Thanks very much to all of you who supported the ACKS kickstarter. Here is one of the rewards. From the designer: “It’s a powerful class that oozes flavor and will likely see a lot of use in play.” Here is an excerpt from how the Darklord class is translated into game terms. I am told the artwork will be suitably awesome and will post it when it is ready.
And those who perceived his shadow spreading over the world called him the Dark Lord and named him the Enemy; and he gathered under his government all the evil things that remained on earth or beneath it, and the Orcs were at his command and multiplied like flies.”
– Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, The Silmarillion (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Prime Requisite: INT, CHA
Requirements: INT 9, WIS 9, CHA 9
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: 11
From time to time, a Zaharan arises whose cruelty, ruthlessness, and lust for power are remarkable even for one of their dark race. Such a being is called a darklord, and he brings doom and woe to all who cross him. If left unchecked by Lawful heroes, a rising darklord will inevitably unite the vile minions of Chaos and usher in an era of war, ruin, and darkness.
Though they prefer to allow minions to fight for them, darklords are nevertheless formidable combatants. At first level, darklords hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. Thereafter they advance in attack and saving throws by two points every four levels of experience (i.e., the same as clerics). Darklords can fight with battle axes, crossbows, great axes, maces, morning stars, and swords, often decorating their weapons with vile runes, bloody spikes, serrated edges, and other sinister decorations. Darklords can wear any armor up to and including plate (and can cast spells while so armored), and can fight with a weapon in each hand or with a two-handed weapon, but cannot use shields.
Like the Zaharan sorcerer, the darklord possesses the ability to learn and cast eldritch spells. The number and levels of spells the darklord can use in a single day are listed on the Darklord Spell Progression table. A darklord’s spell selection is limited to the spells in his repertoire. A darklord’s repertoire can include a number of spells up to the number and level of spells listed for his level, increased by his Intelligence bonus. All darklords can use any magic items usable by mages or clerics. More information on casting eldritch spells, and individual spell descriptions, can be found in the Magic chapter (p. XX).
However, the paramount power of the darklord is his ability to dominate beastmen. By calling upon his implacable will and magical strength, the darklord can command the vile minions of Chaos to do his bidding. The darklord must be visible to the beastmen and be able to speak a language they understand in order to dominate them. The potency of this ability is determined by level.
On the Dominate Beastmen table, there will be a dash, an “A”, an “X”, or a number corresponding to the Hit Dice of the beastman and the level of the darklord. A dash means that the darklord has not attained a high enough level to dominate beastmen of that HD. A number indicates that the player must roll that number or higher on 1d20 in order to dominate the beastmen. If the beastmen are already friendly to the darklord, he gains a +2 bonus to the throw. If the throw succeeds, the darklord dominates 2d6 total Hit Dice of beastmen for 1 turn per level of experience. An “A” (“automatic”) means that the darklord automatically dominates 2d6 total Hit Dice of beastmen for 1 turn per level. An “X” (“extended”) means that the darklord automatically dominates 2d6 total Hit Dice of beastmen for 1 day per level. At least one beastman will always be dominated, as appropriate, on a successful domination throw. If beastmen of mixed HD are present when the darklord attempts to dominate them, the weakest beastmen will be dominated first. When the darklord’s domination ends, the beastmen will flee from his presence for 10 rounds, following the best and fastest means available to them. If they cannot flee, they cower in terror, taking no actions and suffering a -2 penalty to AC.
EXAMPLE: Theophanous, a 5th level darklord, confronts a gang of five orcs (1 HD) accompanied by an orc champion (1+1 HD) from the Blood Eye tribe, accompanied by an ogre (4+1 HD). On his initiative, he attempts to dominate the beastmen. He automatically can dominate 1 HD orcs, but he needs to throw 4+ to dominate the orc champion and 13+ to dominate the ogre. He throws 1d20 and the result is 14. Therefore he has (potentially) dominated all the beastmen. Had he rolled, e.g., an 13 he would only have dominated the orcs and orc champion, and had he rolled a 3 or less he’d only have dominated the orcs. He now rolls 2d6 to determine the number of Hit Dice he has dominated and rolls a 7. Since the weakest beastmen must be dominated first, he dominates the five orcs and the orc champion (6.25 HD total) but not the ogre. Had he rolled an 11, he could have dominated the 4+1 HD ogre as well (10.5 HD total). In any case, the beastmen will remain under his domination for 1 turn per level, or 5 turns.
All Zaharan darklords possess certain inhuman benefits and drawbacks from their demoniac bloodline. First, Zaharan darklords are inexorable in the face of horrors that terrify normal men. They are immune to all natural and magical fear effects. Second, darklords benefit from the ancient pacts of service and obedience by which the lords of Zahar ensorcelled the dark powers of the world. Some creatures still remember these pacts and will aid Zaharans when commanded. All Zaharan darklords gain a +2 bonus to reaction rolls when encountering intelligent chaotic monsters. Intelligent chaotic monsters suffer a -2 penalty to saving throws against any charm spells cast by a Zaharan darklord.
Third, due to their background and training, all Zaharan darklords speak four dark tongues. In the Auran Empire campaign setting, these languages are Ancient Zaharan, Goblin, Orc, and Kemeshi. The Judge should substitute appropriate languages of his own devising for other campaigns.