November 25, 2013

TFT - Guilds and Game Design

The Fantasy Trip was a role-playing game that came out in 1980 with the release of In The Labyrinth, the core rule set. It also included Melee (tactical combat) and Wizard (spellcasting), as well as the Advanced versions of them. The game was written by Steve Jackson who later used the system as a base for GURPS. This series of articles is a look at the rules of The Fantasy Trip as seen through modern eyes.

The concept of guilds in world settings has been with us for many years. Likely we've all heard of the Thieves' Guild. Other worlds have other types of guilds as well, such as the Mage's Guild or Bard's Guild. The Fantasy Trip (TFT) embraces the concept and brings it to a new level of interdependence. In TFT the guilds provide both an in-game and mechanical interaction.

The Wizard's Guild is all pervasive and can be found in almost every corner of the world. 99% of all wizards are members of the organization. In addition, they are one of the few places a character can go to "forget" a spell or talent allowing a character to learn a new or improved spell/talent. In effect, the Wizard's Guild provides a game mechanic. Likewise, the Thieves' Guild is the only place a character can learn certain abilities. There are no other places to learn something like Detect Traps. Again, the Thieves' Guild provides a game mechanic.

Do you like this close tie between in-game organizations and game mechanics?

The world setting of TFT, Cidri, has other guilds such as the Scholars' Guild, Mercenaries' Guild and Mechanicians' Guild - all them also spread throughout the world. All of them provide an in-game service. As a result of this they quickly become a focal point for characters. Characters know where to go to have certain questions answered or services rendered. This helps to keep a campaign moving. Instead of wandering lost, characters know exactly where to go. This is a good thing in my opinion.

Another thing pervasive guilds bring to a game is "expansive interactions". In most games character will make a name for themselves with the local organizations whether it be a king, temple or other group. However, once the characters move on from that area they have to start over, making new contacts and ties. Guilds are outside the bounds of regions and allow characters to keep their status and contacts beyond a limited area. Again, this is a good thing.
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