Game: Guilds and Adventurers
Publisher: Mystic Eye Games
Series: The Hunt: d20
Review Dated: 19th, May 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
Mystic Eye’s Guilds and Adventurers contains some victories on the battle ground of lateral thinking. The book contains a guild system that makes me far less uneasy that most.
Guild status becomes an issue of Prestige Class, unless you’re an NPC, in which case there’s an expert-based NPC class for you. A prestige class approach to guild status makes sense for d20 fantasy, especially given the way the prestige classes have come to rule the system. A prestige class for guild membership is simpler and cleaner than an extra mechanic and note on your character sheet. The first obstacle to overcome with a prestige class approach is the inherent lack of sense where, for example, a bard has to stop being a bard in order to join the bards’ guild. The solution comes in two stages. The first stage is to keep to a single generic guild prestige class and have it draw its class abilities from lists specific to individual guilds. This means that membership of the Thieves Guild of Sumer can have different game effects than the Thieves Guild of Uruk. The second stage is to tie this light-weight PrC to not just a guild but to another character class as well. Mystic Eye calls this Synergistic Advancement.
When a guild allows synergistic advancement it means the player takes the hit points, skill points, base attack bonus, saving throws, special abilities, caster level and spells from another class he has whenever he levels in the synergistic guild prestige class. The character also benefits from the class skills, feats, rank and abilities of the guild class. Simply put, a wizard advancing and doing well in a synergistic wizards’ guild continues to advance and do well as a wizard. It makes sense. Increasing your guild prestige class level is tied into your progression in the guild. That could be a problem, I suppose. The d20 system is one where characters develop supernatural abilities, impressive feats of physical prowess and a deeper, stronger, connection to their god – and often at the same time as everyone else in the group. Having guild advancement tied to character level pales in comparison to that list of inexplicables and it is definitely easier for a GM to cope with.
I mentioned the thief guilds of Sumer and Uruk but they’re both just made up examples. Guilds and Adventurers is written to support Gothos, the campaign setting for The Hut: The Rise of Evil, but most of the sample guilds are good for most fantasy settings and the guild system will certainly work pretty much anywhere. There are pages of guilds; you have the usual suspects such as adventurers’ and assassins’ guilds but you also have brewers’ guilds and tailors’ guilds. Middle ground comes in the form of masons’ guilds (one of real life’s famous ‘guilds’) and the weaponcrafters’ guild. Scattered around in these first 70 pages are one or two new feats, expanded skills and items.
The second half of the book looks at highly specialised guilds. These guilds are so specific that each comes with plot hooks and ideas; if you’re going to put the speciality into your game then you’re putting in fairly strong plot currents. The lottery, for example, is a guild of assassins who’ll accept even small amounts of money in exchange for putting the would-be target on the hit list. It is then a matter of luck whether any member assassin decides to carry out the hit. This time round, now that the guilds have the ring of plot about them, each is given fairly well fleshed out NPCs. In addition to new feats and spells you’ll find prestige classes in this half of the book. The Severance is a guild who deal with ghosts and spirits and so the Spiritualist is their tailor made prestige class.
It’s not a pretty book. The sidebars are primarily to blame since they fail to reach from the top of the page to the bottom and allow text to creep in the gaps. The bloody Rise of Evil logo doesn’t suit the renaissance faire theme used for the rest of the layout decoration either or perhaps it is a case of the renaissance faire theme not suiting the Rise of Evil logo.
The book may not be pretty but the illustration quality isn’t to blame. Illustrations are a little scarce but are of good quality, most of the guilds have their symbol depicted too and with a fairly large text size the book avoids becoming an uninviting block of text.
Guilds and Adventurers is good value for money. It’s just under US$20 and comes in at 128 pages. The OGL text is printed on the inside of the back cover too and so doesn’t take up a page. This low price per page more than offsets any concerns I might have had about the slightly large text size.
Guilds and Adventurers only does one thing – fantasy guilds. Guilds and Adventurers does fantasy guilds very well. If guilds are or could be important to your d20 campaign, especially if you want a large range of pre-written guilds, then this book should be a serious contender on your supplement list.