A day’s ride southwest of Kindem Hua, along the Pilgrim’s Way, lies Griffon Keep. This puissant fortress was constructed on the ruins of a much older castle and sits atop a hill providing a long view of the road and surrounding lands. A large courtyard within its outer walls contains the various facilities required by a knightly order; these include farriers; blacksmithies; armourors; stables and others. The castle also contains a chapel dedicated to Alqawen.
Traditionally, the Order has always maintained a close tie with the faith of the Swan Mother. In token of this ancient bond, one of the Order’s knights is seconded to Alqawen’s Temple in Yarathera, where he or she serves as the personal bodyguard of the Sélviliya. In return, the priestesses of the Lady of Waters dispatch one of their number to minister to the spiritual needs of the knights. It is quite likely that this arrangement is rooted in the camraderie of Company of the Crescent Moon. Havan and Kyriana Alqaviliya (the current Sélviliya) were both comrades of the Company and close, lifelong friends. Both were instrumental in the unveiling of the ancient faith
Each fifth year, the Knights celebrate a festival in honour of their founder and the glorious history of their Order. It is tradition for Sélviliya to preside over the ceremonial aspect of the festival in token of the ancient friendship.
Organization of the Order
The Order of the Griffon is led by a single knight-lord, selected by the knights from among their number. The position is not only one of authority within the Order; with it comes noble title. By decree of Queen Kaylia II, the monarch under whom the Order was formed, the title Baron of Knightshome was created. The same decree exempted the title from the standard rules of primogeniture and heredity. The enoblement was designed to give the Order standing among the nobility, certain rights according to the Sotharan Code and a larger measure of independence. The lands associated with the title are not extensive however; being bounded by Knight’s Rest, Heart’s Rest and the hills east of Griffon Keep. While this land allows for the needs of the Order’s headquarters and its staff, it does not provide a high amount of income, relative to other baronies and such within the kingdom.Upon ascension to the leadership of the Order, the new Baron of Knightshome appoints a Seneschal and Marshall. The Seneschal is responsible for the daily affairs of the lands and holdings of the Order, including the essential administration of Griffon Keep. The Marshall serves as head of the Order’s military arm and is responsible for both training of troops and the defenses of the castle. The priestess of Alquawen assigned to the keep administers to the spiritual needs of the Order and serves as an advisor to the Baron as well. Since final authority over all the affairs of the Order rests with the Baron, the Seneschal and Marshall are actually advisors, each specializing in their own portfolio. Some Barons have micromanaged the Order’s affairs while others have delegated different degrees of authority and independence to their Seneschals and Marshalls.
Beneath these four figures, the Order’s military is divided into a dozen units called bands, each of which is led by a knight of the Order. A band is generally made up of soldiers, knights and support staff such as clerics and grooms. Each of the knights who lead the dozen bands reports to the Marshall and thus the Baron.
For each full knight of the Order there are a host of affiliated personnel. Besides the groom, squire, and other servants required by each knight there are administrators, cooks, servants, scribes, clerics, porters and so forth. The support personnel, other than those tending directly to the knight, his steed and equipment, fall under the purview of the Seneschal.
Knights are considered the only full members of the Order, and address each other as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’, followed only by the first name. The squire of each knight, his scribe (if needed), and specific members of the Order’s administration are considered partial members of the Order and are addressed as ‘Friend’, followed only but the first name.
The headquarters of the Knights is Griffon Keep, a fortress located along the Pilgrim’s Road a day’s ride southeast of Kindem Hua. The castle was built upon-and from-the ruins of an older fortress dating back to the time of Sothar Huailó himself. Located on the crown of a hill south of the road, Griffon Keep commands a strategic view of not only the road itself but the surrounding countryside to a distance of several miles under clear conditions. The walls of the keep are well constructed and designed to resist a lengthy siege; rumors persist of secret tunnels out of the fortress and of old chambers beneath it, left over from the ancient keep that once stood on the site.
Not all the knights of the Order are quartered within the walls of the Keep; the nature of the Order means that many of its members are based elsewhere within the kingdom. The Keep does have a regular complement of a dozen knights, in addition to the head of the Order, his Marshall and Seneschal.
Within the courtyard of the castle and its immediate surroundings are quartered all the support personnel required by an order of knighthood. Farriers, grooms, blacksmiths, armorers, weaponsmiths, scribes, cooks, carpenters, tailors and a host of others make their homes in the castle’s vicinity. The land surrounding the castle’s hill contains small farming communities operating under a feudal arrangement with the Order’s head.
Only rarely has Griffin Keep come under direct attack. In 1704 AS a confederation of disgruntled nobles attempted to overthrow the king, Gendar IV, in favor of a rival (and duplicitous) claimant. While the rebels laid siege to the castle for weeks they were eventually routed and ultimately defeated (see Blackford Rebellion).
The town of Knightshome sprang up not far from the Castle; its economy is based around serving the knights and catering to the pilgrims traveling the road. Smaller villages lie closer to the castle itself; these are the sources of food and other necessities for the people of the castle.
The knights of the Order are bound by oath to a code of honor. While most knights strive to live up to the Code at all times, errors and human frailties sometimes have their way. Amends are generally made and set at the discretion of the Order’s head. Only in the case of serious, unrepented crimes is expulsion chosen.
- Honor: A knight is required to engage in combat in an honorable fashion. He therefore does not attack the unarmed, nor does he ambush. Mercy is to be offered to the worthy.
- Charity: knights of the Griffon are not under vows of poverty but are under oath to be charitable. They are therefore required to protect and defend all innocents and see to the needs of the commoners of the land.
- Loyalty: Knights of the Griffon swear fealty to a) the people of the land, b) the monarch and c) the priesthood of the Lady. Only in cases of injustice are these vows waived. Knights must be willing to die in the defense of those to whom their allegiance is pledged.
Prestige Class notes:
- Fighter, Crusader or Paladin, 10th level minimum. In the case of Crusaders and Paladins, they must serve one of the traditional gods of the Albiani. Devotees of other faiths are excluded.
- Specialization in long sword; horsemanship; ancient language (Alíndori) or (Ashani).
- LG, LN, NG are the only alignments permitted to members of the Order. Change of alignment away from one of these results in expulsion from the Order. Willing change to an evil alignment results in not only expulsion from the Order but also blacklisting.
- Membership is by invitation only.