So a long while back, I read an article by Quinn Murphy over at the At-Will blog and it got my gears churning a bit in terms of game design. The article in question is entitled Horizon: The Darkness Within, which you should read because it is pretty cool. The general premise is that a character in the party is being corrupted by some dark being who is granting them abilities (very warlock like), but unlike the warlock these impressive power come with a very specific cost to the character in question. I remember reading this particular article and really enjoying the mechanical, story-infused ideas that just started brewing as I saw the possibilities for what I could do with such an interesting concept. Then I started reading the Dresden Files series of novels.
If you've never read the Dresden books you should, if only for their depiction of the Faerie Courts alone. The TV show is available for streaming on Netflix, but is not nearly as good. I digress.
In the novels, there is a particular organization of characters made up of a collection of fallen angels who are bound to thirty ancient coins (the pieces of silver given to Judas to betray Jesus in the Bible). These demons attach themselves to a host when they come in to contact with the coin and eventually convince them to give the demon control through a series of sweet promises. Many mortals were taken over by these particular demons who offer incredible power in exchange for greater influence. They way it played out in the novels was AWESOME and just meshed really well with the idea that I was developing and that is when I decided to create my own set of NPCs and mechanics behind an organization of warped, evil creatures who would offer power (both through flavor and mechanics) to try and gain greater influence over a player character. That was when the Knights of the Tarnished Dagger were born; creatures who were once so beautiful and honorable, but who had fallen from grace and become a real threat to the known worlds.
I wanted to create a document with options for DMs to offer to their players in the hopes of creating dynamic choices for their players and this is essentially where I ended up. I've attached a pdf which explains the background of the organization and the mechanics for how a character makes movements further towards or away from the darkness along with the first of the Knights and a set of powers associated with the Knight that he or she could grant to the character as they fall further under his or her control. In the coming weeks I am going to release the individual members of the organization a few at a time with a background of the character and the special powers and abilities they have to offer their host as well as a template for applying to an NPC monster or character that a DM could potentially introduce into their game to show how the Knights are at work or to use as a possible adventure seed for a villain in their own campaign.
I look forward to feedback on the idea. Give it a look over and please, feel free to steal ideas from this to use in your campaign. If you have a different take on a particular part of the story, tear my idea apart and run it your way. Part of the fun of planning your own campaign and being the captain of your own story is being able to take creative control and personalize things so they fit the world the way you see it and really owning it for your players. Besides, all good ideas are "borrowed" and tweaked from other great minds. :)
Click here for the compiled pdf that introduces the story of the Knights, explains the mechanic, and also includes the first of the Knights: Anduren, the Black Blade, perfect for tempting a roguish character with foul powers over the darkness. **Caution, meddling with foul powers of darkness may invoke Magic Missiles™**