And we’ve reached the end of October and the last table of knightly orders! 😀
The Order Of …
The Hidden Blue
“At times it is simply more prudent to appear other than what one truly is.” Not all knights parade around in shining steel finery, not all orders gather in bands and battalions; and not all cross their swords on a battlefield. The Hidden Blue are such knights, serving as companions and clandestine minders for their charges in both high society and low. – azure and cobalt; the outline of a sword (when colour and/or blazon is shown) – no armour, or quilted silk or other fabric, or reinforced coat; dagger or knuckleguards and shortsword or smallsabre, or as requested – packet of ciphered letters, healer’s kit, metal mirror and grooming kit, hidden thumb-knife, blue-enameled ring
The Hard Road
“Let others choose to bury mistakes. We shall not be so foolish.” Losing — a battle, a manor, honour, glory, reputation — is a terrible thing, and many attempt to move on from a loss as swiftly as possible. That rejection is to this order’s gain; these knights maintain records of their own failings and those of others, knightly and otherwise, both to learn from those mistakes and to prevent them from being forgotten by rewriting history. – copper and grey; spiral of stones (ovals) – chainmail mantle or hauberk; mace, hammer or halberd – scribe’s kit, several scrollcases or rag-paper girdle-books, maintenance kit, hidden cache-spot, copy of tournament or battle record
“Be as flawless as the heavens above until you return to them.” By bird-wing and seeing-glass, by day or by night, in battle and in the court, the knights of the Steel Stars seek to embody what they see as the eternal, and eternally adaptable, purity of the skies. No matter what befalls the earth, after all, the heavens endure. – steel and silver; five stars in a cross-pattern – plate mail and round shield; longsword and warhammer – star charts, astrolabe, falconet or corvid, personal star- and weather-log, oath-ribbons
“There is nothing to fear in the darkness save our wrath.” A weapon is meant to kill. The Night Unending internalize this to their very souls, bringing death and ruin to their adversaries without remorse or regret — and those adversaries are many, from knaves to kings, honourless curs to virtuous paragons. Though they destroy, they harbour no malice against those who do not or cannot. – black and dark blue; descending blade – chain hauberk, plate mail or plate; bastard sword, lance, morningstar – maintenance kit, signal horn, wardog, several whetstones, cold iron or silver armlet
The Garden Repentant
“We cannot erase what we have done; raise a memorial of beauty to the fallen.” The creed of this order is, at its core, a simple one. Behave with grace, strike only when required by lord and honour — and nurture a hedge-rose or peony for every life taken. Senior knights often tend extensive gardens indeed. – emerald and burgundy; flower in full bloom – chain or plate mail and kite shield; longsword or mace, glaive – cuttings or rootstock, pouch of seeds, personal notes of lives and associated plantings, gardening kit, maintenance kit, knight’s token
“What is a cavalier without the courage of their beloved steed? Nothing of consequence.” Dedicated riders all, these knights — to the point of fighting on foot only in cases of the most dire necessity. More, the order takes great pains in maintaining specific lines of mounts, and not all are mundane beasts. – rust and gold; two opposed horses rearing (or a horse and their chosen mount) – chain mail or platemail; lance, javelin, shortbow – harness repair kit, spare horseshoes or equivalent, extra feed for mount, traveler’s satchel, personal travel map
“I will not fall.” For some, it’s not about swift swords and flashing lances. It’s about being the rock against which swords and lances shatter and assailants dash themselves to pieces before winning past the knight and that which they stand for. – grey and crimson; stylized battlement – platemail or plate and kite or tower shield; mace or warhammer or halberd – armour repair kit, extra rations, reinforced pack or side-bag, meditation stone, oathring
The Thorn And Bough
“Honour and chivalry has its roots beyond those walls of stone.” Hedge knights in the truest sense of the word, members of this order are found patrolling forest trails, accompanying local woodcrafters and forage-witches, vanquishing twisted beasts and challenging the brash and destructive knights come from city and castle-town. – deep green and wine-red; leafy branch – leather armour, chain mantle or buff coat; shortsword or axe and bow or crossbow – woodcarver’s kit, foraging basket, weathercloak, deepwood charm, iron knife
The Midnight Tower
“Long may the great walls stand; swiftly may we bring great walls down.” Knights of the castle, these; trained to battle and to attend, not on the wide battlefield, but in the confines of stony hall and narrow battlement, to man the gates and hold back a siege. But the Tower’s familiarity with castled stonework cuts both ways — many a knight has undermined a palace to bring down those judged unworthy. – dark blue and silver; stars over a stylized tower – chain or scale mail + any shield; longsword, dagger, spear or crossbow – personal blueprint of current castle assignment, skeleton key, mason’s tools, ciphered logbook, collection of engraved worrystones
“When everything appears to be over, there is still work to be done.” The survivors of calamity may need a willing blade more than any other. There are those who make true effort to pull together the tattered remnants of pride, honour, legacy after all is stripped away. A loss is not the end of a war. For all this and more come these grey-marked knights. – grey and orange; roundel – chainmail mantle or chain hauberk; any weapon – extra waterskin, healer’s kit, tinkerer’s kit, traveler’s satchel, crafter’s kit of choice
But wait, you might say. Three d10 tables is only 30 knight orders. What about the 31st of October?
What about Halloween?
Not to worry.
The 31st order is not a unique knightly pledge —
The Order Of …
The Grave Heart
“Death is not the end.” Oaths still sworn. Loyalty unbroken. Dedications unbowed. Quests still waiting, commands still standing, missions left undone. All these and more await the knight cut down before their time. Which is why so many continue on from the other side of life and death. And they know of each other. – grey and silver-gold; heart’s outline over droplet – armour and weaponry as preferred in life – spectral weapon, teardrop manifestation, bone relic, token of favour or honour, place or person of earthly ties
Another week-and-half(ish), more Knightober and another d10 table of knight orders for scattering about a campaign and tangling PCs up with ~
The Order Of …
The Velvet Glove
“Triumph is never solely through force of arms.” The battle-skills of these knights, notable as they can be, are overshadowed by their knowledge of battle tactics and strategic planning. One of the Gloves is content with hanging back from the front line, knowing that their strategies led their people to victory. – violet and black; chequered pattern or glove – chain hauberk or buff coat, longsword and light crossbow – satchel of dispatches, messenger pigeon or other small critter, signal horn, battle map, military annals
The Winding Path
“If you must put down your burden; if your cause has proven too much; know that there will be a way, in the end.” These knights have, as their unifying code, the codes — and wishes, and hopes — of others, each carrying on the work of one who was overwhelmed, who failed short of their goal, or was otherwise broadsided by fate or inability. – green and earth-brown; stylized path – chainmail or plate mail; any weapon, as appropriate – collection of letters and petitions, traveler’s pack, map of main roads, pledge cup, woolen mantle
“The path is clear, the way is known, and so I stride toward the future with eyes wide open and mind free of illusion. I will not fail.” There is both honour and tranquility to be found in the stillness of the mind, these knights aver, and they quest for it in actions and in silent crystalline meditations. Falsehoods and mirages of all sorts are anathema to the Adamantine, abominations to be fought at every opportunity. – silver and pale blue; crystal – chain hauberk; mace and dagger – personal journal-book or scroll, meditative focus of glass or crystal, pouch of salt, iron knife, string of crystal counting-beads
“Long may we stand, the devoted, the unworthy, in dedication to sacred grace.” Swearing themselves to a power higher than themselves; guardians of roadside shrines and soaring temples, travel companions of holy seers and anointed questors of the divine and those who serve them. – grey and brass; ten-pointed star – any armour; hammer and spear, or as directed by sacred calling – flask of consecrated oil (or water, milk or blood), sacred token, censer or anointing bowl, small knife, warding cord
Crimson Banners Burning
“Let the fires be started, let the blazes burn; hear our voices, hear our roars!” Knights-celebrant, equally likely to be seen flinging themselves headlong into battle or leading a shaken town in raucous, fire-lit rousing of flagging spirits — like the flame, they burn swiftly and brightly to show off exactly how it’s done. – crimson and orange; leaping flame – any armour, trimmed in flame colours; fire-arrows, greatswords and polearms treated with pitch – wineskin, firestarting kit, musical instrument, weapon-repair kit, handkeg of pitch
The Basilisk Claw
“If there’s blood spilling, we’re spilling it.” Some just want to fight. That’s the Basilisk Claws; first to take up arms, last to lower them, and legendary for never backing down from combat, no matter how brutal, no matter how insignificant. – sable and green-gold; reptilian claw – chain, scalemail or plate mail; bastard sword or greataxe – collection of whetstones, record of battles, healer’s kit, extra travel rations, satchel of battle trophies
“None of us need to stand against the world alone.” Matched up into pairs — at the very least — and, if possible, trained as such, this order emphasizes connection and support amongst its members in the face of the fact that knighthood means battle, and killing, and unpleasantness, and even if that connection is at a remove at times, it’s still a shoulder to lean on. – bronze and azure; two swords, sometimes crossed – chainmail or scalemail; longsword and choice of secondary – bundle of letters, personal seal, mending kit, token of partner knight(s), ceremonial ring or gorget
The Eighth Bulwark
“Fight to preserve that which cannot fight.” Most knightly orders take up arms for people, or for causes; the Bulwark stands between places, and objects, and all that may destroy them, whether out of a sense of history, of pride, or simply of the beauty that would otherwise be lost. – amber and brown; shield – plate mail or plate + shield of any type; hammer and glaive – antiquated text, choice of crafter’s tools, armour mending kit, small chisel, adze or trowel, healer’s kit
The Grey Wolf
“Learn from us, one way or the other.” Knights often die young. Of those who do not, many grow disillusioned and leave their order, or any association with the knighthood at all. Those who remain? Who return, even? They find a new network — a new order — and it rallies to show the youngsters, of all stripes, how to keep on keeping on. – dark grey and black; wolfprint – buff coat, scalemail or chain; weapons of their original order, or longsword and bow – traveler’s satchel, lined mantle, personal journals, collection of mementos, jack-of-trades mending kit
The Firefly Lantern
“O Light, lend yourself in these travails of the night-time, for the way is long and we have far to go.” In the rush of civilians fleeing war-torn land; in the depths of night as travelers try to reach shelter; in the face of the twisting alleyways of cities and the shuttered doors of wary villages, these knights are there — to be a guiding light to find a way for others out of their personal dark. – green-gold and silver; lantern or firefly – leather jack or buff coat or chain mantle; staff, shortsword, longsword – hand-lantern of glass or horn, healer’s kit, ciphered travel maps of several locations, dropbox location for letters and small parcels, traveler’s kit to be shared
(I regret nothing of that title and you can’t stop me)
All these knightly orders are all well and good, of course, but what do you do with them? Well, you have PCs in them, and NPCs, and spin some adventure seeds out of it.
But what if you need a bit more of a starting point? Like, say, just who’s running the show or at least where this group of unusual folks came from. It’s a good question, after all, especially if a PC is a member of an order, or for that matter any of the other guilds, factions, and various organizations tossed up here on the blog, or written up elsewhere even.
So here are a few tables for inspiration; roll on them for any given order, or pick one of the results, or just use them as a jumping-off point for your own ideas. They don’t give the nitty-gritty of internal group structures or the like, but they should make a start.
Who Do They Answer To?
01. A ruler — king, empress, etc — or a member of the immediate royal family, or equivalent 02. A great lord of some variety, whether duke or daimyo 03. The hierarch of a religious organization 04. No one but their own leader; the order acts independently 05. No one but their own leader; members may have pledged themselves to various lords and masters 06. There is no true group hierarchy, only cells or networks and apprenticeships 07. A sorcerous or mystical or otherwise non-mortal entity, from dragon to ascended soul 08. The leaders of a community or communities
Of course, a group does need funds. (well, sometimes; some may be more professions of faith or shared wellsprings of knowledge than a formal organization. that’s usually not the case with a knightly order, though, unless the order is a federation of hedge-knights in common.)
How Do They Support The Order?
01. Tithes from members (a percentage of income or labour) 02. Subsidized by royalty, nobility, or other secular patron 03. Subsidized by a religious edifice (temple or shrine) 04. Quests taken on for the order itself 05. Individual members take on quests or missions 06. A mutual aid society, informal in nature 07. Donations from those the order aids 08. There is no direct support for the order as a whole
How Are Members Expected To Contribute?
(beyond upholding the order’s ideals, which kind of goes without saying)
01. Tithing an amount of funds, or in kind, or with labour 02. Teaching new recruits or apprentices 03. Encouraging the growth of the order 04. Performing quests and endeavours that bring acclaim to the order 05. Contending with the order’s rivals and/or enemies 06. Offering aid or shelter to fellows, when called upon
Under many circumstances, several of these possibilities are just taken as a matter of course anyway; but even then, there may be an especial emphasis or value placed on a specific contribution in particular.
Also vitally important — when there’s scores of orders and dozens of factions out and about, it’s highly unlikely that all these groups will somehow never cross paths with at least a few others. So how does that shake out?
What does this order think of another?
01. Kinship, in arms or in peace 02. Casual allies, at least on a day to day basis 03. The leadership/established members are considered allies 04. The leadership/established members are considered rivals or enemies 05. The other order is anathema 06. There is old bad blood, but overtures are being made 07. There is currently competition for [hearts/faith/resources] 08. The order wishes to remain unknown to the other 09. A favour of honour is owed to the other order 10. The other order owes a favour of honour 11. Neutrality, with no particular opinion 12. Curiosity, with a side of jocular rivalry
And if the basic beliefs of the two groups are intrinsically opposed (or aligned) and a contrary result comes up, well, there’s certainly some potential adventuring and politicking in the weeds there —
Swordtember ended in a flurry and haze of hurricanes and covid; I got all my swords finished, but it was definitely a tiring work by the end of it, I won’t lie.
Of course, I still wanted to do Knightober.
But maybe not as much as Swordtember, or the fairly lengthy mostly-fiction entries I wrote for Knightober last year. Something a little smaller.
Why not some outlines for knightly orders, then, thought I? Ones in the same format as my first and second d66 tables of guilds, factions, and often-odd organizations — but smaller chunks, so I can recharge.
Why not indeed?
So, here is my first d10 table of knightly orders, inspired by prompts from Kalloway —
The Order Of …
The Thirteenth Banner
“Gird thyself with arcane arts; it serves as steadfastly as any blade.” As much hedge-witches as hedge-knights, dedicated to the melding of sword and spell, with many choosing to specialize in a particular sorcery or theme – green and silver; banner or pennant bearing chosen glyph – buff coat and gorget; swords of all varieties – scrivener’s kit or other recording aid, spellstone, letters from arcane correspondent, warding charm, binding charm
“Temper your blade, your bulwark, and your own spirit. All may be purified in the forge.” Knights with a penchant for the strength of steel, both physically and metaphorically — and the most trusted steel is that which one smelts with one’s own hand – grey and steel blue; blade through an anvil – any steel armour + kite shield; longsword, bastard sword or greataxe – smith’s tools, traveling anvil, steel-loop charm, flask of pure oil, alloy billet, crucible
The Pale Ring
“We stand with those who crossed over. We stand against those who cross back.” Guardians of necropolei, wardens of graves, and grim stalwarts in the battle against the restless dead, an abomination against the peace of those who have passed on – black and ivory; ring – scale armour, often inset with bone or enameled ivory; mace and sabre – lantern, consecrated oils, records of dedicated burials, bone or ivory ring, censer
The First Wyrm
“Emulate the First in all ways: Be swift. Be just. Be wise. Be ruthless. Be unconquerable.” Followers of a code — some call them worshipers more than knights — based on the mythos surrounding Sarukkh, legendary origin of dragonkind. Some swear themselves to other wyrms. – ruby red and indigo; rampant dragon – scale armour + kite shield; longsword or war pick – dragonscale- or -talon token, wyrmsblood candle, contract of the First’s laws, grooming kit, map of local dragonlairs
The Silver Peony
“Others may falter, but the Peony blooms for eternity. Our word is our bond.” Swearers of oaths and upholders of righteousness, these knights strive to live and die in honour and to kindle the honourable impulse in those around them by example. And if the law be unrighteous, there is no honour in it. – silver and white; peony – chain mail or plate mail + round shield; spear or lance – oath-ring, healer’s kit, fringed shawl or mantle, worry-beads, lamp or lantern
“The heavens will fall before I am torn from my charge.” All knights of this order swear themselves to a singular dedication, be it individual or institution, a cause or a campaign, oath or ideal — and place themselves in the vanguard of defense for their chosen one. – tawny and green; shield and ring – any armour + round shield; longsword and javelins – token of their oath, personal chapbook of notes on their charge, mending kit, traveler’s cloak, oathknife and blood seal
The Ashen Knife
“When all has been lost, what is there to fear.” Not all knights succeed in upholding their knighthoods; some turn against their oaths, some grow disillusioned with once-cherished beliefs, some lose themselves in bloodthirst. For all of these and more, there is kinship with their fellow fallen, even as they hate the reminder of what they were. – grey and sooty; shattered weapon, usually a sword, sometimes over old emblem – varies according to old order + personal bitterness – disfigured crest, mending kit, hidden dagger, ashwood chain, handmade chart of hidden roads
“Ever changing, ever flowing, ever adaptable. The soothing purity that washes away all with time.” Chivalrous haunters of springs and hidden pools, bearers of water to the needful and expiation to those who need an ear to hear — or a purge of sin, true or simply believed – teal and turquoise; cluster of teardrops – scale or chainmail; spear, hammer – length of immaculate cloth, several waterskins, flask of purified water, riverstone charm, ciphered map of water sources
The Roaring Mouse
“Our time will come.” Not a true ‘order’, as much as a cross-order informal conglomeration of squires, pages, aides, apprentices, and other young knights-to-be, sharing news, gossip, insight and information with each other – brown and white; stylized mouse – padded jack; weapons of order-to-be – handicrafts kit, mending kit, messages for senior or mentor, letters from fellows, award ribbon
The Charge Perilous
“Today we strive, we fight, we win! Tomorrow they sing our achievements — tomorrow, and forever!” It’s all about the fight, for this order — the fight, the quest, the grand adventure, the crux when you’ve seized the moment, your moment, and immortalized yourself in song and legend. Whatever you do, do it well, so awesomely that no one dares to ever forget you. – gold and azure; upraised fist or splayed hand – virtually anything, really, as long as it gleams somewhere; battleaxe, halberd, bastard sword, or other standout weapon – maintenance kit, healer’s kit, rallying horn, victor’s circlet, wineskin
You are dead, whoever or whatever you may have been while alive, and obviously so. This hasn’t stopped you, as it turns out; whether curse or faith, accident or deliberate transformation, you are dead but you are still moving by your own will.
There’s great variability in your corpse’s potential appearance, depending on your death, your personal upkeep and grooming habits, your access to talented necrochirurgeons, and so forth: skeletal, fleshy, mummified, a kind of dry rot-like existence, immaculately preserved — withered, waxen, leathery or cold as marble — or any and all combinations of the above and more are possibilities. No matter your looks, however, even if you have not modified or ornamented your corpse you will not be mistaken for a living being.
You also carry your heart with you. Actual transmuted heart? Manifest soul? Tether to the world? All of these? Who can say, save for that last? What’s important is that this glassy bauble, heavy in your hand and kindled with a softly golden light, is what keeps you going — and must not be taken from you. Best keep it safe. Maybe even inside.
Prime Requisites: CON and WIS Attack: as Cleric Saving Throws: as Cleric Hit Dice: 1d8 Armour Allowed: Any Weapons Allowed: Any Languages: Common, Alignment
* Life’s Chains Broken: You do not require food, water or sleep, only four hours contemplation. You are immune to poison, disease, and paralysis.
* The Cold Seeks All: You have infravision to 60′.
* Dead Flesh: As a walking corpse, you cannot heal with rest (dead flesh does not heal) and healing magic has no effect on you. In order to regain lost hit points above 1, you require the attentions of a necrochirurgeon for a day and an expenditure of 1 gp, plus access to 1 hp of corpse material per hit point regained. You may work on yourself, at a rate of 2 hit points per hour’s work, but the material needs are doubled unless you are skilled in necrochirurgery. It is possible to choose to partially restore hit points if there is a lack of funds, materials or time.
* Tethering Heart: A glass-like bauble but so much more than that, heavy and large enough to fill a cupped palm and then some, your heart is key; if it is destroyed, so are you. Putting more than a mile’s distance between yourself and your heart causes discomfort and disquiet; if another creature claims your heart, you will do anything to get it back.
* Rising: You have already died once; it is cursed difficult to put you in the ground again and keep you there. Once reduced to 0 hp you collapse, but will rise again in 1d6 hours unless your heart has been destroyed. Upon rising you have 1 hp and will remain so until the damage to your corpse is seen to (see Dead Flesh).
* Curse Of Unlife: You’re an undead corpse, and that has drawbacks beyond the inability to heal. While you’re not necessarily affected by (un)holy water depending on your personal ethos, you are definitely affected by spells, magic items, divine proclamations and other things that can affect, harm, ward or destroy unliving creatures — and that includes being susceptible to clerical turning and command. You do get a to make a saving throw vs. death magic to resist the results of a turning or command check.
* Grave Gifts: Each risen has their own quirks. Roll twice on the following table:
01. Corpse Medicine: Offer a portion of your remains, from enresinated fluids to powdered bone, to heal another at a 1 : 2 hit point ratio. 02. Grave Armour: Whether dense flesh, strengthened bone or osseous plating, improve AC by 2. 03. Eldritch Sense: Cast Detect Magic once a day. 04. Spectre: Cast Cause Fear once a day. 05. Wardead: Claws, jaws, sharpened phalanges, bony fists or implanted weaponry, attack unarmed for 1d4 damage. 06. Mortuary Sense: 2-in-6 chance to sense other undead within 60′. 07. Devour: Three times a day, regain 1d3 hp from feeding from a corpse directly. 08. Chattering Bone: Ask a corpse or part of one one question, once a day. 09. Ghostlight: Conjure orb of pale-green or blue-white “flame” as a candle, once a day; one hour, or four if conjured into your heart. 10. Vault Cadavre: A portion of your corpse is modified for ease of opening and secure storage, revealing a space that can contain small objects up to a dagger to a waterskin, depending on the location of your vault. 11. Dead Tongue: You may communicate telepathically to any creature within 100′. 12. Grave Will: You are treated as +2 HD when faced with turning or control attempts.
* Ossuary Founder: After reaching 9th level, a risen may establish or build a stronghold or ossuary, attracting 2d6 followers who may be 1st level risen, magic-users or fighters. These followers are devoted, but if they die or are permanently destroyed they are not automatically replaced.
01. There is something or someone you protected with your life, and now with your death 02. A necromancer got you instead of the zombie they were expecting 03. It was your literal dying wish 04. A wandering traveller blighted — or blessed — you, then vanished 05. You have an oath not yet fulfilled 06. Don’t play around with necromantic rituals you aren’t qualified for, folks 07. They will not have the satisfaction of having killed you 08. This way, you may serve for eternity 09. It was a strange illness; you had no idea just how strange 10. You traded your life for something or someone precious (or you thought so, at the time) 11. Your tomb was disturbed; you didn’t appreciate that 12. You don’t remember how it happened and dearly wish to find out
01. How about Basic Fantasy, AD&D and the like?
Honestly, I was going to write up entire species stats and then I realized that, since I didn’t want to add prerequisites, there’s no real need for ability score modifiers either.
Besides, when you’re dead, you’re dead. It’s the great leveler. I suppose I could have added “Requirement: Dead” to the BD&D block? But naaah.
Assume movement rates work like a living representative of the species in question unless there’s a good reason not to; apply all the special traits given in the class write-up, including Grave Goods. Unless everyone is cool with the idea, it’s probably best to not carry over special abilities from the risen’s species (if the PC isn’t a human corpse).
02. Level limits?
Nah. If you want to use them, especially as a “species” and not species-as-class, assign them as you see fit; I don’t like level limits, especially with separate species and class, and honestly there’s not a lot of stereotypes I’d apply to a dead dude in order to limit them?
(you bet your arse I’d want to write a risen cleric, say. oh ho ho ho)
03. That’s some convoluted stuff and also why does it take so much to “heal” them and …
That’s the theme I wanted, basically. You’ll keep going, but your corpse is battered and so is what’s animating you, but since it’s all dead matter a clever-handed artisan can restore you in a grand combination of sculpture, leather-and-textile arts and taxidermy. And yes, you can fancy yourself up, because you’re already dead. Be the jeweled saint you want to be in the world, even.
04. That turning stuff is rough, man.
It sure is. I like my thematics and I’m not sorry. A destruction result probably shouldn’t destroy a risen’s heart, though — something for PCs wrangling with risen to keep in mind. Or learn the hard way.
05. Why the “heart”?
Because the image of a corpse carrying this warmly faintly luminous bit of beauty stuck with me and by fuck I was going to use it.