The Adventurer's Guild

"Just who and what are these people and why are they dressed in black classical dress and ancient armor trimmed in white and silver?" -- Grimwell, Iskar warrior and scout


This article describes an organisation that provides a framework for the creation of characters who study both combat and magic, and who are also interested in adventuring and heroic battles with monstrous enemies. Some players might wish their characters to be members of the Adventurer's Guild because of the aid it gives to brave (and violent) battlers of evil; others might be interested in the high, often self sacrificing attitudes involved; others again may wish to role play grim, competent adventurers whose motivations may be more complex. As an NPC organisation, the Guild can provide an interesting force to be reckoned with, able to supply needed muscle when the heroes are set to go up against overwhelming dark forces, but also a force sometimes unpleasantly single minded in its detestation of "the Dark".

The Adventurer's Guild

The Adventurer's Guild is many things to many people. Some see it as a club for mercenary adventurers with a taste for stylish armour and a record of orc bashing; others look on it as a secretive alliance of paranoid psychopaths, dedicated to dubious sorcery and the annihilation of all save "pure" humanity...and truthfully there are a few Guild members who hold such extreme views within the Adventurer's Guild; the public outside have more mixed opinions. In fact, the Adventurer's Guild is the logical product of a society which contains magic, mercenary adventurers, weak (semi-feudal) central government and powerful monsters. There is, inevitably, a call for skilled specialists to fight the creatures of dread; human nature being what it is, some of those specialists see their job less as a career than as a calling. The Adventurer's Guild is not a unified, monolithic body; it is a collection of indepentent (but allied) Guild Houses, a system of rules, and an image in the public mind. To understand more, one must look to the past.


The Adventurer's Guild was formed about a thousand years ago, by the unification of a multitude of older bodies, some of which of some considerable age. Although much of its initial strength came from a number of mercenary bands, its creation was very much the work of a few dedicated individuals, and its power came, partly from careful study of the various types of dangerous monster, but largely from its adoption of specific magical techniques. In the face of certain types of opposition, some adventurers had found it desirable to learn an assortment of hedge magic spells; the founders of the Adventurer's Guild gathered together these techniques, codifying the teaching systems used. Being highly motivated (some might even say fanatical), these founders built a system which would perpetuate not only their skills, but also their attitudes. In its early days, the Adventurer's Guild had to convince the world that it was more than a band of professional killers, and so it deliberately adopted a certain style in armour, weapons, and behaviour which marked out its members as something different. This policy was a success; to this day, the Adventurer's Guild has an image and a reputation. In those ancient times, many Guildsmen made the name of their organisation at the cost of their lives (which all helped the image building); others faced the dangers, less of monsters than of suspicious lords, some of whom naturally distrusted this powerful, masterless group. However, by deliberately adopting the name and style of a guild, the Adventurer's Guild was able to borrow some of the associated status; like merchants and seafarers, they could be seen as outside the feudal system but not directly threatening it. Today, the Adventurer's Guild has a solid structure through many parts of the world, and Adventurer's Guild houses exist very far from its city of founding which was the City of Alliance. How much further the guild may spread, and how well it can adapt to the increasing stability of its lands of origin, remains to be seen.

Guild Ideology

Adventurer's Guild Members are sworn to defend humanity from dark forces; they are permitted to earn fair payment in the process. Interpretations of this code can vary. Some Guildsmen see themselves as mercenary guards with a business code; some are fanatical xenophobes; many are fanatical in their enthusiasm, but accept that it serves no purpose to attack creatures that pose no direct threat to human life, limb or property.

Adventurer's Guild Membership

There are four categories of membership in the Guild; Apprentice, Journeyman, Master, and Wizard. The first three are ranked in order of authority; the status of Wizard is outside the hierarchy. However, it is possible to be both a Wizard and a member of one of the other categories. (In practice, there are no Apprentices with Wizard status, although there are trainees of that rank who aspire to become Wizards one day.) The theoretical role of the Wizard is to teach, advise, and study, and therefore he or she receives great respect but little power to command; that said, a Wizard Master is inevitably a power to be reckoned with in the Adventurer's Guild. Within the ranks of the Journeyman and Masters, there is a hierarchy, important in battle, mostly based on length of service. An Adventurer's Guild house must contain at least one Master; the most senior of these is Guild Master of that area. In addition to all this, honorary Guild memberships are, rarely, awarded, but these have purely ceremonial meaning.

There are two practical routes into the Adventurer's Guild; Apprenticeship and Wizardy. The former is by far the more usual, but Wizardy is an important part of the Adventurer's Guild way of life, and so any mage who demonstrates substantial power, usefulness to the Adventurer's Guild, and sufficient dedication to its ideals, may be inducted into the ranks of the Wizards. However, an untrained individual wishing to become an Adventure Guild Wizard would usually seek out someone already in that position, and become an Apprentice under that Wizard's personal tuition. The Adventurer's Guild will accept female members of sufficient talent and enthusiasm, but in practice the rather stereotyped, conservative attitudes of many members acts as a disincentive to this; independent female adventurers are considered, as in society as a whole, as something of an oddity. In principle, the Adventurer's Guild may even include members of non-hostile non-human peoples, although many Guildsmen have doubts about the reality of such "non-hostility;" such a member would face an uphill struggle for acceptance.

Apprenticeships in the Adventurer's Guild are not hard to come by, and there are many that are content to stay in that role for many years or even until retirement, then leave; these are accepted as useful soldiers for the organisation, and they are not usually criticised. Apprentices are usually subordinate to a specific Master, and have little status within the organisation. Advancement to Journeyman rank is a fairly demanding proposition, requiring not only skill and study, but also proven enthusiasm; a minimum of five years of faithful apprenticeship, followed by an examination by a panel of Masters, is the usual minimum requirement. During the examination, psychic magic may well be used on the applicant, as the Adventurer's Guild has no wish to grant access to its Guild houses to self serving or hostile interlopers. Not all Journeymen study magic, but many do and those with the talent, the desire and the ability may be taught spells of substantial power when they attain this level. Apprentices will be taught only the most basic of spells.

It is widely believed outside the Adventurer's Guild that advancement to Mastery among the Adventurers depends on killing a dragon (or some other large monster). Consideration of practicality should show this to be untrue, but there is no doubt that such an achievement would help an adventurer's advancement progress tremendously. In fact, to become a Master requires a minimum of ten years of faithful service as a Journeyman, demonstrable skill in more than one area including battle tactics, and the approval of the Prime House of the Guild.

To be a Adventurer Guild Master, one must be the most senior Master in a house; by custom and for politeness, a Master moving into an area where he outranks the current Guild Master will often disavow this status. If a house finds itself Masterless, nearby houses will discuss the problem and send one or more of their members to take charge; this is rarely difficult, as ambitious Masters will rarely refuse a Guild Master post, and all Masters tend to have strong senses of duty anyway. There have been power struggles for a Guild Mastership where rival Masters have turned nasty and there have been cases of bad blood between rival Guild houses...

The financial rules of Adventer's Guild membership vary slightly between houses, depending on circumstance, local laws governing guilds generally, and so on, but the following is a working guide.

Apprentices pay the Guild a nominal fee (usually 10 silver crowns) on joining, but subsequently work for their place by direct service to a Master. In theory they are indentured to one Master, receiving only their keep and training, and paying the Adventurer's Guild a finder's fee for their placement under a private contract, but in practice many older apprentices have a loose arrangement with the Masters of a house, serving any who need them in exchange for their keep plus a 100 silver or so a month, and taking odd jobs outside the Adventure's Guild between times and paying 10% of such outside earnings to the Adventurer's Guild to maintain their "indenture". (After all, a known association with the Adventure's Guild can sometimes increase one's employment prospects...)

Journeymen usually pay 20% of their cash earnings and cash plunder to the Guild, but may politely haggle this down (if their employment doesn't include board and expenses) or be asked, equally politely, to pay a little more if their non-cash benefits are obviously running high (new armour, run of the employer's harem, whatever). Non-cash donations to house resources (usable equipment, gemstones useful in enchantment, etc.) or especially good work for Adventurer's Guild ends may substitute for cash.

Masters pay only 10% of cash income to the Guild, but they either earn more, as mercenary captains or advisors, or do a lot more for the Adventurer's Guild in terms of administration. (They make the rules, and while they aren't corruptible, they are fully aware of how hard they worked in their own time...)

The Adventuer's Guild has certain benefits for members. Apprentices and Journeymen can have space to sleep in any Adventurer's Guild House, and basic sustenance if times are hard. (Many would rather starve, which says something about Adventurer's Guild pride, and even more about Adventurer's Guild cooking.) Masters can get rather better quarters and rations, but must make themselves available to handle Adventurer's Guild business while taking advantage of this lodging arrangement (Genrerally two hours Guild "work" per day). Most Guild Houses provide a cut-rate armouring and smithying service for members, similar medical facilities (similar in more ways than one, some would say), a small library of useful notes and books, and a place for adventurers to learn and wizards to teach magic to those who pay the standard rates. Lastly, although the Adventurer's Guild does not undertake to protect its members from bad luck, lawyers, or private enemies, its reputation always stands behind any Guildsman, and its members sometimes choose to consider harm to one to be harm to all...

The Adventurer's Guild does provide a modest benifit to Guild Member's depentents if the Guild Member died hile "on the job" and in good standing...

Adventurer's Guild costume is traditional rather than compulsory, and it varies from house to house, and sometimes from individual to individual, but many Guildsmen take pride in it, and it helps impress the general public. It usually involves a lot of black, including dyed linen cloaks and enamelled or soot-darkened armour, often trimmed in white and/or silver. Face-covering helmets are popular for both protection and dramatic effect. Wizard masters favour simple black robes with white silk trim and silver-tipped oak staves.

Adventure Guild Magic

The founders and wizards of the Adventurer's Guild have achieved one remarkable thing; the creation of a style of magic that can be taught to individuals of only moderate intellect, ability, and education, using rote learning and careful mental conditioning. The latter has a particular additional benefit for the Guild; in the course of learning the magic, the pupil is convinced that it only works for the Adventurer's Guild. The usefulness of this is obvious. Not only does it limit the possibilities for treachery, it allows the Adventurer's Guild to maintain a certain degree of economic monopoly. (The Adventure's Guild is not by any means the sole source of combat oriented magic in the world, but it is one of the most common and most useful os spell schools.) Even Guildsmen who resign on cordial terms find that they cannot use their spells, unless they agree to honestly resolve the matter with the Adventurer's Guild or to pay a proportion of some financial reward (usually 25%) to the Adventurer's Guild, or unless they are fighting monsters or black magic and are seriously pressed (as they are then working for the Adventurer's Guild's higher non-monetary ends). In GURPS terms, Adventurer's Guild Magery is a 5 point advantage that gives Magery 1 with the following restrictions....only works for guild members in good standing when used for Adventurer's Guild goals....i.e., on Guild Missions or against creatures of the "Dark."

However, it is possible for an ex-Guildsman to work around or break such conditioning; it just takes time, effort, and study. One small but sometimes crucial point about this limit on Adventuerer's Guild wizardy should be noted here; unlike the similar constraint on most deity-given magic, it is purely a matter of the spell caster's mind. Thus, if a Guildsman attacks a harmless creature in the honestly mistaken belief that it is a monster, any spells he (or she) uses will work. A cleric in a comparable situation will tend to find their deity simply cancelling their spells to avoid injury (if the deity's interested in protecting the innocent creature...).

Guild-taught spells tend to fall into two loose categories; "rituals" and "battle magic". "Rituals" take more time, effort, and concentration, and so tend to be limited to matters over which the Guildsman can afford to take some time and effort; spells for locating foes, healing magics, and so on. "Battle magic" is generally much simpler, demanding only a second or so of casting time (i.e., standard magery use).

However, the distinction between these two categories is really quite loose, and an Adventurer will quite frequently begin by learning how to, say, heal injuries by use of lengthy rituals, before eventually refining his skills so as to achieve the same result with a second or so of casting. (In GURPS Terms if the character does not have the spell at 12 or better, does not have the required IQ to cast or doesn't know all the preq spells at 12 or higher, the character can still cast the spell, but instead of it taking seconds to cast, minutes replace seconds in the Ritual spell version casting times).

Leaving the Guild

"When did you last see an ex-Adventurer?"

Actually, that's a silly question. There are a fair number of former Adventurers around, both journeymen and apprentices; the fact is, however, that they either look like Adventurers (in which case they are taken for current Guildsmen), or they don't (in which case no one may guess that they were Guildsmen). Few Guildsmen are widely known for their faces (as opposed to their names or deeds), few people would challenge someone who might be a Guildsman about his status, and ex-Guildsmen may be deterred from boasting about their history by natural reticence, possible disbelief, or the danger of trouble from fools trying to prove themselves or dark cultists with a dislike for the Adventurer's Guild.

The Adventurer's Guild would hardly wish to force a member to remain against his (or her) will; it lacks the authority of an army, and enthusiasm in members is too much a part of its ethos. However, it has two basic reasons for controlling departures. First, there is a danger of members "going rogue," betraying Adventurer's Guild secrets or abusing Adventurer's Guild training and damaging the Adventuer Guild's good name. (This isn't as odd an idea as it sounds; some Guildsmen derive their enthusiasm from something close to insanity, and insanity can lead to strange inversions of ethics.) Second, the Adventuer's Guild has some traditional guild functions, controlling hiring rates and otherwise taking care of its members' commercial interests; a cynical ex-Guildsman might trade on the Adventurer's Guild image without paying Guild dues, or undercut Adventuer Guild members' fees, or harm the Adventurer's Guild status by dishonest dealing.

Therefore, the Adventurer's Guild does tend to examine the motives of members who resign quite carefully, and may watch their subsequent activities for a time. Resignations are customarily presented to a Guild Master, and some time, effort, and payment of fees "in respect of honour due to one's mentors" may be required. The Adventurer's Guild has little liking for those who endanger it in any way, and tends to be as deadly as the law permits it to be in pursuit of vengeance (and in certain cases more than the law allows....).

An ex-Guildsman who is believed to have "gone rogue" is, of course, seen as a danger, and may or may not be pursued with force, depending on the circumstances but not all ex-Guildsmen are seen as rogues, and those who are tend to live very exciting least for awhile.

Ex-Guildsmen with magical training do not forget their knowledge, but the conditioning involved in their teaching imposes a serious limitation; spells will only work in pursuit of Adventure's Guild objectives. They are only useful if the ex-Guildsman is entirely convinced that he (or she) is somehow still working for Adveturer's Guild ends. Given time, effort, and research, such abilities may be adapted for less constrained use, but not easily (In GURPS Terms the character must pay the difference between Adventurer's Guild Magery {5 points} and 1 level of Magery {15 points}).

Requirements: Advantages and Disadvantages for Guild Membership

Apprentice - O points

Vow - Defend humanity from Dark Forces...-10 points
Duty to the Guild (on a 9 or less) -5 points)
Guild Reputation +2 - Guardians of Humanity...for a modest fee...).10 points
Claim to Hospitality....5 points

Please note that normally, the above disadvantages DO COUNT against the character's personal disadvantage limt.

Common but not required...

Adventurer's Guild Magery -5 points
Sense of Duty to Guild -10 points
Hates Monsters (varies)
Looks Dangerous - (Buy as reputation)
Fanaticism -15 points
Renegade Guildmen might take "Enemy: The Adventurer's Guild".


As per Apprentice...
One Level of Rank 5 points.
Leadership and Tactics at a reasonable level (10 or above)


As per Journeyman
One additional level of Rank 5 more points
Leadership and Tactics at a reasonable level (12 or above)

Guild Master

As per Journeyman
One additional level of Rank, total 3 levels
One level of Status 5 points
At least Wealthy....
Leadership and Tactics at a reasonable level (14 or above)
Duty to Guild is lowered to Occasionally (roll of 6 or less) -2 points

One way of handling the Adventurer's Guild is to treat it much like a religion or cult. It isn't really religious, but it does demand some of the same dedication from its members!

Use of the Adventurer's Guild

In this campaign, the simplest use of the Adventurer's Guild is as a background for one or more player characters. Its training and resources make it useful for its members, while its rules, and the loyalty it demands of its Guildsmen, give the Player a useful "handle" for playing his character. PCs should not raise the "Duty to Guild" to the "Quite Often (12 or less)" level, unless they are willing to continually be involved in desperate battles with hordes of demonic monsters that could eventually lead to a very dead character.....although some players may not mind where the idea for their next fight comes from, wanting their characters to soldier on against hopeless odds until the glorious end....

The Adventuer's Guild puts a price on its facilities, and player characters should see that debt called in on occasion (via the Duty disadvantage).

An additional complication can come if the character grows to dislike some aspects of the Adventuer's Guild, such as the fanaticism; after a few sessions in which NPC "Guild brothers" have been seen slaughtering orc babies ("they grow up into Orcs!"), putting whole forests to the torch ("full of bloody monsters!"), and generally acting like self-righteous psychopaths, some sensitive players may start working towards resignation.

This mixture of usefulness and viciousness can also appear when Guildsmen are used as NPCs. No one minds being rescued from the Orc slaver gang, but when the party's elf is treated with disdain, the priestess of an honoured cult of the Goddess of the Night has been cross-examined for a few hours about her Faith (with the implied assumption that she sacrifices babies), and the honest hard-working mercenary has been told not to poach work from Adventurer's Guild members, gratitude can run short.

The Adventurer's Guild can be many things to many people, hope you will use and enjoy it...

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