This PDF, a part of the entire Ptolus city-sourcebook, looks at the people of the city and the associations they form, or at least some of the most interesting ones. The Introduction explains where this chunk fits into the whole, and provides advice on how you can make use of it depending on what you intend to do: run Ptolus as is, put the city somewhere in your own campaign world, or just mine this book for ideas to apply to your own cities. Whatever you decide to do, here are dozens of organisations in (and below) Ptolus. Perhaps one or more party members will want to join up, perhaps they are mortal enemies diametrically opposed to the party's ethos and beliefs... or maybe they are in search of information, some help or a job.
We start off with the ten noble families who claim - in the face of the Empire's lack of recognition for them - a special status due to their ancestry. Each has a hereditary seat on the Assembly of the Ptolus City Council. There are two classes of involvement - those who are of the house blood and those associated with the house in some way - but all are refered to as members of the house in question. There's plenty of detail (and even the coat of arms) of each house, with notes on leading members and snippets of information to throw around... or to create plots from, for those with a bent for political intrigue. Even if what's here doesn't spawn ideas for you (it does for me...) there are some noble house plot hooks provided to get you going, as well as a table showing who's enemies with whom - quarrelsome lot, these nobles!
The nobles are followed by a crime family, the Balacazar, who have at least as much influence and probably more wealth than a noble house. Even the Town Guard are afraid of them... certainly they are not going to try arresting even a lowly-ranked associate without cast-iron proof of wrong-doing. Other groups follow in speedy succession: the Brides of Magic (female sorcerers devoted to their craft), the Brotherhood of Redemption (fanatic monks who believe the killing of evil beings is a terrible waste, they'd much rather 'save' them from their sins), and many more. For each, there's background, sample members, often a group logo or badge, all providing a good starting-point for using them within your campaign as allies, enemies, employers or whatever you need them to be.
Parties who like exploring may be attracted by the Delver's Guild, dedicated to exploring what lies beneath Ptolus. There are levels of membership based on experience and what level of support from the Guild is required - this can extend even to having a 'retrieval team' poised to get your body back and even resurrect it should you die down there. Being on a retrieval team can be quite lucrative too! There are fortune-tellers, a group with an unhealthy interest in dead and undeath, and of course a plethora of trade guilds. And of course there's a wealthy and powerful bunch of mages, the Inverted Pyramid - who do not get along with Church or Empire, of course. Assorted knightly orders provide opportunities for sword-swingers and protection for those less able in combat, and the Longfingers Guild takes care of thieves.
Some of these organisations and their activities are common knowledge, some are barely even heard of, some you know the name but may be hazy on what they actually get up to. There's a table of suggested difficulties for those who want to find out... remember that even asking may have adverse consequences! A chart of relationships shows how the various organisations get along with each other (or don't), again those who like lots of intrigue will find this helpful. Finally there are some ideas for using organisations in your game.
All this activity makes the city come to life, with the impression that they'll all carry on doing their thing irrespective of what the party is doing or even interested in at the time. I've always liked inventing organisations for my worlds, here are some excellent ones to inspire or indeed be used directly.
Return to Ptolus: Organisations page.
Reviewed: 29 January 2018