Purple Dragon Knight Revision for the Fighter article featured image is from Eberron: Rising from the Last War. This article contains affiliate links to put gold in our coffers.
D&D 5e is loaded with interesting character options at this point. Each year has brought us expansion material to delight players with new possibilities. However, some of the options were better than others. I’m looking at you, Banneret Fighter. To avoid confusion, the setting-agnostic version of this subclass is the Banneret; the Sword Coast version is the Purple Dragon Knight, belonging to an order of Cormyrean knighthood.
One book was notorious for being too timid with its new subclasses: the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (SCAG). The Purple Dragon Knight is one of them, and it hasn’t received a reprint or revision. It has inherent design flaws that make it challenging to appreciate the subclass. This is especially true when I compare it to newer Fighter subclasses.
My game design philosophy is that it’s fine to have different power levels for different options; however, I don’t want a game to have “trap” options that are blatantly underwhelming or problematic. I like having many options that can each be viable, and it’s easy to be viable in 5e, but the Banneret is an example of a subclass that requires work to use effectively.
For these reasons, I’ve decided to revise the Banneret with my own version of it. I enjoy editing the printed version to make it better instead of throwing it out entirely and rebuilding it from the ground up.
Purple Dragon Knight Revision Goals and Design Philosophies
This revision will appeal to Fighters who want to be effective in combat while supporting their allies. This revision is meant to make the Banneret feel less starved for resources to use its cool powers.
Here’s how I summarize my design goals and intentions:
- Share and enhance core Fighter resources to bolster the party’s action economy and effectiveness.
- Keep the Banneret’s existing mechanics and build on them.
- Feel like a commander and support on the battlefield.
- Don’t bog down the action economy of the Banneret.
- Make the subclass enticing to play with impactful subclass features to anticipate.
- Avoid multiclass bait and excessive value provided as a dip.
- Realize character fantasy by level seven.
- Be better than settling with playing a Battle Master that uses maneuvers that focus on leadership and teamwork.
I’m joined by Shard for this revision. He and I thought it would be fun to create our own Banneret revisions without coordinating our efforts to compare them, then bring them together. Though I was pleased with my own first draft, I’m a huge fan of what Shard came up with. Together, we came up with an exciting new version of the Banneret Fighter!
Rallying Cry – 3rd Level (Reworked)
As a bonus action, you can choose up to three creatures that are allied with you that can see or hear you. Each one regains hit points equal to your fighter level. If they are able to move, then each one can immediately move up to 10 feet horizontally. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once), and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
When you use your Second Wind feature, you can choose up to three other allied creatures who can see or hear you. Each one regains hit points equal to your fighter level + PB.
When you regain hit points from Second Wind that would exceed your hit point maximum, or a creature regains hit points from Rallying Cry that would exceed its hit point maximum, the remainder can become temporary hit points.
Rallying Cry Revision Notes:
Shard had the idea to lean harder into Charisma for this subclass, and I’m all for it. It won’t become a MAD class because it’s not an absolute requirement to be functional; Charisma is incentivized but not required.
My idea was to add the remainder hit points as temporary hit points (a trick I learned from pro designers). This makes it easier for players to get value out of Rally Cry. We also made the ranged unlimited by distance and focused it on sight and hearing.
Between our ideas, we have a much more functional Banneret immediately at level three. You can still use Second Wind as the “greater” effect while having the limited effect available a few times.
Royal Envoy – 3rd Level (Reworked)
You gain proficiency in two of the following skills of your choice: Insight, Intimidation, Performance, or Persuasion. Alternatively, you learn one language of your choice.
Royal Revision Notes:
This was one of the worst parts of the Banneret. It was proficiency with one skill and x2 PB for it. That’s horrible to look forward to. It feels similar to the Samurai Fighter subclass, but it gets its skill at level three. I did the same here by moving it to third level and removing the x2 PB (I don’t like how Expertise has become too accessible outside of Rogues and Bards). I also opened up the choices since the Banneret player may not be focusing on being a persuasive knight of a royal court.
I added one more proficiency since it doesn’t get Expertise. This was a suggestion on YouTube from user R L.
Inspiring Surge – 7th Level (Reworked)
When you use your Action Surge feature, you can choose another allied creature within 60 feet of you. That creature can take one extra turn immediately following the end of your current turn. During this extra turn, the creature can do nothing else but use one action, and its attacks deal extra damage equal to your Charisma modifier. If the creature had used its reaction, it recharges at the start of this extra turn, as usual.
Additionally, you can choose one creature affected by Rallying Cry when you activate Rallying Cry (including when you use Second Wind). That creature can make one melee or ranged attack with its reaction and add your Charisma bonus to the damage roll.
Inspiring Surge Notes:
I moved this from tenth level to seventh level because it’s integral to the player expectations for this subclass. Removing the need for a reaction and removing the attack limitation opens this up to be used by more party compositions. Martials and spellcasters all benefit from this extra turn despite its limitations.
Rogues will love working with a Banneret Fighter because they’ll have the potential to Sneak Attack four times in the round. Don’t panic about that, though. Action Surge can only be used once per short rest until level seventeen. It’s a nova round that rewards party coordination. Again, we incorporate the Charisma bonus with the feature by giving a damage boost to attacks.
We included the secondary ability to use Rallying Cry as the method for triggering the reaction attack that already exists in the original Banneret.
The bit about improving at level eighteen is removed because I’m changing what happens at level eighteen.
Tireless Elegance – 10th Level (New)
When you roll initiative and have no uses of Indomitable remaining, you regain one use. You regain all uses of Indomitable when you finish a short rest.
You gain proficiency in Charisma saving throws. If you already have this proficiency, you can gain proficiency in either Wisdom or Intelligence saving throws instead (your choice).
Tireless Elegance Notes:
This might seem excessive, but is it any better than a Paladin’s Aura of Protection? Debatable. This will feed into later levels when we do more with Indomitable.
Gaining Charisma saving throw proficiency is similar to how the Samurai gains the same for Wisdom at level seven. This comes a bit later and involves the less-used Charisma save.
Bulwark – 15th Level (Reworked)
You can extend the benefit of your Indomitable feature to an ally. When you decide to use Indomitable to reroll an Intelligence, a Wisdom, or a Charisma saving throw and you aren’t incapacitated, you can choose one ally within 60 feet of you that also failed its saving throw against the same effect. If that creature can see or hear you, it can reroll its saving throw and must use the new roll.
Alternatively, if an ally within 60 feet of you fails an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throw, but you did not have to roll the same saving throw, you can use your reaction and expend a use of Indomitable to allow them to reroll the saving throw and use the new roll. You cannot use this reaction if your ally can not see or hear you.
Bulwark’s original function was similar, but it’s not reliably useful to have you and your ally both making the same saving throw, and both need Indomitable’s reroll. This revised version allows Indomitable to be used as a reaction when an ally needs assistance. This improves the quality of life for the player since Bulwark becomes more versatile for supporting allies.
Press the Attack – 18th Level (New)
You can choose two allies within 60 feet of you, rather than one, when you use Inspiring Surge or Bulwark.
Additionally, when you use Rallying Cry, affected creatures gain the following benefits until the end of your next turn while they are not incapacitated:
- Resistance to all damage
- Half cover
Press the Attack Notes:
This subclass capstone enhances what came before. You can assist more allies, and you can grant half cover for doing what you already are doing. Half cover is better than granting a +2 bonus to AC and Dex saves because it won’t stack with itself. If the feature gave a +2 bonus, it would stack with other flat bonuses. The bounded accuracy concept at the core of D&D 5e compels us to utilize half cover instead to prevent excessive stacking of bonuses. Half cover is also the modern method that was evident in TCoE to achieve this outcome.
Damage resistance may seem particularly strong, but it’s similar to other subclass capstones that grant transformations to resist damage. This version is temporary but shared with others. It seems like a comparable trade-off to me.
Summarizing the Purple Dragon Knight Revision
Here’s what the Banneret / Purple Dragon Knight revision looks like:
- Rallying allies to heal them and grant them temporary hit points.
- Proficiency in two leadership skills.
- Give an extra turn with one action to an ally when using Action Surge.
- Give a reaction attack to an ally you rally.
- Use Indomitable more and use it to help allies.
- Charisma saving throw proficiency.
- Target additional allies with your rallying abilities and protect them.
What do you think of our Purple Dragon Knight revision?
We’re pretty satisfied with this revision, but how do you feel about it? Does the revised Banneret compete with other Fighter subclasses, or does it remain overshadowed? Cast Message in the comments to let us know where we succeeded or failed!
Shard has written many subclass guides for us. You can read more content by Shard here.