In Unorthodox Knights (written by Sean Holland, James Spahn, Arthur Borko and editor The Le), six variant knight classes and one prestige class, are brought together in a 47-page .pdf. This isn't just a book of "crunch." Each class receives just over a page of background material, providing gamers with enough information to see just what makes these classes not just variants on the "standard" knight, but unique classes that stand on their own merits.
Of the six classes, three stand out.
- The Chevalier Amour. Approaching life as one big adventure, the chevalier amour taps into the dashing romance of knighthood, but not at the expense of excitement. With class features that stress finesse and style (Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat at 1st level, Two-Weapon Fighting at 2nd level, Evasion at 7th level, etc.), the chevalier amour would lend itself well to players looking to play a rogue less interested in backstabbing and more interested in getting away with spreading as much excitement and, yes, love, everywhere he goes (and getting away with it - another class feature is Greater Alibi, which allows the chevalier amour an immediate cover story, when needed, with appropriate Bluff modifiers).
- Knight of the Road. A wandering, nomadic character, the knight of the road lives by a specific code: never give up the open road; always take care of your horse; never grab another man's reigns; draw your blade only if you intend to take a life; another knight of the road is a brother, treat him as such even if you should be enemies; and never betray a sworn oath. Not quite devoted to an order, this class has more in common with rangers and fighters than other knights or even paladins. From the very beginning of play, a 1st level knight of the road gains unique abilities: Quick Draw as a bonus feat and, as a class feature, Sword Slinger (which is similar to the Sneak Ability in that if the knight of the road has initiative over a flat-footed opponent, he or she may draw his or her sword and deal an +1d6 bonus damage - the knight of the road only receives this bonus if he or she begins with his or her sword sheathed). As the character progresses, other abilities based on self-sufficiency (being able to discern direction as a supernatural ability or gaining Diehard as a bonus feat) become part of the character's repertoire. The knight of the road also gains a mount, and special rules are included to make this mount different from the paladin's typical mount.
- Lanternian Knight. These unorthodox knights adventure for spiritual gain. Constantly seeking redemption, characters of this class focus on being a beacon, or lantern, against the darkness. The lanternian knight is built around the ideal of fighting the evil of the world, and its class features (like Lantern's Light, which causes an object to glow like a torch; Oath of Duty, which provides these knights with a +1 bonus to skill checks and Saves when swearing to overcome obstacles in their path; Heaven's Strike, which provides the knight's weapon with a blessing in the form of an enhancement bonus against evil creatures; and Lantern's Miracle, which allows the lanternian knight to duplicate clerical spell effects) back this up.
The Blind Blade is the prestige class which allows for a unique "blind swordsman" approach. In fact, if the character ever regains his or her sight, most of the special abilities are lost.
Almost as a bonus feature, this sourcebook includes a section titled 'Baubles & Urus of Ancient Power.' These small gem-like stones are magic items that are designed to be used in conjunction with other items (weapons, clothing, etc.). Pricing for the baubles is missing, however, which could seem to me to limit the instant portability of these items in an existing campaign.
LIKED: The different character classes provide ideas to both players and GMs.
DISLIKED: The 'Baubles & Urus' section seems almost tacked on to the product for extra length.
VALUE: Very Satisfied