Knights of the Hart
Once the least militant major order of knights in the Flanaess, the Knights of the Hart have lately become more “aggressively defensive” in nature. These knights have a tripartite organization formed in ancient days to serve the needs of the lords of Furyondy, Highfolk, and Veluna. Because these states are decentralized and thus severely threatened by sudden invasion from any quarter, the Knights of the Hart bulwark standing armies and hunt for potential threats. The Knights of the Hart must swear to serve as a vanguard of defense at an instant’s notice, maintaining certain strongholds, serving in local governments, and supporting scouting actions into mountains, forests, and countryside (where they often personally mete out justice to the lawless).
The Knights of the Hart often serve as arbitrators of justice in the lawless areas they patrol. The knights maintain strongholds and serve in their local governments. Over time, the knights have become involved in battles of politics – not of war – much to the dismay of some of the countries’ leaders.
Still, through all these years, membership is open to commoners and nobles alike provided that each has shown their loyalty to not one, but all three countries. They also must have proven that they can not only hold their own in battle, but also show true courage and bravery in service to the people of Furyondy, Highfolk, and Veluna.
Since the Greyhawk Wars and Great Northern Crusade, all Knights of the Hart oppose Iuz in every way. Their ultimate goal, however, is to expel Iuz from the Flanaess. Collectively, the Knights of the Hart are constantly seeking to destroy agents of Old Wicked; especially those who try to loosen the ties amongst the allegiance. The knights realize the severe importance of their allies in keeping not only the peace amongst the three countries’ peoples, but the fragile border that precariously hangs in the battle against Iuz.
The order also has a long-held dislike of Perrenland, Dyvers, Nyrond, the Knights of Holy Shielding, and the Knights of the Watch, each for separate reasons. The three orders of the Knights of the Hart are as follows:
Knights of Furyondy
Knights of Veluna
Knights of the High Forest
The three branches of the Knights of the Hart cooperate fully and are in constant communication, including long-distance magical communication between the most powerful members using specialty attuned crystal balls with telepathy. No matter the knightly order, all must swear their undying loyalty to protect the lands of the three nations.
To become a Knight of the Hart, one must be invited by agreement of a majority of the relevant branch. A candidate must be a freeman or freewoman who has shown, by some heroic deed, his or her concern for the welfare of the states the Knights are dedicated to uphold and defend. Except for the Knights of Veluna, where some fighting priests have been accepted into the Order in recent years, the candidate must be a seasoned warrior (fighter, ranger or paladin). The large majority of Furyondy and Velunese Knights are human, but this just reflects the lack of demihumans in the native populations of these nations.
The “deed” must be impressive. It might be slaying a greater or true fiend, saving comrades against great odds, serving long and valorously during the war, or the like. Social status is not important, and membership is not limited to nobles. A brave fighter becoming a Knight of the Hart often is offered service with a rich Knight, acting as a leader of household troops or in some similar capacity.
Knights of the Hart are scattered throughout Furyondy.
History: The Knights of the Hart were founded a very long time ago, during the early time that Furyondy began allowing its vassal states their independence. The exact date of the order’s founding is known to very few, since the order remained secret for decades. The Knights of the Hart were created to serve the needs of the lords of Furyondy, Highfolk, and Veluna and retain their freedom, alliance, and purpose.
Every single Knight of the Hart commands respect and it is rightly justified. They serve the three lands’ best interests in their hearts and seek to end the Old One’s reign of terror. The tripartite organization is made up of the Knights of the High Forest, the Knights of Furyondy, and the Knights of Veluna. No matter the knightly order, all must swear their undying loyalty to protect the lands of the three nations.
The Knights of the Hart have no formal leaders, and each knight is free to act alone or with other knights as their conscience and honor direct. Traditionally, Ket was seen as a major threat to this alliance, but now luz is the greatest enemy.
Originally, the Knights were organized as a vanguard which could be ready at a moment’s notice to fight for the three states, which had relatively weak armies without central command. Given that troop organization is much better after the lessons of war have been learned, the role of the Knights has changed somewhat. They retain their dedication to readiness to arms, but they are also concerned with diplomacy and trade.
In their protective role, the Knights of the Hart gather funds through all available sources to build defenses. These include castles, moats, stockades, palisade walls, watchtowers and whatever else can be afforded and is needed. They use their own personal contacts, the resources of lands they hold as personal fiefs, and some have even learned skills of trade to make money.
Diplomatically, they have a minor role in the Knightly Conclave in Chendl for the simple reason that they wish to keep a low profile as an organization, and they particularly do not wish to be seen as mere agents of the king. By contrast, the Knights are much more politically active in Veluna. They take part in state fundraising, and deal with powerful diplomats and priests, learning all they can from Velunese sages and scholars.