Adventure Hooks: Not Your Typical Knights

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 12, 2014

a-to-z-2014-kIf I asked you to imagine a knight I’ll bet you’d picture a man in shining plate armor, with a sword in one hand and a big shield bearing a fancy coat of armor or religious symbol in the other. If I asked you to predict the knight’s attitude you’d likely say that he stands for truth, honor, justice, and loyalty. This is the stereotypical knight of history and legend. This is what most people immediately think of when you use the term knight. But just because this is what people (and your players) expect, doesn’t mean that this is the only kind of knight. Surely there are others who call themselves knights who don’t fit into this narrow view.

Throughout April Dungeon’s Master is participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge is to write a new article ever day in April, excluding Sundays. That’s 26 articles over the course of the month. To make things even more interesting the title of each article will begin with a different letter of the alphabet. This year we’ve decided that every article will provide our readers with new adventure hooks. Today “K” is for knight, but these aren’t your regular stereotypical knights which makes them all the more interesting to insert into your next campaign.

To be considered a knight I suppose there needs to be some kind of parameters or measuring stick. A knight should serve the ideals and principles of a greater power. This could be a specific deity, a faith or ideal in a more general sense, a military leader, or even a king. The knight should have a code of conduct that they strive to adhere to at all costs. And above all, a knight should be a defender. Part of what separates a knight from a regular fighter is that he’s willing to die for his cause, whatever that may be.

We’ve got examples of atypical knights that you may find useful for your next campaign. These are certainly different that what your players will expect when you say “A knight approaches.” Have fun with them and remember that just because they’re different doesn’t mean that they’re not knights.

Adventure Hooks: Not Your Typical Knights

1. Amazon Knights

There’s nothing saying that women can’t be knights; especially in cultures that are matriarchal. Legends tell of Amazon women who possess unparalleled combat ability – so it stands to reason that part of that training would include all the skills needed to be considered a knight. The Amazon knights battle tyranny while fighting for peace and equality. Where these ideals are opposed they use force to level the playing field and strike down oppressors in power.

Hook: The Drow are getting bolder. They’ve been attacking villages and taking slaves back into the underdark. The PCs are tasked with stopping the Drow and rescuing the villagers. The PCs arrive at the village as night falls and they hear the sounds of battle. The Drow raiders are being decimated by a group of warrior women who have inspired the locals to stand up and fight the evil Dark Elves. When the fighting’s done the PCs learn that these are Amazon Knight and they’re ready to take the fight to the Drow. Are the PCs with them?

2. Yesterday’s Knights

These knights may look old but they’ve still got what it takes. They trained as knight since adolescence and fought as soldiers throughout their early adult years when they were in their prime. The wars ended decades ago but being knights is all these men were ever good at so they never gave it up. Their equipment is we’ll warn and well used which betrays its age. Anyone facing these knights in battle may underestimate their ability to get the job done just because they look too old to be threatening.

Hook: When the PCs arrive in town they discover a group of elderly gentlemen entertaining folks in the local tavern with tales of their past (if they’re to be believed). The stories are pretty outrageous, but the crowd loves them. When the town is raided by monsters during the night no one thinks to ask these old timers for help. However, when they appear in full armor and on horseback, you can’t help but believe the stories they were telling earlier. These guys look like they could take on anything.

3. The Wolf Riders

Borrowing from Elf Quest, these Elvin knights could easily be mistaken for nature loving Druids. The wolves they ride into battle are more than mounts; each knight has formed a strong emotional bond with his wolf companion. These knights defend the forest and its inhabitants. They extend their hand in peace but are not afraid to turn to the sword and bow if diplomacy fails.

Hook: While the PCs are travelling through a densely forested area they are attacked by aberrations. These foul creatures are an abomination against nature and see only to corrupt and destroy. More and more of the creatures keep joining the battle and the PCs are quickly overrun and outnumbers. From the edge woods around them the PCs hear the howls of wolves as Elves on wolf-back join the fight and attack the aberrations while protecting the PCs.

4. The Best of the Best

These knights seek excellence in everything they do. They chose to lead by example, especially when it comes to fighting. They are exceptional combatants and know that they can be most effective in areas that are already experiencing violence or war. But they are more than thugs with swords. They are educated and charismatic; they are devout and uphold the highest moral ideals. Others may call them perfect, but the knights have humility and common sense so they do what they can to minimize these claims.

Hook: As the PCs travel the countryside visiting small towns they notice that all the children are pretending to be knights. They are always on their best behaviour, they d whatever their parents or elders ask of them, and they’re willing to go above and beyond to help anyone in need. When the PCs ask they’re told that a few days earlier a small party of knights passed through recently and ever since people have been acting differently, especially the children. It’s as if the locals want to be better people after seeing these knights. There’s nothing sinister going on here, but after meeting the knights everyone wants to be more like them. Good luck convincing the PCs it’s that simple.

5. Patchwork Knights

In the years following a war or some other world-shaping event many knightly orders cease to exist because all of their members have died or moved on. The few knights of these forgotten orders somehow find each other over time and form a new knightly brotherhood. Although each knight is different from the others, they all share a common moral compass and want to help people, even if they don’t know them. These knights travel across the land trying to find a place to call home and a master to pledge their allegiance to, all the while trying to help people where and when they can.

Hook: Following a war or conflict, the PCs are tasked with capturing one of the other side’s heroes – a knight. While transporting him the PCs are set upon by a strange band of men who call themselves knights. Clearly none of them were involved in the recent conflict on either side. They ask that you release your prisoner and let him leave with them. They want him to join their group of errant knights as they seek a greater purpose in far away lands.

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1 Ryan of Nerdarchy April 13, 2014 at 10:25 pm

This was a nice read, I’ve often felt a tribal flavored wolf-riding halfling paladin would be fun to play! I do feel as though you missed-out on some other archetypes like the “dark knight”, like a lawful evil villain with his own sense of honor, the Gregor Clegane knight, one who formally has a title, but is utterly morally bankrupt, or the anti-knight, one who is as sworn to Chaos and Evil as much as your stereotypical night is bound to the inverse of those ideals. Hmm.. I wonder why ALL of the knightly examples I came-up with were villainous? Thanks for the cool article- you’ve been rocking this challenge!

2 Wade April 16, 2014 at 4:07 am

I am really impressed and inspired by this – the idea of Patchwork Knights and Yesterday’s Knights especially. I’ve got about half a module in my head already just from those adventure hooks. The Patchwork Knights almost done in the style of a choose your own adventure even, offering multiple choices that would expand upon roleplay rather than combat all the time.

It’s amazing how an unconventional idea can be so powerful, stepping out of the expected for just a moment reveals whole vistas of ideas!

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