Not all heroes are grossly incandescent. The dark appearance, the grim outlook, the broken path are popular threads for players to follow, and occasionally allies finds themselves on these roads. For many this is a path to heroic deeds but the worth comes from coin, wealth, and legend, and these followers are numerous and loyal as long as you can pay their way. There are others though who walk through realms of shadows and dark languages not for material growth but as a temporary band on their injured honor. Forever fallen from grace, these Ronin seek to create a facsimile of a life once worth living in their eyes. They are haunted by the past and by events caused by their inaction or perceived lack of skill. The Anti-knight no longer bears bright shiny barding. They carry no banner for a living lord. They garner no favor from a lady of the land. Their only goal is the holding up the husk of their broken glory.
This NPC is fiercely loyal, but defining what that loyalty is tied to is the challenge players face. They are still bound to their code of honor and ethics provided it supports the myth of their path of redemption. They’re a volatile ally because if crossed or challenged on their past or the path they seek they may quickly go from loyalist to betrayer, and in their eyes be completely justified in their actions. An Anti-knight that has crossed fully into the swamplands of dark knight will not return to their previous role for those who ushered in their final fall from grace.
The Anti-knight exists in any genre or setting where men and women can exist with a place of honor and prestige. In Fantasy, the knight figure defines this role, and when they are disgraced by politics or a battle gone wrong they’ll seek to reclaim their honor from heroic deeds or noble actions. Pushed over the edge and they become the brigade and sell-sword with ease. In science-fiction, they exist in the role of the grey-hat hacker, skirting the edge of legal actions while trying to maintain the façade of being “one of the good guys.” In contemporary fiction, they’re the disgraced soldier or police officer, caught in the wrong moment at the wrong time and rolled from their duty into civilian life. Now they’re the guard, the mercenary, or vigilant, justifying brutal actions against criminals because criminals forced them to fall from grace.
They are a shield against the harriers on your backside, but they are not there for the righteousness of the quest. They’re there for the prestige. The consequences of their existence will follow them until the players meet them. At this point, the players can help guide them back to a true path of honor and dignity or they can pull them deeper into the dark future the Anti-knight has been forging for themselves.