The Esteemed Guild of Butlers (CofD version)
SUPERNATURAL MERITS AVAILABLE TO
MORTALS AND SUPERNATURALS ALIKE
(with Storyteller approval of course)
“I was sent by the agency, sir. I was given to understand that you require a valet.”
– Reginald Jeeves, “Jeeves & Wooster”
THIS DOCUMENT IS CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE, BUT PLAYABLE
- Still building out minor supernatural templates (but they aren't required)
- Still adding more Merits
- Still writing more flavor text/background information
- Also working on 20th Anniversary Classic World of Darkness, Fate Core/Accelerated and potentially other versions
THE BUTLER’S GUILD
How membership is determined is unknown, but only those deemed worthy are offered training in The Butler's Guild. If they accept, they join the ranks of an elite group who are said to be unflappable in even the most unusual circumstances. Everyone who needs to save the world from time to time needs a Butler at their back. Members of The Guild excel at anticipating the needs of the Household, often seeming prescient in their response to threats and danger.
ARE YOU WORTHY?
“It is considered better to be the least of the Guild than to be of any affiliation to the Minion’s Union.”
To be considered for the Butler’s Guild, a person needs to be willing to serve others, have great organizational skills and strive for excellence in all that they do. Members of the Butler’s Guild are usually referred to by their job titles (e.g. steward, butler, housekeeper, valet, maid, manservant, janitor, groundskeeper) as there are no gender restrictions on membership. They tend to be highly trained fighters, magicians or have other methods of defending the House should the need arise.
Members of The Butler's Guild tend to have high Persuasion, Stealth and Investigation ratings allowing them to make requests that prove difficult to refuse, move around the House unnoticed, and can grant a preternatural awareness of everything happening within the House (especially when combined with some of their abilities). Additionally, many tend toward academic pursuits in other areas of knowledge that may prove beneficial to them or their Households, usually resulting in high ratings in Academics, Medicine, Science, etc.
ARE ALL MEMBERS BUTLERS?
Definitely not. It is simply the default term when speaking in general terms (and in this document, Butler is a blanket term). When talking in mixed company another term denoting a "servant" role of some sort may be used to hide the meaning.
OTHER ROLES USED BY THE GUILD
There are many roles that Butlers frequently place themselves in (or are placed by the Guild. The examples below are to be considered an incomplete list, especially since Butlers can, and do, show up in all manner of timeframe (especially pertinent if playing using some of the settings in World of Darkness: Mirrors or the Dark Eras books):
- Estate Manager/Caretaker
- Gentleman's Gentleman/Lady's Maid
- Health Aide/Private Nurse
- Household Manager/Majordomo (Butler)
- Personal Assistant
- Physicians (personal or general)
- Security Guard
- Valet (with the T pronounced in English, but not in French)
A HOME, WAY AWAY FROM HOME
“I fear I'm not at liberty to disclose the details, sir.”
– Jeeves, “Jeeves & Wooster”
The Butler’s Guild exists in an unknown location that a Butler can only get to on his Day Off. He must be where no one can sense him and he must simply step through a threshold to go.
Returning may occur anywhere within the House and not within direct sight of anyone.
The Butler’s Guild is part monastery, part academy and part frat house. The Guild contains serene areas to help build their trademark unflappable confidence and composure. An educational atmosphere pervades the guild, rivaling the best academic institutions, fostering an environment in which to learn a great many facts and theories which can later be recalled as needs dictate. Like any good academic environment, the guild also possesses enough of a wild side to provide recreation and to act as a proving ground for their legendarily unflappable composure.
Once a Butler has graduated he comes back to further his knowledge or to unwind from the stresses of maintaining the House and fixing the many problems and complications that the Household tends to present.
EXAMPLES FROM POPULAR FICTION
There are many examples in popular media of butlers with abilities beyond what most would consider “normal”. You will see them listed on the right.
The original Jeeves from P.G. Wodehouse’s novels and the BBC series Jeeves & Wooster is at least partial inspiration for all of them.
MINOR SUPERNATURAL TEMPLATES: FAMILIES (In Progress)
This section treats the Butler’s Guild as a series of minor supernatural templates in the form of Families. These families have specialties, traditions and ways of buttling (is that a word? I guess it is now ... moving on if you please.) that make them stand apart from the others. Butler Families are built in much the same way as the Thaumaturge traditions are.
All butler’s must purchase the first two dots of The Butler's Guild (••) in addition to gaining their defining merit for free (unless The Butler’s Guild is their defining merit).
All butler’s may possess any of the following special Merits, regardless of family: The Butler's Guild (• to •••••), Groundskeeper (•), The Guild Book (••), Guild Secrets (•• to •••), Household Movement (••• to ••••), Just Like Home (• to •••••), Question of Import (•••).
Examples of potential members of the Butler's Guild in media:
- Alfred Pennyworth (Batman)
- Benson DuBois (Soap, then Benson)
- Dobby the House Elf (Harry Potter)
- Lurch (The Addams’ Family)
- Nanny McPhee
- Mary Poppins
Family: Defense Butler
Appearing whenever danger threatens the House, the butler is ready to defend the Household, see an intruder off or at least waylay an uninvited guest until someone else can assist in dealing with them.
Defining Merit: Defense of the Home ••••
Common Merits (from the World of Darkness Core Rulebook):
A Valet is at home in the House and abroad. His goal is to serve a particular person.
Defining Merit: The Butler’s Guild ••••
Common Merits (from the World of Darkness Core Rulebook):
Excelling at anticipating the needs of the Household, a psychic butler lives to anticipate what happens and what will be needed within the House. Many gain endless amusement from the looks of amazed family and guests when the amazing butler produces just the right thing at the right time, again and again.
Defining Merit: The Butler’s Guild ••••
Common Merits (from the World of Darkness Core Rulebook):
Family: Stealth Butler
Appearing when you are sure she isn’t around, the stealth butler has eyes and ears everywhere in the House. She knows the rumors and the truth of what is going on in the house
Defining Merit: Household Movement ••••
Common Merits (from the World of Darkness Core Rulebook):
Note: Supernatural Templates do not prevent access to these merits.
Terms used throughout this section:
- Day Off: Time when the Butler is not actively serving his Household.
- House: The House qualifies as the building(s) that are part of the residence the Butler is bonded with and within 5 yards of those buildings. All of their abilities function within and in respect to this area. With the merit Just Like Home this can expand to additional houses and temporary residences.
- Household: The person or people that live in the House or visit it regularly.
“Such rot sir, why you're the very model of sanity. Oh, by the way I pressed your tights and put away your exploding gas balls.”
– Alfred Pennyworth, “Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm”
The following list represents merits that are likely or common for a member of the Butler’s Guild to possess:
Allies (• to •••••), Barfly (•), Blend In (••), Bureaucratic Navigator (••), Contacts (• to •••••), Eidetic Memory (••), Encyclopedic Knowledge (••••), Emotional Detachment (•), Just the Thing (•), Language (•), Meditative Mind (•), Multilingual (•), Status (• to •••••), Striking Looks (•• but not generally ••••), Supernatural Tolerance (•••), Tolerance for Biology (•), Trained Observer (• or •••), Well-Travelled (•)
Special: Resources are provided by the client and the Butler is not allowed anything that would exceed or impact their client’s means (equivalent to either Merit: The Butler’s Guild rating or the client’s Merit: Resources, whichever is lower, minus one). If the client is not a Player Character, then the Butler would purchase Resources. If the client is a PC, then the Butler's resources are considered to be 1 dot less than that rating.
- The Butler's Guild (• to •••••)
- Defense of the Home (• to •••••)
- Groundskeeper (•)
- The Guild Book (••)
- Guild Secrets (•• to •••)
- Household Movement (••• to ••••)
- Just Like Home (• to •••••)
- Over the Shoulder (••)
- Question of Import (•••)
THE BUTLER'S GUILD (• TO •••••)
– Lurch, “Addams Family”
Prerequisites: Must be at least a Sleepwalker (aware of the supernatural), Wits, Resolve and Composure •••, Empathy and two other skills at •••
Note: The Butler’s Guild merit (at least the first dot, though some require more) is required to be a member of the guild and serves as a prerequisite for any other Butler’s Guild merits.
Living expenses and resources are provided by the client and the Butler is not allowed anything that would exceed or impact their client’s means (equivalent to either Merit: The Butler’s Guild rating or the client’s Merit: Resources, whichever is lower, minus two). The minimum is a Resources of 0 (everything is taken care of but no petty cash). Occasionally a one-time purchase of one Resources rating higher is possible although this reduces the rating to one less than normal for a month.
Unflappable (•): When strange things happen in the House, the Guild Member responds with the proper reaction – that which is needed – but not with shock, disgust, fear or anything else unseemly. Composure rolls to remain unflappable in the face of strange and threatening things are considered to have the Rote Action quality (see “Rote Actions”, World of Darkness Rulebook, p. 134).
Needs of the Household (••): A reflexive Wits + Empathy roll when members of the Household want or need something. If danger is involved a +2 dice bonus applies. This occurs when the need arises, not when it is voiced. What is needed, by who and where they are is known.
Sense Disturbance (•••): A reflexive Wits + Composure to notice an intruder to the House or a situation that could quickly develop into violence occurring in the House. Where the occurrence is and how many beings are involved. Needs of the Household will also generally apply in situations where imminent violence is involved.
Household of Holding (••••): Awareness of the House’s inventory and where to find something that is needed. A successful Intelligence + Investigation roll allows the Butler to produce something that is currently in the House as if by stage magic trick. Items on a person, whether they are a member of the Household or not, do not could as “in the House” as they are on that person.
In addition, the Butler is able to make a Wits + Investigation roll to know the location of any one person as long as they are in the House. If that person is not currently in the House, the Guild member will know when they left.
You Shall Not Pass, Sir. (•••••): A polite request from the Guild member to wait at the door or beyond some threshold that is part of the House generally convinces an otherwise disinclined visitor to stay where they are or leave (their choice). A Presence + Persuasion roll, resisted by Resolve, is required to convince the visitor to stay (or to leave if they want, but it would be impolite to tell them to do so unless they have overstayed their welcome).
DEFENSE OF THE HOME (• TO •••••)
Prerequisites: The Butler's Guild ••• and either Brawl or Weaponry of ••
Defense of the Home provides abilities that help a butler to defend the home in an unobtrusive and appropriate manner.
On Silent Wings (•): When responding to threats a butler gains the 9 again ability to Stealth rolls only in the House. If the butler also has Over the Shoulder then On Silent Wings provides 8 again instead.
Not on the Carpet (••): Dealing with intruders can be a messy business. Butler’s with Not on the Carpet are unlikely to leave behind traces of a fight within the House or on his own attire. At least one success on a reflexive Wits + Socialize roll means that the butler instinctively uses methods, angles of attack and efficiency of movement to keep things tidy.
This prevents blood spatter and other unsavory things from ending up in the House or on the butler’s uniform. Damage to the butler’s clothing and the area of the fight is also avoided.
If for some reason it is desirable for mess and damage to occur (to incriminate someone or otherwise benefit the Household) then the opposite holds true, making the Household and the butler the apparent victims of a natural disaster and land war in one.
Untouchable (•••): A butler who has untouchable uses the higher of Dexterity and Wits for determining Defense and gains a +1 to their Defense rating (which is not doubled when Dodging).
Disarming Demeanor (••••): While dealing with threats to the Household or House, a butler with a disarming demeanor is most efficient at reducing a threat to the Household. By spending a point of Willpower he may do one of the following:
To an armed opponent, he may make a disarm maneuver (see World of Darkness, pg. 156 for rules on disarming) at -2 dice but does not need to grapple first.
Against an unarmed opponent (including a recently disarmed one), he may make a Presence + Persuasion roll (opposed by Composure) to direct the opponent to him instead of another person (if that other person is a member of the Household, he may add Socialize to the roll).
House of Daggers (•••••): A well prepared butler that expects disruptive or uninvited guests may unobtrusively place items that serve a dual purpose as makeshift weapons. With a successful Wits + Socialize or Survival roll (depending on whether inside or outside) the butler is able to produce a bashing weapon that provides an equipment bonus equal to successes rolled or a lethal weapon that provides an equipment bonus equal to one less than successes rolled.
“Dobby is a free house-elf and he can obey anyone he likes and Dobby will do whatever Harry Potter wants him to do!”
– Dobby, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
Prerequisite: The Butler's Guild ••• and Survival ••
Sometimes more than the House matters. A Butler with this merit also has responsibility over the grounds and access to them as part of the House. This extends all abilities associated with the House to the recognized property limits.
A condo or mansion in the inner city would not require this merit, but locations that have multiple acres of land provide a vast and useful territory (especially to those who possess Sense Disturbance, the third dot of Merit: The Butler’s Guild.
THE GUILD BOOK (••)
“And you're a member?”
“Oh, indeed, sir. And Mr. Spode's personal attendant is likely to be a member also, and would naturally have confided to the secretary a good deal of information to be included in the club book.”
“The club book?”
“Under rule eleven, all members are required to provide the secretary with full information about their employer, sir. This not only provides entertaining reading, but also provides a warning to those seeking employment with those gentlemen who fall short of the ideal.”
“Did you tell them about me?”
“Oh yes, sir.”
“What, everything? The night I came home from Pongo Twistleton's birthday party and mistook the standing lamp for a burglar?”
“That episode is a particular favorite with members, sir. They like to have these things to read on wet afternoons.”
– Wooster and Jeeves, “Jeeves & Wooster”
Prerequisite: The Butler's Guild •••, Investigation ••
Butler’s are required to enter information about their client in The Guild Book. This provides forewarning for other butlers seeking employment, progress of Butlers with their employers, and a certain amount of … entertainment value.
Despite its name, The Guild Book is not really a book at all. Information may be entered into the book or sought from the book by any communication method. As a result, all Butlers have access to the contents of the book, but are unable to discuss information from the book except with other members of the Guild.
A successful Presence + Investigation roll and an hour are required to consult the book. Each Butler generally has a preferred method of accessing the book. All other methods require twice the time. Writing and reading from a tablet of paper, or computer are common. Using a telephone is becoming a far more common method in the modern era. Peering into a wishing well or reflective surface, use of divination devices and listening to the wind in a quiet natural locale are all becoming less common but still done.
GUILD SECRETS (•• TO •••)
“What was in that shot Alfred?”
“Antibotics. There is always a risk of infection from burns as severe as yours [Bruce Wayne promptly falls backwards asleep] and perhaps a strong sedative.”
– Bruce Wayne and Alfred, “Detective Comics #715”
Prerequisites: The Butler’s Guild ••, Medicine ••, Craft ••
This merit represents the Butler’s ability to produce a number of material solutions to problems that arise: hair-of-the-dog, cough syrups, pain-killers, etc. that are better than the average solution. These recipes are learned by members of the Guild and never shared or the Butler himself loses all of his Guild-related abilities. Each level of Guild Secrets represents an increasing level of complexity and stronger effect. The end product can be a potion, salve, lotion, powder, pill, tincture, or anything else that can be used to imbibe, apply, or distribute.
The two-dot version of this merit allows the Guild member to create more potent versions of existing chemicals (medicines, poisons, solvents, glues, etc.). These improved substances can do any of the following (each ability requires a success):
- Double the “shelf-life” of an organic substance
- Double the useful duration
- Fortify health (1 temporary health level; duration: one scene)
- Half the time it takes to start taking effect
- Improve the effect by 50%
- Reduce the impact of a side effect of the product
- Tastes pleasant
With the three-dot version of this merit the Guild member is able to create effects that are minor, but are not possible through normal substances. The Butler's creation can do any one of the following (for two successes each):
- Affect minor biological/chemical changes in the body (increase/decrease heart rate and breathing; cure minor diseases such as the cold or flu; increase photosynthesis)
- Fortify health (2 temporary health levels)
- Increase of perception with a single sense (+1 to sight perception rolls or +2 to any perception rolls with any one other sense)
- Remove mild poison (including alcohol); provide resistance to moderate and severe poisons
- Temporarily prevent or double fertility, allergies, new illnesses, or other conditions (good or bad)
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Medicine
Preparation Time: One hour.
Duration (of product): The potions, tinctures, salves and other products of Guild Secrets have a “shelf life” of 1 month.
Duration (of effect): Once used, the effect of the Butler’s creations is one scene unless raised up the time scale by spending successes.
Dramatic Failure: The concoction is vile tasting and has an effect that is essentially opposite to its intended function.
Failure: The concoction has no effect.
Success: The concoction works as desired. The taste is unpleasant but tolerable (unless Tastes Good is one of the features selected).
Exceptional Success: In addition to the desired effect, the concoction can heal a bashing health level or Willpower point (Butler’s choice).
HOUSEHOLD MOVEMENT (••• TO ••••)
“Why do you always complicate things that are really quite simple?”
– Mary Poppins, “Mary Poppins”
Prerequisite: The Butler's Guild ••
For the butler with this merit, the awareness of the House has a whole new layer that allows him to move unseen and be anywhere he is needed.
At three dots, he is able to teleport from one area of a location within the House to another within the same location, so he could go from the study to the front door or kitchen of the primary residence, but not from the primary residence to the summer home. The character does not have to know where exactly he is going if he is responding to Needs of the Household (Merit: The Butler’s Guild) or Sense Disturbance (Merit: The Butler’s Guild) if he has it. Otherwise he needs a specific destination in mind. The Butler must appear where not directly observed (possibly stepping out from behind something or walking through a doorway.
Four dots allows the butler to move between different locations within the House with the expenditure of a Willpower point.
If he has Merit: Just Like Home he can spend a Willpower point to move between any bonded houses and/or temporary housing (additional locations). At the highest level of that merit, teleporting between any of these locations and a member of the Household that is not within the House and back is possible.
Note: Household Movement does not affect what is considered part of the House, it instead affects how the butler himself would be able to move within or between portions of the House.
Dice Pool: Wits + Stealth
Action: Instant or Reflexive
Dramatic Failure: The character finds himself in the largest empty room in the House and he cannot use this ability for the next hour.
Failure: The character fails to go anywhere.
Success: The character teleports from one location to another location within the House. He steps out of sight and teleports as close as possible to the source of Needs of the Household (Merit: The Butler’s Guild) or Sense Disturbance (Merit: The Butler’s Guild).
Exceptional Success: The character appears at the most advantageous position near his destination, or in response to Needs of the Household (Merit: The Butler’s Guild) or Sense Disturbance (Merit: The Butler’s Guild).
JUST LIKE HOME (• TO •••••)
“When you need me, but do not want me, then I will stay. When you want me, but do not need me, then I have to go.”
– Nanny McPhee, “Nanny McPhee”
Prerequisite: The Butler's Guild ••
Not everyone has just one house and sometimes people travel. This merit allows a Butler to accommodate these issues.
Note: If a Butler has Just Like Home and Household Movement (••••) he can spend a Willpower point to move between locations.
For one dot (•) Home Away from Home allows the Guild member to use all of his abilities at a temporary location (hotel room, guest room, etc.) as long as he and at least one member of the Household slept there the night before. Only the areas designated as being useable by him or members of the Household count as a temporary part of the House.
For two dots (••) he can use Vacation Home, allowing him to use his Guild abilities at any home that members of his Household call their own. For two dots, he does not also get Home Away from Home.
For three dots he gets both Home Away from Home and Vacation Home.
Out on the Town (••••): Some of the Butler abilities extend to be useable within 5 yards of a member of the Household. This area is not part of the House. The following abilities can be used while Out on the Town: Unflappable, Needs of the Household, Sense Disturbance, Guild Secrets.
Where You Least Expected (•••••): The Butler can now consider an area within 5 yards of a member of the Household to be part of the House. This means that in addition to the above abilities Household of Holding, You Shall Not Pass Sir and Household Movement (yes, appearing with a Household member in great need is doable most anywhere) also work within this area.
In addition, the abilities useable with Out on the Town are now useable while the Butler is by himself.
OVER THE SHOULDER (••)
Prerequisite: The Butler's Guild ••• and Stealth ••
A Butler using Over the Shoulder seems to appear out-of-nowhere, when in fact she has been there for a while. Using this ability, she gains 8 again to all Stealth rolls within the house and 9 again anywhere else.
QUESTION OF IMPORT (•••)
“What blighter was it that invented the bicycle?”
“The first truly rideable machine was made by a Mr. Kirkpatrick MacMillan of Dumfriesshire in Scotland in 1839, I believe, sir.”
– Jeeves and Wooster, “Jeeves & Wooster”
Prerequisite: The Butler's Guild •••, Academics ••
Members of the Guild are widely known to possess great amounts of knowledge about the most important, and sometimes the most unusual, things.
Once per day or game session (whichever is greater), a member of the Household may ask a question of the Butler. The Butler will suddenly know the answer as if he had rolled an Exceptional Success. He may decide how much of the information he shares as part of his answer unless the answer (or part of it) comes from The Guild Book (see The Guild Book).
Minions Union of Labor and Enforcement
M. U. L. E.
- Rules for creating Minions and Lieutenants as NPCs or even PCs
- Information on the infamous M. U. L. E. organization, including its influence and connections with various supernatural, political and financial organizations
- Optional merits for use with minions lieutenants and other Ne’er-do-wells, both members of M.U.L.E. and independent agents of chaos and evil
- The infamous Tome of Villainy