Katarin looked at the gilded leonem welded onto her armor. “Honor the weak.” She sneered at the words of her sacred oath. There was no honoring peasants who harbored heretics. A village of weaklings who hid the enemy and now asked for her help when their iniquity caught up with them. All they knew was fear. Fear was their morality. Fear was their real religion, their only loyalty. She looked up at each of the begging faces.
Aye, she would honor them… for now.
Knights of The Emperor
Each Knight order is brought into existence by being granted a commission by the Emperor. This commission creates a Grand Master which is charged with the fulfillment of a specific mission that the Emperor deems to be worthy of the attention of his elite operatives and agents. This may be the protection of a certain region, the revival or creation of a powerful blacksmithing technique, the collection of some missing artifact, or any other purpose. Once created, these Orders exist in perpetuity, as their missions tend to be so long term that they are not completed in the lifetime of the first generation of its Knights. If the purpose of the Order is ever fulfilled, the Emperor historically grants the Order a reward and a new purpose, sometimes renaming the Order to better suit its new role.
Knights of Orders commissioned by the Emperor, called Reiksritter, have authority that extends anywhere in the world of mankind, so long as they are using it to fulfill the duties of their Order. Many Orders have a purpose which only is relevant in a certain area, such as protecting the border between Cappaccionne and the Orcish badlands and Sha’ra desert. When that is the case, members of the Order tend to stay local to their place of authority, though they occasionally leave the area on official business, and take their authority along with them.
Valor: Arming Weapons
Charged with defending Fenristadt and the Imperial family, the Knights Fenris have been a staple of the Imperial regime since the time of the first Emperors. Knights Fenris see to Emperor’s direct or critical interests throughout the Throne.
Order of The Dragon
Charged with ending the threat of the Shariqyn, either by conversion or conquest. While generally based out of Sha’ra and Capacionne, their knights also operate in the interior where Shariqyn traders or exiled princes may set up footholds.
Sons of Samael
An Order based around the teachings of St. Samael, an inquisitor who used poison and subterfuge to kill heretics who thought themselves untouchable. The Sons of Samael are the Emperor’s own Inquisition, performing covert operations and rooting out subversives or traitors.
Order of The Bell
A Knight Order that learned secret smelting and mining techniques from the Dwarves themselves. Known for their masterful arms and armor, they perform diplomacy with the Dwarves and oversee engineering and construction interests of Imperial interest throughout the Throne, such as building bridges, clearing passes, raising cities, and other projects of critical infrastructure.
Knights of The Realm
As an extension of the Imperial Knight orders, Highborn noble families are also entitled to the creation of a Knight order for their own defense and to protect their interests. Each family has a unique Order of elite soldiers and agents called their House Guard. In exchange for the right to create these Knights, each House must agree to contribute their Knights to the defense of their Kingdom’s national interests as one united military force, should the Emperor, the King (or in the case of Rogalia, the Parliament) call for it. These House Guard, such as the Sorrowful Order of House Selwick or the Blood Dragons of House Fafnir, when called upon in dire emergency, join with the other House Guard of Gotha to become the Grand Order of Gotha, and a Grandmaster is selected by the King or Emperor from among the Masters of each House Guard order. The Grandmaster retains the post should the need arise again once the conflict is resolved.
In less dire times, the House Guard serves the noble family which they were created to protect. They act as the elite agents, task overseers, warmasters, and all around right hand of their noble house. Often times the nobles of the house themselves, especially junior members that are less likely to inherit, will participate directly in their family’s Order, taking honorary positions in the Order and prosecuting the duties of their bloodline. This teaches them both martial prowess and lets them see the specific troubles that plague their land firsthand to offer wise counsel to their siblings, or should they themselves one day take the house seat.
Knights of The Church
While almost all of the Knight orders serve the Emperor, either directly or by the proxy of his vassal lords throughout the Throne, the very first Knight Order ever commissioned was the Most Vigilant Order of Templars, reforged from the scattered factors of the Ordo Croix that saved humanity during the Age of Witchkings. The Templar Order, in its original form, was the entirety of the Church of Benalus, but evolved over the early days of the Throne into the militant branch of the Church while the clergy formed into their own orders and covenants. The Templar order retains its position as Knights however, and all the privileges that come with it, even though they are not vassals of the Emperor. In the earliest days of the Lion Age, the Templars worked as partners with Victor Von Herkheist to create the Throne, and not as vassals. The Templars serve the Pontifex of the Church, and as holy knights, take the orders directly from the Pontifex, and ultimately, from God.
Only one other Holy Order has ever been created. While they began as a special distinction of the Templars, the Sacred Order of the White Lion now is its own group in separate service to the Church. The Order of the White Lion is reserved exclusively for Paladins, the divine chosen of God. It is a small Order, and has need of its own resources and traditions separate from the Templars. While the Pontifex does not have the right to create Knight Orders, the White Lion was a special exception granted by the Fourth Emperor, Karl von Herkheist, so long as members of the White Lion never held any sort of office of temporal power, such as holding a duchy or county.
Both the Templar and White Lion Sacred Orders use Zeal as their Valor Skill.
The Knight Orders of the Throne are powerful organizations with extensive resources, and they try to provide their knights with those resources as they feel best suits the task and the risks. These resources are not unlimited, however, and so the confidence that the Masters of these Orders have in their individual knights matters greatly in determining where these resources are granted.
Knightly Oaths are sworn solemnly and gravely, and require spiritual rigor before being undertaken. To a Knight, Oaths are not merely words, but the true and sincere acceptance of a new way of life, a new identity. Such an undertaking is spiritually taxing, each Oath requiring 2 Experience Points.
Swearing each Oath binds the knight to a certain code of conduct or behavior. If the knight should break the terms of their oath to their Sovereign, the Oath which was broken is removed from the character, they are guilty of Mortal Sloth, and they no longer have the trust of their Sovereign to swear new Oaths. The Knight must atone for their breach of trust to their Sovereign with some task asked of them, and only then may they re-purchase the broken Oath or swear any new ones. If there is a question to whether an Oath was broken or not in grey cases, the Sovereign decides.
Oaths usually come with a specific statement that forms the basis of a Belief, an Always of Never statement that enforces the personal behavior of the Knight. Violating the Belief confers the normal penalties of a Personal Failure.
(Read more about Faith and Devotion)
Oaths of Duty are Oaths which are sworn to their Sovereign in regards to their Organization, and rely on specific Organizational resources (usually a specific Agent) to be present in the Organization. These Oaths increase the trust that their Knight Order and Sovereign has in them, and consequently the resources they are willing to commit to their cause. If the Organization loses access to that resource, such as losing their Forgemaster, the advantage is lost as well, though the Oath is not considered broken. Oaths of Valor are personal in nature, and are to hone the spiritual power of the Knight toward their service, and do not have this restriction. Some Oaths, called Sacred Oaths, can only be sworn using the Declaration of Triumph, explained below.
The life of a knight is one of service and dedication, and that dedication is focused on their Sovereign, the focus point of their duty. The Sovereign is the earthly embodiment of their devotion, and the focus of their Valor. In the case of Holy Knights, this is the Church, and their Sovereign can be embodied by any senior member of the Clergy. In the case of House Guard, this is any member of the Highborn bloodline to which they serve. In the case of the Imperial Knight orders, their Sovereign is the Emperor, and the Grand Masters of the Order.
Oaths must be sworn verbally before one’s Sovereign. If the Sovereign is in a distant place, it is permissible to swear the Oath verbally and have the words transcribed by another to be sent to the Sovereign in question, in the presence of a witness. This witness, in the case of Imperial and House knights, can be any Highborn noble, through their shared fealty to the Emperor. For Holy Knights, this can be any clergyman or the head of any local cult.
The Sovereign may also discipline or dismiss a Knight from their service, or give such a power explicitly to a superior within the Knight Order of a Knight in question. Should a Knight ever be banished from service, or renounce their service, they immediately lose the effects of any Oaths of Duty, which rely upon the support of the Order, such as Oath of Armory or Oath of Questing. They keep the effects of any Oaths of Valor until they break them.
DEGREES OF KNIGHTHOOD
After they have sworn the Oath of Fealty and become a Knight, a Knight is eligible for promotion to the next Degree of attainment when they have sworn one more than their new Degree in new Oaths. For example, a Knight wishing to earn the third Degree would need to swear four new Oaths, in addition to the three Oaths they swore for their promotion to the second Degree. These Oaths can be from any Degree the Knight has attained, but he cannot swear Oaths higher than his attainment. Oaths cannot be taught to another Knight through any form of Instruction.
There are 5 Degrees of Knighthood: Errant, Protector, Commander, Master, and Grand Master
FIRST DEGREE – KNIGHT ERRANT
A Knight Errant, or the Questing Knight, is a landless Knight in training. As initiates to the Order, they are still learning the Order’s tenets and codes, and expected to prove themselves by traveling and performing acts of courage and honor in service to the ideals of their Order.
Oath of Fealty
The Knight swears their steadfast loyalty and devotion to their Sovereign, that they shall be their servant and agent for the rest of their lives, never to betray them or their causes, and to bend all of their will and efforts to the completion of their missions and duties.
Belief: “I shall always obey my Sovereign.”
The Oath of Fealty formally swears the Knight as a member of their Order. Upon swearing this Oath, the new Knight becomes a Knight of the First Degree, and is granted the Masterwork Arming sword with which the Knighting ceremony was performed. If the Oath of Fealty is being performed in play by the Sovereign, the Sovereign must provide the Masterwork sword that the Oath is sworn with. Regardless of Knight Order, the knight is granted access to a Riding Horse and a signet ring to verify his identity. For the swearing of the Oath of Fealty to be performed in game, the riding horse, the signet ring, and the masterwork sword must be provided in play for the swearing of the Oath. If needed, this may be supplied by the Knight Master for 1 Influence.
Upon taking their Oath of Fealty, the Knight gains several other advantages. All Imperial Knights and House Guard gain Noble Bearing to mark their elevated status in society, while Holy Knights gain Holy Orders. The other advantages are held by all Knights.
Once sworn, the new Knight gains Nobility status if they did not already have it and a Duty to their Order that is both responsibility and privilege.
Members of the Templar Order and the Sacred Order of the White Lion do not gain Noble Bearing. Instead, they are given honorary Holy Ordination status, similar to a priest. In issues of ecclesiastical trials and official Censure, they are considered by the Church to be above reproach in most cases, and incontrovertible proof must be offered to convict them of sinful deeds. Further, they may call and officiate Censure in ecclesiastical trial as if they were a priest. Members of the Holy Orders may also perform rites from the Testimonium as if they were a Rank 1 Priest, though they must still purchase those rituals and have no access to the gospels of the Covenants unless they join those Covenants separately
Declaration of Triumph
Whenever the Knight is given credit for a major accomplishment, they may publicly dedicate their victory to their Sovereign in order to increase the glory of their Order and increase their trust and confidence in them.
In order to qualify for a Triumph, the Knight must publicly swear his intent to do some specific brave act that is in the public good. If the act is to be accomplished fairly immediately, such as within the hour, such as “Upon my word, I will not allow those violent marauders to harm anyone in this town! ” they may make the promise of their victory verbally to a sizable crowd. If it is anything longer term than one Scene or hour, the Knight must publicly post their promise to complete their labor, which must contain a clear end time, such as “Upon my word, I, Sir Royce Derry of the Order of the White Glove, shall find and destroy the beast that has attacked the livestock by the start of winter.”
Once the deed is done, a public announcement must be made of the success, with the Knight given the sole credit. An assembled crowd such as a Convocation, a rumor spread by streetwise, or a ballad written and sung publicly as a Dedicated Performance will catch on and spread the story of the Order.
In some cases, when a great deed is done without prior declaration, the local Ruler or a Church Bishop may publicly recognize a Knight for their services in a public Function before an assembled crowd, as above, to achieve the same effect. A Knight also earns a triumphant Knight Achievement when they use the Wage War Downtime action and defeat a foe in Warfare.
The triumphant knight earns a Knight Achievement. A Knight Achievement may be spent as Experience Points on any Oath, used to purchase Sacred Oaths, or given to their Knight Order’s Organization as Influence.
Knights of each Order go through specialized training around their Valor until it is an inextricable part of their identity, along with the Masterwork Broadsword that is the physical representation of their duty. Whenever a knight has their hand upon this sword, they gain specific (cumulative) benefits from their level in their Valor skill. Valor skill may not be raised through devotion or prayer to access higher benefits.
1) The knight gains an additional use of Discipline per Rest
2) Once per scene, the knight may become Inspired when they accept an Obey call from their Sovereign. In addition, when the knight successfully inflicts the Fear, Inspired or Downed condition on another, they may call “Obey: Take a Bond of Respect for [the knight’s Sovereign]” on the affected person.
3) Once per scene, the knight may formally announce their identity and allegiance to their sovereign and make an Obey call ordering a single target to take an action. Ex: “I am Sir Peter Stylt, Knight of the Whisper, sworn to Count Telford! In his name, Obey me and repair my armor that I may fulfill my duty!“
4) Once per scene, a knight may call out a Bond, Belief or their Devotion that is relevant to the current scene to stabilize themselves from the Downed condition.
5) During a scene where a knight is actively and directly pursuing an Obey call they have accepted from their Sovereign, they may become Devoted. This does not count against the usual ability to become Devoted once per game, and they may not benefit from this again until they accept a new Obey call from their Sovereign.
Prestigious Oaths require that the knight have raised their Valor skill to the highest level in order to swear them.
The Oath of Fealty confers basic Knighthood and does not count toward furthering Knight Degree and promotion.
The Iron Oath
Sacred OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears to uphold the virtues of Valor and to remember his strength of purpose, even in times most dark. They swear to bear and protect their knight’s sword as a symbol of their pledge.
Belief: “I shall never allow my sword to be broken or taken from me”
By embracing the concepts of and adhering to the ideals of his Order, the Knight empowers himself through his mastery of of his arts. By Exerting, the Knight may call Power on any Hit or Call.
The sword is the Knight’s solemn and sole responsibility. It is never to be relinquished or used for other than the intended purpose of a sword; defending the Throne.
Oath of Merit
Oath of Valor
The Knight swears to maintain the highest caliber of reliability and excellence, such that he may fulfill any duty that their Sovereign asks of them.
Oath of the Vigil
OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears to be a watchful protector; that their charges need never fear danger so long as they are maintaining vigil.
Belief: “I shall never allow an intruder to violate a place I am guarding”
The Knight may assume a guardian position, clasping his weapon to attention, and eschewing conversation and distraction. After at least 1 minute of standing to attention, the Knight becomes Alert. This bonus goes away if they speak or do other behaviors, but can be resumed in due time by assuming a guardian position again. Pacing or patrolling a small area does not remove this effect.
Oath of the Champion
OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears to never hesitate in the persecution of commands for his Sovereign, to put aside personal feelings and carry out orders unflinchingly.
Belief: “I shall never abandon a mission.”
The Knight does not suffer from Despair when acting on direct orders from their Sovereign, and should he succeed in his mission, they lose one Despair.
Oath of Chastity
OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears to a never engage in carnal congress, not even with the recipient of the Oath, to keep their love courtly and pure.
Belief: “I shall never engage in carnal congress”
Unlike most Oaths, this Oath is made not to the Sovereign, but to the object of the Knight’s romantic affection. Upon swearing this Oath, the knight receives a token from their beloved, called their bond. Once per day, the Knight may use, speak unto, breathe of, or otherwise interact with their bond, and become Inspired.
If a Knight begins play with this Oath, he may start with the bond from a far distant love.
Oath of Integrity
OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears to be forthright and honest at all times, swearing to offer truth in all things.
Belief: “I shall never be caught in a lie or deception”
So long as they have never been caught in a lie, the Knight may announce in formal Court (either Noble or Ecclesiastical) that they have sworn and live by an Oath of Integrity. They are given the benefit of the doubt in such courts, and are considered generally beyond reproach unless very convincing hard proof is offered. In any scene where the Knight announces that he has sworn and lives under the Oath of Integrity, the Knight may call “Obey: Believe Me” as they give their account or declare their word.
If they are formally accused of lying, with proof offered, or declared to be lying by an authority holding court, the Oath is broken.
Oath of Vengeance
OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears upon his dead Sovereign to make terrible vengeance upon his surviving foes.
Belief: “I shall always pursue an opportunity to take vengeance for my Sovereign”
This Oath is unusual in that it is only sworn to dead Sovereigns. So long as he has some piece of memorabilia that was either given by or was owned by his dead Sovereign, the Knight gains an additional Hatred Devotion of the person or group that he believes responsible for the death of his Sovereign.
If the Knight still has living Sovereigns available, such as other living members of the bloodline he has sworn to serve, he may continue to do so, but if the recipient of this posthumous Oath was the last, the Knight may continue to swear Oaths of Valor to the memento of his Sovereign as if they were alive to accept them.
If the Knight begins play with this Oath, he may begin play with such a memento and circumstances.
Oath of Arms
SACRED OATH OF DUTY
The Knight swears to respect, maintain and protect the armaments of the Order. He swears that only he will ever utilize the armaments, and he does so only in the aims and mission of the Order.
Belief: “I shall never misuse, sell, or give away my armaments”
Swearing the Oath of Arms, the Knight is granted access to the vast armories of the Order that they maintain to gird their vested champions. Once per Chapter the Knight can call upon them to send them a package containing any battle equipment that the Knight needs, which will arrive the next Chapter. This equipment is of ordinary quality, but can be anything the Knight requires for the personal undertaking of their mission, including Heavy Armor and weaponry, but not exotic items such as firearms or poisons.
Oath of the Sacred Sword
SACRED OATH OF VALOR
The Holy Knight swears to never use his blade for wicked deeds, to keep it clean and pure, blessed in the eyes of The Lord, and to never use it for personal gain or any immoral reason.
Belief: “I shall never allow my sacred blade to be involved in sin.”
This Oath may only be sworn by Holy Knights.
For so long as the blade is never involved in sin, the knight’s sword is blessed, and may deliver the Sacred Quality with any Hits it deals, allowing it to strike down wicked but otherwise unkillable creatures such as ghosts.
Oath of The Guardian
SACRED OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears to protect the bloodline of his sovereign with his life, doing anything in his power to ensure the health and longevity of their line.
Belief: “I shall never allow my Sovereign to come to harm.”
This Oath may only be sworn by House Guard.
The Knight may throw himself in the way of harm for members of the bloodline of his sovereign when they are in danger. If they are within a few feet of them, they may call any Physical Defense on their behalf, or take injuries in their stead. The Knight may also make some out loud comment of negation or encouragement when in range of their Noble Sovereigns and spend their own Discipline on their behalf.
Oath of Arrogation
SACRED OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears to never accept an authority less than the Emperor himself in the pursuit and prosecution of his Order’s mission.
Belief: “I shall never submit to any save the Emperor”
The Knight gains the full presence and authority of their mission. In the event that the subject of his Order’s mission for the Emperor becomes clear and present, the Knight may activate the Oath of Arrogation by making a public declaration. This grants them the ability to fully take command of any Throne resource, up to and including the local nobility and it’s officers, their own knights and any other resources at anyone’s command. In this, they speak with the voice of the Emperor himself, in all his glory and as the de facto highest authority possible, gaining the ability to issue Obey calls once per Scene per character if necessary.
While the Oath of Arrogation is activated, the Knight’s purpose drives them onward with the fire of duty, and he is considered to have Great Resolve.
This ability lasts until the aspect of their mission that presented itself has been accomplished, or for a maximum of the duration of the Event, and may not used the Event after.
Oath of Service
OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears to use his Valor Skill on behalf of anyone who asks it of them, so long as their request does not force them to break any of their duties or oaths to their Sovereign.
Belief: “I shall always use my Valor to help those who request it, unless it violates any of my duties to my Sovereign or other Oaths that I’ve sworn”
Whenever the Knight is formally asked to use their Valor Skill by someone who is not a member of their Organization, they become Inspired (once per scene).
Oath of Legacy
Prestigious Sacred OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears to protect the legacy of an artifact of the Order being presented to him, and to add to its glory through their own deeds.
Belief: “I shall never lose or misuse the relic entrusted to me.”
The Knight is granted a weapon, armor, banner, necklace, or some other relic that once belonged to a hero of their Order, replete with its own stories. Whenever they are actively using the heirloom, the Knight is immune to Fear.
If the Knight achieves a Triumph while utilizing the item, they may spend the Knight Achievement as a Personal Achievement.
Oath of Surfeit
Prestigious OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears to never surrender or falter in the pursuit of his Sovereign’s goals or mission.
Belief: “I will never hesitate or question the orders of my Sovereign”
Through abject devotion, the Knight gains an additional use of Focused or Prayer as appropriate to his Faith per day.
Oath of Abasement
Prestigious OATH OF VALOR
The Knight swears the trust of his very soul to his Sovereign, to be his judge and master, entrusting all value as a human being to his Sovereign and master.
Belief: “I will never seek atonement or absolution from any but my Sovereign”
The Knight’s trust in his Sovereign is total and complete. The Sovereign may grant him atonement for Depravity by fiat, forgiving with a word any sins they has committed in the service of their many duties.
Any Insanities or Despair gained through their actions remain as normal. This Oath is considered to be highly controversial and not sworn or accepted lightly.
Oath of Dignity
OATH OF DUTY
The Knight swears to defend and uphold the honor of their Order, redressing fairly any grievance brought before them.
Belief: “I shall always listen, judge, and compensate any grievance brought against my Order”
Oath of Barbs
OATH OF DUTY
The Knight swears to punish any who insult one of the Order’s members.
Belief: “I shall never allow a slight against my Order to go unanswered”
Oath of Renown
OATH OF DUTY
The Knight swears to represent the ideals of the Order to the world, acting as a face of recognition for all of its relationships with the outside world.
Belief: “I shall never bring shame to my Order”
The Order spreads the deeds of the Knight far and wide, making sure to emphasize the noble character of the great deeds he has accomplished and performed. The Knight gains the Renown Character Perk when representing the expertise of their Knight Order
SECOND DEGREE – KNIGHT PROTECTOR
A Knight Protector is given charge of lands and armies, and are considered to be the primary military officers of their Order’s forces. They are considered the Protector of their land and must keep it safe from bandits, invaders and other dangers.
Oath of the Vanquisher
Prestigious OATH OF DUTY
The Knight swears to accomplish some specific military objective on behalf of their Sovereign.
Belief: “I shall never surrender in the objective I have sworn to my Sovereign.”
Of all Oaths, this Oath is the most likely to be declined by the Sovereign, for many goals are too small to risk their armies, or too great to inspire confidence in success, or simply not aligned with the long-term goals of their Sovereign. If accepted, the Sovereign grants the Knight a Force to command in a foreign Theater. The quantity of Levies and Supply granted is based on the several factors, including the total capabilities of the Sovereign’s Organization, and the urgency of the objective.
The Steel Oath
SACRED OATH OF VALOR
The Knight Swears to destroy enemies of his Sovereign wherever he finds them, without remorse or pity.
Belief: “I shall never show my Sovereign’s enemies mercy”
The Knight deepens their devotion to Valor, and may apply their teachings to the art of Warfare in the form of the sacred Combat Doctrine. These Combat Doctrines grant a fighting style to the Knights forces that embodies the teachings of their Valor.
(Read more about Combat Doctrines)
Oath of the Cavalier
OATH OF DUTY
The Knight swears to always fight alongside their forces in the local battlefields
Oath of Reprisal
OATH OF DUTY
The Knight swears to uphold the highest standard of honor and care within their Order, and punish anyone within it who fails in their Duty.
The Knight gains access to the War Games Order, which is treated as an Attack Order, but no units will be destroyed and Inspired, Despair and Disarray will not be gained by either side. The victorious force gains Battle Experience.
THIRD DEGREE – KNIGHT COMMANDER
A Knight Commander is placed in charge of other Knights Protector and acts as a senior officer in military matters. They are trained in the art of tactics and to make critical decisions in emergencies.
The Silver Oath
SACRED OATH OF DUTY
The Knight swears to command military forces with care and prudence, to not waste the lives of men on the battlefield through error or hubris.
Belief: “I shall never allow my Forces to be annihilated or allow any of my Agents to be killed.”
Swearing the Oath of Duty to the Knight Master, the Knight is trusted to lead the Order’s special forces – soldiers who are honed and sharpened to the ideals of your Valor in order to facilitate new possibilities of war. These Special Forces may have Levy requirements like ordinary troops, or function as Agents, with the additional requirement of the Valor trait which must come from a Hall of Valor dedicated to their Order.