Death Knight (3.5e Prestige Class)
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|“||There is no horror you have seen that can prepare you for what I am about to reveal.||”|
Those who take up the Black Banner of the Death Knights in the name of powerful evil gods are unnaturally cruel men. A Death Knight's sword lusts for the blood of the innocent and their evil influence draws undead to serve them.
Becoming a Death Knight
Warriors that take the path of the Death Knight seek the power that this class commands. Though rare, sometimes good warriors are cursed by an evil deity, having their minds twisted by their abominable nature. The unwilling Death Knight will have to deal with their own unholy powers.
|Base Attack Bonus:||+5|
|Skills:||Knowledge (Religion) 5|
|Special:||Must have had contact with an Evil Outsider or an Evil Deity.|
|1st||+1||+0||+0||+2||Sword of Death, Aura of Evil, Aura of Desecration|
|2nd||+2||+0||+0||+3||Army of the Dead|
|3rd||+3||+1||+1||+3||Bonus Feat, Sphere (Bone)|
|5th||+5||+1||+1||+4||Corpse Bomb, Sphere|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level)
The Death Knight's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Religion) & (Nobility) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Spot (Wis)
All of the following are class features of the Death Knight.
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: The Death Knight gains no new proficiency with armor or weapons.
Aura of Evil (Su): A Death Knight gives off a faint Aura of Evil, regardless of their actual alignment.
Aura of Desecration (Su): A Death Knight gives off a 20-foot radius emanation of desecration, imbuing their surroundings with negative energy. This ability works as the spell, desecrate. All undead within 20 feet of the Death Knight (including the Death Knight, if they are undead) gain a +1 profane bonus on attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws, and +1 hit point per HD. Charisma checks made to turn undead within this area take a –3 penalty. A Death Knight's Desecrating Aura cannot be dispelled except by a dispel evil spell or similar effect. If the effect is dispelled, the Death Knight can choose to resume it as a free action on their next turn. Desecrating Aura is suppressed if the Death Knight enters a consecrated or hallowed area, but the Death Knight’s presence also suppresses the consecrated or hallowed effect for as long as it remains in the area.
Life and Death: At the DM's discretion, at first level the player may choose to transform the Death Knight into a Vampire, Ghoul, Revenant, or Sword Wraith. Rules for playing as or becoming these undead creatures are found in the Tome of Necromancy (DnD Other). In addition, a Death Knight may qualify for and use Necromantic Feats using their Base Attack Bonus instead of a caster level.
Sword of Death (Su): A Death Knight can transform his weapon into a black instrument of destruction. Any melee attacks made by the Death Knight inflict 2d6 of Unholy damage against living creatures (1d6 if the target creature has the [Evil] subtype, 3d6 if the target creature has the [Good] subtype).
Army of the Dead (Su):A 2nd level Death Knight may raise undead as per animate dead or create undead with a caster level equal to his hit dice.
Spheres: At 3rd level, a Death Knight gains access to the Sphere of Bone. At 5th level, he may choose to advance the Sphere of Bone to Advanced, or choose from either Fire, Carnage, or Frostbite. Spheres are explained in the Tome of Fiends (DnD Other).
Bonus Feat: At 3rd level, the Death Knight gains a [Combat] or [Fiend] feat he meets the prerequisites for.
Corpse Bomb (Su): Once a Death Knight's HP is dropped to -10 or lower, their corpse, as well as any undead they were currently conrolling, explodes, dealing 2d6+(half the Death Knight's total HP, rounded down) to any creature within 5 feet the corpse or corpses. Any undead that were destroyed prior to the Death Knight reaching -10 HP do not explode.
Death Knights are natural antagonists for an adventure or even a campaign. One can also make a great tortured hero in the event of being an unwilling Death Knight. Players wishing to be Death Knights should beware the social implications that this class entails.
Playing a Death Knight
Combat: A Death Knight can expect to be in melee, but his spell-like abilities gained from their Spheres add some versatility to his options. If one has the stomach for it, he can animate corpses and build himself a useful group of undead minions to have in combat. The Sphere of Fire also gives him the ability to scorch the earth. However, all of the spell-like abilities granted by their spheres are only useable once a day (unless the Death Knight takes a Fiend class and picks up the Spheres again).
Advancement: A Death Knight would do well to maintain their Good BAB progression. Since they now qualify to take Necromantic Feats, it would be useful for one to do so (because those minions sure are handy). They may also branch into a Fiendish class of some sort to also gain more Fiend abilities—particularly Spheres. Non-evil Death Knights will probably go into a martial class, possibly the same one they were before they became a Death Knight.
Death Knights in the World
|“||I am a reasonable undead man. How about you stop running away, so I can kill you faster?||”|
|—Galich Lonzer, Lord Lodosk, undead human Death Knight.|
Whether they are the ruthless generals of undead armies or afflicted heroes who strive to have the curse broken, Death Knights are, first and foremost, individuals. Death Knights as a whole have no formal organization, but it's possible for some to work together—particularly those who have military ambitions. Of course, the evil army-building Death Knights are the ones who get remembered, and the popular perception of a Death Knight is an evil warlord leading his undead hordes across the land.
NPC Reactions: Most people fear the undead. They fear those who can command them even moreso. That being said, it all comes down to the Death Knight himself. It is very possible for one to earn respect and tolerance if he's didn't seek his position and continually shows that he is, well, not a bad guy.
Death Knight Lore
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (Religion) can research Death Knights to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|11||Death Knights are warriors with powers over death. They can raise corpses and are naturally suited to lead groups of undead.|
|16||Death knights gain more magic as they get stronger. Their powers seem to be over undeath and fire.|
|21||Not all Death Knights are evil. Some are actually noble people who have run afoul of evil deities.|
Death Knights in the Game
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