The Royal Cartographic Society

   Here we have a mid to high-level Party Template suitable for semi-victorian adventurers and explorers who focus more on new lands and knowledge than on treasure.  

   The known world is an island of order imposed upon a sea of chaos. The efforts of generations of explorers and adventurers have driven its borders outwards, carved order from the wilds, founded realms and kingdoms, and brought them into civilization.

   There may or may not be an end to that frontier.

   The RCS is actually a group of a dozen or so upper-level friends and companions who work constantly to expand the mapped and known areas of the world. After all, everyone knows that monsters emerge from the uncharted places, and that once a region is explored and mapped it can be negotiated and traded with. Determined men – whether literally or figuratively – can forge new lands from the unformed chaos that lays beyond the borders of the known world

   Gaining admittance to the Society isn’t easy. Beginners need not apply, and even a famed world traveler and explorer will have to accompany a society expedition and perform well on it to gain the coveted royal invitation. The lowest-level member of the RCS is level fourteen. Carving new lands out of chaos is no job for beginners.

   Of course, the group has it’s disadvantages as well.

  • The RCS fully expects to find horrific monsters, vicious savages, and wildly hostile evil rulers whenever they launch an expedition into an unknown region. Oddly enough, if there’s anything even remotely like that in an area, or a power struggle they could somehow get caught in the middle of, or some other major problem, they’ll invariably wind up in the middle of it – a version of the Accursed disadvantage.
  • The RCS exists to explore and map new lands and seas. If they aren’t on an expedition, they’ll be either delivering the results of the last one or putting a new one together – and an expedition is of no use unless it brings back new knowledge. The RCS is forever hauling back specimens of horrible monsters to display and document, going to absurd lengths to save their notes and maps, attempting to explore the cultures of crazed demonic cultists, launching another expedition to see what happened to the first one, and so on. Classical adventurer motivations (such as “Treasure” and “Experience”) are distinctly secondary. This is effectively either the “Compulsive” or the “Insane” disadvantage (it doesn’t really make any difference what you call it), depending on just how crazy the game master thinks this behavior is.
  • The RCS invites, and actively seeks, publicity. They’re appallingly easy to find out about. They also tend to negotiate, take notes, and try to identify opponents rather than going directly into combat mode. Those two problems make up the “Showman” disadvantage, and make it easy to find out what they’re up to, as well as reducing their initiative in combat situations.

   That gives the RCS party template a total of 24 Character Points – 14 for a minimum level of 14 and 10 for three disadvantages. That’s not quite enough to effectively equal a level (that would require another 8 CP for the base hit die and 4 CP to get the [Int Mod] skill points that go with it) – but it’s certainly enough for a fairly powerful party template.

  • The members of the RCS – and there are enough of them to make up several small parties – regale each other with their tales of distant lands, operate their own private museum and library, and all attend each others presentations on the lands they’ve explored – giving them each the Lore talent in Cultures and Creatures (6 CP).
  • Royal Patronage means that the members have a comfortable lifestyle, including a free club and free access to laboratory, library, and museum facilities. As importantly, they can locate backers for their expeditions fairly readily, eliminating many of the usual logistical difficulties. That’s either a major privilege or a pair of minor privileges. Either way, it’s (6 CP).
  • Members of the RCS are notorious for their narrow escapes, heroic actions, and barely-in-time catching of slipping individuals. They have Reflex Action, taking the three extra actions per day variant (6 CP).
  • You can never count the members of the RCS out when they’re on an expedition; they’ve been lost for years, fallen overboard, been trapped in avalanches, and suffered many other horrible fates – only to return later (if sometimes years later) with an epic tale of adventure. Returning, Specialized and Corrupted/only works while on expeditions in distant lands and only if the characters body is not recovered and the player can come up with some tale of his or her character’s dramatic escape from certain doom (2 CP).
  • The members of the RCS are always heroes, and can occasionally push themselves beyond all normal limits on behalf of others. Action Hero/Stunt Variant, Specialized/the user cannot pull off more than one stunt in any given day, Corrupted/can only be used to pull off actively heroic stunts, never just to save their own necks (2 CP).
  • Oddly enough, when the members of the RCS draw upon their broad experience to expound on “what’s probably going to happen”, or how “this pass is notorious for the activities of bandits, and we may well encounter some”, or make similar statements, their words are all too likely to come to pass. Mana (1d6) with the Reality Editing option, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Reality Editing, no conscious control of the process, only to make things more troublesome, dramatic, and exciting (2 CP). In general, this operates when the character (or player) starts speculating on what is likely to be encountered in an area.
    • It’s entirely possible that the RCS is more powerful than they know. If they are truly forging new lands from the primordial chaos, their solemn councils, evaluation of rumors and myths, forming of opinions, and mapping expeditions are actually an unconscious form of ceremonial magic, focused on shaping reality rather than simply speculating about it. In this case, their Reality Editing isn’t confined to pushing the likelihood of encounters and bending events slightly to fit expectations; it’s fully capable of grandiose effects – shaping the chaos of the wilds into lands fit for adventure.

   In actual play, the RCS is likely to initially appear as a patron – funding the exploration of distant places, recruiting the characters for rescue and followup expeditions, and providing information on distant lands. As the characters improve their skills and build up their reputations, they may find teachers and mentors within the RCS. An actual invitation to join the society and participate in a major expedition will be a major high point in a character’s career.

For those wanting to build things of their own, the character-point rules are to be found in Eclipse: The Codex Persona – available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE.

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One Response

  1. […] +0 ECL Party Template and samples – the Knights of Yggdrasil, Forest Stalkers, Company of Kardeon, Angbokor Guild, and Royal Cartographic Society. […]

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