Guild Warfare

Problem Statement
Several threads have identified a potential problem with hijinks - suggesting that hijinks are too lucrative relative to domain income, and this can cause issues for Judges. One possibility would be to lower the returns to running a guild, but I don’t care for that as a solution - for one thing a problem like this should be solved in a way that makes things more interesting for the player, and for another the logic is wrong. Organised crime is very lucrative - at least for the people at the top of the pyramid. That means that hijinks should be rebalanced by increasing risk, not lowering returns. The basic ACKS rules deal with the risk of law enforcement well but they don’t deal with the biggest headache criminal gangs have historically suffered - other gangs. Competition with other criminals can consume a thief PC’s resources while creating a new opportunity for the player to feel like they are managing a criminal enterprise.

The Upstarts
There is a chance each month that a new guild will enter the settlement. The chance of this happening should be dependant on how much money the existing guild is making. Note that judges should not tell players there’s a new player in town - thieves don’t carry banners or announce their presence. Unless the guild is allocating some of its spies and carousers to listening for rumours of new thieves in town they first they will hear of the new guild is when they starts eating into the profits of the established guild.

Page 237 has a table of maximum guild size for a settlement, but doesn’t describe the consequences of exceeding it. I propose that any for-profit hijinks performed in a settlement with too many thieves suffer a failure chance equal to (Thieves - Max)/Max. So if a class IV market has 120 thieves in it, there is an extra 20% chance that each hijink will fail. This should me made as a seepage roll by the Judge after the normal roll to see if the hijink succeeded. If the hijink fails for this reason, it should be explained as the opportunity being taken by another thief - the assassin stalks their target only to find them already dead; a carouser brings you a juicy rumour but you discover that it has already been exploited. It will start to become clear that there is new player in town and they’re taking a piece of your action.

Gang War
Fighting a criminal syndicate isn’t like fighting an army, half the problem is finding your enemy. To take down the enemy’s people you need to use spies and carousers to identify members of the rival guild and then send assassins after them. These hijinks are guild business, so they don’t generate income for the guild. It should be harder to identify members of the smaller guild since a small organisation will leave less of a trace.

As thieves start turning up in the river with their throats cut, morale will suffer in the guild. Being subject to a failed assassination attempt should count as a catastrophe (naturally hirelings who are successfully assassinated don’t need to roll) and the guild that is lowing the war (as measured by the highest death toll that month) should have to make loyalty checks. Bad rolls would indicate desertion or even your operatives joining the rival gang.

The war ends in one of these ways:

1. One of the guilds collapsing entirely.
2. One guild locating the other's hideout and raiding it. This should require:

	* capturing or turning one of the high-ranking enemy thieves.
	* Using a "Treasure Hunt" hijink to scope out the hideout.
	* The raid itself should be run as an adventurer, climaxing in a fight against the guild leader.

3. A peace where the guilds negotiate to split the settlement between them. Each guild effectively gains a membership cap of some fraction of the total cap for the settlement.

This can work in reverse too, if a player wants to set up in an established settlement, they will have to start a guild war to muscle their way into the settlement.

There are sill some details to work out here, but what do you think?

I like this idea a lot!
Currently the different groups in my campaign picked different cities as a base but now most of them are covered and some already plan to expand…

I like this idea on the whole. I also think that:

  1. Guild morale absolutely needs to be a thing, even when not in times of guild-war, and it ought to be fickle. All of the other domain types except mages already need to deal with morale; it ought to be there already.

  2. Having a percent chance of failure for congestion is a little annoying, since you’re rolling twice. A penalty to the d20 roll would be easier, and also have the effect of hedging-out low-level thieves as an effective earning force until congestion is resolved.

  3. Locating the enemy hideout and determining when a new guild has entered town might benefit from a system similar to Domains at War’s reconaissance rolls, modifiable by spending carousing / spying successes. Also, a kidnapping hijink - like assassination, but you end up with the victim in your custody instead of dead. Higher difficulty, but much more useful if you want information out of them.

Thanks for the comments jedavis;

  1. I agree, perhaps it could wax and wane with the success rate of the Guild, as well as a random component?

  2. I added it as a percentage fail for a couple of reasons:
    a) It straightforwardly turns the hard cap on guild size into a soft cap - you can have as many thieves in your guild as you like, but your average income won’t change once you cross the cap.
    b) Changing the raw chance of success would change your chance of being caught by law enforcement - which I don’t think makes sense.
    c) Changing the raw chance of success would have a different effect on thieves of different levels, which I also don’t really care for.

  3. I haven’t read DaW yet (I’m downloading it right now), but when I get a chance I’ll take a look and see what I can use form there.

Regarding over-cap cities: sure, I’m not particularly wedded to die penalty. Having law enforcement involved might not really be unreasonable though - this could represent tips from rival gangs or corrupt officials acting on their behalf, opsec failures by the perpetrating thieves (more criminals, higher probability someone will blab while in their cups and blow the operation), or just a reactive crackdown by law enforcement on the crime spree perceived to be in progress.

I suppose, in practice, I’m honestly more likely to just reduce guild income by x%. I wasn’t rolling all of those low-level thieves’ hijinks to start with; not about to start now :stuck_out_tongue: