Quicksilver Syndicate


Round 2: Create a new organization

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8

Quicksilver Syndicate
Alignment: NE
Headquarters: Rook’s Ridge, Daggermark
Leader: Mistress of Crows
Structure: Multinational corporation
Scope: Regional
Resources: Local guildhalls in thirteen major cities across Avistan, liquid assets worth millions of gold pieces, and a network of agents, collaborators, and informants

Created as a tool of revenge against the Pathfinder Society, the Quicksilver Syndicate often competes with Pathfinder field teams and adventurers in the hunt for magic items and similar treasures. Although it resembles a thieves’ guild, the Syndicate commits theft on contract rather than for direct profit, sometimes in exchange for favors. Syndicate agents steal property, pilfer information, and kidnap creatures for their clients. They also plant evidence and instigate scandals to divert attention or to fulfill a patron’s grudge. The Syndicate is unconventional in that it recruits thieves from unlikely places; it counts numerous fey, such as quicklings and forlarren, among its ranks.

Structure and Leadership
The Syndicate includes four groups specialized in different criminal activities. The Magsmen excel at burglary and filching information, while the Blackjacks operate as smugglers and kidnappers. The Mummers, disguised as traveling entertainers, recruit new members. Finally, the Knuckles serve as enforcers, eliminating threats through blackmail and intimidation, with murder sanctioned as a last resort.

Syndicate members owe allegiance to Mistress Crow, an enigmatic First World refugee. She commands her lieutenants, the Harrowed Cabinet, through dreams and messengers. The Cabinet includes the Syndicate’s thirteen most accomplished thieves, each in charge of a different guildhall. When a thief ascends to their ranks, he draws his nickname and a glimpse at his fortune from an ancient Harrow deck.

Goals
To outsiders, the Syndicate sells thievery for gold. In truth, the organization cares little about wealth as long as its actions harm the Pathfinder Society or disrupt the Society’s plans. Mistress Crow lets nothing interfere with the vendetta against her former comrades, even at the expense of profits.

The Syndicate expends substantial effort enlisting fey creatures, with emphasis on enchanters, illusionists, and diviners, as well as individuals with supernatural stealth. The Syndicate gains strength by offering refuge to creatures shunned by the mundane world.

Public Perception
Although many people have heard of the Syndicate, few outside the criminal world understand its goals. For corrupt nobles and merchants, the Syndicate offers the best chance to retrieve a stolen or coveted item. When its agenda against the Pathfinders permits, the Syndicate strives to keep clients satisfied.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Mark, welcome to Round 2!

What you are getting from me in this critique: This round is all about conflict and story. I think the best organizations create interesting and compelling groups that will come into conflict with the PCs. My comments, and my recommendation, will focus on how well you do that. My comments will also focus on writing and use of your allotted content in achieving your goals. What you won't get from me: I don't have the total Golarion-fu that Neil and Sean do, so I will leave to them whether you got the nitty gritty details of some of the setting stuff to them (though apparently I did have enough Golarion-fu to know its Pharasmin not Pharasmian, you know who you are).

So here we go!

Initial Impression: Anti-Pathfinders!

Concept (name, title, is it an organization?, overall design choices, is the organization and antagonist and does it create direct conflict for the PCs?, playability): C
Mark, I really found the concept here is just a “we counter the Pathfinders,” and that is about it. Plus the real world corporate thing is tired. At first I liked this, but I kept coming back to “why?” They just want to harm the Pathfinders. I can see one person wanting to do that to a specific Pathfinder or even one person wanting to harm all Pathfinders. But a whole group? Where does that come from? Plus, maybe Sean or Neil can correct me, but I don’t think Pathfinders themselves are totally unified—they can have their own agendas and not always nice and good ones. So defining your group by opposition is just not working for me. And then it’s a widespread fey group? Why? I just don’t get it, and I think that is a big hole in your submission.

Execution (quality of writing, hook, theme, organization, use of proper format, quality of mandatory content, did you milk your idea for all it was worth? did you use your allotted space well?): B
The execution of this idea, which I think is problematic, is actually reasonably good. I like the detail you’ve included. It’s the concept and motivation I can’t get past.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor, are you showing Superstar mojo?): C
Grabbed me at first, but I thought about it more and apparently made my Will save.

Overall: C
This is a one note organization that doesn’t really make sense. It seems to simply exist to fill a theoretical need—hey, I want a group that opposes the Pathfinders all the time—rather than a real need. As such, it feels forced and contrived.

Recommendation: I DO NOT recommend this organization submission for advancement.

Mark, you know I liked the spellblight cage and I see you trying to hit a homerun here. I appreciate that. I just think you struck out swinging. I think you got seduced by an initially appealing but problematic big idea—the “Pathfinder Enemy” group. Maybe the voters will see it differently. Best of luck!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Welcome to RPG Superstar, Mark. The contest takes on a whole new dimension at this level of the game. The judges are here to comment on your work, both in the hopes of guiding you in honing your game design skills, and also to help the voting public assess how you measure up. With that in mind, I'm going to highlight some of the things I think you did well and a few others where I think you still have room for improvement. So, let's get started...

First off, I like the name. The Quicksilver Syndicate sounds like an organization you'd love to introduce to your players at the gaming table. They sound quick, potentially deadly, organized, and lucrative. Looking beyond the name, I'm intrigued by the Mistress of Crows as a refugee from the First World...as well as her organization's tendency to recruit and harbor devious fey among their membership. And I love how the thirteen most accomplished thieves lead her guildhalls and draw Harrow Cards to determine their individual titles. That's an interesting direction to take things. And I think it shows a high degree of creativity on your part.

As a counter-organization to the Pathfinder Society, I'm not as thrilled about the Quicksilver Syndicate, however. You mention that the Mistress of Crows considers Pathfinders as her former comrades. So, are you suggesting that this former refugee from the First World was once a Pathfinder and had a falling out with them? I think I would like it better if she simply arrived from the First World and came into conflict with Pathfinders while trying to gather certain magical artifacts the Society either has in its possession or that she's racing against them to acquire. I think that would set you up better, because, quite honestly, much of what you're describing here sounds a lot like the setup for both the Shadow Lodge and (to a lesser degree) the Aspis Consortium. Both of those entities formed as challengers to the Pathfinder Society. And, adding another organization like the Quicksilver Syndicate to the mix without somehow distinguishing them from those similar organizations is a misstep, I think.

But I like everything else you've done here. The varied specialized groups within the organization make sense. Having its membership include some creatures you might not ordinarily expect to run across is nice. And, there's enough here to put the PCs in direct conflict with the organization's goals for more than just a single adventure or encounter. If I have any advice for you, I'd recommend that you punch up something like this with some extra awesome sauce. If you're going to link up with the First World and a devious fey membership, round that out a bit further. To me, that's a bigger wagon to hitch your organization to than just putting them up as an anti-Pathfinder Society group.

Regardless, I DO RECOMMEND this organization to carry you through to the next round.

We'll have to see if the other judges and voters feel the same. Your spellblight cage found favor with a lot of folks, including the judges. I think you showed some innovation in playing around with that subject material. And, I think you've shown further innovation by bringing a First World villain into Golarion to operate as your organization's leader, surrounded by some handy fey minions to help her carry out her goals. If you make it through to the next round, however, I'd like to see you polish things up more strongly so you do full justice to the core idea. In this case, I think it's the First World fey elements moreso than the Pathfinder opposition. But we'll see how everyone feels in the exit polls. Best of luck.

Contributor

Paizo stopped using the Darklight Sisterhood because the concept of "we oppose the Pathfinders in everything they do!" is a one trick pony that gets old pretty fast. This group is the same thing, except the leader is a mysterious fey (who somehow hooked up with the Pathfinders and somehow had a falling out).

If you want an example of an ideal member of the Pathfinder Society, look at Belloq from Raiders of the Lost Ark. He's ruthless and mercenary when it comes to acquiring artifacts, and glories in taking them right from under Indiana Jones's nose. In other words, Pathfinders aren't necessarily the good guys. Sometimes they're jerks. It's already stated in canon that sometimes rival teams of Pathfinders (usually under different venture-captains) come into conflict over a particular site or artifact. So why create a new, multinational organization that does the same thing, with the added motivation of snubbing the Pathfinders? It's like creating an organization just like the Hellknights that operates in Cheliax, except they also like to mess with the real Hellknights.

The fey element is neat, but points back at the founder's unknown connection to the Pathfinders. There's a big hole in the motivations of her and this group. Lacking a clear reason for that motivation, and because this group is trying to out-Pathfinder the Pathfinders (when you can already use rival Pathfinders as antagonists), I don't think it's a strong submission.

I do not recommend this advance.


Nothing about this entry strikes me as original, interesting, or SuperStar.

It's a big thieves guild. Apparently one with "millions" of liquid assets. Why keep robbing?

It has chapterhouses in precisely 13 places. Why not more? Why not less? Which places?

It opposes the Pathfinder Society. OK, just "because"? Pathfinders seem to be busybodies with their noses in everyone's business. The fact that they sometimes come up with the gold is a happy coincidence. You couldn't make a good living out of following Pathfinders around and trying to ninja loot their treasure; you'd end up with a lot of lost guildies and a lot of second-place finishes (i.e. empty handed).

Does the game need a Pathfinder adversary? Aren't the Aspis Consortium already doing that to some degree? What's the natural parallel for the good name of a Pathfinder agent on the dark side - who helps the Quicksilver, why, how, and for what?

Mistress Crow seems an awful lot like the Night Mother - the leader of the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim (Elder Scrolls series).

I do not recommend that you vote for this designer.

EDIT FROM SEAN: Competitors, remember this item from the Round 2 FAQ, which reminds competitors about the rule against commenting about their own submissions. We're pasting this reminder into the last judge comment for every organization just to make sure all competitors see it and remember.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8

I wish to extend my deepest thanks to the judges for their time and effort during the contest! Your feedback has been tremendously helpful and offered some great teaching moments.

I look forward to everyone's feedback or comments about this organization, and I hope to win your vote.


I can see this organization becoming a major campaign hook for GMs. Imagine, your players have come out of the dungeon battered, bruised, and triumphant. They elect to rest before going into town to sell their swag only to wake the next morning to find that the "Pinky Finger of Thrax Paxis" has gone missing. A whole campaign could be built around the players digging into the history of the Pinky and why the Quicksilvers would want to keep it out of circulation! I think that the true worth of any organization is in the opportunities for gameplay and table theater it generates. I urge voters to think of the possibilities before passing this one by! I recommend this Organization.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

There are already 4+ groups in the canon that disapprove or work against the Pathfinder Society. Maybe you don't know the setting well?

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Don't the Apsis agents sort of fill this role already?

It feels disjointed to me. First, their goal is to thwart the Pathfinders; this is not mentioned again until the second-to-last paragraph, where it is reiterated but not expounded on. Second, they have some sort of theme here regarding a Harrow deck and card-based nicknames. That's my sort of cheese, but it's not expounded on. Third, the fey recruitment is mentioned from leadership on down, but doesn't really say why or how.

I would definitely not be voting for this submission on its merits. I will probably not be voting for you based on your previous work.

Silver Crusade

As a wayfinder carrying member of the Pathfinder's Society, dealing with the competition is another part of our "hunting relics and getting gold" life.

As a PFS GM: We don't really do a whole lot of fighting with others, we just move quicker and quieter than the competition. Most of the time. So to me, another competitor, is not that much of a challenge to me. Especially since my players all have fireball spells to take care of the other groups.

As a Pathfinder Player: Meh. *Casts Wall of Fire*

Status: No Vote--TBH: I totally thought this was going to be Gunslinger Mercs group (Which would have been AWESOME!) But since it's not, and your group is not that exciting, I regretfully have to decline.


This feels really confused to me. They're a thieves guild that's opposed to the pathfinders but what makes them unique is that they're fey.

I feel like this could really have used some focus. Why couldnt it have been an organization of like minded fey working towards some purpose. That being said what is their purpose? To oppose the pathfinders. Why? Some unnamed vendetta by the leader. Okay. That's good for the NPC but bad for the organization. If you're telling a group of thieves to go up against the premiere adventuring group in the world you better have more compelling motivation then your boss just not liking them.

Overall this feels like a collection of ideas that goes nowhere and tells me nothing.

Oh, and it's essentially yet another evil money grubbing group. So if I sound a bit harsh, call it frustration at that.


Where do the fey tie in, and why is this group opposing the Pathfinders? Even something cryptic would have been better than no reason at all.


I liked this one all the way up to the part where they oppose the Pathfinders. I'm not exactly a big fan of the Pathfinders in the first place but they've already got organizations opposing them. Giving the organization a goal that is entirely separate from the acquisition of money is great. But putting the focus of that goal on opposing the Pathfinders is a real letdown to that potential for me.


Vengeance is extremely personal and always has a specific target.

What happens when the Syndicate accomplishes said vengeance for their Mistress? Do they break up? Do they continue to oppose more innocent pathfinders for the fun of it? Or would they just get over it and become a common thief guild?

I can see this organization forming as a means to carry out said vendetta, but they're missing a long term goal once that's been accomplished.


I really really like the name. And putting fey into an organization with that name. But I have a lot of the same issues as others with the definition of the org.

Liberty's Edge

Hmmm ... ok, we have a thieve’s guild that is also a multi-national corporation (with added fey!) that exists soley so that its enigmatic refugee from the First World but also former Pathfinder leader can enact vengeance on her former companions ... by being thieves for hire?

This entry seems a bit confused to me. It appears that the author had a lot of different ideas and decided to cram them all together into this submission, but I don’t feel that they are all a very good fit. And at the end of the day we sort of already have an organisation that fits the ‘oppose the Pathfinders’ role, The Aspis Consortium.

Good luck Mark.

Dark Archive

What I like about this is the fey criminal organization with ties to the First World, the division of labor broken down for easy reference, and the flavor with the Harrow Deck. I like that your organization is clearly an antagonistic one.

In my opinion you could have done all of that, still kept it as a legitimate antagonist organization, and not even mentioned the Pathfinder Society. It seems to me like you threw in the PFS just to ensure that the organization would be deemed antagonistic enough, when it wasn't necessary. That's just my reaction, and I have no clue what process you went through creating this, so I apologize if I am making grossly inaccurate assumptions at this point.

I'm on the fence with this one, and I'm not certain if I will be voting for this or not at this time. This may change as I haven't read and commented on all of the entries yet. You took a chance on your item with an optional rule, and that take guts, but with your organization you seem to have gone the exact opposite route and played it safe...

Best of luck to you, sir.


This was my favorite of the bunch exactly for the First World/fey tie-in, but I agree that the anti-pathfinder part may hurt you in the voting. Good Luck!

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka OwlbearRepublic

The entry has some interesting flavor and an intriguing (though poorly-developed) NPC. The idea of a thieves' guild full of fey is cool, too. However, the Quicksilver Syndicate suffers from two major failures as an antagonist organization: weak motivation and trite operations.

I dislike the group's grudge against the Pathfinders, but you probably could have pulled that off had you established a lot more about the nature of the enmity. Instead, you left a blank space. You can include some mysteries in your organization write-up, but you can't leave us hanging on something as central as the group's motivation. The GM has to know why the group behaves in the way that it does -- and the answer has to be more compelling than raw antagonism.

The other flaw is subtler. The best parts of your entry hint at cool encounter-level and world-level uses for the Quicksilver Syndicate. The group's four branches (particularly the Mummers) offer varied encounter types, and the combination of fey with traditional rogue tactics promises novel encounters. Meanwhile, at the world level, Mistress Crow and her connection to the First World open up some exciting new options for Daggermark and for urban play generally. But at the story level, QS operations are just the typical thefts and abductions. By dropping this unoriginal aspect of your group and patching in some more imaginative operations, you could have grabbed the GM/reader and showed him how to use your group as the foundation of an engrossing story.

You're onto something here, but given the tight word count, the space spent on tired ideas kept you from developing the group's best aspects. If you had cut the connection to the Pathfinders and the mercenary angle, replacing them with goals and an MO as eye-catching as the group's flavor, you'd have scored a lot higher with me.

Best of luck.


Mark Hart wrote:

Quicksilver Syndicate

Alignment: NE
Headquarters: Rook’s Ridge, Daggermark
Leader: Mistress of Crows
Structure: Multinational corporation
Scope: Regional

Disclaimer:

You should know the drill by now, but in case you missed it the first time round, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus:
Spoiler:
Fairness is an adjective applicable to hair coloration, balance is what a couple of mortals rapidly losing it on opposite ends of a plank pivoted on a rocky spire a couple of hundred feet above a slowly rising pool of molten basalt try to do, and logic is one of those things which you could swear is there when you rattle the piggybank but if anyone other than a demon opens it the contents turn out to be a couple of dead wasps and a six week old ‘to do (in)’ list.
;)

Important Note:
There’s a difference between late and fashionably late. The former is what most other beings manage. The latter is what sophisticated, (very advanced) succubi manage.

First impressions always being important, do members of this organization wear nifty robes or uniforms when out on formal business?
No indication is given of uniforms, except in so far as some members are indicated to consistently dress as travelling entertainers, and that's not saying much.

Does membership of this organisation seem likely to involve regular tea or dinner parties or other appropriate social occasions?
No indication of dinner parties or the like is made, and to be frank, attending a dinner party hosted by a fey probably isn't a good idea anyway. Eat something off the wrong leaf or without being invited, and oops, that's ten centuries of indentured servitude you just racked up.

Is the cost of being a member of this organisation likely to be acceptable to a succubus?
Orcus, no! Somewhere on a big list of things not to do is never work for fey if you can possibly avoid it. the only thing you can be certain, is that if a fey is your employer, then you're likely to get diddled at some point, and it's probably not going to be pleasant, either...

Other comments?
Stabbing yourself in the back with a cold-iron dagger is probably about as fun and as sensible as interacting at any serious level with most fey. Nymphs and dryads can be okay in small doses, but basically avoid this bunch like a plague of Asmodeus worshipers.

Rating:
Organizations are not being rated except under special circumstances.

Congratulations:
Congratulations on making the top cut in Round 1. Obviously at this point it’s now apparent that you won’t be progressing any further this time around, but that means you can at least now relax, sit back, pick up a voodoo doll of your least favourite arch-devil, and start sticking silver pins in…

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