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5E Mythological Figures: Sir Lancelot (5E)

Welcome to the second installment of Mythological Figures, a column for introducing icons from history to your Fifth Edition game. Last post featured Achilles but today we’re pushing the clock forward to the Arthurian age to design Camelot’s second greatest—and perhaps most beleaguered—knight: Lancelot du Lac!

Raised by the Lady of the Lake, it’s no wonder that Sir Lancelot is so wrapped up in contradiction. Despite being a naturally talented knight and a genuine friend to King Arthur, ultimately his love for Queen Guinevere leads him to betrayal. Vanquisher of Méléagant, frequently masquerading tournament knight, battling away the affections of Morgan le Fay, pining over the queen until his death 6 weeks after hers, ending his later penitent years as a priest.

As with the last post let us know who you want to see next!

Lancelot
Medium humanoid (human), neutral good fighter (champion) 7/paladin (oath of devotion) 6

Armor Class
20 (plate mail, shield)
Hit Points 119 (14d10+42)
Speed 30 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
16 (+3)11 (+0)17 (+3)13 (+1)9 (-1)14 (+2)

Saving Throws
Str +5, Dex +4 (with shield), Con +5, Int +3, Wis +6, Cha +9
Skills Animal Handling +4, Athletics +8, Deception +7, Perception +4
Condition Immunities disease
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages Common
Challenge 12 (8,400 XP)

Action Surge (1/short rest). Once on his turn, Lancelot can take an additional action on top of his regular action and a possible bonus action.

Aura of Protection.
Whenever Lancelot or a friendly creature within 10 feet of him must make a saving throw, the creature gains a +2 bonus to the saving throw as long as he is conscious (included above).

Channel Divinity (1/short rest).
Lancelot can channel his divinity through the two following features.
Sacred Weapon. As an action, Lancelot imbues one weapon that he is holding with positive energy. For 1 minute, he adds +2 to attack rolls made with that weapon. The weapon also emits bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light 20 feet beyond that. If the weapon is not already magical, it becomes magical for the duration.
Lancelot can end this effect on his turn as part of any other action. If he is no longer holding or carrying this weapon, or if he falls unconscious, this effect ends.
Turn the Unholy. As an action, Lancelot presents his holy symbol and speaks a prayer censuring fiends and undead, using his Channel Divinity. Each fiend or undead that can see or hear him within 30 feet must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails its saving throw, it is turned for 1 minute or until it takes damage.
A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from Lancelot as it can, and it can’t willingly move to a space within 30 feet of him. It also can’t take reactions. For its action, it can use only the Dash action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If there’s nowhere to move, the creature can use the Dodge action.​

Divine Sense (5/long rest).
As an action, until the end of his next turn Lancelot knows the location of any celestial, fiend, or undead within 60 feet of him that is not behind total cover. He knows the type (celestial, fiend, or undead) of any being whose presence he senses, but not its identity. Within the same radius, he also detects the presence of any place or object that has been consecrated or desecrated, as with the hallow spell.

Divine Smite.
When Lancelot hits a creature with a melee weapon attack, he can expend one spell slot to deal radiant damage to the target, in addition to the weapon’s damage. The extra damage is 2d8 for a 1st-level spell slot, plus 1d8 for each spell level higher than 1st, to a maximum of 3d8. The damage increases by 1d8 if the target is an undead or a fiend.

Feat: Master of the Shield.
While he has his shield, Lancelot adds +2 to Dexterity saving throws against spells or other harmful effects that only target him and he can use a bonus action to use it to shove a creature within 5 feet.

Lay on Hands (30 points/long rest).
As an action, Lancelot can touch a creature and restore a number of hit points to it, up to the maximum amount remaining in this pool. Alternatively, he can expend 5 hit points to cure the target of one disease or neutralize one poison affecting it.

Remarkable Athlete.
Lancelot adds +2 to any Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution check he makes that doesn’t already use his proficiency bonus. In addition, when he makes a running long jump, the distance he can cover increases by 3 feet.

Second Wind (1/short rest).
On his turn, Lancelot can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+7 hit points.

Spellcasting.
Lancelot is a 6th-level spellcaster that uses Charisma as his spellcasting ability (spell save DC 15; +7 to hit with spell attacks). Lancelot has the following spells prepared from the paladin’s spell list:
1st level (4 slots): bless, divine favor, heroism, protection from evil and good, sanctuary
2nd level (2 slots): aid, lesser restoration, magic weapon, zone of truth

Superior Critical.
Lancelot’s weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 18–20.

ACTIONS

Extra Attacks.
Lancelot attacks twice.

Longsword.
Melee Weapon Attack:
+9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8+5) slashing damage if wielded in one hand or 8 (1d10+3) slashing damage if wielded in two hands.

Dagger.
Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack:
+8 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/40 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4+3) piercing damage.

Heavy Crossbow.
Ranged Weapon Attack:
+5 to hit, range 100/400 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d10) piercing damage.

REACTIONS

Feat: Master of the Shield.
Lancelot can reflexively protect his body with his shield. When he is subjected to an effect that allows him to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, Lancelot can use his reaction to take no damage if he succeeds on the saving throw.

Feat: Master of the Sword.
Lancelot can use his reaction when wielding a sword to gain a +1 bonus to his AC until the start of his next turn or until he is disarmed. In addition, Lancelot has advantage on opportunity attacks.
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler

epithet

Explorer
I don't think I'd stat Lancelot as a paladin. He never uses magic in the legends, but there are a couple of stories about him that suggest he is as unbeatable without armor as he is in his full kit. Also, a paladin build makes him very similar to any other knight of the round table, when he should really be something special because of his fey origin.

I'd make Lancelot a barbarian zealot. He tends to lose control when he fights (killing Gaheris and Gareth, for example) and is sometimes depicted as needing to get the hell out of town to spend time in the forest and get his head together. I see nothing that would make the zealot incompatible with knighthood, and it would reflect Lancelot becoming an unstoppable force when he gets going.

Also, to reflect the supernatural favor of his step-mother (the arch-fey Lady of the Lake) I'd give him the charm of heroism (DMG 228) once per day. I'd make his strength and dexterity good, but not freakishly good--either 18 and 16 respectively, or 16 and 14, depending on the campaign and his role in it. What I would make ridiculous, though, would be his constitution. I'd shoot that all the way up to 20 to reflect his almost inhuman "unbeatable" resilience.

The death of Lancelot in the movie Excalibur is totally "Rage Beyond Death" (the zealot capstone.) Returning to the battlefield, Lancelot aggravates his old self-inflicted wound which will inevitably be fatal. He's a dead man walking, clutching his side and about to fall over, yet still decimates any who would stand against him. Finally, he finds Arthur who absolves him and restores his honor, at which point the rage fades and Lancelot dies.

Anyway, that's how I'd do it.
 

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Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
I don't think I'd stat Lancelot as a paladin. He never uses magic in the legends, but there are a couple of stories about him that suggest he is as unbeatable without armor as he is in his full kit. Also, a paladin build makes him very similar to any other knight of the round table, when he should really be something special because of his fey origin.

I'd make Lancelot a barbarian zealot. He tends to lose control when he fights (killing Gaheris and Gareth, for example) and is sometimes depicted as needing to get the hell out of town to spend time in the forest and get his head together. I see nothing that would make the zealot incompatible with knighthood, and it would reflect Lancelot becoming an unstoppable force when he gets going.

Also, to reflect the supernatural favor of his step-mother (the arch-fey Lady of the Lake) I'd give him the charm of heroism (DMG 228) once per day. I'd make his strength and dexterity good, but not freakishly good--either 18 and 16 respectively, or 16 and 14, depending on the campaign and his role in it. What I would make ridiculous, though, would be his constitution. I'd shoot that all the way up to 20 to reflect his almost inhuman "unbeatable" resilience.

The death of Lancelot in the movie Excalibur is totally "Rage Beyond Death" (the zealot capstone.) Returning to the battlefield, Lancelot aggravates his old self-inflicted wound which will inevitably be fatal. He's a dead man walking, clutching his side and about to fall over, yet still decimates any who would stand against him. Finally, he finds Arthur who absolves him and restores his honor, at which point the rage fades and Lancelot dies.

Anyway, that's how I'd do it.
That's great man! Do you think the Oath of Penitence needs a fey element or something to reflect that?
 

Kobold Boots

First Post
I don't think I'd stat Lancelot as a paladin. He never uses magic in the legends, but there are a couple of stories about him that suggest he is as unbeatable without armor as he is in his full kit. Also, a paladin build makes him very similar to any other knight of the round table, when he should really be something special because of his fey origin.

I'd make Lancelot a barbarian zealot. He tends to lose control when he fights (killing Gaheris and Gareth, for example) and is sometimes depicted as needing to get the hell out of town to spend time in the forest and get his head together. I see nothing that would make the zealot incompatible with knighthood, and it would reflect Lancelot becoming an unstoppable force when he gets going.

Also, to reflect the supernatural favor of his step-mother (the arch-fey Lady of the Lake) I'd give him the charm of heroism (DMG 228) once per day. I'd make his strength and dexterity good, but not freakishly good--either 18 and 16 respectively, or 16 and 14, depending on the campaign and his role in it. What I would make ridiculous, though, would be his constitution. I'd shoot that all the way up to 20 to reflect his almost inhuman "unbeatable" resilience.

The death of Lancelot in the movie Excalibur is totally "Rage Beyond Death" (the zealot capstone.) Returning to the battlefield, Lancelot aggravates his old self-inflicted wound which will inevitably be fatal. He's a dead man walking, clutching his side and about to fall over, yet still decimates any who would stand against him. Finally, he finds Arthur who absolves him and restores his honor, at which point the rage fades and Lancelot dies.

Anyway, that's how I'd do it.

This is pretty darn good. I just wish D&D would kill the sacred cow of class already and just go point buy.

Edit - I don't know that I'd inflate the constitution - simply because his parentage (King Ban and Elaine of the Franks) is completely mortal. If you needed to do that, I'd tie the constitution benefit to whatever oath he's taken or some other artifact of fey upbringing in whatever storyline is given him in the campaign.

KB
 
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Pauln6

Explorer
I don't think I'd stat Lancelot as a paladin. He never uses magic in the legends, but there are a couple of stories about him that suggest he is as unbeatable without armor as he is in his full kit. Also, a paladin build makes him very similar to any other knight of the round table, when he should really be something special because of his fey origin.

I'd make Lancelot a barbarian zealot. He tends to lose control when he fights (killing Gaheris and Gareth, for example) and is sometimes depicted as needing to get the hell out of town to spend time in the forest and get his head together. I see nothing that would make the zealot incompatible with knighthood, and it would reflect Lancelot becoming an unstoppable force when he gets going.

Also, to reflect the supernatural favor of his step-mother (the arch-fey Lady of the Lake) I'd give him the charm of heroism (DMG 228) once per day. I'd make his strength and dexterity good, but not freakishly good--either 18 and 16 respectively, or 16 and 14, depending on the campaign and his role in it. What I would make ridiculous, though, would be his constitution. I'd shoot that all the way up to 20 to reflect his almost inhuman "unbeatable" resilience.

The death of Lancelot in the movie Excalibur is totally "Rage Beyond Death" (the zealot capstone.) Returning to the battlefield, Lancelot aggravates his old self-inflicted wound which will inevitably be fatal. He's a dead man walking, clutching his side and about to fall over, yet still decimates any who would stand against him. Finally, he finds Arthur who absolves him and restores his honor, at which point the rage fades and Lancelot dies.

Anyway, that's how I'd do it.

I thought he healed Arthur's wounds in one of the stories? He was the most powerful knight but that could just mean he's higher level.
 

epithet

Explorer
That's great man! Do you think the Oath of Penitence needs a fey element or something to reflect that?

I think that after leaving the Lady of the Lake to join the Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot devoted himself to Arthur and to the Christian God. When he lost his honor he devoted himself to Guinevere, and then again to God in repentance. I don't recall him carrying a sense of duty to some watery tart. Not that he wouldn't remain fond of the moistened bit, just that he wouldn't necessarily be swearing oaths to her or at her.

Regarding the 20 Con score, I'd use that because it is the pinnacle of mortal stats. Above 20 is supernatural, although if you were to take Lancelot the Zealot to level 20 he could go as high as 24.

I don't remember Lancelot ever healing anyone's wounds. It would be remarkable in particular with Arthur, since the scabbard of Excalibur would prevent those wounds in the first place. It was only facing Mordred, when Arthur set aside Excalibur to show utter contempt for the usurper, that he became vulnerable and received the head wound that required centuries of convalescence in Avalon.
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
I think that after leaving the Lady of the Lake to join the Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot devoted himself to Arthur and to the Christian God. When he lost his honor he devoted himself to Guinevere, and then again to God in repentance. I don't recall him carrying a sense of duty to some watery tart. Not that he wouldn't remain fond of the moistened bit, just that he wouldn't necessarily be swearing oaths to her or at her.

Regarding the 20 Con score, I'd use that because it is the pinnacle of mortal stats. Above 20 is supernatural, although if you were to take Lancelot the Zealot to level 20 he could go as high as 24.

I don't remember Lancelot ever healing anyone's wounds. It would be remarkable in particular with Arthur, since the scabbard of Excalibur would prevent those wounds in the first place. It was only facing Mordred, when Arthur set aside Excalibur to show utter contempt for the usurper, that he became vulnerable and received the head wound that required centuries of convalescence in Avalon.

Well that element might not be specifically fey, but something that in Lancelot's case could be interpreted as that. Really I was thinking more "malignant influence that is essential to the character's penitence". In this case it could be Guenevere too, but in the larger scale (making the Oath of Penitence as applicable as possible so it usable by the largest number of gaming groups) it might do to include something written in that keeps one of these paladins tottering on and off the i-beam of their faith.

I could do with a little Constitution boost for the Oath of the Penitence though--I like the "ask for forgiveness" thing because it's really fitting, but it's definitely a touch on the weak side. Should this be a straight Constitution bonus (in which case probably just +1 increase) or hit points or what? Advantage on Constitution saving throws? Fun sidenote: Lancelot does have a story about healing, but it's more about him asking for somebody to get healed.
 

epithet

Explorer
I think the enduring appeal of Lancelot is his struggle. Percival is pure, and is held up as an icon of virtue, but that's his nature--he doesn't have to work for it. Lancelot embodies the struggle of man in medieval myth: to rise above his nature and achieve perfect devotion to his king and to God. Lancelot's tale comforts the reader because despite him being greater than any of us will ever be, he still fails to control his passions and is consumed by his lust for Guinevere. Nevertheless, he is not a villain in the story, and remains a sympathetic character who finds redemption and atonement, ultimately being forgiven by Gawain or Arthur.

The influence of the fey in Lancelot's origin reinforces the wildness and primal essence of his otherwise mortal nature, and represents both the power that Lancelot commands in battle and the urges that he strives to control and to elevate himself above. I personally like the idea that if Lancelot were to ever achieve the sanctified ideal and free himself of his passions, he would lose his might in combat. In fact, when he went full-on penitent as a peasant priest in Excalibur, he was not a warrior or a hero, and became a nobody. At the end of the movie, he embraces his full nature as if to say "Lo, I am horny and angry, but wouldst thou forgiveth me any how? For I shall smite thine enemies with might and gusto anon!"

I don't know that I would give Lancelot a power boost from his oath. For him, the oath (Chivalry, Christian virtue, fidelity to his king, etc.) is his ideal, but one that remains fundamentally unattained, and perhaps unattainable. Lancelot's power comes from his flaws and limitations; the primal savagery that gets him into trouble is the only thing that offers him a path out of it.
 
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Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
I think the enduring appeal of Lancelot is his struggle. Percival is pure, and is held up as an icon of virtue, but that's his nature--he doesn't have to work for it. Lancelot embodies the struggle of man in medieval myth: to rise above his nature and achieve perfect devotion to his king and to God. Lancelot's tale comforts the reader because despite him being greater than any of us will ever be, he still fails to control his passions and is consumed by his lust for Guinevere. Nevertheless, he is not a villain in the story, and remains a sympathetic character who finds redemption and atonement, ultimately being forgiven by Gawain or Arthur.

The influence of the fey in Lancelot's origin reinforces the wildness and primal essence of his otherwise mortal nature, and represents both the power that Lancelot commands in battle and the urges that he strives to control and to elevate himself above. I personally like the idea that if Lancelot were to ever achieve the sanctified ideal and free himself of his passions, he would lose his might in combat. In fact, when he went full-on penitent as a peasant priest in Excalibur, he was not a warrior or a hero, and became a nobody. At the end of the movie, he embraces his full nature as if to say "Lo, I am horny and angry, but wouldst thou forgiveth me any how? For I shall smite thine enemies with might and gusto anon!"

I don't know that I would give Lancelot a power boost from his oath. For him, the oath (Chivalry, Christian virtue, fidelity to his king, etc.) is his ideal, but one that remains fundamentally unattained, and perhaps unattainable. Lancelot's power comes from his flaws and limitations; the primal savagery that gets him into trouble is the only thing that offers him a path out of it.

What about something like this?

Hedonist Zealot
Also at 7th level, you recognize that an element of your soul is forever embroiled, learning to respect and even benefit from this inherent, primal flaw. You have disadvantage on ability checks and saving throws to resist a source that has caused you to break your previous paladin oath. Otherwise the turmoil that encompasses your thoughts lights a fire in your heart, granting you 1 additional hit point per paladin level and advantage on saving throws to resist the charmed condition.
 


Kobold Boots

First Post
I think that after leaving the Lady of the Lake to join the Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot devoted himself to Arthur and to the Christian God. When he lost his honor he devoted himself to Guinevere, and then again to God in repentance. I don't recall him carrying a sense of duty to some watery tart. Not that he wouldn't remain fond of the moistened bit, just that he wouldn't necessarily be swearing oaths to her or at her.

Regarding the 20 Con score, I'd use that because it is the pinnacle of mortal stats. Above 20 is supernatural, although if you were to take Lancelot the Zealot to level 20 he could go as high as 24.

I don't remember Lancelot ever healing anyone's wounds. It would be remarkable in particular with Arthur, since the scabbard of Excalibur would prevent those wounds in the first place. It was only facing Mordred, when Arthur set aside Excalibur to show utter contempt for the usurper, that he became vulnerable and received the head wound that required centuries of convalescence in Avalon.

Lancelot healed the seven wounds of Urry, who then became one of his men-at-arms. It wasn't a traditional healing, I believe there was a macguffin of some sort involved, but at the time he was the only knight available worthy enough to channel the healing.
 

epithet

Explorer
Lancelot healed the seven wounds of Urry, who then became one of his men-at-arms. It wasn't a traditional healing, I believe there was a macguffin of some sort involved, but at the time he was the only knight available worthy enough to channel the healing.

Doesn't sound like an issue of restoring hit points. It seems as though Urry was brought in because sources of healing that were expected to work didn't, and somehow Lancelot effected the equivalent of a greater restoration spell, thereby allowing the wounds to heal.
 

Kobold Boots

First Post
Doesn't sound like an issue of restoring hit points. It seems as though Urry was brought in because sources of healing that were expected to work didn't, and somehow Lancelot effected the equivalent of a greater restoration spell, thereby allowing the wounds to heal.

Agreed. Only reason I posted was to speak to the instance that likely has everyone screaming Paladin when it may very well be better to characterize him another way.
 

Wiseblood

Adventurer
All this talk of fey ancestry and upbringing leads me to believe that human is not the right fit for Lancelot. Fighter; Battlemaster. Race?
 

Kobold Boots

First Post
All this talk of fey ancestry and upbringing leads me to believe that human is not the right fit for Lancelot. Fighter; Battlemaster. Race?

If you're referring to all the fey love from players who want more fey in their games, then game on.
If you're referring to the literature that pretty clearly states that Lance is completely mortal born, then do not pass go and don't collect 200 bucks.
 

Wiseblood

Adventurer
If you're referring to all the fey love from players who want more fey in their games, then game on.
If you're referring to the literature that pretty clearly states that Lance is completely mortal born, then do not pass go and don't collect 200 bucks.

Fair enough, I would still say battlemaster though.
 


Jay Verkuilen

Grand Master of Artificial Flowers
Why make him a Paladin at all? My understanding of the source material was that Galahad or Percival were the really holy ones. Lancelot was the consummate warrior. I'd make him a Fighter with the Cavalier archetype, not a Paladin.

I also agree that one way to represent the "best swordsman of the Round Table" is simply to make him higher level. The knights aren't all the same level, given that some are clearly younger and less experienced than others. That said, I'm kinda dubious of characters with markedly lower stats than 18 or 20 in their prime requisites. Does anyone make characters like that? I totally agree with making Wisdom his dump stat, though.
 
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Kobold Boots

First Post
That said, I'm kinda dubious of characters with markedly lower stats than 18 or 20 in their prime requisites. Does anyone make characters like that?

Yup. Helps when the DM actually tells players that the challenges will be scaled to them so they get to create the character they want instead of the one the game desires stats for.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Lancelot is a Fighter (Battlemaster in 5e) who rises in fame and ability to a Crown Oath Paladin, betrays his oath to crown and king...does that make him an Oathbreaker paladin? In 5e, I'd say no... and ends up a penniless classless ascetic/monk/possibly fully ordained priest. I suppose you could make him a pacifist cleric who uses no arms or armor if you want.

But I wouldn't even grant him spells...an NPC mendicant or pilgrim or some other penitent looking for absolution. He's certainly not getting any spells or god-granted powers for shtupping his sworn liege's wife and forsaking his duties and honor. No siree, Bob. He'll be hunting after atonement for quite a while.

So it would depend on where in his story one encounters him to determine what it is he'd be in 5e terms.
 

Pauln6

Explorer
Given that many paladin spells need not reek of magic when observed, I think a few paladin levels would probably cover off some of his abilities. Not having read any of the stories, it's hard to be accurate but magic items or fey charms might be able to fill in some of the blanks.

As for stats, when recreating literary characters, stats should only be maxed where the character is noted as being exceptional in that ability through the narrative. So if Lancelot is stated to be of great strength then 18 might be suitable. If stated as the strongest then 19 or even 20 might be right. Otherwise 16 or 17 is fine.
 

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