|Order of the Brass Thistles|
The precepts below capture the spirit of the Order of the Brass Thistle. Not every member of the Order embraces all aspects of the Code equally, nor does any single tenet represent an inviolable stricture of which a transgression is unforgivable. All members of the Order are real people with a full range of desires, flaws, and faults.
You are not playing a party of rigid paladins – so please do not mistake the Order's beliefs as handcuffs that limit your ability to play diverse or unique characters. Instead, please see the Code as inspiration for the nature of the organization and their general approach to engaging in the world of Faerun. At the same time, we must acknowledge that each character is at minimum a voluntary member of the organization – and most probably believe strongly enough in the mission to be in active pursuit of increased responsibility and "full knighthood". Characters with sinister motives simply would not be affiliated with or accepted by the Order.
The Most Noble Order of the Brass Thistle – Valorous Code
Knights are expected to have not only the strength and skills to face combat in the violent world but also to temper their aggressive side with a noble and valorous heart.
At their best, all Knights should strive:
- To serve the Order in valor and faith
- To protect the weak and defenseless
- To give particular succor to widows and orphans
- To refrain from wanton violence or offence
- To live by honor and for glory
- To fight for the welfare of all good-natured people of the Realms
- To appreciate the political ramifications of their actions and missions and to act in ways that yield the greatest good
- To guard the honor of fellow knights
- To revere the deities of Faerun who support the well-being of goodly folk and keep faith according to their individual proclivity
- To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun on behalf of the Order
- To maintain hope in the face of all odds and circumstances
- Never to turn the back upon a foe
Structure of the Order
The Order first began in 939 DR, The Year of the Vengeful Halfling. For reference, our game begins in DR 1379, The Year of the Lost Keep – so the Order has existed for nearly 450 years. The Order's secretive and fragmented nature is responsible for the group's longevity and long-held secrecy. Over the centuries, individual Knights and the overall order have had a major impact on maintaining prosperity in the Realms – but their contributions have largely gone unrecognized or were attributed to other heroes, groups, or organizations.
While the earliest days of the Order lacked structure, the group quickly converged into a cohort of like-minded heroes. Fearful of the dilutive effect of an organization grown too large, the founding members pledged to never let the number of officially inducted knights grow beyond 16. Despite the best intentions of all knights, a larger organization would risk public scrutiny and investigation by evil powers in the world – removing the profound advantage of secrecy held by the Order.
All of the 16 inducted knights know the identities of their fellow knights, although they treat such knowledge with great discretion. A magical ritual that takes place as part of induction prevents any coercive attempts (mundane, magical, or scrying) to extort the identities or whereabouts of fellow knights from any inducted knight. In addition, a contingent of vetted junior knights known officially as "extra knights" but referred to affectionately as "Sprigs" stand at the ready to engage in action on behalf of the Order at any time.
Beyond the circle of inducted and extra knights, a wide network of "friends of the order" proliferate the Realms, though none of these goodly folk possess any details or knowledge of the true breadth of the Order. A Knight of the Order may find aid in times of great need where they least expect it – but the splintered nature of this support means that no Knight ever truly depends on the assistance.
Paragons of Virtue
Each of the 16 slots for an inducted knight represents one of the following 16 honorable virtues. In practice, the given knight will occasionally act in an official capacity as the "Paragon of [Virtue]":
- mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
- behavior marked by polished manners or respect for others
- control gained by enforcing obedience or order
- evenness of mind especially under stress
- careful management of material resources and especially money
- dignity or sobriety of bearing; solemnity
- adherence to the facts; fairness and straightforwardness of conduct
- the quality of being just, impartial, or fair
- compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power
- continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition
- the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason
- reliance on one's own efforts and abilities
- having no concern for self; characterized by a noble or kindly spirit
- moderation in action, thought, or feeling; habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions
- persistence in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired
- strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness
In some instances, an individual inducted as the knight of a certain virtue might appear a natural and ideal fit for the virtue: perhaps the current Paragon of Valor is an esteemed Paladin of Tyr who clearly embodies his namesake virtue.
In other cases, a knight gets inducted to a virtue that seems almost antithetical to their personality. In such instances, perhaps the assignment to the chosen virtue to encourage personal growth in the selected knight, or maybe the knight's natural aversion to his or her designated virtue itself serves as its own lesson for fellow knights. For example, perhaps there was once a well-known carousing rogue inducted as the Paragon of Temperance.
Regardless of how closely a chosen knight cleaves to his assigned virtue, occasions arise in which the paragon of a given virtue must admonish a fellow knight for flagrant disregard of the virtue. For instance, if a fellow knight gets caught deliberately lying in a way that incites open conflict between two otherwise peaceful nations, that knight will likely have a serious discussion with the Paragon of Honesty.