The term "Free Knight of Vanarth
" refers to an individual who, through actions of heroism, bravery, and compassion has earned the respect of the lords of the land and of the people. A Free Knight is considered to be beholden to no king or ruler, but to the people in general. Of course, the Knight can serve whomever they wish, and worship whichever god they wish; the bestowed status doesn't overrule any previous oaths a candidate has taken.
There are no specific duties or requirements, written or otherwise, of the Free Knights. They are expected to help their fellow man, destroy evil monsters or other plagues of the land, and generally bring honor to their names, races, and professions. Usually a group of heroes has already been doing these things; as a Free Knight it facilitates travel between nations and other obstacles that may hinder a group from whatever vital mission it may have.
Typically a group of seasoned adventurers qualify as a whole for the status of Free Knights, as opposed to individuals. These companions have proven themselves to the cause of justice or mortal advancement by their actions, and would have been observed for their ability to work together and solve major problems. Some qualifying events may include:
1. Clearing well-travelled roads of bandits or evil monsters
2. Overthrowing an evil government or cult
3. Contributing in no small way to the spread of wealth and commerce
4. Making a heroic sacrifice for the good of a city, nation, or other important cause
Many other heroic deeds may put someone forward as a candidate for Free Knight.
Sometimes, the title of Free Knight is awarded posthumously for someone who made an especially brave sacrifice, in by doing so saving lives or valuable resources.
A committee made up of important figures from different nations usually decides on who becomes a Free Knight. Of course the candidate may refuse the title, but it is generally a great honor which is recognized world-wide. Sometimes a king or ruler may bestow the title in extreme circumstances. Although it is not spelled out, the group of Knights generally accepts requests and follows leads from whichever committee placed the honor upon them, since they are familiar with their methods and motivations.