A grim and silent order of knights, death knights are conduits of the negative energy plane. Having sworn their lives to the service of the Lich Queen, they wander the lands looking for chances to increase the power of death and the dead. Death knights are a rare sight, as not many have the devotion to become one.
The first death knight was made in a pact between Maeve and a bitter ex-paladin. The ex-paladin swore his life to death and the undead and in return received profane powers from the Lich Queen. Death knights can be found wandering the land solitary or leading a pack of undead. They can be found working as lieutenants of a powerful lich or necromancer, or even as a warlord intent on conquering. All death knights follow the code made by the first death knight, and some even add to it. Some embrace undeath and become ghouls, wights, or vampires.
Fallen paladins are most likely to choose the path of the death knight, as the two are akin to two sides of the same coin. However, fighters are also common among the ranks of the death knights. Occasionally clerics and monks will find the martial power of the death knight to be an attractive choice. Arcane spellcasters and charcters that prefer to be lightly armored, such as rogues, rarely find the path of the death knight to meet their goals.
To qualify to become a death knight, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.
Alignment: Any evil.
Base Attack Bonus: +5.
Special: Blessings of the Lich Queen: The hopeful death knight must swear fealty to the Glacial Palace and pledge her life and soul to the Lich Queen. She must swear to follow and uphold the Code of Death at all times.
Game Rule InformationEdit
Hit Die: d10.
Class Skills: The following are the class skills (and the key ability for each) for the death knight prestige class: Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Profession (Wis), and Ride (Dex).
Skill Points: 2 + Int modifier.
Table: The Death KnightEdit
|+1||+2||+0||+2||Faith Points, Runeblade (unholy), Undead Minion, Bone Armor|
|+3||+3||+1||+3||Runeblade (frost), Summon Skeletal Steed|
|+4||+4||+1||+4||Profanity +3, Alabaster Skin +1|
|+5||+4||+1||+4||Runeblade (icy burst)|
|+6||+5||+2||+5||Profanity +4, Abyssal Blast|
|+7||+5||+2||+5||Runeblade (vampiric), Alabaster Skin +2|
|+10||+7||+3||+7||Profanity +6, Deathlord, Alabaster Skin +3|
The following are the class features of the death knight class:
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies
Death knights gain no weapon or armor proficiencies.
If a death knight has (or had, if an ex-member of a previous class) the faith points class feature from another class, her levels in death knight stack with that class for the purpose of determining how many faith points per day she receives. If she does not have the faith points class feature already, she gains 1 faith point per day at 1st level, and an additional faith point at level 5 and every 5 levels thereafter. The death knight may only expend her faith points as described below, to channel negative energy (if she has the channel energy class feature) or to power feats.
Faith points are regained each morning.
Whenever a new death knight is annoited, she gains the ability to imbue a weapon with the power of the Lich Queen. The death knight may choose any masterwork or magical weapon that she can wield in two hands and that deals slashing damage to become her runeblade. Common choices include greatswords, greataxes, halberds, and scythes, but any weapon that meets the criteria will do. Imbuing the weapon requires a ritual in which the death knight must find a quiet, safe place in which to meditate for 8 hours. If she is interrupted, she must begin the ritual again. Once the ritual is completed, the weapon becomes her new runeblade. A death knight can only have one runeblade at a time, and imbuing a new weapon causes the old runeblade to crumble to dust.
When a death knight first creates her runeblade, it is treated as a +1 unholy weapon.
Upon reaching 3rd level, the runeblade automatically gains the frost ability and its enhancement bonus increases to +2. Upon reaching 5th level it automatically gains the icy burst ability, and its enhancement bonus increases to +3. At 7th level the runeblade automatically gains the vampiric ability (which causes the wielder to heal 1 hit point for every successful, damaging attack she makes), and its enhancement bonus increases to +4. Finally, at 9th level the runeblade gains the biting ability (which doubles the weapon's critical range and increases its critical multiplier by 1), and its enhancement bonus increases to +5.
If the death knight imbues a magical weapon as her runeblade, it gains the enhancements and abilities above, but its enhancement bonus cannot exceed +5. If the base weapon already has one or more of the above abilities, it gains no additional benefit from that ability.
If the runeblade is ever lost or destroyed, the death knight can simply perform the ritual on a new weapon when she has the opportunity.
Undead Minion (Sp)Edit
A death knight can create an undead minion out of a corpse. By spending 1 faith point, she can use the create undead spell as a spell-like ability, except that she needs no material components. Her caster level is equal to her death knight class level + her Charisma modifier. A death knight may only have one undead minion under her control at a time. If she attempts to create an undead while already controlling one, she may choose to release her current undead minion and gain control of the new one, though the old minion immediately becomes hostile, even for a death knight with the Deathlord ability.
Bone Armor (Ex)Edit
At 1st level, a death knight learns to make and wear the distinctive bonecraft armor used by the death knights. She can produce a suit of bonecraft medium or heavy armor that would normally be composed mostly of metal. The bonecraft armor has the same cost and time to create as normal armor of that type. It is possible to spend additional time and money to produce spiked or masterwork bonecraft armor (which may then be further enhanced through magic). Only a character with this class feature can effectively wear bonecraft armor.
The armor grants a +4 cirucmstance bonus on Intimidate checks made while the death knight wears it. In addition, the armor grants her damage reduction 1/bludgeoning if it is medium armor or damage reduction 2/bludgeoning if it is heavy armor. Bonecraft armor is not metallic and not subject to spells such as chill metal or to special attacks that target metal, such as a rust monster's touch.
At 4th, 7th, and 10th levels, the damage reduction afforded by the death knight's bonecraft armor increases by 1. Moreover, she gains additional benefits while clad in the bonecraft armor, as described below:
At 4th level, the bonecraft armor grants the death knight immunity to stunning attacks and nonlethal damage.
At 7th level, the bonecraft armor has a 50% chance of negating any critical hit or sneak attack made against the death knight. In addition, the bonecraft armor allows her to act and fight without penalty even while disabled or dying.
At 10th level, the bonecraft armor grants the death knight immunity to extra damage from critical hits and sneak attacks.
A death knight of 2nd level or higher projects an aura of profane power. Each time she gains the profanity class feature (at level 2 and every even level thereafter), she may choose one of the auras below to learn. She may only project one aura at a time. Initiating or swapping auras takes a swift action. Unless otherwise stated, the death knight's profane aura covers a 60 ft. radius around her. An aura remains on for the duration of the encounter. Activating or swapping an aura costs the death knight 1 faith point.
The death knight's bone armor begins to give off a faint black light and the earth where she stands becomes barren of life. Enemies within the aura are dealt 2 points of unholy damage per point of the death knight's Profanity when they deal damage to her or her allies within the aura. For example, if a 2nd level death knight with this aura active is dealt damage, the opponent that damaged her takes 4 points of unholy damage, since the death knight's Profanity bonus is +2. If a level 5 death knight were struck, the opponent would take 6 points of damage instead.
The aura is filled with a host of screaming souls, protecting the death knight and her allies, who gain her Profanity bonus as a profane bonus to Armor Class.
The air is in turmoil, seeming to turn blows aside and soften their impacts. The death knight's allies within the aura, but not the death knight herself, gain damage reduction of 1/- per point of her Profanity bonus.
The death knight and her allies are carried aloft by an icy wind that blows from the north out of nowhere. She and her allies float 2 inches per Profanity bonus above the ground. If there is no ground within that distance, affected creatures float slowly down as per the feather fall spell.
The aura is filled with a blue-grey mist that chills the air. All allied undead within the area gain a profane bonus to Strength equal to the death knight's Profanity bonus, and a number of bonus hit points equal to double her profanity bonus.
A faint purple haze hangs in the air within the aura. All creatures, including the death knight and her allies, within the aura suffer unholy damage equal to the death knight's Profanity bonus at the start of her turn every round.
The death knight's blows, and those of her allies within the aura, cut not only flesh and bone but also into the very souls of their opponents. The death knight and affected allies deal her Profanity bonus in unholy damage with every successful, damaging attack. Even spells that deal hit point damage gain this bonus.
The air inside the aura becomes darker, floating red eyes appear throughout it, and screaming ghosts wisp around. Opponents within the aura must make a Will save (DC 10 + half of the death knight's class level + her Profanity bonus) or become panicked until they leave the aura. Those that succeed at their Will save instead become shaken until they leave the aura. Opponents immune to fear effects are immune to this aura.
The death knight and her allies within the aura gain a sense of power and their bodies almost seem to move by themselves. The death knight and affected allies gain a profane bonus to attack rolls equal to her Profanity bonus.
Summon Skeletal Steed (Su)Edit
At 3rd level, the death knight gains the services of a skeletal steed: a heavy warhorse with the skeleton template applied (or a war pony with the skeleton template applied for Small death knights). The death knight may call this steed in the same fashion as a paladin whose level equals any paladin levels the death knight has, plus her death knight class level. The skeletal steed gains the following special abilities.
|Death Knight Level||Bonus HD||Natural Armor Adjustment||Strength Adjustment||Intelligence||Special|
|3rd-4th||+2||+4||+1||6||Empathic Link, Evasion, Share Saving Throws|
Extra twelve-sided (d12) Hit Dice. Extra Hit Dice improve the mount’s base attack and base save bonuses per the skeleton template. The mount gains additional skill points or feats for bonus HD as normal for advancing a monster’s Hit Dice.
Natural Armor AdjustmentEdit
The number on the table is an improvement to the mount’s existing natural armor bonus. This stacks with the natural armor from the skeleton template and any other natural armor the base creature might have.
Add this figure to the mount’s Strength score.
The mount’s Intelligence score.
Empathic Link (Su)Edit
The death knight has an empathic link with her mount out to a distance of up to 1 mile. The death knight cannot see through the mount’s eyes, but they can communicate empathically. Note that even intelligent mounts see the world differently from people, so misunderstandings are always possible. Because of this empathic link, the death knight has the same connection to an item or place that her mount does, just as with a master and his familiar.
The mount gains the Evasion feat as a bonus feat, even if it doesn't meet the prerequisites.
For each of its saving throws, the mount uses its own base save bonus or the death knight’s, whichever is higher. The mount applies its own ability modifiers to saves, and it doesn’t share any other bonuses on saves that the master might have.
Improved Speed (Ex)Edit
The mount’s speed increases by 10 feet.
Command Undead (Sp)Edit
Once per day per two death knight levels of its master, a mount can use this ability to command undead on any normal undead, as long as the target creature has fewer Hit Dice than the mount. This ability functions like the command undead spell, but the mount must make a DC 21 Concentration check to succeed if it’s being ridden at the time. If the check fails, the ability does not work that time, but it still counts against the mount’s daily uses. Each target may attempt a Will save (DC 10 + ½ death knight’s level + death knight’s Cha modifier) to negate the effect.
Spell Resistance (Ex)Edit
A mount’s spell resistance equals its master’s death knight level + 5. To affect the mount with a spell, a spellcaster must get a result on a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) that equals or exceeds the mount’s spell resistance.
Alabaster Skin (Ex)Edit
At 4th level and higher, a death knight's skin begins to grow pale and tough, resembling marble or alabaster. Her hair also begins developing streaks of white, or may go completely white. The death knight's natural armor bonus increases by +1, or she gains a natural armor bonus of +1 if she has none. This increases by +1 at levels 7 and 10.
Abyssal Blast (Su)Edit
A death knight of at least 6th level can spend 1 faith point to unleash a blast of unholy fire. The blast fills a 20 ft. radius spread anywhere within a range of 400 feet + 40 feet per death knight class level. The blast deals 1d6 points of unholy damage per death knight level. Creatures within the area may make a Reflex save (DC 10 + half the death knight's class level + her Charisma modifier) to reduce the damage by half.
At 10th level, the death knight becomes a true instrument of the Lich Queen. She may now control a number of HD of undead minions equal to 4 x her death knight class level. Additionally, her bonecraft armor fuses with her body, and cannot be removed without killing her. However, she gains immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, disease, death effects, fatigue, exhaustion, ability damage to her physical ability scores, ability drain, and energy drain.
She is fueled by the death of the living. Whenever any living creature dies within her Profanity aura, she gains 1 faith point. This cannot cause her to exceed her maximum amount of faith points.
Finally, the death knight may affect undead, even mindless undead, with an Intimidate check, cowing them into servidute. She makes an Intimidate check (DC 10 + the total HD of the undead she wishes to intimidate). If successful, the undead are considered under her control for 1d4 minutes, even if this would put her beyond her normal maximum HD of controllable undead. The maximum range of this ability is equal to her Profanity aura.
Code of the Death KnightEdit
The First Allegiance is to Death, not Life. The first allegiance demands that the death knight show no mercy in combat. She strikes to kill, always. The first allegiance also demands that the death knight take no special care to stave off the death of others. A fallen comrade is considered weak, thus useless to the group and party. Incidentally, these, together, make it very hard to take prisoners. Death knights often will make a point of murdering those who they've "only" incapacitated, though this is not always a rule.
The Second Allegiance is to Undeath, and its Glory. The second allegiance demands that a death knight further the cause of undeath. If the undead are rampaging, she takes command. Death knights do not oppose the undead without due reason (i.e. the undead being itself is opposing death and undeath, or harming the cause of death and undeath).
The Third Allegiance is to the Lich Queen, as it lasts for all of Eternity. The third allegiance demands that a death knight be loyal. In this, Maeve's whim is the death knight's law. She can do nothing that would displease her mistress, whether through action or inaction, unless by doing so she can affect greater loyalty (such as failing to kill a prince, only to use him to gain access to the king, and then killing them both).
Should a death knight ever knowingly and willingly violate the Code of the Death Knight, she is immediately stripped of all class features of her death knight class and may not take further levels in death knight. The only way for an ex-death knight to regain her abilities and be allowed to take levels in the class again is by receiving an atonement spell cast by Maeve herself, or one of her appointed lieutenants (such as Maramaga).