Holy Order of the Radiant Falcon

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Founded more than half a millennium ago, the Holy Order of the Radiant Falcon predates most countries, and has weathered countless wars, usurpations, rebellions, heresies, scandals, and generations of brave men. As much as they might stand apart from the hierarchy of the Empire their falcon represents, and the religion their order was made to defend, they are recognized as the central preservers of both.

Originally, the Holy Order of the Radiant Falcon were merely witch hunters and inquisitors, looking for the Draconic icons and priests that the Empire so despised. They eventually transformed, though, becoming examples of what it is to be good Imperial: a good leader, a good warrior, a chaste practitioner, a good man. They proved through demonstration the teachings of the Imperial Church, and in so doing they became heroes to all the peoples of the Empire.

Today, however, they face the greatest test of faith of all their centuries: the Imperial Reformation, and the evil Saint Amelia. The declared themselves protectors of the the old ways, and tirelessly seek to purge their Empire of the taint of the Demon Empress. But, despite their courage, purity, diligence, and skill, the Holy Falcon Empire loses battle after battle to the Blessed Imperium, and village after village turns from the Orthodox Imperial Church to the false-Emperor’s Reformation.

The Falconers will defend what remains of their once-proud Empire to the death, but it seems that, after having survived so much for so long, death might win out over victory at last.

Details

Motto: “Glory and victory walk in step with those who are unafraid to live without sin.”

Beliefs

  • The Dragons are abhorrent to the world and the Natural Order. Any who would worship them or use their tools are spreading their corruption and must be stopped.
  • The duty of every Paladin is to protect the people under his care, and to obey the commands of the Emperor and the Church.
  • The health of the soul is more important than the health of the body. Sin, in order to survive, is never worthy, and execution to redeem a soul in danger of committing an even greater sin is sometimes necessary.
  • In the Natural Order a Paladin does not own property beyond what is needed to perform their duties.
  • The purity of a Paladin is exemplified by their chastity and nobility. By making ourselves above the desires of the flesh, and the flashes of anger or passion, we transcend our humanity to become like the Angels of the Gods.

Size

Ranks

The Order of the Radiant Falcon is organized into Chapters, which each occupy Church-owned manors and forts called Chapterhouses. From each Chapterhouse, Paladins are sent on Quests to resolve single issues or investigate claims of heresy. These Quests can take them very far from their original Chapterhouse, requiring a great deal of independent thought from the Paladin in question. It is for this reason that they are often thought of as commanders and judges more than soldiers, as they are expected to act with initiative to complete their Quest.

Much of a Paladin’s rank is fluid, and most command authority among each other based on personal reputation over any official recognition or title.

Grandmaster The Grandmaster stands at the side of the Emperor, and is responsible for managing troubles with individual Chapters and making sweeping changes to the Order as a whole. An example of some such decisions were the acceptance of the Empress’ reforms during her brief reign, followed by the reversal of those reforms upon her death. Much like Chapter-Masters, a Grandmaster indicates his successor before or upon his death; though, failure to support a backup plan has caused serious problems in the past.
Chapter-Master The leader of a single Chapterhouse, a Chapter-Master is responsible for hearing the petitions of the citizens and clergy within their domain and assigning Paladins on Quest to resolve the issue. They rarely travel away from their Chapterhouse, and demand very different skills than a regular Paladin; as a consequence, an Acolyte is chosen directly by the Chapter-Master as a successor. When a likely lad is found, they become an Initiate with the express intention of graduating directly to Chapter-Master upon the present Master’s death.
Paragon When a Paladin performs an act of great consequence, or is otherwise recognized as a respected and capable member of the Order, they are declared a Paragon. They are considered senior to Paladins, and can give orders with the expectation of being obeyed. Often, if a Paragon is available, he will be assigned a Quest that requires multiple Paladins to complete; thus bypassing the semi-official system of seniority that regular Paladins struggle with.
Paladin After having spent sufficient time Questing as an Initiate, a Falconer becomes a full-blooded Paladin, and swears the last of their oaths to the Church and to the Order. Paladins are assigned a Quest, either alone or in small groups. They often act independently and are trusted to be final arbiters of religious law wherever they should go, but when Paladins travel together, they determine seniority by age and how long they have been a part of the Order; most Chapters are small enough that hierarchy is clear when a Quest is assigned. Because of the murkiness of these ‘ranks,’ most Paladin cadres will seek consensus on a ruling or judgement before passing it down.
Initiate When an acolyte is old and experienced enough, he is given to a Paladin for field experience. Their role on the field is as an assistant and shield-bearer, remaining at the side of their Paladin and protecting them from danger. An Initiate doesn’t remain in their position for very long, usually in the course of one or two Quests before they graduate. The exception to this is the Initiate chosen by the Chapter-Master as his successor: these Initiates keep their lowly rank until they current Chapter-Master dies or passes on their mantle, leading to some Initiates that are older that most of their fellow Paladins.
Acolyte Starting from the age of ten or even earlier, an Acolyte is a non-fighting member of the Order of the Falcon, with duties that often include cleaning and repair of equipment. There is also a degree of religious observance and instruction, as well as lessons in courtesy and the code of the Falconers.

Holy Order of the Radiant Falcon

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