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AKA_Bait
2006-08-29, 06:02 PM
Hey everyone, this is not only my first contest entry, but also my first post. So, cut me a little slack. Suggestions and critiques are very welcome.



The Vintners
* * *That tore it. Something had to be done about this.
“What kind of a Summer Solstice Festival runs out of wine anyway?” thought Reyes as he staggered drunkenly, but not quite drunkenly enough, back towards his home and arcane workshop “I know it was a bad year and all but you can’t run out of wine!” *

The Vintners were originally formed around the Gnomish Wizard Reyes, affectionately known in his hometown of Galt as ‘Reyes the Small and Tipsy’, after returning from a Summer Solstice festival where the wine ran out. Reyes, dismayed by he and his friends sobriety, set to ensuring by means of magic that no such travesty need ever be repeated in his presence again. With the diligence and perseverance of an alcoholic in search of his next drink Reyes managed to jury-rig several spells and magical items around to produce limitless amounts alcohol. He quickly became the most popular guy in town.
After receiving several death threats from the local breweries, taverns and vineyards, Reyes concluded that his discovery had best be kept secret, if only for the sake of the local economy. So, he and a small group of close friends created The Vintners. As time passed and friends moved away Reyes gifted each of them with the item he had created a, a Decanter of Endless Wine as well as explaining to the spell casters among them how to create additional ones. By this method the Vintners slowly grew and expanded such that there is usually at least a small group of members in any sizeable town or city.
Each enclave, once started, is its own independent entity from the rest with its own leadership, wealth and meeting place. However, somewhere along the line, someone, probably a rogue, decided that Vintners should always be able to recognize other Vintners. As such, all Vintners know the ‘Vintner Sign’ that is a particular method of splaying ones fingers across their glass. Once given, all Vintners are expected to greet other members as though they were part of their enclave and even as though they were close friends. As such, many now seek to join the Vintners less for the booze as for the connections.
Vintners are expected to be protective of other Vintners. Not only taking the reins and calling a coach when another member has had too much but also aiding them in other ways they can provide. Such as getting their back in a bar fight, providing them with information, giving them a place to rest for the night, aiding them politically or lying to the local sheriff about their whereabouts. *

Official Purpose: Good friends, good company and good wine… without having to pay for it.

Unofficial Purpose (Some locations): Secretly wield political power.

Alignment: Neutral (A character of any alignment may join The Vintners but certain alignments may have a harder time meeting the entry requirements than others. See below.)

GP/Resource Limit: Each enclave of Vintners is pretty much independent of all the others. As such, the available wealth varies dramatically with location. An affluent town with several very wealthy members may have as much as 20,000 GP and a mansion at its disposal. A town down on its luck may meet in a member’s kitchen and be able to scrape together no more than 100 GP.

Requirements: A character must be invited to join by three Vintners each of who have been members for at least a year. After being invited each candidate must engage in a drinking contest against an existing member, designated by whoever is in charge of that particular enclave, and win. Winning may be waived at the discretion of the member in charge but participation in the contest is always mandatory.

Authority Figures: The Vintners is a scattered and diverse group. There is no central leadership or universally recognized authority figure. Each enclave has its own leader. Usually, that is the person in possession of the Decanter of Endless Wine.

Racial Makeup: Any character of any race may join the Vintners if they can get invited to do so. Typically, the society has spread to Human, Dwarven, Halfling and Gnome settlements as is reflected in the racial breakdown.

50% Human
20% Dwarven
15% Halfling
10% Gnome
5% Other

Class Makeup: The Vintners have no special association with any particular PC or NPC class. As such, it is made up primarily of commoners and other landed people. PC’s make up only a small percentage of the overall membership. Since membership requires being liked, the more typically charismatic classes, Bards, Rogues and Sorcerers make up a larger part of the population than the other PC classes, but not substantially so.

65% Commoner
15% Aristocrat
8% Other NPC Class
5% Bard
3% Rogue
2% Sorcerer
1% Cleric
1% Wizard
1% Other PC Class

History/Lore:

From their humble beginnings as a drinking club the Vintners have grown substantially in influence. In some localities nearly every member of their government is also part of the enclave and an invitation into the group is as good as conference of an official title. In other areas because of the secret nature of the organization officials publicly shun or even outlaw membership in enclaves. It has also been known for both to be the case in the same locality where members publicly condemn the group as a method of keeping the general population unaware of just how much political sway they have. Their influence in any particular area is entirely up to the DM and can be tailored to fit neatly into whatever campaign motif they have in mind. The following DC’s are suggested as baselines.
Knowledge Local/Politics / Bardic Knowledge:

-DC 15: Several members of the local community like to hang out at (Insert local hall here) and drink wine. It’s rumored that they never run out.

-DC 20: The group calls themselves the Vintners, a wine drinking club. They are not public and won't generally mention the club even if asked a direct question about it.

-DC 25: (If DM chooses) The enclave is known to (wield significant political power, be persecuted by the local government.) They have a secret way of recognizing themselves.

-DC 30: Names and titles of prominent local members. (If they are persecuted as a front that information should be given at this DC, if at all, at DM’s discretion).

Adventure Hooks:

The Vintners are a broad enough group to serve as ally, enemy, group to be joined by the PC’s, or potentially some mix thereof, depending upon what use the DM would like to put them to. Generally speaking the Vintners, as an organization, will never be the major force behind some plot (although members might be) and is intended to be more of an organization on the periphery of an adventure, hanging about the eves of a campagin, than the main object of it. Nevertheless to introduce the organization some possible hooks are:

Enemy:
1. A noble known to the PC’s is complaining that he can’t get into the local lord’s good graces. He thinks there is some organization working against him. He asks (or bribes) the PC’s to find out why and who.
2. Basically the same as 1 except he noble has been murdered and the PC’s are asked to find the killer, which leads them to the organization.
3. A local Vintner drunkenly picks a fight with the PC’s. After they subdue/maim/kill him the organization seeks revenge.
4. A Local brewery hires the PC’s to eliminate the competition.

Ally:
1. An NPC known to the PC’s has heard of the group and really wants to join. He enlists the PC’s help figuring out how.
2. The heavy drinker PC of the group (There’s always one… usually it’s a dwarf) gets into a drinking contest with a member.
3. A performance attracts the attention of a member.
4. The PC’s do something else impressive (say, save the town in the previous adventure) and local Vintners decide they would be good to have around.

Member:
1. Another Vintner is in trouble (kidnapped, killed, etc.) and the PC member is asked to help.

Other:
1. A section of town appears to be flooding… with white wine.

Once introduced, if an ally or if a PC has become a member, the Vintners can be used as a plot hook for any adventure you choose. They simply heard (insert initial adventure information) from a passing member or help was requested by a member to (insert goal of adventure).

If an enemy, the Vintners can be used as anything from a minor nuisance (the PC’s get nasty looks by a few locals everywhere they go) to method of serious harassment (the PC’s are barred from establishments or even whole towns).

Crunchy Bits:

Decanter of Endless Wine
If the stopper is removed from this ordinary-looking wine bottle and the proper command word is spoken, an amount of white, blush, or red wine pours out. Separate command words determine the type as well as the volume and velocity. Commonly chosen command words are types of wine (Zinfandel, Cabernet, etc.) for type and state of intoxication (Tipsy, Drunk, Schlobberknockered, etc.) for velocity.
· "Stream" pours out 1 gallon per round.
· "Fountain" produces a 5-foot-long stream at 5 gallons per round.
· "Geyser" produces a 20-foot-long, 1-foot-wide stream at 30 gallons per round.
The geyser effect causes considerable backpressure, requiring the holder to make a DC 12 Strength check to avoid being knocked down. The force of the geyser deals 1d4 points of damage but can only affect one target per round. The command word must be spoken to stop it.
Moderate transmutation; CL 9th; Craft Wondrous Item, Control Water, Transmute Water into Wine; Price 17,000 gp; Weight 2 lb.

Transmute Water into Wine

Level: * * *Sor/Wiz 1, Brd 1, Clr 1
Components: * * *V, S
Casting Time: * * *1 standard action
Range: * * *10 ft.
Target: * * *½ gallon/level of water
Duration: * * *Instantaneous
Saving Throw: * * *Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: * * *Yes (object)

This spell converts ordinary, uncontaminated water into moderate quality non-magical wine. This spell may be used to covert water into any type of wine but the type must be designated at the time of casting and may not be changed thereafter.