Thursday, November 24, 2011

Death Knight Kit

This was created in response to a post on Dragonsfoot.

Death Knight(Fighters Only)
  Becoming a death knight is first and foremost a punishment for crimes that place a powerful knight forever beyond the codes of honor he once held. The character is completely and utterly beyond any hope of redemption, having committed crimes so heinous that even the rest of the grave is denied the character.
Requirements: A Death Knight is ALWAYS of Evil Alignment. While the vast majority are of Chaotic Evil Alignment, a significant number are Neutral Evil. Because of their betrayal of their ideals, it's completely unheard of for their to be a Lawful Evil Death Knight, though that's not to say it could not occur. The character must also have a Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma score of at least 9. The original character must have also been Human, as the curse is one lain down by human gods.
Modifications: Death Knights use the Ranger/Paladin advancement table and are unable to specialize in weapons. If a character takes this kit after first level, he is reduced/raised to the minimum required XP for his current level according to his new XP table. A death knight gains no bonus hp for having a high constitution. Nor does he gain bonuses to attack rolls or AC from a high dexterity. Because of the nature of his undead state, he gains a +1 bonus to his Strength Score, to a maximum of 18/00.
Weapons and Armor: Death Knights are unusually restricted compared to other warriors. A Death Knight with Strength high enough to grant him bonuses to attack and damage only gets to apply these bonuses when using Long, Two Handed, or Short swords. Because of his magical nature, he also only benefits from the magical effects of magical swords. For Armor, a Death Knight is limited to the armor he was wearing when he was first turned. Regardless of said Armor's AC, his AC starts out as the AC of the Armor or AC 0(whichever is worse). Not even magic items may change this.
Equipment: See Weapons and Armor. Beyond this, a Death Knight may own any equipment he wishes.
Nonweapon Proficiencies: Bonus: Ancient History, Etiquette, or Heraldry. Recommended: Any General, Warrior, or Priest Proficiency.
Special Benefits: When a Death Knight is first created he becomes an undead creature. At this point, he's not much better than the standard corporeal undead save that he uses the warrior chart for Hit Dice/Points, and he has a 10% resistance to magic, with a 1% chance to cause the spell to reflect back upon the caster. Because of the nature of the curse, though a starting Death Knight can be turned, he is unable to be destroyed by turning. In addition, the character gains the following benefits as he levels:
  • +10% Magic Resistance per level(to a max of 75%), 2% chance of spell reflection per level(to a max of 11%)
  • +1(+10%) bonus to strength score at each level to a maximum of 18/00 Strength.
  • At 4th level, the character begins to command undead as a 1st level evil priest. This ability increases as he levels.
  • At 5th level, the character generates a constant fear effect in a 5' radius
  At 7th level, the Death Knight is able to either build or take over a keep of his very own in a manner similar to a fighter. Unlike that of a standard fighter, such a stronghold becomes a haven of corruption and decay, and very little is capable of surviving near such a monument to death. By gaining a Stronghold, the Death Knight gains access to the following abilities:
  • 7th level: Immunity to turning.
  • 8th level: Able to cast Detect Magic and Detect Invisibility at will. Able to cast Power Word, Blind, Dispel Magic, and Symbol of Fear once per day. All spells are at 10th level ability. These abilities show up not at level, but at each new or full moon(DM's choice) in which the Death Knight spends in his stronghold.
  • 9th level: Able to cast Detect Magic, Detect Invisibility, and Wall of Ice at will. Able to Cast Dispel Magic twice per day. Able to cast Power word: Blind, Kill, OR Stun once per day. Able to cast Symbol of Fear OR Pain once per day. Able to cast a 20-die fireball once per day. These spells replace the 8th level spell abilities. All spells are cast at 20th level ability. They show up in the same manner as the 8th level ones. 
  • 9th level: The Death Knight's Strength is now 18/00(if it wasn't already)
Additionally, a  death knight is not subject to the ravages of time. He suffers no ill effects from aging, but does gain the benefits. He also receives an additional +1 bonus to Intelligence for every 100 years of unlife(up to racial maximum).
Special Penalties: The big penalty to being a death knight is being a cursed form of the undead. Because of this, the starting death knight is Turnable by good/neutral priests, and controllable by evil ones until such time as the Death Knight gains some form of Stronghold. In addition to this, a Holy Word spell can unmake the creature entirely.This is the only way to permanently destroy a death knight.
Because of his undead state, there are two major combat flaws to being a Death Knight. The first is that the Death Knight is unable to heal naturally, and must rely on special spells or items to heal himself. The second is that, even if the death at -10 hp rule is used, being undead, the Death Knight "dies" at 0 hp. Unlike the standard undead however, the death knight doesn't stay dead forever, but will rise again in an age so distant it might as well be dead forever.
Any Death Knight with spellcasting ability must enter an inactive state(not really sleep, but it's a period where he suffers the same effects of sleep) for a period of no less than 8 hours in order to regain his spell like abilities.
In addition to those penalties already listed, each and every death knight is a unique being who came by his status via a curse. The DM should tailor the curse to each individual death knight. Some examples of additional curse effects include:
  • Being tormented nightly by the souls of those who died as a result of the Death Knight's action that caused him to become a death knight in the first place.
  • Being forced to break free from a prison of brambles/ice each time the character "awakens"
  • The character shifts every night of the full/new moon into the ethereal plane where he must fight for his own survival against a horde of ravenous undead that he is unable to control.
Death Knights who Fall after 1st level: A character who becomes a Death Knight after first level starts off with his normal abilities for his level as a standard warrior, and the abilities of a 1st level Death Knight. For each month that passes(on the night of the Full/new moon perhaps), he gains an additional level of abilities up to his current level. In the case of Fallen Paladins/Rangers, convert the character to a fighter first(standard fall from his original class) and THEN adjust as appropriate for the Death Knight Kit.