Follow the Crows
The Knights of the Watch and Dispatch
The Knights of the Watch and Dispatch are two chivalric orders in the Flanaess.
The order’s coat of arms is blazoned thus: Sable, an owl displayed Argent.
Also known as “Watchers”, this well-known faction formed when great soldiers from Keoland, Gran March, Bissel and Geoff united and pledged to defend their nations from Baklunish invasion. Not actually knights in the traditional sense, the group includes priests of war-like deities in its ranks. Known for their discipline and near-monastic habits, they have erected the system of castles and keeps which are maintained along the border with Ket.
The Knights of the Watch follow a near-monastic school of teachings based upon the writings of the philosopher Azmarender. Azmarender studied the tale of Trilesimain, the Simple Knight, a standard tale told by bards throughout the Sheldomar Valley. From this tale (especially a section known as the Glorious Couplets), Azmarender derived a philosophy and code of duty commonly known as the Twelve and Seven Precepts. The Twelve Precepts, detailed below, govern how a knight should behave in his daily life. Azmarender’s prophetic writings are also said to have foretold the recent assassination of the King of Keoland and the thrusting of that nation into civil turmoil.
Reflecting the mysticism that forms the foundation of their order, the Watchers adopt fanciful titles as they advance in rank in the knighthood. The lowest ranking knights are known as Vigils (such as Resolute Vigil, Indomitable Vigil, etc.); as Knights advance beyond this lowest rank, they add to this base title, adding further adjectives and later replacing the Vigil title with that of a beast (advancing through ranks of land-based and then aerial mundane beasts, followed by more fantastical ones). From this confusing (to non-Knights) system of titles comes the phrase “frightful as a Watcher’s title,” denoting someone who wishes to appear more powerful or grand than they truly are.
Prior to the Greyhawk Wars, the Knights numbered more than 6,500. War with Iuz and the forces of the giants had trimmed that number drastically; by 590 CY, the number of Knights still roaming the Sheldomar Valley was close to 2,500. The recruitment of new members is a constant and major concern for the leadership of the order, and such activities have brought the membership back to approximately 3,000 as of 595 CY.
The Watchers recognize the need to deal with the giants and orcs currently occupying Geoff (as well as the giants who have recently retaken control of Sterich). However, they view these threats as scarcely more important than the ever-present danger of the nations of the Baklunish West. This has led to a division within the order recently. The Knights now have two branches: the traditional Knights of the Watch and the new Knights of Dispatch. The Dispatchers eschew the traditional methods of battle favored by the Watchers, frequently forming scouting parties and engaging in guerilla attacks on their enemies. The Dispatchers view the evil humanoids and giants as the more important threat to be dealt with, converting the Watcher hatred of the West to a deeper hatred of the nonhumans who have killed so many Sheldomar Valley residents and destroyed so much property and land. While some Watchers despise the tactics of the Dispatchers (calling them “cowardly” and “disgraceful”), the effective leaders of both branches pledge support for each other and both recognize the same hierarchy, naming structure, and supreme leader (the Grandiose Imperial Wyvern). Both branches share the same coat of arms: a sable field with an owl displayed argent. And recent decisions by the Watchers to focus the orders efforts on reclaiming Geoff have strengthened the bond between the two branches.
Lore of the Guild
The Order observes a single sacred event each year. Called the Fast of the Murder of Bethané, it occurs each Sunsebb 4th. In the week preceding this fast, Knights don simple clothes, repent their failings of the last year, and seek out any they may have wronged to make restitution. Knights who miss this fast for good reason (duties, war, illness, etc.) must, on the first opportunity, seek out a member of the Order’s leadership who can assign the Knight a task to achieve atonement. Knights who ignore this sacred event and the duties it entails are dishonored and thrown out of the Order. During the Fast, the allies of the order are called upon to ensure that no enemy can take advantage of the observance.
Detailed below are the Twelve Precepts of the Knights of the Watch and Dispatch. The two highest precepts are the Grand Precept and the Precept of Judgment. The other ten precepts define the behavior of a Knight, but all ten are shaped by how the two highest precepts define such behavior. Only the Knights themselves know the true wording of the Twelve, but most scholars of knightly orders agree that they are:
The Highest Precepts
- The Grand Precept: A Knight is known by his actions and will lay down his life rather than violate a Precept.
- The Precept of Judgment: The Precepts are of mortal hand; a Knight remains true to the spirit of the Precepts and never contrives to find excuses for his actions.
The Precepts of Duty
- The Precept of Duty to One’s Order: A Knight remains true to the rules of his Order and the commands of his Order’s leaders.
- The Precept of Duty to One’s God: A Knight must remain true to the teachings of his God and those who represent his God on Oerth.
The Precepts of Courage
- The Precept of Bravery: A Knight may never flee battle unless failure to do so would place his charges in mortal harm. A Knight shall not allow another to take his place before danger nor dishonor his companions by failing to allow them their rightful share of glory.
- The Precept of Chivalry: A Knight must never doubt his prowess or his worth nor give the appearance of such. A Knight mustn’t take unfair advantage of an opponent, striving to show the righteousness of his cause by the fairness by which he fights.
The Precepts of Demeanor
- The Precept of Deference: A Knight must pay appropriate honor to those above him and see to it that those below him witness such actions.
- The Precept of Mannerliness: A Knight’s manner, behavior, and etiquette must be beyond reproach.
The Precepts of Honor
- The Precept of Oath-Taking: A Knight must never violate an oath he has sworn nor swear an oath he cannot keep.
- The Precept of Retribution: Knights who have broken an oath must be brought to justice.
The Precepts of Charity
*The Precept of Service: The poor, oppressed, widowed, orphaned, and those seeking justice are all worthy of a Knight’s service.
- The Precept of Property: A Knight owns nothing; he merely holds items in trust to fulfill the purpose he serves for the Order. A Knight must be generous and never seek the accumulation of wealth for its own sake.