Friday, 30 May 2008

Sparkling New Campaign Idea - Part 3: The Ruling Council

The Complete Thief's Handbook is one of the best source books ever produced by TSR, and by extension for the D&D range overall. No, scratch that; it's one of the best source books ever produced for a role playing game, full stop. It's just full to bursting with goodness.

One of its many virtues is a section on how to randomly roll-up Thieves' Guilds. There are tables galore to tell you the relations of the Thieves' Guilds with other organizations, the general alignment of its membership, the type of rulership, and much else besides. With a little tweaking they're perfect for fleshing out an Adventurer's Guild too. Let's see what the Rulership tables dig up in helping me to flesh out the Owlery.

My first roll, on the Guild Rulership table, came up with Complex/Mix. Immediately, that's interesting. I think I'm going to go with a Ruling Council that ostensibly has a leader, the Guild Master, but the other Council members (d3+2 in number; 5 is the result) are trying to depose him. Why is this the case? Well, first of all, let's make another roll on the Rulership Style Table, which will give results on three axes (Strong-Weak, Cruel-Just, and Despotic-Populist).

The results are Fairly Strong, Fairly Cruel, and Fairly Despotic. Hmm, a little bland, but let's go with it. The Guild Master is a tough, respected veteran of many adventurers who, while you would not call him a tyrant, rules with an iron fist. His word goes, and the Ruling Council have been reduced to an advisory role under his rule. However, it is clear that the Guild Master is growing old. He won't be around forever, and already the Ruling Council are plotting their takeover and how they will run the Owlery once that he is out of the picture. This should allow for plenty of politicking and behind-the-scenes machinations

Now, I need to tweak the tables a little to suit my campaign, and make some rolls to determine the nature of the Guild Master and the Ruling Council members. First, levels; d8+8 for the Guild master, d6+8 for the Ruling Council. The results: 14, then 7, 14, 13, 10, and 7.

Now classes: I'll roll a d12. 1-2 will be a fighter, 3-4 a cleric, 5-6 a magic-user, 7-8 a dwarf, 9-10 a halfling, and 11-12 a thief. (I don't want any of them to be elves; the campaign is going to be elf-lite, for the simple reason that I would be a happy man if I never even heard the word 'elf' ever again.) And hey presto, we have a Magic User, a Fighter, a Halfling, another Halfling, a Dwarf, and another Halfling. Interesting. Already a pattern suggests itself: the Halflings and the Dwarf using their power and influence together, and hoping to edge out the two humans (the Guild Master and his loyal lieutenant?).

Finally, Alignments. Straight up d10 with 1 being Lawful Good and 9 being Chaotic Evil, with 0 a roll-again: NE, then LN, LE, TN, LE, CE. Well, that changes things a little! Without Good characters in there the whole tone of life inside the Owlery takes a dark and machiavellian bent. I quite like it; plotting and scheming will clearly be the norm. So let's flesh out these evil halflings.

The Guild Master, Durwent Slate. Neutral Evil Level 14 Magic User

Durwent was once a Magic User of some considerable power, and an imposing figure of a man, too; tall, barrel-chested, with black hair and beard flecked with grey and glaring, bright eyes. The years have started to dull him, though, as repeated chopping will an axe. There are whispers that it is only a matter of time before senility takes him, and already his temper is growing increasingly irrational, his conversation increasingly rambling.

The First Member of the Council, October Forestaff. Lawful Neutral Level 7 Fighter

October bas been a comrade and partner of Durwent's for many years; indeed it was October who nominated Durwent to be Guild Master when the previous one retired. He was adventuring with the older man from the age of 15, and looks up to him as a father rather than as to a friend or Master. He bears the brunt of Durwent's increasingly frequent rages with good grace, and does his best to foil the plotting of the other Council members in his own simple way. He was never one for politicking and prefers to deal with enemies at the point of his Guisarme.

The Second Member of the Council, Jettie Crackenridge. Lawful Evil Level 14 Halfling

Jettie is the older sister of another Council member, Jude. Both of them appear alike in temperament to outsiders, being calm and collected in all things. But where Jude's outward appearance is genuine - he is the mediator, forever non-committal - Jettie's apparent equanimity conceals an ambition and an arrogance to rival the blackest-hearted of Dragons. She wants to be Guild Master, and what she wants she takes - sooner or later. Like Jude she has unusual, amethyst-coloured eyes, coal-black hair and dark chestnut coloured skin. Nobody is sure where the two of them hail from originally.

The Third Member of the Council, Jude Crackenridge. True Neutral Level 13 Halfling

As his Alignment suggests, Jude is an unflappable, calming influence on the Council - always the first to advise caution and to allay hostility. However, his ultimate loyalty to his sister should not be doubted; like her he wants nothing but to see Jettie Crackenridge in the position of Guild Master. Where he differs is how to achieve it: Jettie wants to take the seat by deception and stealth; Jude merely wants to wait until it falls into her lap.

The Fourth Member of the Council, Gurt Brayer. Lawful Evil Level 10 Dwarf

Gurt is Brayer by name, and a Brayer by nature - loud, obnoxious, opinionated and rude. He sees himself as the natural successor to Durwent, being clearly the most intelligent, powerful and important member of the Council. Any day now he expects to be chosen as Durwent's heir when the old human stands down - and to not incidentally be the first Dwarven Guild Master in the Owlery's long history. His brash and blatant xenophobia and arrogance should not deceive the unwary, however. He is a canny fighter and knows the laws and regulations of the Guild better than any other - his special area of expertise being twisting those laws and regulations in his and his cronies' favour.

The Fifth Member of the Council, Freeman Joyce. Chaotic Evil Level 7 Halfling

Freeman Joyce is hated and feared by most of the members of the Council, but it is considered necessary to have him around "where they can keep an eye on him". In other words, it is better that he sit at the Council table than rabble-rouse and cause trouble in the great common hall amongst the ordinary members. Of course, he creates enough problems even so with his endless agitating and calls for revolution - although nobody is really sure what his ultimate goal is other than "shaking down the status quo" and "blowing the cobwebs out of the place". He is a rebel without a cause; an Iago or a Steerpike, sewing the seeds of strife apparently for the pure thrill of it. What he lacks in physical power he more than makes up for in his horrible charisma; it is his popularity amongst the more impressionable guild members that makes him dangerous.

I think that weaves together a few nice strands of intrigue for the PCs to get involved in as they grow in power and influence in the guild. Next up: the town where the Owlery is situated, and its immediate surroundings.

No comments:

Post a comment