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Resileaf
2018-06-08, 09:27 AM
As the title asks, what would people characterize an adventurers' guild in a given fantasy setting? Is it a useful, logical organization to arise in a world where people commonly run around handling big monster and rampaging orcs problems, or is it a cliché that would be better replaced by smaller, more focused mercenary groups?

I ask because in my current campaign (a Pathfinder game), the setting has a large, empire-wide adventurers' guild set up in various big cities and crossroads, offering services to adventurers and clients alike, while in my next campaign (which will be a Starfinder one), I plan to have several large organizations serving as corporations or mercenary groups serving as service-givers between adventurers and clients, each with different specialties and themes, and I was pondering how naratively important or relevent those kind of organizations are, and if it would be better to work with something else.

Glorthindel
2018-06-08, 09:50 AM
In a game I played in, the "adventurers guild" was basically just a government taxation / protection racket, that basically formalised the various cities "putting up" with heavily-armed troublemakers hanging out in exchange for a cut of their earnings to pay for repairing the damage that their presence invariably caused. And occasionally they actually provided a useful service (but not often).

Resileaf
2018-06-08, 09:54 AM
Ha! Okay, that's pretty creative. I hope you won't take offense if I keep that idea in mind for later.

CharonsHelper
2018-06-08, 10:03 AM
In a game I played in, the "adventurers guild" was basically just a government taxation / protection racket, that basically formalised the various cities "putting up" with heavily-armed troublemakers hanging out in exchange for a cut of their earnings to pay for repairing the damage that their presence invariably caused. And occasionally they actually provided a useful service (but not often).

There would be the added benefit of their presence being a deterrent to passing monsters. A dragon is less likely to try to burn down your town if there's a decent shot that there is a ranger there who can shoot off dozens of magically explosive arrows a minute and/or a wizard who can magically nuke him out of the sky.

Bohandas
2018-06-08, 10:08 AM
It's lazy if they call it an "adventurer's guild" in-game. That's metagame terminology.

Anymage
2018-06-08, 10:42 AM
On one level it is a bit lazy, but on a more important level you only have a limited amount of mental energy available. Gathering a diverse group of pc types and giving them a reason to undertake adventures is tricky, and patrons are a classic way to do this. If it gets the adventure kicked off and the adventure itself is good, you don't need to worry overmuch about how it started.

S@tanicoaldo
2018-06-08, 10:48 AM
Just call it Mercenaries guild, no one can call themselves "adventurer" as an occupation and expect to be taken seriously.

2D8HP
2018-06-08, 10:52 AM
There's historical precedent (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_company) for them.

narrator667
2018-06-08, 12:17 PM
I had this one DM who completely subverted it. We we're all playing adventure's guild rejects who answered a message from a local baron suspicious of the guild. We we're sent to investigate them. The introduction was long sure, all 6 of us got just two sessions to A. Get the message delivered, B. Decide on whether to go, and C. actually make it there. So worth it though.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-06-08, 03:14 PM
My setting uses a formal Adventurer's Guild (by that name).

It started in a nation that's entirely run by guilds. Each has subsidiaries, each with branches of their own. So there's a guild for everything. The Adventurer's Guild was started by a branch of the major church, as a way to put inconvenient but skilled people to work (and clean up messes easily). The members were convicted criminals given the choice between death and delayed death as an Adventurer. The average lifespan of an Adventurer was about 2 missions.

Then a group of Adventurers (a group of PCs) beat the odds and survived long enough to become powerful. They strong-armed that nation and its neighbors into an international treaty organization (like the UN) and got the Guild moved over to that organization. They still play an active role in the Guild--it's become the muscle of this treaty organization. Though few in number, all the most powerful individuals in the area are part of it or are their allies.

Now it has the formal responsibility to "foster good relationships between the Contracting Parties by pooling capabilities from all nations to help those in need." Unofficially, but more importantly, it keeps a watch on those with potential to become powerful, judging their moral worth. Those who fail the hidden tests get assigned the most dangerous tasks.It trains new Sanctioned Adventurers and equips them. It's funded by taxing the use of a portal network between the nations as well as taking a tithe of the sale value of any non-coin treasure recovered by the SAs. In return, the SAs get legal status in all the nations, partial exemptions from some of the national laws (like the caste laws in one nation), and all the loot they can scavenge.

There are other adventurers (note the lack of capital letters), but they lack the protections and backup of the Guild.

The starting point for my groups (especially the school-based ones) is that the party is a new set of graduates from the Adventurer's Academy, setting off on their first mission.

Jay R
2018-06-08, 06:50 PM
I prefer to consider the PCs to be unusual in what they do.

Most Fighters in my worlds, like most fighters in the Middle Ages, are part of a standing army or in service to some noble. And while there were real mercenaries in the Middle Ages, there was no guild for them. And even if there are guilds, I wouldn't expect a generic adventurers guild.

In London, mercers, grocers, and drapers were all merchants, but each had a separate guild. Similarly, tailors, clothmakers, dyers, haberdashers, cordwainers, and girdlers each had their own guild, even though they are all involved in making clothes.

Similarly, adventurers would not be in the same guild. The clerics with no permanent position might be members of an order of friars. Monks should be connected to some temple. Bards might have a bardic college.

Telok
2018-06-08, 07:19 PM
The next game I run that it's appropriate for will have such a guild. Set up by a bbeg to identify potential heros and get them killed.

Probably involving a suspicously clean and linear dungeon tailored to sucker parties that like to just kill without thinking into making somebasic mistake. Perhaps a room for resting half way through the dungeon with a silent alarm to an intelligent monster.

The Fury
2018-06-08, 08:13 PM
It's lazy if they call it an "adventurer's guild" in-game. That's metagame terminology.


Just call it Mercenaries guild, no one can call themselves "adventurer" as an occupation and expect to be taken seriously.

On both of these points I'd argue that it comes down to the overall tone you're going for in the game. Yeah, if you're going for a serious dark fantasy sort of feel, having one of the player party suggest going to the "Adventurers' Guild" might come off as a little hokey and tonally dissonant. On the other hand, if it's got a lighter feel and isn't meant to be taken that seriously, an Adventurers' Guild might actually fit right in.

It can also depend on how viable "Adventurer" is as a career option in the setting.

Knaight
2018-06-08, 08:21 PM
It's not lazy, but it's one of those setting elements where inclusion says a lot about the specific subgenre of fantasy you're going for. There's a level of generic fantasy to it, where "generic fantasy" is being used as a jargon phrase that applies to a very specific genre of fantasy that doesn't actually fit most fantasy*, and while that's not necessarily a problem it can be limiting.

On the bright side, it's also a clear signal to people who dislike the genre (e.g. me) to steer clear.

*It's not the best thing to happen linguistically, but I'm just recognizing a trend here. Plus it still beats the chutzpah of declaring a period "modernism", only to have to start coming up with new terms once that inevitably became a historic period, such that "modern" got a secondary usage for the early 1900's.

RazorChain
2018-06-08, 08:22 PM
There's historical precedent (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_company) for them.

Haha...so adventurers are a plague upon the land that goes plundering, pillaging and ransoming towns?


The free companies were just brigands and robber knights when they weren't employed.

Knaight
2018-06-08, 08:44 PM
Haha...so adventurers are a plague upon the land that goes plundering, pillaging and ransoming towns?

The term "murder hobo" certainly suggests as much.

2D8HP
2018-06-08, 09:01 PM
Haha...so adventurers are a plague upon the land that goes plundering, pillaging and ransoming towns?


:confused: And your suprised?


free companies were just brigands and robber knights when they weren't employed.

"Scratch a baron, find a bandit"

Keltest
2018-06-09, 09:58 AM
There are probably better names for it than "Adventurer's Guild" or "Mercenary's Guild" but the existence of an organized group of freelance contractors who handle problems of a specific nature is totally plausible. During peacetime when a nation or city-state doesn't have a large standing army, hiring mercenaries to deal with unusual problems like bandits (or monsters, in D&D land) was preferable to uprooting a large number of citizens from their lives, for various reasons.

Mark Hall
2018-06-09, 10:05 AM
It can be two things!

However, decide who they are and what they do. Are they a convenient clearing house for odd jobs? Do they function as an actual guild, offering training and guaranteeing skill and professionalism levels (i.e. if someone is a Master in the Guild, have the put in the years adventuring to handle it)? Are they perhaps a front for another organization? What's their purpose and charter look like?

And, most importantly, do they have a moose head on the wall?

Andor13
2018-06-09, 10:18 AM
It's lazy if they call it an "adventurer's guild" in-game. That's metagame terminology.

Not really, "Adventurer" used to be a synonym for bandit, or highwayman. Seems fitting for the Murderhobo guild. In world, I would assume it started as an ironic appellation, which was embraced and some (the good adventurers) are now trying to redeem.

On topic, it depends on how your setting handles high powered individuals. Every society will need to way to handle them, whether that is channeling them, co-opting them, getting rid of them, or ignoring them until they get powerful enough to take over. It's unlikely that this will be a one size fits all solution, even in a single society, but that doesn't mean you have to get into "Fairytale" like rival guild scenarios. It's a worldbuilding issue, but by definition, one that is influenced by the actions of very powerful individuals, and therefore subject to change in world, like the OP describes.

The Fury
2018-06-09, 11:04 AM
There are probably better names for it than "Adventurer's Guild" or "Mercenary's Guild" but the existence of an organized group of freelance contractors who handle problems of a specific nature is totally plausible. During peacetime when a nation or city-state doesn't have a large standing army, hiring mercenaries to deal with unusual problems like bandits (or monsters, in D&D land) was preferable to uprooting a large number of citizens from their lives, for various reasons.

Right, it makes things pretty convenient for Adventurers and Adventuring Parties too. Are you a party that's looking for an Arcane Caster? Go to the Guild! They'll find one for ya! Are you an Arcane Caster that's looking to join a party? Go to the Guild! They can place you in a party!

It also occurs to me that the Quest-Giver/Adventuring Party dynamic can go sideways in a lot of ways and the existence of an Adventurers' Guild, (Sorry if you don't like the name, but I need to call it something,) mitigates that somewhat.

Take your typical fetch-quest: Go to tomb, retrieve magic tchotchke-- how many ways can that go wrong?

Just off the top of my head, the quest might be a ruse to get the Adventuring Party into the tomb so they could be sacrificed to a dark god. Maybe the tomb is has several player-killer level monsters that the Quest-Giver didn't see fit to mention. Maybe after retrieving the tchotchke, the Quest-Giver decides that they'd rather betray and murder the party instead of paying them.

On the other side of things, maybe the Adventuring Party would rather insist on being paid half up front and skip the actual quest having got free money. Or maybe they think the magic tchotchke is so cool that they'd rather keep it.

What a guild could do is sort act as an intermediate entity that can promote fair play. While they can't guarantee that the kind of shenanigans I mentioned won't ever happen, they can provide some potential procedure when they do. Quest-Giver posts a job with false or misleading information? Maybe the Guild will bar them from ever posting a job with them. Adventuring Party skipping out on quests? Maybe the Guild will stop allowing them to take jobs with them.

Though after typing all that I realized that I essentially described a fantasy-world HR contractor...

PhoenixPhyre
2018-06-09, 11:28 AM
Other things an Adventurer's Guild can provide:

* Escrow for rewards--this might even extend to becoming a full banking system.
* Performance guarantees for quest givers--if the first party doesn't succeed or runs off with the loot, the guild guarantees that they'll send another/track down the AWOL group.
* Factoring services for ancillary treasure [1].
* Logistic support for adventuring groups.
* A control structure for powerful individuals [2].
* Training for new adventurers (apprentices)
* Quest discovery/allocation services (making sure that quests are available to the right groups of people, not too hard, not to easy, easily visible and thus more likely to be accepted).
* Legal recourse/rights [3]

[1] When an adventuring party loots a ruin, how does the economy not get influenced? How do individual merchants have the cash to pay for all those art objects? Why do things have fixed prices? In my setting, it's because the AG contracts with merchant factors. It promises to pay X for certain objects if the merchant will pay Y to adventuring parties. It then can resell them across the international area. And if it takes losses, it's a cost of doing business. The party gets their share quickly and in a regulated way, the merchants get known prices, etc. Parties can sell to non-guild-contractors, but there they take what they get.

[2] In D&D-type worlds, adventurers gain power very quickly and become powerful. A Guild (or similar structure) provides a measure of control over this, since it consists of other similarly powerful individuals with a vested interest in keeping the guild going. This constrains the murder-hobo effect and makes governments more willing to accept adventurers, since they have recourse to the guild for bad acts.

[3] In any status-heavy society, adventurers need status to survive. And foreigners/commoners/etc. are very common among adventurers, while nobles aren't. So a legal, government-approved group like an AG can provide a legal status (Sanctioned Adventurer) which obviates a lot of those issues. For example, weapon permits. Ownership of magic items. Spell-casting licenses. Exemption from certain laws or deputized status (otherwise things like murder become a problem real fast). Things like this vary on a city-to-city basis in some settings, and a broad-based Adventurer's Guild can negotiate official status much easier than a single group.

All of these say that there is a place for such things as AGs. They do only fit certain settings (like most things) and certain game types. They make a good world-building tool for specific outcomes.

jayem
2018-06-09, 12:21 PM
I prefer to consider the PCs to be unusual in what they do.

In London, mercers, grocers, and drapers were all merchants, but each had a separate guild. Similarly, tailors, clothmakers, dyers, haberdashers, cordwainers, and girdlers each had their own guild, even though they are all involved in making clothes.


The phrase "and allied trades" can cover a bit of flexibility. Which arguably might be more useful in a more rural area.

Richmond had a company of "Mercers, Grocers and Haberdasherers" and Stirling a "Merchants Guild"
Newcastle and York had a guild of "Merchant Adventurers"!

Keltest
2018-06-09, 01:45 PM
Can I just say, I love the idea of Adventurer's Insurance? With coverage ranging from the healing of minor scrapes and bruises to full on resurrection and gear retrieval.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-06-09, 01:56 PM
Can I just say, I love the idea of Adventurer's Insurance? With coverage ranging from the healing of minor scrapes and bruises to full on resurrection and gear retrieval.

Sounds like a great perk for those who have proven themselves to the Guild. For a cost, however. Nothing is ever truly free.

denthor
2018-06-09, 02:00 PM
In a game I played in, the "adventurers guild" was basically just a government taxation / protection racket, that basically formalised the various cities "putting up" with heavily-armed troublemakers hanging out in exchange for a cut of their earnings to pay for repairing the damage that their presence invariably caused. And occasionally they actually provided a useful service (but not often).


I think you meant to say thieves guild.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-06-09, 02:08 PM
I think you meant to say thieves guild.

Hey, my thieves guild (which is a more odd thing from my perspective than an adventurer's guild) is also the one responsible for lawyers and judges. They're basically the inter-guild conflict-resolution guys. Still engage in blackmail, theft, extortion, etc., but it happens to be "legal" blackmail, theft, extortion, etc.

There's another organization that considers them sell-outs and toadies. Their members are more into the less-legal actions.

Andor13
2018-06-09, 03:56 PM
And foreigners/commoners/etc. are very common among adventurers, while nobles aren't.

This doesn't make sense. Historically feudal power rested on military might, and that belongs to adventurers. (Not entirely, a soldier is still a soldier, but mid-level and up adventurers are equivalent to tanks or strike aircraft, expensive but lethal and mobile (and if the others guys have some and you don't,go guerrilla or go home.)) I would expect a feudal style system to regularly co-opt adventurers into the ranks of nobility. (Why do you think Kings grants knighthoods?) And as for the children of nobility, I know it's a cliche, but I seriously doubt the pampered noble who can't swing a sword or cast a spell would last long before getting killed by dopplegangers/vampires/adventurers.

I suspect the successful model is probably more along the lines of:

Have lots of kids. (And adopt promising ones.)
Give them every opportunity to learn a class.
Kick them around a lot.
Send them out into the world, with appropriate gear.
Vet the ones who come back, and appoint one your heir.

Non feudal systems are possible of course, but they will need a way to harness the power of high-level PC classes characters to keep the high level PC classed characters in line.


Hey, my thieves guild (which is a more odd thing from my perspective than an adventurer's guild)

I've always assumed a "Thieves guild" just represented organized crime like the Mafia/Cartels/Yakuza/etc.

Tanarii
2018-06-09, 05:09 PM
I've always assumed a "Thieves guild" just represented organized crime like the Mafia/Cartels/Yakuza/etc.
It's probably just a direct import from the stories about Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser.

Jay R
2018-06-09, 05:44 PM
The phrase "and allied trades" can cover a bit of flexibility. Which arguably might be more useful in a more rural area.

Richmond had a company of "Mercers, Grocers and Haberdasherers" and Stirling a "Merchants Guild"
Newcastle and York had a guild of "Merchant Adventurers"!

I still don't see paladins and rogues in the same guild.

Bohandas
2018-06-09, 06:48 PM
I've always assumed a "Thieves guild" just represented organized crime like the Mafia/Cartels/Yakuza/etc.

So did I and personally I'd drop the term thieves guild and just call them the mob

2D8HP
2018-06-09, 11:03 PM
Can I just say, I love the idea of Adventurer's Insurance? With coverage ranging from the healing of minor scrapes and bruises to full on resurrection and gear retrieval.


Sounds like a great perk for those who have proven themselves to the Guild. For a cost, however. Nothing is ever truly free.

Did you mention that you want insurance (http://www.critical-hits.com/blog/2015/03/02/murder-hobo-insurance-and-the-guild-of-abjuration/)?

JoeJ
2018-06-09, 11:25 PM
It's probably just a direct import from the stories about Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser.

In modern fantasy, it's probably borrowed from there. The earliest mention of thieves' guild that I'm aware of, however, is in the story Rinconete y Cortadillo, by Miguel Cervantes.

Dalinale
2018-06-09, 11:34 PM
It's very lazy, but it can be done.

First off, there has to be a good reason why there's a guild specifically for people who can deal with stuff relating to adventuring that can't be approached by local high-level enforcement of whatever society the guild is in, either through elven archers or dwarven fighters or human knights. The area itself might be untamed or lawless, or simply a borderlands area that has too many monsters for anyone to be comfortable with; in that case, an official 'mercenaries office' might have to be established as a general rule to keep the sort of people who would wander into the area in search of loot and glory in line and directed towards the right stuff. Such a 'guild' might really just be subcontractors a sort when it comes to protection, working for the kingdom directly or rely on tips from the local populace. In this case, the guild is really more of a method of managing talent that isn't part of the official strata of the kingdom, although official titles and fancy awards are probably achievable by any who enter one. Part of the 'regulations' might involve turning over any really powerful objects of note over for inspection, giving up politically relevant details, and avoiding conflict with allied solders or foreigners without approval.

The other sort of 'guild', one that doesn't have anything above it as far as regulations go and is mostly a independent entity, would likely not be tolerated by any strong power in the area. At that point, you basically have a small regional power that you can rent to kill off giants or whatever, but would also lack the sort of stability that having official support brings, such as if one member of the guild waits for another group to finish the job and then kills them off to steal all their stuff. These organizations might better be treated as particularly strong mercenary associations instead of just a plain 'adventurers guild'.

jayem
2018-06-10, 01:23 AM
I still don't see paladins and rogues in the same guild.
That does seem a stretch.
Partly because the Paladin's already have a guild equivalent in their own right, and have personality baggage.
Fighters, Rogues, Casters are fairly easy in a generic trouble shooting guild.
While something like the Hospitallers could bring Paladin's, Fighters, Priests & Wizards together.

Tanarii
2018-06-10, 10:14 AM
I still don't see paladins and rogues in the same guild.
Depends what edition. I can easily see 5e Conquest Paladins working with Assassin Rogues. Or 5e Vengeance Paladins (IMX by far the most common pick for players) with any kind of Rogue.

Beleriphon
2018-06-10, 10:16 AM
On an Adventurers Guild as weird as it sounds The Witcher universe basically has two, witchers themselves and the knights errant of Touissant. The knights errant are free knights that wander the country side righting wrongs, and also take paid contracts to right wrongs on an ad hoc basis operated by the Duchy of Touissant. So there's two different versions of what amount to adventurers guilds in a dark fantasy setting.

Jay R
2018-06-10, 10:51 AM
Depends what edition. I can easily see 5e Conquest Paladins working with Assassin Rogues. Or 5e Vengeance Paladins (IMX by far the most common pick for players) with any kind of Rogue.

That's not all of it. They aren't selling the same services.

A thieves' guild, a monks' temple, a warriors' mercenary company, a paladins' order, a wizards' school, a bardic college, and a a temple of clerics all seem far more likely than a generic adventurers' guild.

And I'd rather find a ranger or druid by going out into the woods than by going into a building in the big city.

I prefer for the classes to seem different and interesting in their own right. An adventurers' guild is a step towards more blandness.

Keltest
2018-06-10, 12:21 PM
That's not all of it. They aren't selling the same services.

A thieves' guild, a monks' temple, a warriors' mercenary company, a paladins' order, a wizards' school, a bardic college, and a a temple of clerics all seem far more likely than a generic adventurers' guild.

And I'd rather find a ranger or druid by going out into the woods than by going into a building in the big city.

I prefer for the classes to seem different and interesting in their own right. An adventurers' guild is a step towards more blandness.

Ok, but presumably you don't want a team of 6 monks or four rogues or whatever. If youre putting together a team you want a varied skillset. And a team that has experience working together is going to have a better success rate than a bunch of strangers stuck together for the first time. Hence the adventurer's guild.

Dalinale
2018-06-10, 01:40 PM
Ok, but presumably you don't want a team of 6 monks or four rogues or whatever. If youre putting together a team you want a varied skillset. And a team that has experience working together is going to have a better success rate than a bunch of strangers stuck together for the first time. Hence the adventurer's guild.

That's sort of like spy-movie talk, which really isn't rooted anywhere in reality; if someone is going up to, say, the Thieves guild to get something done, they're probably going to want some thieves, for the same reason why actual sub-contractors tend to be specialized in specific areas instead of being generalists. Whether those thieves are a band of rogues each specialized with whatever class archetype their running, multi-classed, specialized as shadowdancers or arcane tricksters, or even non-rogues entirely and having some members from other classes with alternative specializations (certain antipaladins of various gods, various fighter variants, city-dwelling druids, the occasional dip into a ToB class, ect). If a mercenary establishment can't round out a balanced retinue to supply someone who asks for something more than six bog-standard rogues, than it's probably a poor one.

8BitNinja
2018-06-10, 02:19 PM
What I have done in one setting is remove adventuring guilds, but have adventuring parties come together because of the inherent value of the tasks.

For example, a farmer is having problem with goblins, he goes to the town square or a tavern and posts a sign telling about his problem, and what he is willing to pay for the reward. More powerful adventurers with higher maintenance gear won't take it because, although they could finish the job in seconds with no effort, their gear maintenance, party size, and standard of living will not be covered by doing this job. However, more inexperienced adventurers will take it up because they need a good starting job.

Dungeon crawling is also done because adventuring parties found an old ruin or abandoned fort or whatever you wish and knows that there is a good chance of a cache of valuables being there. This also can create conflict with more amoral groups who will attempt to kill any other adventurers in the same area they are exploring so they can have more money to themselves.

The adventuring parties fighting with each other creates a more dangerous environment for adventurers too, as they not only now have to deal with whatever threats they are being paid to assess and neutralize, but also competitors that are not hesitant to kill others so they can get paid instead.

Jay R
2018-06-10, 02:41 PM
Ok, but presumably you don't want a team of 6 monks or four rogues or whatever. If youre putting together a team you want a varied skillset. And a team that has experience working together is going to have a better success rate than a bunch of strangers stuck together for the first time. Hence the adventurer's guild.

Oh, I certainly understand what a modern professional services contractor is. I just don't want to make my D&D world duller and more like the life I'm playing it to escape from occasionally.

One implication of the organization you describe is the idea that adventuring parties, rather than being unusual and quixotic teams of heroes, are just ordinary subcontractors earning a day's living.

As I said, "An adventurers' guild is a step towards more blandness."

The original poster asked, "Is it a useful, logical organization to arise in a world where people commonly run around handling big monster and rampaging orcs problems, or is it a cliché that would be better replaced by smaller, more focused mercenary groups?"

For me, they are a cliché that would be better replaced by smaller, more focused mercenary groups. So I've given that answer. [Of course, part of it is that I don't assume that people commonly run around handling big monster and rampaging orcs problems. I think adventurers should be rare.]

If you like the idea of an adventurers' guild, then great!v Have fun with it. Feel free to have a different answer from mine, and to enjoy playing that way.


[And I still don't see paladins and rogues in the same guild, and I still have more faith in the druid or ranger I found in the woods than in the one I found in a building in town.]

King of Nowhere
2018-06-10, 05:34 PM
One high level adventurer is powerful. A high level party is more powerful. Several high level parties together are even more powerful.

So it makes sense that adventuring parties will form organization, if they survive long enough. Especially considering that they all have access to trasportation andd communication.

In my world each nation hires adventurers in their army with a contract leaving a lot of freedom on both sides. The nation gets protection from other high level threats, and the adventurers get access to all resources of the nation - lots of mid-level casters that just don't have what it takes to be an adventurers and lots of experts to service you.
On the plus side, I have a perfect excuse to give plot hooks. On the down side, it took a few aspects of the game away from the players, because every time the party needs a skill check or a non-combat spell they just ask the nation to provide the resources.

Keltest
2018-06-10, 05:57 PM
That's sort of like spy-movie talk, which really isn't rooted anywhere in reality; if someone is going up to, say, the Thieves guild to get something done, they're probably going to want some thieves, for the same reason why actual sub-contractors tend to be specialized in specific areas instead of being generalists. Whether those thieves are a band of rogues each specialized with whatever class archetype their running, multi-classed, specialized as shadowdancers or arcane tricksters, or even non-rogues entirely and having some members from other classes with alternative specializations (certain antipaladins of various gods, various fighter variants, city-dwelling druids, the occasional dip into a ToB class, ect). If a mercenary establishment can't round out a balanced retinue to supply someone who asks for something more than six bog-standard rogues, than it's probably a poor one.

Youre not wrong, but youre also basically agreeing with me, it seems like. Youre just arguing for a greater degree of specialization in the different guilds than I think would necessarily apply.

Jay R
2018-06-10, 06:15 PM
Youre not wrong, but youre also basically agreeing with me, it seems like. Youre just arguing for a greater degree of specialization in the different guilds than I think would necessarily apply.

In London, the carpenters and joiners had separate guilds, depending on whether you did your woodcraft with nails or adhesive. The tailors, clothmakers, and haberdashers were separate guilds. There were two candle-making guilds, based on whether they use wax or tallow.

General merchants and spice merchants have separate guilds (the first two, in fact). So do cooks and bakers.

Specialization is not inconsistent with medieval guilds. In fact, it's pretty common.

Keltest
2018-06-10, 06:22 PM
In London, the carpenters and joiners had separate guilds, depending on whether you did your woodcraft with nails or adhesive. The tailors, clothmakers, and haberdashers were separate guilds. There were two candle-making guilds, based on whether they use wax or tallow.

General merchants and spice merchants have separate guilds (the first two, in fact). So do cooks and bakers.

Specialization is not inconsistent with medieval guilds. In fact, it's pretty common.

While I did not know that, the service described in the OP is more like a middleman putting you in contact with an appropriate mercenary/adventure/illicit group, for which there would be significantly less room for specialization. At an individual group level you might have the Knights of Honor versus the Deathwalkers, who both specialize in heavily armored juggernaut approaches where they slowly advance and just maul everything that gets in melee distance, but you would only really need one organization to point you in the direction of either group, and its that broader organization the OP was asking about.

I don't know if it would work out to be one empire-spanning organization in practice if only because the group in city A will have nothing to do with the group in city B or their offerings, and vice versa, but they could conceivably operate under the same name and possibly even official government sponsorship, and occasionally trade notes and paperwork.

Grim Portent
2018-06-10, 06:39 PM
I dislike Adventurer's Guilds, the sort of threats that would allow an entire guild to form aren't common enough to justify such a guild. Manticores aren't raining from the sky, orc hordes are only going to crop up every few generations and dragons slumber for centuries.

The vast bulk of 'adventuring' available when the monsters have been slain and the invaders driven off is going to be petty banditry or mercenary work against other civilised groups, which is not exactly guild appropriate activity. So I based the equivalent off the Free Companies that were somewhat common during the 100 years war.

I tend to have groups of career soldiers (usually a few hundred men at most) stuck between wars doing a mix of banditry and mercenary work. Sometimes they're raiding farms to scrounge a living, sometimes they're using a pike square to decimate a band of centaur raiders or burning a forest to drive off trolls for money/food. Mostly they're waiting for a new war to spring up so they can find employ killing other humans/human like races under command of a nobleman. They're rare in areas that don't see frequent war and have normal law and order start to break down.

They're more the sort of thing PCs hire for extra muscle when dealing with a tough threat that they can't cajole an actual authority into helping them with. Sometimes the threat is the actual authorities.

Solaris
2018-06-10, 07:25 PM
In London, the carpenters and joiners had separate guilds, depending on whether you did your woodcraft with nails or adhesive. The tailors, clothmakers, and haberdashers were separate guilds. There were two candle-making guilds, based on whether they use wax or tallow.

General merchants and spice merchants have separate guilds (the first two, in fact). So do cooks and bakers.

Specialization is not inconsistent with medieval guilds. In fact, it's pretty common.

London was one of the biggest cities in medieval Europe. The situation there may not exactly translate into the exact same set-up in smaller cities.

Tanarii
2018-06-10, 07:29 PM
One high level adventurer is powerful. A high level party is more powerful. Several high level parties together are even more powerful.

So it makes sense that adventuring parties will form organization, if they survive long enough. Especially considering that they all have access to trasportation andd communication.
This also assumes they are common. If a level 9 character is 1-2 in a million, there may not be any in the same kingdom except for the PCs.

Andor13
2018-06-10, 07:56 PM
This also assumes they are common. If a level 9 character is 1-2 in a million, there may not be any in the same kingdom except for the PCs.

If 9th level characters are that rare, a whole bunch of common assumptions about the game break down, including anything regarding high-level shopping, and any chance that local powers will be able to rein in the PCs. And high CR monsters must be vanishingly rare or they would simply break the setting.

Tanarii
2018-06-10, 08:05 PM
If 9th level characters are that rare, a whole bunch of common assumptions about the game break down, including anything regarding high-level shopping, and any chance that local powers will be able to rein in the PCs. And high CR monsters must be vanishingly rare or they would simply break the setting.
Depends which game you are talking about. 3e is about the only one that doesn't assume, or at least allow the assumption, that high level characters can be that rare.

Keltest
2018-06-10, 08:05 PM
If 9th level characters are that rare, a whole bunch of common assumptions about the game break down, including anything regarding high-level shopping, and any chance that local powers will be able to rein in the PCs. And high CR monsters must be vanishingly rare or they would simply break the setting.

Not true. It just means the adventurers need to go further away from civilization to find appropriate challenges. Clerics get Plane Shift at 9th level, for example, which means they can start picking fights with entirely new groups of hapless planar residents horrid monsters. And for groups that don't have a cleric, its still entirely possible to have, say, an almost-impassable mountain range, or a newly discovered island/continent, or what have you where higher level encounters exist without threatening the general populace of the Homeland.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-06-10, 08:27 PM
If 9th level characters are that rare, a whole bunch of common assumptions about the game break down, including anything regarding high-level shopping, and any chance that local powers will be able to rein in the PCs. And high CR monsters must be vanishingly rare or they would simply break the setting.


Depends which game you are talking about. 3e is about the only one that doesn't assume, or at least allow the assumption, that high level characters can be that rare.

Introducing bounded accuracy (or otherwise tamping out the rampant stat inflation) goes a long way to resolving this problem. Yes, high level people are likely to be the best (least costly in life and treasure) way of handling high-power threats. But enough lower-power people can do the job as well (with horrific casualties, probably).

redwizard007
2018-06-10, 09:44 PM
One high level adventurer is powerful. A high level party is more powerful. Several high level parties together are even more powerful.

So it makes sense that adventuring parties will form organization, if they survive long enough. Especially considering that they all have access to trasportation andd communication.

This theory opperates under the assumption that all high level adventurers are cooperative. I would call that assumption flawed at best.

I posit that as adventurers gain in power, that they are less likely to cooperate with one another. In fact, their higher ambitions are likely to drive them to separate paths. They may reassemble to defeat a mutual threat, but they just as easily may not.

Andor13
2018-06-10, 10:34 PM
Introducing bounded accuracy (or otherwise tamping out the rampant stat inflation) goes a long way to resolving this problem. Yes, high level people are likely to be the best (least costly in life and treasure) way of handling high-power threats. But enough lower-power people can do the job as well (with horrific casualties, probably).

Depends on the monster. Powerful dragons, with their ability to disengage at will would be almost impossible for low level armies to take down, especially without magic items that take high level people to make. For things like shadows or wraiths throwing lots of low level bodies at the problem just makes the problem much, much worse.


Depends which game you are talking about. 3e is about the only one that doesn't assume, or at least allow the assumption, that high level characters can be that rare.

This is true for a limited degree in 1e and 2e, although the settings had their share of DMNPC super-wizards. 3e does assume pretty large numbers of at least mid to upper level characters (or else all those prestige classes that represent social organizations that you have to be 5th -7th to get into look really odd.) 4e ... I don't know much about 4e world building, I'm not under the impression a lot of time was spent on it. 5e, with it's bounded accuracy and potent low level PCs is probably the friendliest edition to a world without high level characters.

Bohandas
2018-06-11, 12:36 AM
There's historical precedent (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_company) for them.


Haha...so adventurers are a plague upon the land that goes plundering, pillaging and ransoming towns?


The free companies were just brigands and robber knights when they weren't employed.

On a related note there were also the Brethren of the Coast (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brethren_of_the_Coast), the loose association of private mercenaries and buccaneers hired by the English to protect Port Royal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Royal#Defence_of_the_port) in 1657

noob
2018-06-11, 05:10 AM
(in dnd which seems to often be the assumption here)
Why do you ever want different people in a party.
You can always do team cleric over and over endlessly.
I think that if churches of murderous or warlike gods existed they would already be able to create adventurer teams that would mostly solve all encountered problems.(which would work to gain money for the church and increase its reputation of murder hoboness so that more murder hobo decide "instead of training to swing a greatsword I will go in the church and become a cleric and go around murdering people")
Since clerics are among the best at murderhobo once at high level and are not exactly frail at low level then you can have strong clerics helping the low level cleric parties to beat quickly some quests for getting them at a high enough level for adventuring on their own.

Pelle
2018-06-11, 05:53 AM
I find it useful as a plot device for one-shots starting in medias res. In other cases it's a bit lazy...

Glorthindel
2018-06-11, 06:13 AM
Ha! Okay, that's pretty creative. I hope you won't take offense if I keep that idea in mind for later.

Yeah, go for it.


There would be the added benefit of their presence being a deterrent to passing monsters. A dragon is less likely to try to burn down your town if there's a decent shot that there is a ranger there who can shoot off dozens of magically explosive arrows a minute and/or a wizard who can magically nuke him out of the sky.

Oh, definitely, but that is offset by the vengeful Lich that burns half the town down in order to get to the hero who has wronged them, or the Vampire who starts killing off / turning inhabitants that the hero might care about.


I think you meant to say thieves guild.

Heh, the Theives Guild actually did provide useful services in exchange for its fee. The adventurers guild less so...

BeerMug Paladin
2018-06-11, 06:16 AM
Adventurers' guilds can make a lot of sense, given the right setting. Like has been suggested before, it matters for what kind of tone you're focused on.

Let's say an a archeologist is looking for someone to decipher some runes that they know about in a forgotten mine deep in the wilderness. In fantasy-land, this means you'll need someone to potentially fight monsters, someone to look for faulty walls/bulwarks, someone to survive/navigate in the wilderness, someone to be cautious for errant magical energies, someone to apply medical care in case of injury and someone to actually intuit the runes. Some of these roles can be fulfilled by the same people, but probably not all can be fulfilled by one.

If one person trying to accomplish one goal is going to need that diversity of talent available to them, then it does make a fair amount of sense for all of those things to be attainable in one place. Given this, having all of these things attainable in one place means that people like our archeologist-friend are fairly common. It would mean that there are a lot of adventurers out there and there are many quest-givers willing to hire them. There's probably a lot of wealth exchanging hands in this world.

However, you could make people like the archeologist uncommon. Perhaps they're only delving into the field because they're idle royalty awaiting the throne. In that case, assembling a team to accomplish this task is as much a part of the job as the job itself. Your "team" needs one additional skill the prior team did not. "Find people with a variety of niche talents." Presumably, the archeologist would have this skill/connections or begin their assemblage of the team by hiring one person with streetwise/negotiation skills. Not having an adventurers' guild (or rough equivalent) means that the archeologist must expend considerably more effort to accomplish the same thing. This setting is probably less wealthy in general.

I would say the biggest difference would be what kind of setting you want to go with. Medieval eras with very rare adventuring probably makes more sense without adventurers' guilds (as people with training would be locked into the apprenticeship or service of those they were trained by or funded their training). The more into mercantilism and common adventures you get, the more likely I would say it is that those guilds are there.

Beleriphon
2018-06-11, 04:13 PM
In London, the carpenters and joiners had separate guilds, depending on whether you did your woodcraft with nails or adhesive. The tailors, clothmakers, and haberdashers were separate guilds. There were two candle-making guilds, based on whether they use wax or tallow.

For a variety of economic reasons, as well as historic reason, certain groups of people wanted their own guilds because they didn't like "those guys" they could have otherwise, and probably should have, joined. The candle markers for example have two guilds because they were competing against each other on price, burn time, and a bunch of stuff that they thought were better about their products. It also happens to end up that the guilds in question also happen to have been formed at different times. The Worshipful ?Company of Mercers was formed in 1394, while the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers was formed in 1809 (rather granted the current title, they kind of existed since 1629, and the Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars became a Livery Company in 2014.

At this point, and historically as well, any profession could seek to be a guild, then a company without livery, and finally a livery company. At one point that meant they had control of a particular trade as determined by their charter, and now it is mostly a status symbol for a profession.


General merchants and spice merchants have separate guilds (the first two, in fact). So do cooks and bakers.

This one makes sense since baking and cooking while related are two different skill sets, that actually require different training to be an expert. Still, it could just as easily be a Guild of Food Preparation Professionals. If we're going to get silly we can do the Bread Guild, the Cake Guild (the Cupcakers want their own guild, since really they are different), the Meat Roasters Guild, the Meat Fryers Guild, and les we forget the Carrot Cubing Guild arguing with the Carrot Slicing Guild.

In seriousness though spice merchants and general merchants kind of makes sense since the importing of spices was expensive, and it ensured that minimum standards were upheld which one would want when some dingus could come in and sell something as whatever spice to the masses as have it be half ground chalk.

On the D&Dism of the "adventuring guild" there are two settings that have them in all but name. Eberron's Morgrave University should probably remain its archaeology department the Henry Jones Jr. Archaeological Digging and Extraction of Precious Artifacts Department. It is a good place to find and hire people that would be useful in clear a lost tomb of its residents and taking the stuff.

The Forgotten Realms is the other setting since the Flaming Fist Mercenary Company is basically an adventures guild formed by old adventurers. They generally do mercenary contract stuff, like act as Baldur's Gate's de facto police force, but they also take on untrained/minimally trained people and teach them how to fight. Which in some cases does involve going out and stabbing orcs while in a small group. Cormyr has adventuring company licenses, and they more or less have a bunch of offices that act as recruiting stations for contracts. Bad adventurers get the license revoked, good ones get to keep theirs, sounds like a guild system to me at its core.

oxybe
2018-06-11, 08:45 PM
I'd say it's just as useful as any other organization, and can be considered lazy if not handled right (the same as any other organization).

It gives the PCs an organization they can fall back on for information, resources or help. It turns adventurers into something more then just hobos who occasionally do good, and gives their lifestyle a modicum of legitimacy akin to mercenary work. Where Mercenaries act akin to an army for hire, Adventurers are more like a catch-all group of freelancers with a more badass title.

Kinda like how "Hero of Thuumhaven" is better for PR then "the heavily armed homeless man who meandered into town during the Time of Bad Things and killed the tyrannical warlord Vorpal Von Hackenslash and stripped him naked then unceremoniously dumped his corpse in a ditch before getting plastered on cheap ale and passing out before even making it to the stables", even though both are technically true.

As such my Adventurers Guilds tend to only have a smaller potion be potential "heroics", people who go out and save princesses, kill dragons and whatnot (ei: PCs and other PC-types). The local orphans who pick herbs by the woods, the fisherman who protects the village from the goblin's winter raids on his off-season, the local hunter who wants to sell off the occasional owlbear pelt and needs a middleman, a scholar who's well read on a subject might offer himself as a resource or ask for subjects/components for his experiments, or just people without permanent employ looking for temporary work doing odd jobs like rebuilding a collapsed wall or help protect a logging camp while they're moving to a new location.

In short: freelancers with eclectic skills that traditional guilds may not have use for, or they want to be part of.

Depending on the locale, "Adventurers" allow for problems to be solved with a bit less red tape beforehand then if you had asked the guard, or serve as seperate branch of defense for the town in times of trouble: the guard's regimented and coordinated defenses protect the town itself as they setup for a proper assault, while the adventurers use their guerilla tactics to push back or stall until the larger guard corps arrives.

It can also serve as a sort of political group too: if the Adventurers, the Guards and the local Mercs are corrupt or no good, but still have some power in the area that can cause potential plot hooks as the three groups sometimes overlap in their requests and butt heads trying to one-up the other.

Lorsa
2018-06-12, 06:42 AM
In the campaign I am currently running, I decided there were Adventurers' guilds. Plural. Three of them in the area where the PCs roam to be precise. All of them are slightly different and I left it up to the players which, if any, they wanted to join.

I don't find it to be lazy, and for this particular campaign it is very useful, as it will make it easy for the PCs to find quests.

Solaris
2018-06-12, 06:44 PM
In the campaign I am currently running, I decided there were Adventurers' guilds. Plural. Three of them in the area where the PCs roam to be precise. All of them are slightly different and I left it up to the players which, if any, they wanted to join.

I don't find it to be lazy, and for this particular campaign it is very useful, as it will make it easy for the PCs to find quests.

I like the idea of multiple guilds more than I like the idea of a single guild in an area. For adventurers, it makes perfect sense.

elanfanboy
2018-06-12, 07:02 PM
Just call it Mercenaries guild, no one can call themselves "adventurer" as an occupation and expect to be taken seriously.

“I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee.”

Mark Hall
2018-06-12, 07:25 PM
In Icewind Dale 2, you are frequently referred to as mercenaries, and have the option of testily correcting them that you are "adventurers"

Tanarii
2018-06-12, 10:40 PM
This is making me wonder where & when the terms "adventurers" first entered the lexicon. Was it in the first oD&D book, or did it come later?

RazorChain
2018-06-12, 11:00 PM
This doesn't make sense. Historically feudal power rested on military might, and that belongs to adventurers. (Not entirely, a soldier is still a soldier, but mid-level and up adventurers are equivalent to tanks or strike aircraft, expensive but lethal and mobile (and if the others guys have some and you don't,go guerrilla or go home.)) I would expect a feudal style system to regularly co-opt adventurers into the ranks of nobility. (Why do you think Kings grants knighthoods?) And as for the children of nobility, I know it's a cliche, but I seriously doubt the pampered noble who can't swing a sword or cast a spell would last long before getting killed by dopplegangers/vampires/adventurers.

I suspect the successful model is probably more along the lines of:

Have lots of kids. (And adopt promising ones.)
Give them every opportunity to learn a class.
Kick them around a lot.
Send them out into the world, with appropriate gear.
Vet the ones who come back, and appoint one your heir.

Non feudal systems are possible of course, but they will need a way to harness the power of high-level PC classes characters to keep the high level PC classed characters in line.



I've always assumed a "Thieves guild" just represented organized crime like the Mafia/Cartels/Yakuza/etc.


This is very much gaming logic. In RL we know that education and training counts but in D&D world what counts is overcoming obstacles and in earlier editions: Gold.

At some point, somebody is bound to figure out how you get better or advance in levels. Therefore we have the royal obstacle course, only for those loyal to the state. You need a documentation from the authorities to partake in a quest, most likely the quest will be sold to the highest bidder who can expect to recoup their expenses with loot. So the social elite will buy up all the best quest to maintain their power and the status quo. If poor Count Johnny dies his family will just resurrect him. Adventures trying to climb the social ladder will been seen as some upstart yuppies by the old blood.

Lorsa
2018-06-15, 05:42 AM
I like the idea of multiple guilds more than I like the idea of a single guild in an area. For adventurers, it makes perfect sense.

I'm glad you like that idea. :smallsmile:

King of Nowhere
2018-06-15, 11:39 AM
This also assumes they are common. If a level 9 character is 1-2 in a million, there may not be any in the same kingdom except for the PCs.

Depends on your figures, of course.

I use roughly one in a million above level 15, one in ten thousand above level 10, one in one hundred above level 5. And that means that while high level people are extremely rare, there are still several hundreds of them around, with thousands of people who are still pretty high. Most of them, however, will not be adventuring, for a plethora of reasons. Most wizards, for example, have no interest for that kind of life and prefer the comfortable life of selling spells.
Anyway, it takes only a limited amount of high level murderhobos to wreak havoc in large areas, so "guilds", or whatever they would be called, are in large part an attempt to rein them in.


This theory opperates under the assumption that all high level adventurers are cooperative. I would call that assumption flawed at best.

I posit that as adventurers gain in power, that they are less likely to cooperate with one another. In fact, their higher ambitions are likely to drive them to separate paths. They may reassemble to defeat a mutual threat, but they just as easily may not.
But that leads pretty well to a cooperative scenario: high level parties are not cooperative, and so they will often be at odds with each other. but because of the whole "enemy of my enemy" business, such parties are also strongly encouraged to seek allies.
Say it starts with a cult of vecna seeking to drain the life of all the inhabitants of a city to gain power. A paladin of heironeous sets out to stop them, but he needs allies, so he gathers a party. The cult of vecna, knowing a party of high level good guys is after them, hires a few high level freelancers to help in the fight, promising a share of the power. The party of good guys, knowing the odds are now against them, goes to talk with a group of followers of pelor. Both groups want to stop the ritual, so they agree on a teamup. But then a group of followers of hextor decides that, after the group of goodies is done with the vecna cult, they may as well choose to focus on other common enemies. And so, even if they are not friendly with vecna, they join up simply for mutual defence...
and eventually the world's high level adventurers are split in power blocks.
In such a scenario, it's difficult to say if high level adventurers are hired by nations to help against other nations, or if high level adventurers coopt a nation's resources to fight other high level adventurers who are similarly backed. Does it really matter? Does it even make a difference?

This mechanism was heavily at work in my campaign world. I made plenty clear several times that the guys in despotonia (fiefdom of hextor) are not best buddies with elbonia (evil dictatorship) or with the church of vecna. In fact, when the pcs managed to attack despotonia and brought their nation into it, the various "allies" of despotonia were all too happy to weasel out of their self-defence agreements based on technicalities, because they had no interest in fighting a costly war over some guys they didn't care that much about. similarly, other good aligned nations didn't back their "ally" because they had no interest. But when the pcs managed to call in some favors and bring a greater coalition against despotonia, then elbonia and the church of vecna immediately sided with their ally; and this only in the interest of self-preservation, because if they let despotonia fall they may easily become the next ones. Especially since the lead pc has all but implied that he wanted to do exactly that.

And I think it makes a lot of sense on how powerful people would react. All along history, whenever there were multiple fighting factions, they tended to group in two clashing coalitions.

Yerok LliGcam
2018-06-15, 12:47 PM
As the title asks, what would people characterize an adventurers' guild in a given fantasy setting? Is it a useful, logical organization to arise in a world where people commonly run around handling big monster and rampaging orcs problems, or is it a cliché that would be better replaced by smaller, more focused mercenary groups?


one thing i've tried is i'll have random chances (roll tables) where people come up and ask to become followers, or squires etc. and in that way the party gets followers, which are SO MUCH FUN! to play with cuz you give your players control of their followers, you can have larger battles, etc. but when your party starts to gain fame/infamy they are known! walking through a town or village the _____ might have a farm boy come up and say "please take me on as your apprentice!" and pledge themselves to service.

then you can start hinting at things cuz now you have an army of NPC's that the players control, that you voice and give behavior. so you can be afraid and run away from encounters you think your party won't live through, or you can suggest alternatives THROUGH the NPC but the important thing i think.

is never, ever, EVER take full control of the NPC. always let your player control them. but voice opinions etc. I had someone learn the hard way that their follower was a traitor, they're more careful now.

in another game i ran i had a guy come knock on their hideout and say "Is this your guild!?" and they started one on their own.

i find NPC's a great way to facilitate your players forming their own headquarters.

then you can threaten it and they can stash all their loot etc. in it and all that jazz. makes plot hooks really easy.

who lit our hall on fire? who stole from our treasury?

i'll have vengeance on those bandits who murdered my horses groom! he was a good kid!


the possibilities are endless.

Andor13
2018-06-15, 12:53 PM
This is very much gaming logic. In RL we know that education and training counts but in D&D world what counts is overcoming obstacles and in earlier editions: Gold.

At some point, somebody is bound to figure out how you get better or advance in levels. Therefore we have the royal obstacle course, only for those loyal to the state. You need a documentation from the authorities to partake in a quest, most likely the quest will be sold to the highest bidder who can expect to recoup their expenses with loot. So the social elite will buy up all the best quest to maintain their power and the status quo. If poor Count Johnny dies his family will just resurrect him. Adventures trying to climb the social ladder will been seen as some upstart yuppies by the old blood.

This is heavily dependent on world building by the GM. RAW the nobility should be mostly aristocrats, which is a pretty crap class.

Training does count for something in D&D, it's what (usually) give you your base class. And if you use the optional training to level up rules, it's how you level as well (once you have the experience.)

Ways to cheese the XP system have been around forever. (Classic from the old days: Skeleton in a box, pull the lever and drop an anvil on the skeleton, killing it and earning XP. Reset the lever and reanimate the skeleton. Repeat until level up. Then do it again...)

Usually GMs rule that these don't work, because otherwise the game is a bunch of guys in a room pulling levers and yelling "Ding!" occasionally.

What you need to do is either figure out what you want the world to look like, and then set up your house rules for earning XP/leveling to justify them, or figure out what rules you want and then figure out what kind of society would arise from that. What most people actually do is follow the RAW and then make whatever world they want and just ignore that it doesn't make sense.

For example, what counts as an obstacle for XP purposes, and what counts as overcoming it? Is a social encounter an obstacle? Is humiliating your rival a victory? Why aren't mean girls coming out of high school with 15 levels? Is killing something of more HD always worth XP? Do nobles spend their days down at the stockyard killing cattle? Can you level up by fighting prisoners with knives in the arena? Does this tip the advantage towards evil in the cosmic battle?

There is always some level of abstraction (well, usually unless you're hardcore into rules as physics, and this can lead to weird consequences) between the RAW and the in world interpretations of what happens. How the in world people understand XP/leveling up to exist is one of the more consequential aspects of world building, as well of one of the more ignored ones. (Why don't level 15 wizards adventure? How did they get to be level 15? Don't they want to learn Wish?) The only thing off the top of my head that should have a greater impact on settings, which is routinely ignored is magic item components. (Where do they come from? How is the trade regulated?)

Beleriphon
2018-06-19, 06:30 PM
There is always some level of abstraction (well, usually unless you're hardcore into rules as physics, and this can lead to weird consequences) between the RAW and the in world interpretations of what happens. How the in world people understand XP/leveling up to exist is one of the more consequential aspects of world building, as well of one of the more ignored ones. (Why don't level 15 wizards adventure? How did they get to be level 15? Don't they want to learn Wish?) The only thing off the top of my head that should have a greater impact on settings, which is routinely ignored is magic item components. (Where do they come from? How is the trade regulated?)

On wizards, they did adventure but have largely chosen not to any more. It doesn't make a ton of sense, but then nothing about D&Disms really does in any realistic way. Its all an abstraction to explain why the PCs need levels and what not. Third Edition I think did a disservice, one that I happened to like at the time but have reevaluated over the years, when they built monsters and NPCs just like PC characters. I like the way games like Avernum (an old school PC game) handle powerful wizards. Your adventuring party meets several, X is great, and they basically all tell you they could teach your characters their incredible arcane power, if they have a few decades to learn. Adventuring magic, and crazy grey-beard wizard magic aren't always the same thing.

ExLibrisMortis
2018-06-19, 06:50 PM
I just want to say that on reading the title, my immediate thought was "useful because lazy". Nothing wrong with spending your development time on things other than motivating the PCs. And it works for the Witcher!

PhoenixPhyre
2018-06-19, 06:55 PM
There is always some level of abstraction (well, usually unless you're hardcore into rules as physics, and this can lead to weird consequences) between the RAW and the in world interpretations of what happens. How the in world people understand XP/leveling up to exist is one of the more consequential aspects of world building, as well of one of the more ignored ones. (Why don't level 15 wizards adventure? How did they get to be level 15? Don't they want to learn Wish?) The only thing off the top of my head that should have a greater impact on settings, which is routinely ignored is magic item components. (Where do they come from? How is the trade regulated?)

I get around this in a few ways:

a) most people can't gain significant power for intrinsic reasons. Only a small fraction can reach level 1 equivalent, and the odds go down from there (roughly in tiers: level 1-4 are easier, 5-10 are difficult and represent the cap for all but a tiny fraction, 11-16 are legendary, and 17+ are not even that--they're unknown).
b) the Adventurer's Guild has the explicit mission (set by some of the few who could reach level 10-ish, some former adventurers) to find those with the potential for growth and cull the wicked/channel their energies.
c) most people who are powerful are either already at their cap or aren't similar to PCs in their design. That cleric who can resurrect someone (a 5th level spell)? Only has access to that and a few healing spells, and that with the explicit OK of her goddess, who only grants it under certain constraints. That wizard who can planeshift? He's a transportation specialist who only knows spells with a very narrow theme. Because specialists get that way by specializing. They don't know about all the other spells--that's a game-level fiction. There is one person in the setting who has the explicit ability to cast spells from any list. If it's 6th level or lower, she can cast it. But she prefers to walk around and play tourist, because she's spent the last thousand years as part of the central control "computer" for a facility devoted to horrific experiments. So she's not exactly going to share her knowledge of the arcane arts. Etc.

Heck, the political representative of the Mages Academy to a particular powerful government is about level 3 (equivalent). He's just really good at schmoozing and has powerful shadowy allies. Personal power ain't everything.

Beleriphon
2018-06-19, 07:00 PM
Heck, the political representative of the Mages Academy to a particular powerful government is about level 3 (equivalent). He's just really good at schmoozing and has powerful shadowy allies. Personal power ain't everything.

Kind of like how the Factol (read big boss) of one of the Planescape factions was a 0-level petitioner? He was a dead guy, with no levels.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-06-19, 07:17 PM
Kind of like how the Factol (read big boss) of one of the Planescape factions was a 0-level petitioner? He was a dead guy, with no levels.

Yeah. Heck, one of the nominal rulers (in absentia) is a third-level bard. Due to a boon from a dying god he's ageless, but he never ended up that powerful. Has dirt on everybody, since he's been around since the nation's beginning. He's also friends with an adult dragon, so she provides the firepower (pun included). As a note, he's used as the de facto father when a woman doesn't want to name the father of the child. There are a lot of Bardsyn's running around.

So let's count my important NPCs (all levels are power-level equivalent, they're not built like PCs). Ones in bold have any significant combat potential:
* level 3 bard
* level 3 wizard
* level 7 bard (the immortal one's grand daughter)
* level 12-ish wizard (the 2nd-ranking mage and only that powerful because he hung out with adventurers for a while)
* level 14-ish wizard (the arch mage)
* Commoner (1 HD)
* 4xNoble (3 HD, CR 1/8)
* Level 14-ish fighter (with divine assistance)
* level 5-ish cleric
* Knight (CR 3)
* Level 11-ish cleric (healing spells only, no armor or weapons)
* level 14-ish cleric
* level 6-ish cleric (divination spells only)
* level 6-ish paladin
* level 6-ish paladin/shadow monk hybrid

Those are mixed between two nations. That arch mage? He's ancient, getting a bit senile, and really only interested in pretty young women. Still can cast a mean shielding spell (he's an abjuration specialist), but not really much else. Most of the rest are more focused on political power and getting others to do their dirty work. And just about all of them are at their cap.

Andor13
2018-06-20, 11:39 AM
Those are mixed between two nations. That arch mage? He's ancient, getting a bit senile, and really only interested in pretty young women. Still can cast a mean shielding spell (he's an abjuration specialist), but not really much else. Most of the rest are more focused on political power and getting others to do their dirty work. And just about all of them are at their cap.

See, that's the result of sitting down and thinking about it. And it's great! Mind you it also, as you no doubt are well aware, limits things in some ways. You can't ever really have a high level party in your world, both because there is no way to stop them from kicking over any apple cart they please, and because there isn't much they can face to get to high level that should not have already taken over. Well, you could run it as an extraplanar campaign, where they go off to some more high level friendly world and then come back at 16-18th level and realize what a backwater their home is.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-06-20, 11:52 AM
See, that's the result of sitting down and thinking about it. And it's great! Mind you it also, as you no doubt are well aware, limits things in some ways. You can't ever really have a high level party in your world, both because there is no way to stop them from kicking over any apple cart they please, and because there isn't much they can face to get to high level that should not have already taken over. Well, you could run it as an extraplanar campaign, where they go off to some more high level friendly world and then come back at 16-18th level and realize what a backwater their home is.

Bounded accuracy goes a long way to fixing that, as I play 5e. Even a level 20 caster can be nuked by enough lower level people. They'll take losses, but not catastrophic ones.

There are high level threats out there, anyway. They're just not near those nations (or at least aren't in the centers). Demon Princes, elementals gone rogue, dragons, etc.

I ran a 1-20 campaign (with the part from level 10 on being non-canonical). Levels 10-14 ish were spent breaking a stalemate between entrenched parties; levels 15-17 were spent racing to an artifact that can change the world and 18+ were spent kicking a tentacled Demon Prince right in the sensitive areas. At the end, one PC retired beyond the universe into the Far Realms (a happy ending for him), one became a politician/drug lord, one started a monastery, and the fourth a druid grove.

That was in an alternate timeline--in the canon one they retired at level 10. They're still quite powerful movers and shakers, but they've got goals that work within the system (to protect the organization they created, the current incarnation of the Adventurer's Guild), not against the system.

JeenLeen
2018-06-20, 12:57 PM
Like others here, I think it can work with certain settings.

I ran one in game that tried to be realistic while not taking itself super-seriously. That is, I tried to have a setting where it made sense, but also wanted a fairly care-free game. The political framework was that there were 3-4 nations on a fairly isolated continent. Due to the history involving a united war against a necromancer, there were essentially three "Adventurer's Guilds"/mercenary companies that were tolerated by all nations. I think I called them mercs, but they were all effectively adventurer guilds. But each was flavored rather differently.

1) a group on the border of the Blight (necromantic wasteland), dedicated to holding back the foul spawn from within. These was basically the first Guild, formed from the armies that defeated a great necromancer centuries ago. To supplement their funds, they started providing services fighting other monsters or hunting criminals for the local governments. I think their name was some play on Pelor, like the Shining Flame or some such. Since so many of the standing militias had died during the war, the Shining Flame sorta became the status quo for rare threats that the small, surviving personal guards couldn't handle.

2) a group of warrior-mages from an island nation. They are that nation's military, but the nation has relatively few resources to trade, and got a strong army during the necromancer wars (that didn't want to stay in foreign lands guarding a Blight), so they eventually formed their own branch. When it was more warlike, they raided neighboring nations, but that led to a war they lost pretty badly, and the military reformed into a mercenary company akin to the Shining Flame. Over 50% of its military is usually on the mainland doing jobs.

3) a split-off from the other groups + adventurers who wanted more freedom. Not wanting to be stuck guarding the Blight, or being held loyal to that island-nation, these are openly adventurers-for-hire, willing to take most jobs if the pay is good. It's known they're more likely to take illegal ones, if discretion is used, but their most common gigs are protecting trade caravans from goblins and other monsters. Like the other Guilds, they (at least openly) operate within the common laws of the nations.

It gave me, as someone DMing who didn't have a lot of time to work on a story, a lazy way to have the PCs as allies. There were plenty of rivalries between and within guilds, but they generally kept it non-lethal to avoid repercussions. (The higher-ups of all Guilds get ticked if you kill your rival in another Guild. At least if you get caught.)
Most generally operate on the Guild get paid a fee from the employer, and the adventurers get a cut of that plus any salvage (aka, loot.) The Guild also provides free access to low-level healing, a free (if not great) room & board, and access to stuff like libraries and merchants who sell rare items, at least for members with good-standing.

I think they can also work if they're taken more 'gritty'. And you can vary how idealistic to corrupt they are. For example, in my game one of the leaders of the Shining Flame was actually trying to resurrect the necromancer (for reasons I forget).

Hawkstar
2018-06-24, 10:14 PM
I don't get the "Adventurer's Guild doesn't make sense' complaint. But then again, when I think of "Adventurer's Guild", I think of the ones from Quest for Glory 1&2. An Adventurer's Guild would generally start as a tavern founded by a wealthy wanderer, and supply the services of a tavern*, inn**, and notice board for local troubles. As the Adventurer's Guild expands to connect with other guildhouses, it also establishes news, insurance, and a trade network for all those obscenely valuable magical items Adventurers buy and sell.

* Most taverns wouldn't actually be welcoming to adventurers - they're for the local regulars, not outsiders. The Adventurer's Guild tavern has a more interesting clientel, but most people prefer boring familiarity.
** Likewise, standard inns are built to accommodate merchants and travelers (Or a mercenary band that generally makes special accommodations, though the owners don't always willingly agree to them), not heavily-armed explorers with objects of esoteric power and value.


Can I just say, I love the idea of Adventurer's Insurance? With coverage ranging from the healing of minor scrapes and bruises to full on resurrection and gear retrieval.

When I heard "Adventurers Insurance", it sounds more like information you'd hand innkeepers after you burn down their business. While the ethics of allowing people to break the law and not have to pay for their transgressions seems sketchy, power usually overwhelms ethics anyway, and Adventurers are usually very powerful people. But I guess both services are valuable. Adventurer Health Insurance, and Adventurer Liability Insurance.

Also - look over in the 5e thread "Would this be Evil?". Adventurers generally end up on the wrong side of 'the people' because they're outsiders, and are often on critical, time-sensitive missions. An Adventurer's Guild serves as a liason - Complaints for excessively violent actions can be lodged against the guild, which would financially compensate victims as necessary (And threaten action against Adventurers who abuse the Insurance), and the Adventurer's Guild is FAR better at policing its wayward members than a bunch of peasants with pitchforks or hopelessly outclassed town watchmen.

Mark Hall
2018-06-25, 03:36 PM
I don't get the "Adventurer's Guild doesn't make sense' complaint. But then again, when I think of "Adventurer's Guild", I think of the ones from Quest for Glory 1&2.

Not 4 & 5? :smallbiggrin: Man, I wish someone would remake those games with a semi-modern system.

I think it's been mentioned, but a guild might have another function, too... protection from other power brokers. Did Lord Fulminous promise 1000gp to whoever rid him of the ogre? Is he now trying to say it was for 1000gp in coupon savings? The Guild has muscle and lawyers to shake him for the cash. Did the Merchants of Bludhaven promise three fine mares, but now are offering geldings? Then the Guild will bring a reckoning.

Nifft
2018-06-25, 03:57 PM
I still don't see paladins and rogues in the same guild. Of course you don't see them. They're in disguise whenever the Paladorks are scheduled to appear.


In Icewind Dale 2, you are frequently referred to as mercenaries, and have the option of testily correcting them that you are "adventurers" There's also that group of mercs in the starting area who get shirty when you refer to them as mercenaries.

Honestly those guys were a better example of a genuine table-top RP group than most -- they've got...

- Three drunkards who talk down to everyone not in their party (i.e. "no you are the NPCs").
- They all engage in grave-robbing and their Cleric uses speak with dead to find hidden loot.
- Their Wizard had a secret traitorous backstory which would have eventually resulted in PvP.

They generally stop doing interesting things once they get to the town where the PCs are doing things, but their backstory is a lot more creative & interesting than anything about the PCs. I wonder if they were based off a real party from a table-top game.

Wardog
2018-06-28, 03:44 PM
I don't think an "Adventurer's Guild" is necessarily unreaslistic or gamey. It could easily be the fantasy equivilent of somthing like The Explorer's Club (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Explorers_Club).


****

Oh, and on the subject of encountering other players adventurers in Bioware games, there is of course Bondari and co from BG2:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nztCeGyR3Fc