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Octagram

The Order's main symbol

The Order of the Holy Temple (Old tongue: فرسان الهيكل) was founded by a hermit called Methodius. Originally established as a military order, the organization's centuries-long campaign against demons has allowed it to discover and develop new exorcism techniques from all around the globe. As of today, the Order is the largest and most powerful organization in the world.

The order, which was among the wealthiest and most powerful, became a favoured charity throughout the world and grew rapidly in membership and power. They were prominent in finance. Templar knights, in their distinctive banners with an Octagram, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Warring States Period. Non-combatant members of the order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout the known world, developing innovative financial techniques that were an early form of banking and building fortifications across the Human kingdoms and the Elves domains.

OriginsEdit

Methodius is primarily remembered for his victory against the last known avatar of darkness4000 years ago, where he sealed the Demon into another dimension called the Membrane. For this reason, the establishment and progression of the Order is exclusively for the prevention, and if necessary, subjugation of the Dark entity Maleignous, should it appeared again.

The Order were a group of specialised Exorcists which excelled in the exorcism of Demons. Almost half of the Exorcists and Witchers in the world hail from the Order.

Balades sing of their leader Methodius and his pre-founding travels to recruit allies, other stories do not acknowledge Methodius' existence. Instead, they talk about a band of rogue soldiers who came together to end the Avatar of Darkness' tyranny and the sacrifice they made as they tried to save the world while their families perished. Regardless of whether Methodius existed or not, the different tales about the founders of the order imply that they were doing more than just getting allies. They were also researching for better ways to fight evil creatures and to protect themselves from the dark forces. Those discoveries led to the developing of the Joining ritual. The Joining symbolically cut their ties to all worldly concerns, in order to dedicate themselves to fighting the dark forces.

Several notable warriors, by human kings, were also present at the Templars' founding. They shared all they had learned about the Dark Forces and the Membrane with their Templar allies. A human king granted the order its headquarters in a ruined elven temple that was restored later.

The first chronicled apparition of the Templars on the battlefield was during the attack on Erwood, when they arrived mounted on wyverns, plunging into the avatar of darkness Blumenkranz with each templar taking on crowds of ten or twenty demons at once. Incredibly, they broke the horde and won the battle, although this was done because the demons were unable to tell the difference between the templars from their own fellow demon.

The Templars then began an aggressive campaign against Avatar of Darkness Blumenkranz, reclaiming lands that most had given up for lost. Beholden to no temporal lords, they were free to sacrifice villages and fortresses that could not be won, preserving their might for the clashes that truly mattered. They proved to be a desperately needed spark of hope in the darkest of hours, and quickly gained renown since.

Their victories brought notice, and soon the Templars started receiving tithes, supplies, and recruits from all lands; they accepted all with skill, might, or tenacity into their ranks, slaves and noblemen alike, regardless of their race or temperament. They grew, building fortresses and functioning as elite shock troops making quick and devastating strikes wherever demons appeared, as well as rallying the mundane armies to greater deeds.

During the next 100 years, humanity slowly managed to stand firm and push back Blumenkranz. Finally, the Templars gathered an allied army composed of soldiers from all the races to confront the main demon horde, led by the Avatar of Darkness. The massive battle was waged at the Demian wasteland, the legion of demons were defeated and Blumenkranz was sealed by the Templars in the membrane; with the Avatar of Darkness seal, the demon horde's will to fight on was broken. It took several years to eradicate the remaining demons from the surface, but the deed was done and the Templars had carved out their legend. After the Battle of the Demian wastelands, they were much celebrated and most nations gave formal promises of support for further darkspawn invasions. Among the tithes that were given to them was also the Right of Conscription to guarantee sufficient recruits.

Organization Edit

Methodius

Methodius, the founder of the Order.

The Templars was considered the first effective international organization in the world.

The organizational structure had a strong chain of authority. Each country with a major Templar presence had a Master of the Order for the Templars in that region.

All of them were subject to the Grand Master, appointed for life, who oversaw both the order's military efforts in the world and their financial holdings. The Grand Master exercised his authority via the visitors-general of the order, who were knights specially appointed by the Grand Master to visit the different provinces, correct malpractices, introduce new regulations, and resolve important disputes. The visitors-general had the power to remove knights from office and to suspend the Master of the province concerned.

Ranks within the orderEdit

Every organization has to have its hierarchy, but the Templars’ was unique.

The following list reveals some of their principal officers — these guys come into play in any discussion of the Templars in war or peace. These offices were called bailies, meaning something entrusted to someone. It’s the root word for the more familiar term of bailiff.

  1. Grand Master: This office was for life, and the Grand Master was in charge of the entire Order, worldwide. Throughout history, a couple of men retired from the position of Grand Master, with the pope’s permission, but for the most part, dying was the only way out of the job.
  2. Master and Commander: The Master and Commander was the local commander in charge of the commandery — a small templar “city” and stronghold. He had complete command in the field.
  3. Seneschal: The Seneschal was the right-hand man for the Master and was sometimes called a Grand Commander. In peace, the Seneschal administered all the lands belonging to the chapter house. In war, he handled the movement of the men, the pack trains, the food procurement, and other issues of moving an army.
  4. Turcopolier: This officer was the third in line militarily. He was in command of the light cavalry and the Sergeant brothers (see below).
  5. Marshal: The Marshal was in charge of all arms, as well as all horses. He was very much a military man, and a Master would usually consult with him, as well as the Seneschal and the Turcopolier, before making any final decisions on tactics.
  6. Under-Marshal: The first officer under the Marshal, the Under-Marshal was in charge of the lesser equipment, bridles, padding for saddles, barrels of water, and other supply problems. He held a very important position in battle because he held the piebald banner, a flag at the head of all, to keep stragglers together.
  7. Standard Bearer: Also called the Confanonier, the Standard Bearer was in charge of the Squires (see below). He was their paymaster, their disciplinarian, and the man who checked over their very important work of keeping the knights’ horses and weapons in good order. He didn’t actually “bear the standard” in battle — he marched in front of the banner and led his marching column.
  8. Knight: The knight was the backbone of the battlefield. Knights were the equivalent of the cavalry. A small force of knights was very powerful, skilled in warfare, clad in armor, able to take on a large number of foot soldiers. Only a man whose father and grandfather both had been knights could become one, and if he were caught lying about his lineage, the penalty was severe. The knights dressed in the famous white habit adorned with the order symbol. There was no mistaking a Templar knight on the battlefield. Hair was cut short, but knights were forbidden to shave their beards, probably in keeping with the common belief that a beard was a sign of greater masculinity. No sense giving your enemies a reason not to respect you.
  9. Sergeant: Usually from a lower social class than the more noble knights, the Sergeant was still a light cavalry officer, the chief support officer for the knight. Sergeants dressed in a black tunic and a black or brown mantle, often with the order symbol.
  10. Treasurer: The Treasurer’s duties are clear — this was the guy who kept the books.
  11. Draper: The Draper was in charge of all the clothing and bed linen of everyone in the Order. He also had the power to oversee everyone of every rank, and to chastise them if their clothing was not proper for their position, or if anything decorated it, such as a collar of fur on a knight’s white robe or mantle.
  12. Squires: Squires were the young men who, just like in the movies, were there to assist the knight in any way possible, from polishing his weapons to feeding his horses. The difference for a Templar Squire is that this was often a hired position, especially in the first hundred years of the Order. It was only later that many Squires were there specifically to test themselves and their mettle and to climb to the order of Knight.
  13. Lay Servants: Lay Servants could run the gamut, from masons brought in to do building or repair work to personal servants to an officer. The hierarchical statutes of the Templar Rule laid out precisely how many of such servants each officer was allowed to have. For a Templar to have too many would be a sin of pride.

Templar recruitmentEdit

The Templars are open to men and women from every race, nation and background. As such, they offer formal invitations to join to anyone they see fit to be a member of the Order, regardless of who they are. Many families are honored to claim a Templar as one of their own, though few encourage their firstborn to walk that path. Templars are also known to recruit criminals, giving them a chance to redeem themselves by pledging to a good cause. They also accept volunteers as well, and elves in particular tend to be eager to submit themselves for the Templars, as they recruit regardless of social standing and serving is considered by many an honor.

While most people believe that someone must truly hate demons to join the templars, in most cases the potential recruits are just responsible individuals with a strong sense of will. In fact, most templars see their first demon only after becoming initiates of the Order. More so, veteran templars consider that having a personal hatred of the demons can be detrimental to a templar if it leads them to make rash and irrational decisions.

The templars don't accept just anyone within their ranks, however. Only the best and brightest are allowed. Recruits suffer excruciating tests to determine if they are worthy of being members of the Order. In addition, the fact that the Joining ritual kills many of its participants means that the draft may turn out to be a death sentence. While this is seen as unfortunate, this process elevates their membership to the highest caliber. To face a templar in combat, is to face an elite and deadly opponent.

Templars go through a rigorous process of recruitment and training, sometimes in monastic refuges segregated from everyday society. While the majority of their members are male, some female templars do exist, having chosen to serve the order as a defender of the faith rather than a spiritual guide for the community. Templars take vows upon knighthood, but these do not include a vow of chastity. Templars are nevertheless discouraged from marrying or raising children since it is impractical to live apart from ones' dependents. Such unions are occasionally permitted, provided that the templar's spouse has his or her own means of support, for example, owning land or a title. A templar marrying another templar or a mage within the same battallion would be considered fraternization within the ranks and would seldom receive permission.

Prior to taking their vows templar recruits undergo a vigil. After the vigil, the knight's life is changed. The Templar Order dictates that templars are not to seek wealth or acknowledgement. Their lives belong to the ones they protect and the path they have chosen.

Philosophy and methods Edit

The templars are aware that they are fighting a war of attrition against the demons, and that they are in the losing side. Because of that, they know that they will have to use whatever tactic they can devise, no matter how unorthodox, to win in the end. And so, they acquire whatever resources they can regardless of the method, and employ whomever they must, regardless of their defects of morals or character. They often turn a blind eye to dark magic, deal with demons of the membrane, and do whatever else they must so long as those efforts led to the war's end.

While it is easy to assume that all templars want nothing more than to end all wars forever, some individual templars have such zeal for the fight that they wish only for a lifetime of tests and war, however. This means that the ranks of the Order are filled with dangerous men and women, some unscrupulous in the extreme, but the templars make a point of suspending judgment of any who are effective against the demons.

Even for their willingness to use any tactic, however, a philosophical split—unknown to people not associated with the Order—has long divided the Templars into two distinct factions: the ones who feel that the eradication of demons is paramount, and the ones who see their protective mission as the greatest purpose of their calling.

For instance, if a village is under attack by a host of demons, the templars oriented to protection would chance alerting the darkspawn to their presence by warning the villagers of the danger, helping them to safety as best as they can before facing the monsters; while those oriented to destruction would be more likely to sacrifice the village before springing a more effective ambush on the demons. The dead villagers, in their minds, are an unfortunate but necessary sacrifice.

However, while Templars are expected to do their duty whatever it takes, they are frequently admonished to avoid offending local authorities where at all possible. Although in times past the authority of the templars was unquestioned.

The Templars' first allegiance is to their duty, and their second to the Order, but templars are not expected to abandon the lives they had before their Joinings. Rather, are encouraged to put their worldly ties to use in furtherance of the Order's aims. Noble titles and merchant wealth can often accomplish what weapons cannot.Templars are also allowed to marry, have romantic relationships or retain the relationships they had before joining the Order, if they want to.

While some Templars avoid serious romantic entanglements knowing that their lives are at constant risk, others enjoy love as much as they can, figuring that they should embrace life to the fullest while they can. Some of those templars even allow their families to know the risks of being a Templar, knowing that one day they will not see them again.

Likewise, some Templars make a point to stand apart from the communities they serve, knowing they may be called on to sacrifice, tomorrow, those they protect today. But again, other templars take the opposite stance, befriending any and all in the moment and addressing sacrifice when the times require it.

Whatever relationships they maintain or cultivate, however, templars are expected to remain neutral, and are discouraged from taking the field in civil or religious conflict against any enemy other than the demons.