The Glorious Brotherhood of the Knights of the Round Table

The Round Table is the most important institution of King Arthur’s realm. It is for a time (they say), the perfect brotherhood of equality and virtue.

Actually, the literature says lots of different things about the table and its members, so I settled on these below.

Facts about joining it were inadvertently left out of the core rule book.

The Round Table is certainly an organization of brotherhood, virtue and loyalty to the High King. As such, it puts itself in competition with the normal feudal vows of this world. A knight who has a loyalty to some other lord is now conflicted by a Loyalty to the High King, or perhaps simply some abstract ideal, like Chivalry or Virtue. Either way, that knight is now (at best) divided, and (at worst) disloyal to his previous lord.

The Companions are similar in nature. They stem from the desire of player knights to be openly “for Arthur,” without necessarily being on the Round Table, being one of his vassals (or even vavasours). So the High King regularly has knights from anywhere come and swear to uphold his ideals. Once again, the High King has strengthened himself at the expense of the noblemen.

The oath, and the swearing of it at Sarum are both based on actions of William the Conquerer, who had all the knights of England come and swear the Oath of Salisbury in August 1086. It was a troubled time for him, and he wanted to remind everyone of the facts.

Companions of Arthur

Many knights voluntarily espouse the ways and beliefs of King Arthur, even though they may never meet the High King individually, or qualify to join the honored Table Round. It is simply that many knights take pride in their support of the High King and his ideals, and are willing to work for the cause even without being Arthur’s direct vassals.
This support for the Pendragon is given by taking the Companion’s Oath of Allegiance. If this oath has been performed a knight may call himself “King Arthur’s man.” Thus when stopped on a road a knight may be asked, “Are you Arthur’s man?” and reply, “Yes, I am a Companion,” even if he has another liege lord, is a member of another organization, or whatever.

Requirements to Become a Companion

Every year a special ceremony is held during the Pentecost feast at Camelot, or wherever King Arthur may be found. At it knights may take an oath of allegiance to the High King.
Knights must first present themselves to any Round Table knight, who will speak with him and test the knight’s knowledge of Arthur’s ideals. This is handled by the gamemaster, who checks the character’s traits and passions. Desirable areas include the traits of Energetic, Generous, Honest, Just, Merciful, Modest, and Valorous, and the passions of Loyalty, Honor, and Amor (Lady). If five or more of these have a value of 16 or better, the test is passed. If less than five have a value of 16 or better, and any have a value of 4 or less, the test is failed. Otherwise the gamemaster must make a decision in character, as the Round Table knight (probably Sir Gawaine) administering the test. Requesting a speech about Arthur’s ideals from the player is a fair and entertaining solution to the problem, with a good speech permitting the test to be passed.
If the test is passed the Round Table knight acts as sponsor to the would-be Companion. On the day before the Great Feast, when new Round Table knights are ordained, the oath is administered in the presence of the High King. New candidates are brought forward and take the oath, en masse. Then all knights who wish to may renew their oaths in another public ceremony that is, of course, much larger since it is customary for all Companions to participate.

Duties of a Companion

Membership is voluntary and unofficial, and so are the duties. But knight should always seek to maintain honor, keep their word, and support the ideals of the High King whenever possible.

Benefits

The benefit is to become part of a widespread network of people working to further the cause of the High King. Companions also gain 100 Glory for receiving the honor, once only.

Characters may get a new passion of Loyal (King Arthur). The starting value is equal to the average of Energetic, Generous, Honest, Just, Merciful, Modest, and Valorous, and the passions of Loyalty, Honor, and Amor (Lady).
Gamemasters should permit player characters who are Companions to more easily gain assistance and make important contacts during adventures, at least in Logres. Most knights of Logres are Companions, as are many in Cambria (including the Irish there) and Cumbria. However, it is as yet accepted among Saxons only by a few individuals, and the Picts do not like it at all.

Round Table Knight

The ultimate ambition is to become a knight of the Round Table. The Round Table refers to a body of handpicked knights who serve at Arthur’s personal command. They are chosen because they personify the virtues that Arthur wishes to bring to his land: knighthood, chivalry, and romance.
150 knights have seats. The Round Table is a marvelous piece of furniture given to Arthur by his father-in-law at his wedding. Each knight has a seat with his name engraved on a gold plaque. The name magically appears on the plaque sometimes even before the king knows that the knight will be chosen.
Requirements to become a Round Table Knight

A candidate for the Round Table must be a Chivalrous knight sponsored by another member of the Round Table (see above for the requirements for a Chivalrous knight); OR they must have performed a great deed, such as rescuing King Arthur, single-handedly turning the tide of an important battle; OR performed some great deed, such as slaying a dragon. Furthermore, King Arthur can appoint anyone he wants, as he often does for important political leaders.
There must also be a vacancy, which only occurs when a member dies or retires from active campaigning. The gamemaster will determine this. A member must strive to attend Arthur’s great Pentecostal feasts, there to relate the deeds of the year gone by and to renew his Round Table oath that goes as follows:
“I swear, by the honor done me by my lord Arthur and the Table Round, to never commit violence without good purpose, to shun all murder and treason, and to give mercy where it is asked. I swear, upon pain of death, to always protect ladies, gentlewomen, damsels, and widows. I promise to never fight for an unjust cause, and to never fight for personal gain.”

Duties of a Round Table Knight

A Round Table knight must attend Arthur’s court at least once a year, unless he is upon some quest or important business. He must acknowledge Arthur as his lord. He must perform every deed with a mind towards the betterment of Arthur’s name and the glory of Britain. Knights of the Round Table act as leaders in war, especially as officers over other knights, war councilors, bodyguards to the Pendragon, and as an elite battle unit.
Knights of the Round Table act as leaders in peace. Their duty is to deliver the High King’s justice across the land, and to act as models of behavior for all to emulate. They carry the king’s messages, conduct his business, and protect his roads, people, and property.

Benefits of being a Round Table Knight

Upon selection to the Round Table a knight receives 1000 Glory points for the honor, and a place at the magical table.
Characters may get a new passion of Loyal (King Arthur). The starting value is equal to the average of Energetic, Generous, Honest, Just, Merciful, Modest, and Valorous, and the passions of Loyalty, Honor, and Amor (Lady).
A knight of the Round Table possesses the greatest honor in the land, and is always respected by those who revere peace, wisdom, and the King’s justice. Knights of the Round Table are respected by men, admired by women, and always welcome in any house in Britain, once their origins are made known.
Since the adventure of Gawaine and the Green Knight the knights of the Round Table have worn ceremonial green belts (“girdles”) as marks of their office.
Furthermore, King Arthur give the Round Tables a grant of land that will suffice to ensure their accoutrement as a Rich Kinight, and will outfit them with the best armor and horses available when possible, and all other benefits of a leading courtier of the realm.

Names Written In Gold

Early in Arthur’s reign, when he chose the first members of his Round Table, the last available seat was given to Sir Tor, a new knight, instead of Sir Bagdemagus, an experienced and loyal knight.

So when they were so chosen by the assent of all the barons, so were there founden in their sieges [seats] every knight’s names that here are rehearsed; and so they were set in their sieges, whereof Sir Bagdemagus was wonderly wroth, that Sir Tor was advanced afore him…
—Malory IV, 5

Forty years later, at the annual Pentecost feast, after other miracles, the knights of the Round Table sit to eat. Suddenly the doors and windows all slam shut. The court falls dark. An elderly monk in shining robes reveals a young man, clothed all in red armor, and introduces the youth as the person who shall fulfill many marvels, beginning with the Siege Perilous [Seat of Danger.]

And the old knight said unto the young knight, “Sir, followeth me.” And anon he led him unto the Siege Perilous, where beside sat Sir Lancelot; and the good man lift up the cloth, and found there letters that said thus:
This is the Siege of Galahad, the Haut Prince.
“Sir,” said the old knight, “wit ye well that place is yours.”
And then he set him down surely in that siege. And then he said to the old man, “Sir, you may now go your way, for well have ye done that ye were commanded to do; and recommend me unto my grandsire, King Pelleas, and unto my lord Petchere, and say them on my behalf, I shall come and see them as soon as ever I may."
So the good man departed…
—Malory XIII, 4

The Glorious Brotherhood of the Knights of the Round Table

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