The player has the ability to create a chapter of his or her very own custom Order. The requirements are a Qualis Gem, 20,000 denars, 30 honor and a walled fief (city or castle). This allows the player to have their own personalized troops, as he can decide on gender, name, equipment and stats for both the Knight and Sergeant.
Once you have selected the option to found the Order for the first time, you are given the opportunity to name the order, its knights and sergeants.
Starting Stats and Items
Be warned, as the knights will start with only leather armor, Leather Gloves & leather boots along with a sword & saddle horse - while the sergeants start with only a tabard, hide boots & a Quarter Staff. Furthermore, both suffer from terrible stats, with the knights having 200 proficiencies, 18 strength, 12 agility and 3-3-2-2 skill set-up and the sergeants having only 100 proficiencies, 10 strength, 6 agility and 1-1-0-0 skill set-up, far worse than the troops they will have upgraded from. While their stats and equipment can be improved, it will take a lot of money and time for them to become truly effective - once fully improved however, they will be an elite force that both suit your play-style and could potentially go toe-to-toe even with a Noldor Twilight Knight.
Note: upon creating your own Order, you won't be able to give any mount at all to the Sergeants, as they start with no riding skill. Their skills and attributes have to be upgraded several times so that they can be equipped with elite tier items.
Joining your CKO
You can join your Custom Knighthood Order, but doing so has 3 big changes compared to the existing KOs:
- You'll be directly promoted to Grandmaster, and be rewarded with the armor, gloves, helmet, boots and mount your CKO knight has (so if you equipped them with a Noldor armor and mount, you'll be given these), but with no modifiers, and only once. (If you raise from Retainer to Constable on a KO, you'll get Sergeant's armor set, knight's armor set and mount, reinforced knight's armor set and spirited mount, lordly knight's armor set and champion mount (so way more stuff and with good modifiers)).
- As you are rewarded with Grandmaster rank directly, you skip defending against the Snake Cult and then the attack on their fortress, meaning your order won't have a Order Stronghold nor you'll be able to interact with the 3 NPCs inside it (which are really useful).
- They won't reward you with the Mettenheim Arbalest or the Arquebus (nor unlock it for your CKO) upon talking to the knight with 300 crossbow/firearms proficiency or higher, whilst any KO would. If you want the arbalest and/or the arquebus for your CKO, you will have to join another order and get them, then you may leave the order and join yours or stay in that one.
So overall, under a legit playthrough, it is not recommended to join your own Order, specially due point 2.
HOWEVER, there is a way to have the Snake Cult Stronghold when you join your CKO without causing any bugs or issues. Plus you can get the unlock & blueprints of Mettenheim Arbalest and Arquebus the regular way too, by doing the following steps:
- Join your CKO, they will instantly promote you with the Grandmaster title (and give you a copy of their actual equipment)
- Enable the cheatmenu, brief guide on how to do it
- Open the second menu from the cheats (Cheat Menu Vader), click on "Setup Grandmaster Quest for test (part 1)"
- When you go to a castle with a chapter of your CKO, it'll all be like with any other Order: you'll have to defend against the Snake Cult attack, then find and bribe the correct traveler to reveal the Snake Cult Stronghold location and they'll give you 30 knights and sergeants (in this case of your CKO) to launch a counter attack to take the fortress.
- Once done, talk to your CKO knight, he will send the masons to start working and they'll take 2 months to revamp the Stronghold into the Order's fortress.
This allows you to access the NPCs from the fortress even when joining CKO, and the patrols sent (can be up to 3) will be made of your CKO knights and sergeants.
Troops that upgrade to CKO troops
Units required to upgrade into your Knights and Sergeants depends on your faction's culture. If you change your culture (either as a monarch or as a vassal), the units will change to whichever culture you have chosen:
- Pendor: Pendor Knights and Pendor Man-at-Arms
- Sarleon: Sarleon Knights and Sarleon Man-at-Arms
- Ravenstern: Ravenstern Knights and Ravenstern Man-at-Arms
- Fierdsvain: Fierdsvain Hersir and Fierdsvain Heavy Axeman
- D'Shar: D'Shar Noble Cavalry and D'Shar Warrior
- Empire: Empire Knights and Empire Armored Pikeman
Player has the option of changing the gender of your knighthood order. It does not affect the requirements for upgrading. You are also able to upgrade the quality of the knights through your steward like the established Knighthood Orders.
Note: Since 3.9, the gender of the Sergeants and Knights are independent, meaning that a player can (as well) have his sergeant be female and the knight male or viceversa.
One companion can be assigned on a mission to train them to boost their skills for one to four weeks, during which time the companion leaves your party. Every 18 hours, your Knights and Sergeants get a chance to raise their skills to your Companion's value. The most important skill the companion must have high is training (though companions with 0 training can still positively impact your CKO), as it will be decisive on how much your Knight and Sergeant will improve, but these will not get higher than the companion stats, skills and proficiencies.
This is the formula according to training, that takes place every 18 hours. It is worth noting that only 3 weeks is divisable with 18 hours without any remainder, making it the optimal training session. The other options will lose out one instance of 18 hours:
- Attribute probability (this goes for each attribute) = 3% + Training/3 + (Attr Difference-5)/5 (2% instead of 3% for sergeants, and they max at companion attribute - 1)
- Skill probability (this goes for each skill) = 3% + Training/3 + (Skill Difference-3)/2 (2% instead of 3% for sergeants, and they max at companion skill)
- WP probability (this goes for each proficiency) = 3% + Training/3 + ((Weapon Prof Difference/20)-5)/2 (2% instead of 3% for sergeants, and they max at companion WP - 30*)
*: Rounded to the closest greater value that can be divided by 10 (if companion sent has 401 proficiency, troops have that proficiency raised up to 380 (instead of 371)
It is recommended to pay for upgrades on Knights AFTER you're done with training, as this way you can get Knights have higher Attributes and Weapon Proficiencies than your companions. If you do these upgrades early, you will reach the companion limits earlier and the knights will end with lower attributes and proficiencies overall.
Equipping your Order
Better weapons, armor and steeds can be purchased for the Order, but at an extremely hefty cost often ranging in the hundreds of thousands. When replacing equipment though, 90% of the old equipment's value and time invested is discounted from the new equipment's cost and time (but it will never be under 1000 denars price and 1 day time). Your steward's trade skill affects the final price you will pay for the equipment.
Additionally, a substantial amount of time is required before all of the members of the Order are outfitted with such equipment. Items like helmets, gloves, and boots will be substantially quicker to upgrade than weapons and especially body armor, but it will take several months of game time to train and equip your order the way that you want it.
Note that the strength requirements of equipment applies to your order troops: items that your Order troops are unable to equip due to strength or skill requirements will not appear in the equipment selection screen until they meet the requirements. For instance, knights start with 18 strength, which means that gear you'll want to put them in - Knighthood order armors, Noldor equipment, and heavy weapons like the Ancient Rune Axe - will not be visible in your upgrade screen until your knights' strength stat equals the equipment's stat requirement. Likewise, your sergeants start with 0 riding skill, so they cannot be equipped with a mount until training improves that stat. Furthermore, there are unlockable items that have special requirements that must be satisfied to unlock them for your CKO.
In general, sergeants will be ready for combat sooner than knights will - they won't be able to use the same top-tier gear that knights can, so they'll get their upgrades faster and a bit more cheaply.
Unlike for regular troops, the autocalc values of your CKO knights and sergeants used for autoresolved battles are dynamic, and are purely determined by their average weapon proficiencies. Scripts check what is the average proficiency for all standard 19 KO knights and sergeants, compare it to the current average weapon proficiency of your CKO knights and sergeants respectively, and calculate a so called "factor" out of the ratio of the two. Here's an example how the calculation goes for your CKO knights:
- average_prof_of_19_order_knights = 285
- current_average_prof_of_CKO_knight = 240
- factor = 240 / 285 = 0.84
- autoresolve_CKO_attack = factor * average_autoresolve_attack_of_19_order_knights
Roughly speaking, your CKO units at 390 weapon profs will match the top KO values, and at 490, they will be equal to Noldor Twilight Knights in autoresolved battles (not counting the increased autocalc power of Noldors against the player).
The autocalc values are calculated in this simplified way (i.e. equipment does not matter) for two reasons:
- Some items give better autoresolve numbers than others -> player will be forced to use these items if he wants good autocalc -> the CKO will look almost always the same, no fun
- Selecting some item combinations would otherwise give godly autoresolve power for your CKO, which would be too OP
Minor Knighthood Orders
Rarely, lords from any kingdom may also create their own Knighthood Orders, but they are not the same as the custom order of the player. These minor orders will only have male knights (no sergeants), those knights will start always with 300 profs and be level 35 (so they can be used by the player through prisoner stacks), these will be given a random name and random equipment from a range of options. Usually, the name is a color/adjective and an animal/other - Order of the Steadfast Eagle, Scarlet Lion, Radiant Dolphin, Black Cross, etc. Prior to 3.9, these orders could range from ridiculously weak to actually fairly strong; since 3.9, equipment has been improved so as to make these orders at least borderline useful.
Here's a Custom Knighthood Order Guide that features some of the unlockable equipment, the training, the recomended CKO combinations and the reccomended builds: