The Knights of the Hart

The Knights of the Hart

The proud history of the Knights of the Hart goes back more than 400 years to when the nations of Furyondy, Veluna, and Highfolk were all a greater part of the Viceroyalty of Ferrond, a tributary state of the Great Kingdom, and once described as “the proudest jewel in the crown of Aerdy.” When it succeeded from the Great Kingdom in 254 CY, the Viceroyalty of Ferrond divided into the Kingdom of Furyondy and the Archclericy of Veluna. During the succession wars with the Great Kingdom, the Highfolk came to the aid of their long time allies Veluna and banded together with Furyondy to fight against the Great Kingdom and its northern lords, ultimately winning their independence. Each land retained a corps of knights from this conflict that had forged a strong warrior bond. For the mutual protection of these allied lands, a tripartite order of knighthood was formed.

The three orders of the Knights of the Hart were based upon the organization and ideals of arguably the greatest order of knighthood the Flanaess has ever known- the Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom, and indeed some of the earliest Knights of the Hart were former members of that illustrious order. Over time, the three branches of the Knights of the Hart have developed their own unique regimens of training that differ somewhat from that of their progenitor. While the main emphasis of the orders’ training remains mounted combat, each of the orders now favors varied training more suited to their everyday activities. It is not uncommon that proven warriors are invited to join the knightly ranks of these prestigious orders, though most members rise to the rank of knight through service as a squire. It is considered a high honor simply to be invited to squire for any one of the three orders of the Knights of the Hart.

Squires within the orders are permitted to display only the field color of their order’s heraldry, while knights are allowed to display the standard heraldry of the order to which they belong. Higher ranking knights often display much more complex heraldries. Heraldic devices are most prominently displayed upon a knight’s shield, the caparisoning of his mount, or upon his surcoat. When the heraldries of both the knightly order and the nation of its origin are displayed together, as is the case with higher ranking knights and knight commanders, they are presented quartered, with the nation’s arms being prominent in the upper left and lower right quarters. In the event that a knight instead displays both his order’s heraldry and his family heraldry, or personal heraldry if he has one, the heraldry of the knightly order is presented in the place of prominence. The order of prominence among any displayed heraldry of the Knights of the Hart is always nation, knightly order, personal, and lastly family. The Knights of the Hart also traditionally wear cloak clasps, pendants, or rings emblazoned with the heraldry of their order and/or their patron nation. Many Knights of the Hart also sport antlered crests upon their helms, with the highest ranks of the orders sporting gilded antlers. Such antlered crests are seldom worn by the Knights of the High Forest however, except for ceremonial purposes.

Within each of the patron nations that sponsor an order of the Knights of the Hart, there are those brave warriors and others who may be knighted for exemplary service to the nation. While these individuals are allowed to bear the heraldry of the nation, they are not by any means inductees to any of the orders of the Knights of the Hart, and so are not allowed to bear the heraldic devices of any of the orders. Such endowments of knighthood are more aptly described as honorary titles, and orders made up of such knights are referred to as “titular orders” to further differentiate them from the true knightly orders. The awarding of titular knighthoods is not unique to the patron nations of the Knights of the Hart, and is a common practice among all of the nations of the Flanaess that sponsor true knightly orders. Among the nations sponsoring the Knights of the Hart even titular knighthoods are only awarded for heroic achievements, and it is of note that holders of such titles in the lands of Furyondy, Veluna, and Highfolk are accomplished warriors in their own right. Those individuals who have performed exemplary services for any of the orders through martial, monetary, or other support are occasionally granted an honorific title by the orders.

Local knights, and especially the Knights of the Hart are well regarded within the lands of Furyondy, Veluna, and Highfolk such that the common folk are respectful of these celebrated heroes, offering them what amenities they can while the knights travel the lands defending the weak and innocent from beast and foe. A knight however is expected to not unduly distress any common folk who are honor bound to offer him succor, imposing upon them to provide only that which they are comfortably able to. To do otherwise would be to dishonor the knight himself, his order, and the faith that the common folk have in their heroic defenders.

The Knights of Furyondy
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Of the three orders of the Knights of the Hart, the Knights of Furyondy are the most similar to their predecessors in that their training revolves around shaping their members into superior mounted combatants. Those seeking to become a knight must initially meet the strict standards of the order and henceforth undergo a codified training regimen, holding rank within the order based upon the level of training they have received. In effect, a Knight of the Hart of a certain rank is a known quantity with regard to the amount and type of training they have received, and can be relied upon to perform in battle accordingly. The Knights of Furyondy further distinguish themselves on the field of battle by attaching bells to the caparisoning and harness of their mounts; no other Furyondian troops are allowed this honor. The jingling peel of the famous belled cavalry of Furyondy taking to the field of battle is universally recognized as the herald of death by all minions of evil. The heraldic device of the Knights of Furyondy is Azure, a pair of antlers or

The Knights of Veluna
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The Knights of Veluna are unique among the Knights of the Hart, for they are very nearly a religious order, albeit an extremely varied one. Consequently, the Knights of Veluna have a higher percentage or warrior-priests among their order. Many clerics of Veluna’s College of Bishops are members of the order. Though the Knights of Veluna are expected to train in horsed combat, as are all Knights of the Hart, they also train their membership in the arts of diplomacy and negotiation with the aim of solving conflicts peacefully, as well as being better able to recruit soldiery and bring powerful martial alliances to bear against their enemies if diplomacy fails. This additional training not only aids the Knights of Veluna in dealings with allies from other nations, but also aids them in bolstering the morale of troops under their command. The heraldry of the Knights of Veluna is Sable, a pair of antlers or.

The Knights of the High Forest
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The Knights of the High Forest are the most divergent from the original model of the Knight Protectors, as they accept only those of olven blood into their membership and train their knights in skills catering to combat within woodland environments. As the lands they guard are composed almost completely of woodlands, Knights of the High Forest are trained in many skills of use in such terrain. Due to the emphasis of the order’s training and their purpose of guarding Highfolk and its allied woodland realms, many knights have training as rangers. The unorthodoxy of the order even excludes training in the use of armor as a prerequisite. Squires in the order become worthy of knighthood upon completing a term of service not dissimilar to that of an apprenticeship in more common fields, serving a specific knight until deemed worthy of the honor of knighthood (usually as a result of proving themselves capable on the field of battle). It is rare that a warrior is accepted into the order based on merit alone, and even then the petitioner must initially serve as a squire until they prove themselves to their superiors’ satisfaction; only then gaining the title of knight.
While the knights of Furyondy and Veluna take to the field of battle mostly as heavy cavalry, those of the High Forest form up as skirmishers, or as light or medium cavalry, favoring ranged combat and hit-and-run attacks over protracted close combat. It is rare that High Forest knights will equip themselves for battle as heavy cavalry as few train in the use of heavy armor, though it is not unheard of. It is of note that the Knights of the High Forest count more than a few rogues, wizards, bards, and even a druid among their ranks, and that more than half of all High Forest knights are multiclassed. The heraldic device of the Knights of the High Forest is Vert, a pair of antlers or

The Knights of the Hart

Post Greyhawk Wars: 585 CY Juan