The death knight is a champion of the grave, serving to spread the power of death throughout the lands of the living. Most death knights are the chosen warriors of gods of undeath and decay, evil psychopaths who desire nothing more than to see the “mistake” of life replaced by the glorious, unchanging “blessing” of undeath. Though unquestionably evil, these death knights are often confused as to why anyone would wish to be alive, since life is a condition that leads to hunger, exhaustion, pain, and suffering. Undeath is the perfect state of existence, but even normal death is obviously better than struggling through a life. To these death knights, they are bringing a gift to all living creatures, even if they have to do it one murder at a time.
However, a very few gods of true death also empower death knights specifically to preserve the sanctity of the grave and oppose the forces of the undead. Though the gods of repose have many names in many cultures, the death knights often refer to their divine sponsors as “the Grey Mistress” and see her as a personification of the state of death itself. To these death knights death is a calm, cool mistress who eventually envelops all things, and undeath is an insult to her. Though such death knights have little care for the living, and are not of good alignment, they can sometimes serve as allies to life-loving champions who must oppose a powerful undead force. Though they see life as a lesser state of being than death, they also see it as a temporary one and know their Grey Mistress will eventually enwrap all living things in her pale embrace.
With a weight of 17 pages (two going to the cover and OGL/Credits pages), this PDF introduces us to the SGG answer for the Death Knight, an alternate class option, as opposed to an entirely new class. Essentially what we have here is a new skin for the anti-paladin, and an interesting skin to say the least.
Death Knights fall to two camps, those who respect the natural order of things, and those who want to watch it all crumble to ash, no matter how we get there. Alignments range from the neutral range through evil, with no good aligned death knights walking the planet anywhere (and seriously, who would want to cripple such a great idea with a good alignment anyway?). Presented with a small assortment of new feats, this was one of the areas I would have loved to see expanded upon, and expect to eventually see addressed in a future Bullet Point (hint hint). We are also given an assortment of new spells (the death knight casts from the anti-paladin spell list), with the majority of the spells focusing on Grave Summoning (in all nine of its levels) which allows for one to summon an undead to aid you. Grave Summoning easily dominates the entire spell section, both with the individual entries, and the chart detailing all of the available undead at the varying levels, as well as rules for customizing the lists by adding more undead for a more personal flair.
Amusingly one of the most interesting things covered within this PDF is not in regards to the death knight themselves, but to what is known as The Low Road, an extra-planar region wherein the souls of the dead travel to their final rest, a "highway" of the dead if you will, completely cut off from the living and organic, accessible only in the concept of summoning from, and even then only by those who would know it exists, as no mortals have ever truly witnessed it to be able to tell of it, as it can only be witnessed by the dead themselves. An interesting concept, and a great addition to the fluff of a campaign world in explaining why the other ethereal realms aren't choked full of the souls of the departed. Presented in such a way that a GM can easily leave it out if it isn't right for their campaign world though, as it is all fluff, with no crunch to have to work around, which was an excellent move on the part of Owen.
The class, if you can call it that as it blatantly states it is an alternative to the anti-paladin, using a great many of the anti-paladin class frameworks, has great flavor to it, and brings to the table an interesting build...but it also feels very much like there is more to be done here. Perhaps later down the road a revisit to the Death Knight will see it developed more through either new feats, spells, or class abilities...perhaps even all three. What is presented here is solid and good material, and it very much leaves you wanting more for this concept though, and that is exactly what a good design should do, leave you wanting more.
Found only one editing/grammar hiccup, a reference to death knights when it should have been death knight (I know, tiny mistakes right? lol), but was sad to see no bookmarks. Artwork is fairly decent, and spread throughout the PDF, far more than I expected to see actually.
Finalizing with a 4.5 star, that I shall round down to 4, as the no bookmarks, and potential to do so much more with this one kept it from a 5 for me. Now, having said that, this is still an excellent product, and a great base work for a character of this nature, and well worth the price of admission.
3. 5 stars - solid alternate class that could sue some additional options
This pdf is 17 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 15 1/3 pages of content, so what exactly do we get?
Basically, the Death Knight is a new 20-level variant alternate base-class of the Antipaladin. To be more precise, it's a rather major overhaul and thus feels rather distinct, but let me start with the basics: Death Knights get d10, 2+ Int skills per level, good BAB, good fort and will-saves and access to limited spells of up to 4th level.
Death Knights come essentially in two flavors: Adherents of Undeath, destruction and foes of life make for the classic, evil death knight. Somber protectors of the dead and their resting places and devoted foes of undead are the other group. While the latter can be neutral, no good death knights exist. Each type of death knight gets its own spelled-out, precise codex, which is nice and something missing from most knight-style-classes.
The class, as can be expected from SGG, comes with several interesting signature abilities: For example, the ability to attack with gravestrikes, which work against living and undead targets. these strikes provide additional damage. Another source of damage he has is the touch of corruption, which enables him to heal undead and cause wounds with his touch attacks. Over the course of a death knight's career, they gain several immunities. In fact, they can select from a total of 15 immunities, which all hearken to what one would expect from the dead - a growing resiliency against cold damage, immunities to negative conditions etc. Since one can choose which immunities to gain, this makes for the imho best "gradual-transformation-to-undeath"-take I've seen in a class. Being a variation of the paladin, the death knight also gets auras, all of which are rather neat. At 5th level, they can choose from two bonds: The first one lets the Death Knight enhance his weapon via the spirits of the dead, while the second grants the death knight an undead servitor from the Low Road.
The Low Road? Yeah, but more on that later. The Death Knight gets 3 new feats, one of which is practically obligatory in my opinion: Deadly steed grants you a rather cool mount as a cohort. We also get a feat for extra immunities and one that grants the death knight a dazzling gaze attack.The pdf also contains 17 new spells, 9 of which are the new Grave Summoning-spells, which can call undead from the pale road to serve you. Since the concept of the pale road is so entwined (purely via fluff) with these spells, I'll get to it here: The final (and best) section of this pdf introduces the Low Road.
Ever thought about why the ethereal and astral plane aren't cluttered with the spirits of the recently departed? Why a plane shift can't simply bring back dead comrades? Well, it's because they go to a demi-plane bordering on the astral and shadow planes, where they find their way to their afterlives in the outer planes. This concept, while rather simple, enables the neutral death knights to have undead servitors without upsetting the natural order: Their undead are souls lost on the way to the afterlife and, once their summoning ends, they get another chance to find their final resting place. Nice concept that fills a hole in the cosmology! Even better, we get advice on adding new undead to the roster of summonable creatures. The other spells enable you to emit mists that impede vision if you want them to, masquerade as one of the living and one that lets you teleport between corpses/resting places via the pale road. This last spell, while immensely cool, also has a downside - it lets you enter the pale road (which is supposed to be utterly off-limits for just about everyone and everything). You also become aware of ALL tombs/resting places of the kind you entered and may only exit via one of them, which e.g. means that if you entered via a dwarven tomb, you may only exit via one. While the awareness of ALL resting places in range is something potentially problematic for DMs, I think the limits imposed on the spell make it a manageable task.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, though I did miss one rather major component: The death knight spell-list is absent from this pdf. While I assume the antipaladin- list as the default, not having the information in this pdf is somewhat of a bummer. Layout adheres to a 3-column full-color standard and the cover artwork, as with all recent SGG-books, is AWESOME. And with all recent SGG-books, I'd love to see a version of the artwork without the title etc. to show to my players. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a minor bummer.
This is a hard pdf to rate. On the one hand, I LOVE the way in which the class handles a (partial) undead-transformation and utilizes the immunities. I also am enamored with the concept of the Low Road. On the other hand, though, I feel that the class is less than it easily could have been: Why is e.g. the steed a feat and not a 3rd possible death bond option? Why are there so few death bond options? And while the immunities are a neat way to customize the class, it feels more linear than similar SGG-classes. What I also doesn't get is why there is not more synergy with SGG's Death Mage - while thankfully the spells also feature e.g. their respective levels for the Death Mage, that's all. All in all, the Death Knight, while not a bad class, feels not too exciting, which is rather strange considering the awesome concept. In fact, while the fluff is utterly awesome, when compared to other SGG-classes, the central class-mechanics feels somewhat uninspired. Don't get me wrong, but in the end e.g. the armiger makes mechanically for the more enticing tank-class - at least for me and for now. If SGG ever releases a pdf for the Death Knight/Mage with feats, archetypes etc., similar to their stellar "Hellfire Magic", perhaps, this class could easily be expanded to become awesome. As written, the relative linearity of the class in combination with the lack of bookmarks and spell-list drags down the otherwise stellar supplemental content. Try as I might, I can't bring myself to rating this a full 4 stars and thus will settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3.
This product is 17 pages long with 1 page of credits / OGL, leaving 16 pages of content. It adheres to the SGG standard 3 column lay out with the standard 2/3 cover image. Alright, with that out of the way, let's get into the meat of the product, shall we?
Death knights are an alternate class for the anti-paladin, making them pretty unusual in that regard. It is worth noting, however, that they do not require being chaotic evil, in fact, they don't require being evil at all. There are 2 types of death knights, evil ones who revel in the undead and in slaying the living, and neutral ones who try and maintain the sanctity of the grave. Beyond that, they're a pretty typical paladin construct, d10 hd, 2 + int skills, martial weapons & heavy armor, same good saves as a paladin, etc. You get the idea.
But when you get to their abilities, you can see the inspirations, but oh my they're unique. And flavorful. I don't want to give away everything so I'll give you a couple examples. The first level aura that paladins put out, the holier than thou aura and anti-paladins unholier than thou aura is changed for the death knights to have an undeader than thou aura, but it isn't just a flavorful aura, it allows them to determine hit points and fortitude saves as an undead would. (So cool.) One more example their smite ability has broader applications than the paladin's or anti-paladin's, but isn't nearly as powerful.
I could go on about this class, but really, I shouldn't need to. If you're a DM wanting someone to lead an army of undead, or if you're a player who likes the idea of fighting to maintain the sanctity of death (or vice versa) , or if you just want to see one of the most imaginative paladin takes in a long time, by all means pick this up, you will not be disappointed. 5 star product all the way.
I liked this product right from the gate, and the more I read it, the more I liked it. Like the description says, it's an alternative to the anti-paladin, which is an alternative paladin. But really, this class is good enough to stand on its own with only a tip of the hat to its ancestors.
The first four levels make the Death Knight seem a bit front loaded, but I'll be the first to admit I'm not very good at evaluating the crunchy bits. I'm a flavor guy, which is why I love how the descriptions are generic enough to make this an effortless drop into any setting. The "Low Road" and "The Grey Mistress" all have a sepulchral ring to them without labeling them as belonging to any particular milieu.
The Death Knight makes a perfect villain, possibly even better than the Anti-paladin itself. A being focused on the spreading of death at any cost, even using the risen dead to further his ends makes for a formidable foe if not stopped in time.
So get your affairs in order, and make sure your family will be well provided for after your demise. Death comes not on silent wings or with a scythe gripped in bony hands, but thundering on a black steed in blood stained armor with an army of the living dead at his beckon call. The bell is tolling.
I've been playing Pathfinder for a little over 2 years now, and- despite the great materials out there and the hard work that goes into all of it- this is the first time I've felt the need to write a review.
This class is dripping with flavor, and the mechanics are built to match. The evil Death Knight is a murderous take on the Anti-Paladin, giving a new perspective on the 3.5 idea of the Paladin of Slaughter, while the neutral version is more akin to a defender of the balance of life and death.
The non-evil Code of Conduct is perfect for a Paladin of Pharasma type of character, while the evil one is great for any nihilistic, vengeful, or otherwise murderous villain in a campaign.
I'm going to be reworking some characters- allies and foes alike- in the Carrion Crown AP to use this class. Well worth the PDF price!