The Knights of the Shroud are a small band, seldom numbering more than a dozen members at any one time. Each of these grim and dour men have seen the very worst of mankind, they have seen the murderers, rapists, pillagers, tyrants and barbarians. In their own right they have suvived because they share a similar drive to survive despite the obstacles thrown at them. Each is pragmatic to the point of ruthlessness and cruelty.
There is another thing that ties these stone-hearted men together and that is the loss of much of their immediate families. Most have lost their sons to battle in the field, or have had their wives assassinated, each really has nothing left to loose in this world. The current Marshall of the Knights actually chose to slay his wife and their children for joing the unholy heresy of the Children of Ma-O.
The Knights of the Shroud are self-named for their practice of wearing an undercoat made out of funeral shroud cloth. If slain in battle, they are already dressed to meet death. Many have turned away from the traditional faiths, embracing death cults, demonolatry, and darker faiths in their spiritual desolation. Aside from these dark blessings, the only salvation they have is the sacrament of battle.
On a Pale Horse
The Knights keep white horses for their mounts, and wear white capes when they ride into battle. They are without fear or mercy. While their skill is superb, they often have a mechanical motion to their actions, as each strike each kill is simply an exercise of the blade. Others wallow in the gore of battle, staining themselves crimson and black with blood and grime.
The Knights generally come in a whirlwind of destruction, though few in number they are well equipped and sow as much chaos as death in their wake. They burn villages, sack churches, and on one occassion poisoned an entire township's water supply. The only thing more important to the Knights than battle is maintaining their identities, so that the crown never discovers that some of the kingdoms most capable knights are some of its most bloody-handed killers.
Evil for the Sake of Evil
It is a downward spiral, the path of evil. These men have been consumed by their grief. In their loss they have even more so lost sight of their humanity. Rather than face and deal with their grief or the causes of their grief they express their emotions through violence, death, and hatred. If they suffer, then so should the rest of the world.
Rogue Knight - The Knights of the Shroud have gone on an extensive raiding campaign and several hundred citizens are dead and wounded. The powers that be call for able bodied men to help find these rogues and bring them to death or justice. The PCs may end up face to face with these battle hardened knights who have nothing to loose. Sometimes it is nice to have a plot that is black and white...
The Redeemed - One of the Knights of the Shroud has decided the renounce his murderous ways and seeks out the PCs for their protection. He can make a strong ally provided he and they survive the wrath of the other knights.
The Ugly - One of the benefactors or allies of the PCs is discovered to be one of the Knights of the Shroud. Can the PCs prove his innocense, is he guilty? Can they avoid being drawn into the same fate that awaits him?
Inspired by The Pale Riders
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? Responses (10)-10
5/5. A bit like my evil order of Knights but much better.
Why don't you link you evil knights? We could have a grand tournament of villiany! :D
How do I do that?
I like that you impart a lot of information with few words. One of your skills that I appreciate most. Not my favorite band of knights, but then again, everything about them makes sense, and comes together. I like that they are always dressed for death. Nice touch! Overall though, I've read and come across many similar groups.
I like this Scras... I wish it had a little more detail in the order itself than their desire to murder.
My one question is why? I realize you stated that the knights have lost everything and are punishing the world for their pain... why? Even if they changed their perspective and started down the darker road, why would they be hell bent on murdering commoners, raping, killing? Would they not take up their anger against those who caused them pain? Their family died in a war, they kill those responsible for the war. Their son was killed in a bar fight, they go and murder everyone responsible to include the bar keep and the sailors and all their crew that were involved. I find it hard to fathom they would go and poison innocents just because. It is still a good idea though.
Go read my Tenets of Shadow to see if this would fit in with them...
Do they go into battle dressed like the Ku Klux Klan in their white capes?
No, rather than wearing such decoration, the shrouds are worn under their armor and their helms hide their identity. Should a Knight be killed, they are buried in their shrouds, an action that displays their conviction, no mercy, no quarter.
Like I've noted in the submission Lord of Aberdovy, they can be seen in a much more rational light... they could be bound together by their vengeance. It is likely the culprits are for each of them untouchable, but together they are strong. Rarely would they be able to strike directly, but seemingly blind raids on the powerbase of the higher nobles will bear fruit with time.
If you help me with my revenge, I will help you with yours.
That said, there will be surely knights marked a bit more by their past, up to downright psychopaths who take their revenge out on the whole world. But the core of the organisation might be like this - cold, planning and calculating where to strike next and make it seem like a random attack of madmen.
Agree with Muro on this - the shrouds are a nice touch.
A travel book I have from the turn of the last century (pre WW-I) indicates that certain orders of monks (Trappist I beleive) work a few minutes each day at digging their own graves in the morning.