The Hellknights are an order of law enforcers interested not so much in the social goodliness and charity typical of paladins but in the foundation and stringent maintenance of order. In their iron-handed exaction of law—specifically, the laws of their various orders and their home country of Cheliax—Hellknights emulate the most organized and effective armies in all the planes: the legions of Hell. They are not concerned with morality, they are not concerned with methods, they are concerned with results. If people cannot be trusted to obey the law out of their own senses of civility and social righteousness, then they will be treated like beasts, learning to obey out of fear of a master's stern hand.

Regardless of their severity, Hellknights are not an evil group. Although there are doubtlessly numerous evil members—particularly among the upper echelons of power—the majority of the orders are lawful neutral, with lawful neutral, lawful evil, and lawful good members filling the ranks of each. The study of Hell’s tenants and even the summoning of devils are tools meant to intimidate and strengthen the individual resolve of the orders’ members. Hellknights are taught to replace emotion with steely discipline. They train with summoned devils, the signifiers of their orders coaxing the ingenuity of diabolical tactics from infernal tongues, while the rank and file members spar against the very denizens of Hell—making nearly any future conflict a far less daunting prospect. They learn that sacrifices must often be made for the greater good, obey draconian regimens of military conduct, commit to encyclopedic memorization of the laws of their orders and local governing bodies, and undergo constant drills to train their bodies and minds.

While Hellknights are widely feared and respected, the common Hellknight joins out of a sense of duty and wish to be a part of something greater, seeing a world ruled by just laws and free of rampaging beasts and cheating thieves as a future well worth striving toward… even at the sacrifice of a little freedom. Countries and rulers sometimes invite Hellknights into their lands, leaving the dirty business of harsh law enforcement to an already loathed third party, although, convincing Hellknights to leave once they've been welcomed sometimes proves problematic for more freedom-loving societies.

Currently seven major orders of Hellknights abide in the Inner Sea region, with the majority operating out of mighty fortresses across the Chelish heartland. Through the decades, many of the Hellknight orders have adopted specific areas of expertise and have become known for their singular crusades. Such interests prove secondary to the strictures of all Hellknights, though. Thus, while a member of the Order of the Pyre might have a specific concern for expunging cults and savage beliefs, such cares do not overshadow their directives to seek out lawbreakers and enforce the order all Hellknights pursue.

Hellknights in Magnimar
In 4682AR, Queen Domina of Korvosa courted several orders of Cheliax’s feared law keepers, the hellknights, in the hopes of buying militarily weak Korvosa the strength the city-state needed to dominate southern Varisia. Denied by such powerful bodies as the notorious Order of the Rack, genocidal Order of the Scourge, and devil-blooded Order of the God Claw, she was finally able to coax the stern Order of the Nail to her lands, promising them vast endowments and a fortress of their own: Citadel Vraid in the foothills of the Mindspin Mountains south of Korvosa. Fast upon their relocation to Varisia, Queen Domina began entreating the hellknights for aid, particularly in attempts at intimidation and minor raids against the growing mercantile power of Magnimar. The knights, however, bluntly refused, seeing no lawlessness in the success of their patron’s rival—much to the spurned queen’s ire.

Ever since, hellknights have patrolled the lands of southern Varisia, enforcing the laws of their orders and the nearby city-states, exterminating threats to civilization, and quelling uprisings among the Shoanti. While only the foolish don’t rightly fear the black-clad knights, much that is now tamed and cultivated would still be wild if not for the efforts of Citadel Vraid, its veteran commander Lictor Severs “Boneclaw” DiVri—a still intimidating man despite his obvious maiming—and its relentless Mistress of Blades, the centaur Maidrayne Vox. While King Erodred of Korvosa and his council have little direct association with the hellknights—seeing them as ungracious and untrustworthy since their rejection of Queen Domina’s “hospitality”—the Justice Court in Magnimar has ironically invited a detachment of hellknights, under the leadership of Paralictor Darean Halst, into its halls, welcoming their severity, their efficiency, and the fear they inspire in all lawbreakers.

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