Tuesday, November 1, 2011
"The Assassins' Guild" was, as its name suggests, an article about the organization by which assassins operated. It was geared equally for referees and players, though, in my experience, the assassin was never a popular class (there were only ever two in all my years of playing the game and one was a half-orc cleric/assassin). On the other hand, assassins appeared regularly as NPCs in my campaigns. One of them, named Ashad Raghul (aka "The Man in Black") was the leader of the Black Brotherhood, an evil organization inspired by a reference in Dwellers of the Forbidden City and he and his minions bedeviled the PCs of two different campaigns. So, for me, an article like "The Assassins' Guild" was an intriguing one.
As it turned out, though, the article was fairly light on details or even ideas. Instead, its authors more or less just expounded on sections of the class's description from The Players Handbook without adding anything particularly valuable. However, the article also contained "the Laws" -- a collection of eleven commandments that the Assassins' Guild has laid down and enforces on all its members. The first law is "No one may plan and enact a premeditated act of murder except a member of the assassins' guild." Other laws govern things like the circumstances under which someone may be murdered, the proper use of poisons and traps, and the need for secrecy about the guild's activities even under pain of torture. In short, the laws covered all the primary activities of the assassin class and provided mechanisms for their enforcement.
I won't claim that "The Assassins' Guild" was a groundbreaking article. I can't even claim that it changed the way I viewed the assassin class and its role in the game. But I did use the laws presented in it as a model for the way the Black Brotherhood governed itself and, even now, the Laws influence how I envisage the Slayers Guild of Adamas in my Dwimmermount campaign. That's a lot more than can be said about plenty of other well-regarded articles and, ultimately, the only measure of quality that matters in gaming is whether it leads to fun at the table with your friends.