"That must weigh heavily on your soul. Let me purge it for you." -Haytham Ley
First: Haytham Ley
Fealty: The Gods
Distinctions: Bleeding eyes
The world knows paladins to be shining paragons who champion lofty ideals such as compassion, nobility, sacrifice, and valor. Such virtuous figures are symbols to the common people, icons from which they draw the strength and courage to stand fast against the encroaching darkness. Yet in every light a shadow lurks - the brightness of these noble warriors is equaled by the shadow spreading from their sinister counterparts.
Having embraced the dark side of divine magic, blackguards delve deeper into the forbidden, to fully embrace the power offered by the dark forces of the cosmos. Only those who have committed evil are invited to study these black arts. Through the filthy deeds they have done and the wickedness in their hearts, they have proven themselves worthy.
Dabbling in occult mysteries carries a heavy price in body, mind, and soul. To harness the magic these entities offer, they must carve their flesh with blasphemies. To understand the rites, they must push their minds to madness' brink. To prepare their souls, they must indulge in every evil, wallowing in the horror of it all.
Where paladins fight for honor, good, and order, these idols of darkness are treacherous, wicked, and capricious in their dealings. They kill for pleasure. They maim to learn from their victim's suffering. They never hesitate to feed their ambition and to grow their temporal power - they know that beyond the mortal coil lies only annihilation.Blackguards are shadow warriors who embrace the power of what most people consider to be a vice or a dark emotion. A blackguard's vice becomes a central focus for that individual's divine power. Dominance and fury are among the forces that blackguards cultivate to fuel their might.
Because malevolent deities and wicked forces in the cosmos are more likely to hold a vice in esteem, most blackguards are villains. Nevertheless, blackguards who cling to higher ideals do exist. A heroic blackguard might be born when a divine soldier who tries to exemplify virtue cannot control his or her anger or some other base emotion. Such blackguards are referred to as fallen paladins. Other heroic blackguards cleave to a vice that a non-evil religion or deity promotes as an asset, or they have learned by necessity to turn their negative tendencies into a divine focus so that they can lead productive lives.
The power of vice is alluring because it offers fewer restrictions than virtue does. Though the power comes easily, a blackguard always faces the worst temptations of his or her vice, as well as that of other negative emotions that echo the vice. Scruples can be hard to maintain in the face of such a lure. A truly heroic blackguard can never give in and take the easy path.
Heroic blackguards have a hard road to travel. Their truly immoral counterparts form the Order that actively opposes virtuous knights and cavaliers. Whether or not a specific blackguard is a member of the dark Order, those same knights and cavaliers rarely understand that a person can channel divine power through a vice without becoming debased. The common people rightly fear all blackguards the same way they fear the black knights of legend. A blackguard who uses the divine power of the dreaded vices to combat evil still has difficulty finding a wide array of allies. He or she rarely enjoys a hero's accolades.