by James Seidel (12 Nov 94)
"A knight must be merciful without wickedness, affable without treachery, compassionate towards the suffering, and open handed. He must be ready to help the needy and to confound robbers and murderers, a just judge without favor or hate. He must prefer death to dishonor. He must protect the Holy Church for she cannot defend herself."
- Lancelot, Vulgate Cycle, Chretien.
The nature of the Militant Orders have changed little during the centuries, though they have by no means lost touch with the times. Military doctrine has adapted to modern weapons and fighting techniques, as have training and behavioural codes. The knights are still required to be monks - as it is only through the sacrifice of their freedom that they gain the blessing of their powers through God. The strict nature of The Rule has been relaxed slightly, allowing knights to talk at meals, to wear a variety of clothes, gain wide ranging information about their Order and retain ties with their family.
A much less rigorous form of The Rule applies to Novices who are often drawn from the diverse general community. Known as The Code, It allows them to maintain a normal life outside of the Order, but ensures they lead pious enough a life to retain some measure of True Faith.
Since the re-establishment of the Orders in the 1980s, each has established headquarters associated with their history. This link with the past is a sign that these properties have become Holy Ground, inherently blessed by the Church Knights' presence. This power now serves to protect the senior members of the Orders, their traditions, secrets and supplies.
While each Order has its headquarters, the combatant knights are rarely found there. It would be too easy to place such prominent places under intensive surveillance. Once the knights are off the Holy Ground, they are vulnerable to the powers of the undead. Knights rely upon the masses for their security. Once an individual knight has mingled with a community and has a secure alternate identity, it is extremely difficult to track him down. A knight is at most danger when actively tracking down vampiric activity or engaging them in combat - but the danger of discovery is always there.
However, each headquarters is an important place of respite and security. Knights must gather at the centre of their respective Order to elect a new Grand Master. Vital assemblies cannot be trusted to any other place.
The militant arm of the Knights Hospitaller has been granted their old castle on Valletta Harbor, Malta. The charitable arm of the Order retain their presence at the Vatican, Bonn, The Hague and London - though all support their militant brothers as of old.
The Templars would love to return to the place from which they derived their name - The Temple of the Mount - but continued conflict between Israel, the Arab nations and Christian denominations makes this unlikely. As a result, the remote Scottish Rosslyn Castle is the apparently unlikely base of the ancient Order. However, the history of the survival of the Knights Templar after the Inquisition is strongly linked with this region - a fact commemorated by their continued association.
The charitable nursing Teutonic Order can still be found in two European cities: Vienna and Amsterdam. The militant arm has regained its castle at Marienburg - once the heart of their vanquished Prussian empire.
Each Order would only have about 100 combatant knights - making them a stretched and valuable resource. Novices number about three per knight, give or take a few. Not all are combatants, though. Some serve in scientific and support roles, others can be found in almost all walks of life.
Knights are sent to "hot spots" on need, using the sovereign diplomatic status of their respective Order's to gain entry to a country or the less noticeable international espionage network established for the purpose over the centuries by the Hospitallers. Once in a "combat zone", often a city where vampires have been detected, the knights "disappear" into the general populace, using their Order's contacts among the Masons, the Church, paramedic organisations etc for support.
Active knights must disperse among the population seeking safety in separation. If one knight is tracked down, he will be the only one in direct danger. Dead-letter boxes, ambiguous pager calls and secure mobile phones or radios are the main means of communication between a dispersed combat team. The knights only gather for major briefings or combat.
"Every brother who is professed in the Holy service should, through fear of the flames of Hell, give total obedience to the Master; for nothing is dearer to Jesus Christ than obedience, and if anything be commanded by the Master or by one to whom he has given his power, it should be done without demur as if it were a command from God . . . for you must give up your own free will."
- The Rule of the Templars, as recorded by scribe John Michael at the Council of Troyes, 1128.
The Militant Orders have significant differences in their religious and combat doctrines. To understand the nature of this difference, simply look at the relationship between the Catholic and Anglican Churches. Essentially, they agree to disagree - from major aspects of doctrine through to minor elements of Church decor. The same is true of the knights.
The Teutonic knights converted to Lutheranism during the Reformation - something for which the Papacy has never forgiven them.
The Templars conducted extensive research into the origins of the Church and came up with a different ideology from that of mainstream Catholicism - something for which the Papacy has never forgiven them.
The Hospitallers remain basically Catholic, though they tend to be a little more broad minded than most. Because of their first hand experience with medicine, the Hospitallers have always been a strong advocate of science - something for which the Papacy has never forgiven them.
Internally, the structure of the Militant Orders are the same. The Hospitaller's military system was copied from the Templars, and the Teutonic knights were basically "little Templars" from the start. This similarity in organisation has been a major factor in the cooperation between the Orders during the Cleansing Crusade. The individual differences between the Militant Orders are described later in the text.
Highest among the Militant Orders is the Grand Master. The lowest is that of novice. Ranks correspond to the amount of experience and Faith individual knights attain.
* Associate: A member of the public with a Faith rating of at least one. Usually involved in the service industries, such as a mechanic, technician, accountant, etc. These members of the Orders do the general run-of-the mill work which could compromise a knight.
* Novice: Very few people have True Faith - even fewer attain the higher levels. The Novice is basically an initiate of the Militant Orders with low levels of True Faith - though not yet a knight or a monk. Novices must have a Faith rating of at least 1, progressing past level 4 before undergoing the knighthood initiation ceremony. While they benefit from intense training in their fields of speciality, as well as combat, they are not taught the specific Way's applicable to each Order. Only fully initiated knights may be taught their Order's secret powers. Most novices never attain this honor, but serve their Orders through their professions - such as doctor, accountant, merchant, soldier, hacker etc. Novices are the single largest group within the Orders. They are called upon when needed, operating under the supervision and guidance of a fully ranked knight.
* Knight Sergeant: The first true knight holds the rank of Sergeant. They are the lowest ranked initiated knight, with Faith ratings that must be five or greater. Their Faith gives them some important powers to help nullify the supernatural advantages of their enemy, and their training is comprehensive.
There are generally three Sergeants per knight Lieutenant - the basic cell of the Militant Orders.
* Knight Lieutenant: These are Brothers of the Orders who have attained the respect of their colleagues and have had some experience fighting the Kindred. The Lieutenants have a close relationship with their men, somewhat akin to that of a corporal in the standard military. Their powers increase with their Faith, and to take full advantage of this their training is considerably more intense. A Lieutenant has under his command three Sergeants and a Page. In a campaign, only the knight Lieutenant knows the means of contacting all his men, and the identity of his immediate commander. This is follows the "pyramid" security system which reduces the impact of an exposed Brother.
* Knight Captain: Directly under a Captains control are between two to four knight Lieutenants. Strategic command for particular regions rest in the hands of Captains, as does command of actions involving more than one Brotherhood cell.
* Knight Preceptor: In their territories, the Preceptors are of equal authority to that of the Master, and only relinquish it if the Master himself is with them. In matters of policy, they are led by the Master, but are directly responsible for the men under their command.
* Knight Draper: The Drapers duties are not military. He is responsible for everything concerning the brothers clothing and bedding, personal equipment and lodgings. The accounting and maintenance of the Orders is a massive task, and the Draper has a large personal staff.
* Knight Commander: He is responsible for the health and well- being of the brothers, organising the protection of the wider community and the safeguarding of Holy Relics. The Commander also oversees any research into physiological aspects of the Kindred.
* Knight Marshal: Not only is the Marshal third in command, but he is also the supreme military commander controlling the allocation of arms and equipment, deciding on tactics and strategy, and leading major battles against the enemy.
* Seneschal: This is the second-in-command to the Grand Master. He is the guardian of the Standard, and acts for the Master in his absence. Generally, he acts as consultant and as an "authority figure" where needed. If a Grand Master is killed, the Seneschal acts in his place until a Chapter of senior knights is held at the first available opportunity.
* Grand Master: While the most powerful of all the knights, he is not a dictator. For while every brother is responsible to him, he in turn is responsible to the Order as a whole. His position, directly comparable to that of an Abbot, gives him powers and privileges, but both are limited. In important decisions he is obliged to consult a Chapter of knights; and though his voice is influential, he has only one vote. In matters of war, he has to consult with the knight Marshal, in matters of health and morale - the knight Commander, in matters of accounting and general policies - the Seneschal, and with equipment and supply procurement - the Draper.
A Chapter of 12 members is necessary to decide any major issues affecting an Order, to elect a new officer or to invest a new member. The seniority of knights present should reflect the seriousness of the issue: for example, the 12 should be senior officers and preceptors when electing a new Grand Master - while the Chapter can simply be an assembly of 12 knights from a particular preceptory when judging an applicant for novitiate status.
The process is formal, rooted deep in the histories of the Orders. The most senior knight is allowed to choose one other to help him select a further two members. The assembled four then must select another four. The assembled eight must then choose four novices. The assembled 12 must then choose another - usually a member of the clergy (the Orders do have their own) - to act as Chaplain (essentially a chairman who also leads the prayers).
The full chapter must consist of eight knights and four novices. These represent the 12 Apostles, and the Chaplain the guidance of Jesus Christ.
"Once you know that the Church is being continually work down by such a succession of disasters and by so many deaths of the sons of God as a result of the oppression of the pagans, we believe that not one of you will lie low. We urge you . . to do your utmost to defend your brothers and to liberate the Churches."
- Pope Calixtus II, 1123.
Becoming a novice is no small honor. It is a sign that a person has True Faith and a high degree of intelligence and skill - each rare enough possessions in these troubled times.
The Initiation Ceremony is designed to bring the applicant under Gods scrutiny. As a novice or knight, the measure of one's Pious behavior is reflected in the Blessings available to them. Essentially they are placed under Gods judgement - effective immediately, not only on Judgement Day.
Apart from True Faith, there is little or no restrictions on who can become a novice. However, gaining entry to the Militant Orders requires a high degree of dedication, devotion and commitment - something which many people are unable to give.
Becoming a novice involves putting one's own life - and those of their families - at risk. For fighting the Kindred is a bloody business. It is a case of find or be found. Kill or be killed. This risk cannot be over-emphasised. This is not a monastic Order where monks can lock themselves away from reality in a safe and controlled artificial environment. Church Knights are at the forefront of the fight against evil. As a result, they are frequently exposed to the "underside" of humanity - a compassionless world of crime, corruption, greed, lust and debauchery.
Often trustworthy people may not want to commit themselves to the strict and demanding life of the Church Knights, but still desire to provide assistance where possible. These people can be recognised as associates, linked to an Order through prayer and irregular contact.
Associates can be called upon for non-combat related tasks at any time - though they do not have to respond. Essentially, they provide a place of respite, care and support in times of need. Often, they will be asked to use their skills or community influence to prepare the way for the arrival of fully fledged knights and novices.
No secrets of great import are trusted to these people - mostly for their own protection. If an associate feels in any way threatened, the Order to which he is linked must respond to protect them and their family.
There is no rigid method of becoming a novice of any Order. Usually, first contact is made through recommendation and necessity. For example, active knights in a region may urgently require medical assistance. A trusted (and vetted) priest may recommend a doctor in his congregation as being a pious and good man who would treat the wounds without question.
The experience the knights have with this doctor and their observations of his behavior may prompt the senior officer to invite him into service. If the response is positive, the good doctor must open up his past to scrutiny and repeatedly demonstrate the degrees of willingness and resilience necessary for acceptance.
Once the senior knight (usually a Knight Captain) is satisfied, the applicant can then be taken to the nearest Preceptory for further questioning and analysis. The Knight Captain must recommend the applicants service and take on all responsibility for his behavior and safety.
People who have actively sought out the Militant Orders to become a knight or novice are looked upon with suspicion.
Usually this means they have an alternate motive - personal revenge or aggrandisement being the most common. Occasionally such people are plants, put there to try and infiltrate the Orders.
To accept a new novice into the ranks of the Church Knights, a special gathering of the local Chapter must be convened. The local knights can meet at any church, or even their local preceptory if convenient. In the presence of the knights and a member of the clergy, the new novice must declare his desire to join their ranks and commit his life to God. The novice must vow to uphold the tenets of The Code - though the Rule of Poverty does not yet apply.
The applicant novice can then choose the Order he is to become a member of and declare the means by which he can serve best. All novices and knights of the Order he has chosen have the right to question the applicant - and even demand demonstrations of skill and knowledge.
The most senior knight of his chosen Order will then administer a portion of the Investiture ceremony used for a full knight:
"You seek what is a great thing, but you do not know the strong precepts of the Order; for you see us from the outside, well dressed, well mounted, and well equipped, but you cannot know the austerities of the Order. Can you bear these things for the honor of God and the safety of your soul?"
The novice must reply in the affirmative, stating he will bear all things in the service of God.
The ceremony concludes with the senior knight stating: "Go, may God make you worthy men."
The equipment which belongs to his position among the knights will then be presented to him: his novitiate robes, a bayonet, handgun and communications gear.
Once a Novice is accepted and undergone their essential military and occult training it is likely they will return the community, not to be called upon for several years for anything other than refresher courses. Others may be forced to discard their previous lives altogether - so vital is their contribution to the Order.
If a Novice proves suitable, he/she will be taught the skills found in Fighting Techniques over two years - often involving excursions to the African Horn for extensive field training.
All novices are then taken away for intensive paramilitary and occult training.
Once the basic course is completed, the Novice may then choose a field of speciality. This can range from brain surgery to bomb disposal - so long as his new Order will benefit. Only full knights of higher True Faith levels are taught the advanced Rituals and Prayers which serve to negate many powers of more senior vampires.
"It was not pedantry, . . . observance of the Rule, but custom, and faith, and obedience to their monastic vows, all of joined together with their duty as warriors of Christ to make their Order, and without which the Order would not be."
- The Last of the Templars, William Watson.
Becoming a knight is likely to be the single most important event in any Brother's life. The dramatic and emotion-charged investiture ceremony is designed to ensure the applicant has a True Faith rating of at least five and is absolutely committed to a life of complete devotion to the Militant Order.
When the Rule of the Templars (later to be adopted by the Militant arms of the Teutones and Hospitallers) was created at the Council of Troyes in 1128, so was the basis for what was later to become known as the Investiture. While the ceremony grew and evolved throughout the decades, its present form is based upon that used about 1290 and recorded by young knight called Gerard de Caux.
According to de Caux, the ceremony begins with the presentation of the postulant before an assembled chapter of knights led by at least one Knight Preceptor. The ceremony, reminiscent to that of a wedding, has to be conducted in a holy place.
The most senior officer among the chapter of knights makes the following speech:
"Good brother knights, you see well that most of you have agreed to make (this man) a brother; if there is any one of you who knows any reason why he should not, in law, become a brother, let him say it now, for it is better that such a thing should be said before rather than after this man has come among us."
If there are no objections, the postulant is then taken to an adjoining room and questioned by the eldest and most senior knights of the Order. He is asked formally if he wishes to join the brotherhood of warrior-monks, and, if replies in the affirmative, then shown "the charitable commandments and the great hardness of the house (The Rule)."
The postulant must be made to understand clearly that upon entering the Order he would "willingly undergo everything for God and would be the servant and slave of the house for ever, for all the days of your life."
Then the postulant is asked about his marital status, any binding vows or commitments, unpaid debts, the state of his health and whether he was bound legally to any organisation or man. If any of the replies were not according to The Rule, the postulant must be barred from entry.
Once the elders are satisfied with the answers, they return to the chapter without the postulant to recommend him to their service. The postulants replies are repeated to the gathering so that no subversive rumor may disturb his welcome to the ranks.
The Master, or the officer in charge, then asks the chapter if they wish "in the name of God" that the man should join. The reply from the chapter should be:
"In the name of God, let him do so."
Only then is the postulant again allowed into the chapterhouse. Kneeling in the pose of prayer, he must make this formal request:
"Sire, I have come before God, before you and the brothers, and I beg and require you in the name of God and of Our Lady to accord to me your company and the benefits of the house, as one who will henceforth always be its servant and slave."
The Master then replies:
"Good brother, you are asking a great thing, for you see only the outer shell of our religion; you see that we have good horses, good harnesses, good food and drink and clothes, and it may seem to you that you will be at ease here. But you do not know the strong commandments which are within; for it is a difficult thing that you, who are lord of yourself, should make yourself the servant of another. You will hardly do anything that wish: if you want to be in Europe, you may be sent beyond the seas; if you wish to be in Acre, you may be sent to Tripoli, or Antioch, or Armenia. If you wish to sleep, you may be awakened, and if you are wakeful you may be ordered to lie down. Good brother, can you suffer well all these hardships?"
The postulant should answer:
"Yes, I will suffer all that is pleasing to God."
The Master responds:
"Good Brother, in our company you must not seek lordship or riches, nor honor, nor bodily ease. You must seek three things: to renounce and reject the sins of this world; to do the service of Our Lord; and to be poor and penitent.
Will you promise to God and Our Lady that hence-forth, all the
days of your life, you will obey the Master of the Temple and any
commander placed above you?
That you will live in chastity, without personal property?
That you will uphold the good customs of this house?
That you will help, in so far as you are able, to conquer the Holy Land?
That you will never leave the Order, neither through strength nor weakness, neither in worse times nor better?"
If the postulant is still determined to join, and if the chapter still agrees, then the Master must pronounce the words of acceptance:
"In the name of God, of Our Lady, of St Peter (or the Order's particular patron saint) and of our father the pope, we accord to you, to your father, your mother and all those of your lineage whom you wish, the benefits of this house, as they have been from its beginning and will be until its end. And you, you accord to us all the benefits which you have and will have; and we promise you bread and water, and hardship, and work, and the poor robe of the house."
As the master speaks, members of the chapter bring the new knight the robes of the Order and place it over his shoulders. After this, a sword belonging to the Order is handed to the knight which he must unsheathe and hold before him hilt-up - forming the sign of the Holy Cross.
"Take this sword; its brightness stands for faith, its point for hope, its guard for charity. Use it well."
The Rule of the Order is read aloud as the new knight kneels before the altar. Once completed, the most senior knight concludes with: "Go, may God make you worthy men."
"I tell you, the Lord has not done this for any other generation before, nor has he lavished on our fathers a gift of grace so copious. Look at the skill he is using to save you. Consider the depth of his love and be astonished, sinners. . . He comes from heaven to help you in your necessity. This is a plan not made by man, but proceeding from the heart of divine love."
- St Bernard of Clairvaux, 1147, De laude novae militiae
The strict monastic code of the 12th century no longer applies to all members of the Militant Orders. Novices and associates are bound by a separate, though similar, doctrine known as The Code. This Code reflects the strictures of the Ten Commandments, Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Virtues.
These can be found in the Character Creation section in the chapter on Piety.
Modern knights, however, must live a monastic life of self sacrifice based upon The Rule, without the era-specific regulations (this will be explained at the end of the chapter The Rule ).
The Code provides a philosophy more in keeping and sympathetic to modern ideology while still promoting the essential Christian tenets of Faith. However, the sacrifices detailed under The Rule are a vital component of gaining Holy favor and the blessings of miraculous powers. Once a novice understands the meaning of, and is prepared to accept, the full Rule as his means of worship - only then is he eligible to gain full knight status.
New initiates vow to become a servant and slave of the Order for ever. The essential promises are to renounce and reject the sins of this world, to do the service of the Lord, and to be poor and penitent. Loyalty and obedience is the core of everyday life. The Militant Orders were among the first to introduce the concept of instant obedience to military service. Novices are taught that obedience could make the difference between victory and defeat in an ever-changing battlefield environment. Many battles were lost during the Middle Ages because secular knights led their own charge against the enemy, ignoring the orders of their battle commander. Often, the only difference in the quality of the Warrior Monks and normal knights was their fighting discipline - not individual skills.
This concept was developed during the 4th and 5th centuries, and was widely touted during the time of the Crusades. Its basis was that violence was not evil, but was morally neutral. Moral coloring was drawn from the intention of the perpetrator, which could be loving - or hatred.
Any perpetrator of Christian violence had to have the right intentions. They also needed a just cause, because violence could only be resorted to in response to previous injury in the form of aggression, menaces, tyranny or invasion.
Acts of violence had to be authorised by a legitimate authority, who could be a minister of God or a king. Fortunately for the knights, most preceptors also held the rank of minister - so they could order their own violence.
However, Christ's intentions for mankind are believed to be at risk if violence is overused. Essentially, violence against the pagans was considered an act of Christian charity and loving concern.
The code of parley is designed to avoid unnecessary conflict. Essentially, the code calls for Novices to hold discussions with the enemy before combat becomes inevitable. Militant Order members and their enemies meet under a flag of truce to discuss their differences, often in the presence of an independent intermediary. In the Cleansing Crusade, this involves an initial declaration to a domain that the knights are present - ready to accept any vampire's repentance, or to kill them. The code does not end there. During the course of conflict, Parley can also be called for extraordinary matters, issues of honor or surrender terms. Knights and Novices are compelled to answer such a call - under truce - but not to answer all questions or agree to all demands.
Courage is possibly the single most important tenet applicable to any knightly Order. Courage in the face of the enemy is what makes a knight different from the footslogger or mercenary, and is a compelling tradition moulded by the blood of knights over countless generations. About 2000 knights Hospitaller successfully defended Malta against 40,000 Turks in 1565. At the end of the battle, 600 Hospitallers remained - but only 10,000 Turks left the island alive. In another battle, 200 Templars valiantly stood against a massive invading army. Only two lived to tell of the defeat. Such traditions are compelling, and many a Novice's honor is based on the concept.
Honing skills with the sword, lance and bow occupied most of a knights spare time during the Crusades. Similar principles apply today. Skill with the blade, guns and martial arts are a constant arena of competition among the warrior monks. Much honor and status is gained through proficient skills, but honor is also gained through innovative ways of avoiding their use. A Novice or Knight who cannot demonstrate high standards of combat skills is retired from active service into an administrative position.
This is the dutiful devotion to God and observance of religious principles. Aside from being warriors, Templars, Hospitallers and Teutones are primarily monks. All are required to take an oath, including monastic principles such as chastity and perpetual worship. Prayers had to be offered to God at regular times each day - though knights in action or on a mission were permitted to offer silent homage. Novices, while not full monks, are still Churchmen of rank and status. They are permitted to be married - though this does make life difficult, like any soldier. Personal possessions are also permitted.
The concept of personal integrity, allegiance to moral principles. It includes strict observance of all other tenets of chivalry. Personal honor is not the issue - but the honor of the Order is everything. An Order's prestige is enhanced through acts of social service, courtesy and tolerance. Novices must never do anything to bring the honor of his Order into disrepute.
A willingness to give away one's money and time freely, without expectation of reward or favor. Generosity toward the poor, infirm and generally needy is a vital part of a Novices honor and oath. Ensuring the physical and spiritual safety of the innocent populace is a prime concern, and is the underlying cause of the knights existence.
"Have I not been obedient to the Rule? The Rule is the bones of my body, it runs from my feet to my head, and it is in my arms; these fingers. . . The Rule is my marrow. Am I not also garbed in the Rule, for it tells me what I wear/ The Rule is within me and about me. It is my hand when I fight and tells me what my weapons are. Within and Without."
- The Last of the Templars, William Watson.
The Rule is the tortuously detailed document stipulating every element of a Church Knight's life. When compiled in 1127, during the formal recognition of the Order of the Temple by the Pope, it was made as comprehensive as possible. The original 72 articles of its original Latin version covered everything the councillors could think of, from general religious procedure to the knight's daily diet. Its religious aspects were similar to those of any monastery, and were generally Benedictine in tone: The brothers were to pray together at appointed times each day, or, if they were absent from the Preceptory, to recite various numbers of paternosters. Meals were held in silence, and silence was maintained at night. The brothers were instructed to care for any sick or elderly members of the Order, and to have mass said for the souls of their dead; and after the death of a brother, they were to feed a pauper for 40 days. They were forbidden to hunt any animal except the Lion and other dangerous beasts which have threatened a community. Hunting was considered too close to the life of an ordinary knight, and threatened to awaken sinful pleasures within the knights of Christ.
The Rule stated: "The company of women is a perilous thing, for through them the ancient demon denied us the right to live in Paradise; and therefore women may not be received as sisters into the Order. . . and we believe it is dangerous for any religious man to look too much at women's faces. And so none of you should presume to kiss a woman, neither widow, nor maiden, nor mother, nor sister, nor aunt, or any other woman; therefore knights of Christ must flee from women's kisses."
The Brothers were forbidden to act as godparents, the councillors fear was that a longing for normal family life would be stirred in the knights by the relationship. Partly for the same reason, children were forbidden from entering the Order. This portion of the Rule does not apply to modern knights.
The Templars were from the beginning determined only to accept mature men who came forward on their own wish and conviction.
Their clothing was regulated, according to the Order's particular uniform. Brothers could not have any personal property; everything was held in common. A gift to any one brother was a gift to all; not even a personal letter could be read privately. Personal pride was seen as one of the root causes of jealousy and strife, and sought to prevent its appearance anywhere within the Order. No pennants on lances, no jewels on armour, no pointed shoes, no excessive talking or laughter. Instead, poverty, chastity and humility were demanded. But even above these three qualities was obedience.
A system of practical punishments was included, ranging from small penances through to humiliating acts such as eating one's food off the floor. Some were expelled from the Order, others were starved to death in cells.
Everything in the Rule was intended to bring about, if necessary to enforce, a communal way of life - an abrogation of the individual in favor of the corporate Order.
The most honored Churchman of the Crusades, St Bernard, summed up the philosophy of the Militant Orders in an open letter calling for recruits.
"The warriors are gentler than lambs and fiercer than lions, wedding the mildness of the monk with the valor of the knight, so that it is difficult to decide which to call them: men who adorn the Temple of Solomon with weapons instead of gems, with shields instead of crowns of gold, with saddles and bridles instead of candelabra: eager for victory - not fame; for battle not for pomp; who abhor wasteful speech, unnecessary action, unmeasured laughter, gossip and chatter, as they despise all vain things: who, in spite of their being many, live in one house according to one rule, with one soul and one heart."
The Rule of the Templars was based on the Rule of St Benedict of Nursia (Benedictine Monks) and the Cistercian Monks, of which St Bernard of Clairvaux was a member. Its initial form was created by St Bernard and Hugh de Payns at the Council of Troyes, about AD1128.
The original Rule was essentially the following:
"All the commandments which are said and written above are at the discretion and judgement of the Master."
- The Rule of the Templars, as recorded by scribe John Michael at the Council of Troyes, 1128.
Essentially the Modern Rule is the same as the above, with only era-specific or overly harsh requirements removed.
"To break the heathen and uphold the Christ; To ride abroad addressing human wrongs; To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it; To honor his own word as if his God's; To lead sweet lives in purest chastity. . . Not only to keep down the base in man; But teach high thought, and amiable words. . . "
- Idylls of the King, Tennyson
It is a common misconception that the Church Knights are nothing more than a highly trained, heavily equipped band of vampire assassins. Wherever the warrior monks declare their presence, rumors spread thick and fast among vampires about their efficient hunting and killing techniques.
This self-perpetuating fear is encouraged by the knights as frightened Kindred sometimes become desperate - and make mistakes. Conversely, it can also be a hindrance - enforcing Kindred adherence to the principle of the Masquerade.
But the religious component of the Church Knights must not be forgotten.
The belief that a vampire has lost its soul, and is doomed to eternal damnation, is only partially correct.
It is hard for a knight to consider a vampire evil if it conducts itself in as civil and humane manner as possible. Having to kill such Kindred can cause a crisis of faith. For this reason, ministration is considered a viable alternative.
Because of their True Faith, a knights blessing is not simply a collection of empty words. A blessing of good heath and happiness can result in just that - a heightened sense of serenity and peace. The example provided by someone with True Faith can act as an inspiration and encouragement to others. A knights own joy in life can help lift others out of the depths of despair. The whole purpose of a knight's presence is to make the world a safe place for normal people to live and worship. Encouraging the general populace must never be neglected - or else the fight against Corruption may end up for nought.
The Militant Orders - Hospitallers in particular - believe that a repentant vampire can, with a knights blessing, have its soul freed to be judged like any other mortal. The knight cannot convey judgement or forgiveness. But he can provide a chance for mercy.
The fact that this option requires the death of a vampire limits its popularity, but any Kindred burdened with guilt and horror at what it is should see this as a viable alternative.
Vampires actively seeking Golconda (vampire-heaven) are encouraged - to an extent. While still essentially corrupt, such a quest involves renouncing much of a vampires evil nature. This reduces the need for the knights to "cleanse" the world of that particular vampire.
The Church Knights have their own definition of Golconda - that of pious worship, repentance and service. Vampires may find solace and security within the Church, though they must devote themselves to a monastic life and cease feeding on human blood. Such Vampires can serve as consultants and instructors for the Militant Orders, but they cannot join in on any mission. The risk of wanting to re-join their kind is considered too great.
In its lesser forms, the Mass involves the breaking and forgiveness of Vampiric domination. Ghouls can have their blood-bond removed and, if repentant, forgiven for their actions while under Kindred influence.
In such situations, the knight is simply the vessel for God's will. The outcome can never be guaranteed.
In its highest form, the Grand Masters of each order can meet and conduct a ceremony to restore mortality to a deserving vampire. The blood of Cain can be removed, restoring the creature to the same mortal state as when embraced. Once again, the knights are only a vessel for God's will.
When the Grand Master of each Militant Order believes a supplicant vampire has proven beyond earthly doubt that it desires repentance, the ritual known as Red Mass can be performed.
The vampire is taken to one of the different Order's most Holy places and asked to bow before the altar before a full chapter of knights and each of the three Grand Masters.
During the course of the ceremony, the vampire is required to place some of its own blood in a crystal chalice. As the assembled knights and the vampire prey, the Grand Masters observe the chalice for any changes.
If the blood remains unchanged, then the vampire has not yet fully atoned for its sin or demonstrated genuine faith. It has not yet earned God's attention.
If the blood turns to wine, his repentance is accepted and his earnest desire to cease being a vampire granted. At the same time the blood in the chalice changes to wine, the vampire will "die" peacefully, and his soul raised to heaven for judgement.
If the blood in the chalice turns to water, the vampires blood will be purged of its taint and returned to normal. The now mortal, ex-vampire, will be weak and is unlikely to be capable of standing. He must be given medical attention to ensure his blood and body chemistry levels are restored fully. The state of ageing picks up from the time of embrace - not counting the years as an undead creature. The restored mortal is then allowed to choose its own destiny, free to be judged upon his death like any other person.
"You could not afford to allow someone like Lord Ruthven to survive. He might after all eventually persuade too many people that being a vampire was just fine."
- Vampire, a Complete Guide to the Undead, Manuela Dunn Mascetti, 1992.
Tracking down the Kindred is a complex and arduous task. Only a coordinated, multi-disciplinary approach can bear fruit. While all knights and novices are thoroughly trained and equipped for combat, they are also versed in investigative techniques.
No one method is enough on its own. Just as a combat team must contain a mix of heavy weapons, explosive, security and communications skills - so to must it have a variety of hunting skills.
Specific skills are broken down into the following categories: Research, Forensic, Contacts, Interrogation, Occult Knowledge and Tracking.
Each skill is specific and complex - taking years of study to obtain the highest standards. Holding multiple skills is possible, just as it is possible to have more than one university degree. However, specialisation is more likely.
Once a combat team has been placed in a new city, each knight branches off to investigate their own area of expertise. Once a week, knights will meet at a pre-arranged safe-haven to discuss their findings, and compare notes.
Utmost security is paramount. No knight must know another's movements or lodgings. If one is discovered, this reduces the chances of the whole groups integrity being destroyed.
Regular contact must be maintained, however, often through the use of mobile phones, pagers, dead letter boxes and pre-arranged signs. Telemetric units are only operational during combat operations, but may be switched on by individual knights during moments of crises - to transmit the circumstances for later analysis.
Physical collection of all available data is a complex and time- consuming process. Knights skilled in this process would analyse the content of local newspapers, church newsletters, police and court records dating back several years. Use of computer databases is a vital component - especially as most newspapers now record all articles on such systems for reference.
Hospital and police demographic records can also be helpful, revealing concentrations of particular types of crime or medical conditions (such as low-blood levels).
Each lead, as it is uncovered, must be exhaustively followed up. It is possible for a paper trail to lead directly to a suspect. However, more often research is a means of proving or fleshing out existing suspicions. Public records such as business' annual reports, land registry documents, births, deaths and marriage files can provide vital clues and leads. School records are a valuable source of an individual's history, especially year-books. Once the paper trail has been exhausted, the process of interviewing sources and monitoring suspects begins.
Interrogation does not necessarily mean the red-hot coal and poker approach. In a watered-down form it is known as an interview. Knights skilled in extracting information from other people would be used to discuss events with witnesses, draw useful information out of uncooperative suspects - as well as interrogating captured minions and Ghouls.
Reports found in newspapers and other documents may be spartan, biased or simply inaccurate. Contacting the source direct can remove this form of filtration and reveal more information of use to a knights investigations.
Each militant order has support from different parts of society. Overall, the various church denominations are generally eager to help. Church knights hold senior ranks within their associated denominations - and are well within their rights to act as envoys from the Vatican etc. Most churches, when faced with such a senior visitor, would usually open their books (and hearts) willingly.
Other sources of support are available on an international scale. The Templars have had a long association with the Freemasons, and may hold corresponding ranks within the secret society. Hospitallers are associated with the Order of St John - found in most Commonwealth countries as ambulance and paramedical associations. Teutonic links are much more general - usually relying upon the common bond found between soldiers and police the world over
These institutional contacts can be among the most valuable sources of information. Masons may provide financial and legal support, along with access to otherwise secret information. St Johns can offer practical medical assistance, as well as the experiences and services of its members. Police and military contacts, once again can offer behind-the-scenes information and cooperation - such as access to their own investigation records. As experts in their own fields, Knights can win the support of other professionals. For example, a Hospitaller may be a highly trained surgeon. Other surgeons would feel comfortable discussing any "strange" afflictions or maladies they have discovered.
However, knights must constantly be aware that all these organisations are open to Kindred infiltration. As a result, their true identity must remain concealed. Each knight must only act in the capacity of member or affiliate of these organisations. Only the most senior officer of each group - if he/she is trusted - is allowed to know the full truth.
Other organisations may also be sources of information. The Salvation Army (another Militant Order), the Red Cross: just about any humanitarian organisation concerned with public welfare.
This scientific approach is much more limited in its application than the above, though more likely to produce positive results. The areas of knowledge that come under the term forensic- science practices include pathology, toxicology, anthropology, odontology, psychology, and criminalistics.
A forensic pathologist will conduct an autopsy on a victim to locate any signs of injury or disease.
Toxicology is linked to pathology but specifically concerned with the presence of poisons or drugs. Even vampires can bleed (though only a little). Blood and skin samples may prove or disprove a suspects vampiric nature.
Criminalistics applies to the use of physical and natural sciences - such as analysing objects found at the scene of a crime. This evidence includes a variety of materials - drugs, hair, fibres, soil, blood, paint chips, firearms, fingerprints, documents, bullet distortions, type of wounds - all can reveal a great deal of information.
identification of bones and skeletal remains is the responsibility of forensic anthropology, which uses comparative body and bone measurements - along with morphology. Odontology uses dental evidence to identify remains and can be helpful in summarising bite-mark impressions.
Forensic psychiatrists analyse human behavior and personality in connection with crime. Psychiatric examinations may serve to determine whether the state of mind of an individual may have been affected by or contributed to the incident - deliberately or otherwise.
Knights trained in Forensics have a good understanding of all these areas. They are trained to recognise and draw conclusions where they can and use their limited resources to the full. Anything beyond their capabilities can be forwarded to their Headquarters for greater analysis.
This includes DNA "fingerprinting" of semen or blood stains. No field packs are yet available to 'tag' particular strains or types - they are still under development. So far only the Brujah, Gangrel, Malkavian, Nosferatu, Toreador, Tremere and Ventrue blood types can be recognised in the underground labs of the Hospitallers in Valleta, Malta.
The Militant Orders are also researching what exactly it is in vampire blood that makes them what they are. Other areas of research include vampire repellents, sources of aggravated damage and how to nullify their supernatural powers. Every piece of information helps.
While all of the above help identify individual vampires, reveal their abodes and their habits - actually finding the creature is another matter altogether. Tracking is usually associated with hunting in the wild, identifying and following the spoor of specific creatures. This also applies to hunting vampires and lupines - though involving different techniques in a metropolitan environment.
Vampires can leave traces of their presence. The mind's and aura's of passers-by may still show the effects of Dominate and Obfuscate. Vampires using physical powers will leave marks different to humans such as shoe scuff marks, deeper-than-usual imprints, oil-less fingerprints and no residual body heat (just sit on a leather couch that a vampire has vacated - you'll see what I mean).
Other giveaways are:
Fingerprints taken from the scene of known vampire activity may help narrow the field of suspects and scuff-marks on the floors or ground may prove whether Celerity has been used. The full range of traditional tracking techniques also apply such as identifying particular sets of shoe or tire prints, walking styles and other tell- tale signs.
Dogs: The canines extraordinary ability to sense kindred, lupines and spirits has been well documented throughout history. Dogs appear to go into a frenzy whenever such evil is nearby. The Church Knights have learnt to control and train this sense, using suitable dogs to follow the spoor of vampires for great distances. Like police tracker dogs, these animals can sense the smell and corruption of a vampire for up to four hours. After that time, the dogs would have to rely upon sensing objects strongly associated with the prey - such as a discarded shoe or item of clothing, a trail of blood or a place where they have spent enough time to leave a heavy scent. A knight who knows his dog well would be able to sense or notice the effects of the vampiric discipline Animalism.
This is direct knowledge of vampire habits, customs and internal politics. By knowing such factors, the behavior and activities of a group of vampires can be anticipated and predicted. If you're lucky. It is an imprecise science as not all vampire Clans are known or understood. Inter-clan politics is also a murky business and can often confound carefully laid traps.
Much knowledge has been gleaned from repentant vampires. However, these vampires are usually young and know only about their own bloodline. Not all Clans are likely to produce vampires with high humanity and faith - reducing the sources of information considerably.
These gaps are constantly being researched and new information often comes to light. Inter-clan politics is a fluid thing, however, and what was once an enmity may now be an alliance.
"The Templars are ready and armed at whatever time of the day or night they may be called, either to fight or to accompany travellers; and when they pursue the enemy, the do not ask 'how many are they?', but only, 'where are they?'."
- Jacques de Vittry, 12th century.
Formality, ceremony and ritual is much a part of a knight's and novice's daily life. An integral part of such formality is dress - a means of proclaiming identity, philosophy and status while generating a strong sense of esprit-de-corps. Clothing can also re-enforce in the wearer's mind a sense of purpose and mood: thus the designation of ceremonial and combat uniforms.
Monastic habit for all Orders is simple but of good quality. The spartan robes merely reflect the Order to which they belong - signs of rank being considered unnecessary.
Once Outremer fell about 1300, a crusading treatise established by the Church recommended all three Militant Orders be combined. A similar move was made during the Malta Synod of the 1980s. Both proposals saw the new order wearing black robes with a red cross. Neither move was successful, however, and the Orders remain independent.
Hospitallers: Monastic dress is a black hooded mantle known as the cappa clausa. The white eight-pointed Maltese cross is sewn on either the left breast or across the whole chest. Officers of the Order have the right to wear red in place of black, though the cross remains the same. Sergeants (now novices) wore the same black garb as their brother knights.
Templars: The monastic habit of the Templars is basically a white woollen tunic, white mantle and a skull-cap. This uniform was granted to the Order upon their papal recognition in 1128. In 1146, the Templars were given the right to wear a red cross on their left breast or shoulder. Initially a simple intersection of lines, the cross later developed to become what is known as the "crosse formee". Sergeants (now novices) wore a similar habit, though it was colored brown.
Teutones: The white habit of the Teutones was very similar to that of the Templars (much to the latter's disgust). This right was granted them by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. Their black cross (sometimes with yellow border) was similar in shape to that of the Cross of Jerusalem (four T's radiating from a centre-point). In the late-13th century they were also granted the right to place the German Royal Eagle at the heart of the cross - though this practice has since been discontinued. Teutone sergeants (equivalent to modern novices) wore a Tau cross (looking like a single capital T). This cross was also known as a crux commissa.
As all Militant Orders are derived from cavalry fighting units, each has its own battle standard which acted as a rallying point after the charge. The standards still exist, though are used only for ceremonial purposes such as "showing the flag".
Hospitallers: The standard of the Knights Hospitaller was a white "splayed" cross on a red field. The most common example is set rigid between two light poles - ensuring the standard is spread - with five red tails hanging from the trailing edge. The standard, first seen in 1182, was the responsibility of the Orders Gonfanonier, but generally carried by a squire. The color of the knight's shield depended upon the color of his surcoat, though the cross remained the same.
Templars: The Templars held particular reverence for their battle standard, otherwise known as Bauseant. It was in use from at least 1128. The standard is a simple one - a white field with the upper quarter filled in black. It was the responsibility of the Gonfanonier knight who was supported and protected by the squires. In battle the standard was often protected by up to 10 knights and its loss by a brother would result in his expulsion from the Order. Secondary commanders and preceptories used a flag of a red cross on a white field. Both designs were used on individual knight's shields.
Teutones: In the early days of the Order the Teutones battle standard was simply a black cross on a white field. But as they successfully established a principality in the Baltic States, the cross was dressed up. By 1330 the Order had adopted the yellow cross of Jerusalem bordered in black for their standard, with the German royal eagle at its heart. This was placed on a white field. Shields mostly held a simple black cross on white.
Knights require proper clothing and equipment for a successful conclusion in a "cleansing" operation. All weapons, clothing and equipment are supplied by the knights Order - and remain the property of the Order. For fully-ranked knights, personal possessions are forbidden. Novices may use privately owned equipment - if they have demonstrated both proficiency and need. The troops wear a dark grey one-piece suit, made from fire- retardant material, together with heavy combat boots. A bullet- proof, sleeveless jacket is still often worn, comprising a casing into which ceramic kevlar armored plates are inserted front and rear. Similar to flak-jackets in basic design, they are tailored to meet individual requirements. This includes pockets for to contain ancillary equipment such as radios and grenades. This body armor is being replaced by a new, individually moulded armor which also covers the arms and legs while allowing full freedom of movement. Gloves are worn to ensure a good grip on weapons and other items of equipment. In addition, a belt rig, usually made of ballistic nylon or tough hide is worn around the waist and comprises a personal selection of pouches - usually for St George's oil dischargers, air-dart flingers, sun-torches etc. The ballistic-belt also has clips to allow a sword scabbard to be attached, though most knights prefer to have their sacred weapons slung on their back over the right shoulder.
A drop holster for the Glock 18a rides low on the right leg, with spare magazine pouches worn on the other leg. In addition, a spare magazine is often worn on the left wrist for a rapid magazine change.
Strap-on seat-type harnesses are often worn in case abseiling is necessary. Used in conjunction with stabilised descenders, quick-release fittings and a rope bag on the leg (to prevent those below seeing the rope), it is worn only when its use is likely. Other items of equipment placed on the body and webbing include spare magazines for the SMGs, bolt-cutters, hand hammers, axes and glass cutters.
Sewn-on patches for bayonet scabbards complete the rigs and are attached either to the upper arm or thigh, upper chest or body armor waistcoat. Specialised equipment such as flares, flash darts etc are stored in a similar manner.
Experience has taught that only materials of the highest quality are suitable for anti-vampire operations. Knights are often fighting in situations where they are physically inferior to their quarry. Only the best quality equipment can reduce this deficit.
The following is a list of basic equipment, issued as standard to all knights. Further weapons and items are available from each Order's stores upon request, and are outlined in Apendice 1.
Each knight is responsible for his personal kit, while the commander is responsible for checking each man's individual equipment and dividing the specific-to-task kit throughout the patrol - ensuring each man knows what the others are carrying. Individual check lists would include personal weapons, ruck- sack and belt kit and spare ammunition for their personal weapon (normally carried in pouches in belt kit or in webbing). Other equipment such as "bang" darts and stick flares are usually attached to various parts of the arms and legs. Each man's personal belt kit would also contain additional survival and medical gear, stun grenades, water bottles and emergency rations. Passive night vision goggles are strapped here when not in use. The ruck-sack carries everything else: radios, batteries, ammunition, explosives, rations, water, sleeping bags and clothing.
The knight-lieutenant and the second-in-command would usually carry items specific to their roles, like command and navigational equipment. Detailed maps, night vision binoculars and a hand- held thermal imaging device or sunlamp/camcorder unit.
The point man carries more night vision aids than the standard low-light goggles, wire cutters and an electronics kit to defeat high-tech security devices. He may also have a grenade launcher attached to his weapon to put down suppressive fire in the event of a contact.
When contact is made, the other knights must get into position as quickly as possible - ensuring their point man is not left alone.
"At the will and command of their leader, they proceed to battle, not in an impetuous or disorderly fashion, but prudently and with all caution, being the first to go forward and the last to retreat - which is why they became so dreaded by the enemies of the faith of Christ."
- Jacques de Vitry, Bishop of Acre, 1227
The four-man team has historically been the basic fighting unit of the Church Knights.
The unit of four originated during the Crusades when it was stipulated that each knight must equip from their own estate three armed sergeants. These sergeants were given basic weaponry and protection, as well as one or two horses each. While rarely fighting alongside their knight on the field, a knight and his sergeants were usually the basic component of a patrol.
In large-scale combat, the sergeants fought as heavy troops and commanders among the mercenaries, while the knights grouped together and fought as heavy cavalry.
It was quickly found that the small, self-contained nature of the four-man team was the most efficient and practical fighting unit - allowing high mobility, speed, surprise and hitting power. Less than this number is obviously too few, restricting what can be carried and limited in the amount of firepower brought to bear. Four warriors are capable of defending themselves if ambushed, as well as continuing the mission if one of their members is killed or wounded. More than four becomes unwieldy, harder to coordinate and conceal from the enemy.
The unit is also an ideal size for large scale operations, with each group of four being the basic components of highly flexible larger forces. Most major assaults are actually conducted by four or five such units working in concert to a thoroughly pre-planned operation.
The modern four-man team is made up of a leader, a pointsman, a defenceman and someone responsible for watching the rear. The leader is responsible for the team's assault, and also liaises with other combat units and senior officers.
The pointsman leads the team during the approach and lays entry charges if necessary.
The supportman does just that: back up one of the others as they carry out their task.
The defenceman provides security for the pointsman and serves as second-in-command while carrying any additional equipment - typically explosives or high-calibre weapons.
The four-man unit is designed to operate primarily on its own, often in remote areas and frequently on hostile ground. In addition to general reconnaissance and investigation, it can perform sabotage and ambush missions. While the four-man unit is not exactly an aggressive fighting unit, large scale ambushes can be conducted with eight or 16 man combined teams.
Every unit member has his own speciality - such as signals, demolitions, medicine or languages.
Communications is one of the most important skills among the Church Knights, acting as an efficient force-multiplier for their limited numbers. Every knight must have skills including high- standard field communications, code and ciphers.
Despite this general knowledge, each unit has a specialist signaller responsible for calling in aerial support, casualty evacuation, patrol coordination and regular contact. Morse is the basic method of communications, allowing quick messages under difficult transmission circumstances. The Orders have adopted Latin as the standard language of communication as a simple measure of security. When combined with Morse, messages would be beyond the scope of most untrained cryptologists.
Demolition skills are also an important part of the four-man unit. Explosives are useful in opening up secure entrances, sabotaging transport or supplies, as well as causing general confusion. The last of the four main skills is medicine. A unit's medic can perform surgery and cure common diseases, as well as helping win the "hearts and minds" of primitive societies. There are two basic medical kits carried while on operations: individual medical packs and patrol medical packs. The individual kit is usually a part of a knights webbing, containing essentials for first aid and mild drugs. Patrol medical kits are far more comprehensive and carry a wide selection of medicine, dressings, drugs and surgical packs.
All members of the Church Knight units must have more than just one patrol skill. Therefore, a knight may be trained as an investigations specialist, but also have the ability to competently handle explosives. A communications officer may also be trained as a medic, supplementing or replacing the units official medico when necessary.
Essentially, each unit member receives cross-training in each others individual specialisations.
Tertiary skills such as sniping, hacking, shadow driving etc are trained according to the individual abilities of each knight.
Individual knights are taught to take no chances. Given a clear shot at a vampire he will often empty an entire magazine into the target. There is good reason for this: the vampire can heal itself, given time. The more damage, the more time it takes to heal. If a knight is given enough time, he can reach a position to decapitate the creature.
A double tap (two quick shots) on its own is often insufficient to stop even a mortal from detonating hidden explosives or pulling a weapon. Sustained and accurate firepower keeps the vampire or ghoul's hands away from his body, making it impossible to reach a gun or button.
Knights employ body-line shooting in close combat situations, not head or heart shots. Where possible, shots are aimed at the trunk of the body (Vampires have no vital organs anyway). Head shots usually require only one bullet to kill a mortal or do severe damage to a vampire, but the target area is much smaller. In a darkened, smoke-filled room full of people the chances of shooting accurately are greatly reduced.
However, knights are trained to shoot accurately at heads and hearts in ambush situations, and if such is the only target presented to them.
Once the pointsman has defeated the building's security or blown open an entrance, the assault team will quickly and systematically begin to clear the rooms, hallways and stairs of enemy.
Preferably, snipers from a second "perimeter' combat team will provide covering fire and prevent anyone escaping the building. The assault team will also be carrying stun/flash grenades to disorientate vampires, making them incapable of effective concerted action.
Room clearance drill is simple.
Each knight has his own arc of fire. He must be adept at calculating his arc of fire to encompass any area in which he is operating in. For example, in a corridor the field of vision is limited and consequently arcs of fire are reduced, but there are doors on each side - each a possible threat. Each room must be approached and cleared, under cover of a comrade. If any doors are locked, then one of the four-man team will blow off the door hinges using a shotgun; the door will be kicked in and shock grenades tossed in. A two-man team will immediately follow, killing any hostiles with almost full-magazine bursts. The initial action should be over within four seconds, with the two knights following up their action by decapitating all present vampires, ghouls and allied mortals.
The team will then immediately move on to any other rooms, repeating the process.
If in a large building, different teams will have specified areas to clear - assigned before the action. When attacking an aircraft or railway carriage, all entrances are attacked at the same time.
A high standard of shooting skills is required from all knights, and all are expected to be marksmen with any weapon they may have to carry. They must be excellent shots from both the prone position, and also capable of sustained and accurate fire at close quarters. Ambush fire control procedures, contact drills, fire and movement routines and night firing must all be second nature.
Specialist weapons skills are easily researched, but one is included here as an example of the careful integration of such training in a Militant Order combat team.
The sniper, operating either alone or with a partner, can pin down a large enemy force by killing its leaders and communications specialists.
In a vampire "cleansing" action, snipers and support crew are often placed in buildings around the targets location. Snipers add to the confusion by firing through the windows as the assault team bursts in. Once the assault team is inside, snipers do not fire into the building. However, they are ideally placed to supply fire support under direct instruction of the assault team, and pick off any enemy trying to escape the building. They also provide a perimeter defence, warning the assault team of new arrivals.
Marksmanship is not enough alone; a high level of camouflage and concealment skills, plus advanced field craft, are vital to a sniper if they are to be effective. Snipers must be able to move across open terrain without being spotted, select concealed firing positions and have an avenue of escape once the action is completed.
In return for the sacrifices made through taking their monastic vows, and their high faith, the knights have been blessed with "supernatural" powers. These powers are a vital component in the war against Corruption, as vampires outmatch even the best trained mortal.
However, these powers do not belong to the knight - but to God. The blessing of supernatural powers must only be used under the guidelines of the Rule - a knight cannot use them for selfish or vain purposes such as in revenge, laziness or personal profit. While some specific abilities are granted for specific purposes, they may not necessarily be carried out the same way every time.
Miracles are a prime example of this. A desperate knight may beg for a miraculous obstacle to appear between him and an advancing vampire. This "barrier" could, by God's will, be anything from a wall of fire, a collapsing tree, a swarm of bees or the souls of the vampires victims.
The powers embodied in Faith, The Gifts, Prayers and Rituals all assist in all aspects in the battle against the Cainites. Investigation of, protection from and combating vampires all benefit in different ways.