The horned skyguard is a racial archetype of the cavalier class, available to minotaur and half-minotaur cavaliers. The horned skyguard is a member of the highly respected and devastatingly skilled tactical airborne cavalry native to certain clans of minotaurs located high in remote mountains of the world. There are relatively few of these noble hearted and forthright knights of the sky, but those who pass their training are numbered among the best of the best, both in combat and tactical flying. Due to the minotaur’s size and mass, he must have a sturdy airborne mount. Thus, many decades ago, mountain clans established a breeding program that enabled them to raise and train wyvern drakes from birth. A wyvern drake is the offspring of dragon and wyvern parentage and bonded to their master through a mystic bond brought on through elaborate training and close companionship. This ensures that an unbreakable loyalty between the horned skyguard and wyvern drake is established, which forges them into an effective and powerful force to war against their enemies.
The horned skyguard has the following class features.
Bonded Wyvern Drake Mount (Ex): A horned skyguard creates a mystic bond with a youthful wyvern drake, the hybrid offspring of a fork-tailed wyvern and a true dragon, that guarantees the wyvern drake’s loyalty to its rider (as long as it is treated with respect). A character that starts as a horned skyguard at 1st level is assumed to have already bonded with a wyvern drake of his choice. A character multiclassing into dragonrider is approached by a wyvern drake as a prospective bonded mount within 30 days. The bond causes the wyvern drake to grow slightly in size, and drives it to gain power as its rider gains experience, rather than as it gains age categories. Many of a wyvern drake’s normal powers (spell-like abilities, spellcasting, unlimited breath weapon use) are either suspended or modified as the arcane power that drives them is used to fuel the bond between the horned skyguard and wyvern drake mount. This bond, once forged, ends only if both rider and mount decide to end it, or if one is killed and not resurrected in a timely fashion.
Wyvern drakes are specially bred by mountain dwelling minotaurs to serve as mounts for their aerial cavalry, and is part of ancient pacts dating back centuries. A wyvern drake bonded to its rider grows in size and power as the horned skyguard gains experience. The payoff comes when the horned skyguard dies which almost always occurs long before the wyvern drake mount’s death–though both often die in battle alongside each other. If its rider is lost, the surviving wyvern drake cannot be bonded to another, and is therefore used as breeding stock, released into the wild, or killed outright if it becomes uncontrollable.
A bonded wyvern drake can carry its rider as soon as it is the same size category as the horned skyguard, assuming its Strength is great enough to bear the rider and his gear. Wyvern drake’s carrying capacity is modified for their size as normal creatures, and as bonded mounts they can fly (at full speed) even if heavily encumbered. A wyvern drake can carry two creatures one size smaller than it, four creatures two sizes smaller, and sixteen creatures three or more sizes smaller (all assuming it has the Strength to do so).
A horned skyguard’s bonded mount otherwise functions as a druid’s animal companion, using the horned skyguard’s level as his effective druid level. A horned skyguard does not take an armor check penalty on Ride checks while riding his mount. The mount is always considered combat trained and begins play with Light Armor Proficiency as a bonus feat. A horned skyguard’s mount does not gain the share spells special ability.
A horned skyguard’s bond with his wyvern drake mount is strong, with the pair learning to anticipate each other’s moods and moves. Should a horned skyguard’s mount die, the horned skyguard may find another mount to serve him after 1 week of mourning. This new wyvern drake mount does not gain the link, evasion, devotion, or improved evasion special abilities until the next time the horned skyguard gains a level. This ability otherwise functions as and replaces mount.
Order: The horned skyguard can choose the new Order of the Horn and Fang, in addition to any other order.
Tactician: This is exactly like the cavalier’s ability of the same name, except that the horned skyguard can grant a teamwork feat gained by his tactician, greater tactician and master tactician abilities to his wyvern drake mount.
Cavalier’s Charge (Ex): This is exactly like the cavalier’s ability of the same name, except that any benefits gained by the cavalier’s charge, mighty charge, and supreme charge abilities apply only while the horned skyguard is riding his wyvern drake mount.
Expert Trainer (Ex): This is exactly like the cavalier’s ability of the same name, except that it only applies when the horned skyguard is using Handle Animal to train a wyvern drake or another creature of the dragon type.
Dragon Standard (Ex): This is exactly like the cavalier’s banner ability, except that the horned skyguard’s wyvern drake mount becomes a symbol of inspiration to his allies and companions instead of a banner. The wyvern drake mount must be at least Medium or larger and mounted by its horned skyguard for this ability to function. This ability alters the cavalier’s banner ability.
Greater Dragon Standard (Ex): This is exactly like the cavalier’s greater banner ability, except that the horned skyguard’s wyvern drake mount becomes a rallying call to his allies. This ability alters the cavalier’s greater banner ability.
Table: Horned Skyguard
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