What are Group Patrons in Dungeons & Dragons and why might a party consider having one? Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything has a section on this optional feature as a means to not only bind a party together but offer certain benefits and driving forces to help move through a campaign.
Patrons are an individual or organization that can help set the tone for an entire D&D campaign by influencing character relationships, backstories, and types of dangers a party can encounter. Players can ideally establish a group patron when creating characters, or it can be an institution they meet later in their journeys. There’s even a section describing how players can be their own patrons.
This feature was introduced in Eberron: Rising From The Last War to help dig into that world’s lore, according to Jeremy Crawford in a Screen Rant interview. Group Patrons in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything have a more general approach to accommodate any campaign, and are accompanied by perks of membership, types of contacts within an organization that a party has access to, available quests, and roles a player may assume as part of that system. They can be used as is or as a launchpad for a more tailored D&D institution – perhaps one born of Homebrew content.
Group Patrons in D&D allow for a party to have a shared purpose, which typically entails better coordination in the form of guidance and encouragement. As a result, each player under a Group Patron umbrella can grant advantage once per long rest to an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw of another party member within sight who’s not incapacitated. D&D’s Group Patrons also offer different perks like a constant salary, but they vary depending on the affiliation. The game’s Dungeon Master can feel free to expand or limit these boons. Finally, Group Patrons occasionally offer a party assignments and quests they can tackle, especially if a current mission is becoming stale.
Tasha’s Cauldon of Everything lists the following categories as a basis for Group Patrons with extensive detail: Academy, Ancient Being, Aristocrat, Criminal Syndicate, Guild, Military Force, Religious Order, and Sovereign. Those who have an Academy as a Group Patron, for example, may seek to unveil the riddles of existence under a network of learned individuals.
An Academy may take the form of a boarding school where students and faculty work together in a self-contained campus like Skyrim’s College of Winterhold or in a secret monastery where ageless secrets and rigorous training occurs. An academy may offer perks in the form of education discounts for specific trainings or an allowance of hard-to-come-by resources like magic items and D&D spellbooks.
This can look very different from a party employed by a Criminal Syndicate, formed of a web of delinquents and lawbreakers. This party could be full-fledged members with middle to high rankings, probationary rookies trying to earn the organization’s trust, or an unlucky bunch who stole from the wrong bandit – now having to do the syndicate’s bidding in lieu of prison time or death. A Criminal Syndicate in D&D could be a thieves’ guild, assassin society, pirate fleet, or a magical arms dealer, among other assemblies, and may provide safe housing or access to certain contrabands as a perk.
Parties under the employment of a Criminal Syndicate have access to a contact within it such as a personal mentor who takes the party under their wing or a local boss who runs a drug den. Additionally, players can assume different roles within a Criminal Syndicate like a burglar, con artist, or mole and can take on missions that range from heists to assassinations. Having a Group Patron in Dungeons & Dragons can have vastly different scenarios depending on the organization a party is affiliated with, and it opens many doors that players may otherwise not have access to.
Source: Images from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything