Hell Knight (Apath)

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Unofficial rules compendium

The hell knights are several orders of soldiers emulating the discipline of Hell.


The fearsome hell knight are among the most notorious of soldiers. The grim, heavily armored knights travel to the corners of the world to pursue their targets in the name of order. To the hell knight, mercy and kindness are luxuries that a world under siege cannot afford. Their enemies—which include all bringers of disorder, be they anarchists, bandits, or freedom fighters—can expect precious little of either.

Numerous misconceptions surround the hell knight. Despite what many believe, they are neither servants nor allies of Hell; instead, the hell knight seek to wield Hell’s intimidating reputation as a realm of both torment and peerless order. While they are paragons of lawfulness, hell knights are not stringent enforcers of local laws; the law they prioritize is their own, untainted by corrupt officials, local customs, or democratic compromise.

Hell knight of Porphyra

The hell knight orders have never been large on Porphyra, but their persistence has been great and they are slowly building a position of power. From being mercenaries and law-keepers in the Midlands, the orders are eager to spread their ethos and tempt governments to use them to uphold the law and quell rebellion in return for the rights to lands and incomes now lost to rebellion or invasion. They did this during the New GodsWar and they did so fighting the oncoming wave of Mâl. At present, they are on the front line against the Rolterran uprisings in the Midlands, white trying to squash rumors that they helped organize the Rolterran revolution to begin with.

Class Information

This is a prestige archetype built on the hell knight prestige class.

Role: Hell knights are front-line combatants, but they also act as guards, constables, and judges where so appointed.

Alignment: Lawful neutral or lawful evil only. A hell knight that changes to a non-lawful alignment cannot progress in the class, but keeps all abilities granted by the class. She is likely to either return to lawful alignment by following orders or be prosecuted as a traitor. Lawful good hell knights are possible, but characters cannot enter the orders with this alignment and duties makes it hard to gain a good alignment.

Hit Die: d10.

Class Skills

The hell knight’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), and Sense Motive (Wis). In addition, each knight gains a Knowledge skill appropriate to her chosen order as an additional class skill, see hell knight orders below

Skill Ranks at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features

These are all the class features of the hell knight.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Hell knight are proficient with all simple and martial melee weapons, with all simple ranged weapons, with the favored weapon of her order (see below), with all types of armor (heavy, medium, and light), and with all shields (including tower shields).

Aura of Law (Ex)

A hell knight’s lawful aura (detect law) functions as that of a cleric whose level is equal to the hell knight’s character level.

Hell Knight Order (Ex)

At 1st level, the knight must select which hell knight order she intends to join. A recruit in a hell knight order is called an armiger until she attains the title of knight at eight level. She gains a Knowledge skill as an additional class skill and weapon proficiencies depending on the order chosen. Her choice of order affects what discipline she gains at level 8. See hell knight orders below for details.

Ardent (Ex)

Starting at 2nd level, a hell knight gains a +1 bonus on Will saves against charm and compulsion effects. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels beyond 2nd. If a hell knight is forced to take an action that is opposed to her order’s beliefs and values while under the influence of a charm or compulsion effect, she can immediately spend a point from her discipline pool and attempt a Will save against the effect’s DC to resist acting out that order. Success removes the charm or compulsion effect. This is in addition to any saving throws the spell or effect normally allows.


At 2nd level a hell knight draws upon her training and devotion to develop a discipline pool and potent disciplines.

The hell knight gains a discipline pool that reflects her devotion and zeal. This pool has a number of points equal to half the hell knight's class level + her Charisma bonus. When she is about to make a Will save, the hell knight can expend one point from the discipline pool to add her ardent bonus on that saving throw. This is not an action. She cannot add the ardent bonus twice to the same saving throw and thus cannot use this ability on Will saves against charm and compulsion effects, where she already has this bonus. The discipline pool is also used to power many disciplines.

In addition, a hell knight selects a discipline at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter. The save DC to resist a discipline’s effect is equal to 10 + 1/2 the hell knight’s level + her Charisma modifier.

There are special hell knight disciplines that are specific to each order, see the appendix. These disciplines are learned like other disciplines but are only available at certain levels. At level 8, the hell knight must choose the discipline specific to her order. This is the level where she becomes a true knight, initiated into the order, and no longer a squire or armiger. At level 16, the hell knight is so trusted that she has the option to learn the disciplines specific to orders other than her own. An order will not teach its preferred discipline to an individual hell knight who is an enemy of that particular order. The order of the pentacle never teaches the pentamic faith discipline to members of other orders.

Bonus Feat: The hell knight can choose a bonus feat as a discipline. The feat must be from the combat feat category or have ”Hellknight” in the name. The hell knight must fulfill all prerequisites. She can take this discipline multiple times, each time selecting a different bonus feat.
Discern Lies (Sp): The hell knight can expend a point from her discipline pool to use discern lies as a spell-like ability, with a caster level equal to her character level. The hell knight must be level 8 to select this discipline.
Fearsomeness (Ex): The hell knight can expend a point from her discipline pool to activate fearsomeness until the end of her turn. When she uses the Intimidate skill to cause a creature within 10 feet to become shaken, targets become frightened for half of that duration (minimum 0 rounds).
Infernal Identity (Ex): As long as she wears the armor of her order, the hell knight gains a +2 bonus on all Charisma checks and Charisma-related skill checks made while interacting with creatures of lawful alignment.
Infernal Idol (Su): As long as she wears the armor of her order, the hell knight gains the ability to see up to 60 ft. perfectly in darkness of any kind, resistance to fire 30, resistance to acid 10, and resistance to cold 10. The hell knight must be level 18 to select this discipline.
Not With Me (Su): The hell knight can use the smite chaos ability on a creature that is neutral with respect to law and chaos and thus neither chaotic or lawful in alignment. She gains no bonus on attack rolls or Armor Class when doing so. The hell knight must have chosen smite chaos as her fighting tradition.
Rage Power: The hell knight can choose a rage power as a discipline, counting hell knight levels as barbarian levels. She can take this discipline multiple times, each time selecting a different rage power. She cannot select totem powers or a rage power that affects an ability she does not have. The hell knight must have the frenzy fighting tradition to select this discipline.
Tactician (Ex): The hell knight receives a teamwork feat as a bonus feat. She must meet the prerequisites for this feat. As a standard action that costs one point from her discipline pool, the hell knight can grant this feat to all allies within 30 feet who can see and hear her. Allies retain the use of this bonus feat for 3 rounds plus 1 round for every two levels the hell knight possesses. Allies do not need to meet the prerequisites of these bonus feats. At level 10, she can use this ability as a swift action. She can select this benefit again at level 6 and every 6 levels thereafter, each time after the first gives an additional tactical feat as a bonus feat and she can share all selected tactical feats with allies as a single action (as above).
Studious (Ex): The hell knight gains all Knowledge skills as class skills. She gains a number of skill ranks in the Knowledge skill favored by her order equal to her Hit Dice. Any skill ranks she previously had in this skill are moved into other Knowledge skills of the knight's choice.
Tracker (Sp): The hell knight can expend one point from her discipline pool to summon a creature to aid her, either in battle or to track an enemy, as if using a summon monster spell, save that the summoned creature lingers for 1 hour before vanishing. All animals summoned this way have the fiendish template. The hell knight can summon either a dire rat, a dog, an eagle, or a pony . This is the equivalent of a 3rd level spell. An 8th-level hell knight can summon either a horse, a riding dog, a wolf, or a leopard. This is the equivalent of a 4th level spell. An 11th-level hell knight can summon either a dire wolf or a hell hound. This is the equivalent of a 5th level spell. A 14th-level hell knight can instead opt to summon a pack of 1d4+1 riding dogs or wolves or a single cerberus or dire bat. This is the equivalent of a 6th level spell. A 17th-level hell knight can summon either a pack of 1d4+1 dire wolves or hell hounds, or a single dire lion or shadow mastiff. This is the equivalent of a 7th level spell. A 20th-level hell knight can instead opt to summon a pack of 1d4+1 cerberi or dire bats, or a single dire tiger or invisible stalker. This is the equivalent of a 8th level spell. A hell knight must be 6th level to select this discipline.
Unyielding (Ex): While wearing the armor of her order, the hell knight gains DR 1/—. She can select this benefit again at level 10 and every 4 levels thereafter, with stacking benefits. This benefit stacks with damage reduction from adamantine armor. A hell knight must be at least level 6 to select this discipline.
Wrack (Su): When the hell knight damages a foe with a weapon attack, she can expend one point of discipline to cause the target to suffer incredible pain. The target must make a Will save to avoid being staggered for 1d4 rounds.

Hell Knight Armor (Ex)

Starting at 3rd level, a hell knight learns to be more maneuverable while wearing the distinctive armor of her order. Whenever she is wearing such armor, she reduces the armor check penalty by 1 (to a minimum of 0) and increases the maximum Dexterity bonus allowed by her armor by 1. Every four levels thereafter (7th, 11th, and 15th), these bonuses increase by +1 each time, to a maximum –4 reduction of the armor check penalty and a +4 increase of the maximum Dexterity bonus allowed.

At level 7, a hell knight can move at her normal speed while wearing the distinctive full plate of her order.

This is a variant of the fighter's armor training ability.

Fighting Tradition

At 5th level a hell knight gains abilities based on her fighting tradition. Choose one of the following fighting traditions, this choice cannot be changed. The hell knight gains a number of class features based on the fighting tradition they were brought up in.

Exterminator (Ex): The hell knight gains the ranger's favored enemy ability, gaining a favored enemy at level 5, 9, 13, and 17. She has the same favored enemy bonus against all her favored enemies, beginning at +4 and increasing by +1 for each favored enemy after the first. Add Survival to the exterminator's list of class skills. She gains a number of skill ranks in Survival equal to her Hit Dice. Any skill ranks she previously had in this skill are moved into any other skills of the knight's choice.
Frenzy (Ex): The hell knight gains the following barbarian (or unchained barbarian) abilities at the indicated level: rage (5th level), greater rage (13th level), and mighty rage (17th level), as a barbarian of her hell knight level. At 5th level, the hell knight can rage for a number of rounds per day equal to 8 + her Constitution modifier. For each level after 5th she possesses, the knight can rage for 2 additional rounds per day. Unlike a barbarian, she does not gain a bonus on Will saves while in a rage. The hell knight cannot enter a rage for 1 minute after she ends her rage, and she cannot charge or run while under the effects of her rage. At 9th level, her rage turns into a cold killing frenzy. She takes no penalty to her AC, can use all her normal skills and effects that require concentration, and is not fatigued when her rage ends.
Smite Chaos (Su): This ability functions as the paladin’s smite evil class feature but against chaotic-aligned creatures. The first strike is more effective against outsiders with the chaotic subtype, chaotic-aligned aberrations, and fey. The hell knight can smite chaos once per day. At 4th level, and at every three levels thereafter, the hell knight may smite chaos one additional time per day, to a maximum of seven times per day at 19th level.
Weapon Training (Ex): The hell knight gains a bonus feat at 1st level. The knight can learn fighter-only feats, count hell knight levels as fighter levels for feat prerequisites. The hell knight gains the fighter's weapon training class feature, gaining a weapon group at level 5, 9, 13, and 17.

Order Weapon Mastery (Ex)

At 19th level, a hell knight becomes a master of the favored weapon(s) of her order. Any attacks made with these weapons automatically confirm all critical threats and have their damage multiplier increased by 1 (×2 becomes ×3, for example). In addition, she cannot be disarmed while wielding such a weapon.

Hell’s Knight (Su)

At 20th level, a hell knight can grant any weapon she wields or carries either the axiomatic or flaming burst special ability as a move action. If dropped, the weapon loses the granted special ability at the end of any of the hell knight's turn. The knight also becomes immune to fire while wearing the armor of her order.

Table: Hell knight

Level Base
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Aura of law, hell knight order
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 Ardent, discipline, discipline pool
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 Hell knight armor (+1)
4th +4 +4 +1 +1 Discipline
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Fighting tradition
6th +6/+1 +5 +2 +2 Discipline
7th +7/+2 +5 +2 +2 Hell knight armor (+2, speed)
8th +8/+3 +6 +2 +2 Discipline
9th +9/+4 +6 +3 +3 Fighting tradition
10th +10/+5 +7 +3 +3 Discipline
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +3 +3 Hell knight armor (+3)
12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +4 +4 Discipline
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +4 +4 Fighting tradition
14th +14/+9/+4 +9 +4 +4 Discipline
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +5 +5 Hell knight armor (+4)
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +5 +5 Discipline
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +5 Fighting tradition
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +6 +6 Discipline
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +6 +6 Order armor mastery
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +6 Discipline, hell's knight

Favored Class Bonuses

Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a favored class, some races have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their favored classes. The following options are available to each listed race. Unless otherwise stated the bonus applies each time you select the listed favored class reward. All these choices are available from level 1, even if they enhance an ability you only gain at a higher level. A favored race bonus that helps you qualify for a certain class ability means you get that particular class ability at an earlier level.

  • Dwarf: Add 1/2 point to the hell knight's discipline pool.
  • Elf: Increase the maximum Dexterity bonus allowed by armor by 1/5.
  • Gnome: Add +1/5 to the bonus from the gnome's illusion resistance racial trait.
  • Half-Elf: Gain 1/6 additional tactical feat, as the tactician discipline.
  • Half-Orc: Gain 1/5 additional discipline.
  • Halfling : Reduce total armor check penalty by 1/5.
  • Human: Gain 1/6 bonus feat, as the discipline.

  • Aasimar: Increase the strength of the knight's aura of law by 1. A powerful aura can stun those who detect it, see detect law.
  • Anpur: Increase the bonus from the hell knight's ardent class feature by +1/5.
  • Avoodim: Add 1/5 to the bonus of the infernal identity discipline.
  • Dhosari: Gain 1/5 bonus feat selected from dhosari racial feats.
  • Dragonblood: Add +1/5 to the DR/- granted by the unyielding discipline.
  • Drow: Add 1/5 rounds to the duration of the wrack discipline.
  • Eventual: Increase the strength of the knight's aura of law by 2. A powerful aura can stun those who detect it, see detect law.
  • Hobgoblin: Add a +1/4 bonus on combat maneuver checks made to grapple or trip.
  • Kobold: Add +1/5 to the kobold's natural armor bonus.
  • Samsaran: Gain 1/4 additional use of each of the spells learned from the samsaran magic racial ability.
  • Shibaten: Add 1 ft. to the range of the fearsomeness discipline. Always round this down to the closest increment of 5 ft.
  • Strix: Increase the bonus from the stix's suspicious racial trait by +1/5.
  • Tengu: Gain a +1/2 bonus on critical hit confirmation rolls made with a with the favored weapon(s) of the hell knight's order (maximum bonus of +5). When the bonus reaches +5, the tengu can continue to spend points, gaining a bonus on confirmation rolls with all melee weapon listed under the tengu’s swordtrained ability. This bonus does not stack with those gained through Critical Focus and similar effects.
  • Tiefling: Add 1 to the strength of the tiefling's aura of law and evil. A powerful aura can stun those who detect it, see detect evil.

Hell Knight Orders

The hell knight orders are several separate organizations that share a similar ethos. Each order is an independent organization, but they share many ideals and generally cooperate with each other. At other times they are at war, often over trivial matters of doctrine.

There are numerous hell knight orders. Each has its own agenda, distinctive style of armor, a Knowledge skill it teaches to adherents, one or more weapons that it favors over others, and a discipline that it teaches and regards as a most important secret.

Each hell knight (and signifier) begins in one order and most stay with that order for all of their life. A member cannot change her order without undertaking a lengthy process to dedicate herself to a new cause. When this choice is made, she immediately loses all of the benefits from her old order. She must then follow the edicts of her new order for one entire level without gaining any benefits from that order. She must also find acceptance by the new order. Once accomplished, she gains all of the bonuses from her new order.

A member of a hell knight order serves the order, must follow order policy, and must obey orders from superiors within the order. Player character members often serve semi-independently, acting as agents of the order in the world or on some special task or quest, but must still follow any orders they are given. Failure to do so results in becoming wanted by the order and put on trial. If found wanting, the member is on probation, and put under the direct supervision of other members, which usually spells the end of the character's adventuring career or makes her a fugitive, hunted by all hell knight orders worldwide.

Here are the most common and notorious hell knight orders. Other orders certainly exist.

The Order of the Chain

“All men lift themselves up upon the backs of others.”

The Order of the Chain enforces the natural order of master and servant, dually punishing rebellious or escaped slaves and slave-owners who go outside their lawful rights.

Favored Skill: Knowledge (local).
Favored weapon: Flail.
Shackle (Su; Order of the Chain): When the hell knight damages an enemy, she can use one point of her discipline pool to impede its mobility. The creature can negate this effect with a Will save; otherwise, it is affected as if by a slow spell for 1d4 rounds.

The Order of the Gate

“Judgment in the face of depravity.”

Renowned for the unparalleled number of signifiers among its members, the Order of the Gate also specializes in dealing and bargaining with devils and other fiends. Members of this order are often swayed to evil by the powers they use.

Favored Skill: Knowledge (planes).
Favored weapon: Dagger.
Summon Devil (Sp; Order of the Gate): The hell knight may expend one point from her discipline pool to use summon monster V as a spell-like ability to summon 1 bearded devil. At 11th level, this spell-like ability is replaced by summon monster VI, allowing her to summon 1d3 bearded devils, or 1 erinyes. At 14th level, this spell-like ability is replaced by summon monster VII, allowing her to summon 1d4+1 bearded devils, 1d3 erinyes, or 1 bone devil. At 17th level, this spell-like ability is replaced by summon monster VIII, allowing her to summon 1d4+1 erinyes, 1d3 bone devils, or 1 barbed devil. At 20th level, this spell-like ability is replaced by summon monster IX, allowing her to summon 1d4+1 bone devils, 1d3 barbed devils, or one ice devil. This ability is lawful and evil.

The Order of the Nail

“Savagery must be quelled, in the land, home, and mind.”

Hellknights of the Order of the Nail focus their efforts on crushing savages and brigands.

Favored Skill: Knowledge (geography).
Favored weapon: Lance and halberd.
Onslaught (Su; Order of the Nail): By expending a point from her discipline pool, the hell knight increases her base speed by +10 feet and gains a +4 bonus to her Strength for 1 round. If the hell knight is mounted, these bonuses also apply to her mount.

The Order of the Pentacle

“Righteousness by obedience.”

The leaders of the Order of the Pentacle preach the unique doctrine of the most lawful deities.

Favored Skill: Knowledge (religion).
Favored weapon: Morningstar.
Pentamic Faith (Ex; Order of the Pentacle only): This ability allows the hell knight to select one of the following domains: Artifice, Glory, Knowledge, Law, Magic, Nobility, Protection, Rune, Strength, Travel, and War. The hell knight gains all of the granted powers (but not domain spells) of that domain, treating her hell knight levels as cleric levels. This ability is only ever available to knight of hell knight orders of the order of the pentacle—not even signifiers of the order of the pentacle can learn this discipline.

The Order of the Pyre

“Reason's flame consumes the shadow of corruption.”

The members of the Order of the Pyre zealously hunt those who have unsanctioned knowledge or magic.

Favored Skill: Knowledge (arcana).
Favored weapon: Glaive.
Brand (Sp; Order of the Pyre): By expending a point from her discipline pool, the hell knight can use mark of justice as a spell-like ability as a spell-like ability against a willing or helpless creature. At level 13, she can use it as a melee touch attack.

The Order of the Rack

“The venoms of the mind poison the body.”

Hellknights of the Order of the Rack seek to eradicate revolutionary idealism.

Favored Skill: Knowledge (history).
Favored weapon: Longsword and whip.
Censor (Su; Order of the Rack): When the hell knight damages an enemy, she can use one point of her discipline pool to strike the creature mute for 1d4 rounds unless it makes a successful Will save. A mute creature cannot speak, nor can it cast spells that have verbal components or use language-dependent effects.

The Order of the Scourge

“Without culpability, chaos reigns.”

The ever-watchful Order of the Scourge seeks to ensure no crime goes unpunished, especially premeditated or more far-reaching acts of organized lawbreaking.

Favored Skill: Knowledge (nobility).
Favored weapon: Heavy mace and whip.
Vigilance (Su; Order of the Scourge): The hell knight gains low-light vision (this effect is constant). In addition, as a full-round action, the hell knight can spend one point from her discipline pool to see through up to 5 feet of stone, wood, or similar barriers as if they didn’t exist. Metal or denser barriers (hardness 8 or more) block this effect. Each use of this ability lasts as long as the hell knight concentrates, up to a number of rounds equal to the hell knight’s level.

See Also


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Section 15 Addendum

  • System Reference Document © 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors: Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, based on material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.
  • Genie, Marid from the Tome of Horrors Complete © 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author: Scott Greene, based on original material by Gary Gygax.
  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook © 2009, Paizo Inc.; Author: Jason Bulmahn, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.
  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Adventurer’s Guide © 2017, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Benjamin Bruck, John Compton, Crystal Frasier, Tim Hitchcock, Jenny Jarzabski, Isabelle Lee, Joe Pasini, Jessica Price, David Schwartz, and Josh Vogt.
  • Lands of Porphyra © 2015, Purple Duck Games; Authors: Ken Austin, Thomas Baumbach, Carl Cramér, Daniel Denehy, Perry Fehr, Mark Gedak, August Hahn, Noble Hays, John Hazen, Sam Hing, Sean Holland, N. Jolly, Christopher Kaiser, James H. Lewis, Chris Longhurst, Liz Mackie, Josh McCrowell, Christopher Mennell, Scott Messer, Angel “ARMR” Miranda, Julian Neale, Daniel M. Perez, David Pryzbyla, Marc Radle, David N. Ross, Treyson Sanders, Justin Sluder, Todd Stewart, Stefen Styrsky, Mike Welham, Jeremy Whelan, Patricia Willenborg.