Guilds Town: the Cult War v1.1
A city setting for Dungeons and Dragon by /u/mrvalor
Guilds Town is in the middle of Dravens, a province of the realm of Shrave. 50 years ago, the neighboring dwarven province of Kiernard rebelled and tried to overthrow the green dragon Shrave who rules the realm. They failed and their province was dissolved. Dwarves who left the province mostly fled to Dravens, and are called Nards as both a racial slur and a stigma of their people’s dishonor. Guilds Town are the ones really in control of the province and are the current opposition of the Dravens nobility. In recent times, corruption and crime in the city have risen to new heights as 4 cults compete for control of the city and their citizens.
Using This Resource
Brief list on how to use this document.
This document contains
- Part 1 | Introduction Includes info about entering the city and about the "Nards", a dwarf culture unique to my setting.
- Part 2 | City Description A description of the districts. References to specific factions can be easily replaced.
- Part 3 | Undercity Description Description of the underground areas, can be easily re-purposed.
- Part 4 | Internal Conflict Description of the city politics as I have built it. Including the Council of Elders, Cults, and other such things.
- Part 5 | NPCs NPCs I have build based upon the Internal Conflict premises. Also includes templates for NPCs and power levels. Assumes D&D 5th edition.
- Part 6 | Storylines Review of storylines and themes
- Part 7 | Hooks, Events, and Quests Ways to engage the PCs in the setting. These are ideas, nothing more or less. Based on the stats in the NPCs section, includes ideas for levels 1-2, 2-3, and 5-10.
Maps Needed for Use
Meant for use with the following album of maps (http://imgur.com/gallery/4zlJc):
- Unmarked map
- Map with district labels
- Heat map indicating dangerous areas
- Map marked with spheres of influence
- Undercity map
- Undercity map with labels
- Undercity map with spheres of influence
Imgur album of battlemaps meant for use in Guilds' Town: http://imgur.com/a/2NZ5V. Includes maps of Snake's Town, A ship, and a Coastal Ritual Site.
This document does not contain
Treasure, a rigid storyline, Homebrew classes, magic items, etc.
Required for Entry
Approaching, Captain Sidrive (“Sid”) will approach along with a couple dozen guards. The guards are well equipped for normal town guards and have split mail, shields, longswords, and light crossbows. Sid is gruff but seems fair.
Due to recent internal turmoil, non-resident, non-humans seeking entry must be questioned and wear a badge identifying them as “guests” to enter the city. If they have weapons, they must be escorted by a guard and must pay for this service (2 gp per day per guard).
If the party has multiple humanoids, they will be required to have 1 guard per 2 humanoid adventurers. This is not something that can be negotiated on unless they can convince the captain of the guard who knows he will be fired if it is found out he let this slide.
The curfew for non-resident humanoids is 10 pm to 5 am, they can sidestep this by paying guards overtime to escort them 4 gold per guard per evening. Sid will empathize with the party, [Insight DC to tell he does not like the ordinance but will not break it or even admit such].
Note: The Yuan-Ti have enacted this policy to further inflame feelings between the other cults. Since Yuan-Ti must pass for human or be killed on sight anyways, this basically just hurts everyone but them.
Code of Conduct
Posted by authority of the Guilds Town Council of Elders
No shenanigans of any kind are allowed by visitors including, but not limited to: spellcasting, shapeshifting, flying, levitating, glowing, ghosting, sneaking, raging, vandalizing, poisoning, charming, fireballing, speed walking, double talking, crowd surfing, bamboozling, or excessive chafing. Visitors breaking the code of conduct can be subject to penalties including, but not limited to: required apologies, community service, fines, light jail-time, heavy jail-time, soul-crushing jail-time, indentured servitude, or being beheaded atop the tallest tower in the city and having their head thrown in the river below. Non-human visitors breaking the code will be subject to twice the normal punishment (and yes this includes being beheaded twice).
Sincerely, Elder Elissa Bunce, Elder Gremmus Ironfury, Elder Kegan Smythe, Elder Sydni Clare, Elder Ifflesbit Trunsfud, Elder Chaz Ashville, and Elder Ebin Ostaross
Background Info: Nards
Nards are often covered in tattoos and scars. After the kingdom of Kiernard fell, the dwarves living there lost their homes. Some fled to the under dark, others fled to Gravelback. While allowed through the elven kingdom of Thrinegrove, the place most settled was Dravens. Many dwarf women and children took up in Dravens’ Port, but most in North Dravens’ Port and Guilds Town.
In the last 50 years the dwarven gangs have increased in strength. Called “Nards” as a racial/cultural slur, they have been organized into several gangs over the last couple of decades. Rumors are that they are a cross between a thief’s gang and cultists. People say they worship ancient forces of the deep, long since gone. While not impervious to attack, they have a fearsome reputation even among the orc.
Reality of Nards
They are refugees from a collapsed kingdom. They work hard, but coming to Dravens with little wealth or status they have had to start at the bottom rung of society and work their way up. As is often the case, those with wealth and status are doing their best to keep it out of Nard hands.
The Nards of Guilds Town do worship an ancient god, Lady Dravens the founder of the province who later went on to achieve status as a Demi-God in the pantheon as the Goddess of Fortune, Comradery, and Righteous Vengeance (adopted daughter of Tyr and Tymora).
Nards of Guilds Town
The Nards of are located on the north side of the lake, and have their own neighborhoods. There they are left to defend and rule themselves, with little to no assistance from the city government. This suits them just fine, as they are a stubborn and self-reliant people.
The regular citizens of the city, even peasants and the homeless, treat them dismissively. Even so, the Nards of Guilds Town have done well for themselves, even to the point of controlling the West Docks.
Nards who fought in the Battle of Kiernard 50 years ago are considered legally traitors to the crown. Thus, Nards over 50-80 years old often keep their heads down. It is generally assumed older Nards are either traitors or cowards, so those Nards stay out of sight and out of mind as often as possible. While 50 years ago, any older Nard getting enough attention might have a "visit" from the Queen's henchmen.
The Nards are facing dangers in their parts of Guilds Town, both above ground and below. They know of the dangerous cults and evils in the city, but few will listen to them. Instead of making waves or attempting to rid the city of evil, they have been preparing for an inevitable war. The irony is that they fled their fallen kingdom and settled in Guilds Town to escape war, but here they are again.
Roleplaying & Mechanics
- Nards will be pleasant, and even helpful if treated with respect.
- Nard NPCs are typically Mountain Dwarfs.
The city is divided into districts. The upper districts are at ground level upon approaching the town. The middle districts are down 100+ feet, with cliffs snaking around the city. The Lower districts are the same elevation as the lake.
The highest elevation of Guilds Town are the Upper Districts. These are 200+ feet above the river level. Much of the city’s work and trade is done here as it is the easiest way to access the city by land. The Upper Districts are well patrolled, especially during the day.
The upper district is relatively clean and well taken care of. Here is it not uncommon to see diplomats from other provinces and realms, as well as nobles of Dravens and their retainers.
People are polite in the Upper Districts, and friendly to outsiders.
Immediately inside the gate ahead of them is the Diplomats Guild. The Diplomats Guild acts as official representatives for the city, as well as their ruling council. The Guilds Town Council of Elders does not typically meet with non-residents.
The building itself is large, and houses several other guilds as well including the Servants’ Guild, Entertainers’ Guild, Scribes’ Guild, and Messengers’ Guild. Gaining entrance, the hallways are well decorated and luxurious. The three senior diplomats they meet are well dressed women in buns, one of them in the cloths of a ship captain and are named Melina, Katerina, and Captain Josephine.
They will talk to the party but refuse to hand out too much information, preferring instead to flatter the party and say nice things without actually providing any useful information. The area surrounding the Diplomat’s guild is nice and up kept.
Houses in the neighborhood nearby are mostly 15-20 feet wide, but 2-3 stories tall. They are nice, small townhouses and upper class guild members live in them with their families. Property prices in the area are steep.
On the walls are the city towers. These are roughly 40 feet in diameter, and around 75 feet tall. The walls have walkways that are built into the side of each tower. The towers are used to monitor activity both inside and outside of the city.
(Credit to /r/raddue for the idea)
There are four known ways to get from the north to the south side of Guilds Town, or vice versa. A person can take a ferry at the lake level, go through uncharted underground tunnels (not advised), walk the guard ramparts on top of the city wall which passes over the river, or cross the Izar Bridge.
The bridge, 200+ feet over the water below, has a view of both the waterfall but also the docks. It is a large bridge, roughly 20 feet wide over a hundred feet long. The bridge is controlled on both sides by several guard units, whose captains not only flag down unrecognized travelers, but also require that non-residents cough up a toll to pass.
Wagons and horses carrying multiple riders are given a discount for decreasing bridge traffic.
Not far from the south gate is the South Market. Each of the market stalls is roughly 15 feet wide, 30 feet long, and 10 feet tall. They have four beams holding the roof, and merchants are free to drop cloth walls around their stalls, or not. Some will, some will not, depending upon the time of the year.
The PCs can tell that most of the merchants in the market are not permanent residents since each of the humanoid merchants has a guard standing next to their stall. Due to such practices and local instability, only about a quarter of the stalls have merchants selling wares.
[Roll Randomly to determine merchants, pick 1d6 merchants from Walrock’s Stronghold Merchant Rules. All other merchants will be farmer’s market style meat, vegetables, fruit, and beverage sellers.]
Immediately northwest of South Gate is the Merchant’s Row. Starting after the stables, the row features merchants and vendors native to Guilds Town, including taverns, breweries, etc. The area is extremely well maintained and just off the main strip is a nice neighborhood shared with the Diplomat’s Guild district.
North Wall Neighborhood
Between the City Bridge and the North Gate is the North Wall Neighborhood District. This is relatively affordable housing (since it’s on the north side), but still nice. Most of the houses are 2-3 story townhouses around 20 feet wide.
North Workshop District
To the southeast of the North Gate is the Upper Workshop District. The shadiest place in the Upper District, this area is full of workshops, and warehouses. Some of the shops and houses are vacant. Lots of vagrants and homeless can be found in the area, as well as thugs and thieves.
The north gate is rarely opened, and not used as often. They have less staff than the other two gates, and the area around it is shadier and less patrolled than the rest of the Upper District. However, the North Gate itself and the land outside is relatively safe due the fact that the few guards there can maintain control because of a lack of other things to do.
Roc’s Nest Inn
In the east part of the city, at the tops of the cliffs it the Roc’s Nest Inn. 4 Stories tall, and much taller than the 15-foot wall at the top of the cliffs, open-window dining rooms and bars are on the 4th story giving a view of the entire town and nearby area for miles and miles around.
Slightly quarantined from the other nice neighborhoods by some relatively slummy surroundings, the Roc’s Nest Inn and surrounding buildings are the home of the rich, local, elite who control the city through money and connections, up there from their lofty perch. It is rumored that this is where the Council of Elders can often be found, enjoying expensive wine in the late morning as the masses go to work throughout the rest of the city.
Outside the city has stone walls that rise 40-50 feet up, with 70-foot guard towers. The trees surrounding the area are mostly hardwoods, and some effort has been made to fell the ones closer to town, but largely they remain growing. Approaching from the south, the road is cobblestone and well taken care of.
The ground area outside of the south gate has been completely paved with stone, off to the north west are a couple of Taverns/Inns, the “Fetching Fox” and a “Nard’s Lament”.
The gate is two giant thick wooden doors braced with steel which require dozens of guards and a pull system to open from the inside. During the day, the gate remains open. Off to the northwest is a tiny village of make-shift homes and huts with some tents amidst them. Humanoid refugees or travelers unable to pay to have guards escort them around. Off to the south-east is a cliff-side in, “The Pirates’ Perch” which is known to be a pretty nice tavern and inn.
The West Gate area is well guarded and staffed. Because the docks are relatively small and traveling upriver is not possible for all vessels, travelers from other realms often dock in North Dravens’ Port and just take a caravan or travel by foot to Guilds Town, which is less than half a day’s travel.
While only two, the roads going down the cliffs with retaining walls down the bases go down at sharp 45 degree angles to a switch back then end up on the middle district tier. The middle districts are the smallest overall districts, on the surface. However, underneath the ground, in the earth itself, is another entire small city.
Middle District Towers
The 75-foot towers of the middle district are built into the cliff faces themselves. They have few guards at the base, but upon entry each tower is heavily guarded. From beyond the front door of each tower is a large tunnel, blocked by iron grates (like a jail cell).
Beyond voices can be heard echoing through the tunnels. Guards will only let Guilds Town citizens and human visitors who have permission from a town authority of some kind enter the underground tunnels. However, these guards can be bribed. The towers in the North Middle District and Middle Workshop District are often minimally guarded.
Middle Workshop District
Even more of a slum than the Upper Workshop District, this area can be dangerous during the day. It has few guards. At night it can be extremely dangerous. Most workshops actively in use keep guards round or are prepared to defend themselves from gangs and/or cults.
Above the Snaketown District is Misern. Not a bad place in and of itself and 100% residential, it is a small urban community where everyone carries a shortsword. With the safe Westgate and Merchant’s Row Districts above them, the people of Misern are fighting against cults day and night.
North Middle District (Nard's Town)
A little bit nicer than the Middle Workshop District, this area features some small stores, lots of housing, and some workshops. Many middle-class Nards live here. The area is actively patrolled by the Nards themselves. Gangs are used to keep order since guards are scarce.
South Middle District
Mostly housing, the houses are on the cliffs and still give a decent view of the docks. While not as nice as the Diplomat’s Guild Upper District, it is more affordable and still a nice view, comparable to the North Wall Upper District.
The lower districts are relatively gross and unkept, even on the north side of the lake. The south side is especially gross. The land is dirt cheap, as is living, and much of the peasantry live in the lower districts. There are guards, especially on the docks, but most people wandering “lake-side” are advised to be alert for thieves and thugs.
East Port Disctrict
The East Docks District is relatively nice compared to the rest of the Lower Districts. There, people trade and commodities are prepared to take to the shops and stores of Merchants Row or the Market District.
Many visiting merchants find it irritating that their primary unloading zone is geographically opposite of their final destination, but this is not by chance. It means the easiest way to get goods to the south Upper Districts is to take all goods by wagon through the Roc’s Nest District first. This means that the Council of Elders and their allies always have first pick on incoming goods.
The other reason for the East Dock’s location is that of raw goods. Guilds Town has the ability to produce far more than the raw goods available. As such, it is estimated that 60% of their raw mineral materials are imported, the other 40% come from the town of Dwarfsett to the west.
The East Dock District is typically busy load and unloading shipments of various things. The craftsmen and artists of Guilds Town are renowned throughout the realm for their fine goods, and the docks are constantly full of merchants coming to purchase goods to sell abroad.
Lower District Towers
Lower district towers are 75 feet tall, some are built into the side of the cliffs but others are not. They are as well manned as the other towers, but a lack of street patrols means they are often watching what is going on, even if they aren’t doing anything about it. From these towers are entrances to the underground networks, but also the subterranean passages which run underneath the lake. Most of these passages flood on a regular basis and are not considered safe. However, those who wish to seek refuge underneath can.
Snaketown refers to the houses on the edge of the lake, but also a series of houses built on docks in the lake itself. In the relatively shallow shores where the river comes into the lake, poor people houses has been built.
Many of the upper level citizens use the rivers to dispose their waste, especially those off Merchants Row so the area of the lake they live above is also something of a sewer as well. The air is foul and snakes, frogs, toads, and other swampish creatures take up residence there. Only the destitute and the deranged live in Snaketown, and its usually at full capacity.
The tower built on the small island in the northeast part of Snaketown was taken over by the Mages Guild hundreds of years ago. After all, they don’t seem to mind the violence or nastiness that surrounds them. While the tower looks vine and scum covered on the outside, the inside is much different.
The Lower Southeast District is somewhat dangerous, and is primarily living quarters for the poor. There can be found back-alley gambling halls, taverns, brothels, and breweries. Sailors who stop in Guilds Town often visit the Southeast District for all of their hedonistic and addiction needs. Most decent folk avoid the area unless they are poor and forced to live there.
Crammed in between the Lower Southeast and Snaketown, the Lower southwest is where the very poor go to live. With snakes coming from the river and lake to eat the vermin in the area, the district is hardly safe. However, the locals are used to it, and even children who live in this area are armed with a rusty dagger at minimum. The Thieves Guild resides in this area, somewhere. Rumor is their base of operation changes houses regularly, so finding it is difficult. Most of the people living there are humans or hybrids.
West Port District
For those merchants without the clout or money to dock in the east docks, the west docks work fine as well. Controlled predominantly by Nards, the area is cheaper to dock in but relatively safe. Extortion isn’t unheard of, but is less common than it is to the south. While not as nice, the Nards take good physical care of their docks, as well as ships who use their services. They are known to be pleasant and honest.
Through the towers, the undercity can be reached. Without an escort or some type of special permission, it is difficult for nonresidents to access the Undercity. However, the towers in lesser patrolled districts often have few guards and those there are easily bribed.
Level 1: Barracks
Level 1 is predominantly barracks, training, and storage for the town guard. Having underground facilities reduces the space they need in the city itself but also hides their movement and numbers from the gangs, cults, and other dangerous denizens of the city.
Guard Training Facility
The Guard Training Facility is a collection of twisting turning 5 to 10-foot-wide tunnels that the guards use to spar, train, and get ready. In case they are ever forced to invade parts of the crowded city neighborhoods or other parts of the undercity, they are taught how to use the tight quarters to their advantage.
Guild Council Fortress
Under their favorite Inn, the Roc’s Nest, the Council of Elders have an underground stone fortress built under that part of the city. Not all of them live there, but many of them do. Few outside of the council and their close allies are aware of this fact. However, since most of the Elders are secretly cult members that means many cult members are aware of the fact.
North Gate Underbarracks
Rarely used, the North Gate Underbarracks and nearby rooms are all living and meeting spaces for the Claws of Tiamat cultists and their allies.
South Gate Underbarracks
The South Gate Underbarracks is where the main force of the city guard resides. Underneath the gate, they have barracks, armories, and a training area. The only ways to access this area are to be a guard or to be escorted to the jail.
The jail consists of several rooms with smaller cages in each. Walls are stone, there are no windows, but air is circulated in from grates in the ground from above. It is said escape from the Guilds Town Underjail is virtually impossible.
West Gate Underbarracks
The West Gate Underbarracks holds troops that guard the gate above ground. Unknown to many of the guards, a couple of secret rooms hide Claws of Tiamat cultists. Also, off from the barracks is a tunnel that goes under the river, allowing them to cross from one part of town to the other underground. Almost no one outside of the city guard are aware of this tunnel.
Level 2: The Undercity
The Undercity is built into the ground underneath the Middle Guilds Town Districts. This area is the bulk of the Undercity, with several compounds and many different living and working areas.
Some ancient tunnels, built for unknown reasons years ago, have become infested by various undead. In reality, this is the lair of the Dead Man’s Grace cultists, who have an intricate network of tunnels they control along with the undead allied to them. Few are aware of this, except the Claws of Tiamat who were once their allies and are not only knowledgeable of their lairs location, but many of them also have maps.
Located on the north side of the lake, the Nard market is where the dwarves go to buy, sell, and trade amongst themselves. Outsiders are welcome, but their racism and “belittling” attitude towards the Nards is not received well there. As long as they come with good intentions, they will find the gruff dwarves are friendly and excellent hosts. Most of the stone work has been done in the last 50 years and they are still in the process of renovating their new home.
Next to the Nard Market, many Nards live and work in this area. For them it is predominantly safer than above ground, although nearby undead in the dark tunnels keeps them sharp and on their toes. Being refugees, they accept almost anyone into their city, except the town Guard who they will only let in reluctantly.
Serpent’s Eternal Kiss Lair
With only a handful of entrances, the SEK lair is where the Yuan-Ti make their home. They keep limited entrances to their lair, to dissuade visitors. So close to the Dead Man’s Grace living in the Infested Tunnels, they are prepared to attack once that cult has been weakened by the Claws of Tiamat.
Near the market is the true location of the Thieves’ Guild. Near the Council of Elders fortress in the tunnels above, only registered and proven members of the Thieves’ Guild are allowed in. Once in, the Guild is large, has beautiful dirt/wooden walls with plenty of artwork and other fine adornments. The place is well furnished, and typically crowded. Exiles, escaped convicts, pirates, and all other sorts of vagabonds can be found there. However, Bounty Hunters and other agents of the law are strictly forbidden from practicing those crafts when in the Thieves’ Guild (some Bounty Hunters, Spies and other government agents are dual members).
Below the East Docks is the Thieves’ Market. Items “lifted” from incoming or outgoing shipments, Thieves’ equipment, and other materials are all available there for a discount. They do get raided by the city guard occasionally, so when buying there you risk having your purchases confiscated as “evidence” and getting taken to jail, but otherwise it’s a fantastic place to go. Illicit items can be found there and all other items bought there are assumed to be 25% cheaper than normal, but of standard or better quality.
Similar to the Thieves’ Market, but completely legit. The Thieves’ Guild claim territory over this area as well, guarding it from those who would steal and break the law there. Cultists and others who would steal from citizens selling their wares in the Undermarket will find themselves drug off by thugs in hoods never to be seen again. As a result, all merchants from the Undermarket tithe a percentage of their profits to the Thieves’ Guild. It sounds like extortion, but it is cheaper and safer than renting a stall in the Market District above ground.
Cheap, safe, and underground, Undertown is a decent option for lower middle class citizens who don’t mind living underground. The small rooms are somewhat crowded, but the area is kept safe by the Thieves’ Guild who personally see to the protection of everyone in the area. Since they control the real-estate of Undertown, all rent and other associated profits go to the Thieves’ Guild themselves.
Level 3: Sublake Passages
Deep underground, below sea level, are the Sublake passages. These passages regularly flood partially or completely. Some have natural drains to underground reservoirs, rivers, etc, others have breathable air only because of magic. Many of the passages are completely submerged.
One of the Guard towers in the port district(s) has stairs to some old caverns underneath. Here, homeless gather to huddle together for warmth. The mortality rate in these villages is high, and cultists from Dead Man’s Grace routinely come to the area to collect the corpses and take them back to their lair(s) in the Infest Tunnels.
Nard Undercity Dorms
Below the Nard Market are a series of circular living quarters where Nard families can stay. Many veterans of the Battle of Kiernard (where the Nards lost) stay underground to avoid the disdain, racism, and hatred they often face.
A thousand years ago, Guilds Town was overrun by gangs of guild members vying for territory and control over the city. The Council of Elders commissioned an arena. Using scrying magic, villagers could watch from outside as the gangs were pit against each other in brutal combat to the death, with the winners taking control of the contested areas. This practice was used for several decades until the process fell out of practice as one gang essentially took control of the entire city. That gang became the new government and it is their traditions, uniforms, and customs that still survive in the city guard in present times.
Secret Sublake Passage
Underneath the lake, the Sublake Passage goes underneath the mages guild leads to the Inner Sanctum of the SEK. The passage floods during certain times of the year, making it only passable by serpents, something that does not bother any of the Yuan-Ti.
Serpent’s Eternal Kiss Inner Lair
Only accessible from either the SEK Lair or through the Sublake passage, it is here that the Yuan-Ti have their true lair, much larger and with more soldiers than any of the other cults. They are ruled by an Abomination, and human sacrifice is quite common in their Internal Lair. Few know of its existence, and those who do actively avoid it.
Serpent’s Eternal Kiss Outer Lair
Many humans live in the Outer Lair. Yuan-Ti pureblood are around, but cultists of various races stay here and use it as a home base, a little bit separate from the authorities and other cults who might attack them.
Internal Conflict: Guilds, Elders, and Cults
Guilds Town is run by senior leaders of their most affluent guilds, with officials available at the Diplomat’s Guild. Outsiders are not allowed to meet with the Town Elders directly. The city officials have become concerned as of late, owing to the increased activity of various cults.
Four cults are now vying for control of Guilds Town. A cult of the undead (Dead Man’s Grace), a cult worshipping the widely unknown good demi-god Dravens (The Vane), cult of an evil dragon goddess (Claws of Tiamat), and a Yuan-Ti cult (Serpent’s Eternal Kiss).
The cults have been taking over the city for years, but with the Dead Man’s Grace and Claws of Tiamat going from allies to open enemies, the town has, overnight, become something of a bloodbath (but not as much on the streets). The combat is taking place more in the belly of the city, on side streets, and at night.
Meanwhile, the Yuan-Ti are whispering in the ears of the elders and Diplomat’s Guild not to get involved. They want to see the two sides duke it out for a bit, to weaken them. Once they feel stronger than either side, they’ll make their move. As of this moment, The Vane have not taken credit for any of their raids on Noble Caravans, thefts from them, or sabotaging their plans. However, watching the casualties in the fighting in Guilds Town will be too much. They are aware of what is going on in Dravens’ Port, and tried to get the town elders to act, but they are currently either directly or indirectly controlled by one of the other three cults in town.
Guilds of Guilds Town
Guilds Town, despite being a city, is still not large enough to have a nice large guild halls for every single guild, the guilds are divided into groups based upon categories. Illicit guilds are not outright illegal in Dravens, but are also not authorized to openly practice their crafts there. Illegal guilds are outright banned. Guilds Town is run by a Council of Elders, who also act as the controlling board for the guilds themselves.
- Laborers: Butchers, Cooks, Farmers, Fishermen, Foresters, Gladiators, Guards, Hunters, Laborers, Masons, Miners, Sailors, Shepherds, Servants, Soldiers, and Stoneworkers
- Crafters: Armorers, Bowyers, Brewers, Candlers, Cobblers, Coopers, Fletchers, Furriers, Goldsmiths, Jewelers, Joiners, Potters, Shipwrights, Silversmiths, Smithies, Tailors, Weavers, Weaponsmiths, and Wheelwrights
- Service Workers: Bartenders, Barbers, Caravaners, Clerks, Dentists, Farriers, Locksmiths, Madams, Messengers, Merchants, Navigators, Prostitutes, Saddlers, Scouts, Stable Masters, Storytellers, Tavern Keepers, Trackers
- Art Crafters: Actors, Chefs, Entertainers (Charlatans - illegal), Exotic Dancers, Glassblowers, Heralders, Musicians, Painters, Sculptors,
- Intellectuals: Academics, Alchemists, Architects, Calligraphers, Cartographers, Historians, Judges, Lawyers, Librarians, Professors, Scribes, Siege engineers, and Writers
- Specialized Professions: Beastmasters Guild, Bounty Hunters (Assassins - illegal), Mages (Necromancers - illicit), Thieves (Assassins - illegal, Spies), Priests (Acolytes, Necromancers - illicit), Diplomats (Spies), Governors, Mercenaries, Slavers (illicit), Explorers (Hunters, Trackers, Dragon Hunters - illegal)
The specialized professions have separate guild halls, however some guilds have other guilds operating inside them. For example, the Spies Guild is operated out of the Diplomats Guild. Meanwhile, a small number of guilds have inserted themselves into more than one larger guild such as the Assassins guild operates out of the Bounty Hunters guild and Thieves’ Guild.
Council of Elders
The Council of Elders consists of a representative from each of the six guild organizations, plus a seventh voted by every guild. Traditionally, because guilds votes are weighted based upon their membership, the most populous of the guilds have Elders on the Council. This currently includes a representative from the Laborers Guild, Smithies Guild, Merchants Guild, Entertainers Guild, Scribes Guild, and Governors Guild. Recently, due to turmoil in the land, the previously elected 7th Elder was replaced with a representative from the Mages Guild, the guilds believing it was most important now to get as much information as possible about nearby events.
Elder Elissa Bunce (Laborers Guild)
Human, Berserker (CR 2) stats, Chaotic Good, brash, outspoken, passionate, caring, righteous, Cult of Vane, worshipper of Dravens.
A human named Elissa Bunce serves as the elder of the Laborer’s Guilds. Elder Bunce is a younger woman, maybe 25, and has a hot temper and loud mouth. She’s quite opinionated. At first, she was quite aghast at how lethargic and uncaring the other elders seemed to be, but got over it quickly. Her ability to brow-beat others into submission means she’s had the ability to change some things through her position, although she still misses her work. The Laborers guilds all think highly of her.
Elder Gremmus Ironfury (Smithies Guild)
Dwarf, Cult Fanatic (CR 2) template, Lawful Evil, gruff, pretentious, proud, arrogant, sinister, Cult of Tiamat.
Currently a dwarf (but not a Nard) named Gremmus Ironfury servers as the elder for the Crafters guilds. While Elder Ironfury is popular among the other guilds and elders, the Nards despise him.
Despite the fact he is one of the few non-Nard Smithies in the town, he firmly controls the vote of his guild. He comes from a wealthy family out of the Gravelback Province a couple of kingdoms over, and even pays for many of his Smithies back home to have permanent residences in town so they can keep their memberships in the guild and continue to vote (despite not living there).
He owns some of the slum housing near the Roc’s Nest district that he uses for vote manipulation. In person he’s a nice enough dwarf, on the taller side with graying hair and a beard. He is a greedy and pompous, but well connected.
Elder Kegan Smythe (Merchants Guild)
Half-Elf, Cult Fanatic (CR 2) template, Neutral Evil, smug, curious, fast talker, quick witted, Serpent’s Eternal Kiss Cult.
A half-elf named Kegan Smythe is the head of his organization and serves as elder. Kegan is 40-50 years old, and has some ties realms outside of Shrave. He is a cunning merchant, and persuasive talker. When he desires, he has little problems talking the other elders in circles and often gets his way by confusing his opponents. He is relatively popular, although his peers know not to haggle with him or buy from his store. Unbeknownst to most, Kegan is also a member of the Prostitutes guild although he keeps such information secret.
Elder Sydni Clare (Entertainers Guild)
Human, Bard (CR 2) template, True Neutral, kind, listener, wise.
A human named Sydni Clare has been the elder for her guilds organization for some time. She has spent the last 30 years as acting elder. She started off as a dancer and storyteller, but is also a painter, sculptor, musician, and self-proclaimed oracle (Charlatan). She is dismissive to most visitors and even the other elders, but seems to wield a lot of political might. She is pleasant enough, with something of a flair for the dramatics.
Elder Ifflesbit Trunsfud (Scribes Guild)
Rock gnome, Enchanter (CR 5) template, Neutral Evil, friendly, shifty eyed, slightly paranoid, hedonistic, Dead Man’s Grace Cult.
A gnome named Ifflesbit serves as the elder for the Intellectuals guilds. He is little known by others, but seems popular. He keeps his head down and is quiet, although he is friendly and energetic when spoken to. He is on the older side, and has a balding head and is growing long, white sideburns. He dresses nicely, and enjoys the finer things in life.
Elder Chaz Ashville (Governors Guild)
Human (Yuan-Ti Pureblood), Veteran (CR 3) template, Lawful Evil, quiet, commanding, sly, indirectly violent, Serpent’s Eternal Kiss cult.
Currently it is a human (Yuan-Ti) named Chaz Ashville. Chaz has been working in the Dravens government for some time and comes highly recommended. He is fair and honest, although a fire he was in many years ago disfigured him and he usually wears a veil to hide his mouth and jaw.
Elder Ebin Ostaross (Mages Guild)
Human, Mage (CR 6) template, Neutral Evil, fun loving, smiles a lot, likes to bribe, indulges often, Serpent’s Eternal Kiss Cult.
The current elder is a young man named Ebin Ostaross. Ebin is newly appointed but seems to fit in well with the other elders. He has long brown hair, blue eyes, and dresses in the finest noble’s cloths. He is well known to be a decent wizard, but also something of a hedonist. He enjoys food, drink, and pleasures of the flesh.
Others might exist, but probably in small numbers. Overall, their areas of influence can be considered:
- Claws of Tiamat: The strong, the fierce, necromancers, the greedy, and those longing for power
- Dead Man’s Grace: Magic, knowledge, thieves and necromancer
- Serpent’s Eternal Kiss: The greedy, rich, affluent, deceivers, hedonists, easily tempted, and the down-trodden
- The Vane: Commoners, peasants, Nards, and the down-trodden
Dead Man’s Grace
(Dangerous but, typically, non-confrontational)
Cult of Ruara, an ancient Liche who was one lovers with the now-demigod Dravens. Consist of humans. Many from overseas, some come from Vinarr, and others beyond. They worship Ruara and the infernal force that gave Ruara his power. Several are warlocks of the undying or warlocks of the fiend. They can be identified by a red ribbon tied onto the back of their boot. The type of ribbon and location is a signal of their rank in the organization.
While briefly allied to the Claws of Tiamat, they are now at odds with that group. They are careful not to conjure undead such as skeletons and zombies inside of Guilds Town, but instead have conjured more deadly undead allies. Vampire Spawn, Ghasts, Ghouls, Will-O-Wisps and others serve their will in some of the deep tunnels beneath the town.
They have entire underground networks in the Infested Tunnels. Only those allied with their cult are safe there. Some of them use gargoyles as bodyguards, especially during the day as their undead allies are often less powerful in the sunlight and during the day.
- Territory: Semi-abandoned underground network on the north side.
- Templates: Cultists, Cult Fanatics, Swashbucklers, Spies, Assassins, Priests of Orcus, Archers (poison arrows), Warlock of the Fiend, Warlock of the Undying, Necromancer, Mage (Necromancer).
- Races: Humans, Kenku, Goblins, and Hobgoblins
- Cult Resources: Wealthy, ancient magics, ancient knowledge,
- Values: Power, secrets, undead
- Weaknesses: Arrogant
- Hatreds: Ravens and the Raven Queen
- Guild Influence: Mage’s Guild, Librarian’s Guild, Spy’s Guild, Scribes’ Guild, Historians Guild, Thieves’ Guild, and Necromancer’s Guild
Ruara the Undying
Rumored once to be the lover of Dravens, Ruara was an elf wizard who couldn't imagine life without his human love. He made a pact with Orcus in return for unending life for both himself and Dravens. However, Dravens saw this as a betrayal of her trust, and turned against him. For a time, Ruara was imprisoned, but with the help of the green dragon Shrave, he escaped from his prison and in turn slaughtered almost all of Dravens worshippers. 2000 some odd years later, a few Nards still worship her, but few others.
Claws of Tiamat
(Dangerous and aggressive, especially to clerics and “weaklings”)
Nobles of Dravens have been working with Queen Lightcrown for a decade or two. They had already planned on assassinating Prince Raffolk even before his death occurred. They control a gang, who are cultists of Tiamat who thrive in Guilds Town.
The Claws of Tiamat include humans and dragonborn, although some other races are in their midst. They work with local rogues who have been expelled from the rogue’s guild for rule violations, mostly that of interfering in guild politics and working. For the right price, the Claws of Tiamat will, subtly or directly, assert pressure on the guilds. While they worked directly with Dead Man’s Grace to orchestrate the rise of the undead, they are quickly at odds with their former allies as Dead Man’s Grace know the Claws of Tiamat are loyal and allied with Dree.
The claws of Tiamat openly wear symbols of Tiamat about their throats. Being a recognized religion of Shrave, they cannot be declared illegal, despite the death and destruction that often follow them. This means they operate in the open, and actively strike out against authorities who attempt to subjugate them. They have made many enemies.
- Territory: Everywhere, but specifically houses near the Priests Guild, Necromancers Guild, and Slavers Guild
- Templates: Cultist, Cult Fanatic, Priest (of Tiamat), Necromancer, Mage (Necromancer), Veteran, Thug, Knight, Gladiator, Blackguard, Half-Dragon (from MM), Mage (Evoker), Evoker
- Races: Dragonborn, humans, orcs, and half-orcs
- Cult Resources: Gangs, military, well armored/weaponed, informants in the guard
- Values: Strength, obedience, greed
- Weaknesses: Prideful
- Hatreds: Weakness, good dragons/dragonborn, thieves
- Guild Influence: Soldier’s Guild, Guard’s Guild, Slaver’s Guild, Smithies Guild, Armorers Guild, Weaponsmiths Guild, and Priest’s Guild
Serpent’s Eternal Kiss
(Mildly dangerous, mostly they want to encourage infighting among the others)
The Yuan-Ti and their followers are most numerous in the Shanty-Town floating on the lake below. The Yuan-Ti focus their energy on guilds with ties to international relations and wealth (greedy people are easily corrupted). They are often hissing in the ears of the most affluent of the guilds, all the while skulking back at night to their nests and places of hiding and worship amidst the poorest of the city.
- Territory: Shanty Town and some of the underground “ghettos”
- Templates: Yuan-Ti Pure Blood, Cultist, Cult Fanatics, Spy, Assassin, Mage, Bard, other Yuan-Ti templates
- Races: Yuan-Ti Pure Blood, humans, more recently dissatisfied humanoids (unaware of what the cult really is), and any greed or easily tempted humanoids
- Cult Resources: Serpents, peasants, snake-magics
- Values: Knowledge, power, ruthlessness, subtlety
- Weaknesses: No allies
- Hatreds: Everyone but themselves, birds of prey, nagas, dragons
- Guild Influence: Diplomat’s Guild, Sailor’s Guild, Shipwright’s Guild, Navigator’s Guild, Scout’s Guild, Tailor’s Guild, Jeweler’s Guild, Scribe’s Guild, Messenger’s Guild, Entertainer’s Guild, Mages Guild, Madams Guild, and Charlatans Guild
Mostly Nards, The Vane have an informal structure, with Vane himself as the leader. Most of them worship Dravens, but they have some Warlocks in their number who serve “The Great Old One,” who has reportedly seen all events in all time. Some even believe it was by its blessing that Dravens achieved Godhood.
The Vane dress normally, and have nothing to identify their allegiance. They are known to strike out at the Claws of Tiamat, but also the Nobles of Dravens, they have a long hatred towards them stemming back to the Battle of Kiernard.
The Vane are brutal, and quick to act, but typically of good alignment with some of their muscle men leaning toward neutral or evil. They prefer to outsmart the other cults.
Their guild influences come from those guilds where Nards commonly have vocations, which is usually as crafters or servants (including as gladiators and mercenaries).
- Territory: None. In the back rooms of taverns, inns, shops, and stores run by Nards. Welcomed with the response “Dranreik is dead” (hello ally) and expected response is “But Snevard lives on” (all is well), “Aruar lurks near” (we are in danger).
- Templates: Priest (of Dravens, Trickery or War Domain), Old One Warlock, acolyte (of Dravens), scouts, archer, knight, gladiator, Enchanter, Illusionist
- Races: Mostly Dwarves (Nards) but human or any are possible
- Cult Resources: Nards, the locals, those loyal to the land of Dravens (Free Dravens)
- Values: Unity, loyalty, vengeance
- Weaknesses: Careful, mostly good, network is spread out (outnumbered)
- Hatreds: Liars, deceivers, and the treacherous
- Guild Influence: Mason’s Guild, Stoneworker’s Guild, Hunter’s Guild, Armorer’s Guild, Cook’s Guild, Servant’s Guild, Cartographer’s Guild, Gladiator’s Guild, Dragon Hunters Guild, Laborer’s Guild, and Mercenary’s Guild
Good demigod of fortune, comradery, and righteous vengeance. Domains: Trickery, War Once a paladin of Tyr and cleric of Tymora, Dravens established the kingdom now known as the Province of Dravens, of the Realm of Shrave. She had several allies and friends who helped establish the kingdom, and was a legend in her time. After Ruara, her best friend and lover, transformed himself into a liche and offered unlife to her, she destroyed his physical form and bound him to a warded tomb. After having lived well over a hundred years, she ascended to demigod status, as adopted child of Tyr and Tymora. Since Ruora's escape from prison two millennia ago, her worshippers have been hunted almost to extinction. The Kingdom of Kiernard actively worshipped her, but since their fall only a handful of Nards still say her prayers and speak her name in reverence. To everyone else, Dravens is just a location.
In addition to the Council of Elders here are some other possible NPCs. These are all simply guidelines for NPCs and templates. These assume D&D 5th edition.
Guards of Guilds Town
The Guards of Guilds Town are a tight order of guards. Their pity has more politics and rivaling factions than most cities, because of the nature of guilds. They have a tradition of maintaining the order both and peace in Guilds Town, despite the fact they have been failing as of late.
Captain Sidrove “Sid”
Human, Gladiator (CR 5+) template+, lawful neutral, mildly friendly, aggressive to lawbreakers.
Sid is a tall, lanky guy wearing a breastplate with the uniform of the guards underneath. He has a massive shield and several spears in his giant hands. He has a scar running from his lip across his face and through his split ear. His head is shaven and he has a stubbly beard. At 6 ½ feet tall, he likely looks down at all of you.
Sid will be friendly, but will not accept bribes and will consider it an affront. He is fair. Any attempts to corrupt him by various cults has failed. He is unaware of the Vane, but he does sympathize with the Nards and their cause.
Template Modifications: AC 18, Resolute (advantage vs persuasion, intimidation, and mind control checks including the Charm spell)
A list of templates for the guards. Corrupt guards will be members of the Claws of Tiamat Cult. Use the template appropriate for their rank and add the Magic Initiate feat with Resistance (cantrip), Thaumaturgy (cantrip) and a 1st level spell, recommended are Guiding Bolt, Detect Evil and Good, Inflict Wounds, or Bane.
Human or any humanoid, Guard (CR 1/8) template, any lawful, respectful, stoic, helpful, stubborn.
The guards are well equipped for normal town guards and have split mail, shields, longswords, and light crossbows (Guard stats with AC 19, 1d8+str damage). Guards will be polite and serious.
Human, Bandit Captain (CR 2) template, any lawful, inquisitive, brash, pushy.
Every 6 guards will be accompanied by a sergeant. The sergeant will be pushy with the characters, and not afraid to order them around. At this level, sergeants are often bullies, raising their voices and commanding by using their intimidating personalities.
Human, Knight (CR 3) or Veteran (CR 3) template, any lawful, inquisitive, energetic, bold, insensitive, pessimistic.
For every 24 guards is a lieutenant. Lieutenants are calm but energetic.
Usually, whenever 24 guards are in an area, something is wrong and lieutenants have a tendency to come off as somewhat nervous but also inquisitive for their propensity to ask lots of questions. They do this knowing their COs will ask the same question and are trying to keep from being chewed out.
Human, Mage (CR 6), Gladiator (CR 5), or Assassin (CR 9) template, any lawful, pushy, serious, disdainful, over-protective
Every gate or towers in safe districts have a Guard Captain. The captains will be serious, but also won’t deal with shit. Each Captain would just as soon blast trouble-makers as talk to them. However, their primary concern is for the citizens of the town and that should come through in their language and actions.
Guilds Town Guard
Medium Human, any alignment
- Armor Class 19 (Splint Mail and Shield)
- Hit Points 11(2d8 + 2)
- Speed 30ft.
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA 13 (+1) 12 (+1) 12 (+1) 10 (+0) 11 (+0) 10 (+0)
- Skills Perception +2
- Senses passive Perception 12
- Languages Common
- Challenge 1/4? (50 XP)
Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit 6 (1d8 + 2)
Lt Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 80/320 ft. , one target. Hit 5 (1d8 + 1)
Human, Scout (CR 1/4) template, any lawful, keen-eyed, alert.
Unlikely to be encountered, the Tower Archers have long bows and are typically high in the towers. If, for some reason, guards leave town a contingent of 6-12 Tower Archers will be in the group to provide ranged support.
Tower Archer Sergeant
Human, Archer (CR 3) template, any lawful, cocky, stubborn, self-assure, brave.
For every 6 Tower Archers there will a sergeant who is much more gun ho than his regular guard counterparts.
Lieutenant Jarod Gunsfwin
Human, Knight (CR 3) template, lawful neutral (leaning good), inquisitive, energetic, bold, insensitive, pessimistic.
Jarod is an example NPC taken from an above template. Jarod is good, he wears full armor and he been tasked with uncovering corruption in the guard ranks. He is aware that the Claws of Tiamat have been infiltrated, but is concerned that anyone he reports to might also be corrupt. He is likewise suspicious of the Elders. If he notices the PCs doing good things about town, he might confide in them.
Template alterations: Proficient in investigation, perception, and insight.
In addition to the city representatives, the Diplomats guild is full of diplomats and spies from both Guilds Town and other cities, provinces, kingdoms, realms, etc.
Human (not really), Spy (CR 1) template, Yuan-Ti Pureblood race from Volos, neutral evil, extremely friendly, beautiful, seductive, Cult of Serpent’s Eternal Kiss.
After the initial conversation Melina will see the PCs around town accidentally. She will try convince them to attack known Claw of Tiamat or Dead Man’s Grace cultists.
What she doesn’t have in money she will pay them in information. She has scales on her neck and back which she hides with scarves.
Human, Noble (CR 1/8) template, lawful good, nervous and paranoid, shy.
Katerina is new to the business, she was a previously a scribe for the city before being recruited a few months ago to be a city representative.
She has discovered that the city government has been infiltrated by both Yuan-Ti and the other cults, but doesn’t know who to trust or turn to.
It will take some doing for the PCs to win her trust.
Human, Swashbuckler (CR 3) template, neutral good, talkative, traveler, uninformed.
Captain Josephine “Jo” is a diplomat to other cities and provinces as her ship captain status might imply. Her ship is currently getting repairs in North Dravens’ Port, so she is subbing as a city representative until it is finished.
While she will be relatively knowledgeable about events around the known lands, her knowledge of the internal struggles in Guilds Town are fairly minimal.
If made aware, for example by Katerina, she would be more than happy to help but is until then clueless.
Since no one trusts anyone right now and she isn’t close to many people in the city because she travels so much, she is ignorant.
She will be chatty with the PCs and she specifically loves rumors, politics, and gossip from around the known world.
Templates and descriptions for various Guild Members. Guildmasters will likely only be met in their guilds. The Mages guild is in the Snaketown district, the Thieves Guild is in the Undercity, and the Bounty Hunter guild is in the Diplomats Guild district (unspecified location).
Brady "Gravy Cakes" Thistlefoot (Thieves’ Guild Guildmaster)
Lightfoot Halfling, Assassin (CR 9) template, lawful neutral, gregarious, hospitable, easily offended.
Gravy Cakes is an older halfling. He's somewhat plump, and it looks like his nickname is well earned. In addition to being a Guildmaster, Gravy Cakes is owner and proprietor of the Rock's Nest Inn.
If the PCs meet him in the Thieves Guild or the Roc's Nest Inn, he will be hospitable and friendly. If they have helped others or completed and good aligned quests he will thank the party profusely for their services.
As the Guildmaster of the Thieves' Guild, he cares strongly for the people of the city. Entire districts are heavily patrolled by the guild who often take care of problems that the guards can't or won't. While he knows the elders, he is somewhat displeased with them as of late.
If asked, or given a chance, he will explain the Thieves' Guild has long been involved in keeping law and order in the city. If they PCs have heard the tale of the competing gangs (See the Old Arena section), we will explain that it was the Thieves' Guild, not the town guard, who were the winners of the competition. He will be willing to exchange information with the PCs, but he will charge them for the information.
Arkvall (Mage’s Guild Guildmaster)
Tiefling, Archmage (CR 12) template, neutral good, intolerant, busy, frustrated.
Arkvall is a red skinned, winged, wizard and Guildmaster of his guild. No one knows entirely how old he is, but he has been the Guildmaster from well before the Battle of Kiernard (over 50 years). Arkvall wears a green robe, to contrast his skin. When he grins his mouth is full of vicious looking spiked teeth. His overall demeanor is fierce some.
If met in the guild tower, he will be puttering about ordering apprentices around and complaining about "all the blasted snakes." He will chat with the PCs for a few minutes, but then will fly off to do something or another.
Once the PCs has performed some minor quests, he is more likely to share more with them. He knows of the Yuan-Ti and some about the other cults, but will send them to Keerlese Favoredarm for more specific information.
He will often curse and complain about snakes.
Keerlese Favoredarm (Bounty Hunter Guildmaster)
Mountain Dwarf, Diviner (CR 8) template, curious, brash, untrusting.
Wearing half plate and carrying a maul, Keerlese hardly looks like a wizard (if the party has heard rumors about her or asked). She will ask the PCs about various NPC cultists who have bounties on their heads. She will assist them as necessary, but will be more compliant if they agree to join her guild. Any class may join the Bounty Hunters guild.
Bount Hunter Membership
Joining the Bounty Hunter's Guild requires a 50 gold fee per person. While it won't happen immediately, PCs who have the criminal or charlatan background and join the guild have a 10% chance per day in the city of their identity and former crimes being discovered.
Benefits of joining the guild include:
- Access to the guild house
- A badge identifying them as registered bounty hunters giving them access to the undercity and some guard areas
- Members of the guild and the guard will be more likely to help them [Advantage on persuasion checks vs bounty hunter guild members and guards]
- Access to the guild store which is a Very Good Thieving Supplies Merchant as per Warlock's Homebrew Stronghold Merchant Rules.
- Access to a list of all active bounties.
Elite Thieves Guild Member
Any race, Master Thief (CR 5) template, any alignment, rude, slick, arrogant, shifty, shady Elite Thieves’ will be surrounded by 3d6 Thieves’ Guild Members (Thug templates) who will do as directed.
Dree Mage Apprentice
Human, Apprentice Wizard (CR 1/4) template, neutral evil, arrogant, course, selfish, violent.
Encountered in groups of 3d4 (3-12). The Dree apprentices dress in dark green. They have dark skin and black hair, and most, coming from royal houses in their home kingdom, have gold jewelry. They will typically be bullying locals, taking goods without paying for them, and attracting negative attention. They will avoid guards and will most likely be in Snaketown and the surrounding districts. If confronted they will get uppity with those confronting them and won't hesitate to use Flame bolt, or even Burning Hands if needed.
Ranking Guild Member (Any Guild)
Noble template (CR 1/8) template
Ranking guild members will be friendly, and can provide more information than normal members. They typically are not alone and have either retainers, henchmen, or standard guild members with that at any given time.
For martial or specialty guild members substitute Berserker (CR 2), Bandit Captain (CR 2), Druid (CR 3), Knight (CR 3), Mage (CR 6), Priest (CR 2), Veteran (CR 3), Bard (CR ?), Swashbuckler (CR ?), Archer (CR 3), Conjurer (CR 6), Enchanter (CR 5), Illusionist (CR 3), Martial Arts Adept (CR 3), Transmuter (CR 5), or Warlock of the Arch Fey (CR 4).
Standard Guild Member (Any Guild)
Commoner (CR 0) template
Guild members will be polite, depending upon their guild, but will otherwise act like members of their profession. Should the PCs have some type of note or the goodwill of the Guild Master, they might be inclined to be more helpful. Under no circumstances will they be willing to discuss corruption of the elders.
For martial or specialty guild members substitute noble (CR 1/4), Brigand (CR 1/8), Acolyte (CR 1/8), Scout (CR 1/2), Apprentice Wizard (CR 1/4), Guard (CR 1/8), Spy (CR 1), or Thug (CR 1/2).
For reference, the party can meet Nards who will be of almost any blue collar or martial vocation. Due to their youth and the social stigma against them, Nards will almost never be in positions of guild or government authority. Many are small business owners and they collectively operate the West docks.
Common templates for Nards include Commoner (CR 0), Thug (CR 1/2), Cultist (CR 1/8), and Cult Fanatic (CR 2). Nard cultists will seem dubious with piercings, daggers, etc but they worship Dravens the good goddess.
Jebb “Just Jebb”
Mountain Dwarf, Champion Template (CR 9), neutral good, gruff, hardworking, stubborn, righteous, cautious.
Jebb is a dwarf about 100 years old (middle aged), he has graying hair and his face is covered in scars, part of right ear is ripped to shreds.
The party will probably meet him working on the docks or elsewhere. If the other Nards are startled, he will immediately confront the offending parties. He has no weapon other than a cudgel (club) at his side. He will be highly interested if the party is investigating the cults, but will not interfere out of fear for his friends and family.
If the party is on an epic quest, he will be willing to help. If he does so, he will go to his house and dawn his full plate and wield his great axe.
If asked, he was indeed in the Battle of Kiernard. He also had a light crossbow. He won’t ever give his real name.
Cult members can be encountered anywhere, but especially in their territories. See the sphere of influence maps to see they can be found.
Dead Man’s Grace
The guild members of Dead Man's Grace are quite sure of themselves. They have many undead allies both in and outside of the city. The Dead Man's Grace all wear a red ribbon on the back of their boot or somewhere else on their person to signify their tanks. They are ruled by three leaders, Ruara's Arm, Ruara's Shield, and Ruara's Flame. Ruara’s Arm lives in the Infested tunnels, where he is building an undead army to lead against the Claws of Tiamat. Meanwhile both Ruara's Shield and Ruara's Flame live and work in the Middle Workshop District, where they are actively fighting against the Claws of Tiamat.
Human, Necromancer (CR 9), neutral evil, ruthless, violent, cold.
A young, beautiful blond woman with dark black eyes, she wears white robes and carries a staff. People who don't know her describe her as angelic. She knows how intelligent she is, and aspires to eternal life. She makes friends and allies of the undead, with several Will-O-Wisps serving her command. She has a red ribbon pinned on her right shoulder.
Human, Blackguard (CR 8), lawful evil, reserved, regal, unshakable
Ruara's Shield still occasionally uses his old name, Walter. Walter is an old man with gray hair. He hasn't reached the path of undying life yet, but is patiently sure it's coming or he'll die in battle first. Either is fine with him. He spends his time trying to manage the other two upstarts who also run the cult.
Walter isn't angered or intimidated easily, he stays calm most of the time. Many of the cultists look up to him as a father (or grandfather) figure. Once a paladin, Ruara still has a mind for justice served and doesn't go for wanton murder. He is trying to keep the cult out of the radar of the guard, but is currently failing that mission.
Walter has a red ribbon tied around his left gauntlet.
Human, Warlock of the Fiend (CR 7), chaotic evil, wild, violent, easily angered.
A scrawny young lad with sandy brown hair and pale skin, he was never quite as talented as his cousin who is now Ruara's Arm. Instead of studying or practicing martial professions, Ruara's Flame struck a deal with Orcus, who has awarded him with all the power he needs. He can be found with other cult members whenever they are actively assaulting cultists of the Claws of Tiamat.
He has a red ribbon pinned to the left breast of his tunic.
Human, Warlock of the Great Old One (CR 6), Master Thief (CR 5), or Cult Fanatic (CR 2), any evil.
The elite cultists are more varied than their younger brothers and sisters. Having been in the cult for some time, they are also more powerful.
However, since there can only ever be one Ruara's Arm, Shield, and Flame, the only way for them to advance in rank is to knock off one of the current leaders. As a result, this tier of the organization might be loyal to the organization, but definitely not its leaders.
They are quite possibly actively working against their leaders in any situation where failure might mean that leader's death.
They wear a red ribbon pinned to the back of their left boot.
Human, Cultist (CR 1/8), Spy (CR 1) or Apprentice Wizard (CR 1/4), any evil.
Dead Man's Grace cultists come from a variety of professions, but lean toward being thieves or wizards. They all have a slight chip on their shoulder, like they know something everyone else doesn't. They are relatively loyal to the cause, but many are also opportunistic. After all, they follow Ruara because they seek everlasting life, which is a pretty selfish desire. They wear a small ribbon pinned to the back of their right boot.
Infested Lair Guards/Denizens
The Infested Tunnels are Ruara's Arm area of protection. She has various undead there, as well as some that occured naturally. She is thinking about expanding her lair, but has yet to attack the Nards. She soon will.
For monsters pick any undead. Some options include Zombies (CR 1/4), Ogre Zombie (CR 2), Beholder Zombie (CR 5), Wraiths (CR 5), Vampire Spawn (CR 5), Will-O-Wisp (CR 2), Wight (CR 3), Skeleton (CR 1/4), Minotaur Skeleton (CR 2), Shadow (CR 1/2),
Claws of Tiamat
Unlike the cult of Dead Man's Grace, the Claws of Tiamat are religious worshippers who believe in Tiamat's message of destruction and greed. They are zealots, completely loyal to the cause and each other. While having less resources, their martial strength and fanatical devotion to each other serves them well in the fight.
Because of this, their templates have a little less roleplaying information. They are mostly intended to be combatants.
Human or Dragonborn, War Priest (CR 9), any evil, angry, violent, unwilling to talk.
Tiamat's Chosen will likely just attack. Feel free to have more than one if necessary.
Dragonborn, Half-Dragon Veteran (CR 5), lawful evil, cunning, oppurtunistic.
The Cult Lieutenants will not attack an obvious superior force, but will instead get their allies and attack weak opponents. While brash and violent, they are not stupid either.
Human or Dragonborn, Berserker (CR 2), Knight (CR 3), or Veteran (CR 3), any evil, various temperments.
Cult bullies in who are City Guards will be more relaxed and cautious than others, who will just attack enemies in a blind fury.
Human or Dragonborn Thug (CR 1/2), Cult Fanatic (CR 2), Cultist (CR 1/8), or Guard (CR 1/8), any evil.
Gang members as much as cultists, they will usually travel in groups and may be in the company of guards. Will openly wear symbols of Tiamat around their necks.
Serpent’s Eternal Kiss
Just your standard Yuan-Ti cult.
The God Incarnate
Yuan-Ti, Yuan-Ti Anathema (CR 13), neutral evil, lethargic, destructive, violent.
In the Inner Lair lives a Yuan-Ti god incarnate. His throne room is lavishly decorated with the skulls of those killed, with blood of the innocent drenching the entire tunnel. The only reasons the PCs should encounter this creature is if they decide to infiltrate or assault the Yuan-Ti Inner Lair.
Yuan-Ti, Yuan-Ti Abomination (CR 7), neutral evil, sadistic, violent.
The Master can be located in any of the Yuan-Ti lairs, but probably less likely in the Outer Lair which is more exposed to forces from other cults/groups.
Yuan-Ti, Yuan-Ti Pit Master (CR 5), neutral evil, cautious, calculating, protective.
Traveling to all lairs, including above ground to Snaketown, the Diplomat is the voice of reason. He coordinates with the spies they have in the government and keeps the other Yuan-Ti from adopting a "burn it all" attitude.
Yuan-Ti Nightmare Speaker (CR 4), neutral evil, sadistic, cruel, violent.
Living in the SEK Lair near the infested tunnels, the Torturer doesn't mind the company of undead and fits in well there. She runs their jail sections and oversees treatment of prisoners.
Yuan-Ti Broodguard (CR 2), neutral evil.
Only found in the Lair and Inner Lair, the Lair Guards are always found in groups of 1d4 or more, usually working together for a specific purpose or job function.
Common Yuan-Ti Cultist
Yuan-Ti, Yuan-Ti Pureblood (CR 1), neutral evil, cold, calculating.
The average cultist goes about their business and can be found in any of the SEK controlled areas.
Yuan-Ti or Human, Spy (CR 1), Noble (CR 1/8), Bard (CR 2), neutral evil, friendly, deceptive, inquisitive, cowardly.
The Serpents Eternal Kiss has several spies in various positions of authority and in several guilds. They are friendly and seeking information, but when confronted or attack they will usually flee.
Guilds Town is a city in turmoil. The Nards struggle to establish an identity while maintaining their old customs and ways. The city guard are encountered on all sides by things they cannot stop or anticipate, especially with the ruling Council of Elders dominated by cultists. The Dead Man's Grace and the Claws of Tiamat embrace for war against each other, and the Yuan-Ti are blowing air on the fire to see what happens. Beyond all of this, it is the people of the city and the guilds and guild members themselves who stand to lose everything, so much so that the Thieves Guild is one of their few formidable allies.
Nards - The Underdog
Aside from racial issues, the Nards are doing well in Guilds Town. Their hard-working nature and loyalty to each other has paid off. But on the streets above they are directly next to the war between the Claws of Tiamat and the Dead Man's Grace. Underground, they face dangers from the same enemies, but in this case, they are potentially caught in the cross fire.
The Nards role in the story is that of good facing adversity with everything they have, regardless of what they look like or what life has thrown at them. The Nards are hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. But they will persist.
If the PCs empathize with the Nards, they could make powerful allies. If the PCs spend much time with them, they should notice how rough they have it versus everyone else and how hard the Nards work to overcome.
The Nards will also be extremely secretive with their worship of Dravens, from the outside it should look nefarious. After all, they know that the followers of Ruara, the Dead Man's Grace cultists, have almost exterminated all such worshippers from the map.
Dravens is the goddess of fortune and righteous vengeance, the Nards believe when it is time they will be victorious. They have faith.
Politics - the Infected
The Council of Elders is at the center of the politics, but their allegiances are not the only politics. The guilds have an indescribably intricate political structure.
Some of the politics is buried in the city guard. If not shackled or chained by the Council of Elders, could the City Guard cleanse the town of cultists by force? Maybe. Probably not at this point.
The politics of martial versus political control has not caused the city guard to be taken control of by the cults, but the machinations of external authority have thrown the government into chaos and stagnancy. Things aren't working as they should, and no one knows who to turn to.
Cleansing this structure and figuring out where it went wrong it a central theme. The Thieves' Guild understand corruption, control, and balance. Gravy Cakes is an expert in the subject. Even he is unsure how the beast was created or how to turn it off.
City Guard - Tainted
The Claws of Tiamat cultists in the City Guard have not taken control, but they have enough people in place to know what the guard knows. In many cases, Cult of Tiamat war parties can attack weak targets with normal guards who do not know why they are attacking or what they are doing it for. Part of the sinister cult plan, they keep many of their unknowing henchmen in the dark.
Cult War = Divine War?
Nah. Dead Man's Grace and Claws of Tiamat cultists know little of the pantheon or the divine interactions. However, they are witnessing a colliding of divine pantheons. Ruara, servant of Orcus, is trying to fulfill certain obligations. Tiamat is simply on a recruiting drive (the nobles of a nearby town Dravens' Port) and got betrayed by their immediate allies. Now the two cults are at an all out war.
While not specifically spelled out in descriptions, dangerous zones can include cult wars between the two. In the end, if both cults are exterminated and/or interrogated, the PCs will discover the depth of the feud goes far beyond mortal understanding. The Reality is that Orcus and Tiamat know or care little about each other, these two evil cults helped each other and then double crossed each other, it happened.
Serpents - Mage's Nemesis
Yuan-Ti are infamously resistant to enemy magic, and it just so happens the Mages Guild is now Yuan-Ti central location. The mages know, at least some of them. Being in the middle of their bane, they have difficulty deciding what to do with the situation. Should they fight. Can they?
If the Mages Guild had 100% of support from the City Guard, they might have a chance. As is, their chances are smaller.
Meanwhile, the Yuan-Ti are possibly more powerful than any of the other cults. And that's what they want to keep happening. They intend on pitting the other forces against each other until all competing power structures have been wiped away.
People are dying. Not putting this in descriptive terms in other places, people are being kidnapped, sacrificed, enslaved, and other things. The war between cultists requires recruits which requires violent intimidation tactics for recruitment and slaughtering. The same is possibly happening inside the city guard. The Claws of Tiamat recruit based upon greed and violence, those who don't comply get murdered. Cults are not meant to be nice, amid a sterile environment, death can be inserted often to reiterate the internal conflict.
Hooks, Events, and Quests
If you’ve made it this far and you can’t find any plot hooks, I’ll provide some examples but only after pointing out WTF? Really? Nothing? Why are you still reading? I obviously suck pretty bad if you’ve made it this far and you still have nothing (just kidding, glad you are still here.)
Easy (Level 1-2)
Good for starting the party out in the city.
Child or peasant is being mugged or beat up. Use low CR cultists templates as the muggers.
Merchant in Need
A merchant from Merchant’s Row or the Market District has goods they desperately need tied up at the docks. They want the PCs to go and retrieve their goods. Just traveling through the city to the ports can provide an adventure.
PCs are being stalked by an unknown person. It turns out it is a traveler from a long way away who approached the PCs because he/she noticed them as non-locals. He/she would like some gold or help getting passage home.
Cultists attempt to kidnap any small members of the party (mistakes them for a child).
PCs get a message via the sending spell to come see the Guildmaster of the Mage’s guild. He asks them to help collect some samples from the local serpents. When they do so, a Yuan-Ti gets territorial and attacks.
A local guild
A guild approaches the party for help. Pick a guild and roll 1d6. The guild needs help:
1) Gathering resources
2) Protecting a guild member
3) Proving a guild member innocent of a crime they didn’t commit
4) Escorting an endangered guild member to safety
5) Protecting the family of a murdered
6) Bringing a known rival guild-member to justice
A Nard approaches the PCs and asks for their help, he is a craftsman but isn’t allowed to go into the only store in the city that sells the raw materials he needs. Asks the PCs to do it for him.
Medium (Levels 3-5)
These quests are going to probably involve fighting the cultists. They are for slightly higher levels and might involve fighting multiple cultists who are no longer CR 1/8, 1/4, etc.
Child of a peasant has been kidnapped for the purposes of extortion, ransoming, or sacrificing.
A merchant's goods have been taken by a small gang of cultists at the docks and he believes they are now somewhere in the Upper Workshop District, they want the PCs to go retrieve their stolen goods by any means necessary.
PCs are being stalked by an unknown person. It turns out it is a traveler from a long way away who approached the PCs because he/she noticed them as non-locals. The NPC was mugged by a group of cultists, would like their help getting stuff back so can go home.
Attempted PC Kidnapping
Cultists attempt to kidnap any small members of the party (mistakes them for a child). They find out afterwards this has been happening all over the city.
PCs get a message via the sending spell to come see the Guildmaster of the Mage’s guild. He has found some Yuan-Ti live in the shacks nearby the tower. He wants them apprehended and brought to him for questioning. He may or may not have already informed the guard (DM’s choice).
Cultists Among Us
A local guild (pick one), needs the PC’s help ferreting out all the cultists in their guild.
Nards in Need
A Nard is being beaten up by some local thugs. Nearby Nards are coming to his aid but it is becoming something of a brawl.
Epic (Level 5-10)
Depending upon the PCs in the party, these are for higher level characters. Some of the cults have a lot of resources and completely destroying a cult, or multiple cults, would be a feat.
Child of a wealthy merchant was sacrificed by a cult. The merchant not only wants vengeance on that particular group, he wants the entire cult eradicated from the city.
The Elders Did It
A merchant’s supply of extremely valuable cargo was seized by whom he suspects to be the Council of Elders. If the PCs can prove it was one of the Elders, there will be hell to pay (that merchant is a member of a rival cult. Completing the quest will likely result in a war and the PCs will be in the middle).
Cultists Must Die
PCs are being stalked by an unknown person. It turns out it is a traveler from a long way away who approached the PCs because he/she noticed them as non-locals. NPCs home town was destroyed from the inside by one of the evil cults in Guilds Town. Has been seeking revenge for years and wants their help to do it.
Open Season on Cultists
Cultists attempt to kidnap any small members of the party (mistakes them for a child). They find out afterwards this has been happening all over the city. The local guard has put out a large bounty and declared open season on cultists hunting.
Cultist in Our Midst
PCs get a message via the sending spell to come see the Guildmaster of the Mage’s guild. He has discovered that their Elder on the Council of Elders is knowingly, or unknowingly, working for the Yuan-Ti. He wants the party’s help to bring the cult down.
Cult Purging Time
A local guild (pick one), needs the PC’s help ferreting out all the cultists in their guild, and all of their allied guilds.
- Obviously The Homebrewery for making this possible
- The SO I don't have. Seriously A if you see this, thanks for being supportive. :)
- /u/famoushippopotamus for pushing me towards doing some writing
- /u/radioactivecashew for beating me to the advice on /r/dmacademy
- /r/dndnext for their support
- /r/dndbehindthescreen, /r/dmacademy, /r/battlemaps, /r/mapmaking, /r/dndmaps and all the other D&D subs out there and the wonderful communities of each.
- /u/applejaxc for being himself
- Walrock Homebrew (walrock.homebrew.blogspot.com)
- Of course my players: Cassius, Swell, Urd, Rurrick, Ailekk and Reis, you guys know who you are!
- Anyone else I missed!