Thursday, January 7, 2010



WOTC have released the second part of their articles looking at using a Warlock’s Patron in a campaign to help provide and move plot points.  Very interesting reading if you have a DDI subscription.  The articles are available here and here.

This got me thinking into other classes in 4e which don’t have the built in Patron.  Here are a few ideas for both a player and a Dm to look at when designing a character.

Here are a few ideas for Patrons:

  • Guild – An organisation that takes in youngsters and trains them, they typically require some kind of loyalty in return for this training as well as assistance where they have influence.  A guild will also generally have allies and enemies where it is situated, as well as competitors.  Benefits for staying in the good books of a guild can include influence within an area, access to goods and services as well as information, help in quests and extra manpower for specific missions.  However, falling afoul of the guild can make life difficult where they have influence, higher prices, ambushes, refusal of service.  Also not all guilds are too happy to see people leave and might exact vengeance.  Fighters, rogues, wizards might typically come from a guild.
  • Master – A powerful person might take on apprentices to teach and provide help with his work.  Apprentices will be treated similarly to the master, respected if he is or possibly despised and loathed if the master has a particularly loathsome reputation.  Similarly to guilds the master might expect services from his apprentices.  Depending on the master, there might be several apprentices who might be encouraged to cooperate of compete for his attention.  Wizards, rogues, rangers, sorcerers and bards might be trained by a master.
  • Noble Patron – A rich noble might hire talented young artists, warriors, woodsmen or arcanists and provide them training.  This might be purely philanthropic in nature, looking to provide for talented youngsters, or for the gain of the noble, being able to show off a particularly talented bard or have a well stocked and protected hunting area.  Does the noble consider the character to be his slave or property, owing him for the elevated status?  There might even be something more sinister at work.  If the character leaves the employ of his sponsor is it on good terms? Would the sponsor harbour a grudge believe the character not to have shown enough gratitude, or might he even be paranoid, worried that his onetime shining star might sell information about his estate and affairs to rivals?  Bards, rogues, rangers, druids, wardens or fighters might have a noble patron.
  • Cult – A cult might take in promising youngsters to train for their own purposes, which might not always be nefarious in nature, a cult dedicated to the old religion might train druids, wardens, rangers and seekers.  Cults tend to have both public and hidden agendas and the character might not be aware of the true nature of the cult.  Depending on the cult, most character types could be trained by one.
  • Church or religion – A church could act like a guild or cult in training a character with a divine power source.  The allies and enemies of the church or sect within the church can be used to help or hinder the character.  Divine characters are obvious scions of a church, but fighters and rogues are also a possibility.  IF arcane magic is under the political control of the church then arcane characters might also fall into their domain.
  • Primal Spirit – a primal character could have a close association with a specific spirit who manifests in his powers or as his spirit companion, this kind of bond might be interesting to do as a boon from DMG2 or as an artefact with a concordance rating.  The happier the spirit the more it will give the player.

Having a patron in the characters back story come into the game can help give a player a sense of belonging to the campaign world.  The patron can help by providing quests or hints.  Where the patron has influence things might be easier with access to rare and expensive goods.  Allies, enemies and competitors to the patron can involve themselves in the affairs the of the characters, either helping or hindering them.

If the characters find themselves at odds with their patrons there should be repercussions, depending on the patron, can they come to an amicable agreement?  Will the patron be overbearing and demand the pcs tow the line?  Will the pcs have enough influence with the patron to be able to convince the patron that they are in the right?  Will this lead to a falling out with more dangerous repercussions?  Previous allies becoming active foes or just hindering or refusing to aid the characters?

Dragon Age uses patrons and organisations in your companions backgrounds in their personal quests, which helps bring the world to life.

Many thanks to Rechan from Enworld for some inspiration

How have you used patrons in your games?

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