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The Knights of the Shield were a group of information dealers and political manipulators that operated within the Sword Coast, Lands of Intrigue and, to a lesser extent the North, for over a thousand years, dating back before Dale Reckoning.[1] While on the surface they appeared to be a secret society of merchants and nobles who were interested in the mercantile and civic matters of their respective lands,[2][3] their high leadership were in fact guardians of a secret in service to the archdevil-turned-deity, Gargauth. This was a secret to the citizens of Faerûn who knew of their existence, as well as most of their membership.[4]

Areas of influenceEdit

Though they were based primarily in Baldur's Gate, Amn and Tethyr, the realm of influence of the Knights reached from Calimshan to Waterdeep. They had little influence in the City of Splendors however, thanks to a failed coup against the Lords of Waterdeep.[3]

ActivitiesEdit

Since the disappearance of the Shield of Silvam, the "knights" of the organization would have their agents gather vital and valuable information from throughout western Faerûn and share it amongst one another. For many years they used this knowledge in mercantile practice, making wise financial investments and political connections to become richer and more powerful than the rest of the aristocracy in their respective cities. After the establishment of the Shield Council they used their network of spies and informants to manipulate and influence social, economical and military developments across the west as they saw them arise. Of corse these machinations still benefited the members of the Shield in great measure.[1]

While most of the Knights of the Shield believed their ultimate aim was the accumulation of wealth and influence, they were mistaken. The most senior-ranking members of the council served the whims of Gargauth, the god of betrayal and political corruption.[1]

The Knights of the Shield minted their own coin, appropriately enough in the City of Coins as was common among guilds in the South. It was the same size as normal currency but was a particularly dense, gold coin, three times the weight of others.[5][1]

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OrganizationEdit

Shield Council

Since the 9th century DR, the organization and its network of informants were led by the seven-member Shield Council led by the First Lord. They met sporadically, though never twice in the same location, to coordinate with one another and mark their collective progress. Four coincilers were senior agents of the Knights of the Shield, power-hungry information brokers unaware of the great groups true leader, whereas the Second Lord, First Lady and First Lord of the Shield acted as servants to the Hidden Lord of the Shield.[1]

HierarchyEdit

The hierarchy of the Knights of the Shield serving under the council was a loose collection of members, agents and hirelings. Seeing as how their members were well-seperated by geography and culture they rarely collected in meetings larger than six. Old bylaws dictated that any given member could reveal their membership within the network to no more than three individuals, regardless of their identity or allegiance.[1]

HistoryEdit

The Knights of the Shield were originally founded in the time of the Tyrant Eye Wars in -170 DR by a gathering exceptional minds to defend the kingdom of Tethyr; they adopted this name from the artifact, the Shield of Silvam, a magic artifact supposedly created by the wizard Zhyra Bardson-Ithal.[1] In 187 DR,[citation needed] following the disappearance of the legendary shield, the order was falsely accused of having a hand in the murder of the king Leodom IV and disbanded shortly thereafter. However, its members continued to hold their meetings in secret, becoming more of a secret mercantile consortium.[1]

A decisive factor emerged in 889 DR when the Duke Tithkar Illehhune entered in the Knights of the Shield. He brought with him a mystical shield known as the Shield of the Hidden Lord, which he claimed was a divine gift that heralded the group's return to glory and prominence throughout the Realms. Duke Illehhune and the allies he quickly made within the organization instituted the Shield Council, an even-more-secret cabal tasked with further increasing the power of the order.[1]

In 1235 DR, the Shield had a hand in the defeat of the Black Horde[1] of orcs that wreaked havoc through the Sword Coast.[6]

Despite their usual discretion, the Knights of the Shield did manage to raise their own mercenary in 1356 DR to march against the forces of Dragonspear Castle, disrupting trade throughout the region. When the Council of Six manage to rally the Amnian army, the Knights turned their forces over to the military's leadership.[7]

During the Reclamation Wars of Tethyr in the late 1360's, they heavily influenced trade policy and even aided in Zaranda Star claiming the throne of Darromar.[1]

AppendixEdit

ReferencesEdit