Dark Knight (3.5e Prestige Class)
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|We are Kaladon; We do not yield to any force: not the lowest man, nor to the mightiest of gods. The day has come for mortals to harness the powers within, rather than reaching out toward the heavens, hands outstretched.
|—Benjamin Grimms, Former Minister of the Kaladonian Empire
In the third age, 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, and therefore allow him to use them more often. Strength is also important, as most Dark Knights are heavy, front-line fighters. Intelligence is useful late game, as it affects the Death Pact ability.
Races: Any, but most likely human, due to the Kaladonian Origin.
|Base Attack Bonus:
|Knowledge(Arcana) ranks 5
Knowledge(Religion) ranks 5
|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.
|Darkness, Improved Toughness
|Absorb, Second Wind 1/day
|Doom, Second Wind 2/day
|Symbol of Fear, Second Wind 3/day
|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 to create a zone of negative energy centered on themselves, damaging all living creatures around them as a standard action that does not provoke an Attack of Opportunity. The amount sacrificed is hit-die based; A Dark Knight must designate a number of hit dice, up to his own, and multiply that number by his constitution modifier – The Dark Knight takes this number as negative energy damage and this value represents the cost of the ability. The zone of negative energy is a 20ft. radius centered on the Dark Knight, and deals the same amount of damage to all creatures who are caught in or enter the zone. The duration of this effect is a single round.
A Dark Knight who spends a full-round action to invoke the Darkness ability can designate which living creatures within the area of effect are harmed by the negative energy. As this requires more time and concentration, however, a Dark Knight using this option is subject to attacks of opportunity from hostile creatures.
Improved Toughness: A Dark Knight gains the improved toughness feat at 1st level.
Absorb (Su): At 2nd level, a Dark Knight can attempt to absorb the life force of others with a melee touch attack as a standard action. If successful, the Dark Knight deals 1d6 points of negative energy damage per Dark Knight class level to the target, and replenishes his own hit points by this same amount. The absorbed hit points cannot be more than the subject's current hit points plus 10, which results in the death of the creature. This does not provoke a attack of opportunity.
This ability can be used an additional time per day at 5th level, and another additional time per day at 8th level, for a maximum of three times per day at 8th level and higher. This action provokes an attack of opportunity from hostile creatures.
Dark Mount (Sp): Upon reaching 4th level, a Dark Knight gains the ability to conjure and form a pact with an unusually intelligent, strong, and loyal steed to serve him and his needs. This mount is usually a heavy warhorse (for a Medium Dark Knight) or a warpony (for a Small Dark Knight).
Once per day, as a full-round action, a Dark Knight may perform a ritual to conjure his mount by dealing minor damage to himself (This amount is negligible). This ability is the equivalent of a spell of a level equal to one-third the Dark Knight’s level. The mount immediately appears adjacent to the Dark Knight and remains for 2 hours per Dark Knight level; it may be dismissed at any time as a free action. The mount is the same creature each time it is summoned, though the Dark Knight may release a particular mount from service.
Each time the mount is called, it appears in full health, regardless of any damage it may have taken previously. The mount also appears wearing or carrying any gear it had when it was last dismissed. Calling a mount is a conjuration (calling) effect.
Should the Dark Knight’s mount die, it immediately disappears, leaving behind any equipment it was carrying, and half the damage dealt to the mount is transferred to the Dark Knight. The Dark Knight may not summon another mount for thirty days or until he gains a Dark Knight level, whichever comes first, even if the mount is somehow returned from the dead. During this thirty-day period, the Dark Knight takes a –1 penalty on attack and weapon damage rolls.
Blood Blade (Su): At 3rd level, Dark Knight can spend a move action to infuse his weapon with negative energy. The Dark Knight must give up hit points equal to his class level, doubled. The next time his weapon strikes a living creature, Blood Blade discharges, dealing an extra 1d6 negative energy damage per Dark Knight class level.
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.
Charon (Su): As a standard action, that does not provoke an attack of opportunity, a Dark Knight of 9th level can make a melee touch attack, unarmed or with a weapon, in order to attempt to flood the target's heart with negative energy. The target, if successfully struck, must make a fortitude save or die. The DC for the saving throw is equal to the Dark Knight's class level + consitution modifier + half his hit dice. If the target successfully saves, the Dark Knight takes 3d8 points of damage from the attack backfiring.
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.
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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.