The Knights of the Realms
Written in 2005 by Stephen Johnson
This writing is going to be an attempt to go over the history of the Knights of the Realms. While I am currently the longest active belted Knight of the Realms, I do not go as far back as the founding of the order, so some of the information here is not first-hand. With any luck, any inaccuracies will be corrected either here, on the message board or over the realms email lists. This is largely going to be my own memories and opinions, and I urge my readers to speak with other oldbies if you want to find out more about the people I will introduce you to here.
The first Knights of the Realms were created by Shannon (Prince Bob) at or near the start of the "Glenndale Era", when the biggest annual event was his Duke of Glenndale Tournaments held on his parents' farm in Warren, MA. He thought of them as being a Realms equivalent of the Justice League of America, with Knights that would stand up for Truth, Justice and the Realmsian way. They were chosen from the greatest role models and the pillars of the community, and were endowed with the ability to shrug off one death blow per event. The expectation was that this power was to be used in defense of the Crown and the Realms, and that no upstanding Knight would ever use their "Knightly Blow" in tourney. Knights of the Realms were seen as defenders of the Realms in-character and pillars of the community out-of-character.
The first Knight Commander of the Knights of the Realms was Sir Taurdehel. He was a bit older than most of the Realms population and carried about him an air of calm, wise leadership. He could fight well, particularly with a pike, but his real gift was as a general. He had the ability to general an army or command a small group as well as anyone that has ever fought on our battlefields. He had the voice of command, and when he issued orders, people would trust his word and find themselves compelled to follow them through. For myself and many other current Knights of the Realms, Taurdehel was the picture of who we hoped to become as we grew older in the Realms community. Taurdehel actually left the order and became a Knight Errant when the Knights of the Eternal Flame split off from the Knights of the Realms.
Sir Tristan was one of the many early Knights of the Realms who played in the Lost Chest LARP that Shannon's brother, Glenn helped to create. Tristan was one of the greatest contributors to Lost Chest and to the early events in the Realms. He was widely respected for his behind-the-scenes work and was also a capable fighter and an excellent example of Knighthood.
Dame Gil was one of the first women to stand up and show that women could fight alongside men in the Realms and be a real force to be reckoned with. Her signature fighting style was Florentine and when she was at the top of her game she was easily one of the better fighters, and one of the best florentine fighters in the community. She headed up the land of Fairhaven under Prince Bob, and squired two future KoEF, Sir Gunnar and Sir Rob Scarlett.
Sir Highrider was probably one of the greatest figures in the early history of the Realms, and was also one of the first round of Knights of the Realms to be belted. He was arguably the most skilled roleplayer and bard of the Glenndale Era, and was not to be taken lightly on the battlefield. He was the first to amass a large group under Prince Bob, reaching the title of Duke under the Glenndale nobility system by gathering up 50 vassals. His greatest legacy is probably the many events he held at the height and in the waning years of the Glenndale Era, effectively taking the baton from Shannon as the most active eventholder, both setting new standards for quest eventing and reshaping the way the land of Faerie was represented in-game. Lance also served as Knight Commander after Shannon, eventually passing the duties on to Sir Kugen of Mirkshaw, and was largely responsible for one of the major steps in the evolution of our magic rules system.
Sir Aaron was the first Knight of the Realms to be knighted after the order was formed and the initial group was belted. It was an emotional knighting ceremony, as Glenn, who played sir Aaron, was Shannon's brother. Glenn was a highly talented and versatile fighter and was also one of the key figures in running Lost Chest, which laid the groundwork for what later became the Realms.
Sir BS was knighted at the winter Gladdenfest in 1990, and is often remembered for his height. BS towered over everyone else, but ironically he chose to play a Mage in game. BS was the first Mage to be brought into the order. He was an essential part of Lance's (Highrider's) eventholding team, and his contributions to Lance's Faerie events were immense. He was also a major player politically and was even involved in one of the major early "PvP" conflicts, a war between his Church of the Catlord and a group that had taken to mocking their IC religion. When the Knights of the Eternal Flame broke from the Knights of the Realms, Sir BS chose to wear his belt painted black to show his dissatisfaction with the direction the order was heading in.
Sir Kugen of Mirkshaw was also knighted at the 1990 Gladdenfest. Kugen was the first to form up a large northern group, and his skill at leatherworking and his dedication to roleplaying a "badass" character helped to make Mirkshaw one of the best outfitted and most intimidating groups of the Glenndale Era. His skill and agressiveness fighting with sword and shield make him an opponent not taken lightly. Mirkshaw used a chaos wheel as their insignia, and their independence and disdain for authority made them the forefathers of all current "bad guy" Realms groups. Kugen was briefly the Knight Commander of the order near the end of his participation in the Realms. He left the order and appointed a non-KoR, Emperor Stonedragon (IC), as the Knight Commander as a way of insulting the order.
Pete, the guy that played Stonedragon, tried to take it seriously and do right by the order, but the situation really affected many people's views of the order for years to come. Pete succesfully pioneered the roleplaying of Japanese characters in the Realms and put a great deal of thought and effort into properly characterizing his background. His insistence on playing an Emperor while not having much in the way of in-character vassals led to considerable ridicule over the years and eventually death at the hands of Mirkshaw at feast of Min III.
Sir Isore was the second character Shannon played after he stopped playing Prince Bob. Shannon thought it was bad form to induct himself into an order he created, but when Lance (Highrider) became Knight Commander, he thought it was ridiculous to not have Shannon as a member of the order, and chose to knight him. He was knighted alongside BS and Kugen at Gladdenfest in 1991.
In 1993 Lance chose to break from Prince Bob's dictate that all Knights of the Realms be chosen from the recently formed Knights of the Eternal Flame. Lance chose to knight Meg without consulting the current Knight Commander of the Knights of the Realms. Meg had gone from playing Princess to Prince Bob to having upwards of 70 vassals as Queen of the newly formed land of Chimeron. Kathy's contributions to the game both in and out of character were impressive, but she had not been chosen by Shannon to be in the Knights of the Eternal Flame and she was not knighted with Knight Commander Kugen's blessing. Meg's knighting was seen as a slight by the Knights of the Eternal Flame. The KoEF did not like having no control over who joined their ranks, and they chose to break from the Knights of the Realms and become an independent and (in their eyes) equal order.
Meg's contributions to the community were immense, but were overshadowed by her closeness to Shannon for years. On the battlefield, Meg developed into one of the top fighters in the game, and was for years the best female fighter in the Realms. Meg, like some Knights of the Realms, wound up doing more after her Knighting than she had done before it, and went on to run Chimeron, one of the greatest kingdoms the Realms has seen, and succeeded Kugen as Knight Commander, holding the post and running the order for many years.. An inspiring leader, a skilled diplomat, a dedicated roleplayer, a creative eventholder and much, much more, Kathy is seen by many - particularly in the South - as standing alongside Shannon and Lance as one of the greatest figures in the history of our game.
In 1994 the first Knight of the Eternal Flame were chosen to become Knights of the Realms. The two orders had split, and some KoEF had made it clear that they would not accept the KoR belt. It is thought by some, possibly by many that Jarrod of Folkestone would have been brought into the Knights of the Realms if he would have been willing to wear the belt. Word had spread that he would not accept the belt.
In 1994, Steve Johnson, as a new character, Sir Duncan, was asked to join the Knights of the Realms. His Knighting was at the first Queen of Hearts in 1994, and he had established myself as a key figure in the community, running and writing for the View from Valehaven for many years, holding a variety of events, founding the Marshals' guild and carrying himself with skill and honor on the battlefield. His first event had been the 1990 Gladdenfest when Kugen, BS and Isore were made Knights of the Realms, and he had always held the order in high esteem. Rather than turn his back on the KoR for the problems they had been going through, he chose to view joining the order as a challenge and hoped to help elevate the Knighthood in people's eyes through his own efforts both IC and OOC. Not unlike Kathy Journeay, the belt inspired him to work even harder, and he went on to hold the Queen of Hearts Tournaments and War Maneuvers for over 12 years and counting...
Also at Queen of Hearts 1 in 1994, another of Lance's eventholding team was brought into the order. For most of the Glenndale Era, David Fey had worked to become the quintissential Elf in the Realms. He played Prince Eth, and he carried himself with a nobility and arrogance that helped to define the community's view on how an elf would be roleplayed. David also stepped into the role of one of the great bad guys in the early history of the Realms, playing the Shadowlord at a series of Lance's events for several years. His skill with the hand and a half was notable and in the early days he was always one of the better fighters. Dave had also established himself as one of the great early foamsmiths, constantly exploring new and creative techniques for making weapons better, lighter, and more artistic.
A third Knight of the Realms, Aaron Addison, was belted in 1994. Aaron Addison was one of the first to push the envelope of costuming and special effects in the Realms, primarily helping Lance with his event preparation. Aaron learned how to make prosthetics to turn a person into someone who looked more like an actual monster than someone wearing a mask. He reached the height of his talents with the work done to transform the late Nana Prom into a truly amazing creature, affixing prosthetics to his face in a number of spots and using an airbrush to blend it together so the result was seamless and breathtaking. He also created enough masks for Lance to field an army of monsters, called Cu-Gahbleane, at the event "The Wars for Addison", one of the greatest early Realms War events.
In 1995 Sir Callin (Dave Dolph) was invited to join the order. Dave had already established himself as one of the best, if not the best fighter in the game. He had also become a major player in-character, with his greatest moment being when he sacrificed himself into a cauldron to save the entire Realms. He successfully courted Queen Meg and was one of the first Avatars of Chimeron, all while being one of the major players in Folkestone. Callin had also acted as Knight Commander of the Knights of the Eternal Flame, and had established himself as one of the more capable battlefield Generals in the game. He was a major factor in Folkestone's rise to become, alongside Chimeron, one of the most powerful nations in the Realms.
Two years later, Randall the Light (Randy Gordon), the third of the three KoEF that were first chosen by their peers after Prince Bob founded the order, was brought into the Knights of the Realms. Randy was the second Mage to be made a Knight of the Realms, though he had demonstrated his combat skills playing Korik, an alternate character. Randy was known for his roleplaying, but his greatest contributions to the game were probably his efforts as an eventholder. Chronologically after Lance, Randy was probably the next great quest-thrower in the Realms. Randy had a knack for choosing the right person for each role, and with the help of his Southern Wastes buddies, he took event prep, costuming, makeup and props to a new level. He also was one of the first do throw more lighthearted quests, borrowing from such unlikely sources as The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and The Black Cauldron to create events that were fun and memorable. I will always remember Randys events as among the most immersive. At many events, I would have to work to forget that I was playing a character, but Randy's quests had a way of sucking you into character and keeping you there.
1997 also saw the knighting of Sir Peregrin (Lackey). Lackey started playing in the Glenndale Era and was one of the key players during the birth and growth of Chimeron. As Pol Coville, he was deeply involved in plot, and as Peregrine he established his skill both in archery and in hand to hand combat. He was a talented eventholder and contributed greatly to the evolution of our magic system, but his lasting legacy may well be the dungeon cubes that he pioneered and that are still used today. Lackey cubes revolutionized the art of throwing indoor off-season dungeon crawls, and while a next-generation dungeon architecture may be around the corner, he has put his mark on an entire decade of eventing.
For four years there were no Knightings. Of the few individuals deemed worthy of being belted, none were thought to be willing to accept the honor.
In 2001 Kathy Horn, who played Makhta of the West, had finally established her character firmly enough for the Knights of the Realms to decide to offer her a belt. Kathy started in the Realms at the same Gladdensfest in 1990 where I saw Kugen, BS and Isore knighted, and for years she had been one of the most active players in the community. In the decade before she was belted, there was little Kathy didn't do to help eventholders and to help the game, and alongside her continual marshalling and NPCing, she also established herself as one of the premier fighters, roleplayers and bards in the Realms. Machta was the first woman to win the Queen of Hearts Champions Tourney, and in some eyes had become the single best pikeman in the game.
The following year, Jarrrod of Folkestone was finally brought into the Knights of the Realms. One of the preeminent leaders in the community, and easily one of the greatest fighters in the history of our game, the only thing that had been keeping Jarrod out of the order had been the question of whether he would accept the belt or not. By now, the orders had again joined together and the many looked at Jarrod's belting as the final step to ending the long divide between the two groups of Knights. With the founding of the Free Kingdoms, Jarrod's place in the Realms to many is now clearly alongside Shannon, Lance and Kathy as one of the great leaders in our game's history.
In 2003, at Queen of Hearts X, two new Knights of the Realms were belted. The first was Blade (Tom Johnson) who had to many established himself as the single greatest fighter in the history of our game. His dedication to the martial side of our game was not the only reason for his belting, though. Tom had become one of the leaders of the north, training and mentoring a great many newbies, and had also spent years NPCing, marshalling and helping to throw the many events that Folkestone put on the calendar. For those who knew him, he had become a leader and a role-model, though the gruff and some might say antisocial roleplaying of his character was more in the footsteps of Sir Kugen than any other Knight in years.
At the same event, Carrie Dolph was knighted. One of the greatest roleplayers, plotmasters, eventholders. mages and bards the Realms had seen, it was more a question of when Carrie would be knighted than whether she would be knighted. Her contributions to the community fall into nearly every category imaginable, from crafting a better magic system to contributing artwork to the View from Valehaven and helping to develop and hone the art of running eQuests. It was perhaps her closeness to Dave Dolph, her husband and the order's Knight Commander that was the only thing that seemed to explain why she was not brought in earlier.
If you look back over this list, you should see that there is no to-do list for becoming a Knight of the Realms. There is no mold to fit into, and there are few set requirements to fulfill. If you aspire to become a knight of the Realms someday, I would advise you to work to make the Realms a better place, be true to yourself, and be patient.
Someday, if you do enough, and you do it for the right reasons, you too may be tapped.
While I have tried to focus on the various members' achivements and contributions, it should be noted that there have been very few Knights whose inductions were greeted with unanimous approval from the Realms community. There have always been cries of partisanship and nepotism. There have also always been people who felt wrongly excluded from the order. The order did not always have the respect it started with, or the respect it has now.
Hopefully if we can keep working hard, learn from our past and keep an eye on our future, we will have fewer dark ages and more reasons for the Realms to be proud of us.
- Stephen Johnson, Knight of the Realms
In an attempt to preserve the chain of history first layed out by Steve when he wrote the above essay, I will attempt to continue the legagcy of the Knights of the Realms below. The first part of the following installment was written in June of 2011. More has been added as successive knights have been recognized.
- Jason Rosa, Knight of the Realms
After Carrie Dolph and Tom Johnson were recognized, several years passed without the induction of any knights into the Order. That trend ended, however, with the belting of Steven Matulewicz in 2007 as Sir Pyr. Pyr had spent the greater part of his time in the Realms defining what a knight and a leader was to the rest of the community. As the Lord and Knight Commander of Eagle's Rook, he grew a nation that took the ideals of Knighthood seriously, and, ever the peacemaker, he gained enough prominence to unify the Southern Nations of the Realms in the Stoneshield Alliance. As an accomplished eventholder, Steven was able to craft quests and stories that engaged a large percentage of the community through his Pathos and Hidden Order plotlines. He also raised arrow crafting to a new standard with the creation of the Silver Eagle arrow shoppe.
The greatest test for Sir Pyr came in 2002 when he was handed the mantle of King of Chimeron. Unprecedented in the history of the Realms, Pyr was faced with the obstacle of rebuilding a nation that had been brought to its knees by the exodus of its most well known and most accomplished members. Enduring years of slow growth, Pyr succeeded in revitalizing the passions of many weary subjects, and attracted to his side men and women who were well worthy to call themselves Chimeronians. In the end, beyond just being the king of one of the most storied groups in the game, Pyr reigned over Chimeron's growth back into a nation deserving of its history. He was knighted a Knight of the Realms at the KoEF Tourneys in 2007.
A couple years later, Jason Rosa was brought into the order as Sir Aeston. Jason had a very long history of event holding. Feast of the Leviathan, a tradition he began less than two years after he joined the Realms, had run uninterrupted the entirety of his years in the game and had become one of the staples of the eventing year. Jason's largest accomplishment, however, was pushing the border of the Realms South. Having moved back to Connecticut, he gathered his closest friends who had only been exposed to the game intermittently, and became a leader for the first time by creating the first Connecticut based nation since the Southern Wastes, Vinehaeven.
Along with that milestone, however, came one that would prove much more monumental. To help train his new nation, Jason also began a weekly practice at the University of Connecticut. Since 2004 it had run without interruption, and though it began humbly, with only members of Vinehaeven and the Southern Wastes, it steadily grew into the most populated practice in the game. Jason was honored with a Knights of the Eternal Flame belt in 2006, and that only focused his desire to make UCONN practice thrive and to bring quality, engaged players into the community. In the following years, the practice had continued to grow, and was cited as the primary reason for his knighting when he was inducted into the Knights of the Realms, at North/South war in 2009.
Later that same year, Matt Brenner was belted as a Knight of the Realms as Sir Alexander Cecil. Matt was best known for his countless years of taking the roleplaying of spellcasting to a new level, going so far as to invent and speak in a new runeset for many years, drawing the players around him into his world; an accomplishment that would go on to earn him the title of a Magus of the Realms. Beyond that, however, Matt had become a leader in the true sense of the word. Although he would not take the reigns as King of Chimeron for another two years, people both inside and outside of his group had begun to look to him for his steady gaze and ceaseless determination to accomplish his goals.
More than just his distinction as one of the premiere statesmen in the community, Matt was widely recognized as one of the most influential plot holders of his time. The Fae plot that was pioneered by the eventholders of old Chimeron had been given new life with his ideas and the valuable staff that he surrounded himself with. Driven by his vision, the war with Fae was given truly epic scale through the volume and quality of the events that they held. Following that, the fight against Bedlam contained the power to inspire true dread in those who stood against it. For these accomplishments and many more, Matt was brought into the order at Queen of Hearts XVI, in 2009.
Later still, in 2009, at Feast of Folkstone, Sir Callin passed on the leadership of the Knights of the Realms to Sir Cecil, as he became the next Knight Commander of the order. Sir Cecil now presides over an unwritten chapter in the Order's history as it struggles to remain relevant and labors to gain respect in a diverse and changing community. That undertaking will define the role of the Knights of the Realms in the years to come.
It was a few years later that the Knights of the Realms would recognize their next member; Dave Hayden as Sir Vawn. Vawn had epitomized the role of the quintessential white knight, representing to the rest of the Realms how a person of virtue and moral integrity could distinguish themselves in a culture where the ends too-often justify the means. As Knights Commander of the Knights of the Eternal Flame, Dave brought a level of organization and purpose that helped to focus that order.
Over the years and across the Realms, Dave had earned the respect of others in countless ways. His presence in a questing party was a sure sign that it would work toward the greater good. His mediation ability had calmed tense situations and always succeeded at finding a middle ground. His personal code of conduct and honor had been a beacon that others oriented themselves towards to check the righteousness of their own actions. The depth of Dave's understanding of knighthood permeates every fiber of who he is, and as such he became a part of the order at The Black and White Ball, in 2013.
The following year, the next Knight of the Realms would be brought into the fold, Angela Gray as Dame Phoenix. Angie had become one of the most prolific and effective mentors in the game. With a penchant for seeking out the individuals who would best benefit from her guidance, Angie used her status as a knight and as a magi to help her mentees elevate themselves to greater levels of involvement and contribution to the community.
Angie had become a leader of the Realms community in every sense of the word. Fellow members of Folkestone looked to her for guidance and direction, but her influence extended far beyond those national boundaries. The men and woman who looked to Angie for teaching extended into many nations, cliques, and age groups, and the example that she set for them was the primary reason that she was brought into the knightly order at The Feast of Folkestone, in 2014.
Not long afterwards another individual was recognized with their second white belt, Sean Veale as Sir Wil. For the whole of his two decades of being a member of the Realms, Sean had set a sterling example of what it meant to serve the community. Never one to draw attention to himself or the countless times he had helped others, Sean nonetheless served on the Western Flank more consistently, and more humbly, than any other individual in the community's history, regardless of national or group boundaries.
Beyond his service as a combatant, Sean was one of the driving forces behind the Fae plot that captivated the attention of the Realms for years. He had helped to continue the Realms tradition of the Green and Gold tournaments when they were passed down to him. And even more than these discrete forms of service, Sean pushed the community forward the most through his own quiet form of mentorship. By working his hardest and inspiring those around him to do the same. Generations of new players had come into the Realms calibrating their sense of duty to what they saw him contribute every year. The indelible impression that Sean had made upon all of us was the chief reason he was asked to join the order at The Feast of the Leviathan XVII, in 2015.
In the following year another Knight of the Realms would be created before the assembled crowds. Ben Greene as Sir Kerrell. Throughout the proceeding years and especially since he was recognized as a Knight of the Eternal Flame, Ben had become one of the most respected and honored leaders in the community. Nothing speaks to that distinction more than when his own people chose to elevate him to royalty by naming him their king. As King of Blackwood, Ben led a like minded nation of people through difficult quests, onto war maneuver fields, and especially through the planning and execution of a number of recurring national events.
The greatest accomplishments of any leader are not their necessarily what they, themselves achieve but rather how they encourage and inspire those around them to grow as well. Under the banner of Blackwood all manner of people sought to follow Ben's examples of commitment and excellence and through those individual efforts had elevated their Kingdom to be one of the most prominent and successful groups in the game. Because of those examples of inspiration and his tireless efforts beyond them, Ben was brought into the order at The Feast of Blackwood VII in 2016.