In the world’s oldest role-playing game, death knights have a pretty long history, starting with the Fiend Folio. Pathfinder’s gloss on undead anti-paladins is the graveknight, introduced during the Council of Thieves Adventure Path. Graveknights are even more tied to their armor than death knights—it functions much as a lich’s phylactery—and each one is infused with some kind of fell energy, typically fire. As with many powerful undead, each graveknight is an individual with a story of his own and tweaked abilities to match his tormented biography or necrography, as the case may be.
Sir Semual was a knight whose overflowing courage and charity were undermined only by his desire to share his loins just as freely. When tarrying at an assignation cost him the lives of several of his companions and his knighthood, he gave into despair and died on a suicidal mission fighting greater shadows. Rather than rise as one of them, he instead rose as a graveknight, whose sacrilegious aura and acid-laced arms and armor ensure he’ll never know the touch of a lover again.
The mirthless Regus of Lankshire never even noticed his death. The cruel taskmaster of Rimereach, his determination to hold the fort against frost giant assaults led him to push recruits until they were maimed by frostbite or mauled in the practice field. When he perished keeping watch in his armor during a blizzard, he was already a graveknight by the time his body was found. The ice-encrusted undead knight has resisted all attempts to slay or exorcise him, and his order debates the wisdom of continuing to try or abandoning Rimereach altogether. In the meantime, they still send him recruits—after all, the frost giants are still out there.
Selfish knights, cavaliers, anti-paladins, and brigands, the faithless Fists of the Black Banner traded the freedom of their grand duchy for infernal power. Now the eight graveknights ride on phantom steeds limned in fire and lightning. While the Fists’ armored helms reveal nothing of their former faces, each knight can be identified by the distinctive polearm he or she wields.
—Pathfinder Adventure Path 26 84–85 & Pathfinder Bestiary 3 138–139
Finished reading one Pathfinder book last week and three more this weekend. Giants Revisited was quite solid but left me wanting more—though I realize the title was not Giants Visited, I would have loved (and paid for) a slightly longer book to fit the new giants from Bestiary 2 and 3. Mike Shel’s Tomb of the Iron Medusa had a nice set piece that brought the scenario’s backstory to life, and RPG Superstar! winner Sam Zeitlyn’s The Midnight Mirror was worth the prize, especially for the sick tallowthroat disease and truly wicked lurker in light. Richard Pett’s Carrion Hill especially deserves a nod for being jus about the only full-length adventure I’ve ever felt like I could run after a single reading. I’m not a huge Lovecraft fan, but Carrion Hill drew me in, moved along at a clip, and left me wanting to play it immediately.
Backlog alert: Bearded devil, bebilith, cheetah/leopard, clockwork golem, and crocodile/dire crocodile entries are up. That means August is done, and we’re down to the last 20 or so unfinished monsters.
Hey! It’s my show, here to close out your Memorial Day weekend! Classic Love and Belle & Sebastian? We got that. New music from the Gaslight Anthem and the Mynabirds? Yeah, we got that. Harto from My Drunk Kitchen singing about food? Oh, you best believe we got that. Download it.
(Music starts just over one minute into the file, after—yeah, I know, I’m sorry—an Emergency Alert System test. Just fast-forward. The feed can skip, so let load in Firefox or Chrome, Save As an mp3, and enjoy in iTunes. Link good until Friday, 6/1, at midnight.)