Welcome back Greyhawkers. This week I'm musing over the results of my last poll, Which Knighthood Would You Join? Easy enough, let's look at the knightly orders of the Flanaess:
Coming in at a surprising first place (28%) is the Knight Protectors of Aerdy. This ancient order hails from back in the heyday of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy and until the rise of the evil dynasties of Ivids and St. Kargoth's death knights, was the premier order in the world. The Protectors included followers of war deities Heironeous and Hextor, united in a lawful cause to keep the kingdom safe. Currently the order is scattered and in hiding in places like Ratik and among the Iron League.
Why join the Knight Protectors? Certainly to help reclaim the glory of old Aerdy from the hands of evil. To rebuild an order that is so dormant that their heraldry is no longer in use (crowned sun guarded by a white axe and red arrow). Being a Knight Protector these days is like King Richard returning from the crusades, you'll have to remain in disguise from your own countrymen until the time is right. It's a difficult road, but the Protectors has the biggest heroic payoff.
Second in the poll is a tie between the Knights of the Hart and the Knights of Luna (21%). The Knights of the Hart and the all-elf Knights of Luna share much in common but have their own issues as well. The Hart have three branches, the Knights of Furyondy, Veluna and the High Forest (all elves). These knights defend against the regional threats, primarily the Empire of Iuz to the north. This gives them common cause with other orders like Luna and the Knights of Holy Shielding, but heated rivalries among them (and neighboring nations) keep them from uniting fully. Luna is in an even worse position. Primarily serving the isolationist realm of Celene, this order is more focused on its closest threat the Pomarj even though they agree with their cousins in the Hart that Iuz is the biggest danger.
Why join either? The best reason for the Hart is they are open to anyone from commoner to noble if they possess the skills, bravery and loyalty to their respective nation. Velunan knights also count clerics among their numbers now and the High Forest naturally, likes those who are skilled in the woods (rangers). Luna is more reserved, usually accepting gray and high elves only, but they do take wizards where other knighthoods do not. Unfortunately, they are becoming more opposed to their queen who eschews problems outside their borders. The Luna do quest abroad but are required to tithe back Celene. On the upside, their leader is the renowned wizard-warrior Melf, Prince Brightflame.
Third in the poll is the Knights of the Watch (16%), who serve the Kingdom of Keoland and its satellite nations. The focus of the Watch is to guard against barbaric incursions from the west (Baklunish and giants) into the Sheldomar Valley. At one time this order (which arguably the largest population to draw from) had 600 members, more than all other orders combined! More recently the order has split into two branches, the regular Knights of the Watch and the Knights of the Dispatch which are more proactive in hunting threats.
Why join the Knights of the Watch? Well besides being easiest to gain entry, this order is good if you want a strong established morale code. Their Twelve and Seven Precepts fits well into many religions of the region from St. Cuthbert to Mayaheine or Pholtus. There is also ample room for promotion within the order, each having a more grandiose title than the next. If you are a ranger or rogue the Dispatch is also within reach since they are more into skirmish tactics than their Watch brethren.
Last in the poll is the holier than thou Knights of Holy Shielding (14%) of the troubled Shield Lands. This order was once mighty and proud, defending against simple threats in the north such as bandits and nomads. Since the rise of Iuz however, their numbers have been diminished and the order pushed out of their homeland, forced to rely on the hospitality of their old rivals the Knights of the Hart. Their War of Reclamation rages on to this day.
Why join the Knights of Holy Shielding? If you are a paladin or cleric of Heironeous there is no greater respect given by commoners than to this order. Other knighthoods and nobles might scoff at the arrogance of the Holy Shielding but they are not at the vanguard of evil every day. If you want a challenge of martial prowess then this order is for you. Given the results of the poll, many fans indeed cannot stomach this knighthood.
For additional knightly gaming inspiration, check out Joseph Bloch's 5E Cavalier.