What a knight is
A knight is an exile who has gone through the knighting process and been designated a knight by another knight. Although this sounds like a chicken and egg approach, all knights have a common 'ancestor' knight who is ??. Knights belong to an order. Typically there are several knights and squires in an order, although some older orders are now defunct and have orphaned squires. Before an exile can become a knight, they must first be a squire. Only knights can squire an exile. Only knights can promote a squire to a knight (hence the reason for orphaned squires). Squires cannot squire others. When an exile is a squire, they are being evaluated by their knight and their order to determine if they are suitable for knighthood. Typically an order will have a Code of Conduct that their squires and knights must follow. If a squire is found to be deficient in following the order's code, counseling is generally tried. If the squire still has not made the changes indicated by counseling, then either they are never made a knight or they are stripped the squire of their 'squire' status.
Benefits of knighthood
Being a knight or squire does not gain an exile anything material, save the ability to carry a knight's or squire's shield. The shield itself does add some defense to the exile, however a plain wood shield I suspect adds the same amount of defense. It is not known if a knights/squire's shield causes any loss in balance or balance recovery any more so than a regular shield (wooden or otherwise). One caveat, only the knight/squire for whom the shield was emblazoned can equip that shield. It will not equip for anyone else but that exile.
There are no rank requirements to become a squire or a knight. There is no improvement in fighting, defense, healing, or mystic abilities by becoming a knight or a squire.
Typically the benefits of being a knight or a squire are ephemeral in nature. Being a knight is akin to attaining a personal goal and also role-playing activity. It may improve the status of the exile or it may not. It can also attract exiles who seek to use the squire/knight for their own advantage.
So you want to become a knight
First you must find a knight who will make you a squire. Typically the knight and prospective squire will discuss the order's goals, code of conduct and other issues. The knight will usually evaluate the prospective squire over a period of time by engaging in hunts with them, observing their demeanor in public, and asking other exiles, including squires and knights in their order what they think of the prospect. Once the knight has determined that the exile is suitable, an elaborate or simple ceremony will take place in Knights Hall located in northwest town. The knight will state the name of the exile to become the squire to an NPC. The NPC will ask for payment of 1600 coins for emblazoning the order's mark and squire's name onto a shield. Once payment is received, the designated exile will step forward and accept entry into the order as a squire and receive their shield from the NPC.
From this point on, the squires actions, demeanor, and behavior are monitored by members of the order. Positive and negative reports are typically given informally to the squire's knight for usage in evaluating how to proceed with the squire. Some order have councils that decide who is to be knighted and in some cases even who is to be squired (this is my guess, not sure of this).
After a period of time, observation and sometimes discussion, as determined by the order, the knight or both, a decision will be made as to whether the squire is worthy of becoming a knight. If they are deemed to be worthy, then another ceremony - either elaborate or simple - will be held at Knights Hall. In this case I believe the head knight (or the squire's knight) must present the squire to the NPC and pay the required fee (1600c?). Once that is done, the squire will step forward and assent to becoming a knight. The NPC will emblazon the squire's shield by upgrading it to a knights shield, and then present the exile with their shield.
There are many orders in the lands, some active some not. Not all espouse the same code, nor have the same requirements. If you seek to become a knight you should talk to both squires and knights in the orders you are interested in.
Starting An Order
In order to start an order you must first be a knight. Once that is done, you can visit the NPC (need name here) and pay the required fee to start your order. Beware that you must ensure you spell your order correctly as once the order is registered, the name cannot be changed without paying another fee (if this is allowed at all, but I think you have to first quit your new order (more coins) and then create the order again).
Joining An Order
Typically, an exile will be invited to join an order or they may request to join an order. The mechanical process is relatively simple in that a current knight in the desired order must go to Knights Hall along with the exile and speak to the appropriate NPC. The NPC will require a fee of 1600 coins to be paid to register the squire (or knight) to the order and emblazon the shield. Once that is done, and the exile accepts squirehood or knighthood, the NPC presents the new squire/knight with their shield.
Finding an order is not necessarily as easy as the mechanical process. Typically there is less than a handful of actively recruiting orders. It can take a bit of detective work to find out which orders are recruiting, however the list later in this area, can provide some clues.
Transferring to an Order
Knights can unjoin their order and join another order without having to go back through the squire process (I believe). Exiles who are squired to dead/inactive knights can also unsquire and be squired by an active knight as long as they make the required coin payment.
List Of Orders
- Order of Decimus Maximus: Maximus is head knight. Knights are: Lysander, Mars. Too many squires to list.
- Order of the Golden Maha: According to Zeitgeist via Sentinel, "Think Hunk is the head knight and members include: Aneirin, Rincewind, Commodus, Emer, Sasha, Tip'ii, Morvannic, and Songwren. May be more Knights and Squires at this point... not sure."
- Prophets of the Leporine Mandate: Skirwan is assumed to be a knight. Rest of membership is "secret".
- Shield of Algernon: Shakyamuni, Juren and Windy are knights. Active squire is: DragonHawk
All orders have some form of a code of conduct. Typically these are chilvarean in nature and follow other well known codes like that of the Knights of the Round Table, and the like. Squires and knights are judged based on how well the follow their order's code. Some orders have stricter codes than others. Some orders have codes that are entirely serious, while others do have some requirement that the squires and knights enjoy themselves within the bounds of their code.
Knights and squires can be demoted or removed from the order if they break their order's code or for other reasons. This is not automatically done by any NPC. This must be done by either the head knight or the squire's knight. Knights (other than head knight) cannot remove other knights in their order. However, a knight may disassociate themselves from their order if they find the code violations to be more than they wish to be associated with. They can do this by quitting the order, or starting their own order. Note: Most knights who start their own order do not do so because of their dislike of their previous order. Most do so out of desire to grow their own order and develop their own code.