Could it be the ruins of old Togsancor Institute? Feature image from: Old Book Illustrations.
Following last week’s post, this is the third and final part on our series of posts presenting twelve factions for player characters to join and develop new abilities, skills, techniques, etcetera, that can be included in your campaign setting, or inspire you to develop your own organizations for they to meddle with.
9. The Kronker’s “School” of Riggin’
- Type: the Kronker’s “School” of Riggin’ – supposedly a place to learn about how to crank contraptions – keeps changing places; one time it’ll be at a rundown warehouse in a big city’s poor district; another time, it’ll be among subterranean tunnels, hidden behind an unassuming (and badly covered) hole in the ground; and so on.
- Nature: it’s open to anyone who can pay, but since Kronker is a wanted criminal (and also wanted by criminals), it can be seen as a clandestine endeavor.
- Goal: for Kronker, it’s to make a quick buck while barely teaching, or pretending to teach, anything.
- Requisites: technically none, but Kronker appreciates those with potential at engineering, or those good at thieving (as potential partners in crime in the future).
- Admission: 3d8 × 10.000 gp, but this price may be bargained down to as low as 1d6 × 100 gp.
- Benefits: for those who managed to make Kronker teach them properly, the basics of contraption cranking can be learned (see below).
Bonus: Crank Contraption (special skill)
- A character trained in this skill can make unstable machines that may be able to temporarily reproduce the effects of a spell of a given level, up to and including the fifth level; naturally, permanent spells can’t have their effects replicated this way.
- Neither the machine nor its effects are magical in the sense of interacting with magic-related descriptors; for example, the machine’s effect can’t affect beings vulnerable only to magic, but they also can’t be dispelled, nor they stop working inside an anti-magic field.
- The character needs the schematics, either one already available, or one drawn by hand, which in this case takes two hours per spell level.
- The character also needs to spend 100 gp per spell level in materials, and to take one day per spell level building the whole thing (e.g. to reproduce a third level spell, one needs 300 gp, six hours to draw the schematics, and three days to build the machine).
- The machine works only once, and only if the player rolls a d6 and gets a result greater than the spell level (e.g. in the example above, one also needs to get 4 or greater on a d6 roll for the machine to work).
- Regardless of working or not, after the machine does its job it invariably breaks and explodes, dealing 1d6 damage per spell level to everyone in its vicinity (a circle with radius of 10′ per spell level); a successful save versus breath halves the damage done.
10. The Errant Order of Thel Dhuran
- Type: it’s an order of errant knights, devout followers of Thel Dhuran, a being of many conflicting stories with only one common element, their opposition of “foul” magic and its practitioners; inspired by their patron’s ideals, the knights travel across the lands, rooting out magicians whose deeds them deem as “evil”.
- Nature: the knights welcome anyone in their midst that share their commitment to the teachings of Thel Dhuran.
- Goals: to be living examples of the lessons that Thel Dhuran tried to impart in their life.
- Requisites: only fighters, clerics and characters of related classes (such as paladins, for example) can join the order; magic-users and thieves, as well as characters of related classes (such as sorcerers, warlocks and assassins) aren’t allowed. (Note: in B/X and OSE, dwarves can join, but elves and halflings can’t; in campaigns where ancestries and classes are separated, only classes’ restrictions apply.)
- Admission: those who want to join the order must seek one of its knights and serve as their squire, until the knight deems them worthy of ingress; since the order is decentralized, with a loose organization, each knight evaluates their followers in different manners; usually, though, 6d6 months are necessary for the squire to be promoted, assuming there are no hardships in their path.
- Benefits: squires can change their classes to Fighter or Cleric (or related classes as noted above), and after being inducted they can master the Spellcleave technique (see below), exclusive to the order and supposedly developed by Thel Dhuran themself, after 1d6 months of training; both squires and knights receive double XP for any recovered treasure they donate for the benefit of peasants and other common folk.
Bonus: Spellcleave (technique)
- When fighting spellcasters of any kind in melee, a character’s player may declare the use of this technique before doing their attack roll.
- If the attack hits, the player then rolls the character’s damage dice (as expected to be 1d6, or according to their weapon); however, instead of dealing damage, halve the value obtained, rounding up, and note this result.
- Then, the opposing spellcaster randomly loses a prepared spell, or one usage of spell, of the same spell level as the result noted – or of a lower spell level (minimum of one), if the foe can’t cast or doesn’t have spells (prepared or usage) of the result noted.
- Example: a knight (Fighter 5) is fighting a wizard (Magic-User 7) and uses the Spellcleave technique, hitting the magician with their sword (damage: d8), and in lieu of hurting them, (roll of d8 gives a 6, half of it is 3) make the caster forget the (randomly determined) Fireball spell prepared in their mind.
11. The Circle of the Bright Eyes
- Type: the Circle is a heretic sect that subverted the teachings of their original faith to include a rather literal association between round gems and eyes.
- Nature: the Circle is seen as a clandestine cult, due to its heterodox views and practices, as well as its connections to a series of gem thefts.
- Goals: to obtain otherworldly Wisdom through the Opening to the Truth, a secret ritual; to spread the words of their doctrine.
- Requisites: none; anyone interested who manage to seeks the cult, or anyone their members convince to join, are welcome.
- Admission: those who wish to join must bring their own round gem, to be consecrated during the Opening to the Truth, when their initiation happens.
- Benefits: by joining the Circle, the supplicant takes out one of their own eyes, putting the consecrated round gem in its place; after that, they gain one of the blessings depicted on the following table, at the GM’s choice. (There’s a rumor that higher-ranking members of the Circle had both of their eyes exchanged by gems, and that the leader of the sect went beyond even that.)
|1||Visage: a blurred, unfocused visage of the Circle’s mysterious patron can always be seen, with your new eye, in the general direction of wherever you want to go the most.|
|2||Decay: your new eye doesn’t show the colors of things, but how rotten, ruined, rusty and worn out they are.|
|3||Gleam: your new eye shows you other potential eyes – other round gems – with an almost too intense bright, even if they’re behind walls or inside of recipients (bags, chests, etc.).|
|4||Shine: once each day, with a whispered chant to the mysterious patron, your new eye shines with strong light, temporarily blinding anyone who looks into it (for 12 turns, if they fail a save versus spells).|
|5||Veil: with your new eye, you can see beyond the barriers of the worlds where they’re thin enough (e.g. if you’re at a haunted place, you can see into the Lands of the Dead).|
|6||Deceit: your new eye allows you to see invisible beings and objects, as well as beyond illusions.|
|7||Blast: once each day, with a whispered chant to the mysterious patron, your new eye shoots a destructive beam that deals 2d6 damage to anyone caught in the beam’s path (save versus wands to avoid).|
|8||Gaze: once each day, with a whispered chant to the mysterious patron, your new eye shines with a weird light, and anyone who looks into it may suffer a debilitating effect (save versus spells or paralysis to avoid) – either fear (as in Cause Fear) for beings with less than 2 HD, or paralysis (as in Hold Person) for beings less than 5 HD.|
|9||Truth: with your new eye, as long as you can clearly see a person’s lips, body language and other subtle hints, you can always discern if they’re lying or speaking truthfully. (If the person is mistaken but believes in what they’re saying, they’re still speaking truthfully, even if they’re wrong.)|
|10||Wisdom: after you get your new eye, your Wisdom stat either becomes 9 or increases by 1, whichever is highest, and you may switch your class to Cleric, worshipping the mysterious patron.|
12. The Togsancor Institute
- Type: the Institute was a famous research facility on the arcane, but it was destroyed and abandoned years ago, following a disastrous accident; nowadays, however, a small group of magic-users quietly reclaimed the place, slowly rebuilding it while working on their own personal projects.
- Nature: formerly a private endeavour, now housing a secretive ring, with some of their members perhaps involved in clandestine matters.
- Goals: to rebuild the Institute as their base of operations, to further away their activities in hopes of new discoveries, to not have nosy inquirers.
- Requisites: for the few assistant positions, it’s usually expected of them to know how to cast arcane spells, but sometimes there’s a chance of an opening for a Cleric both able to cast spells and that doesn’t ask too much questions.
- Admission: to be an assistant, one must have complete trust of the magic-user employing them, and to be succesful at an errand, a test of sorts.
- Benefits: the magic-users at the ruins of Togsancor are, allegedly, trying to expand the frontiers of magic, even if some follow less than considerate methodologies; an assistant could help develop new spells, as well as the secrets of their employer’s area of interest, learning them in the process.
- Possible areas of interest:
- advanced necrology;
- creation of magic items;
- golems and other constructs;
- other planes of existence, and their denizens;
- spells more complex and powerful;