While e.g. options like the ranged challenge help a lot, the pdf could honestly have used more of them. Also, less order-specific talents/a more modular solution would have further improved this pdf. While I would have loved more support for unhorsed cavaliers, I guess you can’t have everything – in the end, this would have benefited greatly from more talents – which have been provided as per the writing of this review. I can honestly see this particular installment requiring two more-talent-pdfs to provide the amount of flexibility of other classes – not due to a lack of design-knowledge on part of the Geniuses or designer Owen K.C. Stephens, but due to the base cavalier’s very rigid structure.
In the end, this could have been the liberating strike for the class and only partially succeeds in the endeavor – there’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but it also is a tad bit less brilliant than the superb take on the talented monk – still worth a rating of a solid 4 stars, though and this is in every way superior to the base cavalier class and should be considered a must-buy option for all endeavoring to play one.