Sunday, March 29, 2015

Adventuring Parties

Designer's Notes

The following rules are intended to give a little bit of structure to player character adventuring parties--not so much as to severely constrain their composition or goals, but enough to provide them with some initial cohesion and purpose, and to help the referee come up with ways of hooking them into the campaign setting.

Into the Dark presupposes a nonlinear, sandbox style of play; the referee is not encouraged to generate a single adventure hook based on a party's type, but a party's type can help the referee develop and introduce multiple hooks which are suited to the party's general goals and interests. The players can also more easily initiate their own adventures, because they already have pre-established objectives.

Adventuring Parties

Before each player creates his own particular character, the players must agree on what type of adventuring party they will form.

An adventuring party’s type determines its main motivation for adventuring. The referee can use adventuring party type to develop adventure hooks, NPC contacts, allies, and enemies for the player characters.

At least one half of the members of an adventuring party must belong to the main class for their party type.

Adventuring Party Type Table

#
Type
Main Class
1
Mercenaries
fighter
2
Missionaries
cleric
3
Order of Knights
fighter
4
Patrician Family
fighter
5
Plunderers
fighter or thief
6
Retainers
fighter
7
Thieves Guild
thief
8
Wizard Order
magic-user

Mercenaries

Nobles and towns hire mercenaries to bolster their forces for an invasion, or to defend against the raids and invasions of their enemies. Mercenary companies can number in the hundreds, but there are also smaller bands of mercenaries numbering in the dozens or fewer, which fit the case of a typical adventuring party.

Many people dislike mercenaries, in part because unemployed mercenaries frequently resort to banditry. Mercenaries typically receive hospitality through intimidation rather than through genuine generosity.

Missionaries

Missionaries are clergymen who seek to convert nonbelievers, and to uphold the orthodoxy of already converted communities, by weeding out heresies and survivals of other religions.

Most missionaries are lawful, but neutral or chaotic missionaries are possible as well. The latter are typically members of underground cults, which try to surreptitiously gain converts in societies dominated by lawful religions.

Order of Knights

An order of knights consists of warriors of noble birth dedicated to a particular political, religious, or moral cause.

An order of knights has a general alignment (lawful, neutral, or chaotic) in addition to its particular cause. Most orders of knights are lawful. Neutral orders of knights are generally the elite warrior societies of pagan cultures. Chaotic orders of knights are secret societies dedicated to fighting in the name of demons or chaos gods.

Patrician Family

The goals of a patrician (noble) family include defending and expanding their lands, securing good marriages for their sons and daughters, and avenging insults to the family honor. A patrician family adventuring group can include servants of plebeian (common) rank as well as actual members of the patrician family.

Patricians can typically expect hospitality from others of their class, provided that they are not enemies actively engaged in war against one another.

Plunderers

Plunderers make a living exploring and looting ruins. Ruins are often guarded by faeries, spirits, monsters, witches, and bandits, but generally also contain treasures that can be sold for considerable sums to nobles, clergymen, or wizards.

Retainers

Retainers are low-born (plebeian) servants of a king or patrician family. They perform tasks such as patrolling a border, scouting an enemy force, raiding an enemy base, escorting members of the family on long journeys, rescuing kidnapped members of the family, hunting down criminals or fugitives, and retrieving stolen treasures.

Thieves Guild

A thieves guild is an organized criminal enterprise. Guilds vary in size from a dozen or so to hundreds of members. A guild will often specialize in a particular form of crime. Common specializations include: assassins; burglars; counterfeiters; cutpurses; forgers; gamblers; kidnappers; muggers; procurers; racketeers; and smugglers.

An adventuring party associated with a thieves guild will typically be a smaller operational team or unit within the larger criminal enterprise.

Wizard Order

Wizard orders (also called guilds or lodges) are dedicated to the study and practice of the art of magic. They often operate in secret, because of the common belief that all magic involves invoking demons or other dark powers. Wizard orders vary in size from local groups which may have a dozen or fewer members, to international orders which can have hundreds of members spread out in different kingdoms.


A wizard order has an alignment (lawful, neutral, or chaotic), which represents the type of spirits its members invoke in order to attain their magical power (celestial, elemental, or infernal spirits, respectively). Lawful wizards desire to use their magic to benefit society, through spreading knowledge and enlightenment, while chaotic wizards desire to use their magic to gain power for themselves at the expense of others.