View Full Version : Guild entrance tests

Lord Il Palazzo
2011-10-27, 11:29 AM
I don't think any of my players read this forum, but just in case: Aira, Ginorbol, Lacona and Uial, stay out.

The focus of the campaign I'm running will soon shift from a couple of small border towns to a major city that is governed by a group of trade guilds e.g. a mages' guild, a merchants' guild, a guild devoted to preserving the wilderness around the city, and such like. The rule of the guilds is very strong and their approval is required for people to engage in certain potentially "dangerous" activities in the city, like carrying non-simple weapons, casting most spells and walking around with large predators as animal companions (which require approval from the warriors' guild, the mages' guild and the wilderness guild, respectively.)

As these are all things the PCs are likely to want to do, they will have to register with various guilds to gain clearance. This will involve some sort of test from each guild to prove the PCs can safely operate. Ideally, any test that's more involved than preparing and casting several spells for the mages or fighting a mock battle for the warriors should allow the test-takers' allies to help so I don't have most of the table sitting bored while one character takes a test.

I'm looking for suggestions for what registration should entail for various guilds. The party's ranger/fighter and rogue will probably have to register with the warriors' guild to carry martial weapons, the druid and wizard will need to register with the mages' guild to be able to use most of their spells in the city, the ranger/fighter and druid will need to register with the wilderness guild to keep their companions with them and the rogue will need to register with the thieves' guild to carry thieves' tools and the like. Also, any suggestions of cool sounding names for the guilds I've mentioned or others the city might have would be great.

Jan Mattys
2011-10-27, 11:53 AM
Very quick and very spontaneous answer, take it for what it's worth:

make it a / dream /induced illusion test. Think of a Kobayashi Maru test, or a Holodeck battle...

Have the players not realize it.

Put them through a meatgrinder and rate their success, and reward them with a higher clearance the higher they rate and the longer they last.

- Your PCs will feel like they have earned their right to cast spells / carry weapons / whatever, because they were pushed to their very limits.
- It's as realistic as "unrealistic" can go. After all, the guilds want to rate the toughness and reliability of those who take the tests, and want to see how these guys work under pressure and what they are capable of doing. Also, it's not like guilds always have important tasks to be taken care of (and they wouldn't trust a stranger for those, anyway), and trivial tasks aren't exactly the best way to test new people.
- If done right, it can lead to three different (and memorable) dungeon crawls / investigations / full scale battles that will enjoy your whole group.

- if you plan to use the "it was just a dream" in the future, or you/your group finds it an annoying clichee, my idea probably isn't the best.

2011-10-27, 12:12 PM
http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0149.html :smallwink:

2011-10-27, 12:35 PM
If you structure a test so at each step of the way, they are presented with a situation with at least two solutions. One solution should be a course of action the respective guild disapproves of; the less obviously bad it is the better. In order to prevent the boredom aspect, I suggest that all the players be present at the test and simply have the easy solution correspond to a particular guild.

Lord Il Palazzo
2011-10-27, 01:23 PM
I like the ideas, but they may be a little too involved (particularly the dream/illusion test, though I have somewhere else I think I'll be using it).

To give a little more detail on the way I'm envisioning it, registering with a guild is different from actually getting full membership. I think of it like getting a driver's license; you don't become a member of the DMV (whatever that means), you only gain their approval for some certain activity. Actually joining the guild would probably involve the bigger (or at least more involved) test and would lead to a lot more responsibilities (being assigned jobs for the guild, attending guild meetings and the like.) A person can register with as many guilds as they can pass the trials for, but can only be a full member of one, to avoid a conflict of interests. That said, I certainly want to have some plan about how one becomes a member (as opposed to registering) in case any of my PCs want to do it.

Ideas I've got so far:
For the mages' guild, some sort of demonstration of magic seems appropriate though I'm not sure how to work in the concepts of responsible and safe use. They could possibly hold the test in a busy city square, having to avoid harming bystanders, though that seems a little too dangerous.

For the warriors' guild, a mock battle seems like a good fit. Maybe it happens in an arena where lethal damage is magically replaced with nonlethal (or it's just done with merciful weapons) and there's a focus on not killing unless it's absolutely necessary.

I'm still mostly drawing a blank on the wilderness guild. I want something set out in the wilds around the city (kind of a marshy forest, for the most part) with a focus on not harming nature to reach your goals.

The thieves' guild works differently from the others, to avoid undue attention from law enforcement. To an outsider, it appears to be a religious order and mostly is one, but a certain sect within the order is actually a guild of thieves (and possibly assassins). Rather than being directed to the guild as with the others, the party's rogue will be told "if you're interested and they want you, they'll find you". She'll wake up in the night to find a masked person standing by the window, instructing her that there is a plaque in some hard to reach and heavily guarded portion of the city (maybe under the table in the guild council's chamber or behind a clock in the guard captain's office) and will have to find what the plaque says within two days. If she can do it, she's in. The thieves' guild doesn't follow the usual registration vs. membership model as they focus much more on guild solidarity. Since their guild is technically illegal, they have to trust each other fully and can't afford to have outsiders around like the warriors' guild can, for example.

Mr. Anon Omys
2011-10-27, 07:43 PM
The wilderness guild test could be something along the lines of lion taming, to prove that one can control the dangerous beasts you might bring into the city.

If the guilds are giving the tests to ensure that the licensed responsibly use the subject of the licence, I have an interesting mage guild test.

Put the candidate in a waiting room with an obviously arcane and dangerous (protective runes, a lock) tome as the only reading material in the room. If they open the book, they fail.

2011-10-27, 08:30 PM
I'm going to go the other way and say don't bother making the tests ahead of time. Unless it is important to have a chance of failure (and the hassles that character will now face), just assume that any adventurer of an appropriate level and class will pass their entrance test.

Now, rather than just handwave it, work with each player ahead of time, and let them come up with the tests they were required to take (if two went to the same guild hall, let them collaborate). Keep your input to a minimum, but wield veto power if they get silly or pick something that just doesn't work. Also, make them describe one guild master/test administrator and one or two NPC's taking the test with them (and whether or not they pass).

That way they get to feel like they are participating in the creation of the game world, and you get to save some time and energy and enjoy the fruits of their creativity. Plus, you'll likely wind up with a couple of good adventure hooks and NPC's, especially if you have players like mine who enjoy punishing themselves more than I often come up with...

2011-10-27, 08:37 PM
^ So if they read without opening (Scholar's touch)?

Mr. Anon Omys
2011-10-27, 08:54 PM
^ So if they read without opening (Scholar's touch)?

Instant guild membership.

2011-10-28, 01:07 PM
Wilderness guild: They track the migration of several creatures, to monitor how the general population of the various species are doing, making sure no type gets to be too dominant and that no type is treatened to go extinct.

To do this, they do various things, for birds, the monitor small rings on the leg of each bird.

Now, the trick is, they need someone to collect some rings, which is essentially a good way to test those new comers, but it is a tricky business to get hold of a bird, get it in a cage and bring it back to the city so it's data can be examined.

All without harming the birds in question or any other wild life.

"We did mention the snakes, right? Im sure we mentioned the snakes...."

Lord Il Palazzo
2011-10-28, 01:20 PM
Hmm. Diskhotep, that's an interesting idea. I wouldn't be able to be quite as minimal about my input as you suggest as certain things about certain guilds are plot relevant, but at the same time, I could see giving each player a description of the philosophy and possibly organization of the appropriate guild(s) and letting them have at it. We'll see if I come up with any ideas I absolutely love before that session roles around, but if not, this could be very cool.

Iceforge: Interesting. I had thought about some sort of wilderness tracking challenge but wasn't sure exactly how to work it. One thought I had had was that the wilderness guild is, appropriately enough, located outside the city. They might send some sort of messenger animal to an applicant in the city and require them to follow the animal back to the guild hall. Various dangerous animals may be encountered on the way (as the messenger animal leads them through known hunting grounds for such animals), dealing lethal damage is bad, killing them is an automatic disqualification. Upon reaching the guild hall, the guide animal might de-wildshape into a druid to tell them that getting there was the test.

The bird tracking is cool, I'll have to give it some thought. (It's a bit sciencier than I'd been thinking for the guild, but it could very well work.)