Blackguard, Project Heretica (3.5e Class)
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The Blackguard as a 20-level class, using the same chassis and design process as the Project Heretica Paladin 20
Good Good Poor Good Divine Spellcasting Spontaneous Spellcasting Partial
Lawful Evil Neutral Evil Chaotic Evil
Every hero needs a villain. What would be Superman without Lex Luthor, the Batman without Joker (that pair particularly so), Conan without the Vizier of the day, and others without their sworn nemesis? The examples given have not just one, but SEVERAL nemesis which make their heroic life a necessity. Otherwise, we'd have something like Spider-Man trying to use its powers for its own benefit.
So, what happens when you have something like a Paladin in the game? Evil clerics are great at whetting the Paladin's appetite for righteous war, and which Paladin doesn't dream of embarking on a great quest to slay a Great Wyrm Red Dragon, a
Balrog Balor or a Pit Fiend as its greatest quest? However, sometimes, you need a more personal villain: a rival, the entire antithesis of the righteous and holy knight. A villain without honor (or with a twisted sense of honor), a villain that makes even the staunchest and virtuous Paladin seethe with hatred, only to face the inevitable conundrum; "is this being worthy of mercy, or will the Multiverse be best served erasing it from existence?"
Enter the Blackguard.
The Blackguard is more than a dark mirror of the Paladin, but it's clearly its goal. As Good has its warriors, so does Evil. Blackguards are often the leaders of massive armies of Evil, wielding the most blasphemous of blades, swearing curses to and fro. The Blackguard can be the perfect right-hand man (or shall we say "left-hand man") of the Big Bad, the "dragon" to speak in popular terms. The Blackguard can be a keeper of the peace in a Lawful Evil society, keeping people in check with its frightening skill. And, above all, the Blackguard is what happens when a Paladin falls. And not just falling from a horse or from a pit; falling from the standards of righteousness it has imposed upon itself. For, of course, nothing is more frightening for a Paladin than to face a former ally, its mentor...or its father. Just ask Luke Skywalker.
Making a Blackguard
The Blackguard's strength relies on all-out offensive. Using two-handed weapons and cultivating their Strength, Blackguards focus on taking the enemy down as fast as possible; the deeper the wound, the better. Fear is one of the key weapons of the Blackguard, which helps to keep his enemies in check; the quintessential bully if there is one. While the Blackguard is a particularly strong combatant, it is one that doesn't neglect its defense: its ability to shrug off the worst attacks and then use its unnatural life-draining touch to restore itself to top shape can be a deadly nightmare to its foes.
That said, the Blackguard is rarely a team player. "Look out for number one, crush the rest" is the motto of the Blackguard. While it can provide various buffs through its spellcasting, most of its auras are meant to affect its enemies and sustain itself. The Blackguard, however, plays well whenever undead creatures are around, whether as allies or as controlled pawns (via its ability to rebuke them). The contribution to the party from a Blackguard is simple: crush the opposition until no one remains, and don't get in its way or you'll get hacked in half as well.
Abilities: Being a mirror image of the Paladin, the Blackguard uses Strength and Charisma as his main stats, with a minor focus on Constitution. Charisma is just as important to the Blackguard as to the Paladin, while Strength is extremely necessary because the Blackguard has a focus towards dealing as much damage as possible, as well as the power of its smites and auras.
Races: Much like the Paladin, the Blackguard favors a race that works with Charisma or Strength. While the loss of Constitution and the level adjustment might seem a bit counter-intuitive, Drow make reasonably good Blackguards with a more lightly armored bent, and provide strong spell resistance that covers towards anything. Few other savage races might follow the path of the Blackguard unless they are half-fiends or tainted by evil, although strong races with a bent towards evil such as Hobgoblins might take the mantle.
Alignment: Any evil. Unlike the Paladin, the Blackguard's requirement only needs it to be evil. The ethical argument is irrelevant; a lawful evil Blackguard will seek power through legitimate means before acting, whereas the chaotic evil blackguard will drown the world in blood, fire, or whatever crosses that psychopathic little mind.
Starting Gold: 6d4×10 gp (150 gp).
Starting Age: Moderate.
|Saving Throws||Special||Spells per Day|
|1st||+1||+2||+0||+2||Aura of evil, smite good 1/encounter||2||—||—||—||—|
|2nd||+2||+3||+0||+3||Bonus feat, Diehard, profane might||2||—||—||—||—|
|3rd||+3||+3||+1||+3||Fiendish aura, instill fear||3||0||—||—||—|
|4th||+4||+4||+1||+4||Thrive within pain (Intimidate checks), rebuke undead||3||0||—||—||—|
|5th||+5||+4||+1||+4||Smite good 2/encounter, improved smite||3||1||—||—||—|
|6th||+6/+1||+5||+2||+5||Bonus feat, necrotic punishment||3||1||—||—||—|
|9th||+9/+4||+6||+3||+6||Fiendish aura, Thrive within pain (Bonus damage)||4||2||1||—||—|
|10th||+10/+5||+7||+3||+7||Bonus feat, smite good 3/encounter||4||2||1||—||—|
|11th||+11/+6/+1||+7||+3||+7||Dark Blessing (Divine grace)||5||2||1||0||—|
|12th||+12/+7/+2||+8||+4||+8||Fiendish Absorbtion (Divine deterrence)||5||3||2||1||—|
|14th||+14/+9/+4||+9||+4||+9||Bonus feat, Thrive within pain (Increased opposing DCs)||5||3||2||2||0|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+9||+5||+9||Fiendish aura, smite good 4/encounter, devastating smite.||5||3||3||2||1|
|16th||+16/+11/+6/+1||+10||+5||+10||Profane Resistance (Divine resistance)||5||4||3||2||1|
|18th||+18/+13/+8/+3||+11||+6||+11||Bonus feat, Undeath's Blessing||5||4||4||3||2|
|19th||+19/+14/+9/+4||+11||+6||+11||Thrive within pain (Maelstrom)||5||4||4||3||3|
|20th||+20/+15/+10/+5||+12||+6||+12||Villain of legend, smite good 5/encounter||5||4||4||3||3|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (nobility and royalty) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis).
All of the following are class features of the Blackguard.
Spells: A blackguard casts divine spells, which are drawn from the cleric spell list plus a few spells added to the list below. A blackguard can cast any spell she knows without preparing it ahead of time.
To learn or cast a spell, a blackguard must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a blackguard’s spell is 10 + half the blackguard's class level + the blackguard’s Charisma modifier. Like other spellcasters, a blackguard can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on the table above. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Charisma score. When the above table indicates that the blackguard gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level, he gains only the bonus spells he would be entitled to based on his Charisma score for that spell level.
A blackguard casts spells the same way a bard or sorcerer does, except his spells are divine in origin and thus she may cast them in any kind of armor. A blackguard may learn and cast any spell on the cleric spell list (see Player’s Handbook), with the following restrictions: a blackguard may not learn (or cast) a spell that has the good or light descriptor, nor he can cast spells that are opposed to his ethical alignment; lawful evil blackguards may not cast chaotic spells, and chaotic evil blackguards may not cast lawful spells. A blackguard, however, may prepare and cast spells that are not available on the cleric spell list and that are unique to him. The spells that he may learn alongside those within the cleric spell list appear below.
Upon reaching 8th level, once per week and at every three class levels he gains, a blackguard can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged. A blackguard may swap only a single spell at any given moment, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for the specified level.
As noted above, a blackguard need not prepare his spells in advance. He can cast any spell he knows at any time, assuming he has not yet used up her allotment of spells per day for the spell’s level.
The following spell list is a compilation of all the spells that blackguards may cast alongside the cleric spell list, as well as spells that are reduced from level. All of these spells are on the Dungeon Master's Guide blackguard spell list. For other sources than the Player’s Handbook or Dungeon Master's Guide, a blackguard may cast spells from the cleric spell list and the blackguard spell list. If a spell is in both lists, the blackguard learns the spell at the lowest level by which the spell may be cast; for example, if a spell is 3rd level on the cleric spell list but 2nd level in the blackguard’s spell list, the blackguard prepares the spell as a 2nd level spell. Restrictions on spells are also extended to these spell lists; a blackguard may not learn (or cast) a spell that has the good or light descriptor, nor he can cast spells that are opposed to his ethical alignment.
1st—cause fear**, corrupt weapon*, false life**, ray of enfeeblement**
The following spells are Cleric spells inaccessible to the Blackguard’s spell list, in addition to the restrictions in schools and spells that the blackguard already has. The Dungeon Master may decide which spells from other sourcebooks may not apply, and may use this list as an aid to determine which spells are inaccessible.
When determining which spells to remove and which to apply from the cleric spell list, a DM is well advised to retain spells of the abjuration, necromancy or transmutation schools, personal range spells that grant bonuses to the caster, and spells that resemble or behave as spells from the cleric spell list on the Player’s Handbook.
Aura of Evil (Ex): The power of a blackguard’s aura of evil (see the detect evil spell) is equal to his blackguard level, just like the aura of a cleric of a good deity. Unlike the aura ability below, this aura is always active.
Smite Good (Su): Once per encounter as part of an attack action, a blackguard may attempt to smite good with one normal melee attack. The blackguard adds his Charisma modifier to the attack roll, if successful, the blackguard deals extra damage and causes a special effect. A blackguard must choose his method of smiting good; once he makes a choice, it is permanent. If the blackguard makes a smite as part of a full attack, he may only use it once per round.
Unless stated otherwise, a blackguard deals an amount of extra damage equal to his blackguard level +5. As well, all saving throw DCs are equal to 10 + half the blackguard’s class level + the blackguard’s Strength modifier. If the blackguard accidentally smites a creature that is not good, smite good has no effect but the ability is not used for the day.
Bonus Feat: At 2nd level, and every four levels after that, a blackguard gains a bonus feat in addition to those he obtains by means of improving levels. These bonus feats must be drawn from the feats noted as fighter bonus feats, divine feats or domain feats. A blackguard must still meet the prerequisites for a bonus feat, as usual. For purposes of fighter level prerequisites, a blackguard is considered to have a fighter level equal to his blackguard level -5.
Diehard: At 2nd level, a blackguard gains the Diehard feat as a bonus feat. He does not need to meet the prerequisites of this feat to acquire it.
Fiendish Aura (Su): Beginning at 3rd level, a blackguard channels the power of his fiendish patrons through his body. This manifests as an aura that originally affects only the blackguard, but that slowly increases in size as the blackguard progresses.
Projecting an aura is a swift action, and the blackguard can only project one aura at a time. An aura remains in effect until the blackguard uses a free action to dismiss it or he activates another aura in its place. A blackguard can have a divine aura active continually; thus, an aura can be in effect at the start of an encounter even before he takes her first turn.
A blackguard that acquires this ability must choose from one of the auras presented below. Unless otherwise noted, the range of the aura is of 30 feet. As a blackguard progresses in levels, he learns to manifest more auras and the size of his auras increase; at 9th level, he gains the ability to manifest one more aura from the list and his aura increases to 45 feet; at 15th level, a blackguard gains the ability to manifest another aura and her area of effect increases to 60 feet. Allies or enemies within the area of effect of the aura must have line of effect to the blackguard in order to be affected by it. The blackguard’s aura is dismissed if he becomes unconscious or slain, but otherwise it remains in effect even if he is incapable of acting.
If the blackguard wields a two-handed weapon with an enhancement bonus of +1 or higher (but not weapon special qualities that increases the weapon's effective enhancement bonus; hence, a +1unholy greatsword would count as a +1 greatsword for purposes of this ability), he may modify the effect of these auras, adding a new effect or improving an existing one. To gain the benefit of this boon, the blackguard must be wielding the weapon (thus, the blackguard doesn't gain the benefit of the improvement to auras if he uses a dancing weapon).
Unless stated otherwise, the bonus granted by the blackguard’s aura is equal to his Strength modifier.
Covetous: reduces healing in area by an amount equal to Strength modifier, and be healed of damage equal to amount stolen. Stolen healing energy applies to blackguard only. Fast healing and/or regeneration are not reduced. When wielding a two-handed weapon, reduce healing in area (and heal damage) by an amount equal to 1-1/2 times the Strength modifier plus the weapon's enhancement bonus.
Instill Fear (Ex): At 2nd level, a blackguard that becomes struck with fear may reflect this effect towards another creature. The blackguard is still suffering from the fear effect, but he feigns courage as long as someone else fears him. A blackguard that suffers a fear effect may use the Intimidate skill on an opponent as a immediate action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, regardless if he made the saving throw or not. Treat this as if using the demoralize effect of Intimidate, except that if the creature fails its level check, the creature suffers the fear effect as if it had failed the save (no saving throw allowed) and the blackguard suppresses the penalties provided by the fear effect while it remains in course. If the creature suffering the fear effect negates this condition (such as by receiving the effect of a remove fear spell), the blackguard immediately resumes his fear condition so as long as the effect is still active. If the blackguard receives the benefit of a spell or ability that negates this condition, the creature remains under the fear effect and the backlash effect is negated.
Thrive Within Pain (Ex): At 4th level, a blackguard revels in the glory of battle. Some may delve into the macabre pleasure of pain, others may whip themselves into fury at the fear of death, and others simply enjoy the feeling of having opponents drive them to their limits. Whatever is the cause, a blackguard close to death is a fearsome opponent.
At 4th level, if a blackguard is taken to less than half of his maximum Hit Points, it gains a bonus on Intimidate checks equal to half his class level. At 9th level, he adds half his class level to his damage rolls while within the same condition. At 14th level, he adds his Charisma to the saving throw DCs of his smite abilities, and his Strength modifier to the saving throw DCs of all blackguard spells (but not spells from another class) or racial spell-like abilities while under half his maximum hit points.
At 19th level, if a blackguard is slain, he explodes in a maelstrom of evil energy. All good creatures within the range of the blackguard's fiendish aura must make a Reflex saving throw or take an amount of damage equal to the blackguard's class level plus the blackguard's Strength modifier; if the blackguard chose the vicious smite good class feature, the damage is instead equal to the damage dealt by this ability. The saving throw for this ability is equal to 10 + half the blackguard's class level + the blackguard's Strength and Charisma modifiers (plus any abilities that modify smite; the Charisma bonus granted by this ability is already included). A successful save reduces the damage to half. Neutral creatures gain a +5 bonus on their saves against this ability but are otherwise affected as if good creatures. Upon doing so, the blackguard's body is turned to dust, and requires a true resurrection or miracle spell to return to life.
Rebuke Undead (Su): At 4th level, a blackguard gains the ability to rebuke undead. He may use this ability a number of times per day equal to his Charisma modifier. He turns undead as a cleric of her level would.
Improved Smite (Su): At 5th level, a blackguard’s ability to smite improves.
Terrifying: the blackguard’s fear effect may not be resisted. A creature’s bonus to fear effects are negated for purposes of this smite's secondary effect. Creatures immune to fear may be affected, but gain a bonus to fear saves equal to half their Hit Dice; this bonus is an exception to the negation ability of the smite.
Necrotic Punishment (Su): At 6th level whenever a blackguard is using his fiendish aura, if an enemy creature makes a melee or ranged attack against an ally within the range of the aura, it takes damage equal to half the blackguard’s class level plus his Strength modifier. This damage applies only once per round per enemy creature, as if the blackguard was using an attacks of opportunity (but does not consume the blackguard’s attack of opportunity; abilities such as Combat Reflexes do not increase the number of uses per round). This damage is negative energy damage; thus, it heals undead. If the enemy creature attacks only the blackguard, the creature takes no damage from this ability.
Vampiric Touch (Sp): At 7th level, the blackguard gains the ability to drain the lifeforce of creatures he touches. Treat as if the vampiric touch spell, but the blackguard is healed of actual hit point damage equal to the amount of damage dealt (instead of gaining the damage as temporary hit points), and his caster level for this ability is equal to half his blackguard’s class level. He may use this ability a number of times per day equal to his Charisma modifier.
Mettle (Ex): Beginning at 8th level, if a blackguard makes a successful Will or Fortitude save that would normally reduce the save’s effect, he suffers no effect from the spell at all. Only those spells with a saving throw entry of “partial” or “half” are affected by this ability, and only for purposes of Will and/or Fortitude saves with these descriptors.
Fiendish Absorption (Su): At 12th level whenever a blackguard is using his fiendish aura, it may deactivate the effect and instead apply this ability. Any enemy spellcaster that casts a spell that targets any of the blackguard’s allies within the area of the blackguard’s fiendish aura must make a caster level check against a DC equal to the 10 plus the blackguard's class level plus his Strength and Charisma modifier or have the spell be absorbed by the blackguard. The blackguard may either use the energy to heal itself (curing an amount of hit points equal to twice the spell’s level), increase the effect of the next spell cast by him (adding the absorbed spell’s level to the caster level or Difficulty Class of the spell), or gain a bonus equal to the level of the spell absorbed in attack rolls and damage rolls until the end of his turn. Spells cast upon the blackguard are not absorbed. A blackguard may absorb a number of spell levels equal to half his class level, and may only absorb spells, powers (using the power's level as if spell levels, if Psionics-Magic Transparency applies), invocations (using the invocation's effective spell level) or mysteries (if cast as spells)
Improved Mettle (Ex): At 13th level, a blackguard’s mettle ability improves. He still takes no effect on a successful Will or Fortitude save that has the “partial” or “half” descriptor, but henceforth he takes only the partial effect or half the damage on a failed save.
Devastating Smite (Su): At 15th level, a blackguard’s smite good ability acquires a powerful new effect. As usual, a blackguard may choose a new method of smiting or improve existing smites to their next degree of power.
Terrifying: the blackguard’s smite literally kills its target out of fear. If the smitten creature fails its Will save, it dies instantly. Creatures that succeed on the saving throw may not be affected by the death effect of this smite for the next 24 hours. Creatures immune to fear are immune to this ability (but not to the fear effect of the smite; see above). A creature takes a -2 penalty on this save if frightened, and a -4 penalty on this save if panicked; this penalty stacks with the penalty to saving throws of the shaken fear effect.
Profane Resistance (Su): At 16th level, a blackguard gains the ability to further resist the spells of good creatures. She gains spell resistance equal to 15 + the blackguard’s class level, but only against spells with the good descriptor or any spell cast by characters of good alignment, clerics of good deities, deathless creatures (but not undead), or good outsiders.
Undying (Ex):At 17th level, a blackguard becomes capable of fighting even when his forces fail him, beyond where others could stand. A blackguard is never considered disabled or staggered, even if he has less than 0 hit points or his nonlethal damage exceeds his current hit point total. Furthermore, he may continue to fight even if he has less than -10 hit points, but only to an amount of negative hit points equal to 10 plus half his character level plus his Constitution modifier. Instant death effects and attacks that destroy the body still affect the blackguard if successful.
Undeath's Blessing (Ex): At 18th level, a blackguard acquires a special attunement to negative energy. He is treated as an undead in terms of spells that deal negative energy damage or energy drain, but only takes half the benefits (thus, heals half the damage dealt with an inflict spell, for example, but takes no further damage).
Villain of Legend: At 20th level, a blackguard becomes a fearsome villain, and his place in legend allows him to transcend his mortal condition. He is forevermore treated as a native outsider with the augmented subtype of his former type (unless she is already treated as one), gains the evil subtype, and gains damage reduction X/epic and good, where X is equal to half his class level.
A blackguard that multiclasses into a fighter, a martial adept, or a divine spellcaster gains special benefits. A blackguard may multiclass freely into a fighter if it so desires; this is an exception to the aforementioned rule. Furthermore, if a blackguard has more than six levels, he may treat his blackguard level -5 as effective fighter levels for purposes of meeting prerequisites for fighter bonus feats. As well, he may treat his blackguard level -5 as effective initiator levels for purposes of qualifying for maneuvers if he multiclasses into a martial adept class (instead of merely half his level); however, she faces her multiclass restriction as usual. If he multiclasses into a divine spellcaster, he may treat half his blackguard levels as part of that specific divine spellcasting caster levels (but not actual class levels to, for example, gain higher level spells or spell slots), and may prepare his blackguard spells as part of his spell repertoire; she faces her multiclass restriction as usual.
Blackguards that multiclass into warlocks may add half their class levels in blackguard to their effective caster level for invocations, and to determine the strength of their eldritch blast (but not gain any new invocations). As well, they may add half their class levels in warlock to the caster level of blackguard spells, and if they use the hideous blow blast shape invocation, they may use a smite as part of the same action. Finally, the blackguard adds half his class levels in warlock to determine the damage of his smite good ability and their saving throw DC (but not to determine new smites)
Note: the author offers this progression in accordance to the Epic Levels rules as presented in the Epic Level Handbook. The author does not endorse a great deal of the things in the book, and may offer a different progression in the future.
Smite Good: At 25th level, and every five levels thereafter, the epic blackguard's ability to smite good may be used one more time per encounter. An epic blackguard may not choose any more methods of smiting. Smiting damage is equal to 5 + class level and the saving throw DC of smiting effects is equal to 10 + half his class level + his Strength modifier, as usual.
Fiendish Aura: At 21st level and every six class levels afterwards, the range of the epic blackguard's fiendish aura increases by 15 ft.
Bonus Feats : The epic blackguard gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic blackguard bonus feats) at 22nd level and every 4 levels after the 22nd.
Epic Blackguard Bonus Feat List: Armor Skin, Devastating Critical, Epic Leadership, Epic Prowess, Epic Reputation, Epic Toughness, Epic Weapon Focus, Great Smiting, Improved Combat Casting, Improved Spell Capacity, Legendary Commander, Legendary Rider, Lingering Damage, Negative Energy Burst, Overwhelming Critical, Perfect Health, Permanent Emanation, Planar Turning, Spontaneous Spell, Undead Mastery, Unholy Strike, Zone of Animation.
Human Blackguard Starting Package
Weapons: Greatsword (2d6, crit 19-20/x2 4 lb., two-handed, slashing); Heavy Flail (1d10, crit 19-20/x2, 8 lb., two-handed, bludgeoning)
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 5 + Int modifier.
Gear: Scale mail (+4 AC, armor check penalty -4, speed 20 ft., 30 lb.), backpack with waterskin, belt pouch, bedroll, flint & steel, 50 ft. of hempen rope, 2 sunrods, 6 days of trail rations, spell component pouch, wooden holy symbol.
Gold: 6d4 gp.
|Allowed Alignments||Lawful Evil +, Neutral Evil + and Chaotic Evil +|
|Article Balance||High +|
|Author||T.G. Oskar +|
|Base Attack Bonus Progression||Good +|
|Class Ability||Divine Spellcasting + and Spontaneous Spellcasting +|
|Class Ability Progression||Partial +|
|Fortitude Save Progression||Good +|
|Identifier||3.5e Class +|
|Reflex Save Progression||Poor +|
|Skill||Bluff +, Concentration +, Craft +, Intimidate +, Knowledge +, Perform +, Profession +, Ride + and Sense Motive +|
|Skill Points||4 +|
|Summary||The Blackguard as a 20-level class, using the same chassis and design process as the Project Heretica Paladin +|
|Title||Blackguard, Project Heretica +|
|Will Save Progression||Good +|