Darker Oaths – Paladins for Grimmer Games

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While not fallen knights, these are holy warriors who have fallen on hard times none the less.  Certain orders of the paladin are not seen as the high and mighty crusaders of justice and good, but a necessity for dealing with evil… while preventing troubles members from falling themselves.  Many of the more righteous minded are uncomfortable around such types, as they tend to be far more dour, jaded and even looking they have the life taken out of them.

For many their path is seen as one of ultimate damnation, getting too close to that which they fight… or at the very least, losing sight of what’s worth fighting for.  Among their darker orders, they are the realists, the last line of defense, those who know too much about their enemy and the like.  Only a fool would turn down the aid of a dark oath member.  These crusaders are typically infiltrators, veterans, lore keepers and specialists against specific threats.  This of course assumes that suspicion doesn’t lead to their banning or worse.

Author’s Note: While these sub-classes are meant to be neutral/anti-heroes, they could be twisted into alternative options for Fallen/Oath Breaker Paladins.  All in all, I wanted these sub-classes to convey an almost gothic theme, alongside other inspirations.  Furthermore, I really wanted to experiment with these sub-classes, totally overhauling my original ideas for the “Oath of Blasphemy” and the “Oath of the Cynic”.  However, these sub-classes could easily fit vibes like Mythos Cultists, Instruments of Chaos and Trickery (i.e. Loki, Tzeentch, Cyric), Corrupt Clergymen, Fanatical Crusaders, agents of the Shadowfell or even servants of a less malicious God of Death (i.e. Wee Jas, The Raven Queen, Kelemvor, Anubis, etc).

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Oath of the Blasphemer – A Blackguard Oath for D&D 5th Edition

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For some, the antipaladin and the oathbreaker represents a fall from grace.  These are the exiles and the heretics whom must be stopped at all costs!  But, what happens when an entire oath is distorted by gradual influence of the darkness itself?  The Order of the Blasphemer is one such atrocity that arises.  These distorted paladins have lost their way much like the blackguard, but are convinced they serve a divine or holy cause.  This could be from sheer madness or from a dark revelation that the order itself is corrupt.

While many devotees of dark forces are aware of how far from grace they have fallen, the blasphemer order is tragic and ironic in their ignorance.  Driven mad by their past oaths and ideals, they have become delusional in the corruption they carry.  Many mad blasphemers have reached a level of insanity typical in the most devout of abyssal followers as a result of their broken minds doing all they can to refute their wretched existence.  Those who manage to break free of their mania typically become oathbreakers.  Some try to atone and become cynics.  The rest die from despair or failure to absolve themselves of their sins.

Author’s Note: Ah, deconstructing the Paladin… it’s always fun!  As written above, I’ve done this before with the Cynic.  Here, I have a new twist on the antipaladin/blackguard, a reluctant one who clings onto their old hopes and views while unwittingly (or perhaps willingly) committing great evil.  Also, take note!  This concept was an experimental idea I came up with to expand the oathbreaker archetype.  Some of the ideas are volatile and will be patched up in the weeks following.  Also, the original idea was far closer to Artorias from Dark Souls, but I figured it would have been too much of an homage.  But enough from me, subscribe today and a faustian bargain can be yours!

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Oath of Cynicism – A Morally Grey Paladin Order for D&D 5th Edition

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The stress of knighthood and justice can be too much upon many paladins.  Some crack under the pressure, some face worse.  For those unfortunate souls, they witness tragedy so great that they can no longer see value in “goodness”.  The “Cynics” were formed as a more grey-shaded alternative to the “Order of Goodness” that is the traditional paladin.  The Cynic believes that absolute order is the only method of achieving justice.  For them, protecting the minds of the innocent from things that would destroy them is for the best, even if that leaves them ignorant.  To the cynic, “Good and Evil” are a means of propaganda that distort and contort law and order to one’s ends.  Cynics hail from far and wide!  From the worshipers of Ilmater from the Forgotten Realms to the Bleak Cabal in Planescape’s Sigil; these dour knights reach the cosmos and beyond.

Tenets of The Cynic

Cynics have became jaded from countless vile atrocities, failures, and tragic events.  As a result, you are quick to judge everything around them with contempt and suspicion, due to traumatic past.  You are slow to trust others and only seem to admire maintaining order above all.  You are typically lawful neutral, but lawful good and lawful evil cynics are not unheard of either.

Mistrust – Never accept something at face value, don’t trust it either.  Only a fool would blindly accept the world without questioning it, lest they become a victim.  Without a bitter perspective on life, you could be used by false pretenses like morality and mercy.  Only law should be observed with respect, but it’s not above questioning.

Rationality – Your sense of passion and joy have long since been dashed, but you have no time to brood or sulk about it.  Instead, you are cold and pragmatic.  You try to observe things from a deeply thought driven perspective rather than through emotions.

Existentialism – We live in a world where conflicting viewpoints butt heads in the name of the absurd.  Your viewpoint is no different, just self-aware.  Do not fear death, for it shall one day unite us all.

Stoicism – Chaos runs rampant in the world.  Try as you may, you cannot defeat it.  At most, you can hope to spread balance.  In the end, the universe shall to do you as it pleases.

Conspiracy – Just as your order is a secret, there are things in the multiverse we aren’t meant to know!  We must keep this information away from the innocent and even destroy this information if need be.
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Oath of Steel – A Brotherhood of Steel inspired Paladin Oath for D&D 5th Edition

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The only salvation this tortured planet and its people have. Without us, humanity is sure to perish.”

The Oath of Steel is one of the most secretive and powerful oaths within the Realm.  For it is not merely acceptance into a fraternal order, but a new way of life dedicated to artifice, archiving, and absolute devotion.  In the end, they want to see life prosper, they just have a very misinformed and misguided approach to their methods.  Couple that with a paranoid xenophobia, it may be hard to gain their trust.  Despite criticisms of religious fanaticism and a crypto-fascist approach to politics, this paladin chapter is still a very potent and valuable ally.

While their origins are shrouded in mystery that only a few elite know, there are some details they are willing to share.  Before a great catastrophe, this order was part of a greater military.  As massive war broke out and the situation grew more grim, the order fortified themselves within a bunker to wade out the situation while readying military tactics.  Before they were ready to strike their enemy, the surrounding area was destroyed by some incredible power.  This soured the order greatly, leading to many of their reclusive tendencies.  Under the guidance of Father Maxson, they were able to persevere and recuperate after surviving what could have been the end of all things.  Many new leaders arose and brought the Order to greatness, while preserving secrets not meant for the outside world.

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Tenets of Steel

The Covenant of Steel (also known as “Steel Heads” and “Steelbros”) is a reclusive religious order dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of technologies.  For them, ensuring the outside population doesn’t misuse and abuse these artifacts is priority one.  Often, they will hassle locals who’ve discovered these items, so they give them up to the Covenant instead.  All Steel Heads follow codes with hyper-militaristic zeal, devoting themselves to an extreme method of law and order in the process.

Remain Rational – The wastes outside your underground home are brutal and taxing.  It is your responsibility to stay level headed.

Protect Technology – Technology is rightfully ours!  We seek to protect, archive, and reproduce incredible feats of technology; so the innovators of the past may never be forgotten.

Destroy Savages – Savages in the outside world do not understand our motives and would only abuse the very knowledge we’ve salvaged and re-purposed.  We must destroy all who oppose us.

Uphold Order – Father Maxson had given his all to ensure a safer world for his order.  Repay him in full with absolute devotion to the cause, a strong sense of duty, and an absolute adherence to Covenant order!

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