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 simply men filled with an unrighteous fervor to conquer the world.

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 Dark Strike 1/day, Life on the Battlefield, Aura of Evil
2nd +2 +2 +0 +2 Great General
3rd +3 +3 +1 +3 Move Unhindered
4th +4 +3 +1 +3 Dark Strike 2/day, Bonus Feat
5th +5 +4 +1 +4
6th +6/+1 +4 +2 +4 Advantageous Fighter
7th +7/+2 +5 +2 +5
8th +8/+3 +5 +2 +5 Dark Strike 3/day, Parry and Riposte, Bonus Feat
9th +9/+4 +6 +3 +6
10th +10/+5 +6 +3 +6 Frightful Presence
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +3 +7 Weapon Mastery
12th +12/+7/+2 +7 +4 +7 Bonus Feat, Hide Weaknesses, Dark Strike 4/day
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
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +9 +5 +9 Aura of Unbreakable Will, Dark Strike 5/day, Bonus Feat
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +10 Master of the Battlefield
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +10 +6 +10
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +6 +11
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +12 Pillar of Evil, Dark Strike 6/day, 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 types, shields, simple and martial weapons, as well as any 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. At level 8, enemies within 15 feet of the Black Knight take a -3 penalty on saving throws. This ability does not function if the Black Knight is unconscious or dead. At level 10, the Black Knight may suppress or reveal their Aura of Evil as a free action.

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 the power of pure evil. 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 a Good-aligned creature, the Black Knight adds their full charisma modifier and Black Knight level to hit and deals 1 point of damage per Black Knight level. Further, against a good-aligned outsider, good-aligned dragon, or a good aligned creature with levels in paladin or cleric, the bonus to damage is increased to 2 points of damage per level of Black Knight. These bonuses last until the target is slain or the Black Knight regains uses of Show of Strength.

However, unlike a 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). 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 forgo 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 “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 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 increase 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.

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.

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. 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, add your 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. To do so, the Black Knight must slay a demon (chaotic evil outsider) with a CR of 12 or higher. Then, both the Black Knight and the demon must make opposed will saving throws. Should the Black Knight fail, they take 4 points of charisma and wisdom drain and the demon returns to the Abyss. Should the Black Knight succeed, however, they dominate the demon’s soul, stripping away all but the raw, evil power contained within the soul. In addition to a permanent +2 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. Empowering themselves is a free action, which grants them a +4 profane bonus to AC, attack rolls, damage rolls, saves, and skill checks for 1 minute.

Weapon Mastery (Ex): Every level your weapon seems lighter and lighter. 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.

Aura of Unbreakable Will (Su): At 16th level, the Black Knight becomes immune to all hostile mind-affecting effects and confers a +4 bonus on saves against mind-affecting effects to all allies within 20 feet of them.

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 his AC when there are 10 or more enemies within a 50 foot radius of themself.

Pillar of Evil (Ex): At 20th level, the Black Knight becomes the pinnacle of domination, an impeccable conqueror, warrior, and leader. 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. Additionally, 3 times per day the Black Knight may rally himself and his 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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