Those Who Have the Gold Make the Rules
We're creeping along towards $45,000, and we've still got plenty of cool things to show you. However, we've also got another 44 days to go, so we this is definitely a marathon rather than a sprint.
Today we're going to take a peek at some of the power brokers, the movers, and the shakers of The Blight. They keep the cogs of the city well oiled, though with blood as often as grease, but they also provide some of the only sense of security (such as it is) that a person can find. So we present to you a sampling of some of the guilds and clubs of The Blight and the special rules for the way they operate in a Blight campaign.*
*(The following excerpts are given in the Pathfinder rules because these are what the book's manuscript is written in. But never fear, they will be appropriately converted to both 5e and Swords & Wizardry rules for the actual release of the book.)
Guilds and Clubs
Contacts are the common man’s way into the haloed halls of power. A beggar, it is said, could bribe his way to become a knight if he had the right luck and the vast amount of money it would take. In a city like this anything and everything is for sale, but anything and everything is also controlled.
There are thousands of clubs, guilds and cults in the dank city streets, each one seeking power, each one with relationships with others—some good, some bad—and each one capable of action, no matter how great or how small.
Being a member of a guild or club or cult opens doors, it brings the PCs into a new sphere of influence, opens up access to new spells, new equipment and new avenues of pleasure.
They can also be powerful; guilds own parishes within districts, clubs own officials, cults have the local Justice’s daughter kept in a dark place to make sure that their actions are unseen.
Making enemies of such groups is dangerous, simply because of the amount of power they have. A PC opposing a cult may find himself arrested on a trumped up charge, judged and hanged in a single night, even breaking free of the gaol leaves him a fugitive, but there is always someone who opposes the cult that wronged the PC eager for new recruits.
Simply put, these groups give you another gaming option. You may wish to have them as shadowy background groups, you may wish to bring them to the fore. They are part of this city as they are any dark fantasy city.
Clubs are often described in a similar way to feats, they have a title, a prerequisite, and a benefit. They may also have a special entry and finally an advancement note. Guild’s operate more like class levels.
The Dwarven Beneath Brotherhood offer guide services to those exploring below the city streets. The Whispering Sisters are harlots who use their skills to prise secrets from customers. The Amateur Mendicant Society are made up of nobles who walk the streets as beggars to try to unmask anarchists, the Royal Lamplighters are useful guides to have after dark and know the cities secrets better than most. The Brothers of the Gables know every inch of the rooftops and deny the claim that they breed the colossal spiders that are occasionally found there. They cannot, they claim, be responsible for the death of so many curious children who have climbed onto the city rooftops. Membership of the Rat-catchers, hated enemies of the Family, is by strict invite, the blood of a thousand wererats is on their hands and membership, like that of the many anarchist groups, is perilous.
There are said to be over 5,000 thieves’ guilds in the Blight, all a fragment of the Guild itself. Each of the core classes has a choice of cults, groups and guilds to represent them, the most infamous of which are the Dying City, a group of druids who aim to bring a plague upon the houses of all those who have stained the land with the Blight.
The Cult of Beautiful Pain act as emissaries for n’gathau visitors (see The Tome of Horrors Complete 764) whilst the Tolling Bell aim to bring Orcus to the world. The filth ridden Followers of the Trail believe Jubilex already lives beneath the Blight.
Unlike guilds (below), clubs are generally easier to join, rise within and leave. Like money feats, they are simply structured; with a prerequisite, benefit, special (but not always) and an advancement protocol.
Some sample clubs are given below for you to consider, your GM may have others to offer you or wish to flesh out herself.
Brothers of the Gables
Climbers, explorers and daredevils, the Brothers of the Gables delight in finding the highest buildings to climb, and reaching the most remote parts of the rooftops of the city.
Prerequisites: A would-be member climb a prominent building within the city, facing at least a 150 ft. Climb (DC 15). The DC of the Climb check is then removed from the Bluff or Perform (oratory) check made by the climber after the feat (successful feat only). A base DC 45 check is required to gain entry, so that a successful DC 15 climb made lowers this check to DC 30 and so on.
Benefits: Membership opens doors to other routes, methods and ways up famous buildings, as well as knowledge of those places. Character’s gain a permanent +2 to all Knowledge (local) checks made in the company of at least one other brother when the check is made in relation to any tall building or high art of the city such as the Jumble.
Advancement: A member can attempts at least one qualifying climb (successful or not) per month as a member as listed above, but with a fall of 200 ft., she can attempt to increase her standing in the brotherhood by making an immediate Bluff check (DC 20) after making the attempt, success indicates enrollment into an inner circle, where further techniques of climbing buildings are given, increasing the PCs Climb checks when tackling such buildings permanently by a special +2 bonus.
Fame or infamy, there are those in the city who seek out multiple climbs of astonishing danger, a member making a DC 30 Climb becomes famous, as does anyone climbing a building you regard as ridiculous (such the outside of the Great Royal Cathedral (Area C9). Famous members make all Bluff or Perform (oratory) checks at +2 anywhere in the city where they announce their fame. Other members are likely to commence encounters with such legends on at least a friendly basis.
Carousers and gluttons, the Indulgers are a loose affiliation of those who like the finer things in life, and indulge in them heartily.
Prerequisites: Various arms of the group are seen in the rowdier or more fashionable holes of gluttony and excess in the city. One need simply appear at one, and spend money trying to impress one’s would-be peers. Once per week a would-be member can spend 200 gp, and make an immediate Bluff, Diplomacy or Perform check (DC 20) to gain membership. Membership requires the spending of 100 gp per month minimum, but for each 50 gp spent in excess of that checks (q.v.) are increased by +1.
Benefits: Once per week, a member can ask an Indulger to spend the day making a gather information check on her behalf, at +10 to the check. The indulger also has access to money, as so many swine are members; loans of up to 500 gp are always granted, subject to a 7 day payback at 10% interest.
Special: Each month, a member faces a random city encounter.
Advancement: Roll 1/month for an opening (1d20), on an 18-20 the position of honoured glutton opens up after another members dies. The position costs 100 gp per month, but allows access to a twice weekly request of the check above and loans of up to 2,500 gp. Honoured gluttons can make a check once a month to see if the position of hoglord becomes available. This position costs 250 gp per month, but grants legal access to the Capitol and the Sanctuary as an honoured noble. Loans of up to 10,000 gp are available, as detailed above.
While clubs can be difficult to enter, one is member of a Guild for life, they are an altogether more serious path, and while bound by the one crucial rule—financial—they are in general a closer bound group. Guilds are handled rather like character classes, but with money being the crucial reason for advancement.