[Krynnspace] Four death knights?

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[Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Oct 21, 2016 12:57 pm

I seem to recall something (something a bit weird) about four death knights running a spelljamming port on Krynn.

But I just skimmed through SJR7 Krynnspace and I can't find anything.

Am I imagining this, or mixing it up with another world?

EDIT: Ripvanwormer reminded me about these death knights. My actual question about them is in the third post.
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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by ripvanwormer » Fri Oct 21, 2016 2:28 pm

War Captain's Companion, War Captain's Guide, pages 48-50. They run the Black Market in Palanthas.

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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Oct 21, 2016 7:20 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:War Captain's Companion, War Captain's Guide, pages 48-50. They run the Black Market in Palanthas.
Thanks. I thought it was in Palanthas, but didn't remember it was WCC, so looked up SJR7 instead.

Anyhoo, the reason I was trying to recall where this was was I was thinking that four death knights hanging around in Palanthas to run a black market (I couldn't remember what it was) seems a bit "unrealistic", when compared to a death knight like Lord Soth. It just doesn't feel like a Dragonlance theme.

I don't want to "get rid of them" because SJ canon is in short supply and I'd much rather "fix them" or find a logical reason for their existence, than "get rid of them".

But has anyone had any thoughts on how to make four death knights in Palanthas feel logical. And not just logical, but something that is going to create interesting plot hooks that both work as a Dragonlance thing, but also work as a Krynnspace thing.

What back-story could these four knights have?

Why did they break their vows and end up as death knights?

Why do they work as a team? Were they a team of good knights who all failed their vows together?

What connection could they have to Krynnspace? And why could they be hanging out in Palanthas? Could they be smuggling things in and out of Palanthas and getting them to people in wildspace?
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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by night_druid » Fri Oct 21, 2016 7:53 pm

Personally, I'd ditch the death knights. Instead, I'd have a black robes wizard running the black market, who uses undead constructs made to resemble death knights, to act as 'front men' for his organization. Perhaps each one is controlled from afar by one of his apprentices like puppets (when they need to speak), but power-wise is probably closer to wraiths or spectres. One death knight would have been MORE than sufficient; four is just overkill.
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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:59 pm

night_druid wrote:Personally, I'd ditch the death knights.
I might need to do that, but I try not to toss out any canon, except as a last resort.
night_druid wrote:Instead, I'd have a black robes wizard running the black market, who uses undead constructs made to resemble death knights, to act as 'front men' for his organization. Perhaps each one is controlled from afar by one of his apprentices like puppets (when they need to speak), but power-wise is probably closer to wraiths or spectres.
That's a good story.

Although, I do still wonder why there might be four undead knights...of any type...appearing to run the black market in Palanthas.

Is there anything in Dragonlance canon to back this up (or to give an alternative background for the black market)?
night_druid wrote:One death knight would have been MORE than sufficient; four is just overkill.
Lord Soth still has a bunch of knights with him, although they are not death knights.

This does seem like overkill to me too, but I'm wondering if there could be a suitable backstory that would explain a team of four knights dying in shame and returing as death knights.

The Bay of Branchala used to be used as a pirate haven, back before Palanthas was built. And the crew of the Bright Horizon did a deal with the pirates, who were hiding from the Egothian cavalary, and built a town (called Bright Horizon after their ship) where they helped smugglers.

Vinas Solamnus, who founded the Knights of Solamnia, helped support a rebellion he had been sent to defeat and renamed Bright Horizons after the god Paladine. But suppose that four of the other members of the Ergothian military had been sent to Bright Horizons before Vinas Soamnus and had taken bribes instead of shutting down the smuggling in the town? Could that be enough to turn four knights...or cavaliers (or whatever they were) into death knights? Could a bribe to defend the smuggling turn into an eternal curse to continue to facilitate smuggling in an expanding city? :)
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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by ripvanwormer » Sat Oct 22, 2016 1:09 am

As a general idea, I like the idea of four powerful undead ruling the criminal underworld of a major fantasy city. They remind me a bit of the "Gods of Lankhmar," a group of liches who rise from their tomb to defend Lankhmar in times of need.

I have some problems with these specific death knights, though:

They're all virtually the same, statistically. Dirk has ten more hit points than the other four, who all have 90 each. Apart from that, their only statistical differences are their charisma and dexterity scores and the weapons they use. Partly, that's due to the limitations of 2nd edition AD&D. In 3rd edition they'd have class levels to distinguish them, but in 2e all death knights are more or less the same (although these do have some magic items that help). That's kind of boring. One solution might be to tinker with their stats a little more, giving them unique magical powers as well as unique weapons. In 3rd edition, where death knight is a template, classes and prestige classes would be a big help. You could also make some or all of them other kinds of creatures: different undead types, perhaps, or even fiends or other evil creatures from other planes.

They come across as lesser versions of Lord Soth. Lord Soth is so iconic that it's difficult to use other death knights at all in Dragonlance without reminding everyone that he's a better version of what we're seeing here.

They may also be a bit too powerful, depending on the campaign. If the four death knights who rule Palanthas's underworld are too strong compared to other major NPCs it comes across as unbalanced.

This complaint is petty: the text says they all weigh over 300 pounds. They're skeletons, more or less: they should weigh less than humans of equivalent height, not more. Their armor can't be that heavy. What's weighing them down, evil? How much does evil weigh, exactly?

Here's the backgrounds they're given, though (note that "Cartel" is the surname they've taken after meeting Dirk; they're not actually related):

Dirk Cartel: Dirk Cartel, the Black Father, was a Solamnic Knight 300 years ago. He murdered his wife and the man who was courting her and was cursed to become a death knight. A very generic death knight background, so it'd be good to flesh it out.

Lancet Cartel: Lancet was also a Solamnic Knight (from Tarsis). He was cursed by Kiri-Jolith for complaining about his job. That's it. Don't complain about your job if you're a Solamnic Knight. He seems to have been found guilty as much by association with his friend, the paladin Mandauran, as anything he personally did. Mandauran doesn't seem to have been that evil either, though: he killed a man who violently assaulted a woman, and was reprimanded by his order before being transformed into a death knight for the crime of complaining about it to Lancet. After they traveled together as death knights for a century, Mandauran was destroyed helping Lancet kill a band of adventurers, and Lancet seems to desperately miss him. He sings songs about Mandauran's death every night. It looks like there's some implied subtext here that the text doesn't want to state outright. Did TSR's standards and practices forbid the author from writing an explicitly gay death knight? In any case, I'd flesh Lancet out better to make it clear he had been cursed for doing something more than just being a bit of a whiner. In 3rd edition, he might have bard levels.

Sabra Cartel: The only woman among the four, Sabra specializes in torture and seems to have something of a sense of humor. She doesn't have a backstory. A weird possibility: make her a kyton (chain devil).

Vex Cartel: Vex Cartel is a mystery. His magic items make him virtually immune to divination. Not only does he not have a backstory, but what there is of his personality is entirely tied to his lack of a backstory or anything else notable about him. That separates him from Lord Soth, and honestly one of them should be a mystery. It'd be dull for them all to be lamenting about their tragic falls from grace. I might make him something other than a death knight too. His desire to keep his past a closely guarded secret might mean he's actually a recognizable historical figure. Maybe he's an ultroloth, a rakshasa, or a shade. Maybe he's a living human infiltrating the death knights, using his magic items to fool them into believing he's one of their own kind. Maybe he wants to bring them down from within.

I don't think it's strange for four death knights to join together; they have a lot in common, after all, and after centuries of loneliness it might be nice to have others of their kind to hang out with.
Big Mac wrote:Vinas Solamnus, who founded the Knights of Solamnia, helped support a rebellion he had been sent to defeat and renamed Bright Horizons after the god Paladine. But suppose that four of the other members of the Ergothian military had been sent to Bright Horizons before Vinas Soamnus and had taken bribes instead of shutting down the smuggling in the town? Could that be enough to turn four knights...or cavaliers (or whatever they were) into death knights?
That was over 2,000 years ago, and Dirk is only about 300 years old, Lancet probably a little over a century (though it's ambiguous how long it's been since Mondauran's death). Sabra and Vex could be older, especially Vex, though Dirk is the "father figure" of the group.
Is there anything in Dragonlance canon to back this up (or to give an alternative background for the black market)?
"The Lower City" mentioned in the War Captain's Companion isn't on the map of Palanthas in the SAGA Palanthas supplement, but it seems to be describing the southern fringe of the Merchandising District, though that's one of the highest parts of the city, not the lowest. In Palanthas, the city's criminal underworld is ruled by a Thieves' Guild with a mortal, living human guildmaster, Daavyd Nelgard. I don't know how to reconcile this with the War Captain's Companion at all, unless the death knights left the city prior to the Age of Mortals. It's possible the Black Market and Thieves' Guild are unrelated institutions.

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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by Jaid » Sat Oct 22, 2016 4:28 am

i dunno, i have to agree that 4 death knights seems just a *tad* excessive. having them just sitting around in a town full of people (which they don't appear to be actively harming in spite of supposedly hating the living) and having the evil plot of *gasp* making money by smuggling just... i mean... you've got 4 guys who together could take on a fair-sized mercenary band in relatively short order. they could easily handle taking a ship full of typical sailors by themselves. and they're just sitting around in a city smuggling illegal goods into the city? they're death knights, not merchants. what are they even going to do with the money, it's not like they can spend it on food, alcohol, women, etc...

that kind of thing just really cheapens the impact of death knights to me. they're supposed to be these rare and powerful undead that everyone should fear, they shouldn't be a paragraph and a stat block, they should be used sparingly and only where it's going to have an impact. not as something you're probably never going to encounter.

(as far as the weight thing, it seems that's standard for death knights. maybe their bones are transformed in some way such that they become quite heavy? might go a ways towards explaining why they always have AC 0 regardless of their armour)

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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by ripvanwormer » Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:39 pm

Part of Palanthas's history is that a group of pirates agreed to procure supplies for its construction under the condition that pirates would always be welcome there. It would be kind of cool if a group of undead pirates, perhaps wraiths or spectres created from the original city founders, remained in Palanthas to this day insisting that citizens continue to honor the deal.

Another idea I like, and maybe this isn't so Dragonlancy but it fits my own aesthetic, is a cabal of powerful undead and fiends supplying the Blood War from a spelljammer port on the material plane. Vex could be an arcanaloth and Sabra could be a night hag, or vice versa.

I imagine that after centuries of being cursed by the gods as a skeletal horror, though, there's very little you wouldn't do just to be relieved from the tedium and monotony of your eternal torment. Run a smuggling operation, teach at a school, anything to experience something new.

Death knights could use money to hire mercenaries and servants, bribe officials (this is canon), purchase luxurious homes and furnishings and fine clothing, and even buy food that, while they can't personally eat it, they might enjoy seeing arranged in an aesthetically pleasing way and serving it to their minions as a sign of their largesse. Sure, they have no actual fleshy needs and could probably get by lurking alone in crypts and catacombs while their clothing rots from their bones, but they might prefer to maintain a more luxurious standard of unliving. They have a certain amount of magical power, but temporal power requires cash.

One thing I wonder about: if Dirk was cursed only 300 years ago, that was after the cataclysm. The gods weren't answering prayers then; would they have been creating death knights? Perhaps all death knights should be of pre-cataclysmic origin, or created since the return of the gods during the War of the Lance.

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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by night_druid » Sat Oct 22, 2016 5:24 pm

I dislike using four death knights in this purpose for a few reasons. Firstly, its overkill and overpowered. A Death Knight is the fighter equivalent of a lich; four would be akin to having a small army within Palanthis. You'd think they could overthrow the city, should they so choose. And, as Jaid stated, they hate the living. They should be turning the city into a graveyard.

Secondly, its utterly against everything a death knight is. A death knight, especially in relation to Krynn, is a tragic individual, cursed by the gods. A fallen hero who betrayed oath and duty to commit the most terrible of crimes and were cursed for it. Dirk comes across as a REALLY cheap carbon copy of Soth. Just like with the Dark Lords of Ravenloft, each one should is a unique story in and of itself. Each should be put in a role that mirrors their crimes, not just "oh I'm bored, let me take up smuggling." It cheapens the death knight.

Thirdly, its boring and lacks creativity. "Oh death knights are associated with Krynn. I'll have four running this shop!" Bleh.

My take?
* Dirk - If I kept even one death knight, I guess I'd keep Dirk. Except I'd ditch the lame Soth-wanna-be storyline. Dirk's new story is as follows: He was a knight of Solomina who eventually uncovered a smuggling operation. But, instead of reporting it, he muscled his way in, first simply taking bribes to look the other way, and then eventually he wormed his way to the side of the guy running the place, and murdered him to seize control. His superior, perhaps even his father/uncle/older brother, finally uncovered the operation but not Dirk's involvement. His superior alerted Dirk, and together they boarded the smuggler's ship, which included much contraband and an assassin who was going to kill a very high-ranking knight. Only, the assassin turned out to be Dirk, who murdered his superior in cold blood, as well as men he commanded. In the fire-fight, the ship was burned and Dirk died, only to rise again as a death knight. It took him decades to return to Palanthis, and a few months to retake his position after murdering the current leader of the smugglers.

Lancet: Not a death knight; perhaps something more akin to a banshee, but male & human? I'd probably end up creating a new form of undead combining certain aspects of death knight and banshee, but a bit weaker than both. In effect, Lancet would be Dirk's enforcer and assassin. The rest of the backstory is fine, post undeath. I'd change his fall, though. Sounds way too lame; needs more betrayal and epicness, not "we curse you for doing a little complaining!" :p

Sabra: I'd actually make her an Inquisitor, from FR. Just modified to worship a Krynn deity. She'd be Dirk's personal torturer and inquisitor. He gives to her those that displease him, or those that have information he seeks.

Vex: Ditch the death knight; he's really a high-ranking black robe working with Dirk. Perhaps undead (lich? probably not). Vex would be Dirk's wizard backup. Probably more illusions and trickery magic, to better aid Dirk's smuggling operations than fireballs and lightning bolts.
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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by Jaid » Sat Oct 22, 2016 8:24 pm

night_druid wrote:I dislike using four death knights in this purpose for a few reasons. Firstly, its overkill and overpowered. A Death Knight is the fighter equivalent of a lich; four would be akin to having a small army within Palanthis. You'd think they could overthrow the city, should they so choose. And, as Jaid stated, they hate the living. They should be turning the city into a graveyard.

Secondly, its utterly against everything a death knight is. A death knight, especially in relation to Krynn, is a tragic individual, cursed by the gods. A fallen hero who betrayed oath and duty to commit the most terrible of crimes and were cursed for it. Dirk comes across as a REALLY cheap carbon copy of Soth. Just like with the Dark Lords of Ravenloft, each one should is a unique story in and of itself. Each should be put in a role that mirrors their crimes, not just "oh I'm bored, let me take up smuggling." It cheapens the death knight.

Thirdly, its boring and lacks creativity. "Oh death knights are associated with Krynn. I'll have four running this shop!" Bleh.

My take?
* Dirk - If I kept even one death knight, I guess I'd keep Dirk. Except I'd ditch the lame Soth-wanna-be storyline. Dirk's new story is as follows: He was a knight of Solomina who eventually uncovered a smuggling operation. But, instead of reporting it, he muscled his way in, first simply taking bribes to look the other way, and then eventually he wormed his way to the side of the guy running the place, and murdered him to seize control. His superior, perhaps even his father/uncle/older brother, finally uncovered the operation but not Dirk's involvement. His superior alerted Dirk, and together they boarded the smuggler's ship, which included much contraband and an assassin who was going to kill a very high-ranking knight. Only, the assassin turned out to be Dirk, who murdered his superior in cold blood, as well as men he commanded. In the fire-fight, the ship was burned and Dirk died, only to rise again as a death knight. It took him decades to return to Palanthis, and a few months to retake his position after murdering the current leader of the smugglers.

Lancet: Not a death knight; perhaps something more akin to a banshee, but male & human? I'd probably end up creating a new form of undead combining certain aspects of death knight and banshee, but a bit weaker than both. In effect, Lancet would be Dirk's enforcer and assassin. The rest of the backstory is fine, post undeath. I'd change his fall, though. Sounds way too lame; needs more betrayal and epicness, not "we curse you for doing a little complaining!" :p

Sabra: I'd actually make her an Inquisitor, from FR. Just modified to worship a Krynn deity. She'd be Dirk's personal torturer and inquisitor. He gives to her those that displease him, or those that have information he seeks.

Vex: Ditch the death knight; he's really a high-ranking black robe working with Dirk. Perhaps undead (lich? probably not). Vex would be Dirk's wizard backup. Probably more illusions and trickery magic, to better aid Dirk's smuggling operations than fireballs and lightning bolts.
yeah, this sounds like it would work a lot better. still feels a bit much for a smuggling ring that operates in only a single city, but they could either be expanding elsewhere by taking over other groups (not many smuggling rings are going to be able to do much against a death knight with this much support) or they've only just come into power and haven't gotten that far yet.

and it doesn't cheapen something that is supposed to have impact.

even then, i'd probably *only* use this if i was planning to have this be a major plot element in a campaign i was running. this sounds fine as an adventure (for example, if the PCs are living in a place where the local smugglers are being taken over and as a result the local crime scene is getting a lot darker, and they discover that this is coming from a smuggler's ring elsewhere, and they eventually get to a point where they go to tackle that other ring - possibly after helping out a few other places that are having similar problems).

but never as a throwaway. death knights are not a throwaway enemy. when they show up, it should be significant.

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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by night_druid » Sat Oct 22, 2016 9:02 pm

Jaid wrote:yeah, this sounds like it would work a lot better. still feels a bit much for a smuggling ring that operates in only a single city, but they could either be expanding elsewhere by taking over other groups (not many smuggling rings are going to be able to do much against a death knight with this much support) or they've only just come into power and haven't gotten that far yet.
Certainly. They do deal in spelljammers, so perhaps they facilitate operations across the sphere.
and it doesn't cheapen something that is supposed to have impact.

even then, i'd probably *only* use this if i was planning to have this be a major plot element in a campaign i was running. this sounds fine as an adventure (for example, if the PCs are living in a place where the local smugglers are being taken over and as a result the local crime scene is getting a lot darker, and they discover that this is coming from a smuggler's ring elsewhere, and they eventually get to a point where they go to tackle that other ring - possibly after helping out a few other places that are having similar problems).
Were I to write an adventure around this, I'd model it after the Slaver series. Basically 4 linked adventures, with the ultimate showdown with Dirk at the end of adventure 4. Probably the first adventure would involve some minor agents of his, without even hinting at undead, with undead agents first showing up at the end of adventure 2. Probably tackle his three lieutenants across adventures 3 & 4 before the grand finale.
but never as a throwaway. death knights are not a throwaway enemy. when they show up, it should be significant.
Agreed. Same with a lich; liches should never be throwaway enemies. Especially after Guide to Liches...man that book made them truly boss monsters that should be terrifying, not just sword fodder.
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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by Tauster » Sun Oct 23, 2016 1:49 pm

I was never much into Dragonlance (even though I read two or three dozen of the early novels) and can only guess about death knights in the DL setting, but I like where the discussion is going. :)

One minor thought about the 'undead can't taste food and drinks anymore'... I seem to remember that in The Ilthiad there was a blurb about mindflayers who establish a mental link to victims that allows them access to their senses, including taste. That should be easily possible with magic instead of psionics. There are spells that can be used to read thoughts and even communicate back and fourth, see through other's eyes etc, so why not share taste? While a death knight is probably not a spellcaster, it might hire one to create a set of magic items, one given to a mortal - the one who does the eating - and the other for the undead who craves the joys a good meal. Heck, he can have the mortal eat and drink ungodly amounts and can take off the 'receiver' before the hangover sets in! :D

I know this doesn't really contribute to the topic at hand, just had to get this thought out of my mind. ;)
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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by Jaid » Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:49 pm

sounds reasonable, but i suspect the 'taste' that death knights enjoy most is that of killing the living creatures they hate so much. which is why it feels a bit weird for there to be a death knight as the boss of a smuggling ring... unless it only just recently came into power and is actually building up a base of operations to eventually do something far worse than not paying import taxes or transporting obviously stolen goods :P

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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by AuldDragon » Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:13 pm

night_druid wrote:Personally, I'd ditch the death knights. Instead, I'd have a black robes wizard running the black market, who uses undead constructs made to resemble death knights, to act as 'front men' for his organization. Perhaps each one is controlled from afar by one of his apprentices like puppets (when they need to speak), but power-wise is probably closer to wraiths or spectres. One death knight would have been MORE than sufficient; four is just overkill.
This seems like a pretty good solution, it keeps the canon in place, and evil mages would have a very good reason to run a black market: So they can get illicit materials and funds for magical experimentation. I definitely agree that four death knights (or even one) makes little sense running a criminal enterprise. A vampire former thief would be a better idea if you want to preserve the undead-running-things angle.

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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by Monkey » Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:15 am

I was thinking about proto- Knights of Neraka/ Takhisis (working to make contacts and raise funds for their developing order), or intelligent undead working for a cult of Chemosh or Morgion.

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Re: [Krynnspace] Four death knights?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:54 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:As a general idea, I like the idea of four powerful undead ruling the criminal underworld of a major fantasy city. They remind me a bit of the "Gods of Lankhmar," a group of liches who rise from their tomb to defend Lankhmar in times of need.
I think that, if the four death knights, had always been described as doing something like this in Palanthas, I'd have thought of this as a super-cool detail, with the Spelljammer link being something that would link their plots to other parts of Krynnspace.

But with the only mention being in a Spelljammer product, it's something that makes me wonder if a mistake was made.
ripvanwormer wrote:I have some problems with these specific death knights, though:

They're all virtually the same, statistically. Dirk has ten more hit points than the other four, who all have 90 each. Apart from that, their only statistical differences are their charisma and dexterity scores and the weapons they use. Partly, that's due to the limitations of 2nd edition AD&D. In 3rd edition they'd have class levels to distinguish them, but in 2e all death knights are more or less the same (although these do have some magic items that help). That's kind of boring. One solution might be to tinker with their stats a little more, giving them unique magical powers as well as unique weapons. In 3rd edition, where death knight is a template, classes and prestige classes would be a big help. You could also make some or all of them other kinds of creatures: different undead types, perhaps, or even fiends or other evil creatures from other planes.

They come across as lesser versions of Lord Soth. Lord Soth is so iconic that it's difficult to use other death knights at all in Dragonlance without reminding everyone that he's a better version of what we're seeing here.

They may also be a bit too powerful, depending on the campaign. If the four death knights who rule Palanthas's underworld are too strong compared to other major NPCs it comes across as unbalanced.

This complaint is petty: the text says they all weigh over 300 pounds. They're skeletons, more or less: they should weigh less than humans of equivalent height, not more. Their armor can't be that heavy. What's weighing them down, evil? How much does evil weigh, exactly?
I see your point there.

You are alway going to get that "comparison with Lord Soth" thing though, even when looking at death knights designed for campaign settings other than Dragonlance. (The only other death knight I can actually remember the name of, is Lord Fear.)

I would have preferred to have seen four death knights used elsewhere in Krynnspace, with a good backstory that allowed a GM to use the group as the leaders of a dark force that the PCs kept running up against until they eventually took on one or all of the death knights and destroyed them.
ripvanwormer wrote:Here's the backgrounds they're given, though (note that "Cartel" is the surname they've taken after meeting Dirk; they're not actually related):

Dirk Cartel: Dirk Cartel, the Black Father, was a Solamnic Knight 300 years ago. He murdered his wife and the man who was courting her and was cursed to become a death knight. A very generic death knight background, so it'd be good to flesh it out.

Lancet Cartel: Lancet was also a Solamnic Knight (from Tarsis). He was cursed by Kiri-Jolith for complaining about his job. That's it. Don't complain about your job if you're a Solamnic Knight. He seems to have been found guilty as much by association with his friend, the paladin Mandauran, as anything he personally did. Mandauran doesn't seem to have been that evil either, though: he killed a man who violently assaulted a woman, and was reprimanded by his order before being transformed into a death knight for the crime of complaining about it to Lancet. After they traveled together as death knights for a century, Mandauran was destroyed helping Lancet kill a band of adventurers, and Lancet seems to desperately miss him. He sings songs about Mandauran's death every night. It looks like there's some implied subtext here that the text doesn't want to state outright. Did TSR's standards and practices forbid the author from writing an explicitly gay death knight? In any case, I'd flesh Lancet out better to make it clear he had been cursed for doing something more than just being a bit of a whiner. In 3rd edition, he might have bard levels.

Sabra Cartel: The only woman among the four, Sabra specializes in torture and seems to have something of a sense of humor. She doesn't have a backstory. A weird possibility: make her a kyton (chain devil).

Vex Cartel: Vex Cartel is a mystery. His magic items make him virtually immune to divination. Not only does he not have a backstory, but what there is of his personality is entirely tied to his lack of a backstory or anything else notable about him. That separates him from Lord Soth, and honestly one of them should be a mystery. It'd be dull for them all to be lamenting about their tragic falls from grace. I might make him something other than a death knight too. His desire to keep his past a closely guarded secret might mean he's actually a recognizable historical figure. Maybe he's an ultroloth, a rakshasa, or a shade. Maybe he's a living human infiltrating the death knights, using his magic items to fool them into believing he's one of their own kind. Maybe he wants to bring them down from within.

I don't think it's strange for four death knights to join together; they have a lot in common, after all, and after centuries of loneliness it might be nice to have others of their kind to hang out with.
I've never really "bought into" the cursed aspect of death knights. If you look at Kiri-Jolith turning Lancet into a death knight, he is actually taking somoene who would move onto the afterlife and transforming him into an undead that is likely to threaten other Solamnic Knights for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. I really don't see how that further's the cause of good. :roll:

Still, I suppose we are talking of a campaign setting where the gods plucked an asteroid out of wildspace and tossed it down onto the head of the Kingpriest. Good - in Dragonlance - isn't always totally logical.

Sabra and Vex do sound like their backstories would allow them to be a lot of fun.

I think I'd like to keep Sabra mostly the same, as I've not really noticed many references to female Solamnic Knights.
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Vinas Solamnus, who founded the Knights of Solamnia, helped support a rebellion he had been sent to defeat and renamed Bright Horizons after the god Paladine. But suppose that four of the other members of the Ergothian military had been sent to Bright Horizons before Vinas Soamnus and had taken bribes instead of shutting down the smuggling in the town? Could that be enough to turn four knights...or cavaliers (or whatever they were) into death knights?
That was over 2,000 years ago, and Dirk is only about 300 years old, Lancet probably a little over a century (though it's ambiguous how long it's been since Mondauran's death). Sabra and Vex could be older, especially Vex, though Dirk is the "father figure" of the group.
Looks like my theory is way off there. Although I suppose I could use something like that for something else.
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Is there anything in Dragonlance canon to back this up (or to give an alternative background for the black market)?
"The Lower City" mentioned in the War Captain's Companion isn't on the map of Palanthas in the SAGA Palanthas supplement, but it seems to be describing the southern fringe of the Merchandising District, though that's one of the highest parts of the city, not the lowest. In Palanthas, the city's criminal underworld is ruled by a Thieves' Guild with a mortal, living human guildmaster, Daavyd Nelgard. I don't know how to reconcile this with the War Captain's Companion at all, unless the death knights left the city prior to the Age of Mortals. It's possible the Black Market and Thieves' Guild are unrelated institutions.
I didn't know about that Palanthas suppliment, back in the day, but Falconer said that the city was occupied by the Knights of Takhisis during the Fifth Age. Perhaps having four death knights in a city controlled by the Knights of Takhisis would make more sense.

Perhaps another way to go with "The Lower City" would be to literally have another (older) city buried under the streets of Palanthas. An underground version of the Shoikan Grove (which could guard an entrance into the foundations below the Tower of High Sorcery) could also be fun. IIRC, Raistlin created some sort of artificial people in the Tower of High Sorcery. Maybe there could be some of them wandering around below the Shoikan Grove or in parts of "The Lower City" below Palanthas. I remember reading about parts of Palanthas close to the Tower of High Sorcering being deserted, so it would be fun to have areas below those streets have some things going on that are somehow connected to the Tower and the Shoikan Grove. :twisted:
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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