GM’ing Navigators in your Shadow World campaign: Stick to the Code.


I like to use Navigators in our campaigns. Like Loremasters and Essaence Flows, Navigators can allow the GM to inject direction and narrative changes into the game. Plus SW is a dangerous place–and Navigators give the party added insurance when travelling through the wilderness.

It seems like some GM’s are reluctant to using Navigators. Reading posts on the RM Forums there are a few main areas of concern that people post about:

  1.  Cost. Navigators are expensive–and forget about using them for a Jump (teleport)!

From a game perspective, having the PC’s teleport everywhere can certainly expedite things and save a lot of hassle of normal travel (and work for the GM!). But the high cost of Jumping may make it prohibitive for lower level players. Keep in mind that the Nav Guilds are a “for profit” business and while they may have a monopoly they need to set their prices low enough that people will use them. Don’t be afraid to adjust pricing, up or down! Navigator fees are also a great money sink for groups overflowing with cash.

  1. Which Navigator responds to a summons?

Most Navigators in the Atlas’ are immortal, well equipped and quite powerful. That lends to the perception that Navigators are high priced or inaccessible to regular players. But the organization has to train new guild members and not every Navigator will be high level. Our common Navigator level range is 8th to 15th. These are not omnipotent characters able to fight off powerful servants of the Unlife. They are just specialized guides with extensive local knowledge and some spells that allow them to tackle unpredictable Essaence effects and barriers. Like any professional there is no guaranty of success once hired. If they players see Navigators this way they may be more inclined to utilize them–just like they would an Astrologer, Alchemist, blacksmith or other special profession.

  1. What will a Navigator do in the normal course of their duties?

Most of our exposure to Navigators are the short vignettes Terry sprinkles throughout his books and many of these depict major events or significant characters.  What’s not quite clear is the limits of Navigators services. Combined with the perceived power issue and it’s easy to assume that Navigators can and will extract the group from almost any danger or threat. Much of this decision will depend on the GM, his game style and use of the SW environment but to help guide NPC decisions we refer to the “Navigator Code”.

We are still  playing around with some of the wording and eventually will order them according to importance.

The Navigator Code

  • To Complete my task as expediently as possible.
  • To Protect my wards to the best of my ability without aggression.
  • To Avoid interfering with my clients goals.
  • To Ensure my clients confidentiality.
  • To Maintain the confidentiality of the guilds.
  • To Provide options but not advice to my clients.

Navigators can be a great ingredient to your Shadow World campaign!

6 Replies to “GM’ing Navigators in your Shadow World campaign: Stick to the Code.”

  1. We were in a situation where to save the world we had to get to a particular location by a particular date. To go by ship would have the party arrive 20 days AFTER the end of the world assuming optimal sailing conditions and no hold ups at all.

    All of the powers that be from loremasters to navigators knew of our quest.

    When we asked if the Navigators would teleport us to the location they demanded a price to which we refused to pay. (Not me btw but the majority of the party). The party refused on the principle that this was the Navigators world too and we were not demanding a cash up front payment to try and save it for them.

    They also refused to get involved in ‘politics’.

    We told them where to insert their navigators tools and walked away. It took some loremaster to stump up the cash to pay for the travel.

    The moral of the story is not to give a trumped up excuse to a bunch of middle aged roleplayers at 2am after several beers and too little sleep. Secondly be a little careful about some of the navigators rules. They may be ‘for profit’ but when it comes to high adventure they live on the same planet/plane of existance presumeably. Our mage was extremely avaricious and the idea of having to pay to save the world nearly choked him.

    My character was a pauper who was living in poverty by choice so paying for navigation was never an option.

  2. hmmm…did you GM have an explanation why he didn’t have the Nav’s compromise or help? He obviously didn’t want to make it easy for your group but there must a strategy behind his/her thinking.

  3. Sounds like the GM was fed up how much gold he gave away and was too tired to think of a reasonable excuse to loot the party and not be moaned at. 🙂

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