My point of view:
I am for the prestige classes to have their best abilities in their advanced levels, not in their first levels.
Two reasons for this:
- A Balance reason: Frantic and aberrant multiclasses such as Warlock 27 / Blackguard 3 or Wizard 27 / Shadow Dancer 3 must not exist. Let these great abilities on, but not in the first levels. True paladins and Shadow Dancers on PC would not be affected.
- A RP reason: A real Blackguard should go to the end of his class. By giving the best powers at the advanced levels, it incitates the players to truely specialize in a RP. They will pick the class they WANT to play RP, not for their techniqual prowers.
Why I think the blackguard class should be made more powerful:
- First, beyond level 3, as it has been said, the levels of blackguard gives poor powers,compared to a specialized class. His invocations are weaks and quickly swept high, especially since the black knight can not buffer them as a mage would do.
- Second, we must consider this: normally, a blackguard played well, it's a hardcore RP. There is no compromise. One can not play a fallen paladin and returned by the infernal forces, being in a discreet and consensual RP. It would be a serious cheating with the RP of the class. It's like imagining a paladin who plays it cunning and flexible with slave-minded.
In concrete terms, a blackguard must involve a very hard social RP, and a true cleaving RP. And in an environment like Baldur's Gate, this type of RP must quickly generate a situation of tension, violence, or even risk of Permadeath.
Considering this important aspect (which the Staff must uphold), it seems useful to me to see it necessary, to give the blackguard a higher technical power.
That's my hardcore RP (or consistency RP we could say) point of view. Some will not agree at all with this idea of a "technically powerful class, because risky to play properly".
Now, to talk about the technical proposal of our good Endelyon on the Blackguard:
Poison Use: Blackguards are skilled in the use of poison and never risk accidentally poisoning themselves when applying poison to a blade.
Turn Undead (Su): At 1st level, the blackguard gains the ability to rebuke or destroy undead as would an cleric of two levels lower.
Why at level 1? Each time we give powerful faculties from level 1, we open the possibility of pseudo RP multiclassing. You know, the consistent builds to take Blackguard or Paladin just to have Divine Shield then Epic Divine Might. Pushing the dead alive does not have to be given so early. Given at level 6 it will allow a level 11 PJ (eg Fighter 5, Blackguard 6) to have it, and that's enough.
Spellcasting: Beginning at 2nd level, Blackguards get a spellbook and are capable of casting first tier spells. At 4th level they become capable of second tier spells. At 6th level they become capable of casting third tier spells. At 8th level they become capable of casting fourth tier spells.
Smite Enemy (Su): At 2nd level, the blackguard gains the ability to smite any target he deems an enemy. For the duration of one round, he adds his Charisma modifier to his attack roll, and his Blackguard levels to the damage roll. This ability has a cooldown of five minutes, which shortens to two minutes at 5th level, and one minute at 10th level.
Dark Blessing (Su): Beginning at second level, a blackguard applies his Charisma modifier (if positive) as a bonus on all saving throws. This bonus is capped at the user's number of Blackguard levels.
Especially not at level !. This is THE pseudo RP reason that makes so many players to take this class (what could include me in, we are all powergamers potentially). But a class should be taken, FIRST, for the RP which corresponds to it. Level 6 would be good.
Aura of Despair (Su): Beginning at third level, the blackguard radiates a malign aura that causes enemies within 10 feet of him to take a -2 penalty on all saving throws.
Divine Might (Su): At 4th level, the blackguard gains the Divine Might feat for free, regardless of whether he meets the requirements or not.
For the same reasons I wrote above, it should only be given from level 6. It does not matter if for two levels there is no Divine Might. In two levels he will have it.
Sneak Attack (Ex): This ability, gained at fourth level, is like the rogue ability of the same name. The extra damage increases by +1d6 every third level beyond 4th (7th and 10th). If a blackguard gets a sneak attack bonus from another source the bonuses on damage stack.
Summon Fiend (Su): At 5th level, the Blackguard can summon a hellfire hound (which grows in strength once more at level 10).
Divine Shield (Su): At 6th level, the blackguard gains the Divine Shield feat for free, regardless of whether he meets the requirements or not.
Blood Bond (Su): At 8th level, if the blackguard is harmed in combat, the blackguard's Aura of Despair is modified to also give a +2 bonus to attack rolls and saving throws to all of the blackguard's allies within the aura's area of effect. This effect lasts for three rounds after the blackguard is harmed. Repeated injuries renew the effect, but it does not stack with itself.
I like the idea, because it does not increase the power of the blackguard, but it increases that of its allies, invocations or PCs. It is very good.
Profane Strength (Su): At 10th level, once per day, the blackguard may call upon his patron to grant him a +8 bonus to Strength for 10 minutes.
I do not like this idea. Only barbarians must have this ability, via Rage. And the blackguard is not focused on strength but on malevolence and fighting the Good. And then, he already has spell list, Abyssal Might, which gives him +3 in strenght, dexterity and constitution.
Let's not forget that the blackguard is not a real caster.
The warlock can summon a fiend because he is mastering this magic well.
The Pale Master can also do it since it is a magician specialized in necromancy.
The Blackguard himself is not. One can make his invocations more resistant (for example with a magical resistance of 30, and a resistance to damage of 10, but they should not be too powerful).
I think it would be better to buff the blackguard in two directions: to make him looks more and more like as a fiend, and to make him a specialist in the fight against the forces of Good.
So we could give him new stuff like:
- Epic Focus at level 7: Intimidation (for RP and logic).
- Spell resistance of 30.
- At level 8, can launch twice on his weapon a Mordekenkainen Disjunction that will store. It will have a cap equal to her total PC level (with +25 max cap). On high level, which is really important, it's to dissipate the buff. This is the most important thing ! Note that the Dissonant Chord Bard Prestige Class can Use Mordekainen Disunction himself toO.
- Level 9: Bonus Feat
- At level 10: Bonus Feat.
What do you think of these suggestions ?