Thoughts on the Dread Knight


Designing the Dread Knight

It was 2004-2005 and I had just picked up my gaming books again and began working on Unchained Heroes. It was still called Calrysn at that time. I was trying to think of names for the classes that would be found in Unchained Heroes. At that time everything was called an archetype rather than a class. You would choose an archetype, get a few abilities, and then the rest of the choices you make for powers and abilities would be entirely up to your whims. At that time I had the Templar which would later become the Paladin, the Primarch which would later become the Cleric, the Shadow which would later branch out into the Rogue and Umbral. I had some broad ideas of my other archetypes, but no names for them. One of these archetypes was a hard hitting warrior that used magic and tore through their opponents with two-handed weapons.

The name and style of this archetype continued to elude me until the day I came up with the Paladyne concept for the Templars. They were one of two Titan Races named Paladynes and Dreadnaughts, one an aspect of Law and the other Chaos. In the Floating Realms, the Paladynes defeated the Dreadnaughts and imprisoned them. Templars would be granted powers by their Paladynes, so Dreadnaughts could be the other side of the coin. I envisioned the Dreadnaughts being angst incarnate, furious for being chained within their prison and searching for any way to influence the world they were locked away from. The Dread Knight Order that would harness their power was born. In the lore of the Dread Knights, they would be formed as an offshoot of the Order of Paladyne. They would have given up their Paladyne patrons because of some event and have decided to use the power of a Dreadnaught instead.

I envisioned the Dread Knights being quite the opposite of a Templar, using darkness against darkness, fighting evil with Chaos, trained in a master to apprentice style rather than a military stronghold. Everything I thought of for the Templar would be twisted, darkened, and tainted to be used by a Dread Knight. The Dreadnaughts did not have a full presence on this world, but they would be powerful, reaching out from their prisons for any chance to use their chaotic powers and the Dread Knight would be that chance. The Dread Knight’s training and existence would be one of controlling chaos, taking big risks for an even bigger gain, and eliminating threats with overwhelming firepower rather than through attrition.

I had a lot to work with. The Paladynes and Dreadnaughts would give me a wealth of story ideas and translate to great abilities for the Dread Knight archetype and later the Dread Knight class. Through the years, I gained additional inspiration from Dark Knights in the Final Fantasy series, Death Knights in World of Warcraft, and other similar examples. And so, the Dread Knight was born and the Dread Knight flourished.

Reactions to the Dread Knight

The Dread Knight has been very seriously played in two lengthy campaigns. Each Dread Knight was started and finished as a member of the Dread Order. In the first instance we had a dwarven Dread Knight named Grumsten that reached level 28 before the 2 year campaign ended with the defeat of a great evil. The second instance was of a human Dread Knight named Issachar that reached level 15 and had him destroying demons and supernatural foes the whole time. In both campaigns, the Dread Knight played well and the players had a lot of fun.

There has not been a lot of other people playing the Dread Knight among the Development testers and the Alpha Testers have not mentioned any instances of their play yet either. The class lends itself to particular play-styles and as with all classes, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I hear talk of trying to play them often and expect there will be more interest as we get more chances to play Unchained Heroes.

Overall response to them has been good, even if players are only playing along side them. Their toolbox of powers fits their class well and helps them establish themselves as a hard-hitting Vanguard class. There are a few things that can be tweaked to get a better feel, but I don’t see any major changes in the horizon.

Bottom line, I think everyone thinks they are cool. There will be a lot more people playing them as the Beta goes live and people get chances to play them. I am optimistic that we will see many future game sessions that will include a Dread Knight. They are a deep class and have a lot of built in lore for people to draw upon when they do choose to play one.


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