Blood Knight (3.5e Prestige Class)
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|“||Ah, I love the smell of fresh corpses in the morning. Smells like... victory.||”|
|—Count Meinhard, human blood knight, while feasting on a fallen opponent|
Blood knights are an order of nongood knights dedicated to the service of vampirekind. The most dedicated and powerful blood knights eventually gain vampiric powers of their own. Many can be found in the service of vampires. Others can be found serving vampirekind in other ways. By consuming the blood of fallen creatures, they can harness a variety of unholy powers to augment their martial abilities.
Becoming a Blood Knight
The blood knight is mostly a martial class, supported by a few magical powers. Most blood knights are fighters, martially-oriented clerics, or paladins of tyranny and many also have multiclassed into a spellcaster specializing in necromancy. As with any combat-focused class, a blood knight needs a high Strength score. His special abilities are powered by his Charisma which makes them harder to resist. Constitution may seem important at first, but it becomes irrelevant at 10th level, when the blood knight takes on the vampire template.
|Alignment:||Any nongood and nonchaotic.|
|Base Attack Bonus:||+5.|
|Skills:||Handle Animal 6 ranks, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) 4 ranks.|
|Special:||Must swear an oath of service to either a vampire or to vampirekind.|
|2nd||+2||+3||+0||+3||Special Ability, Blood-Drinking Blade|
|5th||+5||+4||+1||+4||Special Ability, Blood Heal 2|
|10th||+10||+7||+3||+7||Special Ability, Blood Heal 4, Vampire Ascension, Blood Fang|
Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level)
|15th||Blood Heal 6|
|20th||Blood Heal 8|
All of the following are class features of the blood knight.
Special Ability: At each level a blood knight gains a special ability of his choice which he can use by spending blood points. He has a maximum number of blood points equal to ½ his blood knight levels + blood knight's Cha modifier (if any), but the minimum is 1.
To gain blood points a blood knight can feast for 10 minutes on the fresh blood of fallen creatures who have died within the last 10 minutes. However, the blood does not have to be considered fresh at the time the blood knight is finished. A creature's HD and basics determine how many blood points its corpse contains. No matter what the HD may be, the blood knight's HD determine the maximum blood points he may receive from feasting. The maximum HD he may feast on is ½ blood knight's HD. A blood knight may feast on multiple creatures who's HD are added together; his maximum still applies. 1 blood point per 3 HD are contained in humanoids', monstrous humanoids', giants', or outsiders' whose anatomies include a circulatory system, corpses. 1 blood point per 6 HD are contained in animals', magical beasts', or aberrations', corpses.
While within an area laced with garlic, a blood knight loses all his blood points and his special abilities cease to function. The same occurs when a blood knight is within 5 feet of a creature holding a mirror or a holy symbol. Holding one of these takes a standard action. A blood knight will also lose his blood points and his special abilities cease to function if he enters a home or other building uninvited by the person with the authority to invite people to enter, or if he crosses running water when not in the coffin home acquired once he becomes a vampire or when not aboard a ship. In addition he cannot regain any blood points for 1 day. The same occurs if he is exposed to direct sunlight, immersed in water, or if a wooden stake is driven through him. However, here he cannot regain any blood points for 4 days. The durations are not cumulative. If the blood knight has lost his blood points for a number of days due to a prior action the new duration is taken into consideration and the longer of the two prevails.
By spending 1 blood point a blood knight can use a special ability he possesses. Using a special ability is a standard action unless noted otherwise. Saves have a DC of 10 + ½ blood knight's HD + blood knight's Cha modifier. The effective caster level of the spells is equal to blood knight's HD. The following are the special abilities which blood knights can learn.
Alternate Form (Su): A blood knight can assume the shape of a bat, dire bat, wolf, or dire wolf as alternate form as long that shape has the same or less HD then his blood knight levels. He can remain in that form for 1 hour (if the base creature is not terrestrial this might allow other forms, for example a swarm of Diminutive batlike shadows).
Armoring of Death (Su): A blood knight can make his armor stronger and ignore damage, as a free action. He gains a +1 deflection bonus to his AC and gains damage reduction 1/silver and magic for 1 minute. For every level he advances past 1st level as a blood knight, the bonus gains 1 ½ greater potency (a rounded 1 at 1st level, 3 at 2nd level, a rounded 4 at 3rd level, 6 at 4th level, and so on).
Lifeforce Strike (Su): A blood knight can make his weapon more powerful, as a free action. He gains a +1 bonus on all attack rolls and damage rolls he makes for 1 minute. For every two levels he advances past 1st level as a blood knight, the bonus gains +1 greater potency (+1 at 1st level, +2 at 3rd level, +3 at 5th level, and so on).
Offspring of the Night (Su): Blood knights command the lesser creatures of the world and can call forth a rat swarm, bat swarm, or a pack of 1d3 wolves (if the blood knight is not terrestrial this might summon other creatures of similar power). These creatures arrive in 2d6 rounds and serve the blood knight for up to 1 hour.
Blood Heal (Ex): A blood knight heals damage each round so long as he has at least 1 hit point. At 5th level a blood knight can spend 1 blood point, as a free action, and gain fast healing 2 for 5 rounds. Its effects stack with other forms of fast healing.
At 10th level this increases to fast healing 4.
At 15th level, and every 5 levels thereafter, the epic blood knights fast healing increases by +2 (to +6 at 15th, +8 at 20th, and so on).
Vampire Ascension: At 10th level, a blood knight takes on the vampire template. Instead of being immediately destroyed at 0 hit points or less his blood points enable him to survive. At the start of his turn while dying, as long as he has a blood point to spend he is considered disabled for that round, costing 1 blood point. He also retains his attacks and grows fangs, giving him a natural bite attack which can be used secondarily with the same damage as a vampire's slam attack. His coffin home also provides him with fast healing 5, which stacks with other forms of fast healing, whenever he lays in it and it can sustain him without spending blood points if he is at 0 hit points or less (as noted above).
Blood Fang (Ex): At 10th level, a blood knight can suck blood from a living victim with his fangs by making a successful grapple check. He must declare whether he drains blood with blood drain acquired as a vampire, or blood fang. Blood fang deals 1d4 points of Constitution drain each round the pin is maintained. On each such successful attack, the blood knight gains 2 temporary hit points and 1 blood point.
Bonus Feats: The epic blood knight gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic blood knight feats) every 3 levels after 10.
Epic Blood Knight Bonus Feat List: Armor Skin, Damage Reduction, Devastating Critical, Epic Fortitude, Epic Prowess, Epic Toughness, Epic Weapon Focus, Epic Will, Great Charisma, Great Constitution, Great Intelligence, Great Strength, Negative Energy Burst, Overwhelming Critical, Superior Initiative.
A blood knight who ceases to be nongood or nonchaotic, or who violates his oath of service loses all blood knight class features. He may not progress any farther in levels as a blood knight. He regains his class features and advancement potential when he again becomes nongood and nonchaotic and has sworn an oath of service to either a vampire or to vampirekind once again.
Playing a Blood Knight
Combat: A blood knight's tactics depend on which special abilities he chooses. In addition, certain tactics are common to all blood knights.
Under servitude of a vampire or vampirekind a blood knight can be found interacting for them. He normally can be found at the forefront of encounters. His blood heal and Hit-Dice allow him to protect a weaker ally by absorbing harmful blows. This makes the party more effective overall. As he takes on the vampire template many things may change for the blood knight. The party may continue adventuring without him and then later meet up with him when effective character levels are evened, leading to many setting changes for the entire party. He may also change many aspects which he has control over in the setting. This could lead to any number of entire setting changes.
The special abilities the blood knight chooses are less effective if he is experiencing their weaknesses. A desire for blood points may influence him to instigate encounters. A blood knight who is interested in vampires' abilities of defense and melee combat may select feats like Combat Reflexes and invest in skills like Intimidate. If he is interested in vampires' abilities to command certain creatures he may select feats like Mounted Combat and invest in skills like Ride. A blood knights who is interested in vampires' changing of attack options and special actions may select feats like Deadly Precision and invest in skills like Intimidate. If he is interested in vampires' abilities of concealment he may select feats like Stealthy and invest in skills like Bluff. A blood knight who wishes to augment his service by keeping opponents and weaknesses at bay may take feats like Blind-Fight and invest in skills like Intimidate.
A blood knight's blood points affect vampire ascension. His survival technique may change the party's combat tactics. He can use his attack options to augment his special abilities, and possibly change the outcome of combat. His combat may also become more related to coffin homes, as they provide additional defense.
Advancement: Many blood knights find vampires to be well suited to any setting, and the vampires' abilities useful to overcome obstacles. Rarely will one decide to become a blood knight without prior knowledge of a vampire or vampirekind. Interacting with vampirekind may grant a direct relation to vampires, and becoming a blood knight can give characters a desired direction from there.
Many blood knights under servitude of a vampire are around other blood knights under the same servitude. Normally the vampire will decide how best to accomplish certain tasks, and expect the blood knights' servitude. Often blood knights are found assassinating opponents, guarding locations, infiltrating, and battling in strategically planned locations under the vampires' command or as guards of the vampire. Normally they engage the more dangerous opponents and let creatures they control engage the less dangerous opponents. Blood knights who choose to keep opponents and weaknesses at bay may do so as they find their service to be invaluable and wish to be a benefit to the vampire in yet another way. As vampire weaknesses are worse for a vampire then a blood knight's weaknesses are for a blood knight, vampires may have blood knights engage opponents when they cannot and complete certain necessary tasks when it is not possible for them to. Many blood knights under servitude of vampirekind influence the dynamics of groups of vampirekind. May they also adventure in a party, often they change the group's dynamics to manage their weaknesses.
Blood knights are regarded as being valuable to most vampires. Vampires relate to blood knights because of their similarities, and may assign positions of power to them as a result. Vampires also generally consider blood knights' capabilities to be more valuable then any creatures' they command, as both can command the lesser creatures of the world. Blood knights who choose to keep opponents and weaknesses at bay often are more useful to vampires as guards than by interacting in other ways. Many vampirekind, however, draw similarities between blood knights and vampire spawn. Both are useful in protecting a weaker ally by absorbing harmful blows. Where a vampire spawns' weaknesses may cause its death, a blood knights' weaknesses are not as deadly. Vampirekind normally takes this into consideration when developing strategies, however with their blood points gone their weakened state makes it senseless in a way. As a blood knight progresses, vampirekind often considers him more similar to vampires then to vampire spawn, and after vampire ascension they do.
As a blood knight progresses, feats, skills, and abilities which help him while fighting on the forefront of encounters become increasingly useful. Many things which fighters, barbarians, and blackguards consider are also good things for a blood knight to consider. Blood knights who wish to focus more on special qualities may consider things which clerics consider. Many blood knights find things which help one control crowds of opponents useful. Opponents who engage vampires in combat often consider the blood knight subversive, so a blood knight may wish to make himself unavoidable.
Resources: Blood knights under servitude of a vampire often have obligations. The vampire normally will decide much of what the blood knight does. The blood knight's loyalty is often rewarded with amenities; a degree of trust, and friendship from them. A blood knight's disloyalty can result in death. The amenities a blood knight gets from a vampire are normally regarded as valuable, as the internal conflict of vampirekind gives no guarantees of safety. Blood knights who serve vampirekind often find their own amenities, or if they are helping a cause with many related vampirekind they often share amenities. A less experienced blood knight's need for less amenities than a vampire, such as having no concern for a coffin home, may lead the blood knight to help vampirekind in different ways.
Blood Knights in the World
|“||We're still knights. We still believe in chivalry and honor and all those knightly virtues. We're just... not as friendly.||”|
|—Count Meinhard, human blood knight|
Blood knights are easier to adapt into a setting where there are vampirekind. Blood knight's forefront combat-focus and special actions resonate with fighters, combat-focused clerics, and paladins of tyranny. Such characters normally find vampires' abilities to be useful when overcoming obstacles. Others have seen the effects of vampirekind and gained an interest. Although not choosing the path of a vampire, often they wish to augment themselves with things which resonate with vampires, gain knowledge from vampirekind, attune themselves to vampires more, or later join the ranks of vampires. Blood knights can be found under a vampire's servitude. They may be its assassins, battlefield commanders, battlefield guards, sentries, or a source of its gathered information. Blood knights are seldom found far from the presence of vampirekind, and meeting a lone blood knight can mean to keep a wary eye out for many opponents. They mostly behave as vampires behave to remain effective.
NPC Reactions: A blood knight's augmentation of and obligations to vampirekind often cause others to regard him as interacting exclusively for vampirekind. Even if one knows general proceedings of vampirekind they are, however, not necessarily likely to know the blood knight's proceedings exactly. Servitude makes a blood knight's actions knowable to some of vampirekind. Many when considering blood knights and vampires draw similarities between blood knight weaknesses and vampire weaknesses if they notice changes amounting around both from the same weaknesses. Blood knights are understandably quite frightening when not being misleading, especially when one does not know the general proceedings of vampirekind.
Blood knights appear in many ways to others. When they are being misleading they can appear like any other individual. Blood knights often seem to be highly organized individuals and groups if they are under servitude of vampires with goals. If vampirekind gain control of an environment their social order may mean an end to the current social order, but many will not acquiesce willingly. Blood knights normally do not mention they are blood knights, and their presence when not being misleading is often the last thing one experiences before they die. Blood knights' forefront combat-focus often results in an understandably quite frightening presence when they are not being misleading. Wearing dark, blood-stained armor and surrounded by necromantic magic, the first instinct of most ordinary people is to flee in terror.
Many who have socially encountered blood knights find them to be austere. They are not regarded as terribly popular by many. Blood knights in combat desire to kill and often evoke shock and awe with their martial abilities and their variety of unholy powers. Blood knights consuming the blood of fallen creatures may resonate with vampirekind.
Blood Knight Lore
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (nobility and royalty) can research blood knights to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|10||Blood knights are an order of nongood knights dedicated to the service of vampirekind. Normally they can be found in the service of vampires.|
|15||By feasting on the fresh blood of fallen creatures blood knights gain use of special abilities.|
|20||Blood knights are martial warriors who are augmented with special abilities that resemble vampires' nature, and they are weakened as vampires are weakened.|
|25||The most powerful blood knights are vampires.|
Often a blood knight will be more then willing to share anything about himself to one who belongs to vampirekind, going as far as explaining which special abilities he chose, what he has been doing, what he normally does, and his plans if any. This is especially the case if a blood knight is being asked by a superior. If one does not belong to vampirekind it is much harder to find out about a blood knight, and information not gained through a Knowledge (nobility and royalty) check often is not true.
Blood Knights in the Game
Blood knights fit in as a forefront combat-focused class in a setting which incorporates vampirekind prominently. Their servitude and weaknesses, however, make them stand apart from other forefront combat-focused classes and can influence the outcome of an interaction for better or for worse. In many settings where vampirekind are less prominent than other things, blood knights fit in with more difficulty. A party often has to interact with vampirekind in some way or at least learn something about them in order for a PC to become a blood knight. In such settings the only way a party encounters blood knight can be through a quest which incorporates them.
Blood knights often take forefront combat-focused roles, confronting enemies up close and personal like a fighter. Normally their servitude and the special abilities they choose influences how they interact with others. They are regarded as being very powerful when prepared for a fight, but are regarded as inflexible and less effective when caught off guard.
Adaptation: In most settings blood knights assist vampirekind solely. The assistance they provide ranges from the intricate to the mundane. In other settings, rather than being servants of vampirekind, they are regarded as being vampire aspirants; since being a blood knight is a means to join the ranks of the immortal undead.
Sample Encounter: Perhaps the PCs are planning to raze a hobgoblin encampment and never mentioned it to locals who report to Count Meinhard, a human vampire blood knight. Perhaps the PCs are journeying in the Lower Keecheedee Basin and become outraged at the force and fear with which the basin is ruled and wish to change it by confronting Count Meinhard in his keep. Perhaps the PCs consider the taxation Count Meinhard requires of them excessive, and refuse to pay it. Perhaps the PCs need to interact with Count Meinhard about a pressing issue with which other vampirekind is dealing with. In any instance, if one is in the Lower Keecheedee Basin they can be sure to have to interact with Count Meinhard or his effects in some way, probably involving his blood knights and vampire spawn as he normally only involves himself in the most pressing of issues.
EL 17: A sarcastic, wisecracking, and joker vampire, Count Meinhard is one of the most feared and powerful men in the Lower Keecheedee Basin. He rules the basin by force and fear. His operations are centrally located at his keep, far removed from the towns and villages in the Lower Keecheedee Basin. A few locals, many in positions of power, report to him. They let Count Meinhard know the towns' and villages' plans. If their plans or methods of dealing with issues, such as fear or unrest, differ from how he planned to deal with them, then he uses force to resolve the situation. He normally has a few blood knights under servitude and vampire spawn under his command who resolve such situations, enslaving or killing all those involved. In certain situations he can order a militia to provide assistance or even, as he is no pushover, fight himself. He taxes the locals in the Lower Keecheedee Basin and if they instead pay in goods he raises their tax. Count Meinhard likes to taunt his foes with witty insults and remarks and he enjoys toying with foes he believes aren't a significant threat to him. He is a peerless and merciless warrior, and he usually rides to battle atop a heavy warhorse.