The Storyteller’s Guild is to all outward appearance a loose knit organisation with little true aim or direction, which can’t even settle on a single name: some simply call it the Storyteller’s Guild, others may call it Flights of Fancy or The Guild of Fantasists, the more poetic amongst them have been known to describe it as the Honourable Association of Poet Laureates and many playwrights and actors call it the Avalon Players.
However, those familiar with the Guild know it is not so much an organisation as it is a close knit family that goes by many names and operates under a fairly informal structure. There are no leaders per se, with position in the Guild determined by a combination of renown, influence and trustworthiness.
Membership to the Guild is strictly optional, but few bards, entertainers or others who might benefit from association with them turn down the offer: access to the wealth of information about current events, historical stories, literary knowledge and musical creativity is reason enough for most to join up, but for some it is the extra support the Guild is known to offer: helping them become established, giving them advice on their performances and opportunities to prove their skills, be they singing, dancing, acting or something else.
For long-term members the Guild may be able to offer further services, including some that may fall outside of the law, particularly for members with a reputation for getting into trouble. This is almost always limited to non-violent interference which cannot be traced back to the Guild; they have no interest in provoking a battle with the guard or other organisations.
Entry Requirements & Advancement:
To join the Guild, a character must be able to treat Perform as a class skill or have levels in a class which has Perform as a class skill. If a character is eligible, then an invitation is extended from an existing member. The member may have seen the character performing, know of them by reputation, adventured with them or encountered them in another suitable manner.
The invitation does not entitle the character to instantly benefit from the Guild’s assistance unless buoyed by a strong reputation (8 ranks in Perform or greater). To become a full member the character will have to earn the favour of a Patron in the Guild. This can be achieved either by making a DC 15 Perform check or a DC 18 Bardic Knowledge check, which can be attempted once a day. If the character has not succeeded after 3 days, they have failed to gain entry and will have to show marked improvement in their skills before they are invited again (i.e. gain a level). This audition could form part of a quest if a performance is required.
Advancement in the Guild is by reputation and establishing connections with other members. Reputation is determined predominantly by skill, but can also include time spent as a member and character history, particularly if the character is influential in their own right or has met and worked for influential figures in Avalon. Connections are both specific contacts in the Guild and a measure of how willing the Guild is to help a member if that member falls into trouble and is based partially on reputation and on the character’s willingness to help the Guild and its members through quests, performances or other activities*.
*A character’s Patron is typically willing to offer discreet aid, but alone may not be particularly influential.
Benefits for membership in the Storyteller’s Guild vary according to Reputation and Influence as follows: Reputation advances steadily bringing new benefits as a characters Perform skill increases (see below), however, to gain access to new benefits, the character must demonstrate their improved skills in a performance or event where guild members are present.
Every new members starts at the lowest band and may improve their reputation once every three days until they have reached their appropriate level, this is to demonstrate the time needed to become known in the guild and make contacts. A characters Patron and Connections should be agreed upon membership or advancement and recorded. Influence & Connections should be taken into account when determining the effectiveness of help in these benefits where appropriate.
Economic: The Guild prefers not to mix money with members: typically it will not offer financial aid, however, it will suggest where the character may be able to find work, including in cities outside of Avalon, but cannot guarantee the character will have access to the same benefits outside of Avalon. A character may be able to request aid from their Patron, although the Patron is not under any obligation to provide it and is likely to expect something in return.
Gear: The Guild has access to a wide variety of outfits, musical instruments and other theatrical tools, but there is no specific or special gear used by members, except by leaders or during certain activities as described in the relevant sections. Mundane items, outfits and other theatrical equipment can be borrowed from the guild, typically for performances or on a short term loan (i.e. for a quest), frequent borrowers may be charged for the service and if the item is lost or damaged, the character will be expected to replace it at full market price.
Information: While the character is still new to the Guild and has not yet made a name for themselves, they may only benefit from their Patron’s knowledge, this will be specialised in areas relevant to the character’s Perform skill, such as Knowledge (local) on locations and resources useful for them, and Knowledge (History or Nobility) checks relating to famous songs, stories, characters or noble families if their stories have been recorded in a suitable medium: Play, story, song etc. If they speak with their Patron, they may receive a +5 circumstance bonus on a qualifying knowledge check.
As the character advances they gain access to additional support from specialised members in the Guild, gaining their first Connection after they achieve 8 ranks in Perform and an additional Connection at each 4 ranks in the Perform skill after that up to a maximum of 4 Connections (Not including their Patron).
If the Connection is consulted they can provide a benefit associated with one of the following skills: Appraise (Items up to DC 20), Decipher Script (Up to DC 25), Forgery (1d20+Character level), Gather Information (+5 circumstance bonus to characters roll), Knowledge (One of: Arcana, Geography, History, Local, Nobility & Royalty or Religion)(+5 circumstance bonus to character’s roll), Profession (Any one) or Speak Language (Connection is able to translate any one language for the character except secret languages).
• 1 – 7 Ranks in Perform: As a member the character can purchase almost any mundane item at 85% of its market price from the guild as a wide variety are typically kept for props, plays or celebrations. They can also offer some alchemical and magic items such as Shiftweave and items specifically useful for entertainers at 90% market price.
• 8 – 11 Ranks in Perform: The character has begun to make friends in the Guild, in addition to the benefits given in Information above, a Connection may react favourably if asked for minor assistance such as anonymously borrowing Guild equipment (i.e. for a disguise, if the equipment is damaged or lost it will still need to be fixed or replaced before its absence is noticed) or helping during events, granting the character +2 circumstance bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise and Gather Information checks made while the Connection is present. The price of mundane items drops to 80% of market price, qualifying alchemical and magic items are now sold at 85% market value.
• 12 – 15 Ranks in Perform: The character should now have made a couple of allies within the Guild, in addition to the assistance above, some Connections may be convinced to create a small distraction during a party, event or at a specific place in Avalon to draw attention away from the character, possibly letting them sneak by unnoticed. The price of mundane items drops to 75% of market price, qualifying alchemical and magic items are now sold at 80% market value
• 16 – 19 Ranks in Perform: The character is beginning to gain influence in the Guild with a growing network of connections they can call upon to arrange small events: these cannot be spontaneous, but can be used to arrange access to places or as a distraction. In addition, if the character is arrested or wanted by the guards, the Guild may intercede on their behalf, providing an alibi or support where possible. The price of mundane items drops to 70% of market price, qualifying alchemical and magic items are now sold at 75% market value
• 20+ Ranks in Perform: At this point, the character is so influential that the Guild will go out of its way to protect them: members may spontaneously aid the character in the street if he or she seems to be in trouble: this help is non-violent, but may involve distracting pursuers or using their abilities to bolster the character and his allies. The price of mundane items remains at 70% of market price with qualifying alchemical and magic items remaining at 75% market value
• 1 – 8 Ranks in Perform: New members are unlikely to gain access to anything significant, they may be called upon as support actors or entertainers during large events, but the demands on them are unlikely to let them leave unnoticed.
• 9 – 12 Ranks in Perform: These characters have gained a level of notice and may be volunteered or invited as an entertainer in a smaller performance, perhaps a play or event for households of middling income.
• 13 – 16 Ranks in Perform: By this point the character’s name has become known enough to be chosen as the primary entertainer for small events and may be invited as a support act for a large event hosted by more influential members of society, potentially giving access to their residence.
• 17 – 20 Ranks in Perform: Crowds clamour to see this character in action, typically earning them preferential roles in plays or concerts, perhaps even receiving requests for private performances or parties from the wealthy or nobles.
• 21+ Ranks in Perform: At this point, the character is so well known for their talents that they may be considered a part of high society and are frequently requested for private performances or invited as a guest in their own right and may be allowed to bring others with them.
Status & NPC Reactions:
Membership to the Guild does not confer any change in status in and of itself, although a character’s Patron may reflect well on their status. Over the course of the characters membership their status and NPC’s opinions of them is likely to rise through performances and other events as suggested in the above sections.
The Guild avoids combat, even when it acts to help a member – such as helping an amorous bard escape a noble’s guards after a clandestine encounter with their daughter – that help is indirect: perhaps by disabling the guard dogs with drugged food or by confusing the guards chasing the member by having other similarly dressed members scatter in different directions or a group of ‘drunken revellers’ slow the chasers by blocking a street or helping the fleeing character blend into a crowd. Subtlety in these events is key as the Guild does not wish to be implicated in these activities.
For more serious issues members can create larger distractions such as giving the impression of a false fire using a combination of flash powder and smokesticks or any number of alchemical goods that will not cause lasting damage or harm, but this level of intervention is extremely rare and only used when they are sure it cannot easily be tied back to the Guild.
If members come to the aid of an influential character who is involved in combat, then they will typically refrain from fighting, instead using their abilities to inspire the character, distract the foes or cover the character’s retreat with deception and guile before disappearing themselves.
A Patron may place certain responsibilities on the character, typically regular performances or practice sessions to hone their skills. The Patron may also have further requests, particularly if the character has asked for financial aid or a favour; this usually involves working for the Patron, acting as tutor to other hopefuls, completing discreet errands or another suitable activity.
The Guild itself may also call upon the character to perform in events or celebrations, failure of the member to respond to these requests or provide suitable notice that they cannot assist may result in diminished influence in the Guild or suspension of privileges.
There is no true hierarchy in the Guild, but some distinctions can be made:
Leader: There is no fixed leader, but the role is always fulfilled by an influential figure in the Guild and as theatricality is at the heart of the Guild, if a leader is required to appear in public – such as to open a performance of intercede at a formal event – he or she does so in a disguise as one of the following Deities: Aasterinian, Garl Glittergold, El Ahrairah And Reynard, Pit of Thoth depending on the race of the leader in question and the circumstances of the event.
Patrons: Patrons are influential members of the Guild and may hold a position in Avalon, however these are typically normal members of society and only rarely powerful or wealthy enough to have offer significant aid to their protégés. As a character advances in the Guild they may become Patrons themselves with their own protégé acting as an additional Connection; however a protégé is not free and should entail upkeep costs and consequences.
Members: Members cover the vast majority of people in the Guild and may come from a variety of backgrounds and skill sets.
Lore: Knowledge (Local)
DC 10: The Storyteller’s Guild is a joke, just a title the entertainers like to use to sound official.
DC 15: There is a Guild, though it goes by many names and nobody is really sure what it does except that it helps entertainers (Bards) become established. Though it sometimes takes in powerful orators (i.e. Marshals) and shady types (Rogues/Psionic Rogues).
DC 20: Most bards, playwrights and entertainers are part of the Guild, including some influential figures and the character may know of a couple of members, they may also have heard if a member of the Guild is looking for adventurers.
DC 25: The character is aware of several members of the Guild, including at least one influential member and may have heard rumours of the Guilds other activities.
Encounters & Missions:
The Guild does not offer missions in the typical sense, although individual members may contract other members or adventurers for protection or to complete specific tasks. Influential members may hire characters for politically motivated quests, perhaps seeking evidence of corruption or blackmail against political rivals or even on rare occasions hire adventurers to intimidate or more frequently humiliate a rival.
Members of lower standing might seek out adventurers as inspiration for their sagas and if they are not satisfied with the adventurer’s stories may send them out to face greater threats. Some extremely hopeful members may even hire a party to pursue rumours of treasure from the ancient legends they know. A Patron may hire adventurers to seek out a missing protégé who has not returned from a heavy nights drinking or from accompanying a group of adventurers.
The Guild is also as susceptible as any other to more mundane risks: entertainers and acting troupes are often seen as soft targets by gangs who might try to extort money from them, there may be an infestation of monstrous termites in the prop warehouse, trained animals or animated items could be running amok during a production or perhaps the ancient tome of legends one of the playwrights has been drawing inspiration from contained more than simple words.