The Ravenloft Files: Dead of the Night
The blessed paladin holds himself to a higher standard of morality than most heroes – dangerously so. He declares himself an agent of a just and good god, even though that deities’ influence in the Dread Domains is considerably diminished. Although no commoner would understand the purpose of an esoteric and forgotten god like Heironeous (Greyhawk deity) or other lawful good outlander deities, the blessed paladin struggles to maintain a tenuous link with the divine. A blessed order of knighthood may only consist of one or two exemplars, but the paladin nonetheless obeys the lawful strictures he would in in other realm, and doubly so in Ravenloft. Most heroes of this sort crusade for many years as a cleric or “ordinary” paladin before adopting the strict code of a blessed order.
A blessed paladin takes a vow forsaking all wrongdoing. After he takes this vow, he shines like a beacon to creatures of evil who try to scry or divine his presence. The vast majority of Ravenloft’s denizens are obscured in their motives and morality, but the blessed paladin cannot hide his alliance with the forces of light. His code of honor regards such subterfuge as dishonorable. He no longer wishes to hide, for he is ready to face the worst horrors the world can hurl at him. Commoners state that the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long – the same principle applies to blessed paladins.
Darklords are keenly aware of the presence of such an exemplar. Most paladins provide a persistent “pain” to the lord of a domain. This disruption is much greater for a blessed paladin. Dreams and visions of the hero’s actions may torment the evil overlord by day or night. It is the hero’s destiny eventually to face this powerful nemesis in single combat. The powers themselves demand it.
Hit Die: d10
To qualify to become a blessed paladin a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.
Base Attack Bonus: +4
Skill: Knowledge (religion) 5 ranks.
Feat: Blessed. The paladin must pass a test of virtue (see Feats)
Restriction: Own Two Feet (see below)
Morality: The character must remain Blessed. His default class is paladin. See the special quality: Moral Compass listed below.
The blessed paladin’s class skills are: Craft, Diplomacy, Handle Animal, Heal, Knowledge (religion), Profession, Ride, and Scry
Skill Ranks at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.
All the following are class features of the blessed paladin prestige class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Blessed paladins are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, with all types of armor, and with shields.
Own Two Feet: The blessed paladin does not gain a mount as a magical beast. Furthermore, levels in this prestige class don’t count as paladin levels when improving a mount. Of course, a paladin who has a special mount before taking this prestige class can keep it, as long as he can endure the restrictions Ravenloft places upon these beasts (see Dread Companions).
Moral Compass (Ex): The character remains a blessed paladin until he takes any action that requires a powers check. To keep him on the right path, the blessed paladin develops the ability at 1st level to sense when he is about to stray. As part of this, when the player announces his character is about to take an action that would require this check, the GM should warn him. If the blessed paladin even attempts an action that would require a powers check, his levels of blessed paladin revert to levels of paladin (see Fall from Grace). As long as the character obeys this stricture, he can also cast light at will.
The GM should note that this class ability has a hidden advantage – under particular circumstances, the paladin instinctively knows whether an act will force a powers check. Tjhus, he may have some instinctual insight into whether a given subject is evil, neutral, or good. If this becomes a problem, the GM has the option of calling for a Wisdom check (DC 15) to recognize right from wrong in these morally questionable situations. On a failed check, the paladin does not know whether his action will force a powers check. While it may be argued that it is unfair to force the paladin to suffer the consequences of a powers check if he doesn’t know whether an action might call for one, a true paladin would never perform an action that might conceivably call for a powers check. In other words, if he has to make a Wisdom check to figure out if it id evil or not, he probably shouldn’t even consider taking the action. If he does do it anyway, he has to suffer the consequences just like anyone else.
Virtue’s Challenge (Ex): At 2nd level, the blessed paladin takes a solemn vow to defend the innocent. Once he completes this vow , the DC for a darklord to scry the location of a blessed paladin is reduced (DC = 15 – paladin’s combined level of the paladin class and blessed paladin prestige class). However, the paladin can also attempt to scry the darklord’s exact location (DC = 25 – paladin’s combined level of paladin and blessed paladin).
Although spells cannot be used to detect alignment in Ravenloft, any Divination spell cast on the paladin now reveals that he is lawful good. Obviously, this means that the minion’s of a domain’s darklord will begin to hunt the blessed paladin down.
In exchange for this burden, the paladin’s benefits from protection from evil improve. That class ability now works against creatures not known to be evil. Just as the paladin reveals his only moral alignment under certain circumstances, so do his evil enemies. (If the GM considers this troublesome, he can require the same Wisdom check specified under the Moral Compass class ability).
Detect Virtue (Sp): At 3rd level, the blessed paladin gains the ability to detect an individual’s current state of virtue. By focusing his concentration for one round, the blessed paladin can tell if the object of his concentration is Innocent, Blessed or Moral. This ability, however, does not enable the paladin to determine if a character has strayed from virtue nor the degree of corruption that an individual possesses.
Fervor (Ex): Normally, a character with negative hit points is unconscious and may take no actions, while a character with 0 hit points is disabled, and may take only partial actions. Beginning at 4th level, a blessed paladin is considered disabled even if he has negative hit points. He continues to lose one hit point each round until he is stabalized, of course, and he dies when he has negative hit points equal to his constitution. If stabilized, the character will begin to lose hit points again if he performs any strenuous action such as running, attacking, casting a spell, etc.
Holy Ground (Sp): At 5th level, the paladin can cast consecrate once per day as a spell-like ability. The spell has additional effects when cast by a blessed paladin. If it is a sinkhole of evil, the effects of the sinkhole are reduced by one rank for one day. If the paladin can dedicate a shrine, altar, or temple to his deity, and defend that location for seven days, the effects on the sinkhole are permanent. As soon as the sinkhole’s effects are reduced, the darklord is aware of the effect. No doubt he will dispatch his minions immediately to desecrate it.
Sacred Alliance (Su): At 6th level, the paladin can activate this ability as a free action five times a day. Anyone standing within 5 feet of the blessed paladin receives the benefits of bless and greater magic weapon. Bestowing this effect upon others is a supernatural ability. As long as the blessed paladin is using this ability, he gains its effects as well.
Improved Aura of Courage (Su): At 7th level, the paladin can activate this ability as a free action five times a day. Allies within 10 feet of the paladin gain a +4 morale bonus on saving throws against Fear and Horror checks.
Hallowed Ground (Sp): At 8th level, the blessed paladin can cast hallow once a day, and the spell has the additional effects of Holy Ground (see above).
Death Ward (Sp): Although this is a necromantic spell, at 9th level, the blessed paladin can cast it three times per day without a powers check.
Last Stand (Su): At 10th level, by permanently sacrificing a point of Wisdom, the blessed paladin can summon the darklord of a domain. The paladin must be standing on holy ground he consecrated using his Holy Ground class ability. If the paladin leaves his holy ground, the darklord is no longer compelled to travel to it. The darklord automatically knows the exact location of the blessed paladin until the next dawn.
If the blessed paladin engages the darklord in melee combat on holy ground, he gains a +2 sacred bonus to all attacks against the darklord. If he does not have Improved Critical for the melee weapon he is holding when the darklord steps on holy ground, he gains that feat for the duration of the combat.
|1st||+1||+0||+0||Moral compass||+1 level as paladin|
|2nd||+2||+3||+0||+0||Virtue’s challenge, improved protection from evil||+1 level as paladin|
|3rd||+3||+3||+1||+1||Detect virtue||+1 level as paladin|
|4th||+4||+4||+1||+1||Fervor||+1 level as paladin|
|5th||+5||+4||+1||+1||Holy ground||+1 level as paladin|
|6th||+6||+5||+2||+2||Sacred alliance||+1 level as paladin|
|7th||+7||+5||+2||+2||Improved aura of courage||+1 level as paladin|
|8th||+8||+6||+2||+2||Hallowed ground||+1 level as paladin|
|9th||+9||+6||+3||+3||Death ward||+1 level as paladin|
|10th||+10||+7||+3||+3||Last stand||+1 level as paladin|