Journal of Khazrel Nakhu “Journey to the Cities Afar” 32’s93
- OF THIEVES
“Let me be clear about one thing before I bedraggle my readers through the loathsome pits of skulduggery. When I speak of Thieves I do not use the term loosely to anyone finds their ways gravitating towards crime rather than honest toil. Wither it encompass offenses such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, mugging, trespassing, shoplifting, intrusion, deception, and criminal conversion (though consider a bad pun to be a theft of my time). Such folk that willfully act out such things are often the most wretched of people with few redeeming qualities. Whatever motivation they have, most sorts lack any sort of prosperity in their life, driven by petty impulses, and many are short lived.”
“And then there is an entirely other sort, which is the Thief. One that perhaps walked the same trails of these criminals, but is something more than them. I have met many folk who were skilled in many things. I once knew a manling archer who used his bow so often and was so skillfully, watching him pluck a bow was nothing short of magical. The speed, delivery, and accuracy was a singular fluid motion of perfection. Some Thieves are of this ilk and are far removed from their lecherous criminal brethren. It is these folk that I both admire and fear, and I dug deep into my reserves of bravery to learn more of them in my travels.”
“It is no coincidence that I sought the Thieves in the city of Astrumdantalas, the Opal of the World, the great Free City. I used nearly every connection that I had to see the cities inner workings and perhaps gain an unhealthy amount of knowledge within. I surmise that many of the most skilled Thieves come here to find a measure of prosperity and camaraderie that they could not find else where. It is no secret that the city operated with a number of guilds, councils and merchant troupes. I can only image what I do not know about the city. Astrumdantalas is one of the few places where such men openly organize and are in fact a both balancing power and an important tool for the Scryers Guild.”
“Once they knew of my interests, I was invited to a sect known as Eight Aerlin which is a member of the larger collective Thieves Guild. I was most respectful and forthright about my writings and I think they appreciated the boldness. Among them met many unassuming folk who could pass easily for a baker, a farmer, a clothier, a charcoal burner and so forth. All highly skilled Thieves and single minded professionals. It was here that I learned that this sect operates as a part of the Thieves Guild but separate as far as organization and operations. From what I gathered there is no single ‘Thieves Guild’, but rather it is a vague term for a collection of professionals, similar to any craftsmen guild. Sects come and go, unworthy upstarts are quickly snuffed out, and most true sects are well aware of boundaries, politics, and rivals. They are similar to large families and control territory. “
“Unlike petty criminal organizations, they rarely vie with one another over territory as it is usually passed on from generation to generation, from city to city and realm to realm. Astrumdantalas itself is merely the fulcrum for the organization; a place to find new talent, resolve disputes, find jobs, and otherwise organize. I was told that one of the most difficult things for a sect to accomplish is finding new skilled members. I suppose this is why so many make the pilgrimage to Astrumdantalas. While I was not privy to where Eight Aerlin operated originally, I did learn that it had a dozen members, most of whom where human, and that they operated in conjunction with the Scryers Guild.”
“The two seem to have a symbiotic relationship. The Scyers Guild trades in all kinds of knowledge, and the Thieves Guild attains particular bits that they need. In turn the nobles and great lords cultivate the Scyers information for an assortment of needs; from predicting the future, to usurping a rival’s throne. By no means is this the Thieves Guild only source of revenue, but it is usually one that they tend to nurture and not sully for petty reasons.”
“Just about all manner of folk could employ a Thief for a variety of reasons, and Thieves themselves cover the full gambit of demeanor and personalities. Some will only steal from wealthy Halfling Merchants, others still will merely track and follow important peoples. Others are heartless killers who will snap a child’s neck without a second thought. All have desired talents and ones price is purely on the behest of the Thieves reputation, thus most Thieves rarely back out on a deal or sully their name. Even law enforcement will seek out skilled Thieves if they are particularly befuddled, as Thieves have a knack at unusual means to accomplish their goals.”
"Not all Thieves are guilded. Most novice Thieves must earn a name for themselves to rise above common rabble. Fame can come from many ends, but only those who have a measure of honor, even a twisted one, would be approached. Lone Thieves who are not guilded are not unheard of, but are a distinct minority. Guild sects do not like competition from solo Thieves and will often push them out or worse. Still, many solo Thieves exist, either has loners, exiles, eccentric individuals, or merely filling a vacuum where no Thief sect exists. Solo Thieves often have it much harder than guilders. The Guild often provides means to escape the law or at least reduce penalties in most areas if a Thief is inadvertently caught. Guilders usually pay dues but it is often far more lucrative than a solo Thief could be. Also the Guild tends to watch out for itself in times of trouble."
"Still, it is a hard life and few Thieves reach a measure of wealth where they can quit the business and go honest. There is always the next job, the next mark and the next rush of pilfering a noble’s riches. Many Thieves find a sad fate at a guardsman’s blade or cross harsh words with the wrong master Thief. The politics of the Guild can likewise take its toll in exasperating struggles for contracts, pouching talent or even stealing from each other. With this in mind it is no wonder that some of the most talented Thieves seek more direct and tangible goals by adventuring in times of struggle."
The Scryers Guild is a bit like a Bene Gesserit think tank, minus the transhuman powers. The Thieves are their main means of getting hard information since they don't have the skill to do so themselves. I had a hard time justifying a Thief Guild, especially ones that span cities and realms, so it seems a good of a reason as any. Over all I think the Thief is pretty true to B/X and I didn't want to make the lore too specific where they are almost a different class. I may eventually rename the Scryers Guild, the Thieves Guild to something more setting specific. For now its a literary place holder.
I wanted to include some Spy vs Spy elements into the Thief class (hence the pic) but found it surprisingly hard to do without forcing PCs into one guild or another. I think I will use this element, but just on the RPing side of things rather than a setting level with forced conflict. I think rival Thieves would be good story elements so they would attempt to out-do each other, sabotage each other, kill each other off and so forth.