|Leader||Varies by order|
|Headquarters||Varies by order|
|Goals||Varies by order but primarily maintaining order|
|Scope||Regional (predominately Cheliax)|
Source: The Inner Sea World Guide, pg(s). 266-267
- For other meanings of "Hellknight", please see Hellknight (disambiguation).
The Hellknights are a collection of knightly orders with a unique focus on the promulgation of law. They are interested less in the social goodness and charity typical of paladins, but rather in the foundation and stringent maintenance of order at all costs. In their iron-handed exaction of law—specifically, the laws of their various orders and their home country of Cheliax—Hellknights emulate the organized and effective armies of Hell. They are not concerned with morality or methods, only results. If people cannot be trusted to obey the law out of their own senses of civility and social righteousness, Hellknights provide the need to obey out of fear of a master's stern hand.
Regardless of their severity, Hellknights are not an inherently evil group; they are wholly unconcerned with morality. Although there are numerous evil members—particularly among their upper echelons—the majority of the orders are impartial arbiters and enforcers of order and justice. They see the study of Hell’s tenets and even the summoning of devils as tools meant to intimidate and strengthen the individual resolve of the orders’ members. Hellknights are taught to replace emotion with steely discipline, and are not interested in methods: only the end results matter.
While Hellknights are widely feared and respected, the common Hellknight joins out of a sense of duty and a wish to be a part of something greater, seeing a world ruled by laws and free of rampaging beasts and cheating thieves as a future well-worth striving toward, even at the sacrifice of freedom. Countries and rulers sometimes invite Hellknights into their lands, leaving the dirty business of harsh law enforcement to an already loathed third party, although convincing Hellknights to leave once they've been welcomed sometimes proves problematic for more freedom-loving societies.
They train with summoned devils, the signifers of their orders coaxing the ingenuity of diabolical tactics from infernal tongues, while the rank and file members spar against the very denizens of Hell—making nearly any future conflict a far less daunting prospect. They learn that sacrifices must often be made for the greater good, obey draconian regimens of military conduct, commit to encyclopaedic memorization of the laws of their orders and local governing bodies, and undergo constant drills to train their bodies and minds.
Every order of Hellknights has a distinctive, intimidating style of full plate armor that distinguishes them from the others that is only allowed to be worn after the individual Hellknight has defeated a devil in combat. All Hellknights wear the armor of their order as a matter of pride and are rarely seen without it. The Order of the Nail's armor, for example, features a horned helm and demon-faced breastplate.
Organization & orders
The leader of a Hellknight order is known as the lictor, while a leader whose training is more scholarly and less martial is known as a vicarius. Beneath him are an order's master or mistress of blades (field commanders) and paravicar (leader of the order's arcane/religious forces). Beneath them, paralictors (Hellknight officers), signifers (Hellknight spellcasters), rank and file Hellknights, and armigers (Hellknights in training) flesh out the ranks.
There are numerous orders of Hellknights. Most have holdings in Cheliax, but a few have expanded or moved to operate outside the country, most typically in regions formerly held by the empire. Below are the seven major orders and their headquarters in alphabetical order:
- Order of the Chain at Citadel Gheradesca near Corentyn (Cheliax)
- Order of the Gate at Citadel Enferac near Pezzack (Cheliax)
- Order of the Godclaw at Citadel Dinyar in the Aspodell Mountains (Isger)
- Order of the Nail at Citadel Vraid near Korvosa (Varisia)
- Order of the Pyre at Citadel Krane near Ostenso (Cheliax)
- Order of the Rack at Citadel Rivad near Westcrown (Cheliax)
- Order of the Scourge at Citadel Demain near Egorian (Cheliax)
Numerous lesser orders of Hellknights exist, although few are known outside the borders of Cheliax. Although less pervasive, these smaller orders are only slightly less feared than their better-known brethren.
- The Order of the Coil is based in the former colony of Sargava and seeks to prevent the "pollution" of the colonists by native cultures
- The Whisperwood's Order of the Pike hunts down monsters
- Egorian's Order of the Scar stalks assassins
- Order of the Crux, although three undead members remain
- Order of the Thorn
- Order of the Vice: Once exclusively battled threats from the Great Beyond
- James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 266-267. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
- F. Wesley Schneider. (February 15, 2008). Hellknight Order of the Nail, Paizo Messageboards.
- Alexander Augunas et al. (2015). Monster Summoner's Handbook, p. 10. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-758-1
- F. Wesley Schneider. (2009). Hellknights. What Lies in Dust, p. 68. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-197-8
- Alexander Augunas, Robert Brookes, Anthony Li, Luis Loza, and David Schwartz. (2016). Armor Master's Handbook, p. IFC, 2. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-829-8
- Wolfgang Baur, Adam Daigle, Jeff Erwin, and F. Wesley Schneider. (2012). Lost Kingdoms, p. 37. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-415-3
- F. Wesley Schneider. (July 7, 2008). Raising Hellknights!, Paizo Blog.
- F. Wesley Schneider. (2009). Path of the Hellknight. The Infernal Syndrome, p. 71. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-198-5
- Will McCardell et al. (2015). Familiar Folio, p. 5. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-731-4