Lions, tigers, dragons. These animals are used so often as the totems of knightly orders they are more cliche than trope. What about orders that embodied traits of other animals?
Order of the Crocodile – “Dura et ieiunium”
Clad in thick hide and scale armour, these knights have no time for honourable combat. Instead, they are experts in ambush tactics. Their ploy is lie in wait in camouflage for their enemy to get as close as possible. Once the target is surrounded, they spring into action swinging huge swords and battle axes to kill as many as possible in the first few seconds of combat. If they can, they’ll take out the leadership first, going for the head as they call it. From there they squeeze and push the enemy, crushing the formation as they kill it. A unit of these knights is supported by pavise arbalesters, who fire at close range. The order is renowned for the patience of its members as they wait patiently for days.
Order of the Crab – “Conteret omnia ante”
Only the bravest or stupidest of soldiers wear heavy armour when at sea. If you fall in the water whilst wearing it, you will surely drown. Crab knights are entirely brave enough and stupid enough to dress in full plate aboard ship. They can do this because of the cunning design of their armour. It contains air sacs that allow the warrior within to breeth if they are submerged. Whilst they might not last long, it is enough time for the knight to pull at the cords holding their plates in place. Thanks to a clever weave of thread and rope only a simple tug is required to free the knight, letting them swim freely to the surface. Their armour isn’t the only reason they are so feared at sea. They carry two section swords in each hand which they use to grab and break enemy weapons.
Order of the Parrot – “Puta igitur me altus”
An order that has no trouble recruiting, thanks to its habit of never actually doing any fighting. Due to the political machinations of its leaders, the Order of the Parrot is assigned to ceremonial roles, either guard duty or parades. The uniforms are resplendent in colour and shine, updated each season to match the latest fashions. The order takes its duties seriously but is filled with knights looking out for themselves. Some want to escape actual service, others love being the centre of attention and a few are advancing their social station. No one knows how they’d actually fair in combat.
Order of the Jerboa – “Celeritas conspectu”
If you value information, you value these knights. Lightly armoured, they travel in small groups on the swiftest horses available. Experts in reconnaissance, they move forward ahead of the army. When they find the enemy, they follow it and learn all they can before returning at speed. If engaged, they prefer to fight at a distance using horse bows to keep the enemy away. They can be fielded in battle, but a wise commander will keep them at the edges, to pick up valuable hostages and attack baggage trains. They are a small order and unwelcoming to strangers. Their lives depend on the secrecy of their movements, making them very slow to trust.
Edit – Paths have been created for each of the orders. Click the order headings for the links.