They will not “have your back”. They will not be your shield. And don’t expect them to “lay on hands” unless it’s “the bad touch”. The Heroes of Shadow Blackguard are the antithesis of of their stereotypically uptight counterparts. Although this new Dungeons and Dragons class is not required to be evil, you can hardly expect them to be good.
Whereas Paladins champion virtues, Blackguards embrace vice. The release of Heroes of Shadow will feature two vice options for Blackguards, Domination (lawful evil) and Fury (chaotic evil).
The DnD Essentials Blackguard role is striker. From the teaser abilities that were released by Wizards of the Coast, it looks like this class will be a good “solo” striker. Blackguard will be able to shut down a monster or two and deal decent damage without requiring special combat situations. At a glance, it seems that the “Domination” build will tend more toward controller effects, and the “Fury” build will have abilities that boost attack rolls or damage, but lower defenses or cause other self-induced impediments.
Mechanically, I understand that it is difficult to provide a variety of unique vice options. As far as character creation and role playing are concerned, I hope players embrace the possibility that vice holds to shape their character actions and enrich their background story.
Perhaps a character embraces alcohol consumption because a loved one died of a stress-related disease. Perhaps a character embraces lust because the only person they ever loved took them for granted and wounded them beyond repair. Determining the source of character vices makes for great back story development. The seven deadly sins (sloth, lust, gluttony, pride, envy, greed, and wrath) and more are all fair game!
Although it would be entertaining to create a Blackguard with a story vice of “sloth”. It is challenging to dominate or get angry at someone when you spend most of your time sleeping or being lazy…
In real life, I’ve known several people who have struggled with alcoholism after experiencing a monumentally painful life event. The character suggestions I offered were just random brainstormed ideas, but reflecting on this for a few minutes, one need only look at the reality around us to find all kinds of story ideas to explain why someone might have wandered down a path of vice. These raw character details were exactly the kind I was hoping for in my earlier Shady Personalities article.
Have the D&D Blackguard preview or this post inspired any ideas for the next season of encounters? I know I’m going to have a tough time deciding what to play!