The Undead Knight.

Quote Originally Posted by Geroldt Brand

Geroldt Brand

Human Bard1/Paladin5/Dirgesinger5/Bone Knight9

And through it all, the rise and fall, the bodies in the streets.
And when you're gone we want you all to know:
We'll carry on, we'll carry on
And though you're dead and gone, believe me,
Your memory will carry on; we'll carry on.
And in my heart I can't contain it,
The anthem won't explain it.
A world that sends you reeling from decimated dreams
Your misery and hate will kill us all.
So paint it black and take it back
Let's shout it loud and clear
Defiant to the end we hear the call...

Spoiler: Backstory
In his younger years, Geroldt Brand lived a carefree life in Wakefield, a town near the kingdom’s border. Much to the dismay of his parents, Geroldt spent most of his time in the tavern learning from the Bards that traveled through. He loved his father, and respected his place in the service of the king, but he knew that music was his calling. And what place could music have in the army? One day, his father brought him to the town square to see a passing troop of Paladins, their white uniforms gleaming in the sun. They were led by a troop of six officers, playing flute, drums, and horns, with as much skill and passion as any Bard. Six months later, Geroldt had taken his oaths as a Paladin of Pelor.

He fought bravely in the order, distinguishing himself and rising in rank. His skill on the pipes became known far and wide. But disaster was waiting. Geroldt and his platoon were two days’ march away when the word came that an army of brigands had struck Wakefield. He frantically raised militia across the countryside as they made their way back. He arrived to find the walls barely holding. With his reinforcements, and a furious sortie that splintered the enemy commander’s elite troops, Wakefield was saved. But it was a victory laced with sorrow: his father had fallen to the invaders outside the city walls, holding off the enemy as the last few civilians took shelter.

Geroldt blamed himself for his father’s death. Grief gave way to depression, and depression gave way to despair. He forsook his Paladin’s vows, taking refuge in the only thing that had ever really made him happy: his music. His songs were no longer songs of joy, but grief and loss. If only his music could have saved his father. But maybe there was a way. Music to restore life to the dead, music to bring them back. With this newfound knowledge, it was time to stop wallowing, and start leading again. And he could, he could lead them all. Not a thin line of Paladins in white, but a mighty army clad in black. He would make his own parade.

Now Geroldt is wreaking havoc through the countryside as a Bone Knight. His haunting music strikes fear into the hearts of his enemies. At the sound of his pipes, even the dead can wake, for a time. Necromancers of all descriptions are flocking to his banner, and his undead legions are growing by the day. Such a clear threat to the kingdom demands a response, and your players are just the ones to end his reign of terror…

Spoiler: Starting Ability Scores
Str 15
Dex 8
Con 10
Int 12
Wis 13
Cha 14

Spoiler: Full Build Table

Bard1/Paladin5/Dirgesinger5/Bone Knight9
Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
1st Bard1 +0 +0 +2 +2 Craft (Weaponsmithing) 4, Craft (Armorsmithing) 4, Gather Information 4, Know (History) 4, Know (Religion) 4, Perform (wind instruments) 4, Sleight of Hand 4, UMD 4 Melodic Casting, Able Learner Bardic music, Bardic Knowledge, Countersong, Fascinate, Inspire Courage +1
2nd Paladin1 +1 +2 +2 +2 Craft (Armor) 5, Know(History) 5, Perform 5, Ride 1 - Aura of Good, Detect Evil, Smite Evil 1/day
3rd Paladin2 +2 +3 +2 +2 Craft (Weapon) 5, Know (Religion) 5, Perform 6, Ride 2 Devoted Performer Divine Grace, Lay On Hands
4th Paladin3 +3 +3 +3 +3 Craft (Armor) 6, Craft (Weapon) 6, Perform 7, Ride 3 - Aura of Courage, Divine Health. +1 Str
5th Paladin4 +4 +4 +3 +3 Perform 8, Ride 6 - Turn Undead
6th Paladin5 +5 +4 +3 +3 Perform 9, Ride 9 Requiem Smite Evil 2/day, Special Mount
7th Dirgesinger1 +5 +4 +3 +5 Perform 10, Ride 10, UMD 8 - Song of Sorrow
8th Dirgesinger2 +6 +4 +3 +6 Perform 11, Ride 11, UMD 9, Know (Religion) 7 - Song of Bolstering. +1 Con
9th Dirgesinger3 +7 +5 +4 +6 Perform 12, Ride 12, UMD 11, Know (Religion) 9 Corpsecrafter Song of Grief
10th Dirgesinger4 +8 +5 +4 +7 Perform 13, Ride 13, UMD 13, Know (Religion) 11 - Song of Horror
11th Dirgesinger5 +8 +5 +4 +7 Perform 14, Ride 14, UMD 14, Know(Religion) 14 - Song of Awakening
12th Bone Knight1 +8 +7 +4 +7 Perform 15, Ride 15, UMD 15, Know(Religion) 15 Destruction Retribution Bonecraft Armor (+4 intimidate, DR 1 or 2/Bludgeoning), Paladin Conversion, Rebuke Undead. +1 Con
13th Bone Knight 2 +9 +8 +4 +7 Perform 16, Ride 16, UMD 16, Know(Religion) 16 - Bone March, Summon Skeletal Steed
14th Bone Knight 3 +10 +8 +5 +8 Perform 17, Ride 17 UMD 17, Know(Religion) 17 - Master of the White Banner Black Parade
15th Bone Knight 4 +11 +9 +5 +8 Perform 18, Ride 18 UMD 18, Know(Religion) 18 Mounted Combat Improved Bonecraft Armor (DR +1, Immune to Stunning and Nonlethal)
16th Bone Knight 5 +11 +9 +5 +8 Perform 19, Ride 19 UMD 19, Know(Religion) 19 - Fill the Ranks 1/day. +1 Str
17th Bone Knight 6 +12 +10 +6 +9 Perform 20, Ride 20 UMD 20, Know(Religion) 20 - Bonecraft Weapon (+1d6 vs living)
18th Bone Knight 7 +13 +10 +6 +9 Perform 21, Ride 21 UMD 21, Know(Religion) 21 Battle Blessing Improved Bonecraft Armor (DR +1, 50% fortification, act without penalty while disabled/dying
19th Bone Knight 8 +14 +11 +6 +9 Perform 22 Ride 22 UMD 22, Know(Religion) 22 - Exoskeleton of Undeath (Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis, disease, death effects, fatigue, exhaustion, ability damage to physical scores, ability drain, energy drain, and death from massive damage)
20th Bone Knight 9 +14 +11 +7 +10 Perform 23, Ride 23 UMD 23, Know(Religion) 23 - Death Strike 1/day. +1 Str

Bard Spells Known
Prestidigitation, Lullaby, Summon Instrument, Read Magic

Spoiler: Paladin Spells Table

Spells per Day/Spells Known
Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
1st - - - -
2nd - - - -
3rd - - - -
4th - - - -
5th 0 - - -
6th 0 - - -
7th 0 - - -
8th 0 - - -
9th 0 - - -
10th 0 - - -
11th 0 - - -
12th 0 - - -
13th 1 - - -
14th 1 - - -
15th 1 0 - -
16th 1 0 - -
17th 1 1 - -
18th 1 1 0 -
19th 1 1 1 -
20th 1 1 1 -

Spoiler: Level Writeups
Spoiler: Level 5
At this level, Geroldt has not yet become a villain. He is a very atypical Paladin, considering his Bardic background. His skill selection is helped by the Able Learner feat, but his combat prowess is not equal to his fellow Paladins, who have taken things like Power Attack and Mounted Combat instead of Melodic Casting and Devoted Performer. The PCs might encounter him as a helpful NPC, taking the role of a “good cop” Paladin. He should mention his father at some point during the interaction to foreshadow his future tragedy and fall from grace.

Spoiler: Level 10
Geroldt is now in the pit of despair. He is isolated from his former comrades, and more than dabbling in the Necromantic arts. His combat prowess has taken a tremendous hit from Falling. However, his Dirge Songs – with DCs based on his ranks in Perform, rather than his caster level - can be a potent debuffing force.

(Note: Geroldt is no longer Good when he takes his first Dirgesinger level. This will briefly give him levels of Ex-Paladin, until taking Bone Knight for Paladin Conversion).

While spells like Animate Dead are not on his spell list, his ranks in Use Magic Device will allow him to use scrolls and wands (likely obtained through his association with Necromancers). The PCs might find him associating with a small group of Necromancers and their undead hordes; or as a lone madman in a ruined laboratory or library.

Spoiler: Level 15
Geroldt has embraced his destiny as a Bone Knight, and recovered most of the abilities he lost as an ex-Paladin. With the Desecrate spell now on his list, he is much more able to command a large host of minions. Destruction Retribution allows even the minor undead he creates through scrolls to be more than cannon fodder. His Dirge Songs continue to increase in potency as his ranks in Perform increase. Thanks to his Melodic Casting, he can use the Perform skill in place of Concentration for his Paladin spells, helping him to avoid Attacks of Opportunity while in the thick of battle. The PCs might encounter him as the commander of a fortress full of undead and Necromancers.

Spoiler: Sweet Spot: Level 16
This is the build’s sweet spot. Much like level 15, but [i]Fill the Ranks[\i] is now active, giving him the ability to make his own undead.

Spoiler: Level 20

Geroldt now personally commands a troop of Karrnathi Zombies or Skeletons that he has created with his [i]Fill the Ranks[\i] ability. His Exoskeleton of Undeath offers him protection from a wide range of conditions. Battle Blessing allows him to cast his Paladin spells more quickly in combat. His ranks in Use Magic Device and Perform are at their maximum, giving him a significant edge for casting from scrolls, staves, or wands. The PCs might encounter him as the head of an invading undead legion, or a cult leader attempting to conjure up a ghastly undead Deity.

Spoiler: Sources

Melodic Casting feat: Complete Mage 44.
Able Learner feat: Races of Destiny 150.
Devoted Performer feat: Complete Adventurer 107.
Requiem feat: Libris Mortis 29.
Dirgesinger Prestige Class: Libris Mortis 43.
Corpsecrafter feat: Libris Mortis 25.
Destruction Retribution feat: Libris Mortis 26.
Bone Knight Prestige Class: Five Nations 117.
Battle Blessing feat: Complete Champion 55.
Karrnathi Zombie, Karrnathi Skeleton: Eberron Campaign Setting 292 (referenced by Bone Knight’s [i]Fill the Ranks[\i] ability)

Spoiler: Additional Suggested Equipment
Bagpipes of the Damned (Libris Mortis)
Harmonizing and Profane weapon enhancements(MIC)
Scepter of the Netherworld (MIC)
Rod of Undead Mastery (MIC)
Circlet of Persuasion
Cloak of Charisma
Vest of Resistance (MiC)
Wand of Animate Dead
Scrolls of Summon Undead, Plague of Undead (Libris Mortis); Create Undead; Create Greater Undead.