Societal/ Cultural
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ID: 2096


December 24, 2005, 9:40 am

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Adventurer Guilds


An adventurer guild is a way to provide plot hooks, motivation and social context for such a weird and diverse group of people known as “adventurers”. It can can offer interesting options, in-game and out-of-game.

What are your experiences with Guilds of this kind?

I try to start one in my setting and gaming club. On the one side the people being very irregular, on the other the need to test a new game system.

The first step is to create player characters of whatever kind we desire to. Some are for personal use, some for special purposes, and some simply for fun, creating a “database” of PCs available to use. Whenever there is a need or idea of a new PC, we create another.

Now, for an adventure can gamers choose any PC off the stack. Whenever they come, they can instantly have a ready-made character to game with. No need to spend lots of time with thinking of and creating a completely new character, the skills, motivation, and everything else. (Also, it is easier to check them by the Game Master beforehand…)

(Note: it doesn’t hurt if new PCs are designed slightly incomplete, so the first players can tweak them to heart’s content.)

The in-game explanation is the local lord trying to get the adventurers under control… and the grave-robbers. So anyone endulging in certain oft-suspicious activities must have membership, and is thus easier to identify. The “heroes” get to hang out with their peers, Guild providing some legal protection, and access to training. There is in-game pressure for the PCs to behave somewhat, and they have to be actually designed for wanting to join the Guild for some reason - no totally asocial characters that don’t belong anywhere and don’t want anything.

Now whenever the authorities have some problem they don’t want to solve personally, there is a solution: either the problem is solved, or a few troublemakers die. Situation did improve. ;)

Thus the PCs (whatever their motives to adventure) concentrate where the plots come to them.

Some typical plots

  • dungeoneering - yup, the classic “there’s a hole down there, explore it!” - research/looting, find object, kill vermin
  • FedEx adventures - deliver or intercept the message and similar
  • village/people in need - curses, infestations, undead and more
  • assist caravan - guide or guard
  • guard/bodyguard - something/body is in danger of theft/attack/murder; best with a time limit
  • detective work - clues lead to a crime or something strange, or a suspect needs to prove being innocent
  • fight bandits - ... no comment
  • hunt down fake/unregistered adventurers, rogue wizards, etc.
  • headhunting, other mercenary work
  • get rare ingredient/creature/plant or aid in research otherwise
  • assist religious pilgrims
  • ...

And given these and others self-offering plots, the Guild could fulfill the dream of a tired GM… letting the players run a game now and then.

Also, a Guild can easily support one as well as many groups, and missing players are not such a big problem, even mid-adventure (“Well, we needed your character in the story, and there was this other guy who wanted to play.”)


Additional Ideas (4)

A guild is an association of people of the same trade or pursuits, formed to protect mutual interests and maintain standards of morality or conduct. Historically they were small business associations, since each crafter was a self-employed individual artisan or part of a small craft shop or co-operative.

Regulated professions were a feature of the ancient and classical world. The Code of Hammurabi specified a death penalty for builders, or masons, whose buildings fell on the inhabitants. Hammurabi himself had been a stonemason, so this could be considered an early example of self-regulation. The Hippocratic Oath applies to this day as the basis of the modern physicians' ethical code.. In Egypt it was illegal for someone to practice a profession they were not part of the guild for. In fact, it was included on your passport (which was required for travel anywhere within Egypt- the world's first police state). People's rank and position were based upon their profession. Since rank and position are a very important thing to these early civilization, as maintaing power and position was important to those in charge... and that trickled down to others. The stratification of society helped keep early society organized and focused, allowing them to do their early great works. In another, more pragmatic, view, it also determined your tax burden.

In the Early Middle Ages most of the Roman craft organizations, formed as religious confraternities, had disappeared with the apparent exceptions of stonecutters and perhaps glassmakers. The early egalitarian communities called "guilds" (for the gold deposited in their common funds) were denounced by Catholic clergy for their "conjurations" - the binding oaths sworn among artisans to support one another in adversity and back one another in feuds or in business ventures. Anything that took someone away from the Church's bidings was a threat to its power. (or a threat to the local power structure which supported the Church's power).

By about 1100 European guilds (or gilds) and livery companies had evolved into an approximate equivalent to modern-day business organisations such as institutes or consortiums. They had strong controls over instructional capital, and the modern concepts of a lifetime progression of apprentice to craftsman, journeyer, and eventually to widely-recognized master and grandmaster began to emerge. The appearance of the European guilds is believed to be tied to the emergent money economy, and to urbanization. Before this time it was not possible to run a money-driven organization, as commodity money was the normal way of doing business.

The guild was at the center of European handicraft organization. The guild system reached a mature state in Germany in the Middle Ages, circa 1300. The guilds were identified with organizations enjoying certain privileges (letters patent), usually issued by the king or state and overseen by local town business authorities (some kind of chamber of commerce). These were the predecessors of the modern patent and trademark system.

The medieval guild was offered a letters patent (usually from the king) and held an oligopoly on its trade in the town in which it operated: handicraft workers were forbidden by law to run any business if they were not members of a guild, and only masters were allowed to be members of a guild. Before these privileges were legislated, these groups of handicraft workers were simply called "handicraft associations".

Like their Muslim predecessors, European guilds imposed long periods of apprenticeship, and made it difficult or impossible for those lacking the approval of their peers to gain access to materials or knowledge, or sell into certain markets. These are defining characteristics of mercantilism in economics, which dominated most European thinking about political economy until the rise of classical economics. States applied this thinking, for instance, to restrict the flow of gold and silver to military opponents, as gold was useful to buy weapons and hire mercenaries.

The guilds also maintained funds in order to support infirm or elderly members, as well as widows and orphans of guild members.

Now your guild might not follow the conventional structure. However, if there is a strong "Guild" presence in the community... they may try to enforce Guild structures on the Adventurer's Guild... just so their members don't get any ideas that a different structure might be "possible."

The guild was made up by experienced and confirmed experts in their field of handicraft. They were called master craftsmen. Before a new employee could rise to the level of mastery, he had to go through a schooling period during which he was first called an apprentice. After this period he could rise to the level of journeyman. Apprentices would typically not learn more than the most basic techniques until they were trusted by their peers to keep the guild's or company's secrets.

Some argue that the title journeyman is derived from the itinerant nature of the position. However, it is more likely that the title derives from the French word for 'day' (Jour) from which came the middle English word 'journei'. Journeymen were generally paid by the day and were thus day laborers. After being employed by a master for several years, and after producing a qualifying piece of work, the apprentice attained the rank of journeyman and was given a letter which entitled him to travel to other towns and countries to learn the art from other masters. These journeys could span large parts of Europe and were an unofficial way of communicating new methods and techniques.

(Now most of your guild will be Journeymen.)

After this journey and several years of experience, a journeyman could be elected to become a master craftsman. This would require the approval of all masters of a guild, a donation of money and other goods, and in many practical handicrafts the production of a so-called masterpiece, which would illustrate the abilities of the aspiring master craftsman.

(Masters would be your instructors or the people allowed to "lead" teams. )

So your guild should to the following:
Hire: They act as your brokers for given commissions.

Ransom: People should be able to surrender and say "don't kill me, I have a 200 gold ransom from the adventurer's guild

Ranking and social position: Now your adventurer fits into the scheme of things, rather than being an unaffiliated rabblerouser (Most areas should be forcing Adventurers out, like they do Gypsies and other itinerate waunders).

Banking: Keeps money for the adventurer while they are "out" so they don't have to cart it around. If there are several Guild Houses, you might be able to do a "bank transfer" between them.

Healing: They should have in house healers.

Housing (or at least a place to flop): It might not be much, but it will be better than letting them sleep on the street (OR force their way into someone's house).

Training: Members can train each other and injured members can train new ones.

Legal Protection: (And you better have your guild license/ token/ paperwork, or else you are sooooo in trouble).

Death Benefits, Retirement, and Widow/orphan fund: Everybody generates a small amount of their guild fees to the designated recepient.

2005-12-24 09:42 AM » Link: [2096#10129|text]
All good points MoonHunter. I know now into what it will probably evolve.

If it is a starting Guild, it has all the fun of Guild conflicts before itself. And lots of mistakes, too... with a few swindlers stealing their coffers.

2005-12-24 09:43 AM » Link: [2096#10130|text]
The Police Academy Effect

If there is a place for oddballs to go... then oddballs will go there.

Until that point, anyone who wanted to become a hero (a diagnosis in itself) could simply crawl into some hole to be eaten, or go into the army, and die on the battlefield.

But now, there is a place for all those less then perfect warriors, stuttering magicians, and complete idiots that want a new start. There are people that will train them, they hope, and get nice jobs that bring lots of money and fame... adding incompetent candidates on the list. :twisted:

Plot option: a younger brother wants to get the inheritance the smart way, hiring a few adventurers to bamboozle his older brother to go after his childhood desires... and occupy him long enough until Father decides to disinherit him.

2005-12-24 09:46 AM » Link: [2096#10133|text]
An adventurer's guild would likely keep large quantities of adventuring supplies, available for purchase or rent. The guild could aid adventurers in acquiring rare equipment, or that which would be frowned upon by the local populace (no more raiding the cemetaries!) Maps in particular will be a very common commodity.

Also, most guilds are going to require dues. These could be percentages of the commissions, simple annual or monthly dues, or percentages of the take. The dues would likely be very high, as being an adventurer is a dangerous line of work (they probably have to support a lot of widows, not to mention paying for ransoms, legal support, and everything else mentioned above. In a world where resurrection and/or reincarnation are relatively common, the guild will likely have a responsibility to pay for those as well.

2005-12-24 09:48 AM » Link: [2096#10135|text]
The thought occurs to me as I read the last post that to avoid such ghastly costs and such within the guild, there would most likely be regulations set up to handle such issues. Exempli gratia...

You read the guild charter, and amongst all the benifits listed appears a small section on that dreadful subject no adventurer likes to consider. Death. "Each member of the guild, having a spouse and/or children shall be a member of the guild for at least a year before the guild shall undertake to support those reliants in the instance of said member's death."

What does this mean? Basically, the guild ain't responsible for those you leave behind if you haven't been in the guild long enough to learn the proper techniques to survive and pay a decent amount of dues. This covers those foolish apprentices who think they can do anything and not worry about the consequences. Pay attention in class indeed!

Also, by nature most adventurers wouldn't have spouses or children just yet; getting married might itself be a guild regulated thing. Sure you're a valuable asset. If we let you get married, now we're competing with someone else for your skills and attention, not to mention if you're out on a mission and you start thinking about home instead of your goal.

2005-12-24 09:49 AM » Link: [2096#10136|text]
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Comments ( 6 )
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December 24, 2005, 9:56
If you will try this, you definitely should take a look at the Adventurer's Guild Contract, and use it outright or adapt to your needs.
Voted KendraHeart
December 27, 2005, 19:23
Nobody I know has utilized this kind of organization. Mercenary companies (who did do a little delving on the side) is the closest I have experienced. It makes life a little easier for everyone, as there is no weaving of characters. Just one excuse for why they joined the outfit. Then everyone is stuck with each other.
February 5, 2007, 12:23
How about a private entreprise of mercenaries a la grey company?

How about a game based on a small guild (10-12 members) which would be more like a group of trouble-shooters-for-hire than a proper guild. Allowing the players to feel that the company for which they work is their own rather than a big brother esqe guild. This also allows for contract work, but the effects is much closer to home.

eg: with this new contract, we'll be able to afford that extension on our Headquarters we always talked about...

(ok, ok, cheesy and cliched, but the idea remains the same, they can work towards goals that they care about more than some international guild. This could in fact be easily represented by guild chapters, if you were so inclined.)
February 5, 2007, 13:07
Actually, this is definitely a way how it could work.

Enterprising PCs may have founded the guild by themselves. Or they have joined, but quickly rised on the top after unlucky incidents have taken out the more experienced members... or that weren't any accidents?

Anyway, your observation is very valid, and actually closer to what I wanted than what I have written here. Thanks. :)
Voted valadaar
April 3, 2014, 12:23
This is a good fit with the situation - having a stable of characters for players to pull out and ready made hooks works well for getting the PCs into the action, without the need for the careful interweaving that a continuous campaign might have.

It feels a little computer-gamey though.


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