Thursday, August 22, 2019

Knights and their Towers

Knight's towers were fortified self-standing buildings, several-stories high, most often erected on a plan similar to a square. They contained both living and utility spaces. They were also a way to bypass a law. In the Middle Ages, special permission of the sovereign was needed for the construction of a castle. Clever people got around this ban by building so-called knights' towers.

A fortified residence was needed not only to defend a knight's family. It stressed the feudal power over his subjects. To live in a magnificent citadel, towering over the area, was emphasizing the knight's social status and clearly distinguished him – not only from the peasants – but also the minor knighthood. Stone walls, earth embankments or even a wooden palisade forming a closed circuit around the building, marked a sacred and inviolable place of residence of a noble (or not) knight.

Who were the inhabitants of the knights' towers? Most famous were the men who had the reputation of Raubritters, knight-robbers, adventurers, and tyrants. Hence, it is no coincidence that they often chose for their headquarters a place located near a busy trade route, or right next to a convenient river crossing...

Tower Fortifications

1. wooden palisade
2. wooden palisade and earthen ramparts
3. stone wall
4. stone wall, moat, watchtowers
5. internal and curtain walls, moat
6. internal and curtain walls topped with crenellations, pincer gates, a moat with a drawbridge

State of the Tower

1. ruined
2. half-ruined
3. half-ruined, half rebuilt using low-quality materials
4. well-kept 
5. pristine
6. well fortified, recently expanded using high-quality materials

Each tower is ruled by a knight, usually a self-styled baron. 
Each knight has a number of lieutenants and many unarmed servants. 

What's your deal, Knight?

1. Knight Diplomat forged numerous alliances with his neighbors. If he's threatened, a small army (3d6 lieutenants) will arrive in 2d4 days to defend him. 
2. Drunken Knight's tower houses a famous brewery and a popular inn. There are large transports of booze coming out of the tower weekly in various directions.  
3. Knight Torturer is a vampire who rides a giant bat into battle. His men are mindless thralls who always succeed their morale checks. The dungeon under his tower is filled with captured victims and their corpses. 
4. Zealot Knight is a paladin and his lieutenants are clerics. His tower houses a cathedral, under which there's an ancient crypt. The knight believes the crypt's lowest level houses the Ordained Vessel he's destined to recover for his church. 
5. Sage Knight is a wizard, each of his lieutenants has a 50% chance of being a magic user as well. He's also a skilled diviner and will be able to predict in advance whether someone threatens his tower. The tower itself houses a voluminous library, however, the knight diligently guards it and gives access to it only to those he trusts. 
6. Barbarian Knight comes from a faraway land. His sheer heroic deeds inspired brave warriors to follow him. He's armed with a vorpal greatsword and seeks glory above all else. 
7. Rat Knight is a wererat as are all his lieutenants and soldiers. This particular wererat variant is more like Thundarr's groundlings mixed with Warhammer's skaven, than the shapeshifting D&D wererats. One day Rat Knight and his minions emerged from a secret underground passage and devoured the previous inhabitants of the tower. Nowadays it's known as the infamous Rat Tower and is rumored to be protected by a multitude of deadly traps, as well as housing a subterranean temple dedicated to Vexarus. 
8. Necromancer Knight's lieutenants are all undead and his military units consist of zombies and skeletons. His ultimate goal is lichdom. All living things deserted his lands a long time ago. He ambushes travelers passing through his territory to grow his army and his power. 
9. Knight Robber is either (1-2) a folk hero who robs nobles and gives to the poor, (3-4) a bloodthirsty ruffian, or (5-6) a revolutionary working to destabilize the region for the gain of another political entity. Peasants and other low-born denizens of his domain are fiercely loyal to this knight either out of love, fear, or promises of a move up the social ladder and an improvement in the standard of living. They will hide the knight, lie about his whereabouts and generally protect him. 
10. Bedeviled Knight was cursed by a witch to turn into a mindless monster (1. mongrelman, 2. eywing, 3. feyr, 4. troll, 5. hook horror, 6. wight) if he ever removed his armor. Half of his lieutenants share this affliction. He seeks a cure for this condition with grim determination and regularly pays small fortunes to various magicians and charlatans brought from faraway lands. To be able to afford this, he imposed unusually high tolls on rivers and roads passing through his territory. At night he and his soldiers rob merchants and other travelers — seizing their money and cargo, sometimes even kidnapping minor nobles for ransom. Unbeknownst to the knight, the only way to lift the curse is for him to forswear the tower and simply leave it behind. 

Knight Power

1. insignificant, 3 HD/level, 2 lieutenants
2. weak, 4 HD/level, 3 lieutenants
3. fair, 5 HD/level, 5 lieutenants
4. strong, 6 HD/level, 7 lieutenants
5. dangerous, 7 HD/level, 9 lieutenants
6. scary, 9 HD/level, 12 lieutenants

Each lieutenant is two levels below his baron (but no lower than 2nd level) and commands a unit of 10 soldiers (unless stated otherwise in the table below), who are 2 levels below the lieutenant (but not less than 1st level, obviously). 

Lieutenant's Military Unit

1-2. light infantry
1. light armor, helmet, shortsword, shield
2. no armor, two-handed sword
3. light armor, helmet, shortbow, dagger
4. light armor, helmet, three javelins, spear, shield
5. no armor, sling, shortspear
6. light armor, halberd, helmet, dagger
7. light armor, helmet, shield, battle axe, dagger
8. no armor, helmet, longbow, mace
3-4. heavy infantry
1. chainmail, helmet, longbow, club, shield
2. chainmail, helmet, battle axe, shield
3. chainmail, helmet, pike
4. plate, helmet, flail, shield
5. plate, helmet, maul
6. plate, helmet, heavy crossbow, tower shield, military pick
5-6. light cavalry
1. fast horse, light armor, shortbow, scimitar
2. warhorse, light armor, helmet, spear, shield
3. fast horse, no armor, five javelins, shield, shortsword 
4. warhorse, light armor, helmet, lance, mace, shield
7-8. heavy cavalry
1. warhorse, scale mail, helmet, lance, horseman's pick
2. armored warhorse, chainmail, helmet, lance, mace
3. armored warhorse, plate, helmet, lance, warhammer, shield 
4. two armored elephants, a rider (chainmail, helmet, polearm) and an archer (chainmail, helmet, shortbow) on each
9. siege engine
1. catapult + five crewmen (ring mail, helmet, longsword)
2. trebuchet + ten crewmen (no, armor, helmet, dagger)
3. battering ram + four crewmen (chainmail, helmet, morningstar, shield)
4. ballista + two crewmen (no armor, falchion)
10. special
1. ninjas, no armor, shortsword, four throwing stars, caltrops, poison vial, smokebomb
2. trained monster (1. wyvern, 2. ettin, 3. giant scorpion, 4. giant slug, 5. cockatrice, 6. katoblepas) + d4+1 tamers (no armor, whip)
3. berzerkers, rage as barbarian, no armor, great axe, dagger
4. golem (1. flesh, 2. clay, 3. stone, 4. iron, 5. necrophidius, 6. scarecrow) + keeper (magic user) 
5. two ogres, hide armor, cudgel 
6. six bugbears, ring mail, heavy flail 
7. halfling wolf riders, light armor, spear, shortsword, shield, longbow
8. 5d6 goblins, no armor, shortsword, shield


  1. I want you to know that this is an amazing post. I will use the bedeviled knight forever.

    1. Thank you, Not Dark Lord! It's cool to see that someone actually reads my posts. :>