House Griffith is an Imperial Knight house of the Questor Imperialis directly aligned with the Imperium of Man. The Knights of House Griffith are consummate warriors, having earned their bloody reputation across battlefields uncounted. Deadly with blade and cannon, they are amongst the boldest ever to sit the Throne Mechanicum, each striving to maintain their legacy of martial excellence. The Knights of House Griffith are a fierce and proud warrior caste who value courage and skill at arms above all else. Duels of honour are commonplace amongst Griffith's hot-headed Knights. A regular jousting tourney, the Field of Adamantium, dictates the standings of each family in society; a Knight can be preeminent one day, but overshadowed the next should one of his rivals emerge triumphant.
The ancient forefathers of House Griffith were the colonists that settled their homeworld, the volcanic planet of Dragon's End. The planet was named for its apex predator -- winged reptiloid drakes known as dragons. As the legends go, before the STC Knight suits could be completed, the settlers were forced to fight the scaly beasts from horseback, clad in baroque armour crafted from locally-quarried obsidian. Against such terrible creatures, the colonists were forced to become great warriors or die.
The mightiest of their number was Nathaniel Griffith. Using a dragonbone lance, Nathaniel slew three dragons, eventually becoming the inaugural ruler of the newfounded knightly house. The Knight suits enabled the Nobles to overcome the dragons at last, and eventually to eradicate them altogether. They never forgot the skills they had mastered however, and passed them down to each successive generation. No knightly house has more stringent training, and some rare surviving Thrones Mechanicum still hold memories from the earliest times of the House, filled with the ghostly whispers of long dead dragon slayers.
The Knights of House Griffith use Knight Errant armour almost exclusively, as that exo-suit's powerful Thermal Cannon befits them as close-range combat specialists. Such is their aggressive nature, however, that many of Griffith's Knights eschew the use of ranged weaponry in battle altogther unless absolutely necessary, preferring instead to charge forwards and strike down their foes with Reaper Chainswords in glorious combat. The motto of House Griffith is "Honour and Fury, Courage and Strength."
- "I have fought across a score of worlds in the Emperor’s name. I have slaughtered traitors, xenos and heretics for the honour of my house. I have known glorious victory… and painful defeat. Yet I shall never tire, never cease and never relent, for ours is a duty that will never end."
- —Lady Karina Griffith
Founded by the great Lord Nathaniel Griffith in the 24th Millennium during the Age of Technology, House Griffith has a long and glorious history boasting some of the finest warriors ever to sit on the Throne Mechanicum. The elite cadre of Griffith Nobles can trace its illustrious ancestry back to a time when their forefathers rode horses into battle against the great winged dragons of their homeworld, fighting desperate battles against the terrible beasts.
In their first years on the volcanic world of Dragon's End, the early human settlers lacked the means to make use of their Knight STCs, unable to mine the components to craft the adamantium required to fabricate the walkers. In their place, genetically-engineered steeds were used, fashioned to survive in the harsh atmosphere of the world with filer-lungs and nictating membranes over their eyes. Astride these mounts the knights, clad in baroque armour of techno-plate crafted from locally-mined obsidian and beast-faced rebreathers, would do battle. The mightiest of their number was Nathaniel, who slew three dragons with his dragonbone lance before eventually becoming House Griffith's inaugural ruler. Even though the production of the Knight suits enabled the Nobles to finally overcome the dragons, they never forgot the more visceral martial skills they had mastered.
To this day, Griffith's Knights are amongst the very deadliest in battle. Though those times are long gone, just like the reptilian beasts of Dragon's End themselves, the Nobles still test their fighting skills against each other on horseback, each one a great warrior both in and out of his Knight armour. The result is a House of consummate bladesmen, each one deadly in close quarters with a Reaper Chainsword and more than capable of besting war machines many times their own size with a flurry of devastating thrusts and cuts.
House Griffith is one of the Imperium's greatest knightly houses, despite being one of the smallest in number with less than fifty Knights at its disposal. In honour of the cavalry formations that once battled the dragons of their ancient homeworld, House Griffith refers to a household detachment of its Knights as a "lance." Indeed, the Knights of House Griffith crave such melee combat, and have earned a bloody reputation for aggressiveness in battle, charging quickly into their foes and rending them to scraps.
Dragon's End, Land of Beasts and Fire
Dragon's End, the Knight World inhabited by House Griffith, is a bleak and blasted place, where thick sulphurous clouds hide the sun and volcanic mountain ranges cover black stone valleys in an endless rain of ash. Though its crust is rich in rare and precious minerals, Dragon's End borders on the inhospitable; hostile and dangerous for the unprepared. When the first human settlers arrived on the planet they looked around in dismay, for the world was as close to a vision of hell as they could imagine, and seemingly devoid of life.
Unfortunately for these first human colonists there was one kind of beast which thrived in the ash wastes of the world, and which would react violently to these newcomers. Called "dragons" by the humans after the mythical creatures of Old Earth, they were beasts of flame and ash, each one a huge stone-skinned reptile with vast membranous wings. Fed by the very geothermal fire of the world, the dragons spent much of their time wallowing in magma-filled fissures or the boiling caldera of volcanoes, occasionally soaring through ash-choked skies on thermals. The beasts would prove to be both the curse and salvation of the settlers, forcing them to evolve and adapt in unexpected ways just to survive the first terrible years on the new colony.
The Dragon War
In the early years of settlement on Dragon's End humans lived in almost constant fear of attack by dragons. Hidden in the billowing ash clouds that constantly obscured the planet's skies, the beasts would seek out their prey, glowing red eyes occasionally visible in the gloom. So in tune with their surroundings were the beasts that Auspex and Augur were nearly useless in detecting them or following their movements, as the creatures blended into the background heat of the world or vanished into its ash-laden skies. Workers would toil in the near-dark glancing fearfully up at the heavens, while equally nervous sentries held tight their Lasguns, knowing full well how useless the weapons would be in the event of a dragon attack.
Into this oppressive time of fear and dismay came the knights of Griffith, men who had practised the skills of horse and lance during the long voyage from Terra. When no one else would dare venture beyond the high walls and reinforced domes of the settlers' cities, the knights rode out onto the wastes seeking out the foe. Though many fell, their legend grew, as did their understanding of the beasts. A shiny black stone akin to obsidian was mined and fashioned into armour, the knights discovering it had the power to turn dragon fire, and was hard enough to defend against a glancing blow from talon or tooth.
At first the knights had no weapons that could kill a dragon, for even the most powerful guns possessed by the settlers had little effect on the stony hides of the beasts. Energy beams and plasma blasts seemed to wash off the dark scales of a dragon like water, while solid rounds needed to hit an eye or open maw to have even the slightest effect. In time, the knights of Griffith discovered the only sure way to slay a dragon was to pierce its heart, and the only thing strong enough to punch through scale and muscle was the bones of the dragons themselves.
The knights were forced to raid the dragons' graveyards for the bones to fashion into lances, creeping in while the beasts slumbered to plunder the remains of their dead. These were the weakest of the lances made, their shafts pitted by age and worn away by wind and fire. Even so, it allowed the knights to kill their first dragons, and harvest better lances from the remains. Eventually it became a tradition that a knight would carve his lance from the corpse of the first dragon he slew, tempering it in the cooling blood of his kill and carrying it until his demise.
For years the knights fought against the dragons, taking the battle deep into the fiery wastes, and killing scores of the beasts. By the time the first true Knight suits were fabricated using the knowledge contained within the STC database that had accompanied the colonists, House Griffith was well-established and had learned much about fighting dragons. With their new weapons of war the Noble warriors of Griffith were able to devastate their foes. Although the new weapons proved more lethal and adept at the task, the image of the obsidian-armoured knight on horseback would endure as the true symbol of the Dragon War.
After solar decades of dragon slayers eventually drove the beasts to extinction and freed the world of their curse, it left behind a warrior elite within the settlers' society, long before even the whispers of the Throne Mechanicum helped create a feudal society of Nobles. By the time humans had created the mines capable of refining materials like adamantium to make Knight armour, the Nobles who piloted them were already peerless swordsmen and fighters. This strife-filled history has served House Griffith well in its wars against the foes of the Imperium, forging a Noble House unmatched in skill with blade and cannon.
This legacy of knightly virtue and might would soon be writ large upon the stars, and though the Dragon War had taken a heavy toll upon the people of Dragon's End it would prove invaluable in their alliance with the Imperium. When the Nobles of House Griffith talk of their ancestors it is tales of men and women that once fought beasts from horseback. Some rare surviving Griffith Thrones Mechnicum still hold memories from that time, filled with the ghostly whispers of long-dead dragon slayers.
Field of Adamantium
As part of their ancient traditions the Nobles of House Griffith still ride genetically-modified horses and train with lance and blade. Though they have little call to use these archaic skills outside a Knight suit, they still employ them in contests between the local houses. Disputes between Nobles and within families themselves are routinely settled with duels or jousts. First and second sons become able swordsmen and riders, lest younger siblings usurp their position within the family. Equally martial might continued to hold precedent long after the dragons were exterminated, with the fairest maidens and most favourable matches only going to those who can prove themselves in such contests.
Without a doubt the largest tournament on Dragon's End takes place on the Field of Adamantium, where by ancient covenant the families of House Griffith compete for standing. Under dark, cloud-choked skies and across smoking black earth, men and women clad in gleaming adamantium plate armour do battle. Their steeds are genetically augmented to breath the poisonous air of the field as it streams from fissures in the ground and rolls down from the circling volcanoes.
The Nobles themselves wear beast-faced helms with built-in rebreathers, flared steel nostrils and fanged snouts expelling thick yellow plumes. Combat focuses on the joust, the grand contest at the centre of the tourney, and while lesser events involve melee and marksmanship, it is the joust that draws the attention of the families. Using a complex system of lineage and prestige each Noble is ranked by his skill with the lance and his standing within the societies of Dragon's End. This in turn determines who he is allowed to face and how he might rise or fall within the standing.
Even the ruler of House Griffith, the High King and Grand Master of the Lance, takes part in the annual tournament. The Grand Master of the Lance has the honour of wielding the reforged Lance of Nathaniel in the jousting tournament on the Field of Adamantium. Intricately carved from the femur of a great dragon, this weapon dates back over fifteen standard millennia, and is the most revered relic of House Griffith. On the Field of Adamantium, Nobles joust against one another from horseback in the manner of their ancient forebears. The lances are dangerously sharp, but instead of wearing the obsidian armour of old, each Noble dons full adamantium plate armour to avoid injury.
For the citizens of Dragon's End the regular tournaments are a central part of their culture, providing a brief and violent escape from the drudgery of the agri-subfarms or scar-mines. The crash of steel lance on adamantium armour or the crunch of bones breaking when rider and horse are sent tumbling to the ground are always met with cheers. From atmosphere-shielded stands people will wave banners, cry out insults and encouragement or even hurl tokens at the field, the tournaments being the one place where the citizens are allowed to vent their true emotions, unchecked by the rituals and strict forms of a neo-feudal society.
The names and heraldry of favoured Nobles are well known to the common people, their fame leading to the creation of shrines and statues in their honour where prayers will be made for their good fortune at the joust. Grand Master of the Lance Bryce, the current lord of House Griffith, made his name in this way for unseating a dozen warriors in a single day of contest, and hundreds of shrines still bear his likeness, the people praying to the Emperor for his good fortune.
For centuries the wastes of Dragon's End have rung with the clash of mighty adamantium blades and echoes to the thunder of Battle Cannons as the Knights of House Griffith test their skills against each other in sacred tournament. Many of these contests are undertaken in suits of Knight armour, where a Noble will be measured by his speed or bladesmanship and how well he can control his war machine in battle. In these sparring matches alacrity of thought is paramount if a falling Reaper Chainsword or hurtling cannon shell is to be avoided.
However, not all the knightly trials are concerned with mental grace and skill at arms alone. Some require endurance and, of equal importance, luck. The Rain of Fire incorporates both of these. The scions of the house will haul a seismic charge into the burning mountains above the chosen trial grounds, ancient machines and raw muscle heaving it into place above one of the range's smouldering volcanic rifts.
When the Knights signal their readiness, the charge is dropped into the rift to explode deep within the magma river that flows beneath. Centuries of this kind of geological abuse means that the results are always unpredictable and spectacular as the earth heaves in anger and flaming debris is spewed forth in all directions. The Knights will then duel under this onslaught, their Nobles fighting to keep their war machines balanced and to angle their Ion Shields against both their opponents and the rain of flaming rock, each Noble struggling to keep their footing as the ground bucks and breaks under the adamantium feet of their Knight suit. Other knightly houses are scornful of such reckless use and endangerment of precious Knight suits, though House Griffith's Nobles know that it is only through the greatest adversity that true warriors are forged.
The Megasaur is often cited as the real reason for the dragons' aggression toward the settlers. Herds of the huge reptilian beasts were once common on Dragon's End, their thick black hides and mineral-rich stone-blood coveted by the early settlers. Unfortunately for the humans, the Megasaur were also the principle prey of the dragons. Many of the first domed cities of Dragon's End included pens and slaughterhouses where captured Megasaurs would grow to maturity on a diet of refined mineral waste, before being butchered for their bones, blood and skin.
These enclosures of great numbers of Megasaurs attracted dragons, the winged beasts ripping their way into the pens to get at the already fattened prey within. In addition to harvesting the beasts, the Knights of House Griffith would use the Megasaur as bait, stalking out a braying beast in the wild to attract dragons. In the end, centuries of exploitation and culling eventually reduced the Megasaur population to a fraction of its former size, those few that survived doing so in captivity.
The extensive mines created by hundreds of years of human settlement on Dragon's End also robbed the Megasaur of its main food source, those regions once rich in sustaining minerals reduced to wastelands of fire and ash. Even so, the Megasaur still has a place in the tournaments and games of Dragon's End, House Griffith keeping its own stock of the beasts just for this purpose.
- The Dragon Slain (993.M41) - Segmentum Command dispatches a relief force to evacuate the world of Yorvith before it can be overrun by Hive Fleet Kraken. At their head ride a lance of Knights Errant from House Griffith, whose thunderous charge scatters the xenos swarms around Solartis spaceport. As battle rages and refugees flood aboard the evacuation ships, a Trygon erupts from the ground and winds itself around Sir Brannach's Knight. The noble Knight wrestles with the mighty bio-horror amid showers of sparks, before jamming his Thermal Cannon between its jaws and vapourising its skull in a spray of ichor. The evacuation voidcraft take to the skies just solar minutes later, Griffith's Knights limping aboard the last ship moments before its ramp slams shut.
Notable House Griffith Knights
- Fires of Valour - Knight Errant of Lord Bryce, High King and Grand Master of the Lance of House Griffith
- Unending Glory - Knight Gallant of Baron Rhodoks, Kingsward to High King Bryce.
- Bane of Iron - Knight Valiant of Lady Natanya.
- Lance of Flame - Knight Paladin of Tristor.
- Dragon's Lament - Knight Errant of Rarthanis.
- The Last Dragon Slayer - Knight Paladin of Draekos XXIII.
- Hound Sinister - Armiger Helverin of Bondsman Edmane.
- Hound Dextra - Armiger Warglaive of Bondsman Saris.
Notable House Griffith Personnel
- Nathaniel Griffith - Founder of House Griffith, Nathaniel Griffith fought with valour in the Dragon Wars. Slaying the great and ancient dragon Alvirax, he was the first to master the dragonbone lance.
- Paladus Griffith - Grand Master of the Lance and High King of Dragon's End, Paladus Griffith took the oath of allegiance to the Emperor of Mankind in 981.M34, his Knight House joining the burgeoning human Imperium of Mankind as part of the Questor Imperialis. Dragon's End celebrated with a Grand Tournament that lasted a whole Terran year.
- Bryce - The Grand Master of the Lance, Bryce is the current High King of House Griffith, who embodies the bravery and valour of his forebears and has proven his right to lead countless times.
- Baron Rhodoks - Baron Rhodoks is the Kingsward to High King Bryce, the ruler of House Griffith. It is his duty to protect his liege lord at all times, whether armoured for war or at court. Not once during Rhodok's many years of service has Bryce ever been harmed, a clear sign of both his ward's skill at arms and his dedication. Like many Nobles of House Griffith, Rhodoks believes that war should be conducted up close and personal and that long-ranged firefights are not only dishonourable, but intensely dull. As such, he marches to battle in a Knight Gallant, a suit equipped almost exclusively for close-quarter engagements with a Thunderstrike Gauntlet on one arm and Reaper Chainsword on the other. Rhodok's only concession is the Stormspear Rocket Pod mounted atop his carapace, which he finds useful for "clearing away the chaff." Once a knightly vassal to another baronial lord of the house, Rhodoks earned his own title for his heroism and bold assaults. On Calagin III he single-handedly brought a Traitor Feral-class Scout Titan to its knees following a daring charge across open ground. While on the scrapworld of Lorix he claimed three Gorkanaut kills in a single battle. To his fellow Knights, Rhodoks is seen as a paragon of war. To the Departmento Munitorum he's a reckless, unpredictable logistical nightmare. They have to concede, though, he gets the job done.
- Draekos - Draekos was a Noble who grew to adulthood in a time when the first Knight combat walkers were at last taking to the field on Dragon's End. By this time, it was believed that the dragons were all gone, though this young House Griffith Noble would not accept this and dreamed of following in the footsteps of his forebears. The stories of Draekos among the warriors of House Griffith are many and varied, telling of his adventures as he wandered the wastes of Dragon's End. Eventually, Draekos came upon the last dragon, a vast and ancient beast that had survived for centuries far from human settlements, its growth unchecked by hunters or Knights. Draekos raised his blade and charged. Despite suffering horrific damage to his Knight the Noble did not falter, and at the last, he impaled the creature on his Reaper Chainblade. Victorious, Draekos carried the creature's skull back to his keep, where it still hangs to this day. Draekos' legacy was to be the "Dragon Lance," a cadre of elite Knights drawn from his descendants. Today his gene-son Draekos XXIII pilots his Knight, the Last Dragon Slayer, and leads this formation of Griffith Nobles in wars across the Imperium.
- Leaum Griffith - Leaum became the longest running champion of the Field of Adamantium in 531.M32, defeating all challengers for over twenty standard years in a row.
- Rarthanis - A notable House Griffith Knight, Rarthanis was a part of Rogue Trader Dragolos' expedition to Posidac IV, one of seven artificial worlds orbiting a captured star. While investigating an ancient sunken underwater city, Rarthanis encountered ancient and corroded metallic Automata that had slumbered, trapped long ago, since the Age of Strife. In the aftermath of the subsequent battle, Rarthanis helped Dragolos plunder the sunken city, and the Rogue Trader returned to the Imperium, his holds heavy with ancient technology.
- Tristor - Tristor was among a contingent of Knights from House Griffith that took part in the Siege of Ironmorn, a solar decade-long battle for the world of Erokan, fighting the Cythor Cult and their Iron Warriors overlords. The Cadian 1742nd Regiment had spent years cleansing Erokan of Heretic fortifications, as the Chaos Cult had transformed the planet into a maze of trenches and keeps. The greatest of the Traitor defences was the Ironmorn, a towering edifice built around the former Planetary Governor's palace and reinforced by the twisted artifice of the Iron Warriors. Tristor and his fellow Knights were assigned to break into the Ironmorn, and end the siege in a single bloody assault. It was Tristor who opened the way for the Imperial assault that would eventually take the fortress.
- Lady Karina Griffith - Karina Griffith is a renowned Knight pilot of the house.
- Lady Natanya - Lady Natanya pilots the immense Knight Valiant known as Bane of Iron, whose Machine Spirit is amongst the most aggressive of all House Griffith's hunting steeds. Natanya herself is strong-willed and courageous, the only Noble ever to fully break the unruly Bane of Iron to their command. Natanya has harnessed her war engine's natural ferocity and destructive power, and now specialises in providing devastating close-range fire support to her comrades in the field. Griffith's fine tradition of monster hunting has found a worthy proponent in Lady Natanya, who excels in obliterating the Daemon Engines of the Heretic Astartes. She was amongst the Knights seconded to Roboute Guilliman's Indomitus Crusade, and soon proved her valour by protecting her Ultramarines allies with her Knight's crackling Ion Shield while annihilating heretical war machines one after another with pinpoint fire. Natanya has shared an honour-bond with the sons of Ultramar ever since.
- Bondsman Edmane - An honoured Bondsman serving the famed Sir Tarthin, Edmane flushes his master's quarry from cover in his Armiger Helverin Hound Sinistor.
- Bondsman Saris - Bondsman Saris uses her Armiger Warglaive's firepower to scatter the foe in panic, the better for Sir Tarthin to hunt.
House Honourifics and Titles
Although all Knight Worlds have similar feudal societies, local factors and other external influences meant that the exact nature of these emergent cultures varied somewhat between worlds. Nowhere is this more evident than in the names utilised by the knightly houses for their ranks, battle formations and even their strongholds.
The ruler of House Griffith and High King of Dragon's End, for example, bears the rather pretentious honorific of "Grand Master of the Lance." None, however, would dare claim that Griffith's current ruler, Bryce Griffith, does not merit such a grandiose title, for his skill in battle is legend across the galaxy. Battle formations of Knights are also prone to utilise honourific titles. In honour of the cavalry formations that once battled the dragons of their ancient homeworld, House Griffith refers to a household detachment of its Knights as a "lance."
The proud heraldry of House Griffith incorporates the traditional colours of tan, cyan blue, white and red.
The heraldry of House Griffith owes much to its founding ruler, the great Knight Nathaniel Griffith. It was he who chose the crest of his house, which depicts the great dragon Alvirax holding the broken lance with which Nathaniel slew him. Even the livery worn by Griffith's Knights is in honour of the legendary dragonbone lance Nathaniel wielded. It is the preeminent symbol of the house and embodies the valour and bravery of the first Knights of House Griffith. To this day, the ruler of House Griffith, the Grand Master of the Lance, bears a stylised lance emblem on his Knight suit in Nathaniel's honour. The other side of their house crest features a demi-Aquila displayed on a field of black, symbolising the Imperium which they serve as a house of the Questor Imperialis.
In 531.M32, Leaum Griffith became the longest running champion of the Field of Adamantium, defeating all challengers for over twenty standard years in a row. The Griffith coat of arms was changed at this time in recognition of such a valorous deed, which now included a Knight's helmet above the shield, the house's name on a scroll centred below the shield, and six pollaxes behind the shield.
In 981.M34, Grand Master of the Lance Paladus Griffith took the oath of allegiance to the Emperor of Mankind. Without any formal ties to a Forge World of the Adeptus Mechanicus, House Griffith's crest is dominated by a pair of stylised wings to acknowledge its allegiance to the Imperium of Mankind. On one side of the shield the house emblem of a great dragon Alvirax holding the broken lance is proudly emblazoned upon Griffith's traditional field of tan, and on the other side a red demi-Aquila is displayed on a field of sable. This same dual-split is used throughout most Knight House heraldry, in this case, symbolising House Griffith's loyalty which is equally divided between their house and the Imperium.
- Codex: Imperial Knights (8th Edition), pp. 28-29, 90
- Codex: Imperial Knights (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 42-43
- Codex: Imperial Knights (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 6-8, 17, 43 43, 58, 60, 106-107
- The Imperial Knight Companion (6th Edition), pp. 13, 44-53
- White Dwarf Weekly 66 (02 May 2015), "Parade Ground," pp. 54-55