Render and the Black Oak Knights

I will soon run a campaign with Render and I wanted to flesh out his relationship with the Black Oak knights and what they represent as an order themselves to give them a bit more character in session. I’m curious how others have depicted this relationship and wanted to start a discussion. First here is what is presented in the book and then I’d like to expand on it to give them a bit more flare and motivation.

  • The Black Oak knights are a holy order sworn to Vlaisim and follow him still despite his Breaking.
  • This has changed them and they are now sadistic and corrupted.
  • Unlike the other Broken all of Render’s lieutenants are his knights rather than undead constructions.
  • Render is filled with hatred and wrath and instills that to command his armies. He is still insecure after his humiliation by the Cinder King and was told by the King the secret of the undead crusade leaving him feeling wronged by the world waiting for the day he can strike back.
  • Prior to the Breaking, Render was Vlaisim - the Shining One one of the Living God’s Chosen. He has said his holy task was to kill the Cinder King and historically used to perform miracles and saving the lost.

I have seen in other threads people speculate that the Living God might have domains for his 9 Chosen and that Vlaisim may fall under Vows/Honour. This ties nicely with the fact that his order of knights followed him willingly after Breaking due to their strong vow and with the Zemya tradition of blood oaths. Unlike the other Broken I want to depict his relationship with the knights as one of mutual respect. While he infuses them with cinderblood and corruption he is not concerned about their growing powers ever challenging him like Blighter with Viktoria and Breaker with the Hag and Bhed. There may have been a few challengers at the beginning but he treats the knights as he did in life albeit with very different objectives. As such I imagine he must have convinced them somehow, rather than just order them to follow him post-Breaking I think it would be interesting if he actually confided in them a bit more. Perhaps he told them some version of what the Cinder King whispered him?

Right now I’ve said that the Black Oak knights were once like the Arthurian legends of an order dedicated to go out on quests to aid others by making holy vows of good deeds. Unlike other Chosen of the Living God Vlaisim must have been decently public if there was an order of knights and thus a way to join them. This order presumably goes back hundreds of years from when Vlaisim was first chosen and as a result their corruption a huge cultural blow to the Zemyati people to have their legends betrayed and corrupted.

These are the questions that I’d like to answer myself and curious what others think too to help flavor them more specifically:

  • Pre-breaking what was the Black Oak knights purpose? What were some of their customs and what kind of vows did they have?
  • What is their new stated purpose? Has Render twisted the interpretation of their original vow somehow to get them to follow him, or is it purely out of their personal vow to him? Maybe the Lieutenants have been told they are biding time to strike out against the Cinder King?
    *Even if the knights are made to agree through cinderblood/corruption many must have followed him immediately post-Breaking prior to any of their own corruption. Why?

That’s a question to ask your Zemyaty PCs.

What is their new stated purpose? Has Render twisted the interpretation of their original vow somehow to get them to follow him, or is it purely out of their personal vow to him? Maybe the Lieutenants have been told they are biding time to strike out against the Cinder King?

Play to find out. Don’t begin your campaign with ready answers to that. Let the events of the game inspire you and your players to answer those. Make several hypothesis and then, make fortune rolls…