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When a mortal creature dies, its essence joins the River of Souls and travels to whichever Outer Plane best fits its nature—the afterlife, as some would call it. This is the natural order, and these abominations defy it. The graveknights are no exception, for with each passing year they lose more of the feeling and memories of life, but continue to parrot the crimes that bound their souls to the Material Plane. Each act is therefore a personal challenge to reap joy or any other sensation, and so with each act they commit even greater atrocities. The most ancient of them would raze a city just to feel the faintest emotion, and the most notorious of Golarion’s graveknights have done far worse in the name of less.” —Nakht Shepses, Commander of the Voices, from a speech to new recruits

Like so many other undead, a graveknight most often arises spontaneously thanks to some combination of the heinous actions he took in life and the terrible circumstances that resulted in his death. Yet it would be a mistake to assume that a graveknight’s individuality fades only to be replaced by some caricature of its strongest emotion, fear, or desire—as is the case for allips, spectres, and ghouls—for the deceased warlord’s essence and force of personality maintain a strong sense of its mortal memories and motivations. While graveknights are thankfully rare, the armor that binds their spirits can sustain them on dark crusades that last for centuries, if not millenni.a Presented here are three legendary graveknights and a collection of other graveknight threats who continue to haunt Golarion.

Each graveknight is defined as much by her armor and demise as she is by her actions and allegiance, so each description of one of these undead horrors also lists the graveknight’s armor type and defining energy type. More detailed rules information about graveknights can be found on page 138 of Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 3. [1]

LEGENDARY GRAVEKNIGHTS

Several graveknights arose under circumstances that granted them unusually great power, and have brutally slashed their way to immortality in Golarion’s history.

Lictor Shokneir,

Hell knight Apostate LE male human graveknight fighter 5/Hellknight 10

Armor: Hellknight plate;

Energy Type: fire

After Aroden’s death, the Chelish Empire gradually fell into civil war. The recently created Hellknights proved an unshakable force of order during the chaos that ensued, and King Gaspodar continued to expand their ranks into the lictor-sanctioned Orders of the Chain, Gate, Pyre, Scourge, and Thorn as recompense for their continued service to the crown. As the Hellknights grew in power, the king, desperate for allies, began mandating additional orders without the Hellknights’ direct approval, granting titles even to unscrupulous mercenary bands better known for glorified banditry than upholding the law.

Soon after Queen Abrogail I of House Thrune ascended the throne and ended the war, the true Hellknights called for these unsanctioned orders to disband; however, many of these groups had grown too accustomed to their ill-gained reputation and authority, and refused. The Order of the Crux was one such order, and during the later years of the civil war it had developed a foul reputation across Cheliax as a band of butchers. As one of the few rebellious orders to have its own fortress, the Crux held out against the other Hellknights for several decades before the Order of the Scourge finally stormed Citadel Gheisteno and killed all of its occupants.

Despite being unworthy in the eyes of other Hellknights, the Order of the Crux was nonetheless an organization bound by its own powerful ideals, and this mighty force of evil and conviction refused to die. In 4688 ar, rumors circulated that the order had returned, led by a trio of steelclad graveknights—and foremost among them was Lictor Shokneir. Together these graveknights have rallied a small army of undead and rebuilt Citadel Gheisteno in an even darker mockery of its former dreadful glory. There they have lurked for decades; the Hellknights of other orders seem content to let these undead pretenders skulk on the border of Cheliax and Nidal as though awaiting the right moment to take on the undead threat. Some, however, speculate that the Hellknights lack either the resources, will, or courage to purge the Order of the Crux once and for all.

No matter the reason, Lictor Shokneir has embraced his immortal existence as proof that his interpretation of the Measure and the Chain is superior to that of other orders.

Those who disagree with his merciless vision are subject to execution—both so that their misunderstandings don’t sow dissent in others and as further proof of the inferiority of their philosophies. Just as Nidal awaits a moment of weakness in Cheliax, Shokneir seems poised to exploit any opportunity to overthrow the other Hellknight orders’ leadership.

For more on Hellknights and Hellknight plate, see pages 266 and 290, respectively, of Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide.

Ungarato, the Champion of Glu ttony

CE male human graveknight barbarian 12/f ighter 7/ marshalMA 4

Armor: heavy piecemeal armorUC;

Energy Type: cold

The study of necromancy is difficult without a steady supply of corpses, and to Goparlis, the Runelord of Gluttony, the Kellid tribes that inhabited the northern border of Xin-Gastash were an ideal source of f lesh and souls. For decades the runelord’s forces raided the northland tribes, reaping fodder for countless experiments in animation and defilement. The Kellids seemed unable to fight back, but out of this subjugation was born one of their greatest heroes.

From a young age, Ungarato stirred the voices of soothsayers and diviners, who predicted he would become the mightiest warrior of the age and transform his people from weak hunters into an unstoppable force. The fiery-haired youth continued to fulfill this prophecy year after year as he vanquished powerful beasts and performed extraordinary feats of strength and endurance. After he completed his rites of adulthood, he departed into the wilds for 5 years. He finally returned leading a pair of white dragons that called him master, and accompanied by representatives from nine tribes throughout the Tusk Mountains who had sworn to aid Ungarato against the tyrants of Thassilon.

Word arrived that a powerful weapon forged in the heart of the empire was bound for Xin-Gastash, and Ungarato rallied his allies to intercept the convoy. They attacked along the northern ridge of the Kodar Mountains. The few survivors from the Thassilonian caravan carried the name of the Kellid champion on their lips. The Kellids had acted in defiance of Gastash, and their warlord now carried the Sword of Gluttony. Runelord Goparlis refused to accept failure; he sent a legion of elite soldiers to retrieve the artifact, only to learn that they too had fallen to Ungarato’s hit-and-run tactics. The runelord tried again, this time sending an army of necromancers to animate the remains of the legion and continue the pursuit. Again and again, Ungarato and his allies cut down their Thassilonian enemies, depleting Goparlis’s treasury and undermining his authority.

However, the war was not without cost to the Kellid warlord, who had fallen in battle years earlier only to rise again as a graveknight infused with the Sword of Gluttony’s power. Rather than turn away in revulsion, Ungarato’s strongest warriors embraced undeath by throwing themselves upon his blade so that they might fight for him forever. When Goparlis’s apprentice Zutha took advantage of his master’s weakness to dispose of the runelord and seize power for himself, Ungarato traveled to Xin-Gastash to parley with the new ruler. He offered to exchange the powerful sword for the body of the fallen Goparlis to settle the dire oaths he and his people had sworn against the tyrant. Zutha offered to let the graveknight keep the sword and take the corpse in exchange for Ungarato’s service as the new runelord’s personal champion.

Ungarato accepted and served Gastash faithfully until the fall of Thassilon. Having predicted the events of Earthfall, the lichlike Zutha split his phylactery, The Gluttonous Tome, into three parts and gave one to his champion to guard until the world was again ready for his master’s return. Oral histories dating back millennia suggest that Ungarato was defeated— and possibly destroyed—soon after the fall of Thassilon, yet no records can confirm what became of his piece of the tome, nor whether his armor was destroyed completely. It is possible that the graveknight still carries the sword that shares his name while seeking the means to restore Zutha to power.

Tales of Ungarato describe him as an icy malevolence barely held in check by his armor of steel and hides harvested as trophies from a hundred battles.

Xin-Undoros, Gua rdian of a Lost Empire

LE male Azlanti human graveknight warpriestACG of Lissala 17

Armor: full plate;

Energy Type: acid

When Xin, the true emperor of Thassilon, died in –6420 ar, the runelords who succeeded him expressed their public grief by constructing an elaborate tomb called the Emerald Chambers—an underground series of nearly 1,000 rooms linked by opaque portals and maintained by an order of monks and spellcasters. These Silent Devotees were among Xin’s most faithful servants and students; they cut out their tongues after speaking oaths of eternal service to the emperor as their final words, before continuing to serve the dead emperor. The order virtually disappeared soon after Earthfall, yet for some, death was not an acceptable excuse for ceasing their vigil.

Raised in the church of Lissala, the Azlanti orphan Undoros f lawlessly absorbed the Sihedron Scion’s lessons of duty, obedience, and final reward, and he proved capable of quoting extensive passages from the faith’s holy texts at a young age. His continued devotion and unquestioning loyalty to his superiors led to frequent promotions, eventually culminating in his appointment as champion to Xin himself. Agents of the traitorous runelords lured Undoros away from the capital before assassinating the emperor, and the Lissalan priest never forgave himself for his failure to defend his charge. With the construction of the Emerald Chambers, Undoros was the first to volunteer for its honor guard and was one of the founding members of the Silent Devotees. In the centuries that followed Xin’s death, Undoros continued his quiet vigil and hardly aged—a phenomenon considered a blessing by many but felt to be a curse by Undoros himself, who interpreted his extraordinary longevity as having been forced on him by Lissala in order that he might redeem himself for his failure in her eyes.

Undoros had premonitions of Earthfall days before it occurred, yet even if he could have warned the runelords, he would not have; the guardian knew that they had corrupted Xin’s empire and betrayed his master. Instead, he engineered his own transformation by exposing himself to the raw magic that f lows through and links the Emerald Chambers.

When the newly risen graveknight regained consciousness, Thassilon was no more.

Now calling himself Xin-Undoros in honor of his fallen liege, the graveknight patrols the halls of the Emerald Chambers and has established himself as chief among the few remaining Silent Devotees. Though in undeath he regained his capacity for speech, the graveknight almost never speaks, believing that doing so would break his undying oaths and further shame him in the eyes of Lissal.a Guarding Xin’s tomb is integral to his existence, yet Xin-Undoros is rarely violent when first encountered. He often takes intruders on a tour of the site’s many relief carvings and crumbling frescos, hoping to show them Xin’s virtues and near-divinity. If that fails to convince visitors to leave tribute and depart without further incident, the graveknight does not hesitate to cut them down.

For more on Lissala, see page 193 of Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Gods.[1]

OTHER NOTABLE GRAVEKNIGHTS

Unlike liches, who tend to brew far-reaching schemes, graveknights are often content to dominate a smaller region, direct their ire at a single group, or serve a more powerful master. Even so, graveknights with less ambition or more local agendas than those described above are still among the most dangerous undead to walk Golarion

Gallus Gal onnica

NE male human graveknight bard 11

Armor: spiked full plate;

Energy Type: fire

Cheliax’s elite consider High Chelish opera one of the finest art forms, and in some circles the performers battle to win the best roles using subtle cruelty that would make a devil sick. In 4466 ar, the aspiring vocal virtuoso Gallus Galonnica sparked an intense, months-long conf lict with rival baritone Ociptio Larguerva, a well-established master of his craft, by bribing a particularly loud-mouthed critic to pan Ociptio’s rendition of the classic “The Lyre of Prince Lazzaro.” The two fought a vicious war through sabotage and proxies, culminating in a heated series of challenges when they encountered each other by accident in a tavern in Egorian. After one glass of wine too many, Gallus claiming he would sing the entirety of the mad composer Narmiria’s Echoes of Pharasma, an epic opera whose final aria most believed to be impossible for the human voice to perform.

On the night of the performance, Gallus strode onto stage wearing full battle regalia and amazed the audience with his command of the craft. Fearing that Gallus’s success would jeopardize his career, Ociptio set fire to the opera house after the final intermission. As the f lames swept up the curtains and licked the walls, the onlookers f led in panic, yet Gallus refused to accept that a mere disaster could stop him from besting his rival. As the story goes, the young singer’s crescendo hit its peak just as the burning building’s roof collapsed in a shower of sparks.

The artists of Egorian learned over the next 3 years that performing High Chelish opera on the anniversary of Gallus’s death could summon his fiery spirit, which would parade about the stage in his charred armor while singing notes that shattered windows and caused candelabras to rage with fiery wrath. Since then, most Chelish cities have banned operatic performances on the third night of Kuthona for fear of invoking the bard’s ire. Only one confirmed sighting of Gallus Galonnica has resulted since—in 4620 ar, when King Gaspodar ordered a performance in spite of the superstitions in a desperate show of power to hold together his crumbling kingdom.

Holgona

LE female dwarf graveknight cavalierAPG 9

Armor: stoneplateUE;

Energy Type: acid

For more than a thousand years, the towering sky citadel Koldukar stood as a testament to the dwarves’ triumphant Quest for Sky, their migration from the Darklands to the surface.

However, their travel had also pushed the subterranean orcs to the surface, and in –3708 ar the orc warlord Belkzen besieged Koldukar in the Battle of Nine Stones. When it was clear all was lost, the citadel’s generals ordered the evacuation of the civilians through escape tunnels as the remaining warriors sealed off sections of the fortress and guarded the rear. Among these warriors was Holgona, a fiery knight who had seen her closest friends and comrades cut down earlier in the siege. Slowing the orc’s advance was insufficient to Holgona’s rage-clouded mind, and she threw open the great doors keeping the orcs at bay so that she could cut them down in person. Her actions led to the deaths of scores more soldiers and countless civilians who were unable to outrun the invaders’ fury before the orcs captured Holgona for later torture. When they were finally finished, the orcs threw her lacerated, acid-scarred corpse deep into the caverns of Koldukar.

There she reanimated as a graveknight and stalked the lower halls where few orcs wandered, venting her rage and cursing her fate. The recent arrival of rust monsters, which are consuming Koldukar’s steel supports, has given Holgona a new purpose, and she now patrols the crumbling caverns, relentlessly hacking apart any rust monsters she can catch.

The rust monsters sometimes risk her fury to consume the steel buckles that bind her armor together, leaving the undead dwarf crippled for days before she inevitably reassembles herself and continues her never-ending crusade.

Nahljari Hal kiri

NE female human graveknight druid 12

Armor: bronze dragonhide half-plate;

Energy Type: electricity

When the great maharajah Khiben-Sald built monuments and palaces on the Isle of Jalmeray about 4 millennia ago, he displaced thousands of indigenous people. He and the island’s former master Nex bribed the local leaders with magic, and many of the natives eventually accepted the new arrivals and integrated into their Vudrani culture.

Those who refused withdrew to the nearby island of Kaina Katakka, where Khiben-Sald and his successors let them live in peace. A few hundred years later, however, the exiled Arclords of Nex sought refuge on Jalmeray and quickly took over. Unlike their predecessors, the Arclords saw the people of Kaina Katakka as squatters in need of eviction.

Having been pushed out of their lands once, the islanders loathed the idea of f leeing again. However, in the years since Khiben-Sald’s departure, they had acquired two powerful guardians. The first was the bronze dragon Impranisos, who had witnessed the Vudrani occupation while still very young and had taken an interest in the exiled islanders. The other was Nahljari, a charismatic young woman renowned for her skill with nature magic who was also the favored liaison sent to commune with the community’s draconic guardian. When the Arclords threatened invasion, Nahljari and Impranisos mobilized Kaina Katakka to repel the Arclords’ attack and defend their way of life. Under other circumstances, they might have stood a chance, but the wizards wielded the Scepter of the Arclords and used it to invoke an arcane cataclysm. The rain of spells reduced the island to ash and shattered druid and dragon alike.

Now little more than a ghost-infested wasteland, Kaina Katakka receives few visitors other than daring smugglers who are confident nobody else would ever land here. Even these trips are growing less frequent, for several crews have reported encounters with a bronze-clad warrior who rides upon a skeletal dragon.

Riderless Wraith

NE advanced combat-trained horse graveknight

Armor: mithral chainmail barding;

Energy Type: cold

Each daughter of Baba Yaga rules the winter-locked land of Irrisen for a century at a time, only to be replaced by a new daughter and led away by the Witch Queen when she returns. But not every ruler goes quietly. During the Harcatha Rebellion in 3937 ar, the descendants of the recently deposed Harcatha tried and failed to overthrow the rule of the new monarch, Queen Sasch.a Across the kingdom, Harcatha’s kin died by execution and in pockets of futile armed resistance, leaving no survivors. Even the rebels’ mounts were slaughtered or captured, including an extraordinary warhorse that Queen Sascha’s retainers couldn’t subdue. In the end, they released a pack of winter wolves to savage the steed and then abandoned the mutilated remains. Two months later, the local baroness attempted to contact the wolves to no avail, and her agents soon reported that something had killed the entire pack. Goblins living around the Hoarwood spoke fearfully of a demon hors that breathed frost, wore rime-slick mail, and sometimes bore an indistinct rider who glowed with blue f lames.

Although a few have drawn the connection between the slaughtered horse and the undead horror that stalked southern Irrisen for decades, nobody knows if the beast ever had a name. What does seem clear is that it hates wolves and anything associated with Queen Sasch.a When Baba Yaga replaced Sascha with her eighth daughter, Karina, the strange graveknight departed to haunt other lands. Witnesses have spotted it as far east as the outskirts of Port Ice in Brevoy.

Most know the beast as the Riderless Wraith, for the typical observer senses the strangeness of an armored horse without a rider before fully recognizing the creature’s undead state. Tales suggest that the same incandescent rider that sometimes appears on the Wraith’s back occasionally hides behind a tree and watches impassively as the horse attacks.

Sebas tius Wright

CE male half-elf graveknight inquisitorAPG of Calistria 6/ gray gardener 4

Armor: spiked breastplate;

Energy Type: fire

Revolutionary fever gripped the young Sebastius Wright as surely as it did Galt in 4667 ar, and the young half-elf quickly found a place among the rebels by tracking down and capturing nobles for their crimes—both real and perceived.

The Revolutionary Council rewarded him for his efforts, and promoted him to the recently formed Gray Gardeners.

His zeal and ostentatious displays of public justice earned him the Gardeners’ approval, which enabled him to survive the bloody overthrow of the first revolutionary government and find a place in its short-lived replacement.

For several years he escorted the final blade known as Sanguine Sal from town to town, overseeing beheadings and screaming the new regime’s doctrine. However, none of Galt’s recent governments have lasted more than a decade, and each coup has seen the execution of the previous generation’s most vocal supporters. The third regime identified Sebastius as a possible threat, and the Gray Gardeners who once stood by his side led a mob to subdue and execute the half-elf with the very guillotine he had cherished and operated. He did not go quietly. His furious resistance was so great that the Gray Gardeners were unable to capture him and had to settle for shooting him down, burning his body, and hanging his mangled armor outside Isarn as a warning to others. There it hung for 2 weeks before disappearing mysteriously—an incident that triggered more killings, ostensibly to find the hooligan so brazen as to f launt Galtan justice.

In truth, Sebastius’s armor absorbed the hateful energy beating through Isarn’s streets and animated spontaneously, tearing itself free from the city’s wall. The graveknight has since stalked the Boarwood and central Galt, hunting Gray Gardeners, innocents, and noble sympathizers alike.

On two particularly bloody occasions, he has interrupted executions in progress, both times setting fire to civilians, killing government officials, freeing the condemned, and handing the criminal a weapon while urging her to take revenge. The Gray Gardeners have responded by placing a bounty on the mysterious graveknight.

Those who have seen Sebastius claim that he carries a terrifying axe built from a guillotine blade, and furrows left near his kills suggest that he drags it behind him.

For more on the Gray Gardeners, see page 24 of Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Paths of Prestige.

Seldeg Bhedlis

CE male human graveknight antipaladinAPG of Arazni 17

Armor: adamantine full plate;

Energy Type: fire

In 3889 ar, when the Knights of Ozem sought to push into Geb, Seldeg Bhedlis was one of the six knights chosen to infiltrate Mechitar as a way to rekindle the Shining Crusade. He and the other knights were able to maintain a low profile and pass unmolested in the city—until Bhedlis met a beautiful vampire performer who captivated his mind. Drawn by her allure, Bhedlis eventually fell to temptation and began a physical relationship with the vampire. It was then that his paladin code began to slowly unravel and the knights’ true mission began to dissolve.

Even though he knew that he was slipping from his duty, Bhedlis continued visiting the vampire, and one evening his true identity as a Knight of Ozem was revealed. The vampire was a thrall to a Blood Lord, and shortly after Bhedlis’s slipup he was captured. While the knight was being questioned, Geb himself came to interrogate the paladin.

Seldeg Bhedlis wasn’t worried about being killed on this mission, and steadfastly claimed that he and his people were ready to die fighting evil in the name of Aroden.

Bhedlis feared, however, that if his trysts with the vampiric seducer were known to his fellow knights, he would be excommunicated—or worse.

Geb offered a solution to Seldeg’s problems: he wouldn’t have to worry about his soul being judged in the Great Beyond if he would reveal the identity and location of the other five knights. Bhedlis consented, and Geb incinerated the man on the spot, transforming the once-noble paladin into a graveknight. When the other knights were rounded up, they suffered the same fate. After their transformation, the newly created graveknights worked for Geb in his interests. Their next mission was a defining moment. The six graveknights returned to Vigil and absconded with Arazni’s body, bringing it to Mechitar where she was later raised as a lich.

Even now, Seldeg Bhedlis acts as a spymaster and has agents throughout Geb, Lastwall, Ustalav, or anywhere else the Knights of Ozem might roam. In addition to keeping tabs on the activities of the Knights of Ozem, Seldeg Bhedlis is also in charge of hunting down the Bloodstones of Arazni.

For more on Arazni, see page 193 of Inner Sea Gods.[1]

Références

  1. 1,0 1,1 et 1,2 Giant slayers - 04 - Ice Tomb of the Giant Queen