The Bladeworks

by Andy Collins, Dragon #305

Although the Bladeworks began as a guild of weaponsmiths, its leader soon realized that he could drastically increase membership by welcoming not only those who crafted weapons, but also those who used them. In a matter of months, the guild went from a dozen members to half a hundred. Now, five years later, the group numbers almost one hundred, including sellswords, soldiers, guardsmen, adventurers, and even a few craftsmen. Although a vocal minority complains that the guild has lost its focus, most members enjoy the political (not to mention economic) power that the organization now wields.

The current guildmaster, a semi-retired adventurer named Justinian, took control of the Bladeworks barely more than a year ago. As only the second guildmaster of the organization, he has much to live up to. Justinian has recently stepped up recruitment of local warriors, counting on these new members both to fill guild coffers and to bolster his support within the organization.

Size And Resources

In the small city of Stormpoint, the Bladeworks is a major organization, primarily because of its good connections in both the economic and political spheres of influence. As might be expected, most of the resources it gains from these connections take the form of weapons and their component materials, but the guild's business ventures bring a fair amount of coin into its coffers as well.

The Bladeworks also counts a number of local adventurers as allies. Although they are not full-fledged members, numerous such free agents can be called upon to assist Justinian and his guild in a pinch.

The Bladeworks (major) AL LN 15,000 gp resource limit: Membership 92: Integrated (human 73, halfling 8, half-elf 5, dwarf 3, other 4).

Authority Figure: Justinian, male human Ftr 11; Gulthia Ironhammer, female dwarf, Exp 14.

Important Characters: Bearic Dunleavy, male half-elf Rog 3; Carson Hucrele, male human Ari 2; Cherin Allister, human female Ari 1; Garissa Sunglade, female half-elf Ftr 6; Gorgwall, male dwarf War 5; Hurmen "the Anvil", male human Exp 7 (master swordsmith); Meleanna, female elf Brd 1; Murdock Timbers, male halfling Exp 3; Renard, male halfling Rgr 2; Stim Bailey, human male Ari 1; Styricha, female dwarf Exp 3; Thorsson and Dagmar, male and female dwarf War 2.

Symbol: Pair of crossed swords; one shiny silver, the other black as night.

Others: Mixed; Exp 1 (15), Ftr 3 (2); Ftr 1 (30); Rog 1 (5); Rgr 1 (4); War 1 (15); Wiz 1 (2).

Alignment And Leadership

Twenty years ago, Justinian was a well-known fortune-seeker in the region. Now on the downward slope of forty, the former adventurer feels time creeping up on him and wants to leave a lasting mark on the world. His strategy is twofold: He plans to continue building the power and resources of the Bladeworks in Stormpoint while also expanding into other nearby cities. To the latter end, he encourages guild members to actively recruit new blood in their travels. He also makes a serious effort to sign up adventurers and mercenaries who are merely passing through the city, offering guild discounts and other benefits as needed to sweeten the deal.

Overall, the guild membership has a healthy respect for the law. Many members are current or former soldiers or guards, and even the smiths rely on an orderly city to protect their businesses. That said, the guild also knows the value of a conflict - after all, one can always sell more weapons during a war.

Membership And Demographics

In his haste to grow the guild, Justinian has relaxed recruitment standards considerably. In the early days of the Bladeworks, new members were chosen with great care; today, the guild welcomes all backgrounds, races, and creeds. Justinian tells himself that a few bad apples can't ruin the whole barrel, but some members have begun, whispering that the former guildmaster's stricter recruitment policies might have been preferable.

Justinian's chief rival for power in the Bladeworks is Gulthia Ironhammer. She resents Justinian because she believes that he has turned his back on the guild's true purpose: to provide a voice for the weaponsmiths of the city. But as Justinian's relentless recruitment drive continues, Ironhammer's support continues to weaken. Even her apprentice, Murdock Timbers, has become a convert to Justinian's cause.

With the guildmaster so busy, the duties of instruction have fallen to Garissa Sunglade, formerly of the Royal Army. She has organized the guild's training operations in a typically military fashion, with two 3rd-level fighter "sergeants" serving under her.

Bearic Dunleavy serves as Justinian's chief recruiter. With the help of his assistant, the glib Meleanna, Bearic keeps the coffers well filled with guild dues. Another important link in the recruitment chain is the nomadic Renard, who spreads word of the Bladeworks as he travels from town to town.

One of Justinian's best moves in recent months was inviting Carson Hucrele to join the guild. A member of the prominent Hucrele merchant family of Helmsport, Carson imagines himself a better swordsman than he is, but Justinian doesn't mind - the aristocrat's generous donations more than make up for his shortcomings. Carson has even recruited a couple of his noble friends, Cherin Allister and Stim Bailey, adding to the organization's political clout. In addition, the twins Thorsson and Dagmar, bodyguards to Cherin and Stim, have followed their employers into the guild.

Another coup was the recruitment of the master swordsmith Hurmen, known locally as "The Anvil." Hurmen and his apprentice Stricha, along with her brother Gorgvall, moved to Stormpoint several months ago from the larger city of Helmsport, thanks in no small part to Justinian's active recruiting efforts.

Although Justinian hasn't been able to add a spellcaster of repute to the group, he has recently recruited two 1st-level wizards.

In Your Campaign

The Bladeworks can be a useful ally and source of services for one or more PCs (particularly fighter-types). The guild provides training and similar services at no cost to its members. Basic membership is only silver piece per week, or 5 gp per year. An associate member pays 100 gp in dues annually but enjoys a 10% discount on all weapons purchased from other guild members.

The Bladeworks can also provide ready-made campaign hooks. Should a traveling member go missing, Justinian might hire some adventurers to track down the wayward weaponsmith. Or, if a local thieves' guild were to set its sights on smiths, Justinian wouldn't hesitate to pay would-be investigators well for their efforts. In either case, of course, Justinian would certainly look for likely recruits among the characters while using their services.

On the other hand, the Bladeworks might become a political foe of the PCs, particularly if they shun Justinian's recruitment efforts. Maybe another guild or a noble family has been providing the PCs with training and support, and Justinian takes offense, bringing the power of his guild to bear against the PCs and their patron either directly or indirectly. Alternatively, the characters might have the opportunity to befriend Gulthia Ironhammer and work to raise her standing in the Bladeworks.

New Feats

Justinian and his staff pride themselves on providing the best-quality training for all the guild's battle-minded members. It's no secret that Justinian himself was a swashbuckler during his adventuring days, not a heavily armored, ground- pounding soldier. Thus, he brings to the guild some techniques that are not often found in organizations catering to fighters.

During his adventuring career, Justinian "invented" two new feats that focus on using agility in combat. These feats can be available only from Justinian himself, or (at the DM's option) characters might be able to learn them from some of his previous students who have gone on to plant the seeds of the Bladeworks in other cities.

Limiting the feats to those characters whom Justinian or other Bladeworks members have contacted introduces an interesting twist, on the prerequisites of other feats. Allowing characters, monsters, and NPCs to acquire a feat only after they have adventured or trained with the right teachers adds depth to a campaign world and provides an easy way to distinguish one culture's fighting styles from another. For example, perhaps elves, masters of acrobatic fighting techniques, are the only ones that can take the Spring Attack feat.

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