No, it’s not another article on the game charter (a/k/a the social contract). This is about an organizational charter or license for a group of adventurers. While I originally used this in a traditional fantasy game (it doesn’t get more trad than Greyhawk), it can be adapted to nearly any genre with a little manipulation. Call it deputizing the party, Letters of Marque and Reprisal, or a license to carry weapons.

I had each player sign their character’s name, and when new characters joined, they were added to the rolls. Maybe it was exuberance on my part, but the group seemed to enjoy that aspect of it.

Over the years, I found the Adventurer’s Charter resolves a number of issues that characters in fantasy games sometimes have:

  • Finders Keepers — Adventurers keep what they find, with few exceptions. Mayor Inyaface can’t confiscate his great-grandfather’s sword, that you recovered from the Dungeon of Discomfort.
  • Liability Insurance — Adventurers are not held responsible for the indirect consequences of their actions. Sure, you’ve still got to track down and kill that eldritch horror, but you’re not on the hook for all the cows it eviscerated.
  • “Papers, please” — When the local constabulary stops the party, and asks “What’s all this, then?”, just hand them the charter and carry on.

The Adventurer’s Charter does have some possible downsides, depending on the campaign:

  • Annual Cost — No government will pass up the opportunity to collect fees. In cases of emergency, this may be partially or completely waived. A flat fee plus a percentage sounds about right.
  • Standards — “Sure, you’ve all got swords and wands, but can we trust you with them?” An oath (possibly magically assisted) might be appropriate.
  • Possible Conscription — “I see that everyone here is armed and capable? Excellent. Be ready to answer the call when it comes.” ‘Nuff said!
  • Pass information to ruler — In addition to possible conscription, adventurers have a duty to keep the local rulers informed as to what’s going on in their own backyards.

And what would a Gnome Stew article be, without something just for the GM?

  • Threat of Revocation — Any number of bureaucrats and local rulers can threaten the status of the charter, and hold it hostage so they can have their own little army.
  • Don Corleone’s Patronage — A patron may pay for the charter, in return for ‘special favors’ to be defined at a later date.
  • Plot Hooks — Unchartered adventurers can be hunted down by licensed groups, who get to keep half of their ‘winnings’. Whether your group is on the legal or illegal side of things, a stand-up fight is always fun.
  • Run for the Border — Two neighboring countries may or may not recognize each other’s Charters. Or they may suddenly revoke each other’s Charters, while the party is ‘over the border’.

Most All of my experience with the Adventurer’s Charter has been in the fantasy setting, but it should be applicable to nearly any genre that features armed folk wandering around. Have you tried something like this? Got anything you’d care to share or add? Sound off in the comments, and let us know!