Hellknights Unleashed

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Illustration by Kevin Yan

More than two years ago it fell to me to write the Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide, setting the stage for characters to take part in a world that was, at the time, painted not even in broad strokes but more in generally tossed bucket-sized splashes. Over time and through hundreds of thousands of words, though, what started as made-up names have transformed into some of the better-known characters, organizations, and locations in Golarion. But probably the passage that folks have grabbed onto most zealously comes from the description of the paladin on page 8, "Korvosa—in its traditional ties to Cheliax—enthusiastically supplies Citadel Vraid, bastion of the Hellknight Order of the Nail. The Chelish Hellknights pay homage to no deity, but rather bend the rigid law and infernal traditions of Hell to their will."

For years now folks have asked for more details on this iron-shod order of enforcers, even beyond their details in the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting, but the time has never seemed quite right to give away the entire farm—I admit, I've been kind of precious with my pet antiheroes. At the same time, rules for running or playing Hellknights have always been vague, largely because I didn't want to work up a class that would immediately have to be updated to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. But now, with the PF RPG rules in circulation, my blasphemous baby Book of the Damned Volume 1: Princes of Darkness nearing the shelves, and the Council of Thieves Adventure Path being set in the very city where the Hellknights were formed, the time finally feels right.

So, as of Pathfinder Adventure Path volume #27, the Hellknights finally march forth, that volume revealing everything characters need to confront, research, and even join the numerous orders of Hellknights. That's right, that does mean there's finally going to be a Hellknight prestige class—and one of the largest ones I've ever seen at that.

But that's not all: in Pathfinder Adventure Path volume #28, expect the other side of the coin, with a GM-focused inside look into the mindset, citadels, and history of these infamous orders.

So that's back-to-back months of Hellknight action coming at you, finally answering many questions about the deadly knighthood, yet also revealing dozens of new mysteries. For example, taken from Pathfinder #27, presented here are just two of the several new lesser Hellknight Orders detailed therein. But that will have to do for now—not surprisingly, the Hellknights frown upon spoilers.

Lesser Orders

Despite the cull of 4639, numerous lesser orders of Hellknights still exist. Most of these orders work at the edges of Cheliax's sphere of influence or within the countries once within the Chelish empire's thrall. Despite their smaller size, the majority of these factions uphold the same code as their elder, better-established brethren, though many uphold practices that subtly deviate from the core knighthood. Most are careful not to defy the mandates of the Measure and the Chain (the core philosophies of the Hellknights; detailed in Pathfinder Adventure Path volume #28), however, as the larger, more powerful orders are mindful of those who would use the Hellknight name to opposing ends.

Order of the Crux: One of several bands of mercenaries dubbed Hellknights during the Chelish civil war, the skull-clad Order of the Crux refused to disband after the revolution. Hunted down and destroyed by the Order of the Scourge in 4663, the butchers were slaughtered and their fortress, Citadel Gheisteno, put to the torch. However, 25 years later, three graveknights clad in scarred Hellknight armor rose from the ruin. Calling themselves the Order of the Crux and led by the venomous Lictor Shokneir, the undead triune lurks upon the border of Nidal and Molthune, seemingly biding their time.

Order of the Coil: Among the smallest Hellknight factions, the Order of the Coil maintains holdings near the Sargavan city of Eleder, from where they viciously seek to tame the tribal natives of the country and put an end to their backward pollution of the outside world. Seeing the efforts of scholars and adventurers—particularly Pathfinders—as spreading a disease of savagery by carrying curios from the jungles into the world beyond, the Coil hunts down and destroys such explorers and artifacts, notorious for ending these perceived corruptions with poison and flames. The favored weapon of the Order of the Coil is the greataxe.

Wes Schneider
Managing Editor

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Council of Thieves Hellknights Kevin Yan Pathfinder Adventure Path Rise of the Runelords
Sign in to start a discussion.