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Draz74
2006-08-17, 12:24 AM
The Steamscorch Guild

Scene: the edge of a desert oasis. This end of the oasis is covered in palm trees and lush undergrowth, surrounding a small, well-built, roughly cone-shaped building of bluish wood. There are circular windows in the building’s walls, but they are far too covered with steam to see through. In a small grass shack built over the entrance to the building, a conversation is taking place.
“Gee, Kaldar, it’s been really nice to stay at your bungalow here,” said Usfo, the portly merchant, as he pulled his belt around his belly.
“We live to entertain,” said Kaldar, his bald gnome head glistening with sweat as he sat down in a meditative posture.
“Really,” said Usfo, “This desert is such a terrible place between the oases. Your sauna service here has probably saved my life. And it’s also made me feel energetic, healthy, well-watered, romantic, and spiritually peaceful. What can I ever do for you and your Guild for your service of maintaining this bungalow and offering it so generously to travelers?”
“Well, there is one thing,” said Kaldar. “You see, there’s another oasis twenty leagues west of here, right along a popular trade route. Unfortunately, a band of bandits keeps travelers from staying at that oasis, and many die as a result.”
“How horrible!”
“Yes. The Steamscorch Guild would like nothing better than to build another hospitable bungalow there, but the Sultan in the west has told us that he absolutely won’t allow it; it seems he has some kind of religious prejudice against us.”
“Should I talk to him next time I cross through his land?”
“Why, Usfo, that’s awfully generous of you. Could you? And the Sultan is known to be quite prone to accepting bribes, and you are an affluent man after all …”

The Steamscorch Guild is a powerful chain of luxury saunas that line the shores of oases across the vast Pustinya desert. They help travelers in need of water, and if the travelers are rich or influential, they also give them access to their spa-bungalows; those who have had such treatment claim that it is the most comfortable and pleasant experience of their lives. The Guild is also rumored to have a shady connection to the bandits that infest the desert; these bandits leave the bungalows and oases of the Guild strictly alone, which makes their service more appealing. The Guild also mysteriously seems to have an easy time clearing out the bandits anytime they are able to acquire a new oasis on which to build.

Purpose: The Guild’s main goal is to expand until it controls every oasis in the desert. Its leaders claim that they are following a directive from the gods of the desert, and that if they are able to control every oasis, they will be able to unleash a mighty spell that will free many Djinn who are currently captives of the Efreet. However, nearby rulers claim that the Guild’s true goal is to have a monopoly on all the desert’s water, so they can charge exhorbitant prices for it.

Alignment: True Neutral (any except LG, NG).

GP Limit/Economics: 80,000 gp (for an average “local branch” of the Guild, not the Guild in its entirety). The Guild is quite wealthy, though it is too spread-out and beaurocratic to compile all of its money into one effort.

Membership in the Guild guarantees free access to the saunas. In addition, the Guild’s spellcasters will only enchant weapons with the “Steamwreath” quality for members of the Guild, though the Guild knows that these weapons will naturally pass into other hands through buying, selling, looting and so on. Members must still pay normally for any such enchantment.

Draz74
2006-08-17, 12:25 AM
Membership Requirements: To become a “Customer” of the Guild (which grants the above benefits), you must meet the following requirements:

Alignment: any except LG, NG (as above)
Knowledge (Religion): 1 rank
Special: Unless the aspiring Customer is a Cleric of the Pustinya gods (who are worshipped collectively, not individually), he must pay a donation of 4,000 gp in behalf of the Guild. Usually, the Guild prefers that this money be given as a bribe to a neighboring oasis-owner, rather than donated directly.

To become an “Affiliate” of the Guild requires:
Customer status
Knowledge (Religion): 2 ranks
Survival: 4 ranks
Constitution 13 OR Endurance
Must worship the Pustinya gods
Must have bathed in the saunas at least five times

To become a member of the bandit gangs connected with the Guild requires:
Affiliate status
Hide: 4 ranks
Bluff: 2 ranks
Dervish 1 OR Desert Terrain Mastery (Horizon Walker ability)

To become a Disciple of the Guild requires:
Affiliate status
Cleric 3
Domain: Water
Knowledge (Religion): 6 ranks
Special: Personal approval from a Senior Disciple of the Guild.

To become a Senior Disciple requires:
Disciple status for at least 3 years
Cleric 8

Draz74
2006-08-17, 12:28 AM
Authority Figures:

Helnaritus: TN Elan Psion (Nomad) 14
Helnaritus is the treasurer and overall leader of the Steamscorch Guild. It is he that plans the Guild’s overall expansion strategies and maps out the oases that the Guild is trying to purchase.

Frih Poolgazer: CN Gnome Cleric of Pustinya 17
Frih is the spiritual leader of the Guild. It is he that preaches the Guild’s goal of freeing the Djinn from the Efreet. He is also the mastermind craftsman who builds the magically refreshing (but dangerous) saunas of the Guild.

Zelkzinder: LE Mature Adult Blue Dragon (CR 16)
Zelkzinder is the “liason” between the Steamscorch Guild and the Pustinya bandits. Guild members claim he is totally honorable and trustworthy, and that his draconic reputation is the main reason why the Guild has an easy time chasing away pesky bandits. Rivals of the Guild, if they know of Zelkzinder’s existance at all, claim that he is secretly the commander-in-chief of the bandits.

Other Important Figures:

Kaldar: TN Gnome Wilder 6 / Cleric of Pustinya 3
Kaldar is one of the Guild’s most active Disciples. More than perhaps any other Guild member, he is remarkably successful at recruiting new Customers to the Guild and convincing them that the Guild is the best thing that could ever happen to Pustinya Desert. Very hospitable and diplomatic.

Nar’vith: NE Elf Ranger 3 / Rogue 6 / Dervish 4
Nar’vith is (at least in name) the leader of the loose network of the Pustinya bandits. Oddly, he often travels alone, and meets often with political leaders of all sorts near the desert. Many nearby sultans would love to kill him when he visits, but they know that the bandits’ influence wouldn’t really be affected for long.

Nedran: CG Djinni Horizon Walker 6 (CR 11)
Though he is a powerful Affiliate of the Guild, Nedran actually knows little of the Guild’s inner workings, preferring to wander the desert alone and enjoy the landscape, especially the lush oases. He admits freely to being a greedy individual, who will swindle travelers out of their money any way he can, but he is also a good-hearted fellow and will help travelers gladly (as long as it doesn’t hurt his chances of making a bit of money). He especially dislikes the bandits and will defend travelers against them.

Racial Make-up (including the bandits):
45% - Human
20% - Gnome (Desert Gnome, if such a subrace exists)
5% - Half-Elf
5% - Elf
5% - Gnoll
5% - Elan
3% - Janni
2% - Xeph
2% - Djinni
2% - Blue Dragon
1% - Brass Dragon
1% - Halfling
1% - Ogre Mage
3% - other

Class Make-up:
30% - Expert (NPC)
20% - Cleric of Pustinya
10% - Rogue
15% - Ranger/Horizon Walker
5% - Rogue/Dervish
5% - Scout/Dervish
5% - Wilder
3% - Psychic Warrior
2% - Psion (Telepath or Nomad)
1% - Monk
4% - other

Draz74
2006-08-17, 12:29 AM
Knowledge (Geography) Checks to learn about the Guild:
DC 10: The harsh Pustinya Desert is crisscrossed by a dozen profitable trade routes. If you’re lucky, you might find some very comfortable oases to stay at night.
DC 12: Dangerous bandits infest the desert. The desert has its own strange group of gods.
DC 14: Some of the oases are covered in lush vegetation and have strange bungalows built by them. The bandits tend to stay away from them.
DC 16: The people that run the bungalows will generally let you rest at the oasis and drink the water freely, unless there are political difficulties with the nearest sultan.
DC 18: The people that run the bungalows are a religious group serving the Pustinya gods, and if you have enough influence or money, they’ll let you have access to their saunas, which are supposed to be the experience of a lifetime.
DC 20: The saunas are all run by a big network organization, the Steamscorch Guild, which is trying to expand until it owns every oasis in the desert. Their customers are generally very pleased with the Guild’s service and in favor of their expansion.
DC 22: Local political leaders suspect that the Guild wants to eventually charge money for access to the oases, and accuses them of working together with the bandits.
DC 24: The Guild is involved in genie politics, and believes that they can aid the Djinn in their struggles against the Efreet if they can control the whole desert.
DC 26: One of the Guild’s leaders is a blue dragon. The Guild claims that he is their secret weapon that usually scares the bandits away from conflict with them.
DC 28: The Guild was founded twelve years ago by a fanatic gnomish cleric and his friend. They struggled to expand until (nine years ago) they ruthlessly attacked a nearby sultan who was giving them a lot of trouble; in the process, they freed two Djinn from the sultan’s dungeons.
DC 30: The bandits really are members of the Guild, and the blue dragon is their leader.
DC 32: The luxurious saunas of the Guild are filled with magical steam that uses mind-affecting spells to make those who bathe friendly to the Guild.

Adventure Hook:
The characters hear that a friendly merchant they have traded with has been captured by the bandits while crossing the desert. When they get near the desert, the town is full of the news (Gather Information DC 12) that the merchant was a friend of the sultan’s, and he is offering a reward for the merchant’s rescue. On the way to the area where the merchant’s caravan was attacked, they cross a Steamscorch Guild bungalow by an oasis, which is very comfortable to stay at. If they interact with the Guild members at all, they are offered a bath in the sauna, after which they will be asked to support the Guild financially. If they manage to track the bandits far enough (fighting them along the way), they will find the merchant safely in the care of the Guild, with no good explanation of how he escaped.

Draz74
2006-08-17, 12:30 AM
Crunchy part:

Steamwreath
Weapon enhancement

This weapon is wreathed in a thick cloud of bluish steam that moves about with it. *It may also be inscribed with the symbol of the Pustinya gods.

The wielder of a Steamwreath weapon can cast Create Water once per day. *The weapon deals +1d4 heat damage (different from fire damage) on a successful hit. *It also causes the target of a successful critical hit to be Fatigued (no save) for 1 hour. *(This fatigue does not stack with other Steamwreath-based fatigue to cause exhaustion.) *If the wielder performs a full attack action and hits at least twice with a Steamwreath weapon, he gains Concealment until his next turn.

Moderate evocation and illusion; CL 11; Craft Magical Arms and Armor, Water Domain, Heat Metal, Fog Cloud, Create/Destroy Water (blue dragon ability); Price: +3 bonus.

(Secondary crunchy part)

Steamscorch Sauna
Magical location

This sauna is activated by a Disciple of the Steamscorch Guild uttering a command word and using three uses of his Turn/Rebuke Water Elemental granted power. *(Other characters with the Water Domain may also activate the Sauna in this way, but typically only Disciples of the Guild know the command word.) *The Disciple must maintain concentration for 10 minutes.
The sauna takes 1 hour to work. *At the beginning of the hour, the person (willingly) bathing is affected by Calm Emotions and Cure Light Wounds (no saves). *At the end of the hour, when Calm Emotions wears off, the subject is affected by the following spells and conditions:

Heal
Lesser Restoration
Quest (act favorably toward the Steamscorch Guild)
Subject does not need to drink water, is immune to fatigue and exhaustion, and gains a +4 circumstance bonus to Fortitude saves against heat for 24 hours
Anytime within 24 hours, anything a Disciple of the Guild says to the subject can be made a Suggestion. *The DC is based on the Disciple’s Charisma. *A subject can only be affected by up to two Suggestions each time he bathes in the sauna.
Good Hope (which doesn’t add its usual bonus to saves vs. Disciples’ Suggestions)

Strong enchantment; CL 15; Craft Wondrous Item, Knowledge (Architecture) 8 ranks, Turn/Rebuke Water Elemental, Create Water, Fog Cloud, Calm Emotions, Heal, Suggestion, Geas/Quest, Lesser Restoration; Price: 70,000 gp