Tresserhorn is a stark land of black mountains, verdant evergreen forests, and long winters. The people of Tresserhorn are equal to their land, being austere in demeanor yet profoundly deep in character. No organization within the Laager of Tresserhorn better displays this dichotomy better than the enigmatic and stoic Knights of the Grey Banner.
The most prominent role of the Knights is serving as the elite bodyguard of the Keeper, the High King of Tresserhorn, and the Dominion of the Ashen Throne. The knights chosen for this duty are well known for their stony silence, and lack of hesitation when facing threats. The resolve of these warriors has be questioned, some wonder if they are human, or if they are enchanted to show no emotion. The answer is yes and no. They are quite human, and they are under neither compulsion or mesmerism. These men are chosen for their devotion to Keeper and country and to serve as bodyguard is an honor among honors.
Cloak and Dagger
The Knighthood serves another, much less visible role. The knights are intelligence men, watching for information, people, or items. Some police the traffic of magic through the kingdom, others keep a sharp eye on the magi and the ranks of the clergy. The higher ranking Knights often are gathering intelligence when they travel to tournament, playing a double role as they joust for the honor of the kingdom.
Few people, even within Tresserhorn could imagine one one the Guards of the Keeper meeting people in seedy bars, hitting up informants for information, and having dealings with the worst scum imaginable. This observation allows the Keeper to maintain the kingdom on a steady keel, despite some of its more draconian laws and edicts. There is no kingdom in Aterrizar with a higher tax rate, or a more prohibitive set of sumptuary laws.
The Kingdoms bordering Tresserhorn, (The Midlands, Angbad, Shynar, Thorondrim, and the Hebrides) are baffled by the kingdom. Many of these border nations contend with a simmering war of magical spells, scrying upon one another, clairvoyance spells and other magical means of gathering information; countered by a net of wards, and devices meant to cancel out extra-perception powers. The entire palace at Fenost has been warded with several layers of wards against scrying, teleportation, and astral-travel spells. No spell of this sort has ever been tracked back to the manses and river palaces of Chaeska, the capital of Tresserhorn.
Where the other kingdoms rely heavily upon their court and state viziers, the Knights are gathering information the old fashioned, and much more difficult to notice way, by mouth. The Knights are chosen as much for charisma, loyalty, and persuasiveness as they are for skill with a lance or sword. As a rule, wizards and sorcerers are permanently banned from serving in the Knighthood.
The Second Circle
The Second Circle is a proxy group of initiated Knights, and are effectly squires in rank, but are referred to by the honorific Sir. Each of these members is a foreigner, and a state informant for the Knights, whether they know it or not. Some of these accept the title in addition to their own, with the most flagrant having been Lord Beaumaines of Kovu, Calcobrina. Beaumaines was a Rigan born Midlander who accumulated no fewer than six knighthoods, ranging from the completely legitimate Order of Knights Merciful to the rather deluded and megamaniacal Knights of the Crimson Dragon.
Both Calcobrina, and the Midlands are well stocked with these informant-Knights. Only the savage terrain and hardness of the Angbadian culture has prevented the Knights from making inroads to their northern neighbor.
Lord Lavrenta of Chaeska is the Grand Marshall of the Knights of the Grey Banner and is third in line for the position of Keeper should the Keeper fall. He is only surmounted by the Chamberlain of Chaeska and the Seneschal of the Ashen Throne, the Keepers right hand. Organization beneath him is very fuzzy, though it is known that senior knights who hang up their spurs do get cushy jobs as ambassadors to foreign cities. How much of the retirement is real is up for debate.
The rank and file of the Knights serve as liaisons and bodyguards for important lords and officials of the Kingdom. Important missives, shipments and the like can expect a Grey Banner escort.
Emblems and Insignia
The basic icon is the grey pennon, a grey triangle point down. Knights in the field affect a grey tunic over their armor, or a grey plume from the top of their helmet. Senior Knights wear a silver cord over their shoulder, and the Grand Marshall has one over each shoulder. Compared to other Militant Orders, the knights are understated and easily overlooked as a good old boys club, with new members getting cushy jobs, senior members getting to sit out the rough stuff, and the elite guard being perceived as ceremonial rather than professional.
The Obsidian Eagle - similar to the Medal of Honor, the Obsidian Eagle marks a Knight who has performed above and beyond the call of duty.
The Crimson Blade - symbolizing the wounding weapon, only knights who have been grievously wounded in defence of the Kingdom are award this medal.
Questions, friend - The PCs are approached and questioned by a charismatic though rather plain Knight. He is foreign but friendly, and asks lots of questions, but never about anything that might make the PCs prickly. He is most interested in who they know in places of power, and hopefully the PCs ready to gloat about their political connections will spill the beans. Why does he want to know? Well that is for him to know, and the players to wonder about when one of their noble contacts is assassinated for his anti-Tresserhorn ideas (No trade, they just bad, etc)
The Packet - The PCs intercept a packet of information for a Knight of the Grey Banner, and decipher that it is instructions for an important shipment of illegal goods from Tresserhorn, or for the assassination of a dignitary important to the PCs. The PCs have to find a way to stop what is about to happen before being caught in the machinations of the Knighthood, and its intended target.
Dying Request - struck a fatal blow in tournament, a dying Knight requests one of the PCs (Most likely a fellow knight of a different order) to pass on several things for him, since he will not make it home to do his duty to King and country. Will the PC carry out the honor-sworn last request (hard to say no to if the PC struck the fatal blow in the tourney) or does he break honor and loot the ring and sword, complete with notes hidden in scabbard? Will they be rewarded or imprisoned for their actions?