The Serpent Kingdoms
Once the banking system was established, the dwarves soon discovered that it was very difficult to get large goods back and forth from bank branches quickly. The answer to this was the creation of the Wayfarer’s Union. The Union is a collection of magic users with the ability to use teleportation spells. Their services include not only the transportation of goods for the banks, but also the transportation of adventurers to distant and/or dangerous locales. Any of the major settlements house a branch of the Union, which is usually an upper-class pub with lodging. The pub’s generally have a meeting area for Union members, and this room almost always houses a magical mirror called the “Travel Board” that displays an image of all current employment options on the main Travel Board located at the head office in Arrabar.
To request employment, a mage needs only to fill out the employment request sheet generally found on a table next to the travel board and send it through the ring gate located under the travel board. This sends the request directly to the home office. Once the request arrives, within moments the mage will see someone come into view on the mirror, take the sheet down, and display the document close to the mirror. If the mage was approved for the job, she will see a stamp of approval by the TNC and her name written below it.
She will then have one day to get to the designated pick-up and sign a letter of appearance. Then the funds for the teleportation will be credited to her bank account, unless her contract with the Union states that she be paid in coin.
In lands where arcane spellcasters are common and magic is prevalent, people in a hurry can avail themselves of a particularly useful trick: hiring a wizard to cast teleport to take them where they need to go. The Wayfarer’s Union grew out of an effort to standardize the rates and procedures for such travel, to provide a medium through which willing spellcasters could earn the high fees associated with such services,and to give paying clients a way to quickly find spellcasters capable of taking them where they want to go.
Wayfarer’s Union offices exist in a number of cities. Most offices are small, each serving as a base for no more than two or three spellcasters—who are rarely to be found sitting around and waiting for potential clients. Instead, the wayfarer’s retain a small staff of nonspellcasting agents to “work the desk.” When a client comes in seeking quick transportation,the agents contact whichever union spellcaster happens to be available. A wayfarer can usually be ready to travel within the hour, but it’s not unusual for all the union spellcasters in an office to be away at the same time or booked ahead by other clients, so that additional teleportation services might not be available for several days. Offices in large or prosperous cities tend to have more union spellcasters available, with correspondingly shorter and fewer periods of unavailability.
The Wayfarer’s Union prides itself on delivering its customers to any location that can be identified and sufficiently described, although any union member reserves the right to refuse transportation to a particularly dangerous or imprecise destination.
|Wayfarer’s Union Services and Fees Service Cost*|
|Teleport, one-way, very familiar area 900 gp|
|Teleport, one-way, studied area 1,080 gp|
|Teleport, one-way, area seen casually 1,260 gp|
|Teleport, one-way, area viewed once 1,440 gp|
|Teleport, one-way, description only 1,620 gp|
|Greater teleport 1,820 gp|
|Teleportation circle, very familiar area 3,060 gp|
|Scroll of teleport 1,125 gp|
|Scroll of greater teleport 2,275 gp|
|*Includes return travel of union caster. All costs cut by 25% with a contract for ten or more travel spells. All costs to hazardous locales are doubled.|
Joining the Union: Anyone who can cast teleport or employ some equivalent ability is welcome to join the Wayfarer’s Union. While spellcasters are preferred, some nonarcanists have joined the guild, relying on a helm of teleportation or similar device to provide travel services. The initiation fee is 200 gp, and each member pays the union dues equal to 20% of all income gained through employing travel magic for clients, usually remitted on a quarterly basis. More than a few members “forget” to keep track of the exact amount of dues they owe, but only the most egregious offenders are censured for this behavior.
Player Benefits: Members of the Wayfarer’s Union have access to the wayfarer guide prestige class, although taking this class is not mandatory. Wayfarers have numerous contracts to supply teleportational shipping, and they also undertake particularly dangerous assignments.
The great benefit of belonging to the union is the opportunity to make a lot of money by offering spellcasting services. Whenever a wayfarer is in a town with a union office, he can report to the local Travel Board on his availability for transportation. If a client comes in with a request for transportation, the member will be notified and given an opportunity to accept or decline the assignment. In busy offices, the union members generally respect a “queue” of availability, so that everyone has a fair chance to take on a client.
Wayfarers who frequently decline assignments tend to fall to the bottom of the queue, since the desk agents don’t like to waste time looking for spellcasters who are likely to say no.
The frequency of opportunities to take on teleportation assignments is left to the DM’s discretion. As a rough rule of thumb, about one person per month seeks teleportation services in a small city, one person per week in a large city, and two people per week in a metropolis. Cities that serve as centers of government for large realms often have much more traffic in the form of royal agents and diplomats going from place to place, and cities that are especially prosperous or blessed with magical qualities tend to have more traffic as well.
Roleplaying Suggestion: Mages who don’t like other people and who don’t see any need to cater to crass commerce generally don’t join the Wayfarer’s Union. You’ve joined the union because you like making money, and you’re not afraid to say so. Many of your fellow members are mages who would normally regard you as a rival or even an enemy, so union membership provides you with an opportunity to develop a professional relationship with a spellcaster you might otherwise have nothing to do with.
Establishing the nature of your relationship with regular clients or unusual customers is an excellent way to offer the DM potential adventure hooks. You’re not supposed to be too curious about who you’re taking where, but you can’t keep from noticing when you teleport someone into a dangerous situation or you seem to be aiding and abetting people engaged in nefarious goals.
Typical Member: Many mages join the union to meet a short-term fi nancial challenge, and then allow their memberships to lapse once they’ve earned a few thousand gold pieces. For this reason, in practice, there really isn’t a “typical” wayfarer. A black-hearted necromancer with a penchant for horrible acts of evil might put himself on his best behavior and make himself available for spellcasting if he needs the money and the local Travel Board decides that he won’t cause trouble while engaged in legitimate magical commerce.
Active union members must serve two months per year on the Travel Board, which is based in the union’s headquarters in a given city and deals with clients seeking magical travel. The Travel Board oversees the operation of the desk, collects dues from members, and administers the queue of on-call spellcasters. A character serving his stint on the Travel Board can expect union business to require his presence in the office one or two days per week. There’s no reason why Travel Board members can’t keep their place in queue and continue to accept assignments, but in very busy offices it’s considered good form to drop out of queue while serving on the Board.
Prestige Classes: While many members of the Wayfarer’s Union choose to take levels in the wayfarer guide prestige class, most do not. Any sorcerer or wizard who knows the teleport spell is perfectly capable of carrying out at least some of the assignments offered by the union.