Death Knight (3.5e Class)

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Death Knight[edit]

Life is nothing but a futile spark, struggling against the darkness but ultimately doomed to failure. I represent the darkness that lies at the end of all. So how can you expect to stop me?
—Baron Lightstalker, devourer of the 13th Soul

A grim and silent order of knights, deathknights are conduits of the negative energy plane. Having sworn their lives in the pursuit of death and undead, they wander the lands looking for chances to increase the power of death and the dead. Deathknights are a rare sight, as not many have the devotion and are not attuned enough to the negative energy plane to become deathknights. The first deathknight was made in a pact between a powerful lich and a bitter ex-paladin. The ex-paladin swore his life to death and the undead and in return received profane powers from the lich. Deathknights can be found wandering the land solitary or leading a pack of undead. They could be found working as a lieutenant of a powerful lich or necromancer, or even as a warlord intent on conquering. All deathknights follow the code made by the first deathknight, and some even add to it. They hold honor in great reverence, saying a man without honor is not worthy to live, and shun those who break agreements. Some embrace undeath and become ghouls, death knights, wights, vampires or swordwraiths.

Races: The races most attracted to being deathknights are humans. With their short lifespan they wonder what lies after death and death knight gives them the ability to be death. Elves and half-elves are also known for being deathknights since they are very adept at using blade and magic in battle. Dwarven and orcish deathknights are also not unknown but orcs generally lack the discipline to become deathknights and dwarven deathknights are shunned by their clan. Halflings and gnomes rarely, if ever become deathknights. Male drow occasionally become deathknights, as even female drow have to show some small respect for these dark warriors. Shadar-kai also have a number of deathknights among their ranks, who typically focus entirely on ridding their race of the shadow curse.

Deathknights and other classes: A deathknights works best with more lawful classes and those that share his outlook. A deathknight can get along well with knights, monks, and even paladins in the short term, as long as the deathknight can somehow conceal his alignment. They respect fighters and barbarians for their power and combat prowess. Deathknights can work with druids, but only those who do not see undead as abominations. Deathknights find bards and some rogues to be lacking in honor, and dislike working with them. Favored companions are also clerics and dread necromancers who share the deathknight's outlook on things. Wizards and sorcerers who specialize in necromancy find the combat prowess and undead-related abilities of this class helpful.

Mercenaries devoted strongly enough to a life of war that they carry on in death their endless campaign of destruction may find this class attractive. A deathknight slain in battle may return as a Sword Wraith if his services were hired under false pretenses or if his exploits were particularly impressive before his life finally ended (at the discretion of the DM).

Evil Bastards them deathknights, honorable yes, but evil.
—Thander Bladepoint, wandering knight

Game Rule Information[edit]

Abilities: Like most combat-oriented classes, Deathknights depend heavily on Strength and Constitution. Charisma is vital to the deathknight's abilities.

Alignment: Any Starting Gold: 6d4 x 10gp (150gp)

Table: The Deathknight
Hit Die: d12

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Special Profanities
1st +1 +2 +0 +2 Profanities +2 1
2nd +2 +3 +0 +3 Netherblast 1d6, Mounted Combat 1
3rd +3 +3 +1 +3 Deathshroud, Defense of Terror 2
4th +4 +4 +1 +4 Rebuke Undead, 2
5th +5 +4 +1 +4 Netherblast 2d6, Profanities +3, Shadowmeld 1/day, Death thralls 2
6th +6/+1 +5 +2 +5 Detect Undead 3
7th +7/+2 +5 +2 +5 Blessing of the vampire 3
8th +8/+3 +6 +2 +6 Netherblast 3d6, 4
9th +9/+4 +6 +3 +6 Bonus Feat 4
10th +10/+5 +7 +3 +7 Profanities +4, Shadowmeld 2/day 4
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +3 +7 Netherblast 4d6 5
12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +4 +8 Bonus Feat 5
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +4 +8 Honorbound 6
14th +14/+9/+5 +9 +4 +9 Netherblast 5d6 6
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +5 +9 Profanities +5, Shadowmeld 3/day 6
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +5 +10 Bonus Feat 7
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +10 Netherblast 6d6 7
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +6 +11 Bonus Feat 8
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +6 +11 Wraithshift 8
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +12 Netherblast 7d6, Revenant, Profanities +6, Shadowmeld 4/day 8

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level; ×4 at 1st level)
Climb (Str),Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomancy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str),Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty) (Int), Knowledge (Religion) (Int), Listen (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), and Spot (Wis).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the Death Knight:

Weapon and Armor proficiencies: A Deathknight is proficient with simple and martial weapons and with light, medium and heavy armor.

Restrictions: You must always follow the code of death knights. If you violate any of these, you lose all special abilities of the class, and you can only regain them via an Atonement spell cast by a cleric with the Death or Repose domain.

Profanities (Sp): At Level 1 you learn how to project a Profane Aura. You start knowing one aura from the table below, and learn one additional aura for each three levels that you gain. You can manifest only one profanity at a time until you reach level 10, at which point you can use two at a time. These profanities are continuous and can be switched on or off as a swift action.

You gain a Profanity score, starting at 2, which increases by +1 at every 5 levels. The profanity score affects how powerful the aura's effect is. Profanities effect a 60 ft. circle around yourself, unless stated otherwise.

Death Knight Profanities
Name Description Ability Granted
Unholy vigor You gain a sense of power and your body almost moves by itself, The power of negative energy strengthens you. You and your allies gain a profane bonus to attack rolls equal to your Profanities score.
Soulflay A faint purple haze hangs around you, the bane of all living. All living things suffer as the negative energy plane is brought closer this world. Everyone (including allies and yourself) receive negative energy damage equal to your Profanities score every round at the start of your turn. Undead creatures instead heal that many hit points per round (though they can’t exceed their full normal hit point total from this effect).
Gravemist The area around you is covered in a darkblue mist. The air also becomes colder, the chill of death strengthens the dead. Allied Undead receive Turn Resistance equal to your Profanities score, except against your own Rebuke attempts.
Terrorize The air around you grows darker, your eyes become glowing red and screaming ghosts wisp around you. Enemies within the area of your Profanity aura must make a will save (DC=10+ 1/2 Death Knight level+Charisma Modifier.) or become shaken, receiving a penalty to their attack rolls equal to your Profanity score. Opponents immune to fear effects are not subject to this ability.
Death Armor The air grows colder. Your armor starts to give off a faint black light and the earth where you stand becomes barren of life; The Death Armor has come. Enemies within the aura are dealt 2 points of negative energy damage per point of your Profanities score when they deal damage to you or your allies.
Deathwind The air is in turmoil, the wind beats against your enemies, who are pushed out of balance. You and your allies are unaffected by the raging of the wind. You and all allies within your aura gain damage reduction 1/- per point of your Profanities score.
Etherfloat You are carried aloft by an ethereal wind that only seems to affect you. You float 2 inch per Profanities score above the ground. If there is no ground within that distance you fall slowly as per Feather Fall spell.
Soulreaver Your blows not only cut into flesh and bone but also into your enemies' very soul. You and your allies gain a profane bonus to weapon damage rolls equal to your Profanities score. This damage is negative energy damage (+1 per profanity). You and your allies must actually damage your opponent before this bonus is applied.

Mounted Combat: At 2nd level, you gain Mounted Combat as a bonus feat.

Defense of Terror (Ex): When you reach 3rd level, an opponent that begins its turn in your threatened area treats all the squares that you threaten as difficult terrain. Your deathly vigilance and terrifying defensive maneuvers force your opponents to move with care.

Rebuke Undead (Su): At 4th level, you gain power over undead. You can Rebuke undead as an evil cleric of your level -3.

Detect Undead (Sp): At 6th level, you gain the power to detect undead at will, as the spell.

Bonus Feat: At 9th level, you gain a bonus feat chosen from the following list: Animal Affinity, Diehard, Endurance, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Quick Draw, Ride-By Attack, Spirited Charge, Trample, or Weapon Focus (lance). You must still meet any prerequisites for the feat. You gain an additional bonus feat from this list at 12th level, at 16th level, and again at 18th level.

Honorbound: If you die while trying to uphold an oath, agreement or contract and you die, thus making you unable to uphold your agreement, you rise as a Sword Wraith (gaining the template) an hour after being slain. This is permanent, and you can only be brought back to life through a Wish or [[SRD:Miracle|Miracle].

The bandit lord smirked when he saw the warrior go down.

The princess is ours lads, she'll fetch a high price on the slave market but he faltered in his sentence when he heard a bone-chilling voice Not while I still wield my sword!.

The bandit watched in horror as the knight rose again, grasping his blade, ready to strike down those who opposed him."

Deathshroud (Su): You are protected from attacks by a host of screaming souls which add your profanity bonus to your AC. This bonus starts at 3rd level. When the terrorize profanity is activated the souls emit horrible shrieking noises.

Icy blue flames surround you, and when you look closely you see faces distorted with agony in the flames. The flames seem to protect you from attacks.

Netherblast (Sp): Once every 5 rounds, you can project negative energy damage with your hand or your blade.

When activated through your hand, as a standard action, it manifests in a 30-feet cone. Enemies are allowed a Reflex save (DC 10 + half your level + Cha bonus) for half damage.

When used through your blade, as a swift action, the weapon lights up with unholy energy, which is unleashed on the next target you hit. The attack must be made within the same turn.

Your hands glow with the unnatural color of coldfire, you channel this through your blade and release a burst of darkness that seems to eat at the essence of your enemies.

Blessing of the Vampire (Sp): This ability is the same as Netherblast with the following differences. You heal damage equal to the same amount of damage dealt by your Netherblast. This ability is usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + your charisma bonus.

Your hands glow with an eerie green glow as you hold it up, it seems to draw in the life energies of those around you, rejuvenating your inner reserves of strength.

Revenant (Su): Once per day, when you are reduced to below -10 hitpoints you can force your soul to keep powering your body, Activating this ability is an immediate action. You can stay active for a number of rounds equal to your charisma bonus(Minimum 1), once this time period ends the effects of your damage continue normally, E.G: If you are still below -10 hp and you had been hit with a disintegrate spell you revert to a pile of ashes.

As you are hit by an attack that should have killed you, you fight on draining your inner reserves of strength to fight on.

Death Thralls (Sp): You can Reanimate monsters with your dark energies. You can use Animate Dead as a spell-like ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your charisma bonus. Caster level is your class level. You can only reanimate creatures that you have slain yourself (either by dealing the death blow or inflicting a large amount of the damage that killed it).

As you slay the enemy, you force its soul from your blade back in its body, reanimating the corpse to serve you as a thrall.

Wraithshift (Su): You gain 20 ft. fly speed with average maneuverability. When you fly, your appearance is cloaked in a shadowy haze, resembling a wraith.

As you lift off unto the air you grow wings of shadowy darkness around you that carry you aloft into the air.

Shadow Meld (Su): A deathknight can travel from one shadow to another, in order for this ability to work, the shadow that the deathknight trying to use must be completely dark and must cover his/her body. Using this ability is a standard action and the range one Deathknight can travel from one shadow to another is 180 feet. A Deathknight can take only 1 target with him through the shadow, along the journey, the target cannot leave the Deathknights side and is considered helpless unless he/she has reemmerge through the other side. Notewise, the deathknight can not do anything to the target unless they are on the other side. The Deathknight gains this ability 1/day at lvl 5 and one additional time per day every 5 levels after.

Death Knight Code:[edit]

Lawful Evil[edit]
  1. The First Allegiance is to Death, not Life. The first allegiance demands that the Deathknight show no mercy in combat. He strikes to kill, always. The first allegiance also demands that the Deathknight take no special care to stave off the death of others. A fallen comrade is considered weak, thus useless to the group and party. Incidentally, these, together, make it very hard to take prisoners. Deathknights often will make a point of murdering those who they've "only" incapacitated, though this is not always a rule.
  2. The Second Allegiance is to Undeath, and its Glory. The second allegiance demands that a deathknight further the cause of undeath. If the undead are rampaging, he takes command. Deathknights do not oppose the undead without due reason (i.e. the undead being itself is opposing death and undeath, or harming the cause of death and undeath).
  3. The Third Allegiance is to Honor, as it lasts for all of Eternity. The third allegiance demands that a deathknight be honorable. In this, his word is his bond, once sworn he shall uphold it so long as his trust is not broken, even against his convenience. After all, the undead live forever. An additional ramification is that many deathknights contract themselves to limited durations, aware of the possibility of rising as undead themselves and being still sworn to their bond. Deathknights also are very keen to exact vengeance for slights against them, or return favors for previous kindnesses. Honor demands it.
Chaotic Neutral[edit]
  1. The First Allegiance is to Death, not Life. The Death Knight forsakes everything that binds him to Life, his desires, his feelings, his loved ones. He exists only to serve death. He must protect sites where the dead are laid to rest, and he must ensure that all slain allies and enemies receive proper rites for their passage to the afterlife. Only death itself decides when to take a life, and it is not for mortals to question this decision. Magic that brings the dead back to life is forbidden, and the Death Knight may neither use it himself nor accept the use of it for himself. Only direct divine intervention can bring a Death Knight back to life (Wish or Miracle spell). Only divine mandate should dictate if the Death Knight should live past his/her due time.
  2. The Second Allegiance is to Death, not Undeath. The Undead try to cheat the natural cycle of life, and the Death Knight must use every available means to stop them and restore natural order.
  3. The Third Allegiance is to Honor for all of Eternity. The third allegiance demands that a Death Knight be honorable. In this, his word is his bond, once sworn he shall uphold it so long as his trust is not broken. His word is to stand forever, like death itself. Death Knights are expected to repay kindness with kindness and insult with vengeance.

Ex-Death Knights: If you break an oath, agreement or contract, or grossly violate the Death Knights code you lose your class abilities, and you may not progress any farther in levels as a Death Knight until an Atonement spell is cast on you.

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