Hellknight Order of the Nail?


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A quick question I'm not seeing an answer for; do we (or will we) see more details on the Hellknight Order of the Nail in the early books? I'm looking at starting a Pathfinder campaign, and I know at least one of my players will be looking at Paladin options, so I'd like to know if there are pre-existing plans for more detail, or if I should just use them as Standard Paladins with a tendancy to move into Blackguard.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

bv728 wrote:
A quick question I'm not seeing an answer for; do we (or will we) see more details on the Hellknight Order of the Nail in the early books? I'm looking at starting a Pathfinder campaign, and I know at least one of my players will be looking at Paladin options, so I'd like to know if there are pre-existing plans for more detail, or if I should just use them as Standard Paladins with a tendancy to move into Blackguard.

The Order of the Nail gets a little bit more information in Pathfinder 2, and there's a little bit more, probably, in Pathfinder 6... but they won't REALLY start getting some good "screen time" until the next Adventure Path. Curse of the Crimson Throne should have quite a bit of hellknight stuff in it.

In any event... most hellknights are Lawful Neutral, I believe. And if you went ahead and let a paladin player be LN, that'd actually work pretty good, I think, at least until we get around to talking more about them.

The hellknights are actually Wes's creation; maybe he'll come around here to talk more about them?

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:
The hellknights are actually Wes's creation; maybe he'll come around here to talk more about them?

PAGING WES...PAGING WES...

<:-)

-DM jeff


From the looks of them, they remind me of the black/dark knightly orders in Dragonlance. The knights of the skull, thorn, and uh.....forgot the last one.


James Jacobs,

Looking at the older post in this thread, you mention PF#2, and I recall that entry in the Magnimar write-up.

Am I mis-remembering, or did you later mention at one of the chats that you had a change of heart about the Hellknight presence in Magnimar? That they weren't really a presence in Magnimar after all?

It'd be helpful to me to know, I starting next Saturday's session with them arriving in Magnimar....

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Watcher wrote:

James Jacobs,

Looking at the older post in this thread, you mention PF#2, and I recall that entry in the Magnimar write-up.

Am I mis-remembering, or did you later mention at one of the chats that you had a change of heart about the Hellknight presence in Magnimar? That they weren't really a presence in Magnimar after all?

It'd be helpful to me to know, I starting next Saturday's session with them arriving in Magnimar....

Nope... there are Hellknights in Magnimar. They have a stronger presence in Korvosa is all.

Contributor

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Hellknights: First appearing in the paladin description in the Rise of the Runelords Players Guide, Hellknights are an order of law enforcers interested not so much in the social goodliness and charity of typical paladins but in the foundation and stringent maintenance of order. In their iron-handed exaction of law—specifically, the laws of their various orders and their home country of Cheliax—Hellknights emulate the most organized and effective armies in all the planes: the legions of Hell. They are not concerned with morality, they are not concerned with methods, they are concerned with results. If people cannot be trusted to obey the law out of their own senses of civility and social righteousness, then they will be treated like beasts, learning to obey out of fear of a master's stern hand.

Regardless of their severity, Hellknights are not an evil group. Although there are doubtlessly numerous evil members—particularly among the upper echelons of power—the majority of the orders are lawful neutral, with lawful neutral, lawful evil, and lawful good members filling the ranks of each. The study of Hell’s tenants and even the summoning of devils are tools meant to intimidate and strengthen the individual resolve of the orders’ members. Hellknights are taught to replace emotion with steely discipline. They train with summoned devils, the signifiers of their orders coaxing the ingenuity of diabolical tactics from infernal tongues, while the rank and file members spar against the very denizens of Hell--making nearly any future conflict a far less daunting prospect. They learn that sacrifices must often be made for the greater good, obey draconian regimens of military conduct, commit to encyclopedic memorization of the laws of their orders and local governing bodies, and undergo constant drills to train their bodies and minds.

While Hellknights are widely feared and respected, the common Hellknight joins out of a sense of duty and wish to be a part of something greater, seeing a world ruled by just laws and free of rampaging beasts and cheating thieves as a future well worth striving toward... even at the sacrifice of a little freedom. Countries and rulers sometimes invite Hellknights into their lands, leaving the dirty business of harsh law enforcement to an already loathed third party, although, convincing Hellknights to leave once they've been welcomed sometimes proves problematic for more freedom-loving societies.

Every order of Hellknights has a distinctive, intimidating style of full plate armor that distinguishes them from the others. All Hellknights wear the armor of their order as a mater of pride and are rarely seen without. The Order of the Nail’s armor has thus far been the only one depicted (featuring a horned helm and demon face breastplate).

There are numerous orders of Hellknights. The majority have holdings in Cheliax, but a few have expanded or moved to operate outside the country, most typically in regions formerly held by the empire. The known orders of Hellknights are: The Order of the Rack, the Order of the Scourge, the Order of the Nail, and the Order of the God Claw, although there are several more. The leader of a hellknight order is known as the Lictor. Beneath him are the order's Master of Blades (field commander) and Paravicar (leader of the order's arcane/religious forces). Beneath them, paralictors (Hellknight officers), signifiers (Hellknight spellcasters), rank and file Hellknights, and armigers (Hellknights in training) flesh out the ranks. The best detailed group of Hellknights, Varisia's Order of the Nail, is detailed in Pathfinder #2 and further in the Guide to Korvosa, with appearances in Pathfinder #6's Pathfinder's Journal (which nails how hardcore they can be) and throughout the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path.

There will be plenty more about Hellkinghts in the future, have no worries about that.

Liberty's Edge

Mr. Schneider, I really appreciate that, thanks a ton!

-DM Jeff

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Bunch of hellknight stuff

looks like a wiki entry to me - does that mean that an external wiki is coming up?

Contributor

Cpt_kirstov wrote:


looks like a wiki entry to me - does that mean that an external wiki is coming up?

Sorry, me rambling just looks like a wiki entry. I blame numerous late night Wikipedia fuges.

DM Jeff wrote:
Mr. Schneider, I really appreciate that, thanks a ton!

No prob! Finally gave me a chance to put down a lot of the stuff that's been swirling around in a few sources and in my head.


James Jacobs wrote:
Nope... there are Hellknights in Magnimar. They have a stronger presence in Korvosa is all.

Thanks Boss! Much appreciated!


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Cpt_kirstov wrote:
looks like a wiki entry to me - does that mean that an external wiki is coming up?

There's a fan-created wiki, but I'm not sure how much of this stuff we're allowed to reproduce there.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Oh man, that's awesome Wes! There's a lot of really good stuff there.

Thanks for the info.


Eyebite wrote:

Oh man, that's awesome Wes! There's a lot of really good stuff there.

Thanks for the info.

Crap! That's right, I should also thank Wes!


It's excellent, and just in time for me to use them. Thanks very much for your imagination and eerily psychic timing.


That's awesome stuff Wes! Thank you!

*gives Wes a cookie*

A HELL cookie!

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow, awesome write-up.

Contributor

tbug wrote:


There's a fan-created wiki, but I'm not sure how much of this stuff we're allowed to reproduce there.

If anyone wants to nab everything I wrote here for that wiki, go for it.

And yay! Thanks all, glad you like!

Lilith wrote:

That's awesome stuff Wes! Thank you!

*gives Wes a cookie*

A HELL cookie!

Yay! Tastes like burning!

Dark Archive

You know, Wes, I think you may have something here. I mean, I need more than two hands to count the number of threads like this. My own players love to sort-of-hate the Hellknight NPC I put into sandpoint, and in general, these guys are really B#@!*in Cool. I think we may now have this setting's iconic semi-villainous organization here.

Be proud, Wes. Be Proud. Hellknights are badass. Law-Based Palladins with Hellhound Companions, roving Judge Dreds with Longswords and evil grinning armor.

They rule, and so do you.

Dark Archive

post just got ate twice lets try this one more time

Wes, are the Order of Hellknights regionally specific (i.e. Order of Nail only in Varisia)? if so what group holds sway in the southwest Garund/Mwangi expanse region?


I've got this idea that the Order of the Nail all carry long nails in a pouch. When they catch a lawbreaker, they nail (crucify) the lawbreaker to a wall in the town square, as an object lesson to the people. They leave them at that point, for the regular town guards to deal with.

Contributor

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Jodah wrote:
They rule, and so do you.

Whoa, man! Thanks a ton! Really, really glad everyone likes them so much!

Lord Thasmudyan wrote:
Wes, are the Order of Hellknights regionally specific (i.e. Order of Nail only in Varisia)? if so what group holds sway in the southwest Garund/Mwangi expanse region?

Yes and no. The Order of the Nail is one of the smaller orders of Hellknights. When they came to Varisia, they took up Citadel Vraid as their new headquarters. They likely still have some holdings still in Cheliax (probably near Egorian), though. While some of the larger, more powerful orders probably have several fortresses in Cheliax and other formerly Chelish lands, the Order of the Nail is pretty much exclusive to Cheliax and Varisia. Now, that's not to say that individual, questing Hellknights can't be found wherever you want, those are just the lands where the order has its most significant influence.

As for Garund/Mwangi... no idea yet. I'm not sure where Cheliax has/had holdings in Garund, though I'm sure they do/did somewhere. Hellknights are much less common in the south, it being away from their home country's area of influence, and because it's bloody hot! Can you imagine wearing all that armor in 90 degree weather. Though... I guess that's what the Crusaders did. And the idea of a Hellknight Crusade IS pretty cool... hummmm.


Heck, just the title "The Hellknight Crusade" is cool enough for product consideration. :)


F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Hellknights: tons of info, Wiki-style. . .

Adequate.

Though it would be better served if it gave due recognition to the Order of the Nail's thankless service patrolling Korvosa's northern frontier for Cinderland vermin (i.e. trespassing Shoanti).


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Actually, what Wes missed is that Hellknights are closely related to crustaceans: once you crack open their hard shells there's nothing but gooey pulpy meat inside!

-Ask

P.S. I can't wait to spit barbarian chew on your corrupted altar after I've smashed it in half.


So that's how it is eh?

Well, I've just picked up a few extra levels of psychic today. Let's see what we've got here.

Raises envelope to forehead and says, "Shoanti".

Slowly tears open envelope and reads parchment inside:

"What lawless savages no longer belong in Varisia and will soon be cast out - permanently? . ."

Dark Archive Contributor

O_o


Thanks - I've been looking for more info on this interesting organization.

Seeing their armor and from what I've read, I can't help thinking of the Planescape Mercykillers/Red Death (a favorite of mine).


I was just inches away from the creation of a spin-thread titled "SHELLKNIGHT ORDER OF THE SNAIL?"

Unfortunately decency for my fellow man got in the way.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Now, that's not to say that individual, questing Hellknights can't be found wherever you want, those are just the lands where the order has its most significant influence.

So how much freedom does an individual Hellknight have? Usually none, but more when they quest?

Spoiler:
If a member of the Order of the Nail went questing could she go to Korvosa after the Order withdraws from the city?

How sociable are Hellknights? Are they depraved at all? Might there be parties in Citadel Vraid? Social events? Dances? Would any of them attend such things in town?

Dark Archive

tbug wrote:
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Now, that's not to say that individual, questing Hellknights can't be found wherever you want, those are just the lands where the order has its most significant influence.
So how much freedom does an individual Hellknight have? Usually none, but more when they quest?

The answer is that they likely would not take much even if it was given. After all these are guys who have a strict heirarchy and have been drilled since the very beginning of their careers to obey orders and not step over the line.

tbug wrote:
How sociable are Hellknights? Are they depraved at all? Might there be parties in Citadel Vraid? Social events? Dances? Would any of them attend such things in town?

Have you seen the way these guys dress? It doesn't exactly scream life of the party. My guess would be that if they did attend a social function they would only do so under orders and even then they would try and find an excuse to leave as soon as possible. Likely the only time that you would see a Hellknight at a party is if they were there as the bodyguard of someone important. However, because of their lawful alignment they aren't prone to depravity, although the LE ones might tend down that road once in a while.

Contributor

tbug wrote:
How sociable are Hellknights? Are they depraved at all? Might there be parties in Citadel Vraid? Social events? Dances? Would any of them attend such things in town?

Way I figure it, you've got a few different ranks of Hellknights (which you'll hear more about in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting), pretty much like I always imagine paladins have. Your rank and file Hellknights are like men-at-arms, they follow orders, they go on patrol, they obey their superiors' orders--they're soldiers. Then you've got questing Hellknights. These are like your more traditional paladins. They've been deemed paragons of their order's ideals and are sent out into the world. Some might be given quests by their leaders, some might have communities or regions that they attend to (like wandering judges had circuits in olden days), and some might be true wanderers and go where they believe they're needed (or where they decide needs a firm dose of order).

As for how sociable, I could see the leaders of an order (the Lictor, Master of Blades, Paravicar, or maybe a well-known hero) being invited to and attending some gala event, but for the most part, this is not their perfered venue. These guys are like the hardest-core Marines. Think of them as the Emperor's Imperial Guard from Star Wars or Javert from Les Mis They might go because it world reflect poorly on them not to attend, or because they're ordered to, or to further an investigation, but I would think that most would be socially ill at ease. And really, I can think of few faster ways to put a damper on a party than to invite a Hellknight. (Oh, and yeah, while the leaders would probably dress formally, your everyday Hellknight would probably attend in full armor.)

So, allowed? Sure. The life of the party? Probably not.

Also! Check out the new blog post for even more hellknight love from the Pathfinder Campaign Setting!

Dark Archive

How are hellknights accepted in Andoran? Are they generally shunned? Are the welcome in some areas like Piren's Bluff and Falcon's Hollow and not in others? What roll will hellknights play in the situation that is brewing in Piren's Bluff should it result in civil war? Might the lumber consortium invite them in to keep the peace in areas where they have power?

Contributor

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David Fryer wrote:
How are hellknights accepted in Andoran? Are they generally shunned? Are the welcome in some areas like Piren's Bluff and Falcon's Hollow and not in others?

Hellknights have less authority outside of Cheliax, where their dictates are not governmentally sanctioned. In other countries, they're essentially bounty hunters or exceedingly discipled mercenaries. As they enforce laws and seek justice, they're often welcomed by cities and by governments, but in small communities eager to solve their own problems, they're usually feared for their heavy-handed ways and diabolical trappings (and might be a "villain" for adventurers to take on). This isn't always the case, though, as rouge monsters pose just as much a threat to order as brigands or gangs. In more egalitarian realms, their harsh ways are likely frowned upon. Hellknights are not interested in overthrowing countries or reclaiming lands from "lawless" governments en masse. Thus, if their vision of law contradicts that of another country, they likely have few dealings with a place, keep a low profile while operating in such lands, or only make occasional forays into such a region (keeping to borders where they can flee to a more welcoming country should the people or government rise up against them). For the most part, though, Hellknights keep to Cheliax, frontiers, areas without centralized governments (like Varisia), and other lawless lands.

David Fryer wrote:
What roll will hellknights play in the situation that is brewing in Piren's Bluff should it result in civil war?

Probably none. The Hellknights aren't really concerned with boarder disputes, especially in a situation of such questionably legality as the one going on in Piren's Bluff. If open warfare breaks out, they might eventually become involved, but until then, this is a land dispute that primarily concerns Andoren and they've got monsters to slay, savages to quell, and heretics to stomp out elsewhere.

David Fryer wrote:
Might the lumber consortium invite them in to keep the peace in areas where they have power?

Another probably not. First, places like Falcon's Hollow falls outside the Hellknights' main area of influence. Second, the Lumber Consortium has some shady dealings that they probably don't want a hardcase like a Hellknight looking into too closely. And lastly, while "mercenary" the Hellknights don't work for gold, they work to establish order and won't be coaxed to serve just for riches. That being said, if the Lumber Consortium were having problems with savages, monsters, or other counterproductive types in a region with no government (like in the Mawangi Expanse), sure I could see it spun that a Hellknight or two might be coaxed down to help tame a lawless land.

But overall, think of Hellknights like King Arthur's knights or paladins. They're special. They're elite. They're not local (or world-wide) policemen and their numbers are likely on in the low thousands. If you're going to call on them, your situation had better be pretty damned special for them to respond and, secondly, you'd better be sure you really want them. If either isn’t the case, that’s what governmental law enforcers, paladins, and adventurers are for.


F. Wesley Schneider wrote:

These guys are like the hardest-core Marines. Think of them as the Emperor's Imperial Guard from Star Wars ...

Heh. From what I've seen so far they seem to be a direct transplant of 40K Space Marines into a D&D context.

(That is a good thing)

Contributor

BryonD wrote:

Heh. From what I've seen so far they seem to be a direct transplant of 40K Space Marines into a D&D context.

(That is a good thing)

I only played Tyranids. But if that's true and that's cool, Awesome!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Id say more like Dark angel space marines than anything else. Or maybe space wolves with a more evil edge to them.

Dark Archive

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
But overall, think of Hellknights like King Arthur's knights or paladins. They're special. They're elite. They're not local (or world-wide) policemen and their numbers are likely on in the low thousands.

Why am I suddenly hearing the theme from "The A Team"?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You know, looking at the blog pic from the other day made me realize that Warhammer Chaos Knights will be perfect to represent these guys on the map.

Contributor

Callous Jack wrote:
You know, looking at the blog pic from the other day made me realize that Warhammer Chaos Knights will be perfect to represent these guys on the map.

The other day's post shows an Order of the Scourge Hellknight. But yeah, those Choas Knights from Heroquest could totally be Hellknights!


For what it's worth: I'm working one of the PC's who began at 1st level as already an ex-paladin, redeemed himself (His story was that he was one of Sandpoint's orphans who had loved Nualia Tobyn from afar and lost his faith at her apparent death in the fire), and has returned to paladinhood. He met Paralictor Darean Halst in Magnimar who revealed indirectly that he too was a Paladin. The Paralictor will be recruiting him.

Anyway, based on the idea that they serve no deities, the back story of the order of the Nail that i will use is that they represent a transformation of the last Knights of Aroden (such as Ilusr, founder of Ilsurian) who came to believe that at the death of their gods no gods were needed. Rather, the secret is that Aroden died to set men free from the slavish worship of polytheism to pursue their own path of Ascendence. The order now studies the rigid laws of Hell to help free Varisia from the soul-bondage to evil forces (such as that of the Runelord's Sihedron rituals) and to bring about the desctruction of those who are cheating hell of its due by avoiding eternal justice (such as Xanesha, for instance, and Karzoug, as he is revealed).

This was one way to make sense of LG Paladins in a Hellknight order.

Liberty's Edge

But overall, think of Hellknights like King Arthur's knights or paladins. They're special. They're elite. They're not local (or world-wide) policemen and their numbers are likely on in the low thousands.

I find the Eagle Knights a better analogy to King Arthurs Knights. The HellKnights are not known for their flexibility and tolerance. To me they better equate to the Pholtans from Greyhawk.

This is an extract below from the Campaign Setting under HellKnights on the titles they use

Hellknight Titles
Hellknight orders are first and foremost military
organizations, and as such, they share a system of ranking
individuals based on their skills, experience, and exemplary
enforcement of their order’s tenants.
Lictor: A general of a Hellknight order.
Vicarius: A scholarly leader of a Hellknight order (rarely used).
Master of Blades: A marshal commander of a Hellknight
order, second to a lictor.
Paravicar: A leader of a Hellknight order’s signifers.
Paralictor: A Hellknight officer.
Signifer: A Hellknight arcane or religious spellcaster.
Hellknight: A rank-and-file soldier in a Hellknight order.
Armiger: A Hellknight in training, a Hellknight squire.


F. Wesley Schneider wrote:

Hellknights: First appearing in the paladin description in the Rise of the Runelords Players Guide, Hellknights are an order of law enforcers interested not so much in the social goodliness and charity of typical paladins but in the foundation and stringent maintenance of order.

Quote:


They train with summoned devils,

Summoning a devil is an Evil act and therefore not something any paladin can be involved in or support, so that implies that no paladin can be a Hellknight.

(And no - the end does NOT justify the means - not if you are Good).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
pjackson wrote:
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:

Hellknights: First appearing in the paladin description in the Rise of the Runelords Players Guide, Hellknights are an order of law enforcers interested not so much in the social goodliness and charity of typical paladins but in the foundation and stringent maintenance of order.

Quote:


They train with summoned devils,

Summoning a devil is an Evil act and therefore not something any paladin can be involved in or support, so that implies that no paladin can be a Hellknight.

(And no - the end does NOT justify the means - not if you are Good).

Really ? Are Malconvokers evil ?


Gorbacz wrote:
pjackson wrote:


Summoning a devil is an Evil act and therefore not something any paladin can be involved in or support, so that implies that no paladin can be a Hellknight.

(And no - the end does NOT justify the means - not if you are Good).

Really ?

Yes. Really.

Gorbacz wrote:
Are Malconvokers evil ?

They could be Neutral, as the class description implies, believing themselves above the conflict between Good and Evil.

The end justifying the means is a Neutral idea. True Evil does not see the means as needing justifying.

Liberty's Edge

in each person game the Hellknights can rank anywhere between LG or LE, most are LN...

neither a Paladin can actually summon anything... so he IS NOT making the actual summoning, he is given a tool to train and practice by officers in his order, he is not justyfing a means, he is learning how to kill devils or demons... so there can be paladins among the hellknights, they are just less (or maybe as common) as among adventurers ho are chaotic by nature :P


pjackson wrote:
(And no - the end does NOT justify the means - not if you are Good).

Though the paladin entry, under associates, specifically mentions that paladins may sometimes work with evil entities in order to combat what they see as a greater evil. So, in that case, the end would be justified by the means if a greater evil were being vanquished.

Contributor

Montalve wrote:

in each person game the Hellknights can rank anywhere between LG or LE, most are LN...

neither a Paladin can actually summon anything... so he IS NOT making the actual summoning, he is given a tool to train and practice by officers in his order, he is not justyfing a means, he is learning how to kill devils or demons... so there can be paladins among the hellknights, they are just less (or maybe as common) as among adventurers ho are chaotic by nature :P

I'd agree with this dead on - heck, the first description of Hellknights came up in a discussion about paladins after all. Of course this gets into a whole argument of alignment and how you handle it in your game and the nature of evil and what defines an evil act, yada yada yada (seen it). At the end of the day, if you want paladin Hellkinghts in your game, go for it. If you don't want paladin Hellknights in your game, go for it.

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