Many cultures in Golarion have a tradition of knights and knightly orders. Some seek out glory and champion causes and commoners, all while wearing shining armor astride a mount. Others have neither good nor noble intentions. However, all knights have a sense of a purpose larger than themselves. For some this purpose might be faith and holy orders, while for others the glory of their home country is paramount—either through influencing others while abroad or providing defense at home. Still others have felt the call to uphold cherished philosophical ideals, such as self-perfection or the absolute rule of law.1
Heavy knights are often what people picture—steel armor, great swords, and a shield at the ready. Hellknights and Gray Maidens typify this style of knight. Those trained from early age in the martial pursuits, such as cavaliers, fighters, and paladins often become knights of this type.
Knights also exist who eschew the heavy armor and arms of their brethren while still achieving prowess in battle. These knights, often drawn from the ranks of bards, inquisitors, monks, rangers, and the occasional honorable rogue, are as graceful and grand as any heavy knight.2
Eagle Knights are champions of liberty, revered at home in Andoran, yet often reviled in other nations, including but not limited to Cheliax. Originally recruited more for show than combat, these knights came into their own after Aroden's death when their people desired freedom from their devil-worshipping oppressors.3
Knights of Ozem
The Knights of Ozem protect Lastwall and all of Avistan from the demon-infested Worldwound and the undead of Ustalav. Famous for their role in the Shining Crusade and imprisoning of Tar-Baphon, these legions continue to guard against his feared escape.5
Mendevian Crusaders are less organized than other knightly orders, united primarily by their desire to eliminate the expansion of demons from the Worldwound. Not all of its members are selfless and honorable, but many epitomize true courage. Sheer desperation for able-bodied warriors causes the order to take shining knightly followers of Iomedae as well as lowly glory-seekers, ruffians, profiteers, and other undesirables.6
The Glorious Reclamation is an order of zealous Iomedaean knights in Cheliax who are responsible for recovering an artifact of their goddess from the Hellknight Order of the Godclaw in 4715 AR.7 The order soon fostered a rebellion against the empire in southeastern Cheliax,8 eventually targeting Westcrown for liberation.9
The Kortos Cavalry is the sole horse-cavalry unit in Absalom. Members spend time within the district of Westgate as a sort of city watch, or as patrols throughout the Isle of Kortos, or abroad on missions of importance to the city. Knights rise through the ranks through merit and service, and all backgrounds (martial, divine, or arcane) are accepted as long as the person can meet the order's requirements to wear steel armor and wield a sword and lance.10
The Risen Guard are the personal bodyguards of Osirion's Pharaoh Khemet III. Membership is hard to obtain—each knight in the guard died in service to the Pharaoh or country and was resurrected by order of the Pharaoh. Each member must give up their past life completely—identity and rank at a minimum. Some of the most devout also give up their names. There are no pre-defined backgrounds required.10
Furthermore, Taldor's noble houses also retain their own orders of knights. Many of these knights gained their position due to accident of birth or by having the right network of connections. Leading noble houses that maintain their own knights include the houses of Darahan, Eiredor, Germande, and Merrosett. The quality of the knights range from those with fine martial skills to those best suited for social engagement.12
Famous knightly families
Some families have reputations for producing generations of quality knights.13
- House Darahan of Taldor are known for their family history of hunting monsters. They rose to prominence during the Shining Crusade. Their family crest is a hammer and mattock surrounding a medusa head.
- Ustalav's House Graydon is well-known for being absolutely loyal to the country's ruler, even if this loyalty leads them to perform less than honorably. Their heraldry is of a sun-silhouetted howling wolf.
- House Khavortorov of Brevoy is represented by a white dragon with a helmet embedded in its chest. These masters of battle have short tempers and exhibit expertise with the Aldori dueling sword.
- The Knights of Ozem have always had a member of House Tilernos in the order. Lastwall can depend on most of the Tilernos heirs, especially the daughters, to join. The family crest is a purple shield covered and surrounded in blades.
Defunct and secret orders
While knightly orders are often drawn from ancient traditions, a few have been lost to time altogether or receded into secrecy.
- At the height of Imperial Azlant, the Knights of the Ioun Star was a shining order of armored magi who served the throne.14 The order's strongest remaining faction, known as the Apotheosis Almorain, is centered in Oppara.15
- The knights of the Order of the Green Feather were the holy warriors of the Peacock Spirit, and served the runelords faithfully as specially trained militia used against enemies of the empire. It is said that some of the knights were turned into graveknights and liches upon death and still guard their sacred castle.1617
Devotion to an order of knights often goes hand-in-hand with devotion to a deity. Some churches have their own orders of knights. Deities with knights tend to be disposed to lawfulness. Deities with publicly known knightly orders and their main philosophies include:18
- Abadar: law over chaos; oppose corruption
- Aroden (historically)
- Asmodeus: power via order
- Erastil: hedge knights
- Gorum: determination and strength in battle: the Iron Knights of Gorum
- Iomedae: faith and zeal
- Nethys: guard magic and those who use it
- Sarenrae: justice
- Shelyn: courtly love; defend beauty
- Torag: defend the community
- Dwarves are the epitome of the archetypal knight clad in heavy metal armor and weapons, often forgoing the use of a shield and mount.
- Elven knights rely on agility and silence, using lighter armor than other races. Many are devoted to containing Treerazer within the Tanglebriar.
- The rare gnomish knight often imitates another race's knightly traditions, using halfling-style weapons and mounts. They rely on trickery more often than knights of other races.
- Light-armored halfling knights are often found mounted on war dogs.
- Humans are often credited with the development of mounted knights, even if the rest of their claims of inventing knighthood are debatable.
The most common mount for a knight is the horse,21 though other animal mounts are also used depending on the prevailing environment. Examples include the Chernasardo riding elk, Erutaki husky, and Qadiran dromedary.22
The most effective leaders among knights are able to attract powerful and intelligent creatures to serve as a mount. Known example include:23
Knights often choose to follow codes of conduct. Even though these codes are not as strict as those that bind paladins, knights that stray are prescribed penance to atone. Common vows include:24
- Freedom: Slavery is intolerable
- Perseverance: Power and wealth must be built to allow for enduring change
- Revolution: Social progress comes from individuals, not overly strict laws
- Valor: Courage in battle defines a knight
- Vigilance: Respect, teach, and enforce the law
Knights often have arcane companions with them in the field for support. One such magus, the half-elf Serren, developed a spellbook, Serren's Field Manual, to collect useful spells to aid his knights. Over the past few centuries, other wizard followers of Nethys have spread these spells throughout Golarion's knightly orders. The most useful spells include:25
- Bed of iron: sleep comfortably even while heavily armored
- Carry companion: turn your mount into a miniature stone figurine for transport
- Clarion call: gain the ability to blast like a horn; have voice volume increase to be heard over distance
- Emblazon crest: have your crest display on any shield carried or tabard worn
- Keep watch: stand watch while still getting a good night's rest
- Serren's armor lock: stiffen an opponent's armor to make it more difficult to move
- Serren's swift girding: available armor is automatically donned
- Ward shield: enchant a shield to grant the bearer a chance to not be affected by other spells
As knights can have innumerable backgrounds and expertise, their weapons are more defined by the skills of their chosen profession. However, some weapons are especially useful for knights, such as the glaive-guisarme of the vanguard, knight-captain's lance, and war lance.26
- armiger's panoply
- bridle of tricks
- champion's banner
- commander's banner
- crusader's tabard
- war saddle
Some knights choose to acquire a squire. A squire serves a knight while training to one day become a knight herself. This support often consists of preparing weapons, treating wounds, and scouting. A squire is always a member of the same order as the knight.28
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Knights Overview” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 4–5. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Knights Overview” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 5. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Knights Overview” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 6. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Hellknights” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 8. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Knights of Ozem” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 10. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “= Mendevian Crusaders” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 12. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Coming Together” in Hell's Rebels Player's Guide, 3. Paizo Inc., 2015 .
- “Reasons to Protest” in Hell's Rebels Player's Guide, 9. Paizo Inc., 2015 .
- “Breaking the Bones of Hell” in Breaking the Bones of Hell, 6. Paizo Inc., 2016 .
- “Other Knightly Orders” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 14. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Taldor, Empire in Decline” in Taldor, Echoes of Glory, 12. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “Other Knightly Orders” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 15. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- Knights of the Inner Sea, inside front cover. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Secret Societies” in Occult Mysteries, 28. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- “Secret Societies” in Occult Mysteries, 29. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- “Thassilon” in Lost Kingdoms, 57. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Runelords of Thassilon” in The Dead Heart of Xin, 74. Paizo Inc., 2013 .
- “Knights and Religion” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 18. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Empyreal Worship” in Chronicle of the Righteous, 42. Paizo Inc., 2013 .
- “Knights and Race” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 19. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Mounts” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 22. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- Knights of the Inner Sea, inside back cover. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Mounts” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 22–23. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Knightly Codes and Traits” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 26–27. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “The Spells of Serren” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 28–29. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Magic Items” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 30. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Magic Items” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 30–31. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Squires” in Knights of the Inner Sea, 20–21. Paizo Inc., 2012 .