Guilds can be used in any table top role playing game to create more of a real world feel to your game. Guilds are typically aligned around occupations (i.e. thief, blacksmith, mercenary, etc.) and each have their own agenda, motive and goal. These guilds can be instrumental in your campaign if you want to incorporate one or more guilds. Also remember that you could have just one guild that could be persecuted in your campaign by those in power.
Introduction: What are Guilds?
Guilds are a great way to add depth and realism to your Dungeons and Dragons game. You can think of guilds being groups of NPC’s in your game that have aligned around some purpose. Many times games will have a thieves guild for example. If you players joined a guild then the dungeon master can use that guild to task your players with different side jobs to help further the guild’s objectives.
Using guilds in your game
1. Decide what type of guild you want in your game. There are many different types of guilds, from trade guilds to criminal organizations. Choose one that fits the setting and tone of your game.
2. Figure out what benefits the guild offers its members. This could include access to exclusive resources, training, or protection from the law.
3. Come up with a detailed history for the guild. What was it founded for? How has it changed over time? This will help make the guild feel like a living, breathing part of the world.
4. Create the structure of the guild. Who leads it? How are leaders chosen? What are the duties of the members? Create a hierarchy for the members and decide what each rank gets in terms of privileges or responsibilities.
5. Create a list of names for the members. This can be as simple or elaborate as you like, but it’s always good to have some names to use when you need them.
6. Write down any important events that have happened in the guild’s history.
7. Create a list of the guild’s enemies and allies. Do they have any rival guilds or sworn enemies of note?
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The benefits of using guilds
Here are some benefits of using guilds in your campaign:
1. Side quests given to guild members.
2. Easy enemy if there is a rival guild (think espionage).
3. Develop and build relationships with NPC’s the players interact with consistently.
4. Investigate guild corruption.
5. Solve mysterious murders of guild members.
6. Guilds have a lot of history that can be used to create plot hooks.
7. Guild members can be your main NPCs for the players to interact.
8. Guilds provide great role playing opportunities for players and NPC’s alike.
9. Guilds can be a source of income.
10. Guilds can be used as a way to “level up” your characters faster.
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11. Guild members can be used for healing and supplies.
12. Guild members can help with jobs, missions, and quests (i.e. deliveries, etc.).
13. Guilds are a place to meet like-minded people.
14. A social setting for players and NPC’s to interact.
15. Guilds can be used to unite the players and NPCs.
16. Guilds allow you to create a sense of community in your campaign setting.
17. Guilds allow you to create tension between your players, NPCs, and guilds.
18. A source for magical items and equipment.
19. Guilds allow you to create a sense of mystery as to who runs them and what they are up to.
20. Guilds can be used as an adventure hook or subplot in your campaign.
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How to create a guild
Think about your world you are creating. What sorts of occupations would people rally around? What sorts of causes?
Is there a wizard or arcane practitioner guild? Thieves or assassins guild? Artisan, blacksmith or mercenary guild?
Or maybe there is a group of people that are committed to destroy demons or study fey or eradicate a school of magic (everyone hates necromancy) because it is an abomination or any number of things could be rally around. This would be different than a religious order as deities and faith could but isn’t a requirement to join the guild.
How to integrate guilds into your game
- Create a list of guilds that will be in your world.
- Name each guild with a brief description of what cause or occupation they center around.
- Note which guilds your players can join.
- List any rivalries between any guilds, factions, religious and other groups.
- Narrow down your list to 5 or less that you want to develop more.
- Create a list of NPC’s names, race, class, and level for any important guilds.
- Develop the guild’s hierarchy at a high level.
- Think about how the players will be introduced to the guild and who in the guild they will meet.
- Is this going to be a positive or negative meeting?
- How much will the guilds drive your campaign? If a lot, then spend more time answering the questions above.
The different types of guilds
Think about guilds in broad categories and then ask if you need anything in that category. If you need a guild in a category is it only one or more than one.
Magic Guild (arcane, divine, class based, hunting a major artifact, own a particular item, seek specific knowledge, etc.).
Fighting Guild (class based, mercenary, guard, soldier, use a specific type of weapon, sworn to kill a specific race / type of enemy – demons for example, etc.).
Thieves / Assassin / Arcane Trickster
Artisan guilds (Alchemists, brewers, armorers, glassblowers, cobblers, metal workers, ship builders, etc.).
In conclusion, using guilds in your Dungeons and Dragons game can be very beneficial. They can help you create a more believable and immersive world for your players, and they can also provide some great role-playing opportunities. There are many different types of guilds available, so be sure to pick one that fits well with your campaign setting.
About the Author:
Dwight Scull has been playing tabletop role playing games (starting with Dungeons and Dragons 3.5) back in 2001. He started being a dungeon master around 2005.
He loves to play many different types of TTRPG’s, including GURPS, Shadowrun, Vampire: The Masquerade, Mage: The Ascension (and other White Wolf Games), Nights Black Agents, and others.
Fan of mysteries, light horror, co-op board games, true crime, sci-fi and fantasy.