In a short series of articles, I will detail six examples of Factions that are appropriate for the Greyhawk setting. Some of these might be old hat for setting purists, but are written up in the somewhat simplified, player-friendly manner of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition factions. Others are heavily modified or all-new creations, meant to provide a few more widespread organizations as options, but keeping them relatively loose-knit so their sudden appearance in the setting isn’t jarring if you’ve already spent a lot of time using the Greyhawk setting.
Remember, these are just examples. Use them to your own ends, whether it’s whole-cloth or as templates for your own factions!
This third article covers The Knight Protectors, six orders of knighthood that have a common origin in the Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom, but have varying motives and goals in their day-to-day activities. Much of the faction write-up is based on the Lord’s Alliance, and could easily be used to work for Greyhawk’s Iron League, as well, which we present as a variant at the end of the article.
The Knight Protectors is a coalition of knighthoods and nobles from cities and towns across the Flanaess (primarily the central kingdoms), who collectively agree that some solidarity is needed to keep evil at bay (lip service), and to ensure order and law are upheld (the much more real goal, considering some of its members are, in fact, evil tyrants). The rulers of Furyondy, Gran March, Veluna, and other free cities in the region dominate the Protectors, but every lord in the faction works for the fate and fortune of his or her own settlement above all others. The agents of the Knighthood are not strictly knights and cavaliers, but include sophisticated bards, zealous paladins, talented mages, and grizzled warriors. They are chosen primarily for their loyalty, and are trained in observation, stealth, innuendo, and combat. Backed by the wealthy and the privileged, they carry quality equipment (often disguised to appear common), and spellcasters tend to have a large number of scrolls with communication spells.
To seek out and destroy threats to their homelands, agents of the Knight Protectors must be highly trained at what they do. Few can compare to their skills in the field. They fight for the glory and the security of their people and for the lords who rule over them, and they do so with pride. However, the Knight Protectors can only survive if its members “play nice” with one another, which requires a certain measure of diplomacy. Rogue agents within the Knight Protectors are rare, but defections have been known to occur. More commonly, the knightly orders that make up this faction see their allegiance to king and country as above the ties of the organization itself, and thus nationalism and pride often create schisms between individual members.
The Knight Protectors are very much based on the Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom. This famous order was the model for numerous orders of knighthood across the Flanaess, including the Knights of the Hart and the Knights of Holy Shielding. Once faithfully serving the Kingdom of Aerdi before its decline, membership was chosen strictly through contests of skill and courage. Positions in this order could not be royally appointed or bought, unlike many other knighthoods in the kingdom, such as the knights of Medegia. During the Turmoil Between the Crowns, the Knight Protectors stood by the Rax overking. When Ivid I took the throne, he hunted down the Knight Protectors, causing them to scatter and disappear into legend. Many believe that the order still exists, covertly fighting the forces of the mad Naelax Overkings to this day.
- If civilization is to survive, all must unite against the dark forces that threaten it.
- Glory comes from protecting one’s home and honoring its leaders.
- The best defense is a strong offense.
To ensure the safety and prosperity of the cities and other settlements of Flanaess by forming a strong coalition against the forces that threaten all, eliminate such threats by any means necessary whenever and wherever they arise, and be champions of the people.
Knights of Holy Shielding
This religious order is also known as the Knights of the Shield, or more formally Knights of the Order of the Holy Shield. Formed near the birth of the Shield Lands, the group originally organized to defend the area against the growing might of the Bandit Kingdoms. Since their inception, the Knights have served as the moral and physical centers of the nation’s armies — many members worship Heironeous. They are well respected by most folks, although it is said that some friction exists with the Knights of the Hart in Furyondy.
Knights of Luna
Quite different from the other knightly orders, the Knights of Luna are primarily an elven group, founded in CY 570, soon after the Battle of Emridy Meadows against the Horde of Elemental Evil. The group is dedicated to preserving the monarchy of Celene and the noble traditions of olve throughout the central Flanaess. They espouse values that call for elven leadership in the cause of Good, and noblesse oblige toward their allied kindred and the lesser races.
The Knights feel it is important to involve Celene in the politics of western Oerik. The nation has become more and more isolationist, which the Knights of Luna believe to be short-sighted and foolhardy. The organization is fairly secretive, working from behind the scenes to invite political gestures from other nations as well as working through intermediaries to convince Queen Yolande that Celene needs to work with neighboring nations to survive. It is rumored that some members of Celene’s royal family are members of this order.
Though no formal alliance exists between the Knights of Luna and the Knights of the High Forest (see below), the two groups assist each other at times.
Knights of the Order of the Hart
Originally formed for the mutual protection of Furyondy, Veluna, and Highfolk, the Knights of the Hart have traditionally excelled in diplomacy, though they have all taken oaths to be constantly battle ready. They seek to further the good of their homelands, above all else. For this reason, they are hated and despised by Iuz, the Horned Society, and even by the folk of Dyvers, it is said. There is no love lost between them and the Knights of the Watch, the rulers of Perrenland, and certain of the Nyrondel noblesse. Considerable rivalry exists between the orders of the Hart and the Shield.
There are three branches of this order:
Knights of Furyondy: This branch has 200 knights and many men-at-arms under their command. The branch’s primary concern is maintenance of all strongholds along the borders with Iuz and the Horned Society. The order is primarily made up of humans and half-elves.
Knights of Veluna: It is said there are but 80 knights in this politically active branch, although each is of great repute and commands many sergeants and men-at-arms. All members of this order are landowners. The order values diplomacy and negotiation as much as it values skill with blades. Most members worship Rao, though a few swear to the faith of St. Cuthbert or Heironeous.
Knights of the High Forest: This branch numbers perhaps two dozen and are exclusively olve. These elves are skilled in forest skirmishing, where they are currently fighting Iuz’s forces in the Vesve Forest. Members spend their short time outside the forest as merchant lords in the High Vale, where they are justly hailed as heroes while they try to raise money for their cause.
Knights of the Watch
Also known as “Watchers”, this well-known faction formed when great soldiers from Keoland, Gran March, Bissel and Geoff united and pledged to defend their nations from Baklunish invasion. Not actually knights in the traditional sense, the group includes priests of war-like deities in its ranks. Known for their discipline and near-monastic habits (which has attracted a great many monks to their order), they have erected the system of castles and keeps which are maintained along the border with Ket.
Member Traits & Typical Quests
Knights are, by definition, title-owners born into or granted noble status by royalty. Some lands are far more strict than others with regard to how knighthood is attained, but regardless, it is a necessary component of joining any of the Knightly Orders, and thus the Knight Protectors. That said, not everyone with a title is a member of the faction: the specific activities of each of the Orders are fairly specialized, and so only a minority of titled folk join such selfless causes. As such, the specific regalia of each Knightly Order is the only way to identify which nobles in a given room are members of this faction.
The quests and activities of this group are described within each of the Knightly Orders listed above, but of course there are some commonalities among all of the Orders, as well. Taming wilderness lands, enforcing general law and order in civilized settlements, and expanding the reach of the Knight Protectors through the establishment of new forts and strongholds are the most obvious points each Order holds in common, and where they all get along fairly well (with some territorial disputes as an exception).
Variant: The Iron League
The Iron League is an affiliation of states that opposed the Great Kingdom of Aerdy as a reaction to Ivid V becoming Overking: Idee, the Free City of Irongate, Onnwal, the Lordship of the Isles, and the County of Sunndi are all members.
Members of the Iron League seek to gather intelligence on the military might and resources of the Overking’s forces in Aerdy, North and South Province, and Rel Astra. Checking their forces through diplomatic alliances and beating them to the punch with regard to uncovering useful artifacts and resources are the main tasks of lower-level members, while high ranking faction members work to forge alliances with other settlements, take on diplomatic missions to demi-human settlements, and actively foment insurgency in places like Rel Astra and other areas with potential rivals to the Overking.
The ranks within the Iron League are:
As a reminder, this article is not meant to be official and does not accurately reflect the most up-to-date or detailed Greyhawk lore. At its heart, it utilizes information from The City of Greyhawk box set for AD&D 2nd edition, as well as scattered bits of lore from Gygax’s home campaign mixed with some of the early AD&D and AD&D 2nd edition events (pre-Greyhawk Wars). Please use or abuse this information as you wish!
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