Black Knight (3.5e Class)

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The Black Knight is the pillar behind which the legions of evil may rally. Great leaders and greater warriors, they are adept at wielding the forces of darkness against do-gooders everywhere, and often also against other rival or would-be dark lords. Some Black Knights are fallen paladins, turned to darkness for the promise of power unattainable by orthodox means; some are men emboldened by the fire of ambition, bent on conquest and glory through bloodshed and warfare; others yet are servants of dark powers, enacting their will however they can.

Abilities: The class's primary abilities are Strength, Constitution, and Charisma. Strength is important for determining attack and damage rolls, as most often Black Knights are melee warriors; Constitution is important for increasing the Black Knight’s hit points, making them harder to kill; and Charisma is important because it determines many of the DCs for the Black Knight’s abilities. Wisdom is also a good choice to increase the Black Knight’s willpower and for a couple of abilities’ saves.

Races: Any race.

Alignment: Any Evil.

Starting Gold: 6d4× 10 gp (150 gp)

Starting Item(s): The Black knight starts with any medium or heavy (non-full plate) armor, any two simple or martial weapons, a shield, and a starting kit of their choice, as well as the unholy symbol of their patron god (if they have one).

Starting Age: Moderate

Table: The Black Knight

Hit Die: 1d10

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +2 +0 +2 Show of Strength 1/day, Life on the Battlefield, Aura of Evil
2nd +2 +2 +0 +2 Great General
3rd +3 +3 +1 +3 Show of Strength 2/day, Move Unhindered
4th +4 +3 +1 +3 Bonus Feat
5th +5 +4 +1 +4
6th +6/+1 +4 +2 +4 Show of Strength 3/day, Advantageous Fighter
7th +7/+2 +5 +2 +5 Mettle
8th +8/+3 +5 +2 +5 Parry and Riposte, Bonus Feat
9th +9/+4 +6 +3 +6 Show of Strength 4/day
10th +10/+5 +6 +3 +6 Frightful Presence
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +3 +7 Weapon Mastery
12th +12/+7/+2 +7 +4 +7 Show of Strength 5/day, Bonus Feat, Hide Weaknesses
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +4 +8 Demon Soul, Weapon Mastery
14th +14/+9/+4 +8 +4 +8
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +5 +9 Show of Strength 6/day
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +9 +5 +9 Aura of Unbreakable Will, Bonus Feat
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +10 Master of the Battlefield
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +10 +6 +10 Show of Strength 7/day
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +6 +11
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +12 Pillar of Evil, Bonus Feat

Class Skills 6 + Int modifier per level (×4 at 1st level) Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con),Craft,Diplomacy (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Intimidate (Cha),Jump,Knowledge (Arcana, Geography, History, Local, Religion, and the Planes), Listen (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis),

Class Features[edit]

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The Black Knight is proficient with all armor, all shields (including tower shields), simple and martial weapons, as well as any conventional siege weapon.

Life on the Battlefield: The Black Knight is well acquainted with the sort of people who would try to stab him in the back the moment he gave them the chance, often quite literally. At level 1, the Black Knight gains the Uncanny Dodge ability. They cannot be caught flat-footed, even if the attacker is invisible. They still lose their dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. At level 7, this improves to Improved Uncanny Dodge. This means the Black Knight can no longer be flanked. In order for a rogue to sneak attack a Black Knight that has this ability, they must have at least four more rogue levels than the Black Knight’s.

Aura of Evil (Su): The Black Knight radiates an aura of evil equal to his Black Knight level. If they gain the Aura of Evil ability from another class, that class’ levels stack for the purposes of determining the strength of the Black Knight’s aura.

Show of Strength (Su): The Black Knight looks upon a single foe he wishes to show his true strength to. Any melee weapon or improvised weapon that is wielded by a Black Knight is charged with a dark, sinister power; this may take the form of a black flame, unholy lightning, some other (purely cosmetic) effect, or no effect at all. Against one target, the Black Knight receives half their charisma bonus (if any) plus half their black knight level (min. 1) as a bonus on all attack rolls, and deals an additional point of damage per 2 Black Knight levels against the target (min. 1 point of damage). In addition, they receive a deflection bonus to AC equal to half their charisma modifier against the target. Against an outsider, dragon, undead, or a creature with levels in paladin, antipaladin, blackguard or cleric, the bonus on attack rolls is increased to the Black Knight's full charisma bonus plus their full level, the bonus on damage rolls is increased to 1 point of damage per Black Knight level, and the deflection bonus to AC against that target increases to the Black Knight's full charisma modifier. These bonuses last until the target is slain or the Black Knight regains uses of Show of Strength.

The Black Knight may use Show of Strength 1/day starting at 1st level, plus an additional time per day at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter.

This ability is similar in nature to the Paladin's Smite ability; however, unlike the Paladin’s Smite ability, a Black Knight must “win” their fight against the target of Show of Strength (“winning” constitutes either defeating your opponent (lowering HP to 0 or killing them) or having your opponent disengage the battle). Admitting defeat when you have shown your full strength to your opponent is a serious matter to a Black Knight. Failure to win, be it by going unconscious or being forced to flee for one’s life, results in forfeiting all uses of Show of Strength and followers forgoing the benefits of Great General. These effects persist until the Black Knight completes a long rest or “wins” against the aforementioned opponent.

Note: For the purpose of qualifying for feats, a Black Knight’s Show of Strength ability is treated as a “Smite Evil” and/or “Smite Good” class feature.

Great General (Ex): The Black Knight's strategies are well known and gain the respect of others. At level two, the Black Knight gains the leadership feat. Any followers or cohorts of the Black Knight gain a morale bonus of +2 on all attack rolls and a +1 on all damage rolls. At level 8, the bonuses increase to +4 on attack rolls and +2 on damage rolls. At level 16, these bonuses increase to +6 on attack rolls and +4 on damage rolls. Once per day, the Black Knight may grant these bonuses to himself and any allies within 100 feet of non-good alignment as well, even if they are not followers, for 1 minute.

If the Black Knight has taken the “Undead Leadership” feat, these morale bonuses can apply to undead as well, manifesting as a profane bonus rather than a morale bonus.

Move Unhindered (Ex): The Black Knight has full range of movement on the battlefield. At level 3, the Black Knight receives no movement penalty when wearing medium armor. At level 9, they have full movement even when wearing medium or heavy armor. In addition, the armor check penalty provided by any worn armor or shield decreases by 1 point per 2 levels of Black Knight, to a minimum armor check penalty of 0, and the maximum Dex bonus allowed by the armor or shield increases by 1 per 2 levels of Black Knight. At level 14, the Black Knight increases their movement speed by 10ft. This applies to any form of movement the Black Knight may have.

Aura of Unbreakable Will (Su): At 3rd level, the Black Knight’s unbreakable will and resolve begins to show. The Black Knight becomes immune to fear and pain effects, and confers a +4 bonus on saves against such effects to all allies within 20 feet of them.

At 8th level, the Black Knight becomes immune to all charm effects, and confers a +4 bonus against such effects to all allies within 20 feet of them.

At 17th level, the Black Knight becomes immune to all compulsion effects, and confers a +4 bonus against such effects to all allies within 20 feet of them.

Bonus feat: When the Black Knight reaches his 4th level, he gains a single bonus feat. He gains an additional feat every fourth level thereafter (8th, 12th, 16th, and so fourth). The Black Knight must still meet all prerequisites for the bonus feat chosen.

Advantageous Fighter (Ex): The Black Knight is adept at exploiting his enemies’ weaknesses and striking before his opponent can react. A Black Knight gains the Improved Initiative feat at level 6 and the Lightning Initiative feat at level 14.

Mettle (Ex): At 7th level, the Black Knight gains the Mettle ability, meaning that if they make a successful Will or Fortitude save against an attack that normally would have a lesser effect on a successful save (such as any spell with a saving throw entry of Will half or Fortitude partial), they instead completely negate the effect.

Parry and Riposte (Ex):The Black Knight is adept at switching between offense and defense, and weaving the two together in combat. Starting from 8th level, while fighting defensively the Black Knight’s bonus to AC is increased to +4, and when taking the the Total Defense action their bonus to AC is increased to +6. In addition, when the Black Knight begins their turn fighting defensively/in total defense, they may stop fighting defensively and gain a +4 bonus on attack and damage rolls that expires at the beginning of their next turn. Starting from 14th level the Black Knight may also now combine Combat Expertise with fighting defensively and Total Defense.

Frightful Presence (Ex): When the Black Knight reaches his 10th level, their mere presence is intimidating to those beneath them. They receive a Frightful Presence, with a radius of 30 feet +5 feet per hit die the Black Knight possesses beyond 10 HD. This includes racial hit dice and hit dice from other classes. DC is equal to 10 + 1/2 total HD + charisma modifier, and on a failed save the target is shaken. Failure by 10 or more results in the subject being frightened, and failure by 15 or more results in the subject being panicked. This ability only affects those with less HD than the Black Knight. A successful save means that the target is immune to this Black Knight’s frightful presence for 24 hours. This ability can be triggered by an action such as a menacing glance, gaze, or stare, or by the drawing of one’s sword (In other words, it is not passive, unless the Black Knight wishes it to be). A war cry, or a roar or growl for monstrous Black Knights, is also acceptable.

Legendary Tactician (Ex): The Black Knight is a master of tactical knowledge and experience, and is respected for it. At level 10, the Black Knight adds their wisdom bonus in addition to any other modifiers when calculating leadership score.

Hide Weaknesses (Ex): As a master of finding the weaknesses of their enemies, Black Knights know how to hide their own weaknesses well. At level 12, a black knight gains damage reduction 2/- and +2 AC while wearing heavy armor. These bonuses increase by +1 every 6 levels (18, 24 and so forth).

Demon Soul (Su): Upon reaching level 13, the Black Knight seeks to cement his power and dominance over all things by conquering the spirit of a demon. This process consists of a ritual requiring 5,000 gp in treasure per point of CR of the demon being summoned (minimum of 60,000 gp for a CR 12 demon, as specified later), the heart of a good-aligned humanoid, a binding circle which must be inscribed on a flat, level surface, and a gem or symbol for a focus. The Black Knight must then succeed on a DC 28 Knowledge (Arcana) check to summon the demon. If successful, the goods for the ritual are consumed and the specified demon is summoned; if unsuccessful, the goods are not consumed and the Black Knight must wait another week to attempt the ritual again. Every time the Black Knight fails this check, they receive a cumulative +1 circumstance bonus to their next Knowledge (Arcana) check for this ritual. Once the demon is summoned, it must be slain; the demon will defend itself as normal, however it cannot use its summon ability (if any) and is affected as though under the effects of a dimensional anchor spell for 10 minutes. The Black Knight may also not be helped by any ally or outside force; outside intervention of any kind, intentional or unintentional, ruins the binding magic of the ritual and the demon is free to summon reinforcements or return to the Abyss. Once the demon is slain, the Black Knight must make a will saving throw, opposed by the demon they slew. If the Black Knight succeeds (success meaning the Black Knight's will saving throw is greater than the demon's) he successfully dominates the demon's soul; if he fails, he takes 4 points of wisdom and charisma drain and the demon returns to the abyss, where it reforms. Success means that the demon's soul is turned into pure power, and absorbed into the gem or focus of the ritual, which becomes brittle. Crushing this focus allows the Black Knight to absorb the demon's soul, which turns into pure power and fuses with the Black Knight's own soul. In addition to acquiring a permanent +4 bonus to Charisma and Wisdom scores, the Black Knight receives a profane bonus to all saving throws equal to their charisma modifier, and gains the ability to use the soul to empower themselves 3 times per day. Summoning forth the demonic energies which are fused with their soul, their prowess becomes reinforced with dark power. Empowering oneself is a free action, which grants the Black Knight a profane bonus to AC, attack rolls, damage rolls, saves, and skill checks equal to 1/4 the CR of the demon they slew to acquire this ability, rounded down. These effects persist for 1 minute.

This ritual may be performed several times, though each additional ritual costs an extra base 20,000 gp in treasure in addition to normal costs. Each time the ritual is successfully performed, the empowerment bonus is changed to match the CR of the demon most recently slain in this ritual. For example, the Black Knight may attempt this ritual at level 15 and slay a glabrezu. A glabrezu is a CR 13 monster, so the empowerment bonus for this ability would be +3. Later, when the Black Knight is level 20, they may attempt this ritual again on a marilith, which is CR 17. If successful, the Black Knight's new empowerment bonus will be +4.

Weapon Mastery (Ex): With every passing day, with every passing strike, your weapon seems lighter and lighter in your hands. Upon reaching level 13, the Black Knight’s weapon almost seems weightless in their hands. The Black Knight can now use any two handed weapon with one hand with no penalties and gains a permanent +2 bonus to their strength score. In addition, one handed weapons are treated as light weapons for the purposes of two-handed fighting.

Master of the Battlefield (Ex): When others would fall to a stray arrow or be crushed by a boulder from a catapult in the chaos of battle, the Black Knight stands strong. At level 17, the Black Knight gains DR 10/- and a +5 bonus to their AC when there are 10 or more enemies within a 50 foot radius of themselves.

Pillar of Evil (Ex): At 20th level, the Black Knight becomes the pinnacle of domination, an impeccable conqueror, warrior, and leader. They gain the Impetuous Endurance class feature; they no longer automatically fail a roll of 1. They may still fail the check if their result is less than the DC. Additionally, 3 times per day the Black Knight may rally themselves and their allies against all odds. Doing so grants the Black Knight and all allies within 100 feet a +4 on any roll and AC for 3 turns.

Playing a Black Knight[edit]

Religion: Any deity, within 1 step of your alignment (Ex. Lawful Evil Black Knight can worship a Lawful Neutral deity or a Neutral Evil deity. While uncommon, Black Knights sometimes choose to follow no god, choosing instead to live by their own might and their own power.

Other Classes: Black Knights get along with other classes generally well, so long as they are of similar alignment and... disposition. Two Black Knights that travel or work together may become great rivals or arch-nemeses; it depends on the individuals. Black Knights often also take levels in Fighter, Cleric, Ur Priest, Blackguard, and other classes of the like.

Roleplaying a Black Knight: A Black Knight should be ambitious and willing to win using whatever means are necessary. They aren’t afraid to fight dirty if they have to to get the job done. Black Knights are conquerors by nature, though whether they are independent or servants of greater powers is up to the individual. Their power is in domination and persistence; avoid situations where the Black Knight is at a disadvantage, or high risk of losing. When unable to do so, ensure that the Black Knight does not over-extend themselves and embarrass themselves, especially in front of their followers.

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