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Wraith Guilds like Awakening Orders and fantasy guilds

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  • Wraith Guilds like Awakening Orders and fantasy guilds

    A setting hack idea I got while discussing a different topic: among the various reasons I don't like WtO Guilds too much, it is their single-Arcanos purview and focus, which I find too narrow and limiting for my gameplay and character development tastes. So I thought, what if the Guilds were more like Mage: the Awakening Orders, which are based on broad mystical archetypes and sorcerous purviews, such as martial magic, mysrtical research, espionage, politics, and so on? Or the professional guilds that can be found in various fantasy tabletop and computer RPG, where you typically find the fighters guild, the mages guild, the thieves guild, the assassins guild, and so on. In both models, you usually don't get anything so narrow as the Fate or Forces Orders or the Illusionists or Archers guilds.

    If we apply this kind of model to the Wraith setting (assuming my other cherished setting hack that any Arcanos, especially Stygian and Jade ones, is potentially available for any wraith regardless of cultural background), we may get various organizations, including but not necessarily limited to:

    Warriors/Fighters Guild: deals with martial mundane abilities (especially unarmed combat and melee weapon skills, given Underworld circumstances) and combat-worthy Arcanoi arts, including suitable uses of Argos, Fatalism, Intimation, Keening, Mnemosynis, Moliate, Outrage, Pandemonium, Phantasm, Usury, and Way of the Scholar.

    Artisans Guild: deals with crafting mundane skills and manufacturing Arcanoi, including Soulforging, Flux, and Way of the Artisan. By extension, it may also deal with Fetters and Pathos manipulation powers, such as Lifeweb, Usury, and Way of the Merchant.

    Artists/Entertainers Guild: deals with mundane and supernatural artistic, entertainment, and cosmetic abilities, including suitable applications of Keening, Mnemosynis, Moliate, Pandemonium, and Phantasm.

    Healers Guild: deals with abilties useful to keep a wraith's Corpus and mind in good shape and fight off the influence of Oblivion. It provides expertise in Shadow-fighting techniques, ways to build up Eidolon, Castigate, Way of the Farmer, Way of the Soul, and beneficial applications of Keening, Mnemonsynis, and Moliate. Also collects lore about Spectres and possible ways to Redeem them.

    Spies Guild: deals with mundane and supernatural infiltration, espionage, and mental manipulation abilities, including suitable uses of Argos, Fatalism, Intimation, Keening, Moliate, Mnemosynis, Phantasm, and Way of the Scholar. Quite possibly it may extend its purview to Skinlands infiltration, and so deal with Embody, Inhabit, and Puppetry as well.

    Scouts Guild: deals with exploration of the Tempest, the Far Shores, other Dark Kingdoms, and the Labyrinth. Provides expertise in Argos, Fatalism, and various other possible skills and Arcanoi useful for travelers, explorers, and message-carriers.

    Shroud-Crossers Guild: deals with all the possible ways of crossing the Shroud and meddling with the Skinlands. Provides expertise in Embody, Inhabit, Lifeweb, Outrage, Pandemonium, Puppetry, and quite possibly the mental manipulation powers too, as applicable to the living. One of the best sources to get expertise in Rising techniques and survival tips, as well as Fascinate and Serendipity.

    Doomslayers Guild: dedicated to fighting Oblivion by all possible means. It works as a combination of Warriors, Healers, and Spies focused on Oblivion, Spectres, and the Labyrinth.

    Bankers Guild: deals with Fetter protection and Pathos storage, with primary focus on Lifeweb, Usury, and Way of the Merchant. By extension, may also be involved in artifact and relic manipulation, and so deal with Soulforging, Flux, and Way of the Artisan.

    Note that under this model, specialized expertise in various mundane skills and Arcanoi powers is usually available from multiple sources, albeit often with a different focus: this is okay and intentional.

    Do you have additional ideas and insight on how to develop and use this model? Please provide only constructive comments.
    Last edited by Irioth; 02-24-2018, 01:10 PM.

  • #2
    This I like. I might pinch this if I ever do a post-Ends of Empire chronicle, as these strike me as the way things would go after a huge upheaval.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post
      This I like. I might pinch this if I ever do a post-Ends of Empire chronicle, as these strike me as the way things would go after a huge upheaval.
      Indeed. This model removes the structural flaws of the canon Guild system, such as the wasteful necessity to acquire social capital (and pay Xp for Guild Status) with several organizations in order to gain sufficient advanced expertise in the various Arcanoi typically relevant to a wraithly profession or interest (cop/soldier, artist, intelligence operative, healer, traveler, artisan, merchant, Skinlands infiltrator, Doomslayer, etc.), or the exclusive availability of advanced expertise in each Arcanos from one source only, despite most Arcanoi having gainful applications in multiple fields. It also allows to include the Doomslayers in the Guild system easily and naturally, instead of the professional Spectre-hunters being a sui generis type of organization, separate and distinct from the Guilds and the Legions.

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      • #4
        I love seeing setting hacks. Good job on this one. Personally, it's not for me--I like guilds being professional organizations based around one craft, as in the Middle Ages. I want characters to have to make hard choices about how deep they want to go in one Guild or another, and I like the "we once had a monopoly..." history of the guilds. Still, this is inspiring.

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        • #5
          The cross-Guild status rules are helpful in broadening access to Arcanoi as well. I really like the existing Guilds, but I'm saving this for when I eventually do my 'Rebuild Stygia' campaign.

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          • #6
            Well, it is certainly appropriate to apply this setting hack in any period Stygia experienced a major crisis, shakeup, and reorganization. The post-EoE period would surely fit, but theoretically speaking, so would any such event after the first flourishing of the Guilds, such as the 3rd, 4th, or 5th Great Maelstrom, the attempted coup of the Smiling Lord, the banishment of the Heretics, or the failed coup of the Guilds. As it concerns my own setting, I think the breaking of the Guilds might be especially appropriate to establish this transition, for various reasons. You are right to state the canon Guilds model somehow imitates the RL Middle Ages guilds but I may point out it is a model early mortal society broke away from and discarded centuries ago, in favor of modern market economy. No good reason why Stygian society could not timely have done the same, any time since the Third Great Maelstrom and/or the Breaking of the Guilds.

            Unlike you, I find no redeeming value value whatsoever in monopolies or imposing so-called hard choices on players between narrow specializations and power niches, given my strong preference for self-educated and generalist, dabbler, jack of all trader, and hybrid concepts characters. I'm a firm believer in Heinlein's credo that excessive specialization suits insects, not human beings. I would just add that narrow specialization seems even less suitable for long-living supernatural beings born from human stock such as vampires, mages, and wraiths.
            Last edited by Irioth; 02-23-2018, 09:47 AM.

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            • #7
              Fair enough, but one could argue that civilizations of the dead could hang onto outdated ideas well beyond their shelf life in the world of the living. The whole "we wear masks so that no one suspects anything has changed when an office-holder changes" ties into the Underworld tendency to cling to ...relics of a dead past.

              I think you and I interpret the narrowness of the Guilds differently. First off, they don't have a monopoly anymore, so anyone can find a teacher who is not Guild-affiliated, or simply develop the Arcanoi on their own. I tend to assume the player characters are out-of-the-norm, anyway, so they tend to amass greater and/or more varied arts than your typical Wraith plugging away in a Necropolitan bureaucracy. So I don't see Guilds as necessarily a hard obstruction to self-taught Wraith PCs.

              And the specialization is in the Guilds themselves--the organizations--not in individuals, necessarily. Someone high up in the Masquers knows higher-level or less popular arts, but that doesn't mean she doesn't also dabble (or excel) in multiple other Arcanoi. Guilds also can offer added perks, such as the insurance, venues, and professional clout that Sandmen provide in the classic splatbook.

              In fact, I want characters to buck the Guild model, to encounter Guild recruiters and info-police who try to meddle with the PCs' independent Arcanoi development, or their private practices. The obstinate hoarding and grasping at past (and that is key: past) monopolies seems very fitting and Byzantine to me.

              I also like what your hack brings to Wraith...I just happen to prefer the hoary, stubborn dinosaur Guilds clinging on for dear life.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Callishka View Post
                Fair enough, but one could argue that civilizations of the dead could hang onto outdated ideas well beyond their shelf life in the world of the living. The whole "we wear masks so that no one suspects anything has changed when an office-holder changes" ties into the Underworld tendency to cling to ...relics of a dead past.
                Or alternatively, it may just be a practical way to detach the office from the office-holder, which may just be a not-so-uneasonable strategy to try to deal with the Shadow problem, since the whole Hierarchy suffers from it. Unless they ameliorate it since this version of Stygia also adopted my other own setting hack of the Ferrymen staying friendly with Charon and sharing the Ritual of Severance with the worthies of Stygia, which tends to make both Stygia and the Labyrinth rather more organized, united, and effective.

                I think you and I interpret the narrowness of the Guilds differently. First off, they don't have a monopoly anymore, so anyone can find a teacher who is not Guild-affiliated, or simply develop the Arcanoi on their own. I tend to assume the player characters are out-of-the-norm, anyway, so they tend to amass greater and/or more varied arts than your typical Wraith plugging away in a Necropolitan bureaucracy. So I don't see Guilds as necessarily a hard obstruction to self-taught Wraith PCs.

                And the specialization is in the Guilds themselves--the organizations--not in individuals, necessarily. Someone high up in the Masquers knows higher-level or less popular arts, but that doesn't mean she doesn't also dabble (or excel) in multiple other Arcanoi. Guilds also can offer added perks, such as the insurance, venues, and professional clout that Sandmen provide in the classic splatbook.

                In fact, I want characters to buck the Guild model, to encounter Guild recruiters and info-police who try to meddle with the PCs' independent Arcanoi development, or their private practices. The obstinate hoarding and grasping at past (and that is key: past) monopolies seems very fitting and Byzantine to me.

                I also like what your hack brings to Wraith...I just happen to prefer the hoary, stubborn dinosaur Guilds clinging on for dear life.
                I see your point, and the setting elements you try to emphasize by clinging to canon Guilds. As for me, it's just I don't find any real redeeming value in them for my gameplay tastes, and/or I deem the revised Guilds can keep fulfilling them just as well as the old ones, if not better: e.g. there is no good reason why the new Guilds can't keep being an ambiguous major element of Stygian society that wavers between unofficial cooperation and competition with the Hierarchy, and indulge in Byzantine politics that way.

                A setting element that I definitely dislike and wish to de-emphasize (because the pragmatic, forward-thinking me finds it quite boring and unappealing to RP most of the time) is the supposed tendency of wraiths, as individuals and society, to cling to dead and outmoded things out of sheer sentimentality and stubborness for their own sake all the time, and show little capability for pragmatism, progress, and innovation. I prefer to assume most of the things that really endure in Underworld society usually do so because metaphysical and environmental conditions tend to make them the best solution available, not because the people in charge are reactionary, hidebound old fogies. I tend to assume the dead guys and gals that are gripped by that mindset are usually NOT the wraiths most suited to survive, rise to leadership, and cling to the top of Underworld societies.

                As a matter of fact, I have been seriously thinking of a third major setting hack of mine to apply to Stygia: do away with means of death as a defining way to organize the major branches of the Hierarchy. Sure, it may have been useful back at the dawn of Stygia as a crude but quick way to apportion the masses of the recent dead between the early Deathlords, and it might have kept some minor usefulness down the ages to help young wraiths adapt to their new circumstances. But in the big picture and the long term, it smacks me of simply too much a weird and dysfunctional way to organize the government of such a major and enduring power as Stygia. Especially since as told before, I expect most really successful wraiths to be able and willing to move beyond fixation on such things as fading bonds to the Skinlands and the circumstances of their death. So I've been thinking of doing away with the Legions for the most part and rebuild the Hierarchy with a set of typical and proper government branches, like the ones Yu Huang's empire got: an army, a civil service that deals with tax-collection and infrastructure, a judiciary, a police/intelligence agency, and so on.

                The Legions concepts, if anything, can at most survive as a set of informal brotherhoods, social clubs, and old boys' networks that hover in the grey space between the revised Hierarchy and the revised Guilds, and infiltrate both. Admittedly, unlike the Guilds hack that can be easily applied after the Breaking of the Guilds, and the Ferrymen hack that necessarily has to apply in the early days of Stygia before the nascent Hierarchy and the Boatmen's Society went separate ways, I acknowledge removal of the Legions is such a radical shakeup to the established power base of the Deahtlords, it is best implemented once most of the old Deathlords get removed from power in some way, and Stygia is rebuilt from the ground. So it may best apply for a post-Ends of Empire chronicle.

                Anyway, since we may amicably agree to disagree about the usefulness of old Guilds for our respective tables, but you seem to like my Guilds hack in your own way, do you have any constructive ideas and suggestions for the revised Guilds system? Any new Guild you would add or subtract to the pattern described in #1? Or the expertise the various Guilds are assumed to provide? Just assume all the single-Arcanos Guilds are dead, gone, soulforged, and thrown into the Void.
                Last edited by Irioth; 02-24-2018, 06:21 PM.

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                • #9
                  I had considered for a Dark Ages Wraith setting, having the Arcanoi less formalized. There are a handful of tiered powers any Wraith can invest in, and then having... say seven or so... Guilds have individual arts that have prerequisite ratings. Mummers for example would be the artistic guild that preced Sandmen and Chanteurs. Monitors, Mnemoi, and Oracles combine into a “Watchers” secret police/judges Guild. Etc.
                  Last edited by glamourweaver; 02-24-2018, 06:10 PM.


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