Addendum to Chapter 5: Ability Checks & Skills
A College is a place of learning where people can learn new skills. Colleges teach groups of skills, usually in sets of four skills. These packages reflect the skills required to be various sorts of Specialist.
Entry requirements for most common Colleges are simply to meet whatever fee they charge and to attend class to learn the new skill that the character wants to pick up. However some Colleges that teach unusual skills have much more restrictive entry requirements ranging from having 18 Charisma to belonging to a particular race, class, bloodline or culture.
Once someone graduates from a College there is little real connection between them and the College they went to.
If someone learns all four of the skills that a College offers, then they have become qualified. A qualified character can always work as the Specialist type that the four skills qualify them to be, at whatever the standard rate of earning is for that profession. However working as what amounts to a NPC in someone else’s stronghold takes up all of that character’s time for the duration of the period the hiring character has paid for.
Trade Colleges teach practical physically oriented skills or skills devoted to Craft, Perform and other skills that produce an effect. Arts Colleges as the name suggests focus on Arts subjects especially painting, drawing, singing, performance but also history and other Humanities. Arcane Colleges teach Chemistry and many other strange skills that no one other than a Magic-User or would-be Construct maker would be interested in.
Colleges that band together form Universities. Each University must have at least two Colleges teaching at least eight skills in total between them. Universities receive a Charter from a noble who is of sufficient rank to rule a Dominion. The Charter specifies legal exemptions, freedoms, licences and approvals that the University enjoys. Frequently the exemptions protect Universities from charges of blasphemy, nuisance, breaches of etiquette and laws that would normally prosecute them for insulting nobles. This is to allow the research and inquiry higher learning tends to require.
The Specialists listed in Chapter 5 of Dark Dungeons are all considered College trained for human and demihuman characters, even if they do not have particular sets of four skills identified in the rules.
Guilds are a combination of College and class. They are Colleges that only teach skills and weapon feats to a particular class, and they almost always also offer other side benefits. Joining a Guild is usually expensive, and some Guilds also require the new member to learn an Argot – a new language peculiar to the class and Guild.
For example a Thieves’ Guild requires the new entrants to learn a language called Thieves’ Argot, an impenetrable code language that allows criminals to talk openly amongst other people because no one else can understand their weird slang. Thieves’ Guilds restrict membership to the Thief class.
Likewise some Elves belong to what amount to Guilds, although they are not usually called Guilds but rather Houses or Trees. Again, Elf Houses or Elven Trees teach their members skills no one else can obtain and also provide access to spells no one else can learn because no other records of the spells exist.
Guilds maintain a permanent presence in a character’s life once they join, going so far in some cases as to expect loyalty and obedience, and even for a character to go on quests for the Guild Masters. Characters who rebel against this risk being kicked out of the Guild and shut off from its unique skills and other rewards, and in the case of the more sinister Guilds there may even be threats of violence or death from the Guild to someone who refuses to continue to contribute to it.
Guilds can be divided into three types: Operative, Speculative and Passive.
Operative Guilds are all devoted to a particular adventuring class, demihuman race or alignment. They are in effect a cult without an Immortal (usually) and belonging to one permanently alters the course of a character’s life, as well as consuming a significant amount of their time with guild meetings, fund raisers, minor quests, elections and politics and social events. This sort of insular zealous Guild always issues threats to delinquent members. Operative Guilds usually charge a character 10% of all their treasure’s value in Guild dues, each month, payable at the end of the month. The Guild uses spies and magic to detect how much treasure has been obtained. They also use debt collectors, thugs, spies and Magic-Users to collect on unpaid dues. The good side of their rapacious money grubbing is that they almost without exception provide one free spellcasting to bring the member back from the dead as best they can achieve. They go so far as to send Guild members on missions to recover mortal remains of dead Guild members, especially if the departed person was a good earner for the guild.
Speculative Guilds usually have a single stronghold or castle at their disposal. All members of the Guild have to go back to this stronghold, or a major chapterhouse that this stronghold maintains in their local area, if they want to learn any of the unusual skills (or spells or weapon feats etc.) that the Guild owns. However, this sort of Guild never chases lapsed or negligent members. If they turn up again for more teaching this sort of Guild simply charges them a fortune in back fees before any teaching is available. There’s no special effort, beyond what local laws allow, to recover unpaid debts, but they will never teach a bad debtor again. Speculative Guilds also tend to have exotic handshakes, argot type coded language and a lot of very odd philosophical beliefs, most of which are harmless rather than part of the plot of some sinister Immortal of Chaos. Usually.
Passive Guilds are little more than social clubs with excellent records. They provide most of the skills in the normal campaign that don’t come from individual teachers and make no trouble for anyone.
There is no reason for any GM to use Colleges, Guilds or Universities or any part of this addendum to Chapter 5 of Dark Dungeons. It is a way however to flesh out the Settled areas of the world, and also detail how characters learn their skills. It can provide many adventure hooks as well as provide a source of books, scrolls and maps.
This Specialist is used in some cultures as an impartial and unimpeachable witness. The Bard’s normal function is as a living repository of record keeping and genealogies as well as to sing instructional, inspiring or satirical songs.
Skills: History (local aristocratic bloodlines), History (births, deaths and marriages), Perform (song), Craft (songwriting)
Bards frequently belong to a Speculative Guild of some sort. This Guild is usually open to literally anyone who is prepared to learn all four of the skills that they teach.
The Jester is a Specialist employed in noble courts to entertain the aristocracy, create or dissipate tension and tell jokes. There is a traditional exemption from the normal consequences of breaching etiquette for Jesters. Up to a point.
Skills: Perform (stand up comedy), Insult, Perform (comedy song), Peform (physical comedy)
Jesters don’t tend to attend College, but some circuses and carnivals function as Schools for Scoundrels, effectively a College in all but name.
Acrobats are physical performers capable of great feats of Dexterity.
Skills: Tumbling, Escape Artist, Tight Rope Walk, Gymnastics
Acrobats don’t tend to attend College, but some circuses and carnivals function as Schools for Scoundrels, effectively a College in all but name.
The Fortune Teller
This Specialist uses intriguing looking decks of cards, a (usually completely non-magical) crystal ball and props such as an incense burning bowl or weird statues of unknown Immortals to create the impression that she is in touch with the primal forces of the cosmos, and the Immortals speak through her.
Skills: Cold Reading, Storytelling, Sense Motive, Perform (fortune telling)
Fortune Tellers don’t tend to attend College, but some circuses and carnivals function as Schools for Scoundrels, effectively a College in all but name. Some Fortune Tellers belong to Gypsy Tribes, a specialized form of Operative Guild for the Human (Gypsy) and player characters could belong to the Gypsy race of humans and “attend” this form of College.
A Charlatan is a stage magician. If the character is also a spellcaster then they may “cheat” and use real magic in their act. The point of their performance is to leave people wondering how the hell they did their tricks, and if they did use real magic or not. Charlatans try and avoid any entanglement with real spellcasters, for fear of being assaulted if they pretend to arcane powers they do not really possess. However they do cultivate a deliberate air of being terribly mysterious. This Specialist could be a member of a class that can’t use magic such as a Thief, or a member of a race that can’t cast Magic-User spells such as a Dwarf. But no one will ever be 100% certain that the character doesn’t command some sort of arcane power if their stage magic is good enough.
Skills: Sleight of Hand, Perform (magic act), Escape Artist, Craft (magic trick)
Charlatans attend regular Colleges but waste their time in class learning stage magic on the sly instead of whatever skills they were meant to learn. Some of them learn their profession at a circus concession or similar fairground, or in a theater of a city or large town. Circuses and carnivals function as Schools for Scoundrels, effectively a College in all but name.
Hermits are solitary people who live extremely simple lives, wearing little more than a robe or sometimes animal furs, and spending their time when not interrupted wandering around a local area pondering things and receiving obscure inspiration. Their chief function as a Specialist is to advise Knights (Fighters who have taken vows) on matters relating to their adherence to their vows, how better to serve their Immortal or their faith, and sometimes to provide guidance or clues to whatever quest or adventure the Knight or Knights have currently undertaken. Hermits never accompany Knights on their adventures but sometimes they will travel to the location of the adventure to be nearby when needed.
Skills: Good Advice, First Aid, Find Clue, Riddles
Hermits are educated by Holy Orders that function as Operative Guilds. These Orders are only open to zealot members of a specific religion or cult and all Hermits are dedicated members of some Holy Order. This type of Holy Order demands ALL of the treasure a Hermit earns, but Hermits don’t care.
The Mummer is a specialist usually employed to perform silent play acting in a stronghold, especially during scheduled feasts, holy days and during times of crisis as a distraction for common folk. Mummers dress in bizarre brightly painted costumes and cosmetics and mime out a role or a message, usually relating to great heroes or Immortals. Other common play acting is for a pair of Mummers to run around a crowd pretending to be a Knight fighting a Dragon or an Orc menacing a Maiden and so on.
Skills: Perform (Mime), Dance, Craft (Costume), Acting
Mummers don’t tend to attend College, but some circuses and carnivals function as Schools for Scoundrels, effectively a College in all but name. Some Mummers attend Arts College and are actually from very prosperous families.
Jongleurs are jugglers and masters of sleight of hand. They juggle balls, daggers (-4 on skill check) or even live lizards (-8 on skill check) for the entertainment of their lord or of a crowd of commoners.
Skills: Juggle, Public Speaking, Perform (magic act), Begging
Jongleurs don’t tend to attend College, but some circuses and carnivals function as Schools for Scoundrels, effectively a College in all but name. Some Jongleurs learn their skills whilst they are at a College learning a more typical and better paid profession.
A supplement for Dark Dungeons providing rules for playing Humanoid Animals – Puss in Boots, Beatrix Potter characters, TMNT, whatever takes you fancy!
When a Cleric reaches 9th level, if he or she is of Chaotic alignment and evil mien, they may elect to follow a specialized path of selfish evil, allowing them to drain life force in return for magical power. This specialized path requires them to take the Vow of the Corruptor.
The Vow of the Corruptor requires the character to isolate themselves from all living things in a remote desert, ruins, wastelands or even another plane of existence, for a period of 2-8 (2d4) months. In this period their normal attitudes to life and goodness are stripped away entirely and replaced with a simmering rage and a dark heart that form the basis of their new philosophy of Chaos and evil.
Once the initiation is finished, the cleric becomes a Corruptor. Corruptor society has no hierarchy and due to the nature of their power they shun the company of other Corruptors. Each Corruptor is their own master, likely soon to be the nucleus of their own evil cult or organization.
The Corruptor philosophy is primarily obsessed with draining life energy, fueling their own development and power and destroying living things. They are revel in destroying nature.
As such, Corruptors usually live in the most polluted and built up cities, mines or ports they can find, or in remote areas seething with magical fallout and chaos. Wherever they choose to live, they make sure that they also have access to either living beings to Tap, or to wondrous natural areas close enough to visit and despoil.
Although there are stories that a tiny handful of Corruptors are more or less neutral and “scientific” in how they use their Tap ability, generally Corruptors are evil, despicable people with dark hearts and minds.
Each Corruptor has, during their isolated sojourn, received from their mysterious Immortal patron the ability known as The Tap. The Tap is a form of Energy Drain. The Tap is used by the Corruptor by the naked flesh touch of his or her body to any nominated target. Tap may be used a number of times each day equal to the character’s General Modifier for Wisdom, with a minimum of 1.
When a victim is Tapped, they suffer the level or hit die loss as per Energy Drain. However at the same time, the Corruptor gains magical power. Also, the Tap can work on any living thing, including plants. Living things that do not have levels or hit dice simply die instantly when touched by the naked flesh of a Corruptor using Tap.
When such living things as plants are affected by the Corruptor’s Tap, the Corruptor destroys an area in a sphere centered on his or her feet with a radius of 4d8 x 10’. All plants, bacteria and other tiny life forms are destroyed and converted to ash in this field. Such a Tap can only affect the plant life in the zone; if there is a character in the zone and that character is not touch attacked to be Tapped, they suffer nothing other than the creepy sensation of seeing the plant life around them collapse into dust.
A Tapped area of land or sea is permanently drained of life force. Nothing will ever again grow there, and no animal will voluntarily remain there, ever again. Only the most powerful magics and blessings conferred by Druids or their patron Immortals can even hope to some day restore areas destroyed by Corruptors.
Each time a Corruptor successfully uses Tap, the character gains an extra clerical spell, from the Druid list, of a level which they are allowed to cast, and in addition to any existing spells they have left to cast that day. These additional spells conferred by Tap must be used in their negative form if reversible, and no Corruptor can or would ever Cure wounds or Neutralize poison. They live for death and destruction.
The extra spells the Tap confers are lost at the end of the game day on which they are gained so if they are not used before the Corruptor rests for the night, they dissipate and are lost to his or her use.
The Tap ability’s Energy Drain causes all the normal misery and permanent loss that an undead Energy Drain causes.
At 16th level, a Corruptor can, even though they are a living being, function exactly in the manner of an Undead Liege.
At 28th level, a Corruptor begins to shrivel, decay or otherwise lose his or her relatively normal appearance. They begin to take on the aspect and appearance of some form of undead. The exact type can be randomized or selected by the player with the GM’s permission. The character is not a true Undead; it is simply the Corruption manifesting itself physically. However, as of 28th level, the Corruptor can be turned by Clerics exactly as if it was a genuine Undead. The type of Undead that equates to the Corruptor is “Special”.
Corruptors are denied any shot at Immortality, their Immortal patron simply point blank refusing to ever sponsor them. For this reason Corruptors usually turn their twisted minds to achieving physical deathlessness.