Greyhawk: Return to the Classic
Knights of the Watch
The Knights of the Watch was created several centuries ago on the foundation of an earlier organization based in Gran March. Tasked with protecting Keoland, Gran March, Bissel, and Geoff from the incursions of barbaric Paynims and “westerlings” (civilized Baklunish armies), the Watchers maintain castles, fortresses and strongholds along the border with Ket, as well as in the western mountains. The order’s strongest bases of power can be found in Gran March (Hookhill), Geoff (Hochoch), and Bissel (Pellak). Members of the knighthood are drawn from the best and wisest lands in the Sheldomar Valley.
The Knights of the Watch are devotees of a nearmonastic school of teachings based upon the writings of the philosopher Azmarender, who chronicled a code of duty and belief known as the Twelve and Seven Precepts. The Twelve Precepts govern how a knight of the order is to carry out his daily activities, with an eye toward the traditions of battle. The Seven Precepts guide “life beyond the self,” giving meaning to the world beyond the field of battle. These latter teachings are jealously guarded secrets, revealed to knights only as they gain station within the organization. The mysterious Seventh Precept, said to reveal ancient secrets about the creation of Oerth, is known only to the Grandiose Imperial Wyvern, titular head of the knighthood (currently the ailing Hugo of Geoff (LN male human Ftr16)). The teachings are not connected with any one religion, yet they fit well into the lives of militant followers of St. Cuthbert, Heironeous, Pelor, Allitur, and Mayaheine.
As befits the mysticism that dwells at the heart of their organization, the Watchers are known internally by a selection of fanciful titles. General knights, the lowest in rank, are called Vigils, with minor ranks adding to the base title (Stalwart Vigil, Resilient Vigil, Radiant Vigil, etc.). As knights ascend in rank, a number of adjectives are added to their titles, with “vigil” replaced by the names of fantastic beasts (manticore, hippogriff, griffon, etc.), such that a mid-level commander is known as the Magnificent Elder Gorgon. Few outside the order understand the ranking system of the Watchers, which gave rise to the peasant saying “frightful as a Watcher’s title” to denote someone who wishes to appear more powerful than he truly is.
Prior to the Greyhawk Wars, the Knights of the Watch claimed more than 6,500 members. War trimmed that number by more than half. Currently, 2,500 Knights of the Watch roam the Sheldomar Valley, protecting the interests of their nations and digging out “agents” of the hated west (a charge carrying a liberal interpretation tainted with racism against the Baklunish). The recruitment of new members (fighters, clerics, and paladins) is a constant and major concern.
The Watchers currently regard the giants and orcs occupying Geoff as scarcely worse than the Baklunish. Iuz is greatly hated; some Watchers believe the Baklunish worship the demigod in secret. The Scarlet Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy (possibly in league with the Baklunish, claim some). An old rivalry with the Knights of the Hart is also fueled. Curiously, the knights do not see the Valley of the Mage as a major problem area, despite periodic raids by valley elves on nearby lands.
The Greyhawk Wars brought a new development, the division of the order into two distinct branches: traditional Knights of the Watch and the new Knights of Dispatch. The Dispatchers eschew traditional rites of battle, often forming scouting and guerilla bands to range within conquered Geoff (and, until recently, Sterich). The Knights of Dispatch have traded their hatred of the west for a deep hatred of the nonhumans who caused their homelands so much grief in the last decade. Fighters, rangers, clerics, and rogues fill their ranks.
While some Watchers despise the “cowardly” tactics of this new branch, the leaders of both organizations pledge support for each other and share the same (confusing) hierarchy and titles. Both the Knights of the Watch and the Knights of Dispatch share a common coat of arms: an owl displayed argent.