The Knights of the Road

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THE KNIGHTS OF THE ROAD
Rogues and scoundrels

“It’s about more than greed, bonny boy. It’s about standing up to the vampires and the churchmen and all their ilk and making a life outside of their laws and their greed.”
– Captain Eve Harker, quoted in Confessions at the Gallows.

They say there is no honor among thieves. The Knights of the Road are the exception that proves the rule.

The underworld of Malleus is a treacherous maze of constantly-shifting loyalties and alliances of convenience. The innkeeper that’s been your fence for years would sell you to the thief-takers in an instant if he knew you were schtupping his daughter; the old man who taught you everything you know has ratted out a half-dozen apprentices before you. It takes a thief of true honor to resist the siren’s call of easy money.

The Knights of the Road are comprised entirely of those brigands who have proved themselves loyal to their friends and allies. They’ve got eyes on all the thief-takers and ears at all the magisters’ doors; they’ve got the manpower and money to stage jailbreaks or bribe guards at all but the most secure fortresses. Their reputation for loyalty and their bold adventures make them the heroes of ballads and broadsheets. They’re the shining knights of the underworld — paragons of the simplest of virtues — and the darlings of the common folk.

Maintaining the goodwill of the people has pushed the Knights of the Road into being self-interested populists. Like modern-day Hooded Knights, Knights take from the rich and give to the poor. They tithe their takings from robbing vampire lords and manor houses and distribute it to the destitute; many a young girl’s dowry has come down the chimney in a leather bag and many over-taxed farmers have received much-needed coin from a masked stranger. Sorties of highwaymen have even braved winter snows to bring food to isolated hamlets, risking frostbite and wolves to ensure a warm welcome when they flee the law.

This enlightened self-interest has sparked some thought of true populist reform amongst the Knights. Associates have embroiled themselves in sabotage of the new automated looms in Brustlager and food riots around the nation. They have aided Colonial smugglers avoiding the harsh tariffs imposed by the crown and freed political dissidents beloved by the people. They remain less politically-motivated than the other secret societies, but that could easily change as the revolution begins in earnest.

Archetypes:
gallant highwayman, smiling cutthroat, young burglar.

Inspiration
Plunkett & Macleane: Captain James Macleane and Will Plunket
The Beggar’s Opera: Captain Macheath
The Lady and the Highwayman: Silver Blade
Oliver Twist: Oliver, the Artful Dodger
Monty Python’s Flying Circus: Dennis Moore
The Mark of Zorro: Zorro.

Benefits of Membership
Membership in the Knights of the Road means someone always has your back. This may not even necessarily be a member of the Knights; the thieves and highwaymen who have earned an invitation to join the Knights of the Road frequently become folk heroes to the poor and downtrodden. The Knights are strongest in the Duchies of Gothland, with a smaller presence in the lowlands of Lochland and an even smaller presence in Clavus. This means the Association has safe houses throughout most of Malleus; from great cities to tiny villages, there’s almost always someone willing to give an Associate a place to lie low. These hideaways rarely have much in the way of resources, but they are always difficult to detect (-2 to -4 to opponents’ Notice rolls). Members of the Knights of the Road receive the following bonus skills and Edge:
+1d4 Streetwise
+1d4 Stealth or Riding
Connections (Knights of the Road) Edge. The central leadership in Hammerstadt has access to deep pockets from which they can bribe guards and magistrates. This rarely allows a Knight to forego a trial, but frequently results in lesser sentences. In worst case scenarios, the rowdier members are willing to bust some heads or do some breaking and entering to help a friend.

Example Characters

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Gallant Highwayman (Novice Human)
A bandit who knows his life depends on a fast horse and friends who keep his secrets.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6.
Skills: Fighting d6, Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Riding d8, Shooting d6, Stealth d6, Streetwise d6.
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 6 (1)
Hindrances: Heroic [Major], Greedy [Minor], Loyal [Minor].
Edges: Beast Bond, Beast Master, Connections (Knights of the Road), Steady Hands.
Gear: elaborate saddle, flintlock pistol (Range: 5/10/20, 2d6
1, RoF 1, 2 actions to reload), leather greatcoat (Armor 1), rapier (Str1d4, +1 Parry), riding horse (Beast Master loyal animal), shot and powder (10 charges), 70 reichsmarks to spend on bribes and wenches.

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Mysterious Assassin (Novice)
This rogue has graduated from mere thievery to enforcing the code of the Knights of the Road.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6.
Skills: Fighting d6, Intimidation d6, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Stealth d8, Streetwise d6, Taunt d6, Throwing d6.
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Code of Honor [Major], Loyal [Minor], Wanted [Minor].
Edges: Assassin, Connections (Knights of the Road), Thief.
Gear: four daggers (Range: 3/6/12, Str
d4, RoF 1), grappling hook (not usually carried on her), lockpicks, manacles, nondescript clothes, rope (30’) (not usually carried on her), two stakes (Str+d4), 5 reichsmarks in assorted coins.

The Knights of the Road

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