Abyssal Blackguard (3.5e Prestige Class)
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|“||The might of Abaddon will destroy you!||”|
|—Harken Black, human abyssal blackguard of Abaddon|
The Abyss touches all things mortal, and its power is great - infinite, perhaps. Many mortals are drawn to it out of curiosity or petty needs, such as power over their peers or wealth. For them, the Abyss has many things - but those who become abyssal blackguards want far more. They seek to serve the Abyss in a far more personal sense, by swearing allegiance to one of its great lords. Swearing to serve them with their life, blade and soul, these individuals become truly great - at a terrible price. Those who make such a pact, however, care little for the consequences, as they realise that the service of an Abyssal lord is to bring misery, destruction and ruin.
Becoming an Abyssal Blackguard
Only those skilled in the martial become abyssal blackguards. Most often, these are barbarians or fighters, but some ex-paladins choose to turn (very far) away from their original calling and follow a lord of the Abyss. Those who practice magic or the Sublime Way rarely become abyssal blackguards, although a few cases of such do exist. Monks, rogues and other similar classes almost never turn to the path of the abyssal blackguard.
|Base Attack Bonus:||+5.|
|Feats:||Thrall to Demon or Servant of the Obyrith.|
|Special:||Must be proficient with all martial weapons.|
|Special:||Must swear allegiance to a lord of the Abyss before a representative of that lord whose CR is at least 4 higher than the prospective abyssal blackguard's. The oath requires the prospective abyssal blackguard to give away their soul to their lord, and to swear to follow them in all respects. This oath can only be sworn to the lord that they have chosen for their Thrall to Demon feat. If they have chosen Servant of the Obyrith, they can only swear allegiance to an obyrith lord.|
|1st||+1||+2||+0||+2||Allegiance, demon armour|
|2nd||+2||+3||+0||+3||Demon weapon, undetectable alignment|
|3rd||+3||+3||+1||+3||Abyssal knight, wings of the Abyss|
|4th||+4||+4||+1||+4||Command of the ravaged|
|5th||+5||+4||+1||+4||Abyssal channel, journey beyond|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level.
All of the following are class features of the abyssal blackguard.
Weapon and Armour Proficiency: An abyssal blackguard gains proficiency with one exotic weapon of their choice. They gain proficiency with heavy armour.
|The whims of the lord|
|The lords of the Abyss can be whimsical and strange masters, often requiring bizarre actions on the part of their abyssal blackguards to earn their favour - or avoid their ire. However, at the end of the day, even the most insane lords have a strategy and a plan - however convoluted or odd. The fact that they chose the abyssal blackguard meant that they were a significant part of that plan, and one which the demon lord was willing to sink significant resources into. They would not likely throw away their investment needlessly, or behave in such a way that would make the abyssal blackguard's role impossible - challening, perhaps, but not impossible.
What this means for the GM is that they should be reasonable how the lords treat their abyssal blackguards for certain abilities. If they want to make it more difficult, it should be surmountably so, not impossible. Nobody likes losing their character, or getting them hated on, especially at higher levels, and the GM should use the provisions in this class' abilities as a plot driver, not as a way to punish players.
Allegiance: An abyssal blackguard swears their power and their soul to a demon lord in exchange for great power. This has several effects. Firstly, the abyssal blackguard gains the minion feat based on their chosen demon lord. They must meet all the prerequisites of this feat.
Additionally, choose one of the domains offered by the abyssal blackguard's chosen lord. They gain its granted power, and can use each of its spells as a spell-like ability once per day. They cannot use any spell whose level is greater than one-half of their character level in this manner. Their caster level for this purpose is considered to be equal to their character level, and any DCs these spell-like abilities require is equal to 10 + 1/2 the abyssal blackguard's character level + the abyssal blackguard's Charisma modifier. Unlike most spell-like abilities, these are considered to be divine, rather than arcane.
Lastly, their patron's instruction and knowledge about Abyssal matters, as well as those of their planar rivals, gives the abyssal blackguard a number of ranks in Knowledge (the planes) equal to their character level + 3 automatically. These ranks improve as the abyssal blackguard gains levels, but can never cause them to exceed their normal maximum number of ranks in the Knowledge (the planes) skill.
However, these benefits come at a price, for when the abyssal blackguard dies, their soul belongs to their chosen patron, to do with as they choose. This means that any ability that would restore them to life once they have died, or that would return them as an undead creature, only works if their patron wishes it to. Additionally, if the abyssal blackguard takes levels in a different class after their first level of abyssal blackguard (even if that would be a class they already have), they lose access to this ability permanently. If they had at least four class levels before taking a level in another class, they keep this ability instead.
Demon Armour: One of the first gifts to an abyssal blackguard is some armour to protect them from their enemies. This armour is technically a part of the abyssal blackguard, acting like a second skin. It cannot be removed unless the abyssal blackguard is killed, and if removed from a dead abyssal blackguard, it rots to uselessness within 1 minute. It acts as a lesser demon armour. If the abyssal blackguard's character level when gaining this ability is 18th or greater, it acts as a greater demon armour instead.
If the armour would be dealt damage, the damage is instead dealt to the abyssal blackguard. If something would destroy the armour, the abyssal blackguard is instead dealt an amount of damage equal to one-quarter of their maximum hit points. Although it is part of their body, the demon armour uses up their body magic item slot as if it were a magic item that they were wearing, and also counts as a worn item for all purposes.
Demon Weapon: A 2nd level abyssal blackguard has done well, and is further rewarded with a powerful weapon with which to strike down their enemies. This takes the form of a lesser demon weapon, which can be any weapon that the abyssal blackguard is proficient with. If the abyssal blackguard's character level when gaining this ability is at least 10th, it takes the form of a moderate demon weapon instead. If their character level is at least 13th when this ability is gained, it will be a greater demon weapon instead, and if their character level is at least 16th when this ability is gained, it will be a superior demon weapon. Only the abyssal blackguard can wield the weapon - any other creature that attempts to do so, it will revert to being a mundane version of itself instead.
Additionally, an abyssal blackguard can always sense the surroundings of their weapon. This functions as the clairaudience/clairvoyance spell, except that it is a supernatural ability. Its caster level is considered to be equal to the abyssal blackguard's character level.
Losing, selling, or otherwise getting rid of this demon weapon deliberately or due to negligence is considered a gross violation of the abyssal blackguard's code of conduct (see below). However, if the weapon is lost despite due diligence, the abyssal blackguard can petition their lord for a new one, requiring a sacrifice of a creature whose CR is at least equal the abyssal blackguard's character level -3, and a two-hour ritual. If the lord finds that the abyssal blackguard's loss was within acceptable standards (the specifics of which can vary from lord to lord), their old demon weapon ceases to exist, and a new one is formed from the body of the sacrifice. The new weapon has exactly the same abilities and form as the old one did.
The abyssal blackguard is free to modify their demon weapon by enchanting it further, or changing its powers using demonic essences, but if the weapon is lost, and they attempt to petition their lord for another one, the weapon they will receive will be the one they were originally granted, without any further modifications.
Undetectable Alignment (Su): From 2nd level, an abyssal blackguard gains some protection from the probing divination magics of those that would expose them and their lords' plans. They are subject to an undetectable alignment effect at all times, except that it is considered a supernatural ability. The abyssal blackguard can lower or raise this ability as a free action, useable outside of their turn.
Abyssal Knight: a 3rd-level abyssal blackguard is a powerful champion of their patron, and similarly-minded individuals flock to their banner. Additionally, if the lord sees fit, they can give them their own demons to command. This grants the abyssal blackguard followers, which must either be chaotic or evil mortals (not outsiders, fey, elementals or undead) with levels in NPC classes only, or demons. Only one follower in ten may be a demon. The total number of followers is indicated on the table below.
| Abyssal Knight's
BAB + Charisma modifier
|Follower CRs and Number|
|27 or higher||350||175||80||75||65||60||30||15||7||5||4||3||3|
Additionally, an abyssal blackguard receives a fortress on their home plane, usually conquered or paid for by their followers. This fortress will contain, at minimum, enough space to house all of their followers, as well as accomodations befitting the standing of the abyssal blackguard. Their followers pay all the costs associated with its normal maintenance, but if the abyssal blackguard wishes to make additional changes beyond this, they must pay for their creation and upkeep themselves.
Wings of the Abyss (Ex): At 3rd level, an abyssal blackguard sprouts large wings. These can have whatever appearance the abyssal blackguard wants (batlike, feathered, skeletal, etc). These wings grant them a fly speed of 60ft, with good maneuverability.
Command of the Ravaged (Ex): From 4th level, the soul of the abyssal blackguard is bound to their patron ever more strongly, and from this connection, they gain power over the lord's stronger demonic followers. However, this strength is also a weakness, as the abyssal blackguard can now be commanded against their will. The abyssal blackguard gains the ability to command any retrievers made by their patron, as well as any ravaged of their lord's creation as if they were the lord themselves (thus, an abyssal blackguard of Demogorgon could command retrievers made by Demogorgon, and any ravaged by Demogorgon, as if they were Demogorgon). However, in return, they are treated as a ravaged creature for the purpose of any of their patron's abilities.
Abyssal Channel (Ex): A 5th level abyssal blackguard is a powerful champion of their lord and the philosophy that lord espouses, granting them even greater magical power. They may now use any spell-like abilities gained from the Allegiance ability three times per day instead of once. They may also choose a second domain in the same way as the one chosen for the Allegiances ability, except that the spell-like abilities from it can only be used once per day as normal.
Journey Beyond (Sp): 5th level abyssal blackguards are needed for greater things, and thus, have been taught of the secret passageways between the planes. They are also part of any agreements made by their patrons with other entities, mostly involving travel. An abyssal blackguard can use plane shift as a spell-like ability up to their Charisma modifier times per day. This has a caster level equal to their character level, and cannot take them to any lawful or good-aligned planes. Additionally, it can only affect the abyssal blackguard and other, willing creatures.
If the abyssal blackguard knowingly and willingly stops being evil, goes against a direct order from their lord, or commits some other action that is gravely against their oath (such as giving away their demon weapon), they lose access to all supernatural and spell-like abilities from this class. Their demon armour painfully falls off their body and rots away, destroying the armour and dealing the abyssal blackguard 2 points of vile damage per character level, and their demon weapon becomes a mundane version of itself. They can only regain their abilities if they atone, but even then, their demon lord may think twice about allowing them to have their powers back.
Playing an Abyssal Blackguard
Combat: Abyssal blackguards are all frontline combatants, assisted by their demon weapon and demon armour. However, their access to one of their lord's domains can give them significant additional capabilities, from ranged support to non-combat roles.
Advancement: Due to the restriction on the Allegiance ability, it is usually best for an abyssal blackguard to gain at least four levels in the class before going anywhere else. A full five levels are best, as their fifth level gives them a lot of additional abilities and a useful power. Almost any prestige class that supports their fighting abilities is a good place to proceed from this class.
Resources: Abyssal blackguards who serve the same lord are often made to work with each other - regardless of their opinions on this matter - and can thus expect as much support as the lord can oversee. However, if the abyssal blackguards serve different lords, the amount of help they will provide each other will vary immensely, depending on how their lords feel about each other at this time. Due to the highly emotional nature of politics in the Abyss, this can change from deep support and friendship to total warfare very quickly. As a result, abyssal blackguards tend to be self-reliant individuals, expecting little from others of their kind, and giving little in return.
Abyssal Blackguards in the World
|“||The blind devotion of an abyssal blackguard to their cause is admirable, if highly stupid.||”|
Abyssal blackguards are the mighty mortal generals of demonic hordes, the destroyers and villains that heroes seek to defeat, and at the end of the day, are the chief agents of the agenda of the demon lords in mortal terms. Often seen assisting in demonic schemes and leading hordes of demons into the Material Plane, they are also often sent on more clandestine missions, perhaps with other adventurers, to perform tasks judged too complex or important for simple cultists, but not sufficient to warrant the action of a powerful demon.
NPC Reactions: Most ordinary people will react to abyssal blackguards with horror and revulsion. Only among those who serve demons, or in species where such a life choice is not considered horrifying and abhorrent, will abyssal blackguards be able to walk openly. More often than not, as a result of such reactions, abyssal blackguards have to hide their true allegiances and motives - unless they have an army at their back.
Abyssal Blackguard Lore
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (religion) or Knowledge (the planes) can research abyssal blackguards to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|11||This is an abyssal blackguard - one of the greatest mortal servants of a demon lord.|
|16||Abyssal blackguards receive powerful demonic instruments from their patrons - some of which are even part of their flesh.|
|21||Abyssal blackguards are subject to strict scrutiny by their demonic masters - but in return, they have powers that only grow greater the closer they grow to their patron.|
|26||It is believed that some abyssal blackguards serve the Queen of Chaos directly, rather than through Pale Night.|
|Allowed Alignments||Lawful Evil +, Neutral Evil + and Chaotic Evil +|
|Article Balance||Very High +|
|Base Attack Bonus Progression||Good +|
|Class Ability||Alternate Magic +|
|Class Ability Progression||Minor +|
|Fortitude Save Progression||Good +|
|Identifier||3.5e Prestige Class +|
|Reflex Save Progression||Poor +|
|Skill||Bluff +, Climb +, Concentration +, Craft +, Diplomacy +, Gather Information +, Handle Animal +, Intimidate +, Jump +, Knowledge +, Listen +, Perform +, Profession +, Ride +, Sense Motive +, Spellcraft +, Spot + and Swim +|
|Skill Points||4 +|
|Summary||A knight of the Abyss, serving their lord with the power of their sword. +|
|Title||Abyssal Blackguard +|
|Will Save Progression||Good +|