Organizations in your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign world provide so many benefits for a Dungeon Master. Factions, guilds, cabals and any other collection of people sharing a common goal or interest can be quest givers, sources of information and structures for contextualizing any 5E D&D campaign setting. Even in the bleak land of Barovia, an organization like the Keepers of the Feather tells you something about the setting. In The Mandalorian, the titular character belonged to an organized tribe of warriors and the bounty hunter guild. In the first part of this series we went through the process of creating a guild for 5E D&D starting with the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The Adventurers of Adventure is an adventuring guild characters can join and gain renown with, earning benefits along the way. With Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica in hand the AoA can expand options for its members with Guild Spells and Contacts. The fly by night adventuring guild’s operating budget is pretty slim, so the selections might not top industry standards but hey — it’s free spells! So let’s get into it and proceed to step 2 of creating a guild.
Step 2. Adventuring guild bells and whistles
When Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica released I was very excited to see the expansive guild content. If I’m honest there’s so much great material in GGtR I haven’t yet tacked onto AoA. But the part I absolutely adapted leads off chapter 2 of GGtR — guild membership. The book describes joining a guild means choosing the background associated with whatever guild you want your character to be part of from the start. This is an incredible opportunity for players and characters, and one of the reasons GGtR makes such a compelling resource.
Two very cool elements of adventuring guild membership are Guild Spells and Bonds and Contacts. Each guild associated background includes the usual skill, tool and language proficiencies, equipment, feature and characteristics but on top of that an amazing special spell list. If your character has the Spellcasting or Pact Magic feature these spells are added to the spell list for your class.
I took this idea and added it to AoA wholecloth. Characters aren’t required to choose a special background though. Rather the Guild Spells are added to whatever background they select. This does kind of give a tremendous perk to spellcasters and leave non-spellcasters out of luck, and I’m experimenting with the idea of tying Guild Spells to the cool enamel pins, renown and rank. Any character can cast the cantrips once per short rest, and each spell level corresponds with a rank allowing members to cast once per long rest. We’ll playtest this in our Nerdarchy team game. There’s a bard, warlock, druid and monk so I guess our Way of the Four Elements Reborn monk becomes the test subject.
Adventurers of Adventure Guild Spells do not look very impressive. AoA bought access to Guild Spells at a discount, so the selection and razzle dazzle isn’t included with the package. If you cast sending, for example, the connection might be spotty, or maybe crosses leylines with another spellcaster’s spell elsewhere. In some remote areas the magic signal can drop without warning.
- Cantrip: blade ward, true strike
- 1st: detect poison and disease, purify food and drink
- 2nd: locate animals or plants, find traps
- 3rd: feign death, sending
- 4th: Leomund’s secret chest, Mordenkainen’s private sanctum
- 5th: Modify memory, Rary’s telepathic bond
Relationships inside and outside the adventuring guild represent another benefit of membership. GGtR includes bonds in the same was as the background characteristics. Since AoA isn’t a background choice like the various guilds in GGtR I did not create any specific individuals or scenarios for characters to form bonds with and there’s two reasons for this. For my games I incorporate bonds more like Dungeon World — between party members. Part of the narrative voyage across the sea includes discussing and forming these bonds in collaboration with the players.
Contacts are a different kind of resource. The connection between a character and a contact isn’t as powerful as a bond, but it can be extremely useful for a DM or a player. Contacts are NPCs, and as such they have goals, motivations and desires. So characters can lean on their contacts but rest assured they’ll come looking to lean back. GGtR suggests your character starts the game with three contacts: an ally in their guild, a rival in their guild and an ally or rival in another guild. This is terrific stuff! In game prompting for players to take part in worldbuilding gets two thumbs up. A member of the Simic Combine might start a new campaign allied with a former colleague has ventured into fields of research that are possibly immoral and almost certainly illegal. They could form a rivalry with an old friend who retreated into a secluded life as an ascetic deepsage, devoted to contemplating philosophical principles. And don’t forget the Selesnya Conclave — and lover — you left behind when you joined the Simic.
Frankly, I never noticed this section before or I would have considering working it into the starting experience. On the other hand there’s a lot about AoA that remains unknown by any players, characters or people I chat with about 5E D&D so no starting contacts tracks well. Who’s running this adventuring guild anyway?
Chapters 2 and 4 of GGtR provide a fantastic framework for developing your own adventuring guild including adventures based around a guild and excellent examples of highly developed guilds to take inspiration from. But the tasty crunchy stuff we crave already made its way into the campaign. Guild Spells really give an adventuring guild some wow factor, even if they’re bargain basement spells like true strike. You can’t complain about free spells.
At this point AoA feels like a solid organization. There’s some structure, great perks and plenty of different ways for players and characters to engage with the adventuring guild and the world around them. On the other side of the screen DMs can funnel information to characters through guild contacts and resources, offer adventure hooks and create narrative hooks too. Players can do the same thing by interacting with their guilds and colleague members.
There’s one more step to go in this series on creating a guild. Eberron: Rising from the Last War adds another layer to the adventuring guild cake with Patrons for adventuring parties. And who knows? Maybe when Mythic Odysseys of Theros incorporates Piety we’ll add another dimension to the Adventurers of Adventure. Like the entities who run the organization in the campaign world, we’re laying the track down right in front of the speeding train. (Or are we…?)