D&D 3.0: Tales from Mystara
The Heldannic Knights
COAT OF ARMS: A black lion on a white background.
CLERGY: Crusaders (40%), Priests (30%), Defenders (25%), other specialty priests (5%).
CLERGY’S ALIGNMENT: any non-chaotic.
WORSHIPERS’ ALIGNMENT: any.
Easily the most renown religious order of the world, the words “Heldannic Knights” is guaranteed to get a reaction out of anybody. Some claim they are tyrants and slave masters, while others bring up their dedication to order and abolishment of crime as proof of otherwise. The only thing that everyone can say for certain, though, is that they intend to conquer the world for the Glory of Vanya.
Unlike most other churches, the Heldannic Knights accept only specialty priests of Vanya into their ranks. Clerics, even if they value Vanya’s beliefs, will not be accepted. Even specialty priests of Vanya must be able to wield swords and lances, as well as wear any armor if they desire to become a Heldannic Knight.
The ranking system of the Heldannic Knights is semi- complicated because it actually combines two hierarchies in one; military and government. First, the Knights are militaristic and everyone has a military rank. New recruits are squires assigned to a specific Knight. They act as servants for the Knights, who in return teach them the values and lessons of Vanya as well as combat.
When deemed worthy by his master, a squire is promoted to the rank of Knight [by then, he has attained 2nd level. Ed.] Knights who perform admirably [and reached level 5. Ed.] earn the rank of sergeant – although they are still called Knights except during military operations. Further promotions up the rank are captain [Editor’s Note: at least level 9.] and Warlord [who is in charge of an entire division. He must also be at least a 12th level priest of Vanya. Ed.]. Finally, the leaders of the armies are the Generals.
The Heldannic Knights also combine these ranks with the titles of government and nobility. The Heldannic Knights have many minor nobility titles, such as Baron and Count, which are usually titles kept by nobles of other nations who joined their ranks [such as the minor nobles of Norwold. Ed.]. In this case, they keep the title, placing it before their military rank. For example, you could have a Baron-General, or a Count-Sergeant. When it comes to policy of an area, deciding the law, giving punishment, and such, the higher government rank is in charge. With the above examples, it would be the Count-Sergeant who decides the interpretation of the law in a town. When it comes to military matters, it’s the highest military rank who leads. This time, the Baron-General would be in charge of the Count- Sergeant.
Above these minor nobility ranks, the Heldannic Knights have two other imposed by their own nation; Chancellor and Governor. Both of these rank higher than any other minor noble rank. Chancellors are placed in charge of major cities and the land surrounding them, while Governors are in charge an entire Territory. Governor-General is the highest rank one can attain without being the Oberherr.
Finally, the Oberherr is the head of the entire order of the Heldannic Knights, deciding on their day to day policies and on the entire direction of their military campaigns.
The Heldannic Knights believe in glory and conquest. Vanya will guide their blades in battle, and never shall they lose a war. Battles are not to be feared, for eventually all must learn to stand for what they believe in or watch it be swept away by the enemy. Because of this, all should learn to improve their martial skills.
One must strike at the enemy first, before the enemy can attack your home. Better that they suffer than the people of Heldann. No enemy should be disrespected, however, as valor can be found in all, regardless of age, gender, or race.
Vanya looks favorably on those who fight honorably and tirelessly in battle, slaying all opponents in their way. Vanya will one day conquer all of Mystara, and it is the Heldannic and Hattian people who are her chosen champions. All other races are inferior and will be conquered.
The Priests of Vanya spend most of their time as members of the armies of Heldann. Only a few [about 10%. Ed.] are permitted to leave the ranks and adventure elsewhere, and usually only if it will somehow benefit the order as a whole. These priest-soldiers make up the elite heavy cavalry of each division of the Glory of Vanya.
Those who are out adventuring are given the task to always act honorably and courageously. They are to serve as shining examples of what it means to be a Heldannic Knight to the rest of the world. The leaders of the Heldannic Knights therefore only allow those who are charismatic and of good alignment to adventure; this helps make sure they only get a good reputation from their wandering adventurer-priests.
Holy Days and Important Ceremonies
The Heldannic Knights celebrate two Holy Days. The first is Vanya’s Dance, on Felmont 6th. At sunset, the Heldannic Knights don full armor and perform an ancient dance around a bonfire in Vanya’s honor. Even squires participate, and it is the only day when squires are actually permitted to wear a full suit of armor. In Freiburg, the largest bonfire is prepare in the center of Freiburg Square, just in front of the Temple of Stars. Afterwards, the Heldannic Knights feast and drink into the late hours of the night.
On Sviftmont 8th is Vanya’s Day. It is a day celebrated by parades, duels, and heavy feasting. Vanya’s Day serves to remind the Knights of the day when the mortal woman Vanya led an army against the Milenians on the continent of Davania, saving her people. It shows how anyone can be a hero and receive glory and honor.
The Heldannic Knights have a ceremony known as the Receiving of the Sword. This ceremony marks the day a squire has earned the right to be called a Knight. The squire spends the entire day, starting at sunrise, fasting and praying to Vanya. Should the sun not be visible, the aspiring Knight must wait another day to receive his title and ceremony. At sunset, the squire bathes then proceeds to the temple after donning a white robe. There, Priests of Vanya perform the Receiving of the Sword ceremony, whereas they give the squire his first longsword, armor, as well as black lion shield. By the end of the ceremony, the squire has earned the title Heldannic Knight.
Major Centers of Worship
The infamous Star Chamber is the heart of the Heldannic Knight’s order. From here, Oberherr Wulf von Klagendorf (human, male, Pr19 of Vanya) dictates the tenets and laws of the order. The Star Chamber is a large building built with defense in mind. Siege weapons dot the upper parapets, and squads of Defenders wait just beyond the main doors.
The building receives it’s name from a large, central chamber in the shape of a star. Here, 8000 Knights can gather in the five wings to listen to a speaker standing in the center. A glass ceiling in the shape of Vanya’s Lion lets sunlight shine upon the speaker, giving the impression of a divine glow enhancing his words.
The Heldannic Knights are an order which constitute religion, military, and government all into one. As such, there was never any need for affiliated orders. Recently, however, a group known as the Champions of Vanya has been formed. They seem to be the “Knights” of the Heldannic Knights. What their role and duties will turn out to be in the future remains to be seen.
During religious ceremonies, the Heldannic Knights wear a full suit of ceremonial armor [true plate mails can be a bit heavy and cumbersome for simple ceremonies and prayers. Ed.] with a white tabard depicted with the black lion of Vanya.
In the field, the dress code is identical, except that you can expect the armor to be actual full plate.
The Heldannic Knights were once part of the Temple of Vanya in Thyatis, but difference in the interpretation of Vanya’s tenets caused a rift in the church. The Hattian members of the Temple of Vanya left Thyatis and conquered the Heldann Freeholds where they started their own religion to Vanya. To encourage the locals to join the order, they named themselves the Heldannic Knights, after the people they subjugated. The Hattians have kept their racial-purity ideals, but incorporated the Heldanners into the supreme race as well [probably just to get them to join their ranks. Ed.]. Their belief that women should not fight disappeared slowly over the years, however.
The faith of the Heldannic Knights has suffered a tremendous blow during the past couple of years. The Knights started an Inquisition and wound up losing all their spells granted to them by Vanya. This has lead Wulf von Klangerdorff to re-examine the values and doctrines of the Knights. The Oberherr is currently trying to make changes into the order and their beliefs. The first was the removal of force-worshiping of Vanya in the Heldannic Territories. Many Knights have also been stripped of the rank and privileges. Other changes are still being discussed with the elder priests of the religion.
Besides this reorganization, the Oberherr is busy planning the invasion of Norwold. Changes in the order aside, the true glory of Vanya comes from conquest, and that’s exactly what he plans on doing