Dark Knight (3.5e Prestige Class)
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|“||We are Kaladon; We do not yield to any force, from the lowest man, to the mightiest of gods, when they dare strike at our kind. The darkness we harness from the depths of our own souls shall be our swords.||”|
|—Benjamin Grimms, Former Minister of the Kaladonian Empire|
In the third dawn, the fabled Kaladonian Empire ruled over much of Loupe, and warred with the Solean Dynasty and Kingdom of Lionel. The enemies of Kaladon had managed to stand against the superior forces of Kaladonian heavy infantry, with most credit being due to the leadership and power of Holy Knights and Fell Knight found in large numbers within enemy ranks, especially those of Silverfell in later conflicts. While Kaladon had similar units, a history of secularism in social circles caused them to be rare, and thus placed Kaladon at something of a disadvantage. Utilizing the best minds that the old empire had to offer, the Dark Knight eventually emerged. It failed to produce the intended results, but through the harnessing of powerful, dark forces, the units brought forward a power that rivaled the divine blessings of their counterparts.
Making a Dark Knight
The Dark Knight has the potential to deal massive amounts of damage to a large number of enemies. They also have the ability to kill enemies instantly or quickly with some of their abilities. They are also very resilient to most status ailments and harmful effects. This does not make the Dark Knight invincible as they need hit points to use most of their abilities and thus suffer from low hit points more than most other classes. They also have a very limited weapon selection and can not use shields, usually resulting in a lower armor class than that of other fighter types. They also are very limited in skill selection. Dark Knights can help in a party by acting as a shield for the spell-caster or rogue type, but most some of their abilities being tied to darkness can hinder just as much as help. The Dark Knight will on most occasions have few hit points after or close to the end of an encounter and should stay in good regards to the party healer.
Abilities: Constitution is a very important ability for the dark knight as almost all of his abilities use some of his hit points to use. Intelligence is also important as it allows the dark knight to use his abilities more often.
Races: Any, but most likely human, due to the Kaladonian Origin.
Starting Gold: 6d4×10 gp (average starting gold. 150 gp).
Starting Age: Moderate.
|Base Attack Bonus:||+7|
|Skills:||Knowledge(Arcana) ranks 5
Knowledge(Religion) ranks 5
|Special:||Dark Knights were a special type of augmented combatant that was kept secret to all but the Kaladonian Empire. To progress in the class, the character must become aware that they exist and recreate the power that allows their abilities, or have been trained by another Dark Knight who has already done so; Both are unlikely.|
|1st||+1||+2||+0||+0||Darkness, Improved Toughness|
|2nd||+2||+3||+0||+0||Absorb, Second Wind 1/day|
|5th||+5||+4||+1||+1||Doom, Second Wind 2/day|
|8th||+8/+3||+6||+2||+2||Black Sky, Second Wind 3/day|
|10th||+10/+5||+7||+3||+3||Death Pact, Deathproof|
Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the dark knight.
Darkness (Su): At 1st level a dark knight can sacrifice an amount of hit points, up to their Dark Knight level x their Constitution modifier, to deal an amount of negative energy damage equal to one half the amount of hit points sacrificed to all enemies in a 20ft radius on the ground centered on the dark knight. A reflex save (10 + one half Dark Knight level + Intelligence modifier) can be made for half damage. The Dark Knight can maintain this area with the sacrifice of additional hit points. If he chooses to do so, this effect lasts for 1 additional round for as long as the Dark Knight can provide the initial cost at the beginning of each round, and any enemy that remains inside the area takes the initial damage with no save. Using this ability is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.
Improved Toughness: Dark knights gain the improved toughness feat at 1st level.
Absorb (Su): A number of times per day equal to the dark knights Intelligence modifier the dark knights can absorb the life force of others with a melee touch attack as a standard action, dealing 1d6 points of negative energy damage for every three dark knight levels. The damage dealt in this many is absorbed as hit points and the user heals by an amount equal to the damage dealt, but not more than the subject’s current hit points + 10, which is enough to kill the subject. This does not provoke an attack of opportunity.
Second Wind (Ex): As a move equivalent action, a Dark Knight of 2nd level and higher gain the ability to restore a number of hit points equal to their Dark Knight level + their Constitution modifier once per day and one additional time per day every three levels thereafter. This does not provoke an attack of opportunity.
Blood Blade (Su): At 3rd level, a Dark Knight can sacrifice an amount of hit points to gain a profane bonus on attack and damage rolls, the amount of hit points sacrificed is equal to double your dark knight level for each +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls.
Blood Counter (Ex): Dark knights of 4th level or higher can take a penalty to armor class to gain attacks of opportunity to the enemy that hits you during this time of weakness. As a free action, once per round on his turn, he can take a -10 to AC to gain an attack of opportunity on any enemy that strikes you within the next round. You may make a number of attacks of opportunity during this time equal to your Intelligence modifier. This is limited to the amount of Attacks of Opportunity that the character can make under normal circumstances. This ability does not stop the enemies attack.
Doom (Su): At 5th level, as a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity, a dark knight can sacrifice an amount of hit points, at a minimum of half his current hit points, to deal an amount of negative energy damage equal to four times the amount of hit points sacrificed to one enemy within 60ft in 2d6+3 rounds after the ability is used, Fortitude save (10 + one half Dark Knight level + Intelligence modifier) for half damage. This ability ceases to take effect if the Dark Knight is not present or is dead when it would activate.
Vicious Blade (Su): Dark knights weapons are infused with a negative energy, at 6th level the Dark Knights weapons have the Vicious magical property applied to them. The Dark Knight can suppress and activate this effect as a swift action.
Seal Fate (Su): The dark knight learns to drain the life force of an enemy with a critical strike. At 7th level when the dark knight scores a critical he/she can choose to gain an amount of hit points equal to ½ the damage dealt.
Black Sky (Su): At 8th level, a Dark Knight can sacrifice an amount of hit points, up to their Dark Knight level x their Constitution modifier, to deal an amount of negative energy damage equal to the amount of hit points sacrificed to all creatures in a 30ft radius in all directions centered on the dark knight, reflex save (10 + one half dark knight level + Intelligence modifier) for half damage. This effect creates an area of magical darkness, with the same dimensions as the original ability that lasts for 1d4 additional round for every 12 hit points sacrificed. Using this ability is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.
Charon (Su): As a standard action, that does not provoke an attack of opportunity, a dark knight of 9th level can sacrifice an amount of hit points equal to his current hit points to force a single foe within 30ft to make a Fortitude save or die (10 + one half dark knight level + Intelligence modifier + 1 for every 20 hit points sacrificed) to negate.
Death Pact (Su): Once per day, as a swift action, a dark knight of 10th level, for a number of rounds equal to their Constitution modifier + their Intelligence modifier, suffers no penalty, including death, for dropping to -10 or lower hit points. If the dark knight is at -10 or lower hit points at the end of this duration the dark knight suffers all penalties for being at or below this amount, including death.
Deathproof (Ex): Dark knights of 10th level become immune to all death effects.
Playing a Dark Knight
Religion: The Dark Knights of Ancient Kaladon lived in a culture that was typically self-reliant, and believed that worshiping deities was due to weakness and reluctance, on the part of mortals, to fend for oneself. As it stood, the usually was directed towards the Pantheon and it's followers, though the Aesir were not often received or worshiped, either. The latter found themselves more tolerated, however, and the occasional follower could be found amongst the Dark Knights.
Other Classes: Due to their penchant for negative energy, or powers otherwise seen as unholy, Druids, Paladins, and Rangers shun the company of Dark Knights. Due to their inability to harm undead with their abilities, many good Clerics dislike their presence while evil Clerics and Necromancers do not mind working with them. Bards find the company of Dark Knights worth their time since they are legendary in their own right, and have made for sad heroes in song. Barbarians and Monks are often unnerved by the unnaturalness of a Dark Knight's powers but they can respect their prowess in battle. Fighters, wizards, sorcerers, and rogues tend to be more neutral and can function in the presence of a Dark Knight with few problems arising.
Combat: Dark Knights are typically front line fighters and are best supported by those with access to powerful healing spells.
Advancement: Dark Knights, as they were, are typically trained Knights who have distinguished themselves thoroughly or have otherwise been given the opportunity to have their natural abilities augmented by dark, mortal rituals, stressing the body to the point at which it draws on its own latent powers for survival. Other classes have been known to don the armor of the Dark Knight, as well, but only the hardiest of characters ever survive. Given the permanent alterations of the body that come with the class, the Dark Knight's power can never be suppressed, outside of rare circumstances such as Miracle or Wish, or the direct intervention of a deity.
In contemporary times, there are no Dark Knights present in Tirr, aside from the curious case of Desolo Kane. This is because the rituals and methodology of creating Dark Knights was lost with the Fall of Kaladon.
Dark Knights in the World
|“||All men, kin, and even gods are made of the same blood, forged long ago. The difference is only that Gods knew how to use it, until our kind appeared.||”|
|—Telmeth, Elven Dark Knight|
Dark Knights, in present day Tirr, are unheard of. Largely the case in all regions, they are known only as a small order of knights under the Kaladonian banner, who appeared in documents just before the great cataclysm that destroyed the empire. Since Kaladon mostly kept the methodology to creating Dark Knights within the Empire's upper echelons, it is highly unlikely that anyone else might ever take up their mantle.
Daily Life: Dark Knights are not so much different than normal characters. They are not the dreaded warlords that people see them as, but rather a brand of knight that taps into the powers locked inside their mortal vessels, whereas Holy Knights and Fell Knights tap into powers divine. Still, this does cause them to be somewhat ostracized, barely understood, and unapproachable, and many Dark Knights have to develop insensitivity to others in order to make Daily Life bearable.
Notables: Desolo Kane, a Dark Knight from Kaladonian times, was somehow preserved beyond his normal lifespan by Benjamin Grimms, a man turned Lich, and used as an experiment to somehow provide a cure to an ancient, deadly disease.
NPC Reactions: Other characters typically see the Dark Knight as one would typically see the name: A type of mysterious, malevolent force that appears in the shape of charred armor, and uses profane arts to destroy would-be foes. This, while not true in most cases, is highly accepted among the common people. This is because the Dark Knight has not been relevant in reality for thousands of years, and all that is known of them is the name, alongside their fallen nations' penchant for war with other nations.
Dark Knight Lore
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (History) can research Dark Knights to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|5||Dark Knights were a regiment of Knights under the Kaladonian rule, and they served until the end of the empire, just a few decades after they appeared.|
|10||Dark Knights were an attempt by the Kaladonian Empire to seize the powers of Holy Knights and Fell Knights, without having to turn to the gods.|
|15||A Dark Knight is not, as the name implies, a force of evil or darkness that persecutes the good and just. The name comes from the fact that the powers the Knight wields draw upon the latent energies of the mortal vessel, often damaging the vessel in return for results.|
|20||The existence of the Dark Knight proved, once and for all, that the same divine energies that are blessings unto Holy and Fell Knights exist naturally within man and kin, but latently.|