Iconic Design: Signal Me When Hell(knights) Freezes Over!

I like to take reader requests when I can, and a few weeks ago I got a request from reader Zozh for a Hellknight build. In my head, I was like, “Oh jeez! How am I going to do this? I HATE the design for the Hellknight Prestige Class?!” So I tore through my copies of the Adventurer’s Guide and Path of the Hellknight looking for a way to satisfy Zozh while also keeping my sanity. And hey, I found it! Don’t build a Hellknight.

Instead, build a Hellknight signifier.

The design on the Hellknight signifier is much more solid; the class itself is very basic in what it gives you for entry and progression, but it more than makes up for it with the simple fact that you keep your full spellcasting progression. So, what to do? A Hellknight wizard? A Hellknight cleric? No. A Hellknight oracle.

I may not like the Hellknight prestige class, but the flavor for the Hellknights themselves is aces, and one of my favorites is the concept of the Godclaw; a pantheon of five morally different deities united by a common interest in the letter of the law. Path of the Hellknight has a neat Godclaw mystery to accompany this, so I decided to build an Order of the Godclaw signifier for Zozh.

Let’s take a peak, shall we?

Build Concept

Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.

  • Classes: oracle 6 / Hellknight signifier 6
  • Feats: Abundant Revelations: Iomdaedae’s boon (1st), Deific Obedience: Abadar (Bonus), Warrior Priest (3rd), Power Attacj (5th), Extra Revelation: instant armor (7th), Hellknight Obedience: Order of the Godclaw (9th), Extra Revelation: Torag’s Boon (11th)
  • Abilities: assiduous gaze, aura of law, catechesis, discern lies, godclaw mystery, revelations, signifier armor training 1
  • Assiduous Gaze: vigilance (4th)
  • Revelations: Iomeadae’s boon (1st), might of the godclaw (3rd), Torag’s Boon (Bonus)
  • 6th-Level Oracle Spells Known (1): mass cure moderate wounds; harm
  • 5th-Level Oracle Spells Known (2): mass cure light wounds; lesser spellcasting contract, breath of life
  • 4th-Level Oracle Spells Known (3): cure critical wounds; order’s wrath, divine power, dismissal
  • 3rd-Level Oracle Spells Known (4): cure serious wounds, hold person; channel vigor, dispel magic, daylight, contagious zeal
  • 2nd-Level Oracle Spells Known (5): cure moderate wounds, daze monster; burst of radiance, Inheritor’s smite, communal protection from chaos, shared sacrifice, arrow of law
  • 1st-Level Oracle Spells Known (5): cause fear, cure light wounds; divine power, Abadar’s Truthtelling, barbed chains, bless, burning disarm
  • Orisons Known (9): detect magic, guidance, light, mending, purify food and detect, detect poison, read magic, stabilize, spark

Play Summary

For the most part, this build plays like a 12th-level oracle, but with some notable exceptions. Most of these exceptions come from the Godclaw mystery, believe it or not. First is the instant armor revelation—we’re obviously going to be picking Hellknight half-plate or Hellknight full-plate (half-plate is listed as being the official dress of the signifiers in Path of the Hellknight, but divine casters have no arcane spell failure, so there’s nothing stopping you from going full-plate). This revelation is super cool because you basically get to beam your armor off and on at will, but the real bonus is the heavy armor proficiency if we’re being honest.

Now, the second thing I want to talk about is the might of the Godclaw revelation. Basically, it gives you Deific Obedience (from Inner Sea Gods), but you choose one god from the Godclaw for the feat, and when you get really high level you can swap around your boon choices. Don’t want Torag anymore? Swap some of his boons for Asmodeus’s or Iomaedae’s or Irori’s or Abadar’s. There’s some extreme high-level flexibility there. Now, the revelation still makes you wait until the normal level (aka really high) to gain boons, so what we’re really looking at is the completion bonus for performing the ritual. Of the five Godclaw deities, I think Abadar’s is the best for the build; it’s a big bonus on saves against chaotic effects, which makes sense. (Granted, Irori’s bonus is INCREDIBLE, especially if you’re a bard.) So my basic choice would be to pick Abadar, and if you played this build at high levels swap the benefits as you need to.

Just in case one obedience wasn’t enough, I also grabbed the Hellknight Obedience feat. For the Order of the Godclaw, which gives a tasty, “Whenever a lawful divine spellcaster heals you, you heal 1 additional point of damage per die rolled.” And hey, guess what? YOU’RE a lawful divine spellcaster! Plus you get to interchangeably use your five godclaw deities’ holy symbols for spells and such, which is also pretty awesome and flavorful. (Makes me think of the priest from the original Mummy who kept praying to different gods while he tried to find the one that would halt the mummy for him.)

So aside from those things, what does this build DO. Well, its designed to be pretty good at walking into melee with the Order of the Godclaw’s favored weapon, the morningstar, and beating face. You’ve got Power Attack and at least four uses of Iomaedae’s boon, which basically means you can mini good hope yourself as a move action. (Note that by 7th level, this ability equals good hope in to-hit and to-damage, which is again still worth it.) You have powerful buffs in spells like bless, contagious zeal, and channel vigor, and you also have good support options (like healing) and a few really awesome oh-crap spells to use on enemies, like barbed chains and hold person. Moreover, this build OOZES flavor; I built it using spells from four of the five Godclaw deities’ special spell lists from Inner Sea Gods. I could point out all of them for you, but instead I challenge you to figure out which spells I used and which gods they’re from. (Don’t worry, there’s a definition answer!)

Before I head out, I do want to point out one more combo: lesser spellcasting contract. Basically, this spell works like imbue with spell ability, except the spell ability you give to your ally lasts until the end of a contract of your design ends. Better still, that spell will return to your ally every time you prepare your spells, and while the contract is in effect, you gain a profane bonus to AC, saving throws, and all checks equal to the highest-level spell you give to your ally. So since it works like imbue with spell ability, that’s 2nd level (provided your target has the HD and ability scores to handle 2nd level spells), which means you can pop an Inheritor’s smite spell into your ally (a spell that normally is personal-only) or some other useful spell your ally might want to have, and in exchange you get what basically amounts to a permanent +2 bonus that won’t ever have stacking issues to a bunch of useful statistics. Very cool, very fun, very useful.

That’s it for this week’s Iconic Design! I hope I made you proud, Zozh! Maybe next week I’ll try to tackle a more martial Hellknight build, or maybe I won’t. Who knows? Come back next week to find out what I decide to do next! Take care!

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alexs Twitter, @AlJAug.

Alex Augunas

Alexander "Alex" Augunas is an author and behavioral health worker living outside of Philadelphia in the United States. He has contributed to gaming products published by Paizo, Inc, Kobold Press, Legendary Games, Raging Swan Press, Rogue Genius Games, and Steve Jackson Games, as well as the owner and publisher of Everybody Games (formerly Everyman Gaming). At the Know Direction Network, he is the author of Guidance and a co-host on Know Direction: Beyond. You can see Alex's exploits at http://www.everybodygames.net, or support him personally on Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/eversagarpg.


  1. Dean Jones

    Looks like it could be a fun build to play, Alex, Kudos!

    Suppose I was playing from level 1 though, which feat would I be looking at? It seems like this build uses deific obedience at 1

    • Alex Augunas

      Check the revelations and the text; the Divine Obedience feat comes from the 3rd level revelation, might of the godclaw. Your first level feat is Abundant Revelations so you can use Iomaedae’s boon twice per day instead of once per day.

  2. Zozh

    Thanks so much. There are a lot of different part’s to the HK PrC so I don’t blame you and I’m also a big fan of the Godclaw, it’s the order I chose for my own paly/HK build from a game a while back. Said build took leadership and had a signifer as the cohort, a summoning cleric to make use of the aoe buff i was giving. The game went on haitus so if it comes up again I will totaly see if I’m allowed to swap them to this instead. Now going to read the other HK build you did 🙂

  3. Zozh

    Oh I forgot to ask. Not that it super matters but what curse would you suggest for this build or aren’t there any that fit mechanics wise so just go for something flavorful?

  4. Zan Thrax

    Alex, since you’re getting the prerequisites essentially for free, why not go Evangelist after your first level of Signifier and get better skill points and early access to the Deific Obedience boons?