A return to the dark mysteries of the guilds

I’ve blogged about this before: real-world medieval guilds like the Masons cloaked mystical secrets in mystery. In a D&D world, of course, mystical secrets are a Big Deal. Guilds might guard fabulous treasures, dark conspiracies, and the secrets of the cosmos itself.

For each of the six guilds below, roll d6 to determine which secret – or secrets – the guild hides in your campaign.

Mason’s Guild. The masons are architects, mathemeticians, preservers, and sculptors. Among its elders are many dwarven craftspeople.

1. The Wall East of Everything is weakening. Last time it failed, dwarfish lords defended the breach against horrors while masons repaired it.
2. The Masons know the secret location of some holy artifact and will produce it when it is needed.
3. The Masons know hidden tunnels into every fortification in the world – and can create new ones with their magic.
4. In alliance with the blacksmiths, the guild has discovered a formula for making towers that could scrape the very sky.
5. The Masons compete with the Venturers Guild to plumb the depths of the Mythic Underworld. The two guilds race for a legendary treasure.
6. Roll twice more on this table.

Children’s guild. It’s not recognized by the other guilds, but the Children’s Guild rings its secrets with rituals just as elaborate and ancient. At puberty, every member of the guild magically forgets that guild matters were anything but make-believe.
1. The scriveners guild is coming to believe that children’s games may preserve prehistoric secrets. A scrivener will help any child in exchange for an unfamiliar rhyme.
2. The children’s guild is controlled by a group of evil halflings who teach them new sinister games.
3 A new magic power is cropping up in some children, called “psionic” by the few who believe in it.
4. Once every few years, heroic children use guild secrets to save the world from unthinkable evil – and then, when they grow up, come to believe it was all pretend.
5. Any time you hear a new children’s rhyme or game, take note: it’s a clue to some evil that threatens the local children (thieves guild recruiters, vampires, ogre mages, clowns, etc).
6. Roll twice more on this table.

Jeweler’s guild. Besides jewelry, this guild dabbles in steampunk machinery and material magic.
1. The jewelers have secretly built a few prototypes of mechanical people which they call “war forged”.
2. Elders of the guild can build clockwork replacements for failing body parts. Someone who replaces all their parts becomes immortal, cam makes copies of themselves, and transcends emotion.
3. The jewelers are working with the alchemists on fire-spewing bronze ships that would put an end to the carpenters’ and weavers’ guild’s control of shipping.
4. With lenses from the glaziers guild, jewelers have discovered the elemental bits that make up solid stone. They are working on a process that can tap energy from gemstones – rubies to fireballs, sapphires to lightning bolts, etc.
5. Guild jewelry adorns every noble and monarch in the known world. The jewelers can work subtle Suggestion runes into their pieces, undetectable to low-level divination spells.
6. Roll twice more on this table.

Scriveners Guild. The Scriveners Guild houses poor literary hacks and scribes, mid-level bureaucrats and rich wizards.

1. Scriveners write to each other in a language of their own called Grub. It’s written-only, un-learnable without knowing at least three other languages, and it can be hidden within unrelated text, like a non-magic version of Secret Page. Scriveners are forbidden to read hidden Grub text to non-scriveners. Master scriveners can add a third layer of meaning which only other masters will be aware of.
2. Scriveners have secretly invented the printing press, which they’re sort of on the fence about. On one hand, it would disseminate knowledge (good) but also put scribes out of jobs (bad) and even put spellcasting in the hands of the general public (weird).
3. Scriveners are on the verge of rediscovering the 10th-level spells that brought down the last few civilizations – all for research purposes, not for casting, they promise. They’re hiring Venturers Guild heroes to plunder ancient libraries for the last clues.
4. Secrets known only to the guild are appearing all over the world, scrawled on scrap paper and painted on walls, mixed with mad ramblings. All the scraps are in the same handwriting which no one recognizes.
5. The scriveners fear that the glaziers guild has turned from its own tradition and towards lying whispers from evil stars. The scriveners seek to infiltrate the Glazier’s Guild to learn which entity the Glaziers will inevitably unleash.
6. Roll twice more on this table.

Finally, here are the two guilds to which PCS are most likely to claim allegiance. At mid-level, PCs might be initiated into one of the secrets below.

Thieves guild. The guild includes burglars, muggers, assassins, gamblers, and bravos. Guild PCs and their friends can hide indefinitely at safe houses. They must exclusively use guild fences for stolen property. These fences are fairly generous, paying 50% of an item’s value.

1. Crackpot guild scribes have come up with an idea called “insurance” where people bet on bad things happening to themselves. Theoretically, anyone who buys insurance from the guild should be off-limits for theft, and those who don’t buy should be high-priority thievery targets.
2. The thieves guild has uncovered the existence of illuminati who seek to wake the five elder dragons and resurrect Tiamat. The guild has not decided which way it wants to jump on this whole “resurrect Tiamat” thing.
3. The godless Masons plan to build a tower that reaches to the clouds or even the heavens – a dagger in the heart of the gods. This cannot stand. If anyone is putting a dagger in the heart of anyone, it should be the Thieves Guild.
4. You can bypass most security by taking a jaunt through the Ethereal Plane. Thieves have discovered a shortcut through the plane, but ghosts and spectres may be following them back into the world.
5. Apparently the Venturers Guild and the Masons are competing with each other to find some lost treasure deep in the Mythic Underworld. It would be funny if the Thieves Guild beat them both to it.
6. Roll twice more on this table.

Venturers Guild. The Venturers are a loose collection of dungeon explorers, mercenaries, guides, treasure hunters, caravan leaders, and business capitalists. The guild charges no dues, but expects members to share maps with other guild members. PCs in the guild may visit city guild halls to learn of 1d3 dungeons/jobs in the surrounding area.

1. The Guild is setting up an experimental mail service where adventurers are paid to take stuff to places they were going anyway.
2. Colossal evils swim right outside of our reality. They might discover us any time. The real purpose of adventuring is to train heroes badass enough to defend reality.
3. On the eleventh level of the Mythic Underworld is the Great Treasure of Ur. It can only be gathered once the entire path is mapped and lit: otherwise the path will shift.
4. The leaders of the guild have a grudge against the gods and plan to lead an army to conquer heaven. The greatest adventurers will become the new gods.
5. The blacksmiths have learned an infernal art, the Devil’s Belch, that can blow down walls and sweep away the world’s heroes. This secret must never see the light of day.
6. Roll twice more on this table.

8 Responses to “A return to the dark mysteries of the guilds”

  1. Baf says:

    The Mason secrets remind me of DROD, which has this business about a Guild of Dungeon Architects that has secret ties to the Empire Below, the very existence of which is unknown to the general public.

  2. DuBeers says:

    Good stuff! Nice fuel for the imagination.

  3. Gieljan says:

    Wow, very nice material to pull from for a city adventure or rumor, thanks!

  4. “The Wall East of Everything” sounds totally great. I want to steal this idea.

  5. DuBeers says:

    “The Wall East of Everything” caught my eye as well. Perfectly phrased, wonderfully vague.

  6. Albert pike says:

    Read Morals&Dogma they are fartsons only mystery is where to buy book to read carefully.:]

  7. ‘ + ‘It looks like something is not quite right with your internet connection. Please refresh the page and retry.’ + ‘

  8. Laura says:

    The “it would be funny if” construction for thief motivation is on point.

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