The North American Community Team just finished their latest episode of Duty Commenced where they dropped a brand new Lore Lowdown covering the members of the Heavens’ Ward and the Temple Knights as well as a short Q&A segment regarding the groups.
You can check out all the information after the break!
The Heavens’ Ward
The personal bodyguard of the archbishop. Occasionally charged with carrying out the personal directives of the archbishop. Under such circumstances, may act with the authority of the archbishop himself and issue orders to Temple Knights and others.
The Temple Knights
Military force under the direct authority of the Holy See. Responsible for the defense of national interests, as well as maintaining public order. Provides humanitarian aid in addition to military services in order to serve and protect the Ishgardian Orthodox Church and its followers. Regularly conducts joint operations with the forces of noble houses (such as Lord Haurchefant’s House Fortemps), as well as the inquisition.
Moose’s Note This is why you see references to several Lord Commanders; each of the High Houses’ forces are also led by a Lord Commander. For example, Lord Yuhelmeric (now a boss in the Dusk Vigil) was Lord Commander of the knights of House Durendaire.
A former commander of the Temple Knights, Ser Zephirin is the Very Reverend Archimandrite of the Heavens’ Ward. To compensate for his diminutive stature, he chose to wield a massive greatsword—the traditional weapon of dark knights. Naturally, there is a certain stigma associated with these weapons; Ser Zephirin, however, is not one to be swayed by such concerns. At one time, Ser Zephirin was the favored candidate for the position of Lord Commander of the Temple Knights, but in an unexpected turn of events, the title was bequeathed to Ser Aymeric instead. Deeming a man of his integrity and skill a worthy addition to the Heavens’ Ward, Ser Vellguine extended an invitation to Ser Zephirin, who accepted.
The Unbreakable Stone Spear, Ser Vellguine is second-in-command to Ser Zephirin, and is the oldest and longest serving member of the Heavens’ Ward. A stern and solemn knight, he was second to Ser Zephirin’s predecessor as well, and so was expected to become the next archimandrite. However, believing himself to be better suited to his current position, he declined the archbishop’s offer, instead recommending the less accomplished but earnest and capable Ser Zephirin to assume the role in his stead.
A former inquisitor with a sadistic streak, Ser Charibert is perhaps best known for his ruthless persecution of heretics and his brutal interrogations, which often ended in the conviction and execution of the accused. As such, Ser Charibert─not unlike Ser Grinnaux─is an unusual addition to the Heavens’ Ward. However, the inherent grace with which he wields magic (a skill likely perfected during the extended sessions with his prisoners) is unparalleled, and it is for this talent alone he was inducted into the archbishop’s personal guard.
A member of House Dzemael, Ser Grinnaux the Bull is a peerless warrior. Yet while his combat abilities are exceptional, his disagreeable personality has led to more than a few altercations with others. However, in accordance with the archbishop’s desire to recruit knights solely for their combat prowess, Ser Grinnaux was welcomed into the Heavens’ Ward. After all, should he grow insubordinate, the archbishop need only “bless” him to guarantee his loyalty once and for all.
A young knight, born of a lesser house and famed for his elegant swordsmanship, Ser Adelphel trained rigorously from a young age at the behest of his father, who believed it would help him to excel in high society. Having mastered the combat arts, he won much glory on the battlefield and eventually secured a place with the Heavens’ Ward. Accordingly, he has since risen to prominence and attracted the attention of many young noblewomen.
A man of humble origins, Ser Paulecrain rose from poverty by his skill with the lance alone. Although he was taken into the service of House Fortemps for a time, he was later dismissed for conduct unbecoming. Shortly thereafter, he was taken in by House Dzemael, who found him to be an invaluable addition for his willingness to carry out certain questionable tasks others would not. For his loyalty, he was granted a knighthood, and he remains close friends with his previous employer, Ser Grinnaux.
Moose’s Note In the quest Divine Intervention, Ser Grinnaux of House Dzemael charges heresy against the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, who are under the protection of his house’s staunch rival, House Fortemps. Alphinaud demands trial by combat as his and Tataru’s defense, enabling Grinnaux to choose a second champion. Paulecraine is chosen because he, too, has loyalties to House Dzemael and bad blood with the Fortemps.
Having graduated from Saint Endalim’s Scholasticate as one of the Trinity, Ser Haumeric’s future among the Vault’s elite was all but secure. His destiny lied elsewhere, however, for Ser Zephirin, having observed Ser Haumeric’s exceptional conjuring abilities, bid him join the Heavens’ Ward. A man of strong principles, Ser Haumeric has long strived to walk the righteous path, and so he holds men like Ser Charibert in great contempt.
A former Temple Knight, Ser Guerrique earned much glory during his time as a heavy infantryman. It is said that the Cleaver earned his title when he felled a wyvern with but a single blow of his axe, with an impact so powerful that the beast’s head was not severed, but rather obliterated, the pieces flying apart in a thousand different directions. Ever eager to test his strength, whenever deep in his cups, Ser Guerrique cannot help but challenge anyone and everyone to arm wrestling.
Ser Hermenost is a veteran knight who joined the Heavens’ Ward during the tenure of the previous archimandrite. A former friar, he is a man of deep and abiding faith. Though he wields a battleaxe, he is also a formidable mage capable of unleashing devastating attacks by imbuing his weapon with lightning─a unique technique of his own invention.
Ser Noudenet, the third son of a baron from the Coerthas central lowlands, was sent to study at Saint Endalim’s Scholasticate so that his family would have one less mouth to feed. His father and brother hoped that he would one day gain a position as a senior clergyman, thereby securing them political leverage. However, Ser Noudent had little interest in the power struggles within the Holy See and instead devoted himself to aetheric research. His great familiarity with the subject earned him the attention of the Heaven’s Ward, who extended to him an invitation
Knighthood cannot be passed from father to son, and so Ser Janlenoux, despite being the eldest son of a knight, earned his spurs like many others: through hard work and dedication. He and Ser Adelphel are brothers in arms, having shared the battlefield time and time again and forged a lasting bond through hardship. While he may not wield his weapon with the same flair as Ser Adelphel, Ser Janlenoux is just as deadly with a blade.
A former dragoon with a distinguished career Ser Ignasse, has slain countless dragons with his peerless technique. His battlefield experience and unwavering loyalty to the Holy See earned him a place among the archbishop’s personal guard. Having long admired Ser Vellguine, he believed him the best choice to become the next archimandrite of the Heavens’ Ward, and tried desperately to persuade him to reconsider his decision to refuse the honor.
32 years old.
The lord commander is a remarkably modest man, and shirks the fine cuisines of the capital, instead choosing to break the same bread as any common soldier. The one pleasure to which he indulges is a dash of rich birch syrup in his morning tea, ever so subtly. (From the Temple leve “Let’s Not Get Sappy”) However, Ser Aymeric is more than capable of conducting himself with dignity and aplomb when attending the many galas held by Ishgard’s elite—participation in which is necessary for any who would gain and wield political influence.
Accordingly, he has developed a reputation as a fashionable nobleman and a skilled dancer, and is often the subject of conversations between highborn ladies.
32 years old.
Since his youth, Estinien has devoted himself wholly to his pursuit of revenge against Nidhogg, who razed his village and murdered his family. As such, he has no hobbies, and is concerned only with honing his skills. His disregard for keeping up appearances is perhaps best exemplified by his wild, unkempt hair, which he is content to ignore. As leader of the Knights Dragoon, he is expected to attend various social functions. However, he detests the trappings of high society and has refused on every occasion. For a time, he continued to receive formal invitations as a social courtesy, but that is no longer the case.
28 years old.
A trained soldier and former spy, Lucia is no stranger to combat. However, she is a stranger to the culinary arts—despite the best efforts of Ser Aymeric, who on one occasion attempted to teach her how to make dodo omelettes, one of her favorite foods. She accepted his guidance with grace and kindness, but having no interest in such things, she promptly forgot his instructions.
35 years old.
Trusted and respected by Ser Aymeric, Ser Handeloup is a passionate perfectionist who strives to carry out his duties as ordered. He does not begrudge Ser Aymeric for being named lord commander over him; in fact, Ser Handeloup used his influence to gather support for the younger man, ensuring that he would be chosen to lead. Were one to ask him why, Ser Handeloup would freely admit that he has no head for politics and would rather stand on the front lines as a battlefield commander.
Q: How can people join the Heavens’ Ward and Temple Knights? What sorts of qualifications are required?
A: Because the Heavens’ Ward can act with the authority of the archbishop, many presume that the easiest way to join their ranks is to earn the favor of the archbishop himself. However, after appointing Ser Zephirin to lead the current Heavens’ Ward, Thordan VII instructed him to select the remaining members for their skill at arms only, without regard for their character or familial connections. Any able-bodied Ishgardian citizen can, through one of several methods, be accepted into the Temple Knights. For example, as is shown in the 3.0 blacksmith quests, those who triumph in a grand tournament may be welcomed into their ranks. Alternatively, the recommendation of an influential noble or Temple Knight may suffice. That being said, to join the Temple Knights is no guarantee of knighthood; most must serve as squires for some time before earning their spurs.
Q: How does one rise through the ranks of the Temple Knights?
A: The simplest and most effective method is, of course, by winning glory in combat with dragons. However, while military service may earn one a measure of status and position, a knight must possess other skills if they wish to survive the ruthless battlefield that is Ishgardian high society.
Q: Is the balance of power between the High Houses preserved within the Heavens’ Ward, or are some houses favored over others? How do the High Houses view the Heavens’ Ward as an organization?
A: Traditionally, the knights of the Heavens’ Ward do not engage in politics, as their duty to the archbishop supersedes all others. On occasion, they may act in ways which appear to favor one house over another. However, they do so only at the behest of the archbishop, and never of their own volition—though they have considerable latitude as to how precisely they carry out his orders. While a High House will, ostensibly, gain no political advantage should a son or daughter be inducted into the ranks of the Heavens’ Ward, it is nevertheless considered a great honor.
Q: Are the arms and armor of the Heavens’ Ward passed down from knight to knight, or are they crafted for each member? If they are crafted, then by who and where?
A: Upon being inducted into the ranks of the Heavens’ Ward, each knight receives arms and armor crafted for their personal use in the private workshops of the Holy Vault.
Did you know? The weapons wielded by each knight in the Minstrel’s Ballad version of the Singularity Reactor fight differ, as the minstrel has a tendency of making “changes” for dramatic effect.
Q: Is there a particular meaning to the order in which the Heavens’ Ward knights are shown seated around a table or standing around King Thordan in the Singularity Reactor? If so, what is it?
A: Their position is determined by seniority.
Q: While the senior clergy of the Holy Vault supervise the affairs of the various dicasteries, what sort of people serve within the dicasteries themselves and see to their day to day affairs?
A: All officials who work in the Pillars are, without exception, highborn. However, those who serve in Foundation and outside the city may be lowborn.
Q: How is policy determined within the Holy See? Does the archbishop merely approve proposals put forth by the dicasteries, or does the archbishop wield absolute power?
A: As a rule, the archbishop determines major public policy, and the senior officials in the various dicasteries develop and carry out initiatives in accordance with his wishes. The archbishop may issue general directives with regards to the defense of Ishgard, for example, but it is ultimately the lord commander of the Temple Knights, Ser Aymeric, who would make detailed plans and see that they are carried out to his satisfaction.