Across Findalay there are ancient ruins , mysterious forests, unexplored caves, and the terrifyingly uncharted Damned Lands. In Parian vast expanses of untamed wilds hold the remnants of ancient societies long forgotten. Verda is a newly discovered land with a map that remains incomplete and holds wonders unseen in the history of Canus’ current non-dragon inhabitants.
Adventurers were being hired by to procure treasures, clean out monsters, protect teams of archeologists, map new areas, discover new travel routes, investigate rumors, find new life, or simply to see what might be happening in a place uncharted and report back. The patrons for these quests included everyone from potion shop owners in need of ingredients from a dark marsh to federal governments in need of mercenary explorer. But for every ten adventurers hired, five might die, run away with the paycheck or treasure, seize an operation for their own, or muck up their patron’s desired result.
In Marrial, groups of seasoned adventurers were watching work slip through their fingers to cheaper, less-experienced greenhorns and they decided to do something about it. These groups formed The Explorers’ Guild and advertised themselves as the best and most reliable mercenaries for hire. The popularity of this group grew and today members of The Explorers’ Guild are made up of all types of adventurer. The Guild can be found in every corner of Canus.
Contracts with The Explorers’ Guild
The Explorers’ Guild is very popular with patrons because of the guarantees they give when they take on a contract.
- The Explorers’ Guild asks for 40% of a contract’s payment upfront. A full refund is guaranteed if the contract is not fulfilled.
- The Explorers’ Guild asks that the remaining 60% of the contract be paid upon fulfillment of the terms.
- The Explorers’ Guild promises experienced, tested, proven adventurers working on every contract.
- The Explorers’ Guild takes personal responsibility for any mishaps during a contracted mission. They will pay for damages of goods and people they were meant to protect in the unlikely event of such a thing.
- The Explorers’ Guild will replace a dead or otherwise incapacitated party of adventurers if the contract can still be fulfilled at the time of death or incapacitation.
- The patron may terminate a contract at anytime and get his or her 40% upfront payment back.
The idea of paying less than half upfront and a company of experienced adventurers that would claim fiscal responsibility for damages appealed to many patrons and still does today.
Thee other attractive thing about The Explorers’ Guild – they’ll stop at nothing to fulfill a contract. Patrons often don’t ask how results were achieved and less often does The Explorers’ Guild tell. To the mercenaries, laws are left unbroken when possible, but if they get in the way, they are an obstacle – not a dead end.
Structure of the Guild
The Explorers’ Guild has a very freeform structure. Every first of the year all members of the Guild are invited to Marrial to vote for a High Guildmaster. The High Guildmaster’s job is not very exciting – mostly bureaucratic. The position does pay very well however, and the job is an important one. The High Guildmaster appoints a regional Guildmaster for each country. The regional Guildmasters in turn appoint local Guildmasters in each city. The High Guildmaster deals with all international contracts, the regionals handle high-profile and domestic missions for the respective federal government, and locals handle the day-to-day quests.
Other than Guildmasters, members are simply at-large. An individual Guildmaster can hire as many advisors and coworkers as he or she wants (though it comes out of the Guildmaster’s tithe – see below). Thus each local chapter of The Explorers’ Guild is set up a little differently. The Guildmaster is only responsible for the lower Guildmasters and at-large members currently signed to a contract in his or her jurisdiction.
Guildmasters negotiate, settle, and dispute contractual terms. They assign teams of adventurers to fulfill the contracts and see that they are paid rewarded when the mission is complete. They deal with any snafus and serve as advisors to at-large members. If an at-large member has a dispute with a local Guildmaster they must take it that individual’s supervising regional Guildmaster. A regional Guildmaster’s decision can only be overturned by the High Guildmaster.
The largest perk of being a Guildmaster is the payment from each contract when fulfilled. 10% of every local contract goes into the local Guildmaster’s pocket and the pockets of his or her staff. 5% goes to the funding of the local chapter for upkeep, goods, and travel expenses, 5% goes to the offices of the regional Guildmaster, and another 5% goes to the offices of the High Guildmaster. The remaining 75% goes to the party who fulfilled the contract.
Joining The Explorers’ Guild requires letters of merit from two standing Explorers’ Guild members. The letters must speak first and foremost to the adventuring experience and ability of the individual. These are presented to the local Guildmaster who verifies their authenticity. As long as everything checks out, that person is granted membership into The Explorers’ Guild. Once a member, always a member. Only in the harshest of circumstances is a member removed from the organization.
Benefits of being a Guild Member
The first perk of joining The Explorers’ Guild is, of course, the payment and easier access to jobs. All an at-large member needs to do to receive a mission is enter an Explorers’ Guild House, talk with the local Guildmaster or a staff member and see what’s available. When times are slow, which is rare, the Explorers’ Guild may pay adventurers to take up a mission of importance (usually mapping a new area or gathering treasure) that will help the organization profit in some way.
Members of the Explorers’ Guild always have a place to stay in a settlement where there is a Guild House present. When on a contracted mission, their room, board, and travel are all paid. Any items or wealth acquired during a mission not specifically mentioned as desirable by the patron or Explorers’ Guild are the adventurers’ to keep.
I’m addition, members of the Explorers’ Guild respect and aid one another. They can provide goods, services, food, refuge, etc. to their fellow-guildsman.
Accomplishments of the Guild
In its over 200 year history, The Explorers’ Guild has accomplished much not just in small ruins and towns of Findalay and Parian, but globally they are a force known to many. Here is a list of a few of their accomplishments.
- 205 FF – The Guild destroys the ancient blue wyrm, Filixtrasa the Mad, after she lays waste to parts of Aeranore.
- 266 FF – The Guild helps The Arcane College uncover and destroy the plans of The Servants (a group of evil wizards who profited from an enormous war in Findalay thanks to their manipulation of the people in power via magic crowns).
- 305 FF – In rare team-up with the Society of Seekers, the two organizations put aside differences and turn the tide of The Plague of Undeath and hordes of undead armies.
- 393 FF – The Explorers’ Guild discovers Verda.
Relationship to The Society of Seekers
When The Explorers’ Guild was fifty years young, a significant portion of the membership was unhappy with their loose structure and thought there was a better way to go about things. These adventurers formed The Society of Seekers and began competing with The Explorers’ Guild for contracts. Eventually this conflict became violent and the two organizations waged a years-long, global gang war.
Today, the two groups have ceased violence, but they are still in competition with one another. Representatives from The Explorers’ Guild and The Society of Seekers will often show up simultaneously to court and convince a patron that they are the best organization to take on a job. If that doesn’t work, the two groups will quickly resort to mudslinging tactics and bring up past failures of their rivals to convince the patron to grant a contract. The two organizations may also compete for members.
There will be more on The Society of Seekers in my next post.
PCs and The Explorers’ Guild
PCs can join The Explorers’ Guild either by seeking out members themselves, or by being approached once they have a level of moderate fame and notoriety. Perhaps the PCs would be approached about membership at the same time by The Guild and the The Society of Seekers. Or perhaps they run into a Guild-contracted party on the same quest as themselves. Or maybe the local Explorers’ Guild has too many jobs and not enough members in the area, so the Guildmaster turns to the PCs for help. There are loads of possibilities there. The PCs could be rooting out corrupt Guildmasters. The Explorers’ Guild is a perfect frame for me to design a dungeon of the week style campaign or have the organization pulled into huge, global problems. However it pans out, The Explorer’s Guild is a welcome addition to Exploration Age.
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