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Knights of the Nine is an official plug-in released by Bethesda for Oblivion. KotN, as it is often abbreviated, is substantially larger than most of the other plug-ins.
Knights of the Nine's central quest begins as the player approaches the Chapel of Dibella in Anvil. The Chapel is the site of a recent attack: its priests and priestesses have been cut down, and its altar desecrated. The player proceeds to consult a local prophet for guidance. The prophet reveals to the player that the man responsible for the attacks is one Umaril, an ancient revenge-seeking Ayleid sorcerer-king. Umaril, the prophet states, may only be defeated by a divinely-favored Crusader bearing the relics of the man who had first killed him, Pelinal Whitestrake. Although he had killed Umaril's body, Pelinal had not finished the job; he had not destroyed Umaril's spirit. The player pledges to the prophet that he will quest for the relics and destroy Umaril completely, accomplishing what Pelinal The Crusader had failed to do.
The player commences on a journey to retrieve the relics, completing a pilgrimage, then embarking on several quests to recover the helmet, boots, mace, shield, gauntlets, greaves, and sword of the Crusaders in succession. Along the way, further characters join the player's quest, re-creating the Knights of the Nine, a faction once pledged to defend the relics, whose former members had since passed on. The relics united, and the Knights reborn, the player sets off to fight Umaril in his temple at Garlas Malatar. The Knights fight and defeat Umaril's minions, and the player slays the mortal body of Umaril. The player then follows Umaril into the spirit realm, and destroys Umaril's soul. Returning to the land of the living, the player is greeted with the grateful cheers of the Knights, praising the gods for their grace.
Knights of the Nine changes little of Oblivion's gameplay: it includes a new quest line, enemies, items and explorable regions, but doesn't change the game's engine, interface or basic design. As such, it is a fantasy-based role-playing adventure game. Players begin Oblivion by defining their character; deciding on its skill set, specialization, physical features, and race. The player gains experience points through the practice of specific skills: gaining archery experience by practicing archery, for example. This goes against standard role-playing game form, where any skill use garners generic experience points that may be put towards any type of specialization. Enemies increase in difficulty as player strengthen their skills, scaling the game's challenge to the player's strength.
Knights of the Nine is an example of open-ended or sandbox-style gameplay: the main quest may be delayed or completely ignored as the player explores the game world, follows side quests, interacts with NPCs, and develops a character according to their taste. Furthering the goal of open-ended gameplay, Knights of the Nine, unlike Bethesda's prior content packs for Oblivion, begins with no explicit prodding towards the newly introduced content; players must seek out and find the game's quest without external aid. Quests
Unlike most of the official plug-ins, this plug-in adds multiple quests. Also, a quest is not immediately added to your list of current quests when you first install the plug-in. The new quests are:
- Pilgrimage: Complete the Pilgrimage of the Nine Divines to show that you are worthy.
- The Shrine of the Crusader: Retrieve the Helm of the Crusader from Pelinal's lost shrine.
- Priory of the Nine: Retrieve the Cuirass of the Crusader from the Priory of the Nine. The following four quests must be completed before Priory of the Nine is considered complete:
- Nature's Fury: Retrieve the Boots of the Crusader from the Shrine of Kynareth.
- The Path of the Righteous: Retrieve the Mace of Zenithar from the Chapel of Zenithar in Leyawiin.
- Wisdom of the Ages: Retrieve the Shield of the Crusader from Fort Bulwark.
- Stendarr's Mercy: Retrieve the Gauntlets of the Crusader from the Chapel of Stendarr in Chorrol.
- The Faithful Squire: Retrieve the Greaves of the Crusader from Lathon.
- The Sword of the Crusader: Retrieve the Sword of the Crusader and reconsecrate it.
- The Blessing of Talos: Obtain the ninth relic: The Blessing of Talos.
- Umaril the Unfeathered: Defeat Umaril and kill him for good, in both the physical and spiritual planes.
The following places will all appear in Tamriel after you install the plug-in. All of them can be discovered without starting any of the plug-in-related quests. However, access to the interiors may be prevented until the appropriate quest has been started.
- Fort Bulwark — A medium fort northeast of Leyawiin containing conjurers (plugin-specific).
- Garlas Malatar — A medium Ayleid ruin northwest of Anvil containing Aurorans (plug-in specific).
- Grove of Trials — An outdoor area west of the Imperial City on the edge of the Great Forest containing one unique bear(plugin-specific).
- Kynareth's Grotto — A small cave west of the Imperial City (plugin-specific).
- Lord Vlindrel's Tower — A tower (no dungeon) southwest of Chorrol (plugin-specific).
- Priory of the Nine — A chapel and priory located southeast of Skingrad (plugin-specific).
- Shrine of Kynareth — An outdoors shrine west of the Imperial City (plugin-specific).
- Vanua — A medium Ayleid Ruin southeast of the Imperial City containing undead (plugin-specific).
Also, some changes are made to existing places:
- The Chapel of Anvil is ruined.
- Gauntlets of the Crusader appear in a corner of the Chapel of Stendarr in Chorrol.
- Lord Vlindrel's tomb and wraith are added to Underpall Cave.
Several new items, many of them leveled, are added to the game with this plug-in. The new items page provides a complete list of these items and their statistics.
The new magical abilities and lesser powers added by this plug-in are detailed on the plug-in's magic page.
Two new factions are added with this plug-in: Pilgrim Rank
This faction actually existed before the plug-in, but previously could not be joined by the player When you begin Pilgrimage, you are given the rank of "Pilgrim" in this faction
Knight Errant RankKnight Commander RankDivine Crusader Rank
Knights of the Nine As you progress through the quests, your rank in the Knights of the Nine faction changes. The possible ranks are "Knight Errant", "Knight Commander" and "Divine Crusader"
Creatures and NPCs
Your Knights of the Nine
At different points, people will arrive at the Priory of the Nine to join.
- Areldur, from the Chapel of Stendarr in Chorrol, is found reading and wants to join the Priory of the Nine.
- Brothers Geimund & Gukimir are found sparring in the practice room and request to become Knights of the Nine.
- Sir Thedret, who has escaped from Fort Bulwark, is found in the dining room and requests to become a Knight of the Nine.
- Sergius Turrianus is found in the basement. He says he heard from his friend, Sir Thedret, that you would need a blacksmith. He will not join you in combat.
- Avita Vesnia, from the shrine to Kynareth, is found in the sleeping area and asks to become a Knight of the Nine.
- Lathon, a companion of Sir Roderic, is found in the entrance. He reveals some plot points, and requests to become a Knight of the Nine.
- Brellin appears in the chapel and requests to become a Knight of the Nine.
- Carodus Oholin, from the Chapel of Zenithar in Leyawiin, is found in the dining room and asks to become a Knight of the Nine.
If any of these knights die during the final quest or after Knights of the Nine has been completed, the named knight is replaced by an anonymous "Knight of the Nine". These knights are not as powerful as the named ones and do not cast magic.
After the quest line is complete, you can ask any of your Knights to follow you, one at a time. There is a known bug caused by asking a knight to follow you before they have actually joined the faction; see the bugs section for details.
- Aron Verethi
- Eris Senim
- Inius Colus
- Sir Amiel
- Sir Berich (Lord Vlindrel)
- Sir Caius
- Sir Casimir
- Sir Gregory
- Sir Henrik
- Sir Juncan
- Sir Ralvas
- Sir Roderic
- Sir Torolf
- The Prophet
- Umaril the Unfeathered
- Forest Guardian
- Lord Berich Vlindrel
- This plug-in seemingly is intended for the Crusader class, or similar types with emphasis on heavy combat and restoration magic.
- It's best to begin this plug-in with a new character, because the loot will last a lifetime (see below).
- The character involved must be and remain a verified saint. Otherwise, you don't get to use the loot. On the other hand, your deeds will probably be remembered in the lore of future Elder Scrolls games.
- If you complete this quest before getting the recommendation for Restoration Master Training, access to the Restoration Master Trainer Oleta will never become available as some key characters perish during this quest.
- The whole point of the plug-in is to acquire a full set of armor and weapons (the Relics). These Relics have powers far beyond their base stats (be sure to read the Items section above). In summary:
- Advantages of Relics
- All are good items for their basic stats.
- The Relics can be leveled up to keep pace with your character, so you really never need to replace them. Besides, this avoids the embarrassment of selling these holy artifacts once you've outgrown them. This is done on the display stand in the basement of the Priory of the Nine.
- The display stand also fully repairs and recharges the Relics, so you don't have to spend any money on that, either.
- The above features remove much of the money-grubbing pressure from your character, allowing you to just have fun without worrying about getting every last arrow back to town to sell.
- The Relics give you a bunch of Lesser Powers that allow you to act like a real saint. You can buff and heal others at a ridiculously low magicka cost, for instance.
- Completion of the quest line (as in acquiring all the relics) makes you a faction head with your own guild hall (Priory of the Nine) and private army of NPCs who will fight with you (1 at a time). Part of the deal is your own chapel with functioning altar. You also get a smith to repair non-Relic items, although he charges normal rates for this.
- Wearing the Relics gives your character a huge boost in the restoration skill.
- Disadvantages to the Relics
- You can only equip the Relics if your Infamy is 1 or less. If your Infamy ever reaches 2 or more, you must repeat the Pilgrimage to a Wayshrine of every deity. This resets your Infamy to 0, allowing you to use the Relics again.
- Items and effects that temporarily increase your Infamy have the same effect. For example, the relics will not equip when the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal is equipped.
It is possible for one of the Knights of the Nine to be stuck permanently following your character if you ask them to follow you at the wrong point in time. Since the knights subject to this bug will also be essential when the bug is triggered, it is impossible to ever get rid of them. The bug occurs if you do the following:
- Complete the entire quest line (up to the point where Umaril is killed) without recruiting all nine knights.
- During Sir Thedret's speech at the end of the Umaril the Unfeathered quest, you approach an unrecruited knight, and at that time simultaneously recruit the knight and ask him to follow you.
To avoid this problem, be sure to recruit the knights either before or after Thedret's speech, and do not ask a knight to follow you immediately after recruiting them.
Once the bug has been triggered, it is not normally possible (other than using the Console) to make the NPC stop following you.
On Xbox 360, one option is to disable the entire Knights of the Nine plug-in, load your saved game and resave it, then re-enable the plug-in. Before doing this, make sure to remove any items stored in the Priory or other locations added by KotN. You will lose all items added by KotN, and you will need to redo the KotN questline from the start. If you have not done the Daedra Quest Molag Bal then you can simply complete that quest while he is following you and he will disappear. PC Only This bug is fixed by the Unofficial Official Mods Patch.
Sometimes a piece of the Crusader Relics will not appear on the stand when you put it on the stand for recharge and repair. If this happens, you can fix the problem by just dropping the item on the ground and picking it up again.
Production, release, and availability
Prior to any announcement regarding Knights of the Nine, Bethesda had pursued a somewhat novel plan to distribute downloadable content through micropayments, priced from US$0.99 to US$2.99, instead of the more common practice of releasing expansion packs. The program was initially met with criticism by customers due to its alleged low value, but later releases—at a reduced price, and with more content—proved more popular. The releases, in addition to stirring controversy, raised questions regarding Bethesda's future content release plans, and as to whether expansion pack releases were necessary at all. In August 2006, one Bethesda employee wrote in a post to Bethesda's Elder Scrolls forums that the company had "no plans to make an expansion for Oblivion". Further questions were raised by a product listing found on game retailer GameStop's website September 11, 2006, listing a Knights of the White Stallion Expansion Pack for Oblivion. The game had a listed shipping date of November 21, 2006 and a US$19.99 asking price. The title was kept on the website only briefly—removed after gaming news site GameSpot sent Bethesda a request for comment on the product.
Knights of the Nine began its life as a supposedly "exclusive" quest for the PlayStation 3 release of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Along with the confirmation of the PlayStation 3 release on October 9, 2006, some gaming news websites reported that the release would contain "a huge, exclusive quest" focusing on "a new faction, The Knights of the Nine". Some reports prefixed "allegedly" onto statements that the release would be exclusive. Suggestions of exclusivity, in any case, did not last long: an October 17, 2006 Bethesda press release announced that Knights of the Nine content was also scheduled for PC and Xbox 360 releases, eliciting commentary from Joystiq remarking on "how finicky" the word 'exclusive' had come to be, and Kotaku remarking on how "Oblivion PS3 content didn't stay exclusive for long... or at all". Other sites saw no incongruence in the announcement: GameSpot assumed that Knights of the Nine was simply the earlier Knights of the White Stallion by a different name, and 1UP.com had anticipated the move ever since an IGN interview with Oblivion's Executive Producer Todd Howard, where Howard had described Bethesda's general aim "to have all our content available across all platforms"; the final announcement served only to confirm their suspicions.
The October 17 press release set November 21, 2006 as the North American distribution date for the Xbox 360 and PC versions of Knights. The European release for the Xbox 360 and PC was set two days later, on November 23. The European release was co-published by Bethesda and Ubisoft. On November 9, 2006, Bethesda clarified earlier statements regarding PC releases, declaring that, although the boxed retail PC edition of Knights of the Nine was set for release on November 21, the PC release downloadable from the company website wouldn't be available until December 4. This caused some consumer complaints, for although the Xbox 360 release was available on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 800 Microsoft Points (the equivalent of US$10.00, or GB£6.80), for the time being, PC owners had only the US$19.99 boxed retail edition of the game. The increased price of the PC's boxed retail release resulted from its inclusion of Oblivion's other downloadable content: Horse Armor, The Orrery, Wizard’s Tower, Vile Lair, Thieves Den, Mehrunes’ Razor, and Spell Tomes. Such content was not included in either the downloadable PC release, the Xbox Marketplace download, or the PlayStation 3 edition of Oblivion. The downloadable release was ultimately issued on December 6 at the price of US$9.99. According to IGN Entertainment's GamerMetrics, a service based on compiled visitor activity information on IGN's website, the pack was the fourth most anticipated release of its release week, following Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas, Superman Returns and College Hoops 2K7.
Knights of the Nine was generally well received in the gaming press. Metacritic, an aggregate review site, scored the PC version of the game with an 81 out of 100, and the Xbox 360 version of the game with an 86 out of 100. GameSpot recommended the game for its value; although it made few improvements over the basic Oblivion experience, Knights of the Nine provides "a good day or two's worth of questing for a low price". Similar comments followed from GamePro, who found that the "polish" and "affordable price" of the pack excused the fact that the pack's content "doesn't really change [Oblivion's] gameplay". Eurogamer praised the game for its memorable plot and new, unique content. They concluded that if "more of the same is what you're after, you can't really argue with what Bethesda's served up for its hardcore fans." The review encouraged caution nonetheless: for if consumers were to fully accept individually priced content releases, Bethesda might just begin charging for all its quests.
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