Black Knight (3.5e Prestige Class)
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|“||'Tis but a flesh wound!||”|
|—The Black Knight, Human, Black Knight|
The black knight is the epitome of ruthlessness on the battlefield. Through years of combat experience, they have honed both their martial and strategic skills to unmatched levels. When a battle starts, the black knight will usually be found behind the battle lines, directing his armies and coordinating combat efforts, but when the battle gets tense, they will often wade into the thickest knot of the fighting, tanking large numbers of enemies with his supernatural endurance and decimating the opposition with his unholy strength.
Becoming a Black Knight
The Black Knight prestige class is pursued almost exclusively by Fighters who specialize in heavy armor and weapons, though it can be pursued by Paladins or Clerics who have fallen, especially those who have taken levels in Blackguard.
|Base Attack Bonus:||+10|
|Special:||Str 18 or higher, Con 18 or higher. Must have been a participant in at least one large-scale battle.|
|2nd||+2||+3||+0||+3||Master Tank Bonus Feat|
|3rd||+3||+3||+1||+3||Aura of Command|
|4th||+4||+4||+1||+4||Master Tank Bonus Feat|
|6th||+6||+5||+2||+5||Master Tank Bonus Feat|
|7th||+7||+5||+2||+5||Champion of Blood OR Champion of Death|
|8th||+8||+6||+2||+6||Master Tank Bonus Feat|
|9th||+9||+6||+3||+6||Blood Bonus Feat/Death Bonus Feat|
|10th||+10||+7||+3||+7||Perfect Champion, Perfect Tank|
Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level)
Black Knights do not gain any special abilities or feats after tenth level.
Black Knights are ponderous, inexorable, and brutal. Some of their class features come from their raw power and experience, while others come from the dark powers which take an interest in the Black Knight's large-scale bloodshed. All of the following are class features of the Black Knight. The DC for the black knight's abilities is equal to (10 + black knight's level + black knight's Charisma or Intelligence modifier (whichever modifier is higher)).
Great General: Any creature that is part of a black knight's army gains a +2 bonus on all attack rolls, including the black knight. At level five, this bonus increases to include a +1 bonus to damage rolls.
Master Tank: The black knight aspires to be the most powerful figure on the battlefield. He may not swing the hardest or move the fastest, but no one can rival him when it comes to endurance. At second, fourth, sixth, and eighth levels, a black knight can choose one of the following abilities as a bonus feat. All bonuses stack.
Plate Specialization: While most people find full plate to be restrictive and cumbersome, the black knight is more than willing to sacrifice speed for the added protection. While in full plate, a black knight gains damage reduction 2/- and +2 AC. Furthermore, the armor check penalty is reduced by one.
Aggressive Defense: A black knight who takes this ability must always fight defensively, and the bonus he gains from fighting defensively is doubled. Furthermore, any enemies who can see, hear, or otherwise detect him must make a Will save or be compelled to direct their attacks (including spell-like, supernatural, and extraordinary abilities) and spells solely towards the dark knight.
Dark Protection (Su): Some black knights specialize more towards pure martial skill, but some actively seek out the added power the darkness grants. A black knight with Dark Protection gains an aura of evil detectable by anyone with the ability to see such auras. This aura cannot be hidden or suppressed by the black knight. Furthermore, the black knight gains +1 AC, damage reduction 1/-, and a +1 bonus on all saving throws.
Aura of Thorns (Su): Requires Dark Protection. A black knight with Aura of Thorns can activate or suppress it at will as a free action. Any creature striking the black knight with a melee attack takes damage equal to the black knight's damage reduction.
Supernatural Toughness: The black knight gains +2 Constitution.
Supernatural Strength: The black knight gains +2 Strength.
Aura of Command (Su): Starting at third level, the black knight can use suggestion once per round as a free action on any creature.
Dark Presence (Su): Starting at fifth level, the black knight gains an aura that mimics a magic circle against good.
Dark Champion: At seventh level, a black knight gains the blessing of whichever dark powers he worships, choosing to either gain vampiric powers through the blessing of Blood or necromantic powers through the blessing of Death. Becoming a Champion requires a full day of rituals and materials worth at least 20,000 gp, plus an additional specific cost for Blood or Death.
Champion of Blood: The Rituals of Blood require blood from at least 8 Medium living creatures. Each size category away from Medium affects the amount of blood by a factor of 4 (Small creatures have ¼ the blood of a Medium creature, Large creatures have 4 times as much). A black knight who chooses the blessing of Blood gains +2 Cha. In addition, he gains the ability to drain the life force of any creature whose blood his blade touches, three times per day. He is healed for damage equal to the damage he dealt. For every 10 points of damage dealt, the black knight gains +1 Con or Str, the black knight's choice. This bonus lasts for 1 round per black knight level. At ninth level, he gains one of the abilities below.
Blood Barrier (Su): A Champion of Blood who chooses Blood Barrier allows the black knight to use blood to shield himself from damage, rather than healing damage he's already taken. While using his draining power, he can create a shell of hardened blood around his armor. This shell gives him total cover and must be destroyed before the Champion of Blood can be damaged. It has hardness 5 and hit points equal to the damage he dealt while using the draining ability. As a standard action, a Champion of Blood can cause any amount of damage to himself to create a blood barrier from his own blood.
Blood Boil (Su): Blood Boil allows the Champion of Blood to destroy his enemies from the inside out. He gains two uses of blood boil a day. As a standard action, the Champion of Blood can excite the blood of all enemies within 30 ft, dealing 2d6 damage + Cha modifier (no save), ignoring damage resistance less than -/magic. Blood boil does not heal the Champion of Blood.
Blood Drain (Su): The Blood Drain ability allows the Champion of Blood to draw the life force of his enemies from a distance. He gains one additional use of his life draining ability, and it gains a ranged function with a range of 5ft per black knight level. The ranged attack deals 1d6 damage + death knight level + Cha modifier. Blood Drain is a ranged touch attack.
Champion of Death: The Rituals of Death must take place in a graveyard or mausoleum over a century old. In addition, the black knight performing the rituals must sacrifice either someone very close to them (spouse, parent, lifelong friend) or a Lawful Good paladin or cleric of at least 10th level. A black knight who chooses the blessing of Death gains +2 Int. In addition, the Champion of Death gains animate dead as a spell-like ability three times per day. Any undead under the command of a Champion of Death gain double the bonuses of his Great General ability (a total of +4 attack, +2 damage). A Champion of Death can also smite good at will, for total extra damage equal to twice his black knight level per day, and is under the continuous effect of deathwatch. At ninth level, he gains one of the abilities below.
Aura of Death (Su): Some Champions of Death are powerful enough to exude Necromantic magic. Any creature that dies within fifty feet of a Champion of Death has a 10% chance +1% per black knight level +1% per point of Int modifier to rise immediately as a zombie or skeleton (50/50 chance) under the control of the Champion of Death. Up to (twice the black knight's level + his Int modifier) HD of undead created in this way can be controlled, and do not count towards the maximum HD of undead the Champion of Death can control with animate dead.
Improved Necromancy (Su): A Champion of Death who focuses his power on Necromancy gains create undead as a spell-like ability once per day, using twice his black knight level to determine the strongest undead that can be created. In addition, his animate dead ability does not require a complete dead body. A piece of a corpse as small as a single hand can be used to create the skeletons or zombies. This does allow a Champion of Death to create multiple undead from a single corpse.
Speaker for the Dead (Su): A Champion of Death who is a Speaker for the Dead focuses on the souls of the dead rather than the bodies. He gains the option to create ghosts with his animate dead ability, and a +2 Int, +2 Wis bonus from the whispers of the spirits in his mind.
Perfect Tank: At tenth level, a black knight has mastered his skill in drawing threats off his cohorts and enduring the resulting beating. Plate Specialization's bonuses double to DR 4/-, AC +4. Aggressive Defense grants the black knight a +2 circumstance bonus to AC while fighting defensively and doubles the black knight's effective level for determining the Will save. Dark Protection's bonuses double to DR 2/-, AC +2, and +2 on all saving throws. Aura of Thorns deals damage equal to twice his damage reduction. The bonuses from Supernatural Strength and Supernatural Toughness triple, to +6.
Perfect Champion: At tenth level, the black knight's connection to his dark deities reaches its maximum potential. The Champion gains an additional ability from their list. The inherent stat bonus for the Champion is doubled, and their abilities are enhanced as described below.
Perfect Champion of Blood: The Blood Drain and Blood Boil abilities' damage increase to 2d6, and the Champion of Blood gains an additional use per day. Blood Barrier's hardness increases to 10.
Perfect Champion of Death: Improved Necromancy now also grants Create Greater Undead once per day. Aura of Death's base raising chance increases from 10% to 30%. If the roll for Aura of Death is below 10%, the Champion of Death can pick an undead from the create undead list. Speaker for the Dead gains an additional +2 Int and Wis, and can create Wraiths (or Dread Wraiths, if the target has enough HD), with his create undead ability.
Black Knights who cease to be Evil lose all Supernatural powers and Champion abilities. They must atone for their transgressions and repeat the ritual (if necessary) to regain their powers.
Playing a Black Knight
Combat: Black knights serve as front-line generals, leading their forces and absorbing all of the enemies' attacks. Typical victory for a black knight comes through outlasting opponents, rather than swift, decisive triumphs. Champions of Blood are more often found on the front lines, while Champions of Death will stay just out of the fighting, focusing his efforts on raising undead to replenish the fallen and overwhelm his opposition.
Advancement: Black knights are heavy Fighters, and are extremely specialized into this role. Most black knights will continue taking levels in fighter after maxing the black knight class, though some may cross into Cleric or Blackguard to gain divine spells.
Resources: Black knights very rarely interact with each other. They intentionally give each other a wide berth to avoid disputes over territory or plunder, though black knights of the same alignment may occasionally join forces for a single battle or campaign. Black knights usually have a network of resources and personnel that they can draw upon, especially if they are in the service of an evil emperor or king.
Black Knights in the World
|“||If your enemy defies you, serve him steel and fire. But if he bends the knee, you must help him back to his feet, else no man will ever kneel to you.||”|
Black knights, the vast majority of the time, are leaders. Whether they have their own army or are a general in the service of a monarch, they lead and direct armies. Occasionally, and usually, only when another black knight is controlling the strategy, black knights, and especially Champions of Blood, will take on a purely combative role, standing at the very front of the army he is part of.
NPC Reactions: Black Knights are feared and often hated by NPCs of any good alignment. Lawful neutral and chaotic neutral NPCs have slightly better opinions of lawful evil and chaotic evil black knights, respectively, often agreeing with their actions, if not their methods. True neutral and evil characters see black knights as pillars of power, flocking to them or attempting to hire them for their own nefarious purposes.
Black Knight Lore
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (History), Knowledge (Local), or Gather Information (if a black knight has operated in the area), as well as any Bards, can research black knights to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|11||Black knights are powerful front-line generals.|
|16||There are two kinds of black knights: Champions of Blood and Champions of Death.|
|21||They get their power from vast personal experience, as well as dealings with darkness. They can affect their opponents' minds with supernatural influence.|
|26||Champions of Blood are almost vampiric, and Champions of Death are necromantic. The Champion rituals require live sacrifices.|
Black Knights in the Game