Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Peek at Perilous Journeys 5

This post is really late!  I am continuing from my last post covering the Professions in the Perilous Journeys rules from January 4, 2012; I guess I really went off track at that time!  As would happen several times throughout 2014, I got sidetracked onto other things and did not get back to it.  I am making this return to Perilous Journeys the first blog post I publish in 2015.  I regret not getting to this sooner because it really is an all around well designed game.  It covers many things in other games but does it with a much lower page count.  For example, the Guilds section of the rules only take up five pages – that is just under 4% of the rule book page count - but they have just as much and even more to offer as similar rules sections in other games.  Personally, if I would have designed this game the section on guilds would be one of the sections I would be most proud of the final results.    

The professional associations and unions of Medieval Europe inspired the guild rules of Perilous Journeys.  The actual historical guilds were devoted to crafts such as masonry or carpentry.  These craftsmen banded together to provide aid to members and protect their craft.   In contrast, the guilds in Perilous Journeys represent associations of skilled adventurers that provide benefits to their members; namely, aid and training.

There is usually only one guild of each type per location because the guilds typically do not like competition in their area.  Guilds will take action to ensure their monopoly.  Some of these actions are legal and some are illegal.  There are exceptions to the Guilds strongly protecting their monopoly.  For instance, in large cities there are often several types of fighter guilds.

There are 13 guilds corresponding to the 13 professions in the Perilous Journeys rules.  The term “guild” is actually a generic label and will not be used for every profession.  For example, clerics will belong to religions, cavaliers would probably be part of a chivalric order, enchanters might be in orders, and guilds of other professions could be labeled differently as well.  The important thing to remember is that membership in any of these organizations is covered under the guild rules.  All guilds will conduct their organizational business in a guild hall.  Of course, other labels will be appropriate according to profession; for example, cavaliers will likely meet in keeps, clerics might gather in monasteries or temples, bandits meet in camps, and shamans could meet in circles or groves.

Characters have two options when they join a guild.  First, the character can join during the character creation process by simply spending design points.  There is no quest or monetary requirements for joining in this manner; it is assumed to happen prior to play.  Second, the character can join at a later time by fulfilling any quest requirements and paying any monetary dues associated with being granted the rank they are qualified for in the guild.

Advancing in the guilds is measured by competency in the required abilities (skills).  These abilities are the same as the abilities for the professions; one ability is the primary ability while the others act as supporting abilities.  There are three ranks for each guild and they are apprentice, journeyman, and master.  Each one of these ranks has three levels attached to them.  Advancing through the levels requires spending money and experience points.  There are benefits associated with each level advancement such as gaining a point in each required ability, upgrading armor, add 2 points to a core attribute, etc. These benefits are listed in a master table that must be consulted for level gains.  While all guilds use the same table, it is customized for each guild and there is enough variety that you will not be building the same character time and time again.  Training is also available to non-guild members but it will be more expensive and more restrictive in what will be taught.  It may seem that guild membership is taken for granted with these benefits but characters that are not in a guild are free to advance in and focus on the abilities of their own choosing.

That is a quick summary of the guild system used in the Perilous Journeys game rules.  I think they are one of the best set of rules for these types of in-game organizations because they are short (5 pages), elegant in execution, and really are all you need.  In other words, you are not required to search through a never ending chain of supplements trying to find the perfect prestige class, advanced class, kit, etc.  All of the rules you need for guilds are in the core rules themselves.  I correspond with the author, Jamie Hardy, on a pretty regular basis and I have been privileged enough to be given a sneak peak of the second edition draft of some of the Perilous Journeys rules sections.  There are changes in many areas but I have not been given the guilds section yet.  I hope that section is just expanded with examples of official campaign world specific groups instead of being altered in a mechanical way because they are near perfect in their present form.

***Future posts in this series of Perilous Journeys related posts will include Spells, Game Play, Advanced Combat, Creating Professions, Magic Items, and Monsters.***


  1. Can a character cross-train in two different guilds? Or for that matter can there be multi-class characters? I've pretty much always stuck with D&D styles - AD&D, 3rd Edition, and now Pathfinder as the rules system is one that is familiar and easy.

    1. Guilds will train non-guild members at a non-discounted price so yes. There isn't traditionally D&D style multi-classing but you can use the professions as templates to build your character through the selection of abilities that will mimic multi-classing.

  2. PJ is a skill game, not a class/level game. As such, you can pick whatever skills you want. There is NO requirement that you join a Guild. If you want a Fighter/MU/Thief, then you select the appropriate skills. This would mean Weapons, Enchantment, Thieving, and Archery. You spend XP to raise your skills as you want them raised. You will just need to train yourself or pay through the nose for a trainer depending on the skills involved. So if you think of Professions as a Class, then PJ offers the player the option of playing a specific Class or being Class-less. Both provide different benefits and drawbacks. Belonging to a Guild costs a lot of money and involves a lot of requirements. However, it provides some strong benefits. It is also a way to connect the PC to the actual game world. Not belonging to a Guild gives you more freedom, but also makes certain activities more difficult.

    Now, suppose you pick the skills needed to join the Cavalier profession and then join their guild. At the same time, you also learned enchantment. The guild will obviously help you train the main abilities for being a Cavalier, but what about enchantment?

    Advancing through a Guild’s ranks provides benefits. Some of those benefits are adding additional skills. For example, the skills to be a full-member of the Bandit Guild are Waylaying, Archery, Ranging, and Weapons. Now, advancing through the Master Ranks would allow the player to select to add stealth, planning, athletics, or jury-rig, So, the Guild can provide a member with training in additional abilities outside of the core one required for Guild membership.

    So there are three options, and that really depends on the GM.

    1. The GM creates new guilds for certain professions that are left out. For example, A Cavalier that knows Theurgy (divine magic) would be a Paladin. So, you go create a Paladin profession with Paladin Guilds and they will train you in Theurgy. If the GM wants the equivalent of multi-class character guilds, then he just needs to give them a name and list out the main abilities.

    2. The Guild the PC belongs to will teach other abilities. The GM decides that the extra abilities you have selected will be taught by the Guild. Although this may involve traveling to other Guild halls for rarer skills.

    3. The GM decides that the extra ability the PC has are not ones that the Guild would be teaching. For example, it is unlikely a Cavalier Guild will be teaching Thieving.

    One more thing, it is fully possible for a “guild” to actually serve more than one profession. Assassin and Thieving Guilds could be the same guild in a town. It is possible to have some type of Explorer/Mercenary Association. This would train Rangers and Fighter, but they might train Elementalists or Thieves.