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Old Seshnelan Chivalry

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The Rules of Chivalry were taught by Prince Hrestol, the First Knight, in the second year after the Dawning. He instituted the noble Order of Knighthood, went on the first Knightly Quest to save his home city of Frowal and establish the Kingdom of Seshneg, and (during the period of his exile) was founder of the custom of Knight-Errantry.

The most noble Knights of all the world have always hailed from the Kingdom of Seshnela. The history of Seshnela is that of the clash between Chivalry and Sorcery. Hrestol himself was banished by an evil enchantress and slain by sorcerers. Knighthood is a loyal and manly state, always thrusting forward and shining its light wherever there is darkness. Knights confront their foes directly, face to face, whereas Sorcery teaches subtle, underhanded, treacherous ways, festering in the shadows of the soul.

In the long-ago Crusade Against Chaos, the forces of Seshnela were led by King Gerlant Flamesword. His greatest Knight was the valiant Sir Arkat, his kinsman and comrade in battle. Side by side they fought against the corrupted Vampire Kings of Tanisor and the krjalki monsters of Ralios. Yet when Sir Arkat turned aside from the path of virtue, and sought to overcome his foes through the use of dark secrets and pagan magic, King Gerlant banished him forever from the land. In revenge, Sir Arkat founded the terrible Dark Empire of Stygia, which did so much to harm Seshnela early in the Second Age.

The line of Flame Kings, descended from Gerlant, ruled the mighty Middle Sea Empire of the Second Age. Seshnegi Knights formed the cutting edge of the Return to Righteousness Crusade that overthrew the Trollish rulers of Safelster. The Kings of Seshnela were at first wise and pious monarchs. But in later years they paid too much heed to the words of their wizards, and were led step by step into overweening pride.

The whole land of Old Seshnela was destroyed by vile Sorcery at the close of the Second Age: the earth rolled over, sending the fair cities and castles crashing down; a tidal wave swept through the south, eradicating all in its path; finally, the seas rose up to engulf all but the highest places of the old Kingdom. Their ancestors survived the tragic downfall of their native land by fleeing to Tanisor, where they ruled for centuries, preserving the manners and customs of the old Kingdom in its most glorious years. But then a vile heresy spread by the Rokar the Sorcerer dissolved the bonds of feudal obligation that held the land together; Bailifes the Oath-Breaker fought against his rightful liege lord at the Second Battle of Asgolan Fields, and winning by treachery, drove all who remained loyal from his lands. Crossing the Iron Mountains and Kanthor's Forest, they settled along a remnant of Old Seshnela now known as the Castle Coast, near the ruins of Frowal, capital of the Old Kingdom. Here they still dwell, living lives of chivalrous and gallant adventure, so different from the grim oppression of the usurper Kings of Tanisor.

The Four Castes
The Order of Knighthood
Famous Knights
Miscellaneous Notes
Sidebar Story



Old Seshnelan Chivalry is a mainstream Malkioni sect: its followers believe that there is only one God, who is the Invisible God, and whose prophets were Malkion and Hrestol.

The Chivalrous Hrestoli believe that God assigned a place in society for every ordinary man, and he should stay in his place, be he peasant, soldier, wizard or lord. By serving diligently within his caste, a man can achieve Solace.

Outside of normal society, though, there is the noble Order of Knighthood. This select band combines functions from all the other four castes, and accepts those individuals who feel the call to bold adventure, and can demonstrate their proficiency in all of the necessary arts and skills. There are many requirements to be met before admission to the Order of Knighthood can be attained: when an individual has fulfilled all of these, he is ordained at a religious ceremony held after a night-long Vigil. A prospective Knight must find a sponsor from each of the four castes to testify to his mastery of the relevant arts.

If circumstances require it, it is a great honour for a peasant to be Tapped of his life force at his lord's command. Just as knights will spend their blood, and wizards their magical power, peasants can strengthen and defend the land with their own vital essence.

Women are held to be more ethereal, fragrant and enchanting creatures than men. They should be revered, held in awe, and worshipped from afar. No woman is bound by the caste system: she may choose whatever husband she desires. Marriage is a blessed state, and all men (of whatever caste) are encouraged to marry and raise fine sons. Divorce is shameful, and can only be caused by the shortcomings of a man's wife. Adultery is sinful, but only if the knight's desires are consummated: chaste, chivalrous devotion to a lady is a virtuous state. As Malkion said, "Do not ruin that which you love."

Krjalki are non-human monsters, like dwarfs, elves and trolls. It is a knight's duty to defend his land against their incessant onslaughts, and slay them wherever they can be found.

(Life after Death)



Old Seshnelan Chivalry is found solely along the Castle Coast of Old Seshnela, west of the Kingdom of Seshnela.

The head of the Church is the Ecclesiarch of Frowal, Ethilian ai Demibras. He is the rightful leader of all Malkioni everywhere. Serving under him are the Bishops of Old Seshnela. The direct succession of holders of these religious offices from the now submerged lands was preserved during the Downfall, when God smote the unrighteous but spared his pious and dedicated servants.



The Four Castes

The four castes of Old Seshnelan Chivalry are those found throughout the Malkioni world: farmers, soldiers, wizards and lords.





Caste Masters

A Master is any member of a caste who has attained a level of 90% in three or more special skills of the caste.


The Four Castes
The Order of Knighthood
Famous Knights
Miscellaneous Notes
Sidebar Story


The Order of Knighthood

Along the Castle Coast, "caste mobility" is unheard of. But anyone, of no matter what caste, can aspire to join the Noble and Chivalrous Order of Knighthood. Candidates must obtain a sponsor from each of the four castes willing to testify that they have demonstrated mastery of the essence of that caste and are ready for entry into the caste-transcending state of Knighthood.


To become a Candidate, the prospective knight must first acquire a "sponsor" from his own caste. This must be a recognised Master of the caste's skills, who is prepared to swear a holy oath that the candidate is a good member of his own caste: Farmer, Soldier, Wizard or Lord.

The sponsor then arranges for one of his peers in a different caste to oversee the further training and initiation of the candidate, until he in turn is satisfied with their progress and nominates them for yet further experience.

There need be no set order to this, as it is in no way "progression" - as far as Malkioni religious law is concerned, you remain in your birth-caste until you have successfully mastered the arts of all four castes.

A Candidate wears the white garments of the priesthood on ritual occasions to signify the endeavour he has undertaken.

Failing a Master is a real black mark for the would-be knight: not only must he succeed with some other Master, but he must also clear his name of past failures. On the other hand anyone recommended by a notoriously "tough" Master will raise eyebrows (and expectations) commensurately.

In gaming, this offers an interesting progression for player characters: rather than "kill the monster, take the treasure" style adventures, they'll need a more inventive approach to life, finding ways to impress Wizards with their spiritual outlook, Peasants with their down-to-earth folksiness, Lords with their broader perspective, and Soldiers with their military common sense. (And not their raw fighting ability - remember, each caste-member hopes to select the kind of person they want to have in charge of them. I think a good Soldier would rather be led by someone with an understanding of the exigiencies of military life than by some gung-ho martial-arts freak or bodybuilder.)

The candidate is not learning the other castes' skills during this process - or at least, not the "special" skills of their Master, save those he is ready and willing to teach. What they are learning is more the outlook, perspective, attitude of the caste. Only when they have understood everything, and demonstrated this understanding (in tests and in practice) will they be admitted to the Order of Knighthood.

Being a failed candidate is probably a black mark with superiors in your birth-caste, too - though all would deny it - showing that you'd attempted (and conspicuously failed) to strive for something better would probably rankle among your less-ambitious peers. So the leaders of the Four Castes are unlikely to display over-much sympathy with wannabe Knights: they can afford to take a more caste-serving, detached view: "Is this really the kind of person who should be elevated to prominence in our land? I have many dutiful (Peasants, Soldiers, Wizards, Lords) under me: what makes this upstart think he can transcend the boundaries of Malkion's Law?"

There are probably only a couple of hundred Knights in the whole Castle Coast (total pop. 50,000 per Genertela Book): caste masters can afford to be selective in promoting their charges.


Knights, of course, couple military service (Soldier) with leadership (Lord), land-tenancy (Peasant) and spiritual duties (Wizard). They are expected to master the High Skills of all these arts: chivalrous jousting, wise rule, benevolent stewardship and a religious outlook.

A new-made Knight hopes to gain the tutelage of an older and wiser member of the Order, who can convey the necessaries of these Arts to him, through instruction and example. (A Candidate is not made a Knight when he has mastered all the skills of knighthood: he is made one because his Masters think he stands a chance of doing so).


Famous Knights

Sir Hrestol, Sainted Prince of Seshneg, was the First Knight. One year after the Dawning, Prince Hrestol received a vision of the angelic Prophet Malkion during a vigil. This inspired him to break with the traditional bounds of society in order to rescue the Kingdom of Seshneg from its barbarous enemies. He instituted the rank of Knighthood, went on the first Quest, and discovered the spirit of the Crusade. Later, banished by an evil enchantress, he wandered as a Knight-Errant, before being murdered by treacherous sorcerers in Akem.

Hrestol's Blessing: a devotee of Hrestol can borrow Hrestol's might. This doubles the devotee's POW for a full day. This has no immediate effect on magic points, though over the course of the day, they regenerate twice as quickly as usual. When POW drops back to normal at the end of the day, any extra magic points remain until used. It costs 8 POW to gain Hrestol's patronage.

Sir Gerlant Flamesword, Sainted King of Seshnela, son and liege lord of Sir Arkat the Black, ordered the great Crusade Against Chaos that overthrew the evil King of Tanisor in his day. His descendents were the Flame Kings, who ruled the glorious Middle Sea Empire in the Second Age before they placed their trust in Sorcery and were overthrown. As a Saint, Gerlant gives his blessing to all wars fought against corrupt and usurping monarchs of Tanisor, and is remembered for his perfect Chivalry.

Gerlant's Blessing: when Gerlant is called upon, the blade of his devotee becomes magical, producing a Fireblade whenever the devotee holds the weapon. Once called upon, the effect is permanent, though Gerlant can be called on again to transfer the Flame to a different weapon. Only one weapon at a time can be affected. It costs 3 POW to gain Gerlant as a patron saint.

Sir Arkat, the Black Knight, was the infamous Traitor Knight who turned to Sorcery when his courage failed him. Though he had striven valiantly to save Seshnela before his mind was turned, Good King Gerlant exiled him forever for his shameful crimes. Arkat's fall from the path of Chivalry and Virtue serves as a dire warning to all Knights.

Arkat's Blessing is not available to followers of Old Seshnelan Chivalry, who regard Sir Arkat as a traitor and do not venerate his memory.

(Chivalrous Institutions)


Miscellaneous Notes

The Castle Coast

The Castle Coasters are a hangover from the God Learner... [thwack!] I'm sorry, my Lord, I'll start that again.

The Castle Coasters are the last remnant of the virtuous Kingdom of Seshnela of the First and Second Ages. They have inherited a material and social culture far more elaborate than their present size and power would permit: they have marvellous armour and weapons; they have finery and etiquette; they have a plethora of High Churchly ritual... within the Castles. Outside is mud, and rain, and peasants in huts, the same as anywhere else (or perhaps a little worse, for the poverty of the land). But don't go crying to the Lords to complain...

Chivalrous Rokari

Most Rokari "knights" are thugs in armour, and don't bother to disguise the fact. Of course, you can find some Rokari knights who behave chivalrously: these are perpetuating the old traditions of Chivalric behaviour, which are frowned upon by the contemporary establishment. King Ulianus III briefly revived the spirit of Seshnelan Chivalry in Rokari Tanisor, but the decline in power which the fai-neant reign of his son Vikkard of the Tourneys initiated did not endear this concept to the Powers That Be.

(A bit of historical chrome: Ulianus III was a Good King (seven feet tall, won wars in Safelster, enemies all terrified of him), and Vikkard a Weak King (empire crumbled, hid under his throne, died unpleasantly of a surfeit). Think of Edward I and II (as seen in Braveheart), though with chivalry strapped on - as a way of life for the first, an idle amusement for the second.)

While not overtly "heretical", chivalrous behaviour is not expected, desired or encouraged. This lack of official sanction, of course, makes the few "good apples in a rotten barrel" feel even more virtuous about keeping it up. (And, of course, it gives player character 'chivalrous' Rokari knights a chance to feel good about themselves).

Iron Armour

Some Western knights wear unenchanted iron armour, so as to be pretty much immune to sorcerous and pagan magics. This is also one of the symptoms of the age-old rivalry between Knights and Sorcerers: when the King says "Who will rid me of this turbulent Wizard?", he has some boot-boys clad in 20 ENC+ of magic-resisting iron armour to go round and sort the bugger out. (Possibly their unenchanted Iron swords should slice through a wizard's protective magic more easily, too?).

Maybe "sanctified" armour in the West is enchanted to resist non-Malkioni magic only? So pagan and heathen spirit and rune magics (and perhaps atheist sorceries?) would be resisted at whatever the going rate is (5% per ENC?), but pious wizardly prayers and Saints' blessings would be unaffected.

Seems to fit the Western worldview and modus operandi ("Suppress Paganism", etc.); and such "sanctified" iron might be an expensive and rare subset of normal enchanted iron, if anyone fears imbalance. Remember that the Iron Mountains of Seshnela are the biggest source of iron in Genertela: the Seshnegi and other Westerners have easier access to this metal (and more of it by far) than any other nation.


The Fair Unknown

The potential for nepotism is obvious. However, one counterbalance is that any recognised master of his caste's skills (a village elder, sergeant-at-arms, village priest or minor lordling) can sponsor any candidate. Thus, if "anti-establishment" figures can get their act together, they can strive to elevate "one of them" to the caste which (for most practical purposes) runs the Castle Coast.

(In a literary parallel, this would be like one of the "Fair Unknowns" or "Peasant Knights" of Arthurian literature arriving at court, to the general scorn and merriment of the assembled worthies. Women would have a similar route "in" - I doubt the founders of the system expected to allow this, but I'm sure devotees of Saint Elleish will have had a fine old time prising open the glass ceiling...)


Sidebar Story

As the five Brithini sorcerers entered, garbed in their most ancient fashions, all who valued their souls fled the central aisles and secreted themselves wherever they might about the vast edifice. Thus it was that I found myself in a side chapel of the Cathedral of Holy Law, peering out to witness the archaic rituals performed by these Zzaburi Masters of the City of Brass.

There was a strange feeling of deadness in the air, as though I were trespassing in the twilight lands of Arolanit, drained of their magical vitality by centuries of unholy sorceries. But this impression owed nothing to the Brithini, I swiftly realised: for behind me in the chapel knelt a figure clad from head to foot in iron armour. I had at first taken him for a life-sized statue, for this was not the flared and fluted plate now so fashionable in Loskalm, but the baroque intricacy of Second Age work. And the sense of wrongness I felt derived from this armour: the man was clad from head to foot in untempered iron.

"Pardon me, sir," I began, "for interrupting your meditations..."

"In sooth, it matters little," he replied, in a deep voice, and speaking in a somewhat archaic fashion.

I could not quite place his accent, and asked, "Tell me, sir knight: what is your name, and what land have you come?"

"I hight Sir Maronides, and hail from the castle of Macsenwal, in Seshna's Land."

"Ah, so you're from Seshnela. Have you travelled here upon the King's business?"

"I am from Seshna's Land, yes, and have come here upon a mission of errantry. But you are sadly mistaken if you believe there is a King in Seshnela. That ancient kingdom was swallowed by the waves at the close of the Age of Empires, and now only my people of the Castle Coast preserve the ways of Chivalry."

"I thought the Seshnelans followed the way of Rokar..." It was as though the very mention of that name were a goad to my companion.

"Those treacherous heretic upstarts deny Hrestol's institution of Knighthood altogether. They claim mere footsoldiers and horsemen are knights, and have placed them under the command of wizards and lords who know nothing of the ways of Chivalry. They rule in Tanisor, which they falsely name a Kingdom of Seshnela, and they call the sorcerer Rokar a Third Prophet. We must drive them out with fire and the sword, and return the righteous rule of Chivalry to their barren land. Once again, the true Knights of Seshnela will overthrow a false and corrupt King of Tanisor who is draining the very life-blood of his people with his sterile doctrine and empty lies!"

"So you are a Hrestoli, then, like the Idealists of Loskalm?"

"I had heard that the ways of Hrestol survived in Akem's Land, but am most distressed by what I learned on my arrival. It appears the colonists here have failed to understand the lessons of Hrestol's career. Bereft of guidance from the Ecclesiarch of Frowal, this is perhaps only to be expected. The Loskalmi have made the fundamental error of assuming that everyone should follow Hrestol's virtuous path; moreover, they have completely failed to understand what that path was - Prince Hrestol, born a farmer? The very idea is preposterous! Still, I can hardly fault them for trying, and they have been very isolated, until recently..."

"You wear armour of untempered iron. Why is this?"

"A knight may trust his own strong arm and faith in God to prevail against mundane foes, but mine enemies employ the subtle snares of sorcery. Yon Brithini are kin to those who sent Sir Hrestol to his death here in Sogolotha - did not Holy Scripture tell us otherwise, it might even be that some of them were judges at his trial. Yet their spells slide off my iron armour, while this true, clean blade can slice through defensive charms as though they were not present. All sorcerers must fear the avenging hand of Chivalry."


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