These are some of the groups and organizations that shape the daily lives of the Velitar.
The Ancient Order of the Knights of the Velitar. (AKA: The Knights of Velitrium, or, The Knights of the White Horse):
According to legend and myth the order was founded thousands upon thousands of years ago in the ancient homeland as the defenders of Mitra and the Enforcers of the Law. For most of that time the membership was both hereditary and by merit, but some twelve hundred years ago that changed. The Knights of the Velitar closed ranks and became exclusively hereditary. For many centuries this did not prove to be a problem but then came the Exodus.
During the battles of the Civil War and the hardships of the Exodus and the early years in the valley, many thousands of the Velitar died. Amongst them where the best of the Knights. These brave men sacrificed themselves with selfless courage so as to save the Clan. In this they succeeded, but in doing so they ruined their Order.
As is true in any hereditary organization there is a percentage of deadwood and craven scum that are present only by the right of their birth. Always last in a charge and first in a retreat these men survived the Exodus in disproportionate numbers. Unfortunately bad blood often begets bad blood and for the last six hundred years the reputation and quality of the Order has deteriorated. Such was it’s repute that King Barren elected to establish a new order to defend the Wall rather than entrust it to the Knights of the White Horse.
But to give credit where credit is due, it must be said that the Knights of Velitrium gave exemplary service during the darkest hours of the Great Rebellion, the Battle of Tralee would not have been won if it hadn’t been for them. Of course it must also be noted that there were many Knights of Velitrium in Mulgrave’s band of refugees that slunk into Khun Dhagra after the war.
Today, as always, membership is by birth except for the King. At the coronation of a new King he is also knighted and initiated into the Order and is elevated to the rank of `Grand Marshal’. This is an honorary position as leader of the order. The actual leader is the `Field Marshal’ and this slot is always filled with a Knight of `Old Family’. It should be noted that any son of the King is also knighted and henceforth the family is entitled to membership in the Order.
The `White Book’ is an ancient volume in which are recorded the names of all those families that are eligible for Knighthood. An individual, no matter how well known, must prove his or her lineage before at least three Knights before being accepted as a squire. Just because some one comes from a family who’s name appears in the book they are not automatically eligible for knighthood. It means that a knight may accept the individual as a squire, however training must be completed and the individual properly elevated and knighted.
For many years the very fact that an individual was of the proper family virtually guaranteed knighthood. Since the Rebellion the Order has become a little more discriminating.
(For a PC to be from a `Booked’ family is a 5pt advantage.)
A member of the Knights of Velitrium always includes the emblem of the White Horse in his coat of arms.
The Knights of the Wall or `The Order of Barren’:
Founded in 149 by King Barren the Knight’s of the Wall were charged with the defense and maintenance of Barren’s Wall.
This structure is forty feet high and thirty feet thick and stretches completely across the northern end of the valley. It was built to keep the Jhensari out of Velitrium,
and though it doesn’t stop all their raids it does reduce them to a manageable level. Garrisoned full time by some twenty five hundred infantry and three hundred Knights and reinforced with strategically placed garrisons of mounted infantry lead by other Knights, the Wall has proved to be an excellent investment.
Membership in the Order is by merit only and requires the recommendation of at least two other Knights of the Order. Even the King requires such a recommendation to be accepted.
A nominee must be prepared to live and die on the Wall, or at least close by. The Order is commanded by a senior knight called the Captain-General. This man answers only to the King and the Duke of the Frontier.
Knights of the Wall are highly respected for their courage and dedication. The Battle of Tralee was the first time that the Knights engaged in combat, as a group, outside the Frontier and in the company of the Knights of Velitrium.
Over the years a number of the Knights of the White Horse have been accepted into the Order of Barren; but for the most part the Knights of Velitrium look down their noses at the younger order.
A member of the Knights of the Wall always includes an image of the Wall in his coat of arms.
In 740 King Urien had perceived a growing problem. Although the Knights of the Wall did an excellent job of keeping the Jhensari in check, the humanoids of the mountains and Khun Dagra were becoming a menace. The King concluded that the enemy’ was not afraid of the Velitar. This he decided was because for centuries the Velitar had only responded to provocation. They had fought a purely defensive war bent on keeping the raiders out and limiting the damage they did when they got in. Urien decided it was time to fight fire with fire by initiating raids into the humanoid strongholds. Attacking Khun Dagra was impractical, but there were many other lairs both in the mountains and the Great Forest. He quickly discovered that large bodies of troops were unsuitable for this. The long columns were slow and vulnerable. When they finally reached their target the enemy was gone or present in such force that the fight was hopeless. The King decided that the people best suited for this were those who dedicated their lives to danger, adventurers.
From a rouges gallery of Velitrium’s most hardened mercenaries and adventurers the King hand picked a score of the best and gave them the following command.
“With you is created a new Order. Your purpose goes
beyond protecting and defending the Kingdom. Your
purpose is to avenge the Kingdom! You are to
penetrate the Wilds and treat with the savages
therein as they treat with us. Burn their villages,
destroy their crops, terrorize their peoples! Teach
them the meaning of fear!”
Today membership is by invitation. There are only three people that can elevate someone into the Avengers, the King, the Captain of the Avengers, and the King’s wizard Mog-Sur. Any noble may recommend someone for membership but the final decision rests with these three. There are at present eighteen Avengers in the company.
Despite describing the Avengers as an Order they are not knights. This step was fiercely resisted by the Knights of the Velitar and for a variety of reasons the King took the path of least resistance.
The Avengers are very popular with the common people. They recognize the risks associated with the position. In the years preceding the Great Rebellion the King had increased the membership to fifty and despite constant replacements the Avengers numbered only eleven when the war finally ended.
Since its creation those that have lived to retire from the company have prospered. Many have gone on to titles and high rank. Duke Demetrius, Countess McCoy, Count Aragorn, Count Sparrowhawk, Bishop Durr, to name a few. Some have been accepted into the Knights of the Wall, others have retired to comfort and wealth. There are those that speculate that the next King may well be chosen from the ranks of the Avengers!
The Royal Army and the Militia:
The Army is composed of full time professionals that enlist for six year hitches. There are garrisons in all the Duchy’s either in important strategic locations like the Gate’s of Nygg and the Wall, or at important and valuable installations like the Royal Mint and gold and silver mines. They are also found in the major cities, large towns and in the fortresses guarding the passes in and out of the mountains.
The Royal Army numbers about twelve thousand full time troops. These are the nucleus of the Velitrium defense forces which are filled out by Militia, mercenaries and Hauscarls. The Royal troops are heavily armed and armored and are specialized as either crossbowmen, horse archers or heavy infantry armed with glaive spear or poleax.
The Militia, sometimes called inaccurately `the Spear Levy’ are part time soldiers made up of adult males aged fifteen to fifty. The difference between the Militia and the `Spear Levy’ is that the Militia is all volunteers while the Spear Levy is conscripted from every able bodied male available.
The Militia trains three days a month and must be available for one month of active duty per year plus being on call in an emergency. Militia troops are trained to use one or more of the following, crossbow, spear, sling and a hand weapon. They are also taught shield tactics and are equipped with leather armor, helm shield and the weapons of their unit. This equipment is kept at the individuals home so that he can respond on short notice if called up.
The Spear Levy is called up only in the event of a major emergency. They are armed with their personal weapons or, if none are available, from the armory that every community is obligated to maintain. The law requires that every town and village keep at least one weapon and one shield for every male in the community. Generally this means spears since they are cheap, hence the name.