Mercenary Cataphracts (D&D 5E Bonus Content for ‘In the Footsteps of Hercules’)

Michael O. Varhola
Following are D&D 5E stats for the mercenary cataphract troopers, squad leaders, and commander — heavily armored cavalrymen — stationed at the fortified Minoan League outpost of Heraklion on the island of Crete, a place described in Skirmisher Publishing’s “In the Footsteps of Hercules” universal sourcebook. They might be encountered by characters in any number of ways, to include serving as escorts for those travelling from the port to the inland palace complex housing the Bullpens of Knossos. Soldiers of this sort might also be found in any number of other places or settings, particularly ones with a basis in real-world history and geography like Skirmisher’s Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting.
 
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Mercenary Cataphract
Medium Humanoid (Human), neutral
 
Armor Class: 18 (chain mail, shield)
Hit Points: 26 (4d8+8)
Speed: 30 ft. (mounted 60 ft.)
 
STR             DEX             CON             INT               WIS              CHA
16 (+3)         11 (+1)         15 (+2)         11 (+0)         14 (+2)         11 (+0)
 
Skills: Animal Handling +4, Athletics +5, Perception +4
Senses: Passive Perception 14
Languages: Common (Greek)
Challenge: 1 (200 XP)
 
Lancer/Swordsman. When a Mercenary Cataphract is wielding either a lance or a longsword in one hand it inflicts +2 to damage rolls with those weapons (factored into the stats that appear below).
 
Mounted Combatant. A Mercenary Cataphract is a dangerous foe to face while mounted and, while on its horse and not incapacitated, has advantage on melee attack rolls against any unmounted creature of size Medium or smaller.
 
Second Wind (1/short or long rest). A Mercenary Cataphract has a limited well of stamina that it can draw upon to protect itself from harm. On its turn, it can use a bonus action to regain 6 (1d10+1) hit points.
 
ACTIONS
Lance. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (1d12+5) piercing damage.
 
Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8+5) slashing damage.
 
Dart. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4+3) piercing damage.
 
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Mercenary Cataphract Squad Leader
Medium Humanoid (Human), lawful neutral
 
Armor Class: 19 (splint, shield)
Hit Points: 39 (6d8+12)
Speed: 30 ft. (mounted 60 ft.)
 
STR             DEX             CON             INT               WIS              CHA
18 (+4)         11 (+1)         15 (+2)         11 (+0)         14 (+2)         11 (+0)
 
Skills: Animal Handling +4, Athletics +5, Perception +6
Senses: Passive Perception 16
Languages: Common (Greek)
Challenge: 2 (450 XP)
 
Lancer/Swordsman. When a Mercenary Cataphract Squad Leader is wielding either a lance or a longsword in one hand it inflicts +2 to damage rolls with those weapons (factored into the stats that appear below).
 
Mounted Combatant. A Mercenary Cataphract Squad Leader is a dangerous foe to face while mounted and, while on its horse and not incapacitated, has advantage on melee attack rolls against any unmounted creature of size Medium or smaller.
 
Action Surge (1/short or long rest). On its turn, a Mercenary Cataphract Squad Leader can take one additional action on top of its regular action and a possible bonus action.
 
Second Wind (1/short or long rest). A Mercenary Cataphract Squad Leader has a limited well of stamina that it can draw upon to protect itself from harm. On its turn, it can use a bonus action to regain 7 (1d10+2) hit points.
 
ACTIONS
Lance. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d12+6) piercing damage.
 
Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d8+6) slashing damage.
 
Dart. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d4+4) piercing damage.
 
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Mercenary Cataphract Commander
Medium Humanoid (Human), lawful neutral
 
Armor Class: 20 (splint, Shield +1)
Hit Points: 58 (9d8+18)
Speed: 30 ft. (mounted 60 ft.)
 
STR             DEX             CON             INT               WIS              CHA
17 (+3)         11 (+1)         15 (+2)         11 (+0)         14 (+2)         14 (+2)
 
Skills: Animal Handling +4, Athletics +4, Perception +4, Persuasion +4
Senses: Passive Perception 14
Languages: Common (Greek)
Challenge: 3 (700 XP)
 
Action Surge (1/short or long rest). On its turn, a Mercenary Cataphract Commander can take one additional action on top of its regular action and a possible bonus action.
 
Lancer/Swordsman. When a Mercenary Cataphract Commander is wielding either a lance or a longsword in one hand it inflicts +2 to damage rolls with those weapons (factored into the stats that appear below).
 
Leadership (1/ Short or Long Rest). For 1 minute, the Mercenary Cataphract Commander can utter a special command or warning whenever a non-hostile creature that it can see within 30 feet of it makes an attack roll or a saving throw. The creature can add a d4 to its roll provided it can hear and understand the commander. A creature can benefit from only one leadership die at a time. This effect ends if the commander is incapacitated.
 
Mounted Combatant. A Mercenary Cataphract Commander is a dangerous foe to face while mounted and, while on its horse and not incapacitated, has advantage on melee attack rolls against any unmounted creature of size Medium or smaller.
 
Second Wind (1/short or long rest). A Mercenary Cataphract Squad Leader has a limited well of stamina that it can draw upon to protect itself from harm. On its turn, it can use a bonus action to regain 8 (1d10+3) hit points.
 
ACTIONS
Lance. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d12+6) piercing damage.
 
Longsword +1. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d8+6) slashing damage.
 
Dart. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d4+4) piercing damage. 
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Mercenary Cataphracts
Mercenary cataphracts are veteran soldiers who, in exchange for lucrative pay, serve hazardous tours of duty ranging from six to twelve months in the fortified trade and military bases established by foreign powers along the coastline of Crete.
 
Duties of such soldiers include escorting convoys or travelers going inland or otherwise leaving secure areas and helping to defend the fortress complexes to which they are posted, particularly as rapid response forces. Squad leaders typically command from four to ten troopers and commanders are generally in charge of all the mercenary cataphracts at a specific base, which is usually ranges from at least three-dozen to as many as a hundred. Their warhorses are equipped with scale barding and have AC 15.
 
Soldiers of this sort might be from almost anywhere but are disproportionately likely to hail from areas to the north and east of Greece, to include the city-state of Byzantium, Amazonia, and other lands around the Black Sea.
 
When not on duty, mercenary cataphracts typically spend most their time lounging in their barracks, working out and practicing in unit training halls, and patronizing local taverns and brothels. Their squad leaders and officers generally keep a close eye on them during downtime to ensure they do not brawl too much, indulge in alcohol or other intoxicants to an excessive degree, or cause trouble with other inhabitants of the bases at which they are stationed.
 
Mercenary cataphracts do not own the weapons, armor, or mounts they use in the performance of the duties but generally have personal weapons and light armor (e.g., studded leather, chain shirt) that they keep in their quarters are use when travelling or engaged in personal business.