The Brotherhood of Steel relies on a strict hierarchy, where orders flow through the ranks and are carried out without hesitation. The Chain that Binds doctrine is traditionally intended to ensure obedience and conformity among the members of the Brotherhood, maximizing the efficiency of the Brotherhood as a war machine.Members of the Brotherhood are divided into distinct classes, each with a function of their own. The actual organization of the classes themselves and the ranks varies, typically by geographic region.
All members are subject to the same body of laws, at least in theory. Even Elders may be dismissed for violating the Brotherhood's charter or laws, such as destroying technological devices without due cause, violating the Chain that Binds, or murdering a fellow member. Due to the requirement for Elders to set an examples, Elders may also be stripped of their position if allowing them to retain it would compromise the morale or integrity of a given chapter. In practice, the law is selective and for example, High Elder John Maxson could issue direct orders to the Vault Dweller, an Initiate, without consequences. Elder McNamara's violation of the Chain that Binds have also gone unnoticed, due to chapter ignorance of large parts of the doctrine.
The early years saw the implementation of a provisional rank system, including a completely new ideology to replace the old loyalties of Brotherhood's members. Maxson's goals in inventing a new tradition and mythology for the Brotherhood were two-fold: First, they would ensure that members of the Brotherhood would be stripped of their ties to the pre-War military and government, ensuring that any surviving general or politician would not be able to invoke their oaths and use them to eg. unleash nuclear devastation on the world again (as was the case with Col. Ellen Santiago and Sec. Thomas Eckhart in Appalachia). Second, it would give the survivors an idea to believe in, something they could dedicate themselves to and fining meaning in their lives after nuclear fires burned away their families, friends, everything. Inspiration came from the fall of the Western Roman Empire, when knights and scribes kept the fire of civilization going after the empire imploded. By June 20, 2082, all members under his command switched over to using Brotherhood ranks and practices, both in New California and Appalachia.
As the initial founders of the Brotherhood were predominantly military personnel, the Brotherhood used Army ranks for several years, and even once the new ranks were implemented, civilian auxiliaries were treated with a certain degree of patronizing contempt. It wasn't until Maxson formulated the doctrine of preserving human progress that they were accepted as equal members of the order, with the provisional rank of Scribe formalized as a distinct, separate class.
One of the notable peculiarities of this early model was the rank of Squire, granted to new recruits regardless of age. Although the response to the new system was mostly positive - though some expressed reservations, especially among veterans of elite units like the Rangers - calling grown men and women using a term referred to young nobles, children, really, was considered insulting by ranking members. Senior Knight Ted Wilson persuaded Maxson to change it, although the modifications weren't introduced by the time Appalachia was cut off from the West.
The structure of the early years was modified and expanded to accommodate the growing numbers of the Brotherhood, culminating in the creation of what is best termed the old or classic model. It is the oldest stable type of organization, followed by the founding chapter at Lost Hills and affiliated chapters, such as the Mojave chapter.
- Initiates are the youngest and/or least experienced members of the Brotherhood, whose sole purpose is training and learning to become a valued member of either the Knights or the Scribes. Initiates are first promoted to senior initiates, and later to Apprentices in their chosen Order: Knights or Scribes. After completing their training, Apprentices are promoted to Journeyman Knights or Scribes.
- Scribes are scientists, responsible for researching and reverse engineering recovered technologies, maintaining the Brotherhood's scientific knowledge, and even experimenting with new ones (though the Brotherhood's focus on preservation means this is rather rare). Scribes rarely leave the safety of the bunkers, but they are sometimes called into the field to examine a piece of technology or perform a task beyond the skills of the Brotherhood soldiers. Due to their stationary duties, Scribes typically staff medical facilities, responsible for intensive and long-term care of Brotherhood members.
- Knights are the craftsmen and foot soldiers of the Brotherhood. They maintain the Brotherhood's stockpile of technology, repair and providing technical services where they are needed, as well as producing new weapons to replenish stocks and provide trading goods. Knights also perform patrols, scouting assignments, and support Paladins in offensive operations. Those that focus on combat training may be eligible to become Paladins, the protectors of the Brotherhood.
- Paladins are the primary combat force of the Brotherhood, in charge of all security and outside activities. Equipped with the best military technology the Brotherhood has to offer, they are some of the most fearsome foes in the wasteland. The ranks of the Paladins are reinforced by promoting exceptional Knights and it's generally impossible to become a Paladin any other way. Notably, while power armor was reserved for Paladin use in the first century of the Brotherhood's existence, the restrictions were relaxed over the decades, allowing Knights and in extreme cases even Initiates to use power armor (usually older models, such as the T-45).
- Elders are the highest ranking members of the Brotherhood, its leaders and decision makers, determining everything from meals to the course of campaigns. Typically, only Paladins are eligible to become Elders, but exceptions can be made for extraordinary members of other branches. Regardless of their branch of service, Elders are elected into the council by its members, with its head, the High Elder, also elected by the council. The candidate can turn down the offer: Out of the first four High Elders, three belonged to the Maxson lineage, but there is no requirement for the council to propose the position to a member of the bloodline.
The Lyons model was introduced in the D.C. Bunker (the Citadel) in response to the challenges encountered in the Capital Wasteland and opening up the ranks to local recruitment. Lyons' representativesregularly made recruitment runs in the Capital Wasteland, sponsoring volunteers for induction into the Brotherhood ranks. The formation of the Outcasts in 2276 forced Lyons to suspend the sponsorship program and accept recruits as they came, leading to an influx of unskilled, but overzealous soldiers into the ranks.
- Squires are children born into the Brotherhood of Steel begin their training, and indoctrination, as Squires. Under Lyons' command, the only Squire at the Citadel was the young Arthur Maxson.
- Initiates are the youngest and/or least experienced members of the Brotherhood. Although their usual purpose is training and learning to become a valued member of either the Knights or the Scribes, manpower shortages forced Lyons to deploy them in combat roles - with predictably disastrous results.
- Scribes are scientists, responsible for researching and reverse engineering recovered technologies, maintaining the Brotherhood's scientific knowledge, and even experimenting with new ones (though the Brotherhood's focus on preservation means this is rather rare). There are three Scribe orders within the Brotherhood, focusing on different types of technology: the Order of the Sword (offensive), the Shield (defensive), and the Quill (civilian). One major difference from the Old Model is that Scribes are also responsible for research and engineering activities of the Brotherhood.
- Knights and Paladins are responsible for security, logistics, and combat operations, forming a single, continuous hierarchy, which reflects Lyons' professed proactive focus. While power armor was reserved for Paladin use in the first century of the Brotherhood's existence, the restrictions were relaxed over the decades, allowing Knights and in Lyons' case, even Initiates to use power armor (usually older models, such as the T-45).
- Elder is the highest ranking member of the chapter, its leader and decision maker, determining everything from meals to the course of campaigns. Elder Owyn Lyons received a field promotion to the rank of Elder and remained at the head of the chapter for over twenty years, until his death circa 2278.
The Eastern division represents an evolution of the Lyons Model, adapted to the greatly expanded reach and power of the Brotherhood in the East.
First of all, the Brotherhood actively recruits wastelanders, in stark contrast to western chapters. Elder Arthur Maxson continued Lyons' practice, including and expanding sponsorship: All adult recruits have to be sponsored by existing Brotherhood members (usually Paladins), who would travel with them and teach them the ideals of the Brotherhood and train them in combat. To this end, active members can field promote recruits to Initiate rank, but the rank and subsequent promotions have to be confirmed by the Elder at the earliest possible opportunity. However, while the member can retract their sponsorship, once the rank is confirmed by the Elder, only the Elder can dismiss the sponsored party from the organization. Those born into the Brotherhood receive the rank of Squire and on becoming an Initiate will then join one of the services, much like those who have been sponsored and recruited.
There are 3 main paths an initiate can take: Ground combat (Knights and Paladins), air combat (Lancers), or research and engineering (Scribes).
- The ground combat path begins with the rank of Initiate, who then becomes an Aspirant. After completing their training (or initiation), the Aspirant becomes a full Knight and receives the right to wear power armor. The Knight then continues their work and training to attain Knight command ranks and then become a Paladin. Knights comprise the bulk of the Eastern division's ground force and are the backbone of their military. Paladins are veterans who represent the most powerful ground soldiers the Brotherhood has at its disposal. They are also expected to be a symbol of integrity and set an example for other troops. Paladins are usually deployed as field commanders or head special operations in the field, such as reconnaissance or delicate tech recovery. The eastern division of the Brotherhood also retains a special rank: Sentinel. It is is a rare and illustrious rank given to the east coast brotherhoods most distinguished and experienced soldiers. Those who posses this rank do not require orders and usually conduct operations at their own discretion, answering directly to the Elder, however, one previously served under Arthur Maxson.
- The air combat path is a new addition to the Brotherhood hierarchy. Its members are granted Lancer ranks, and are responsible for piloting the Prydwen and the Brotherhood's fleet of VB-01 and VB-02 Vertibird gunships. The ranking structure is similar to that of the ground combat path knights, although the rank of Lancer-Captain is the highest rank. Several Lancer-Captains are stationed in the Commonwealth and can be found aboard the Prydwen or piloting Vertibirds, but they report to Lancer-Captain Kells who is the second in command to Elder Arthur Maxson and captain of the Prydwen.
- The research and engineering path consists of those who pursue the path of a Scribe. Scribes are split into three distinct Orders: the Order of the Sword, the Order of the Shield, and the Order of the Quill, which are responsible for the research and maintenance of weapons, the research and maintenance of armor and for history, record keeping and non-combat technology respectively. Each order is led by a Proctor who consults with the Head Scribe and the Elder on certain issues. Unlike the western chapters or Lyons, the Eastern division also assigns Scribes to field operations. Field Scribes are trained in rudimentary combat to bolster their skill set and make them a powerful asset to any Brotherhood unit in the field.
All members of the Brotherhood answer to the Elder. An Elder is either voted in by the chapter or promoted by the Elder council from Lost Hills. As of 2287 the elder of the East Coast Chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel is Elder Arthur Maxson, descendant of Roger Maxson, the founder of the Brotherhood.
Ranks in the Eastern Brotherhood of Steel