Orders of Krynn: The Knights of Solamnia
D&D 3e (3.0/3.5) Rules
For 2,000 years, the knights of Solamnia have served as a shining example of what is noblest among the peoples of Ansalon. Yet their legend is tainted by a tragic legacy of misdirected passions, arrogant prejudice, and stifling inflexibility. In fact, the height of their pride mirrored that of their ancient ally, the Kingpriest of Istar, and it is with the Kingpriest that they have shared the peoples' blame for the greatest disaster the world has ever known: the Cataclysm.
All knights live, as they have for two millennia, by two standards: the Oath and the Measure. The Oath is simply "Est Sularus oth Mithas," which means "My Honor is My Life"; this is considered the very meaning of knighthood. The Measure is a voluminous set of laws detailing the proper behavior by which honor is achieved. For each order, the measure is different.
It should be noted that the Measure has undergone numerous alterations over time. The most recent was made by the Grand Master Gunthar uth Wistan, who served in that high post during the Second Cataclysm.
The Crown Knight's Measure is focused around loyalty, just as the god Habbakuk was loyal to his elder brother Kiri-Jolith and his father Paladine. Absolute loyalty is demanded not only to the commands of the gods, but to the leadership of the knighthood, to rulers who truly serve the cause of justice, to one's fellows knights, and to all who suffer beneath the burden of others' evil. The Knightly Council maintains the List of Loyalty, a roster of those rulers determined to serve the cause of justice. At various points in Krynn's history, that list has been very short.
The Sword Knight's Measure revolves around courage, as exemplified by Kiri-Jolith, the god of bravery. Courage is not foolishness or self-annihilation, but conscious sacrifice of anything possessed in life-including life itself-in the name that which is just and true. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it; it is not the presence of victory, but the will to pursue it despite all adversity. In addition to honoring the full Measure of the Knights of the Crown, the Knight of the Sword is sworn to always stand between the weak and victimization by the strong, to always match his strength against the strongest among his enemies, and to act for the good of all, never for himself.
The Rose Knight's Measure personifies wisdom in thought and deed, in adherence to the wisdom revealed by Paladine himself. Wisdom is considered the understanding that every man and woman born is responsible to all others, and that no cause is lost so long as one resolute person stands in its defense. It is a commitment to life, to seeing that no life is lost in vain and no one who does not respect life is allowed to be careless with it. Most of all, the wise knight shoulders the responsibilities others might shirk from, whether they be positions of leadership, assuring equity in the midst of injustice, or righteous quests where the peril is unknowable. In addition to honoring the Measures of the Knights of the Crown and the Sword, the Knight of the Rose assumes absolute responsibility for the welfare of all who live, no matter how daunting the circumstances may be.
The knights' origins are tied up with the Fall of Ergoth, that first great human nation to emerge from the decline of the ogres on this continent. In the 2nd Century PC, the Ergothian Emperor dispatched his greatest general, Vinas Solamnus, to quell a rebellion in the empire's northeastern quarter.
What Solamnus discovered, however, was a people forced to rebellion by oppression and plunder. A man of unyielding morality, Vinas Solamnus took the cause of the people as his own and led the people and his own warriors against the empire. In what became known as the War of Ice Tears, Solamnus led his forces to the victory after victory, eventually laying siege to Ergoth's capital, Daltigoth, and winning the independence of the northeastern lands. The freed humans named their land Solamnia, in their leader's honor, and as Solamnus's legendary courage had forged this nation, his fabled wisdom was called upon to guide it. King Solamnus ruled the lands from Hylo to the Khalkist Mountains with a fair and honest hand.
Yet kingship and its attendant power troubled Solamnus to his very soul, for he came to see the temptations of such power. At the same time, he saw that those he advanced as the new kingdom's nobles suffered from this same temptation, but had not the strict discipline to which Solamnus had committed himself. As new nations emerged from beneath Ergoth's rule'for the empire never recovered from the War of Ice Tears'they asked Solamnus for aid, and he saw the difficulty of preventing discord between these separate peoples. Confronted with questions for which a soldier had no answer, Solamnus sought the solution in the best way he could think of: he beseeched the gods and went on a quest.
Thinking it inappropriate to be accompanied on such a quest for guidance, Solamnus bid farewell to his nobles and bodyguards and ventured alone into the wilderness. His many adventures are legendary, but their end saw him in the wilderness of Sancrist Isle. He came upon a beautiful glade, set with a magnificent black granite stone. Immediately, he fell down and began to pray. After days of uninterrupted prayer and fasting, he was granted an answer.
Paladine, Kiri-Jolith and Habbakuk all appeared before him, with a glorious vision of three orders, each devoted to the highest standards of honor and valor, which would be united into a single knighthood. The gods each swore to watch over these knights, and by their virtue the northern lands would be made one. To seal their covenant, the gods transformed the stone where Solamnus prayed into a white crystal pillar and blessed the glade in which he prayed. For millennia, the white pillar's beauty marked this place as Whitestone Glade, the brithplace of the Solamnic Knights.
The Evolution of the Knighthood
Since the time of Solamnus, the Knights of Solamnia have existed as three orders, each watched over by one of the three gods who made the covenant at Whitestone. The Knights of the Crown became the charges of Habbakuk, the Knights of the Sword were under Kiri-Jolith's care, and the highest order, the Knights of the Rose, had Paladine as their guardian. For centuries, the knights were the greatest arbiters of justice in an increasing number of realms across Ansalon. The example of other heroic knights whose glory rivaled that of Vinas Solamnus-- such as Bedal Brightblade-- drew the knights to greater and greater knights.
During the last Dragon War, it is said that it was a Knight of the Crown, the legendary Huma Dragonbane, defeated the Queen of Darkness herself and forced her and her dragons from the land. Whether the legends speak true or not, the dragons and their Queen did cease their conquest and withdraw from Krynn, leaving room far human nations, such as Solamnia and its wealthy ally Istar, to expand and flourish.
As humans rose to dominate the land and worship of the gods of good grew to outshine the other faiths, the knights grew to guide both men and their faith. Pride, however, grew with the knights' greatness. Some knights, such as the infamous Lord Soth, used their greatness to justify the darkest deeds. But the gods of good still loved and watched over the knights, and gave them second chances when they fell from grace. Even Soth, who had slain his own wife to marry another, was given the chance to redeem himself by carrying warning of the impending Cataclysm to the Kingpriest before that powerful cleric's arrogance rent the world asunder. Soth rode forth, but was lured and deceived by the forces of evil into abandoning his mission.
As a result of Soth's failure, millions were killed in the terror of the Cataclysm. That and other such tales of honorless knights left not only the knights despised for the deeds, but all humans blamed by the elves and dwarves for what the Cataclysm had wrought. The fact that many knights had still acted bravely in the time of the Cataclysm and saved countless human and demihuman lives during the disaster was eclipsed by the foul deeds of a few.
The years after the Cataclysm were the darkest the knights have ever known. Many knights abandoned their oaths, some in shame, some to survive, and some to be unencumbered in quests for temporal power. The roads of Solamnia were choked with former knights who had become bandits or mercenaries. Worst of all, the knights who remained clung desperately the laws of the knightly Measure, without honoring its spirit, and the cause of justice was forgotten.
The knighthood had been truly broken. Common people lynched knights or beat them from towns, and poverty struck the great noble families and their fiefs. Superstition, distrust, and xenophobia reached unprecedented levels, and mages and other outsiders were often treated as badly as the knights, if not worse. These fearful times lasted over 300 years, and the return of the dragons under Takhisis and her Dragon Highlords seemed to be the final blow that would break Ansalon's peoples.
But then, in Krynn's darkest hour, the seemingly extinguished fire of knightly heroism blazed once more into life. Sturm Brightblade, a descendant of the great Bedal, saved the city of Palanthas and won the first major victory of the War of the Lance by heroically sacrificing his life to stop the Dragon Highlords' advance at the Battle of the High Clerist's Tower. Though many champions emerged from that terrible conflict, Sturm was the heroic figure who became most celebrated in memory, tale, and song. Even before the other nations learned of this victory, the knights who had served under Brightblade carried the tale of his bravery to all the members of the knighthood.
Suddenly, fallen Solamnics everywhere began to remember what had been best in all knights: honor, valor, faith and single-minded devotion to the cause of justice. Everywhere, the story of Sturm Brightblade's valor reinvigorated the Solamnic Knights, and it was their leadership, and that of Sturm's allies, that rallied the people to defeat the Highlords and win the War of the Lance.
But it was the greatness of their victory that would lead to the Solamnic Knights' most humbling defeat. In the closing days of the war, Ariakan, son of the Dragon Highlord Ariakus, was captured by the knights. A polite, honest and disciplined youth, Ariakan's behavior impressed the knights, and eventually he was released. This proved to be a grave error, for Ariakan had studied the knights' ways far too carefully. Believing their loyalty and heroism to be the deciding factors that won the war, Ariakan founded a new order, the Knights of Takhisis, based on the Solamnic model. For years, these Dark Knights operated in secret, growing in power and plotting revenge.
The Dark Knights struck just before the War of Chaos, only to be enveloped in that much greater conflict between the very gods. But first the Dark Knights defeated their Solamnic forebears at the High Clerist's Tower'the same place where Sturm Brightblade had fallen so bravely'and took Palanthas, Solamnia's greatest city. As if the blow were not enough, the Chaos War's outcome tore out the very foundations of the Solamnic Order: the gods themselves, who had always watched over and protected the Knights of Solamnia, were forced to leave Krynn.
Yet this time, the lessons of the great knightly heroes of old were not so easily forgotten. Despite the loss of their faith and their holy powers, the knights' commitment to honor and morality was undiminished. As the Fifth Age began, and the Dragon Overlords conquered Ansalon'even Solamnia itself'the knights swore new oaths, at the graves of heroes both long-dead and newly slain, that they would never again waver in their struggle for justice.
A Knight of the Crown has sworn himself to serve the knighthood and adhere to the Oath and the Measure in all things. Despite the fact that, as a game mechanic only, membership in the Knighthood of the Crown is represented by a feat, being a Knight of the Crown is the sum total and focus of any character's life, and not a mere regimen of training or set of rules. This accounts for the feat's unusually strict requirements. Any Knight of the Crown lives and dies by the Oath, and his resolute devotion to the Measure sets him apart from other fighters and even paladins.
New Feat: Knight's Valor
Description: You have been accepted as an initiate in the Order of the Knights of Solamnia. Only characters who possess this feat can ever be considered members of the Solamnic Knights, unless they have honorary membership conferred upon them by the Grand Master of the Knighthood.
Requirements: Human only (at the DM's option, may be a half-elf in campaigns set after the War of the Lance), +1 Attack Bonus, must be Lawful Good, Mounted Combat feat, 2 or more ranks in the skill Knowledge: Nobility and Royalty, 2 or more ranks in the skill Knowledge: History, Wisdom 12+, Martial Weapon Proficiency in either Longsword or Greatsword, Weapon Proficiency: Heavy Lance, Heavy Armor Proficiency, Shield Proficiency, must be approved by the Knightly Council (see below)
Benefits: The knight's single-minded devotion to the cause of justice has made him resolute in the face of defeat. In any battle wherein at least one of the knight's opponents is of evil alignment, the knight may choose to continue fighting after reaching 0 hit points. The Knight rolls a Will save (DC:18) when he reaches 0 or lower hit points, even if he falls below -10. A success allows the knight to keep fighting-at a -2 to all rolls-until another 3 rounds have passed or he reaches -30 hit points, whichever comes first. After this time, the knight is dead unless he still has not reached -10 hit points, in which case he may be healed normally.
Special: Before any character can receive this feat, he must be approved to receive Knightly Training by the Knightly Council. To be approved, the character must be sponsored by a Knight of Solamnia of 5th level or higher who is good standing with the Council. He is presented to the council, and before them vows allegiance to the honor and ideals of the knighthood, to the causes of the knighthood itself. After a vote by the council on the candidate's worthiness (which must be unanimous in the candidate's favor), the candidate is inducted into the knighthood, unless any among the assembled knights questions his honor. If the candidate's honor is questioned, each member of the council interviews him individually. If the council members are satisfied, the character is inducted into the knighthood. If they are not, the council members state conditions for the candidate to meet before he can try again. If the candidate eventually meets those conditions, he may once again stand before the council and go through the process again.
When the character receives the Knight's Valor feat, he enters the Solamnic Knighthood with the title Squire of the Crown. Upon gaining his next level after purchasing the feat, he is given the title Defender of Crown. After that, he must gain another level before he is considered a full-fledged Knight of the Crown.
Once he achieves the title of Knight of the Crown, the Knight's rank is determined by his Base Attack Bonus, as a representation of his training and commitment. Note that these are only ranks used within the knighthood to delineate a command structure; the character is still a Knight of the Crown no matter how powerful he becomes.
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