Knighthood
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Knighthood in Havenite Culture

Knighthood was a cornerstone of the Reversion, the beating heart of King Matthias Sauveur's reforms in the face of the Hostile threat. It is a martial tradition, dedicated to protecting the Kingdom against its enemies, and it provides hope of advancement for Citizens because anyone can be knighted for valor in defense of the Kingdom. The more traditional — and much more common — method of becoming a knight, however, is to serve as a squire for a knight until that knight determines that the squire is worthy of becoming a knight (which cannot be done until the squire reaches his or her majority at 18).

Both men and women can become knights, and although most squires are nobles matched for political purposes, even Citizens can become squires — and then knights. Knights occupy a unique position within the culture of Haven, as they are more than Citizens, but their position is not hereditary. Although the sons and daughters of knights often squire for their knightly parent — or for another knight — if they choose not to become a squire, they will be just another Citizen. A knight may, however, marry a noble, although not a member of the royal family. By law, a knight may marry any other noble with the approval of that noble's head of House, but by tradition, the main lines of the Paramount houses will only marry another noble with a hereditary title.

The Costs of Knighthood

Knights are expected to arm and armor themselves, their squire, and their mount — if they have one. Many knights of Khournas and Arboren disdain the mounted style of combat, and it is the rarest of Orelle knights that learns more than the rudiments of horsemanship. Even armor and weapons for a knight are expensive, which makes it incredibly attractive for most knights to swear themselves to one of the noble houses.

Swearing to a noble requires the knight to obey the noble and take up arms when the noble calls. In return, the noble will supply the knight with room and board, as well as assisting in repair costs for armor and weapons alike. If the knight is sworn into the noble's service immediately upon being knighted, the noble will usually help the knight with the purchase of armor and weapons. Given the cost of outfitting — or even repairing — arms and armor worthy of a knight, it is only the richest and most powerful nobles who can take knights directly into their service, such as the head of a vassal House or a member of the direct line of a Paramount House.

Knightly Equipment

Although knights can wear whatever armor they prefer or can afford, most wear medium or heavy armor (usually Combat Armor, Defender, or Aggressor). All knights learn the use of some hand weapon, and most also learn how to ride and use a lance. Arboren knights — and some knights from other houses — also learn the use of the bow or crossbow, but Cindravale knights tend to view such weapons as cowardly ones, not worthy of a knight.

Most knights serve as heavy cavalry, shattering disorganized shield walls, but some serve afoot to provide leadership to the men-at-arms of the shield wall. A few knights even serve as archers or light cavalry, but they are a rarity (outside of Arboren), and are often thought of as somewhat strange.

Warhorses

Although Old Earth-standard horses can easily carry a person in a skinsuit, the weight of heavier armor is too much for even a horse like a Clydesdale to carry for an extended period of time. To solve this problem, the scientists of Haven genetically modified a warhorse even strong and more enduring than a Clydesdale. Standing up to 22 hands at the withers, these giants have increased strength, stamina, and intelligence over even the Old Earth destriers for which they were named.

Squires

The life of a squire isn't an easy one, but it is still one that many noble children take up. Starting at age 9 or 10, they take up service with a knight. The squire will learn to clean the knight's armor and weapons, be taught to fight, and be instructed in the ways of interacting with nobility. At age 14 or 15, training intensifies, particularly military training, and the squire might be brought into any skirmishes the knight joins in service of the knight's Lord or Lady. At the age of 18, the squire is eligible to be knighted, although the squire needs to come up with the coin to purchase his or her own armor and weapons, as well as perform some deed worthy of being knighted.

The Knighting Ceremony

When someone is ready to be knighted, they spend the night in contemplation in a chantry on Primus. They then return through a Waygate to be knighted before family and friends. The knighting ceremony consists of the squire kneeling before his or her knight and the knight asking the following questions:

Will you be as brave as the Knight?
Will you be as true as the Maid?
Will you be as just as the Father?
Will you be as compassionate as the Mother?
Will you be as attentive as the Sage?
Will you be as wise as the Crone?

As the squire answers in the affirmative to each question, the knight taps them on the shoulder with the flat of a blade and states, "I charge you to be so." After all six charges have been laid upon the squire, they rise, and a chosen friend buckles spurs onto the new knight's heels and a swordbelt around his or her waist.

Tournaments

Tournaments provide a chance for knights to demonstrate the skills they train so hard to perfect, and to practice their abilities in a (relatively) safe environment. Tournaments are put on by either a single noble House, or a collection of Houses. Each tournament is centered around the joust, but most tourneys also include a melee on foot and an archery competition, and many include an Awakened melee. Many tourneys — especially in Cindravale — also include non-combat competitions, ranging from pie-eating to music to dancing to poetry to footraces.

Only knights may enter the joust and the melee on foot, but anyone may join the other competitions, and particularly large tournaments also include jousts and melees for squires. Entering the melee costs an entrant a significant amount of money, with the majority of it going to the winner. There is no cost to enter a joust, but in each tilt, the losing knight's horse and armor becomes the property of the winning knight. In most cases, the winning knight will ransom the mount and armor to the loser at a fraction of their cost, but that can still be a significant amount of money, usually well more than the cost to enter the melee. There is no requirement to ransom back the equipment, however, and a tilt between two knights with a grudge can result in one knight leaving the tourney grounds either penniless or without horse and armor.

The Joust

Each tilt consists of a series of passes, with each knight trying to knock his or her opponent off of their horse. Points are tracked for solid hits, and if neither knight has been knocked off their horse after eight to ten passes (basically once the Lord putting the tournament on gets bored), then the knight who scored the most points is declared the winner.

Game Rules:
Each pass, each knight will +roll Polearms vs the other knight's Riding. A Marginal Victory on the Polearms roll gains 1 point, a Solid Victory gains 2 points, and a Crushing Victory gains 3 points. A Good Success or better also shatters the striker's lance. There are no points awarded for winning the opponent's Polearms roll (points are only awarded when "attacking").
To unhorse his or her opponent, a knight must win both their own Polearms vs Riding +roll and their opponent's +roll in the same pass. The margin of victory determines the violence of the unhorsing.

The Melee on Foot

The melee on foot is much more chaotic than the joust, with 6 to 30 knights being placed in a bordered field with blunted melee weapons and fighting until the last man — or woman — is standing. Alliances are created and destroyed on the fly, and knights fight until they either yield or are knocked unconscious. Despite the blunted weapons, knights are sometimes killed in the melee, although it's rare.

Game Rules:
All characters join in a single mock combat in the Combat System, and continue until all have been KOed.
Players may, of course, use Luck.

The Archery Competition (and others)

Open to nobles, knights, and Citizens alike, these other competitions are less illustrious than the joust or the melee on foot. Participants take turns showing off their abilities, and the judges decide on a winner.

Game Rules:
Each character takes a turn to make 3 skill +rolls. A Success is 1 point, a Good Success is 2 points, a Great Success is 3 points, and an Amazing Success is 5 points.
Once all characters have had their turn, whoever scored highest is declared the winner. If there's a tie for first place, the tied parties roll another round of 3 rolls.
Some tourneys take the top 2-3 finishers and have them compete again against one another in a new round. This should be announced before the start of the first round.

Tourney Prizes

The prize for the winner of the tilt — besides the ransom for the armor and horses of his or her defeated foes — is extravagant, up to and including a full suit of armor in a major tournament. Prizes for other events are less extreme, running down from the tilt to the melee on foot and then to other competitions. They may consist of a statuette made of precious metals, a finely-made weapon, a horse, a new computer, or other valuable objects.

Mystery Knights

There is one exception to the requirement that all participants in the joust and melee on foot must be knights, and that is the mystery knight. This time-honored tradition involves a squire, Lord, or Lady entering the tournament in unmarked or borrowed armor, either under an assumed name or no name at all. Mystery knights rarely fare particularly well in the tournament, as most knights have much more training than a squire, Lord, or Lady, but whether they succeed or fail, their anonymity is respected unless they choose to reveal who they are or behave boorishly.

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