But the other swiftly strode from ridge to ridge,
Clothed with his breath, and looking, as he walked,
Larger than human on the frozen hills.
He heard the deep behind him, and a cry
Before. His own thought drove him, like a goad.
Dry clashed his harness in the icy caves
And barren chasms, and all to left and right
The bare black cliff clanged round him, as he based
His feet on juts of slippery crag that rang
Sharp-smitten with the dint of armed heels –
And on a sudden, lo! the level lake,
And the long glories of the winter moon.
— Morte D’Arthur, Alfred Tennyson
When children play as knights, there’s always one who wants to be Sir Guyse. He is the hero of countless tales, the quintessential Paladin and, to many, the epitome of chivalric nobility. The King himself granted him the title “Pre-Eminent”, second only to the King himself in power and stature in the land. More well known still than his heriosm is his love and wooing of the Elven Princess Lliandra during his time as ambassador to the Elven Court. When the announcement came that she was betrothed to the King, Sir Guyse nobly stood aside, rejoicing with the whole country at this union between the Human and Elven nations.
Yet some whisper that since that day, Sir Guyse is a changed man. There is a darkness behind his eyes where once was light, and he has appeared more rarely at court. Some say he broods in the darkened chambers of his castle, spurning food and good company. Yet still he rides out, leading the armies in acts of selfless heroism, his service to the King and Queen no less diminished by his own private emotions. Only last month he led the Thirteen Knights to victory against the Orc Warlord of Thu’ull, slaying every last member of the tribe.
Even though they begged for mercy.
Dirty little secret: Sir Guyse is slowly turning into an Eminence, a Paladin Lich akin to a Death Knight. The transformation has slowly eaten at him, rotting his soul and body into a state of powerful undeath like no other. It’s not uncommon for Paladins to succumb to the passions they try to hard to contain in their hearts, but exceedingly rare for the transformation to take hold; all too often the fallen Paladin accepts death on the battlefield or faces other, less valourous fates. If Sir Guyse were to attain Eminence, the Gods themselves would know fear.
Notes: When I’m using 4e D&D, I still find it worthwhile to create a full set of stats for the main villain, especially if it’s a long-term guy like this one. It gives me more of a “feel” for the character, even though little of the detail would come into play around the table. When that’s done, I’ll create a simpler combat-ready Monster style statblock for use in-play. I’m working on those for Sir Guyse and the stats for his eventual Eminence form right now. Picture a 34th level heavily armoured undead with a Death Lance, dark Aura and skeletal Dreadmount Hippogriff. Any slain by his hand become undead warriors in his service, cursed to join his army for eternity. A Death Knight on Divine acid. Only worse.
He’s going to be a major player in my campaign, someone strictly in the background who sends his servants (human and otherwise) to carry out barely understood tasks in the dead of night. The players will innevitably stumble upon these plots, follow the clues, accuse Sir Guyse, and be banished from the Kingdom for daring to insult the King’s right hand man. Next stop: Civil Waaaaaaaaaaaaar!!!!!
Undead demigod Sir Lancelot = win!
Sir Guyse Preeminent
Evil (Lawful) Male Human Paladin / Warlord / Champion of order / Demigod -28
Str 19, Con 14, Dex 12, Int 13, Wis 20, Cha 28
HP 191, bloodied 95, surges 47×12/day
AC 44 (Heartening Plate +6 & Battleforged Shield +4), Fort 32, Ref 29, Will 35, Init +14, Speed 5
Dread Flail +6, +26 vs AC, 1d10+10, versatile, Fear/d, Crit:+6d6 & -6 to all defences
Divine Challenge/w, Lay on Hands/w 5/day, Bolstering Strike/w +31 vs AC, Enfeebling Strike/w +31 vs AC, Holy Strike/w +26 vs AC
Divine Mettle or Divine Strength/e, Inspiring Word/e, Fearsome Smite/e +31 vs AC, Righteous Smite/e +31 vs AC, Beckon Foe/e +23 vs Will, Certain Justice/e +30 vs AC, Renewing Smite/e +31 vs AC, Terrifying Smite/e +26 vs AC, Here Waits Thy Doom/e +23 vs Will, Deific Vengeance/e +25 vs Fort
Sacred Circle/d, Wrath of the Gods/d, Turn the Tide/d, None Shall Pass/d, Death Ward/d, Cleansing Burst/d, Divine Regeneration/d, Bastion of Defense/d +26 vs AC, Hallowed Circle/d +23 vs Ref, One Stands Alone/d +23 vs Will, True Nemesis/d +23 vs Will, Corona of Blinding Radiance/d +31 vs Ref, Rule of Order/d +26 vs Fort, To the Nine Hells with You/d +23 vs Will
Acrobatics +11, Athletics +19, Diplomacy +28, Endurance +17, History +20, Intimidate +28, Religion +20
Student of Battle, Human Perseverance, Mounted Combat, Power Attack, Powerful Charge, Improved Inspiring Word, Inspired Defense, Lend Might, Cull the Weak, Call to Glory, Bloodthirst, Devastating Critical, Great Fortitude, Inescapable Force, Mettle, Triumphant Attack, Multiclass Power Swap(Encounter), Multiclass Power Swap(Daily)
Paladin: Channel Divinity (Divine Strength), Channel Divinity (Divine Mettle), Divine
Challenge, Lay On Hands
Champion of Order: Champion’s Action, In Defense of Order, Champion’s Hammer, Certain Justice, None Shall Pass, Rule of Order
Demigod: Divine Spark, Divine Recovery, Divine Regeneration, Divine Miracle
Heartening Plate +6, Battleforged Shield +4, Dread Flail +6, Dreadmount Hippogriff with Heavy Barding +4