The Adventurer’s Guild System
An Adventure Plug Module for Fantasy Tabletop Gaming
Welcome to the Guild
Bartholomew “The Boss” Brushkey
Known as “The Boss,” and “The Master of Secrets”
Uses a lot of jargon, mutters to himself, and is sometimes repetitive or confusing.
Stomps when he walks.
Talks fast, gets irritated with repeating himself, because he has to, a lot.
Laughs loud and often.
Eats a lot of preserved sausages, which he keeps in a hip pouch.
He is often congested and blames it on pork.
Wears pristine armor all the time.
Grizzled, war-torn face, sandy blond hair.
Kind, responds well to flattery but doesn’t often give it out.
Wants his son to “toughen up,” but loves him very much.
Wife was killed in a tragic wagon accident a year ago, and he is haunted by the loss.
Loves music and has a natural aptitude for learning musical instruments. The recorder is his favorite. He rolls advantage on any performance check involving music of any kind.
Has a clear, innocent-sounding voice and a happy attitude.
Tends to get kidnapped after the PCs fall in love with him.
Has a -2 to any strength-based check, and rolls disadvantage for anything involving sports or athletics.
The players meet “The Boss” wherever it suits you. Maybe they walk right into the adventurer’s guild. Maybe not. When Brushkey gets an opportunity and understands the group is actually adventurers, he says:
“It’s a Pros-Only-Quiet-Priority-Favor Quest, if you think you can handle it. It’s important enough to me that if you’re able to complete it, I’ll expedite your initiation into the Guild. You’ll be members straightaway instead of having to wait the three moons’ processing time.
“For the initiation quest, you don’t have to pay the quest fee, but you’ll also get no material compensation. Initiation is the prize, here. And in this case, it’s expedited. It’s in regards to my son, Todd-Robbin. He’s been having some trouble lately. What do you say? You interested?”
Presuming, of course, the players are interested, Brushkey continues with details of the quest offering:
“Tomorrow—the Field of Triumph* is reopening. The repairs and renovations are done. Every year, we have a tradition that takes place there, just before horse racing season starts—there’s a children’s race. It’s fun. Kicks off the season, makes it feel a little less like all people do there is gamble and kill things, and a little more like there’s some family opportunities.
“My son is in this race, and he’s been having some trouble with bullies lately. I want him to win. Boost him up, you know? The worst part is it’s a team race, and his teammate left him for a different racer. He’ll need a new partner. If it wasn’t a kid, I’d deal with the little jerk that left him myself…. But you can’t hurt the other kids. I mean it.
“Think you can handle it? I can’t have the other parents thinking I’m a cheater. Has to look like he’s won it fair and square. They’ve got the place all set up for the race now, if you want to check it out. They’ve got assigned lanes and everything. You know, so parents know which kid is theirs from far away.”
*The Field of Triumph is a colosseum in Waterdeep, along the Sword Coast in the Forgotten Realms. I used this in my Dungeons & Dragons 5E campaign, but it is a system agnostic setup. Call your fighting pit/entertainment arena/gathering place whatever you’d like.
What is the Children’s Race?
The Children’s Race is an event held in my version of Dungeon & Dragon’s Waterdeep where four teams of two children each race through an obstacle course. It includes things like digging through a bale of hay, crawling through mud, and traversing a maze to the final finish line, but you could adjust these to whatever you like. The race is used as a bragging right amongst nobility that their child’s team won the race that year, and the kid’s name is immortalized in a hall of fame built specifically for this purpose within the city. It’s ridiculous, hilarious, and the fact that most players will get crazy over a bunch of children racing can be hysterical. I really play it up with the adult NPCs, as though it’s a super-important-event-and-who-could-ever-doubt-it sort of thing.
According to the official rules, there is no magic or interference allowed at all, and several members of the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors stand guard at intervals around the course; however, it is common knowledge that parents within the stands will do what they can to “assist” their children. As long as no actual damage is done to a child, no one gets upset.
A few unenthusiastic guards won’t stop most players. It certainly didn’t stop mine. Only a couple of rounds into the race, one of my players got so competitive that she may have launched a fireball at the bale of hay while a child was approaching it. I won’t say any names, though….
If you’d like to run this event, I have a full guide on it for you. It’s a lot of fun, and I found it easy to facilitate. My players still talk about it sometimes, and they still have their “Children’s Race 1492 Supporter” ribbons I made for them. If you want the guide, the mechanics, and the free Cricut crafting file, check them out while you’re here!
INITIATION INTO THE GUILD
Regardless of how you choose to have your players join the guild, you’ll want the initiation process to seem well-organized and important. I’ve drawn up a “contracty” sounding legal agreement that you’re welcome to use and modify as needed. Below, you’ll find a PDF with the text as is (setting in Waterdeep), the text in a Google Doc that you can modify, and if you have access to a Cricut, I’ve also thrown together a file you can use to make a really special deliverable for your precious nerdlings.
If this process seems like a lot to take in, let me break it down for you a bit:
- Players learn about Adventurer’s Guild via event or NPC
- Intro Quest(s): Either use above Children’s Race or your own quest (also, this entire step is entirely optional)
- Initiation into The Adventurer’s Guild: Sign the contract
- Receive first quest: Pay fee and get the details
- Complete first quest (assuming success) and start earning points to next level and perk unlocks
- Add additional pomp and circumstance as you see fit, and use as much or as little of this guide as you feel comfortable with. It’s supposed to be fun!
QUEST BOARD OVERVIEW
Quests are labeled with a series of tags. The Adventurer’s Guild refer to this as the “Accurate Directives System,” or ADS. These tags indicate what type of quest each one is, and what kind of reward is being offered. This is designed to sound snappy, like the players are part of a fun and weird club. The tags also give players a lot of information about a handful of quests at once, with a “secret code” sort of feeling. An example of how this is used is above, in the intro quest text for Bartholomew “The Boss” Brushkey. Quests should always have multiple tags, and preferably one from each category; but if it overwhelms you or your players at first, feel free to keep it simple. I’ve put the tags below for you. If you want a copy for yourself, feel free to download the pretty PDF I made for you, or check out the Google Doc link if you prefer.
Adventurer’s Guild Quest Board Lingo
- Stale: Older than a month
- Fresh: A new quest—less than 2 weeks old
- New: Came in today
- Long: Will require a lot of time and resources to complete (i.e. an investigation into a missing person’s case)
- Priority: Needs to be completed within a specific timeframe
- Re-Quest: A repeated quest with identical or similar parameters
- Pros-Only: A quest for an important person or group
- Dirty: Requires action that *could* (ahem, will) require illegal activity in order to complete parameters—pays well, high risk
- Quiet: Use extreme discretion. No one can see you complete this work.
- Fancy: Requires large amounts of deception or infiltration with nobility or politics, higher levels of the guild only
- Feral: Has to do with eradicating monsters
- Simple: Quick, low-paying (dice rolls only, no actual RP/combat required)
- High: A quest with a particularly large reward
- Material Gift: Reward is a specific item in lieu of gold
- Charity: No reward in gold or items
- Favor/Discount: Either a specific favor or a discount is offered as a reward in lieu of gold or items
LEVELING SYSTEM EXPLANATION
When your players indicate interest in the guild, you can start them in the leveling system. Above is a quest to bypass the “usual” method to officially join the guild, but if you don’t want to do that, feel free to make them enter the traditional way (and the way every other adventurer had to).
Adventurer’s Guild Leveling Parameters
The chart below shows the parameters for leveling through the adventurer’s guild.
- Each quest is assigned a level and a point value when posted on the board.
- When players accept a job, they pay the contract cost as a party and hear the terms of the quest. I require that they pay this up front, as a sort of security deposit on the secrets being told. The Guild Master is holding a lot of delicate information about important people, and doesn’t want to freely share details of quests unless a party is serious about helping out.
- Once the players complete the assigned quest, they are rewarded the listed gp value, points, items, etc., less the guild percentage take. (In the event of an item or a favor as payment, this is bypassed.)
- If the players fail the quest, they must pay the fee for failure, in addition to dealing with their bruised egos.
Tips for Success using the Adventurer’s Guild System
Assign someone responsible in your group to keep track of how many points they’ve accumulated through quests, to give you one less thing to do. Lots of players love keeping track of information like this.
Here is a Google Sheet for tracking quest completion, successes, and points accumulated. Feel free to Click File>Make a Copy to use it yourself or share it with your players. I’ve included a few sample quests at the top as an example.
If something in these rules or parameters seems to strict (or not strict enough) for your party, you should adjust it. This should be fun for your table, and everyone’s group likes different things. This is especially true for the gold values.
Below is the chart for leveling within the guild ranks. If you want a copy for yourself, feel free to download the PDF I made for you, or check out the Google Doc link if you prefer.
Points of Clarification
Quest Board “Upgrade”
Level 2: “You may purchase a quest board upgrade for your tavern”
This refers to one of two things, depending on your group. My group owns a tavern, so it is defined as them actually buying a quest board for their tavern, so that they don’t have to go to the Adventurer’s Guild to see what’s available.
If your players do not own property, this is interpreted as follows: A 500gp cost is required to unlock levels 3-5 in quest levels. Think of it as an investment. (Or you could just ignore this entirely.)
Bart and His Teleportation Circle
Level 5: “Access to Bart’s teleportation circle”
This is a permanent guild teleportation circle. It is upstairs, behind a locked door with two guards standing astride the entrance. Players who reach level five in the adventurer’s guild may enter this room to find a plush, comfortable lounge with a raised dais in the center. Bart relaxes here and (sort of) keeps an eye on the teleportation circle.
Meet Bart, the laziest mage to ever work for an Adventurer’s Guild
Bart is an optional, premade NPC. He is a level 10 mage, able to cast 5th level spells. Here is a sample loadout you could use if you play Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, but this is unnecessary to the guild. Feel free to flavor Bart with any spells or skills you’d like (or not at all).
- Cantrips: Prestidigitation, Friends, Dancing Lights
- 1st: Burning Hands, Comprehend Languages, Alarm, Disguise Self
- 2nd: Blindness/Deafness, Hold Person, See Invisibility
- 3rd: Counterspell, Feign Death, Gaseous Form, Haste, Magic Circle, Fast Friends, Fireball, Tongues
- 4th: Evard’s Black Tentacles, Greater Invisibility, Polymorph
- 5th: Hold Monster, Passwall, Bigby’s Hand
The loadout he has is largely unnecessary for his routine; he has these spells transcribed in his spell book because it’s his job to protect the guild from anyone or anything troublesome coming through the portal, but he’s grown complacent in recent peacetime. He spends most of his day polymorphed into a dog and, due to a special amulet that allows him to maintain concentration spells during sleep, naps on one of the cushions near the portal. He does little else, and is still paying off a loan he took out in order to purchase the amulet from a travelling salesman.
He is so frequently polymorphed into a dog that some guild members don’t even realize he’s a human mage. Mechanically, he spends his three level four slots on Polymorph, and then casts it two more times at level five. (There are no mechanical benefits to casting it at a higher level.) He also is able to regain five spell slots per day on a short rest, so he is effectively able to do this two times, topping him out at ten hours a day as a pug or other lazy creature of your choosing.
Could lead to some interesting stories….
MEGA LIST of Quest Hooks, via Reddit!
I have scoured the internet (mostly Reddit) for what I felt were the most interesting quest hooks, and consolidated them for you! Credit is given where possible, but please understand that I literally copied this content from Reddit and put it into a Google Doc for my own convenience and use. I’m simply sharing it with you in case you find it useful as well. These came from both system agnostic and fantasy tabletop sources, and can be used in any TTRPG as they are just ideas to get you going.
I set up the document so that if you click View>Show Outline (Ctrl+Alt+A), you can see all the main categories of quests and click to go to each section. I am a particularly huge fan of D100 lists, and this includes a couple of those as well.
Want a More Elegant Option for Adventurer’s Guild Quests?
Perhaps scouring through a thousand ideas sounds tedious or too time consuming for you. No problem. If you have a few days’ lead time and can wait for Amazon to ship something to you, here’s my suggestion: pick up a Deck of Stories Genesis Box. I’m not sponsored by them or anything. I just genuinely love this product. This pack of cards has a fun and super easy “ORC” system to build new quests with as much randomness as you’d like, using the cards in the deck for information or inspiration. ORC stands for Opening action, Rising action, and Climactic Action, showing you where the event should fit within the quest you’re developing. The Genesis Box comes with Volume 1 and 2 of quest generation cards, sensory cards (described below), and NPCs all packaged together. It’s a great set.
The Genesis Box also has sensory cards that you can read aloud for describing loads of different circumstances and settings, giving you a very quick way to flavor a room or environment without having to rely on your other tools as much. I love these sensory cards so much that if they sold an entire pack of them separately, it would be an instant buy from me.
Last, it also comes with NPC cards with names, pictures, backstories, and quest hooks on each card. I love the production quality and versatility of this deck and have recommended it in other articles for having great NPCs at your table. Sometimes when I need something fast (and I mean, my players are literally sitting down and I forgot about one tangent they could take until they just mentioned it), I’ll grab something out of this deck and find myself getting distracted just reading through some of the ideas. Lots of inspiration, here. Just be careful not to get too carried away and trash your main plot….
This is a fantasy based deck, but many of the quest concepts could be used as is or easily adapted for pretty much any setting. The NPCs look pretty “fantasy medieval” to me, so if you’re running a game in a different setting, check out this version instead. It’s just volume 1 of their quests separately.
DM KIT: YOUR MAGIC ITEMS
You don’t need to buy a single thing to have fun with this system. Just so we’re clear. If you want to keep this free, just skip this section entirely.
If you have expendable income, like toys, and want to pick up a few things to make running The Adventurer’s Guild System a bit more fun, here are some recommendations for you based on my experiences.
Fantasy and/or D20 Systems: Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons, etc.
- Deck of Stories Genesis Deck: Because I just can’t recommend these enough. They could be adapted to a non-fantasy setting easily, but the included NPC cards look pretty fantasy medieval to me.
- Protect your gaming table: These coasters are fun, are etched with D&D class names, and not terribly expensive in case something happens to one of them.
- Condition Markers: While I am a major proponent of making your own tabletop items, having a set like this can really make life easier for everyone to see what’s going on. As a DM myself, it’s great to have a visual like this in larger, more tactical battles as the rounds progress.
- Fun D20 DM Tankard: Completely nonessential in my opinion, but it is fun and it keeps (quite a bit) of your beverage of choice cold for a while. You work hard to make your game great! Treat yourself!
- Potion Tokens: Full Disclosure: I do not and will never use these. BUT other people love them. I make my own deliverables with my darling Cricut and think they’re much better, even if they don’t last as long since they’re made of cardstock (but I can always make more).
- The link I’m sharing to Cricut above is free to use if you are a Cricut Access member. Please understand that if you aren’t a Cricut Access member and you try to use the file, they will charge you to use some of the vectors.
- Here’s a free version you can use instead, if you’d like. I do not make any money if you pay for the other Cricut file. Cricut gets all money given for vector file access.
- Book of Quick Use Puzzles & Riddles: If you are trying to have a very low prep time, having something like this on hand can be enormously helpful. Pick a few quest hooks from the resources above, and then just choose one puzzle or riddle. Whichever quest they pick, use that puzzle. Your players don’t need to know how much you’ve prepped for each quest. It’s all about the illusion sometimes. And when you are busy, lazy, or procrastinating, it helps to have shortcuts! We’ve all been there.
- For me, personally, I am so picky that I usually modify any/every puzzle found in a book, and then go crazy with homebrew tangents. I’ll put what I’ve made up on Malice Inn & Tavern for you soon. 🙂
For Every Game Master/Dungeon Master
- Awesome, attractive, and highly functional GM Bag: For those of us who play in a LFGS, move from place to place to play our tabletop games, or have to pack up for lack of space, this is a great option. It is durable and thoughtfully designed.
- Faux Leather Dice Roll up and Rolling Mat: It has a rugged, masculine look that is generally well-liked, it isn’t real leather (a plus in my opinion), and it’s great for a travelling DM/GM. Also, it looks like a scroll holder when it’s rolled up. How cool is that?
- A high quality journal: Seriously, I own about eight of these in different sizes and colors (though not the fantastic pink color and that may need to change). I love this brand. The paper is creamy and soft, the page numbers are a satisfying font, and even subpar pens have a nicer tactile experience on the page. I always have one of these in front of me when I’m running a game. I would love it if I were organized enough to always use the SAME one, but, you know. Goals.
- If the cover is too boring for you, and you want something nerdier: though it’s not my personal favorite, you might want to check this out.
- Thematic Initiative Tracker: Full disclosure: I do not use this and I don’t think it’s super practical, but other people like it a lot. To me, this seems too cumbersome for use in actual combat. But to each their own, and since it’s so well-received, I thought I’d share it with you here.
- Personally, I use cardstock cards that I Cricut, decorate with washi tape, and hang over the front of my game screen. I can rearrange them quickly and I have Cricut write the names on both sides of the card so me and all my players can see who is next.
- Sassy note: If you have not tried paper crafting, Cricut, or some equivalent yet because you believe it is for women, please take a moment to think about this mindset. Paper is not exclusively for women. Tape and adhesives are not exclusively for women. Neither is writing, nor creativity. Please, get your head out of the dark ages and make something cool for your players.
- Metal Coins with Cool Eye Pouch: I love tangibility at the table. Can’t say it enough–it is killer for immersion and player engagement. This is an affordable way to get some “real” money at the table. Much more exciting to gamble with. I also use real poker chips when the need arises.
- Cricut: If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a big big fan. I think more men should be using Cricut, and I think more DMs/GMs should be using Cricut. Cricut does not pay me, sponsor me, or even know that I exist. I just love the flexibility and possibility of the machine, and I have made some really awesome stuff for my players (and myself) with it.
Here, for your convenience, you will find the PDFs I made for each of the major pieces of the Adventurer’s Guild System. If you’d like the other links, crafting files, Google Docs, and tracking sheets, scroll back up to find buttons for each of those in their respective sections.
Have a problem? Running into issues? We want to help you! Send us a message using the contact information in the site footer.
Here are a few of the most common questions:
If there are any details of this system that aren’t working for you and your group, don’t use them. Every table is different.
If I’m playing with newer or younger players, I’ll do a much simpler version of this.
If I’m playing with veterans, they want to know the percentage take from the guild so they can put it into their own spreadsheet they’ve made, because that’s they player they are, and that’s fun for them.
Your job as the Game Master is to modify the game to make it fun for you and YOUR players.
This is an easy fix. Keep all the core mechanics you’re interested in, and simply change the currency to what you’re using, the names of the NPCs, and the structure the guild is in. That’s it. If I’m making this into a Victorian London AGS, here are the changes:
- Bartholomew “The Boss” Brushkey stays the same, with a different picture
- Todd-Robbin stays the same
- “Adventurer’s Guild” becomes Explorer’s League or Detective’s Agency, whichever fits my group better
- Intro quest is still a children’s race, but it incorporates chimney sweeps and is for charity
- Gold and silver becomes European currency
You get the idea. I just made a few thematic changes. It still works.
Well, in a sense this is a bittersweet problem to have. You’re excited to incorporate the AGS into your game, which is fun for everyone; but since your players are working on other things, that means you’ve already built an engaging world for them to play in! So first, pat yourself on the back. That’s great!
Incidentally, this also happened to me. Here’s how I lured them back:
- Todd-Robbin, who my players L-O-V-E, was kidnapped by a BBEG linked to their main campaign. Brushkey asked them for help, and joined them on that quest. That reminded them of the opportunity.
- Give them a reason to need money, and make the AGS as ONE (not the only) way they can fulfill that need. You don’t want to strong arm them into doing what you want.
- Populate the quest board with concepts you know your players will find irresistible, then have a messenger deliver the updated requests to them. Make at least one of them quite urgent and high-paying.