The Knights of the North

The Knights of the North are a small band of soldiers and adventurers dedicated to the ruination of the Zhentarim. Based in the Moonsea region, they have been labeled as raiders, murderers, and worse by their foes, but the Knights are far more than simple brigands. Each member of the organization burns with a desire to see justice done, and the group as a whole is galvanized by a call to action to stop Zhent plots and machinations wherever they might spring up.

Members of the Knights of the North can expect hard riding, harder living, and the hardest of beds each night as they range the coastal plains and foothills of mountains in their quest to disrupt Zhent trade in the region. As often as not, Knights on the run from Zhent forces bent on hunting them down once and for all, but they will never stop so long as their goals are unfinished, their causes unmet.


Established in the Year of the Harp (1355 DR), the Knights of the North came into existence after Zhentil Keep's betrayal against the multi-city forces stationed at the Citadel of the Raven in the Moonsea area. During an attack in that year by invading orcs, when most of the garrison was on the field of battle outside the citadel's walls, wizards loyal to the Black Network struck. They employed poison and magic to destroy the remaining non-Zhentarim troops still stationed inside, then sealed the gates and lowered the flag of the Raven, replacing it with the standard of Zhentil Keep. When the citadel forces were driven back by the advancing orcs, they found themselves locked out, trapped between the walls of their own keep and the marauding humanoids. It was an almost total slaughter.

A few seasoned members of the doomed troops, mostly adventurers and leaders with enough campaign experience to recognize the catastrophe quickly enough to react, managed to evade the trap set by the Zhentarim. Led by Galauntar Hawkhelm, the commander of the forces, these individuals fled from the carnage and took refuge elsewhere in the mountains. Hawkhelm was mortally wounded during the escape and succumbed to his injuries a short time later.

Angered by the betrayal and wishing to extract immediate vengeance, the handful of adventurers and military leaders quickly agreed to continue working together, dedicating themselves to opposing all things related to Zhentil Keep. Adopting the name Knights of the North, the group initially numbered some forty strong. From their hideout in the foothills of the Dragonspine Mountains, the Knights prepared to deal a retributive blow to the Zhents.

The Knights were full of courage and resolve but had little in the way of experience or significant numbers, so they were limited initially to opportunistic caravan raids and the occasional impromptu back-alley assault on known Zhentarim agents. Such tactics, while emotionally satisfying early on, led to the deaths of a few careless members and an increased level of risk to others as the Black Network began to react to the Knights' presence. More than a few raids went awry when helpless looking Zhent caravans traveling the lonely trade routes through the Moonsea turned out to be deadly traps set for the Knights. Bounties of considerable value were placed on more than one Knight's head, offers of gold to anyone who could hunt the leaders down and return their remains to the Zhentarim. The Knights, whittled to half their original number in the first year alone, soon learned the wisdom of caution and watchfulness and began to alter their strategies.

Over the next thirteen years, the Knights of the North continued to work at cross purposes to the Zhentarim, ranging all over the north side of the Moonsea region. Taking advantage of the chaos during the Time of Troubles and the reign of Cyric in Zhentil Keep for a time afterward, the Knights became quite adept at inflicting maximum destruction with minimum risk to themselves. The group's members learned how to keep one step ahead of Zhent hunters by establishing a multitude of safe houses inside urban areas and remote hideouts beyond the reach of most city garrisons. They adopted the practice of carving or marking in blood personal.signs, along with the slogans "One for the Raven" or "Justice for another", upon their victims. They earned the respect and support of many kinder, gentler folk of the Moonsea region upon whom the Black Network continually trod in its quest for mercantile domination.

The destruction of Zhentil Keep in the Year of the Banner (3368 DR), coupled with the Zhentarim's resiliency in the face of such a catastrophe, made it clear to the Knights of the North that they had to do more than mere raiding if they wished to finally take down the Black Network once and for all. Thus, after thirteen years of entirely military action, with little growth in their numbers, the Knights began expanding their influence into other areas, all with an eye toward thwarting Zhent trade.

The Knights began an active recruiting campaign designed to swell their numbers. They found the most success where Zhent activity was cruelest and resulted in broken lives; but they located individuals who displayed a genuine desire to stand up to the oppressive and greedy Zhentarim practically anywhere. The recruiters were always careful to screen applicants first, employing scrying magic and trial missions with false objectives in order to ferret out Zhentarim spies hoping to gain access to critical plans and personnel. Even after a candidate seemed worthy, the Knights maintained a layered effect within the organization, preventing the candidate access to the higher levels of leadership until they were sure the new recruit could be trusted.

In addition to continued raiding on Zhent caravans, the Knights also began hiring on as guards for other merchant groups, particularly those out of Hillsfar, Mulmaster, and Sembia. They began investing the spoils of their raids into other mercantile interests, actually establishing legitimate competition with Zhentil Keep's own trade. They befriended other organizations and guilds that looked upon their work favorably, in particular the laborers of the frontier who were most vulnerable to Zhentarim ruthlessness. The miners of Glister, for example, secretly support the Knights and provide them with funds and goods to maintain their operations. Otherwise, the miners realize, the Zhents could easily monopolize the caravan route across the Thar and effectively control them through threats of withholding necessary supplies of food and clothing unless fealty is promised.

To combat the superiority the Zhentarim had in the skies, particularly the development of skymages, the Knights began training an elite force of aerial combatants, mounted on dire hawks. These special members became known as the skysentinels, and they evened the odds in aerial combat in the Moonsea region. As devastating as they are valorous, the skysentinels have made the Knights of the North more formidable than ever.

The Knights Today

Currently, the Knights of the North have nearly fifty members divided into two main contingents. The inner council of the Knights consists of the leadership of the organization and their immediate subordinates, people of all races and genders who remain in the background and are not generally accessible to the outer shell. The commanders are those left from the escape at the Citadel of the Raven eighteen years ago, though they are all older, wiser, and more prone to administration than raiding. With success has come the necessity to better plan and organize, and they focus their energy on such matters, leaving the warfare to the outer corps.

The commanders also have softened their stance somewhat in recent years. Whereas once anyone associated with Zhentil Keep was assured a swift death at the hands of the Knights, in more recent years the group has displayed a degree of compassion. The Knights routinely offer common soldiers, caravan guards, and other laypeople who were merely employed by the Black Network a chance for redemption, so long as they forego future dealings with the Zhentarim. Those who agree are given their freedom but no second chances. Those who don't (as well as those who actively work to further Zhentarim goals) are slain.

The outer corps of the Knights is made up of the foot soldiers, scouts, spies, and caravan guards who work on specific missions, ranging into the field to take down Zhent machinations or assisting others in challenging the Black Network's dominance in the region. They come from all walks of life and bring varied talents to the cause - but they are all driven by the common desire to see the Zhentarim laid low.

The Knights of the North have no true headquarters, for to become stationary is to invite death. Instead, they maintain a scattered network of supply caches and secret assembly points, places where members fleeing from Zhent pursuers can hole up, or where leaders can quietly gather to plan, share information, or garner supplies. Some of these secret hideaways are deep in the wilderness, up blind canyons deep in the mountains, or in hidden glens in the forest. Others are unobtrusive warehouses and basements in places such as Phlan, Thentia, and Glister.

The Knights' Foes

Aside from the obvious (Zhentil Keep and the Zhentarim), the Knights don't get along with any of the clergy or followers of the major temples dedicated to Bane, Cyric, Loviatar, and Mask in the Moonsea region. Though the Knights have enough on their hands just dealing with the Black Network, they will never dismiss a ready opportunity to disrupt the evil intrigues of others.

The Knights' Allies

The Knights of the North count as friends many of the numerous guilds and unions throughout the Moonsea region who suffer from the monopolistic approach of the Zhentarim. At the very least, these organizations look favorably upon the work of the Knights, and in many cases, they secretly support their efforts through donations of coin, supplies, and hiding places. In some instances, the groups provide information, jobs, and temporary muscle to members. The caravan companies are most prominent among these allies.

Membership in the Knights

Anyone wishing to become a part of the Knights of the North must be recruited; it is quite difficult to track down a member and ask to join, because Knights rarely make their affiliation public knowledge. Prospective, members must show some level of enmity toward the Black Network and its agents, most often through out-and-out conflict with Zhents. Once recruiters are aware of an individual with those qualities, they make contact, offering a chance to join the Knights.

Characters of all kinds can be of service to the Knights, though some are better suited to the rugged lifestyle than others.

Anyone handy with a blade or bow can serve on caravan duty or with the raiders, or simply as muscle for back-alley confrontations. Spellcasters are always needed for strike teams performing precision work, and for escape and healing afterward. The stealthy among the members are often called upon to go undercover and discern valuable information. Every job is dangerous, and each provides a valuable service to the organization.

A member's service to the Knights of the North isn't always a continuous affair. At times, a Knight might find that he has drawn too much attention to himself and needs to lie low for while. In those cases, a trip to a distant land for unrelated adventuring might be in order. But in general, a Knight of the North expects to live for the cause on a full-time basis.

Members maintain some flexibility in their lives, because the needs for their services might suddenly change. Some members could be called upon at a moment's notice to ride forth to attack a Zhent caravan or a secret envoy. Specially trained members might be asked to go undercover for months at a time to ferret out Zhentarim plots and secret activities and report back to the Knight leadership. Others might simply be asked for specialized services (such as spellcasting or crafting of items) on an occasional or emergency basis, or to provide lodging and care for others who are in hiding or wounded.

Knights of the North (Minor Mercenary): AL CG, LN, NG; 40,000 gp resource limit; Membership 47; Mixed (humans 37, halfling 3, dwarves 3, elves 2, gnomes 1, half-orcs 1).

Authority Figures: Esterelve (LN male Chondathan human fighter 8/cavalier 7; a highborn charismatic leader originally from Sembia), Ildil (LN male Damaran human wizard 14; a rather vain, insecure man), Jhesentel Fyretalen (CG female Damaran human fighter 16; sometime lover of Esterelve), Heldel Thasstan (CG male Iluskan human cleric 20 of Tymora; an albino with a playful demeanor), Zhuirentel "Zeldar" Laughingwater (CG female moon elf wizard 8/ranger 6; tall even for a human).

Important Characters: Harstel Ulphrack (NG male Chondathan human cleric 7 of Lathander; recruiter), Haniril Ulphrack (NG male Chondathan human wizard 6; Harstel's twin brother, recruiter), Logim Berweld (NG male Damaran human ranger 8; master scout), Sinda Brownhelm (CG female shield dwarf fighter 12; raid commander), Joatra Stelmar. (NG female Damaran human druid 15; master skysentinel).

Associated Classes: Fighter, ranger, rogue, cleric, wizard.

Associated Skills: Disguise, Hide, Knowledge (geography), Ride, Survival.

Requirements: A member of the Knights of the North is expected to participate in activities organized by his superiors on a regular basis. The Knights are dedicated to bringing down any Zhent machinations, as well as furthering activities that directly compete with the Black Network, so only those who are truly resolved to see this course through to the end will be allowed to become a Knight, anyway.

Favored in Guild Benefit: If you have the Favored in Guild feat, you gain a special benefit for belonging to this group. Members of the Knights of the North gain access to a variety of goods and services that make their adventuring exploits easier, particularly for those tasks done in the service of the Knights. Training, spell access and castings, and shares of the spoils brought in by Knights' actions are all available, so long as a member continues to contribute to the efforts of the Knights.

Because the Knights engage in, legitimate trade, aid merchants who are rivals of the Zhentarim, and claim the goods taken from Zhent caravans they raid, they have access to an amazing array of merchandise. Any item a character wishes to purchase (within the strictures of the gp limit) can be bought for 90% of the standard value, while an item offered for sale to the Knights nets only 60% of the book value. In addition, characters who participate in raids on Zhent caravans are permitted to keep any personal items the guards and agents carried, while the Knights only claim the goods in the wagons themselves for trade elsewhere.

Knights also have access to free spellcasting within the organization. Once per month, any member can request a single spell be cast upon him. This spell can be of any level a caster of up to two levels higher than the requester's level could cast. Thus, a 5th-level Knight could request a single spell of a 7th-level caster. If any expensive material components are needed to cast the spell, the requester must provide those (or the coin to purchase them). Spells with XP components are not available through this service.

Once per month, as part of the preparation for a mission, a Knight receives disposable magic (scrolls, potions, and wands) equal to 10% of the Knight's expected character wealth from the leadership. This benefit most often takes the form of curative magic, specialized spells needed for unusually tricky or difficult missions, or extra firepower for raids. Occasionally, a member can receive permanent magic equipment on loan (usually with defensive or unusual properties, such as nondetection), but he is expected to return these items upon completion of the mission.

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