|Frank Frazetta's iconic 'Death Dealer."|
I have long held an, shall we say, unholy fascination with the concept of the dark knight, the cavalier that is a noble warrior (possibly) but who allies with the side of Evil rather than that of Good. Let's face it: we all do to some extent. Vader or Yoda, who's "cooler?"Isis the cool outfits or the feeling of power? Here's someone who will take what he wants, conventions be damned.
That said, in AD&D I have longer cringed at the "anti-paladin" and, from 0E, the "anti-cleric." The anti-paladin from the pages of Dragon was a travesty: he was the exact opposite of the paladin. Not very original there. One would think that the forces of evil would be a bit more. . . . intelligent in how they grant power to their champions, and, yes, they should have champions. Why should the forces of Law and Good get the only champions in existence? Actually, the novel Dragonlance: The Second Generation gave players the "Knights of Takhisis," a group of (apparently) Lawful Evil cavaliers pledged to the service of the Queen of Darkness and Evil.
3.5 gave us the Blackguard but the prestige class was best used to represent the fallen paladin and note a dedicated servant of evil. The best treatment was in the Unholy Warrior supplement by Green Ronin. That book has the distinction of being the only 3.5 supplement (I actually, I believe it was for 3.0) that I purchased outside of WotC's core rules and splat books. (Oh, and the Everquest books, but then I was a big EQ nerd.) One of these days, I will adapt the class as presented for AD&D, or possibly S&WC.
One of the problems is that the gods of Evil rarely work together; one of the tenets of the Kyrnn setting is "Evil will always turn on itself." Another is that, while they are somewhat different, the Lawful Good deities tend to have the same portfolio: crusading warfare, chivalry, protection of the innocent, etc. Even among deities of the same alignment, such as Chaotic Evil, the portfolios could well be vastly different: Disease, Decay, Destruction, Undead, Death, Insanity, Butchery, etc. Unholy Warrior realized this and gave a variety of specialized classes depending on who the unholy warrior's patron was. Of course, this makes it difficult to standardize and tends to become the sort of thing that each individual DM must tailor to his table, even more so than deities and their relationship with clerics.
Until tomorrow, gentle readers, when we shall examine villains more closely.