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Fatemaster Friday - I fought the Law...


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Fantabulous Friday Breachers!

Last week we took a look at subordinate Fatemaster Characters in TTB and different ways to utilize them. Here’s what @WDeseron had to say about subordinate characters:

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A player of mine was a sinister ghoul and necromancer, but he became down right paternal to a ten year old ghost. She’d occasion look on the other side of a door for him or nudge him towards a piece of treasure. 

See the rest of the comments here.

This week we’re delving into the Guild of Mercantilers, with the help of Above the Law. This faction expansion is a must for any Fatemaster wanting to bring the Guild into their games with more than the base NPCs found in the 2nd Edition Core Book. Make sure your papers are in order and you’re not carrying any contraband, because we’re getting up close to one of the major powers both Earthside and in Malifaux.

The Guild of Mercantilers, often shortened to the Guild, has a long and storied history. The beginnings of what would become the Guild started in the cabals who tried to undermine the Council in the years before the Black Powder Wars. With the Council out of the picture once the First Breach closed, independent cabals of mages spread their influence far and wide. Naturally, with their mutual enemy gone, these cabals turned upon one another. The height of the inter-cabal fighting was during the Black Powder Wars, and when the dust and fighting settled, only one remained, calling themselves the Guild of Mercantilers. Backed by the extremely sensitive Minerva Council, the Guild became the main purveyors of the soulstone trade, and secured their influence over many nations on Earth.

Now that we’ve covered some of the Guild’s history, let’s take a look at their internal structure. The Guild prides itself on internal efficiency along with utilizing nearly indecipherable bureaucracy to bind other organizations and people in red tape. While the Magistar is the public leader of the Guild, the position is largely a figurehead controlled by the Minerva Council. The current Magistar is Jacinta Guillem i Roser Garcia, put in place after a terrible betrayal amongst their ranks that killed the previous Magistar. Under the Magistar are several offices and commissions, but the most pertinent office for Fatemasters and their players is the one solely in charge of Malifaux- the Office of the Governor-General. 

The Guild forces within Malifaux are currently under the thumb of the formidable and strict Franco Marlow. After Herbert Kitchener merged with a Tyrant to become the Burning Man, Marlow was brought in to clean up the bed of corruption and infighting that was the various divisions in Malifaux, and Above the Law gives a detailed breakdown of each division. The Ram’s Head Tarot allows for Fated to belong to any of the offices, and an assortment of pursuits that excel at furthering that Guild’s agenda. 

For the martially minded, Gunner and Marksman Pursuits give Guild aligned Fated who stick to their guns an advantage unseen by many in Malifaux. Socially motivated Fated can spread word of the Guild’s superiority as a Propagandist, or leads troops as a Commander. Bureaucrats leverage their knowledge of the hellish politics to hinder foes and aid allies. The Guild employs Magewrights for not only their Witch Hunters, but for magical enhancements and items. Advanced Pursuits such as Executioner, Guild Lawyer, and Soulstone Aficionado give additional and sometimes frightening options for qualifying Fated.

Above the Law is available in print through multiple outlets and digitally through DriveThruRPG. 

Now that we’ve taken a closer look at the group seeking to keep order in Malifaux, what’s your favorite use of the Guild in a game, either as a Fatemaster Character or Fated?
 

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Portraying the Guild as ruthlessly brutal to intimidate your players or corruptly bungling to exploit their greed are classic tropes of Guild NPC's and plot holes. Even though they are not mentioned or named I imagine other members of the Minerva Council entrust their dealings in Malifaux to the most adept (and expensive!) espionage agents. Having a suspiciously circumspect and capable member of the Guild show up with some "special dispensation" and motives that seemingly run completely counter to the goals of his more public counterparts can set the team for some cloak and dagger... or cat and mouse!

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I see the Guild as the East India Trading Company in Pirates of the Caribbean films - greedy corrupted corporation BUT they bring laws and an order. And their enemies are bloody pirates - some of them can be stylish and funny adventures, but most of them are villains. So in my games the Guild is a lesser evil.

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In the game I'm running now, the Fated are stuck between the Guild and 10T in a noir style investigation. They work well as foils to put the screws to them, as an Elite division agent is never far from their heels. But, since they're so all encompassing, they're also constantly vexed by a guild detective who actually is a good guy and has caught a whiff of their corruption. It's fun having different faces of the same organization twisting them up from both ends.

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The way I roleplay them in my games: the lower the rank, the more likely they are to be kind and help out Innocent members of Malifaux, sort of like friendly neighborhood policemen, upholding the law but not being too hard on the general public.

Once you start going up the ranks however, that's where the bullies, the show-offs and the intimidation comes in, the way I see it, the upper ranks have to deal with so much; from "Arcanist Terrorists" to literal towers of paperwork, that trusting "innocent" people not to backstab them just isn't something they are going to risk anymore.

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While I don't try to hide or downplay the negative aspects of the Guild, my campaign has exposed the Fated to a lot of the positive; and they've actually cultivated a good reputation with a number of division heads, most notably Lady Justice and Perdita Ortega.  

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