Some Thoughts About Holy Knights for GMs

In this post I want to switch hats for a bit and think like a GM for a few minutes. So let’s say you have a Holy Knight in your campaign… what kinds of adventures might they have fun on?

The Holy Knight is a new class coming soon to Mazes & Perils that combines the ferocity of a Fighting Man with the faith of a Cleric. They are a bit like a traditional Paladin, but have their own unique spin.

First, I think the PC’s faith has to be one of those things you don’t just toss out as background noise. As a warrior representing their divine patron on the material plane, that connection with their deity should be front and center. These characters should almost have a direct line to their gods if they exist in your game world.

Let’s take an example… Advanced D&D (long ago) referenced nearly every major pantheon in the Deities & Demigods of my youth. Everything from Native American gods to Sumerian gods, and everything in-between (including some deities and references for the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft and Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné series). But starting in 3rd edition they chose to narrow the scope a bit. I’ll pick a couple of those greater gods – Moradin and Pelor.

hammer-in-handMoradin is the main god in the dwarven pantheon representing Creation, Earth, Good, Law, and Protection. He not only created the first dwarves but taught them what it means to be dwarven. Moradin was considered Lawful Good. He really doesn’t like the orcs and wants all followers of Gruumsh (patron deity of orcs) to be wiped out.

Pelor on the other hand is the god of Sun, Light, Strength, and Healing. He was one of the main human gods of the Greyhawk setting and considered Neutral Good. He opposes all evil gods but has a particular hatred of Tarizdun (eternal darkness, decay, entropy, etc) and Nerull (god of death, darkness, murder, and the underworld apparently).

Both would be good choices for patron deities of a Holy Knight. And these gods have built-in quests right from the beginning.

johnny-automatic-old-sunA Holy Knight of Moradin might start out from his training in the dwarven halls and be sent to root out a rumor of orcish infiltration of a small dwarven community. That could lead to a temple to Gruumsh being rebuilt on a nearby site. The knight would need to destroy that of course. And that might lead to rumors of a growing orcish presence somewhere else which is the precursor to all out war between the forces of Gruumsh and the chosen of Moradin. You could even bring in a potential hook with the Hammers of Moradin – a strike force meant to protect dwarves from orcs and other evil creatures…

Meanwhile, a Holy Knight of Pelor might simply be on a quest to eliminate the forces of darkness from the lands of light. A small force of skeletons might attack a human town on the borders of civilization and need to be saved. That of course means a necromancer or evil cleric is nearby… and if there’s one evil spellcaster there are probably others dedicated to the downfall of the good people of the world.

This stuff writes itself, folks. 🙂

Second, things should never be as straightforward as they seem.

Holy Knights are mortal instruments of the divine. As such, they must deal with not only the pure and holy intentions of their patrons but the sometimes impure and unclean intentions of the mortal races. How will a representative of the forces of good deal with things like thievery or deceit? And how will such pure individuals deal with those qualities in the people they are forced to work with?

Sure, a knight might charge right into the den of evil by himself – but he is sure to fail. He will need allies. And not everyone can be a holy knight. Perhaps these pious folks will have to deal with people of other faiths and beliefs. Or maybe they’ll have to deal with uncouth barbarians unwilling to accept a higher power. Possibly they may even have to deal with spies and rogues with skills they need for reconnaissance or laying traps for larger, more powerful forces…

The life of a mortal is one filled with choices. Will the holy knight stay on the straight and narrow and steer his companions towards the same? Or will he be tempted with impure thoughts and the pleasures of the flesh?

Both of these paths offer plenty of interesting story possibilities and roleplaying opportunities for you as a GM and the player of the Holy Knight, don’t you think?


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