Running a Thieves' Guild in Adventurer Conqueror King

In assembling the mechanics for campaign play, we wanted to make sure that all of the different classes had enjoyable opportunities for activity that reflected their class. Fighters and Clerics, for example, tend to be the most focused on domain-building and mass combat, while Mages focus on magical research and building dungeons filled with exotic beasties. Thieves... Thieves get to run thieves' guilds! Upon reaching 9th level, a Thief who establishes a hideout will attract 2d6 Thieves to his service. Each of these Thieves can be assigned a "hijink" each month. Hijinks include carousing, spying, stealing, and treasure-hunting. Based on the followers' level, he'll have a chance of succeeding, and a chance of getting caught each time he tries. Success will earn XP...failure may result in death or imprisonment. Let's imagine that our 9th level PC Thief has, among his followers, a 3rd level Thief who he assigns to "stealing" during a game-month. A 3rd level Thief will successfully steal on a 15+ on 1d20, will get caught if his die roll is 4 or less, and will have no result on a roll of 5-14. Assuming our 3rd level Thief succeeds, he'll steal 3 loads of merchandise determined by consulting the merchandise tables in the Mercantile Ventures section. Putting this into practice, here's six months of hijinks by our 3rd level Thief:

  • Month 1: Roll 9, no result
  • Month 2, Roll 14, no result
  • Month 3, Roll 10, no result
  • Month 4, Roll 18, success! A roll of 57 on the Merchandise table indicates "wine and spirits" worth 200gp per load, so our Thief has made off with 6oogp worth of booze (earning himself 600xp in the process).
  • Month 5, Roll 15, another success! A roll of 94 on the Merchandise table sends him to re-roll on the Precious Merchandise table, where a roll of 60 indicates "ivory" worth 800gp per load. Our Thief has stolen 2,400gp worth of ivory, earning another 2,400gp and an increase to 4th level.
  • Month 6, Roll 1, caught! Our 4th level Thief is facing charges of (roll 1d6) burglary. The 9th level PC Thief decides a rescue mission is in order to save this valuable retainer.

The other hijinks work similarly - Carousing allows your followers to get local rumors, but at risk of being charged with disorderly conduct; Spying has them seek out information about the domain activities of other rulers, but at risk of charges of eavesdropping or treason; and Treasure-hunting has them hunt for treasure maps to in-game locations, at a risk of charges of trespassing. In the past, players of high-level Thieves have complained, with good cause, of being short-changed relative to the awesome power of mages and clerics. In ACKS, running a Thieves' Guild makes the high-level Thief an invaluable source of new leads, information, and adventure hooks.

  1. So awesome. “…running a Thieves’ Guild makes the high-level Thief an invaluable source of new leads, information, and adventure hooks.”

  2. Is there something in place whereby the individual retainer’s personality, attributes or whatever influences the outcome of hijinkery or being caught? I can see this getting overly complicated, but it would be a nice touch, you know? Having that thuggish level 3 thief fellow always getting done for assault or something, whereas Slick Carlisle can seduce his way to riches, but may get nicked for adultery. Or whatever.

Looks great. Same system could be used for a Merchants Guild, I think. Why the level restrictions though? Seems like one of those arbitrary Gygaxian restrictions that players chafe at. There would be plenty of litereary/cinematic examples of some flunky gaining an edge and playing king. If players think they have the means, I wouldn’t let a little thing like level stop them from trying almost any scheme they come up with.

Daniel, re: level restrictions, nothing in-game prevents a player from establishing a guild, hiring thieves, etc; or conquering or building a castle, recruiting mercenaries, etc. But if you do it at name level you get certain automatic benefits.

To use a contemporary example, if you’re an entrepreneur that no one has heard of, you can start a company and bootstrap it up, but if you’re Mark Zuckerberg and you start a new company, you get financiers without even trying. Likewise, a 9th level Thief who starts a guild gets 2d6 followers without working at it, while a lower-level has to hard-scrabble to assemble his crew.


I knew I invested in this Kickstart wisely.