In a short series of articles, I will detail six examples of Factions that are appropriate for the Greyhawk setting. Some of these might be old hat for setting purists, but are written up in the somewhat simplified, player-friendly manner of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition factions. Others are heavily modified or all-new creations, meant to provide a few more widespread organizations as options, but keeping them relatively loose-knit so their sudden appearance in the setting isn’t jarring if you’ve already spent a lot of time using the Greyhawk setting.
Remember, these are just examples. Use them to your own ends, whether it’s whole-cloth or as templates for your own factions!
Article #2 brings us a play on the Zhentarim faction by way of the Thieves’ Guild of the Free City of Greyhawk. Here’s to the new mafia of the Flanaess: The Guild.
The Guild is the public name of the Thieves’ Guild of Greyhawk, though its members are hardly constrained by that geographic locale. Its members have struck out across the Flanaess, and as a whole, The Guild seeks to become omnipresent and inescapable, more wealthy and powerful, and most importantly, untouchable. The public face of the organization appears much more benign, offering the best merchants, business consultants, moneylenders, and even private bodyguards that money can buy. When a merchant needs an escort for his caravan, when a noble needs an accountant to ensure her holdings, or when a city needs financial writs, the Guild provides the best there is. However, the cost of doing business with the Thieve’s Guild can be high.
The Guild wants to make it necessary—and preferable, even—to deal with its members. It wants to secure, over time, an iron-fisted monopoly. Members must be the best—the cheapest, the fastest, and the most secure—at providing services and goods both legal and illicit, willing to lose coin if it means destroying a competitor, and securing profits from everyone they deal with, except when to do so would work against the Guild’s ultimate goal: to make everyone dependent on it.
A member of the Guild thinks of himself or herself as a member of a very large family and relies on the Guild for resources and security. However, members are granted enough autonomy to pursue their own interests and gain some measure of personal power or influence.
- The Guild is your family. You watch out for it, and it watches out for you.
- You are the master of your own destiny. Never be less than what you deserve to be.
- Everything—and everyone—has a price.
- To amass wealth, power, and influence.
Member Traits & Typical Quests
The Guild’s membership contains folks of any business-oriented background, and of course skilled thieves of any stripe. In order to both keep up appearances and to coexist with law-abiding communities, the Guild maintains a charter (loosely followed as it may be by some) and strives to avoid or remove especially vicious or chaotic members. Still, even those sorts of folk can find work as bodyguards, sellswords, and in similarly dangerous or intimidating roles, which the Guild makes use of in plenty.
The Guild’s activities are many and varied, but in almost all cases, have a materialistic bent. They seek to amass wealth, and that can mean seeking dirt on enemies, finding new trade routes or deposits of ore and treasure, and so on.
Let it be known, then, that this is the Charter Incorporating the Thieving Guild of Greyhawk, and is the final word, statement, and official ruling in resolving matters of dispute between members of the Guild. This brief outline contains a summary of the major rules of the Guild, and Interested Readers are advised to consult the Full-Length Document for elaboration and further Details as they may wish to see.
Statements Upon The Nature and Business of the Guild’s Operations
WHEREAS the purpose of the Guild confirmed by this Charter is to allow its Membership to Thieve, steal, loot and otherwise illicitly acquire Wealth within the city-state of Greyhawk, and engage in various other Criminal activities as the membership of the Guild and its Executive may wish to carry out. This Criminality is done in the names of the gods Kurell, Norebo and Rudd, the Thief To Whom All Others Pray.
AND WHEREAS the Guild confirmed by this Charter is the only True and Legitimate Guild of Thieves Within the Domain of the Free City of Greyhawk, all its environs, holdings and jurisdictions, and all who are not Guildmembers, and engage in Thievery or other Criminal Activity are in violation of this Charter’s principles and are thus marked for Death;
AND WHEREAS the Guild confirmed by this Charter may expect, at certain times, to Clash with the City Watch, the Directing Oligarchy, and other forms of Government and Police that may seek to thwart the Guild’s Activities;
AND WHEREAS the Guild confirmed by this Charter has both as its Business and Pleasure the duty to wreak horrid revenge against those who thwart its activities or who intrude on the Guild’s Precincts or Territories of crime;
AND WHEREAS the Guild confirmed by this Charter does prefer, if at all Possible, to conduct its Business in a fair and straightforward Manner, but is not adverse to using Force and Violence as necessary to achieve its Goals.
AND ALL OF THE ABOVE NOTWITHSTANDING, the Guild confirmed by this Charter seeks not Conquest, nor Terror, but Wealth and Prestige, and is not to conduct its Operations so as to threaten the Integrity of the Free City as a Nation. The members of the Guild are not War-Mongers, but Brigands; and have no interest in Government as such.
Statements Upon the Conduct of the Members of the Guild
WHEREAS the members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter are free to conduct their activities against whatsoever Victims they please, regardless of their level of Wealth, Social stature, their Race, their Gender, or any other distinguishing Features;
AND WHEREAS the members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter should expect to be Rivals with one another at certain times for the same Marks and Treasure they both covet, and be prepared to strike at one another for it;
AND WHEREAS the members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter are permitted to Slay one another to take their Fellows’ wealth or other belongings, but that this must be done in Moderation;
AND WHEREAS excessive violence perpetrated by the members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter may be halted at any time by the Guild Executive, with appropriate Penalties being suffered by those who violate the order;
AND WHEREAS when two or more members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter are at odds with one another in a Long Feud or Dispute, they may appeal to a Sitting of three members of the Guild Executive to resolve the Conflict, and must abide by the Ruling of the Sitting, suffering appropriate Penalties if they do not;
AND WHEREAS Murder, Arson, Innuendo, and other underhanded Acts made by members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter to attain greater Rank within the Guild are permitted against other members of the Guild, as the Guild believes those of great Wit and Cunning should rule;
AND WHEREAS the orders of the Guild Executive may be thwarted and disobeyed by Members who demonstrate excess Cleverness in going beyond whatever directives and Goals are set out by the Executive, so long as the spirit of the Executives’ orders are followed;
AND WHEREAS the use of Magic in Thievery by members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter is both Encouraged and Approved Of, and considered perfectly acceptable in Guild activities;
AND ALL OF THE ABOVE NOTWITHSTANDING, the members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter are to pursue Stealth and Cunning as their primary Virtues, though they may act in the interests of Good or Evil as their natures permit.
Statements upon the Operations and Management of the Affairs of the Guild
WHEREAS the Guild confirmed by this Charter has as its Executive a Guildmaster, an Assistant Guildmaster, a Treasurer, a Secretary, Eight Masters with Quarterly Responsibilities, and four other Masters with various responsibilities;
AND WHEREAS the Guildmaster is charged with the Direction of the affairs of the Guild confirmed by this Charter, the Direction of Executive meetings, the approval or vetoing of Proposals made by other Executive members, and to cast the Deciding Vote in case of deadlock upon Executive voting;
AND WHEREAS the Assistant Guildmaster is charged with assisting the Guildmaster in all his various tasks, speaking for the Guildmaster when the latter is indisposed, and generally acting on the Guildmaster’s tasks if the latter dies by Unusual means;
AND WHEREAS the Treasurer is charged with monitoring the Guild’s finances, and ensuring that the members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter are paying their Fees, ensuring that the Executive Members receive their salary, the fencing of Stolen Goods, and all other Commercial matters;
AND WHEREAS the Secretary is charged with ensuring that all the Guild’s outposts are supplied and maintained, that Communication between Masters is done in an expedient Manner, that overall Violence is kept under Control, and so forth;
AND WHEREAS the Guild confirmed by this Charter has twelve Masters; one for each of the Official city Quarters, one charged with Noble and Government Relations, one with Foreign Activity, one for Religious Relations, and one with Enforcement;
AND WHEREAS the Masters of the Guild confirmed by this Charter are responsible for carrying out the daily Activities of the Guild and the Dictates of the Guild Executive in their areas of concern, for informing the Executive of Conditions and important Developments in their areas of concern, for acting to solve Crises and problems that appear suddenly in their areas of concern, if they do not have time to consult the Executive, and to take the lead in making Proposals to the Guild Executive in matters related to their areas of concern;
AND WHEREAS the Guildmaster has the right to promote lesser members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter to any of the offices of the Guild Executive, or to remove them from their positions, but can only be Succeeded upon his Death;
AND WHEREAS it is both legal and authorized for Lesser members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter to attempt to Murder the Guildmaster and seize his office, and to replace all members of the Guild Executive with their own Operative lieutenants;
AND WHEREAS the Guild Executive is solely responsible for establishing the Criteria for which one may become a member of the Guild confirmed by this Charter, with the Masters for each of the City Quarters being responsible for the administration of Officers in charge of Recruitment;
AND WHEREAS all members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter are to turn over one Third of all the wealth they attain in Tax to the Guild Executive, with the punishment for Cheating or failure to pay said Tax blinding and Maiming;
AND WHEREAS the Money paid by the Guild Executive to members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter are the only exception to the Taxes cited in the above paragraph;
AND ALL OF THE ABOVE NOTWITHSTANDING, the members of the Guild confirmed by this Charter are bound to obey the Guild Executive in whatever decisions it makes, and may only break the rules in an acceptable Manner, or in one of the Permitted Ways and Means. Failure to do so will result in expulsion from the Guild, and a Fine of all wealth and Magical Goods in the possession of the member.
As a reminder, this article is not meant to be official and does not accurately reflect the most up-to-date or detailed Greyhawk lore. At its heart, it utilizes information from The City of Greyhawk box set for AD&D 2nd edition, as well as scattered bits of lore from Gygax’s home campaign mixed with some of the early AD&D and AD&D 2nd edition events (pre-Greyhawk Wars). Please use or abuse this information as you wish!
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