Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Adventurers in a Living Campaign

Why is there a dungeon a half day's ride from town? Was the dungeon something else before like a mine, a catacombs or a cave system that always seems to attract the absolute worst neighbors? If there are problems coming from the dungeon why hasn't the town taken care of it? Why hasn't the local nobility taken action? The answers to these questions can vary as much as you can imagine, but in a cohesive campaign world they need to be answered.

In most of the campaign worlds there will be a social class of adventurers. The ranking of their status will be determined by the need of their services. Most of the characters are not blacksmiths, carpenters, or washer women, they are professional adventurers. Professional adventurers come in all guises. Profit, fame and power are the name of the game. Even if the players are being altruistic the residual effect remains the same.

If a dungeon is crawling with critters near town the players will not be the only adventuring party going to investigate. Rival adventuring group can add a depth to your campaign. They had their own guild in a campaign of mine. The guild would gather information on locations, monster weaknesses and have the supplies needed to defeat the monsters. It was like dungeon headquarters. There was another class of members who gathered the information and sold it to the guild. Theses members would not engage in the dungeon itself, but make a living by investigating rumors and gathering information. It was a very lucrative profession with less risk.

I enjoy the interaction with the guild whether for or against. I enjoyed the rivalry between adventuring parties. I think it added another facet to the adventure. A party may get into the dungeon and leave to go back to town to heal up and when they return they find a rival group cleaned out the rest of the place. It makes players rethink their strategies and gives a GM another option.


  1. I think JMis doing something similar in his Dwimmermount campaign. I like this addition, as it adds some urgency to the explore: what if the other party finds the big treasure first!

  2. I've done this as well. We had the Brave Adventurers Guild (or BA), a mix of PCs and connected NPCs.

    My players have found it more aggravating when NPCs of a similar alignment to theirs cash in on the goodies as they are often constrained to force a smile rather than bash them. Friendly rivalries bring in an interesting element, to me.

    @Paladin: I've been posting immediately after you all night. I'm not a stalker. Really...now what did I do with that paladin guy's address...

  3. This is a neat way to look at it. I've never really used other adventuring parties in my games, but it sounds like it could make for some interesting social conflicts.

  4. In my last game early on there was a rival, and somewhat better, group of adventurers who would often get the treasure first. Irritated the hell out of the players.

    But as I don't hand wave, the PC's with their more rash and heroic theatrics (those who lived) one day returned to their old stomping grounds and chose to rescue their old rivals. And gloat, and hire bards to create vast tales of their glory in rescuing a poor band of bumblers (the rivals). Knowing that they strode as world class heroes to some minor league players also made the players feel they had accomplished more. They had far outpaced their one time rivals.

    it really makes for some fun in the long run.