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D&D General Share Your World's/Campaign's Thieves Guilds and Assassins Guilds

Okay, simple premise, but I hope this will make way for a larger discussion.

Thieves Guilds and Assassins Guilds are different. One is a bunch of thieves that work in an underground network to transport and sell stolen and/or illegal goods, while the other is filled with hitmen/hitwomen that can be hired to do the dirty work of those with the means to pay for it. A great example of the differences between the two are the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild from the Elder Scrolls video game series. There is a bit of thematic overlap, as they tend to be rogue-ish characters adept in sneaking, persuasion, and fighting, but there are big differences and can both exist separately in a fantasy setting.

This thread is to share what Thieves Guilds and Assassins Guilds you have included/(or came across if you're a player) in your campaigns and worlds, and if you have both types, how you uniquely differentiate them. My world's examples will be in the spoiler below:

In my world, Tor-eal, the Thieves Guild is called the Night Lotus, which is a shadowy organization that trades in all manner of activities and items that are considered dark or taboo, mostly including drugs, illegal types of animals, weaponry, and spells, sex-work, cannibalism, and so on. They're very much a darker take on the Thieves Guild than the version in the Elder Scrolls, while also having a slightly expanded use than just thievery. Members of the Night Lotus typically wear ornate clothing that is a mixture of black, red, and silver.

The Assassins Guild, on the other hand, is called the Emerald Viper. They're always very well dressed, typically wearing silver jewelry with emeralds, and dresses and suits that are emerald green and black. They're more like a "mafia for hire", where they all treat each other as close family friends and interact friendly with both those that hire their services and those that they are hired to hunt down. They're very much "Affably Evil" and "Magnificent Bastards" (apologies if TV tropes ruins your life), and make it clear to their targets that it's "nothing personal, just business". They don't take joy in killing or inflicting pain on others, so they make sure to coat their weapons in painless, but lethal, poisons to get the job done quickly.

So, what are your world's versions of these common guilds? I'm excited to hear them.
 
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My current campaign is a kingdom-building one, from dirty mud-streets of a 200 person backwater to hopefully a thriving city. My future thieves' guild will be modeled off their choices as those originate from supply and demand (at the moment, it's shaping up to be a racist smuggler organization that isn't happy with all the rights being granted to thieving halflings and tricky gnomes while honest humans get the shaft).

My current as well as future assassin's guild will be modeled off a religious take given our pantheon. Our god of the dead (Arawn, Celtic) assumes great control over who can be raised and not raised from the dead. The assassin's guild will be a branch responsible for returning those who unnaturally came back, without Arawn's permission to the dirt. This might include a PC, though there's a blurred line in the pantheon about druid reincarnation spells. Otherwise, it's common law that if you get raised, you lose all hereditary rights.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I started following this thread out of interest thinking I had nothing to add, but I have got one thing. It wasn't super detailed but in a dragonborn city I had the Red Talon smugglers. A guild of thieves and smugglers named after their leader, a large and cunning red dragonborn. It was broken up with the help of the players who found a cell operating in the underground waterways which led to the city authorities breaking the guild apart. The Red Talon is still out there though, who knows what he's plotting...

They specialised largely in smuggling goods, working with one of the local ferry owners to smuggle goods about. They also would do targeting theft for hire which led to them breaking into the great library and temple of the Sage to steal an ancient book of important historical importance for an orc warlock who seeks the power of an elder dragon.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Mine aren't monolithic, and generally local organizations. I do have a couple that are fairly large and/or notorious for their actions.

The Savage Companions - Spies and assassins for the once-mighty Empire of Swordfall, they were originally headed and trained by the master half-orc spy/assassin Savage Avenger. After that empire's fall the organization became mercenary, working on contract for nobles of the western kingdom. Time - and rival nobles - were not kind to the organization and over the centuries and after several setbacks and double-crosses they have been reduced to a handful of mercenary assassins working out of the swampish Golens. They've lost any pretense of honor, and the remainder are purely driven by the pursuit of wealth and the joy of murder. Still, they combine magic and mundane skills to be among the most fearful individuals and the threat of putting one such assassin on the trail of an individual is enough to give backstabbers and the power-hungry pause. Even those who can use them do so with caution - they've been double-crossed so often in the past they have no qualms about switching sides if the pay to put them off the trail, or turn them against their former employer is better than the original deal.

House Montisque of Nyrr Ryann – the other houses avoid the Montisque as they are a quarrelsome house. This fear is due to their use of poisons and assassinations to keep their exotic spice market cornered. Montisque also deals with questionable products such as hare tobacco, opium, cocaine and other substances. Several Montisque merchants are addicted to their own wares, which has led to corruption within its own ranks. Since few other houses are willing to deal with Montisque on a friendly basis and house Montisque is paranoid about newcomers who may betray them, Montisque has a degree of inbreeding that has resulted in various birth defects and abnormalities among the household. These features have combined to give the Montisques the nicknames, “Hunchbacks” or “Monsters”.

House Botticheli of Nyrr Ryann – Though the Montisque are often considered monstrous by the outside world, there is even a deeper fear of the dreaded Botticheli family. The Botticheli are master assassins, and one of the few houses that deals with house Montisque on a regular basis, though the Montisque do not trust the Botticheli one whit – and with good reason. The Botticheli are thieves, thugs and assassins, out for hire by any being who can afford them. Though it is rare, sometimes even other employ them to rid themselves of a troublesome
family member of another Nyrr Ryann household. Botticheli are very careful about taking such jobs, ensuring that no one will attempt retribution against them for the act – though most would fear to attempt so for any matter. The Botticheli have acquired a patent of assassination from the Kingdom of Vall Vega (after years of faithful service, tidy sums of money and an oath to never harm the Emperor or
his favored), giving them immunity for their acts in any country allied with the great kingdom. Though this has not set well with many
countries, most realms are nervous about prosecuting a member of the Botticheli family. In an effort to reduce the chances of their prosecution, the Botticheli have employed a series of stringent codes that makes them seem in many ways, no different from any other
professional workman. Contracts, dress codes, “ethic standards” for workmanship, “humane” killing methods and codes of assassination are
just a few of the ploys the family has used to reduce or negate the sense of horror their acts cause. However, in all truth, the assassins of
Botticheli are cold-hearted killers, and most know crossing one is to invite death itself.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I recommend the excellent book series gentlemen bastards for going deep into how a thieves guild type organization could work in a world with magic & still operate on the scales they do in d&d. Over the series the gentlemen bastards dive into a few different parts of society in a few different cities with different baselines that change the rules in interesting ways
 

In my Greyhawk there are a lot of Thieves' Guilds. Most large states have a single guild, with each town and city having a chapter, with the capital's chapter serving as the guild's headquarters. Some smaller states might have a single guild (such as the Ulek states) or they might be extensions of those larger guilds (e.g. the Shield Lands guild is an extension of Furyondy's). All thieves who operate pay yearly dues, plus a "tribute" of their ill gotten gain (usually 3%). Anyone caught operating outside of the guild, or not paying dues/tribute, are marked, either for death or just a severe beating (if they can pay a hefty fine, plus 100% of their ill gotten gains). Many bandit gangs choose to join a guild, accessing fences and smugglers to sell goods, as well as the occasional place to hide. Most guilds are friendly to each other, offering services to other guild'\s' members for a fee, but a few (such as Dyver's & Greyhawk) have longstanding blood feuds.

There is only one Assassin's Guild in the Flannaess, but not all assassins are part of it. Freelance assassins are cheaper, but the Guild is more thorough. The Guild doesn't have a traditional base of operations, but rather a network of informants across the land. Setting a contract is normally done either through a Thieves' Guild (who is paid a 3% fee) or through an information, if one can be located independently. Most assassins wander a region, checking in with informants for contracts, but a few stay in the largest cities, waiting for the contracts to come to them. Joining the Guild is dangerous, as the entrance test is lethal, but the availability of contracts is often considered worth the risk.

Payment is due upon setting the contract, as the Guild will normally continue to send assassins until the target is dead. It's based on the reputation and renown of the target, but an additional fee will be added if the target has undisclosed special defenses (spells, magic items, higher than 5th level, extensive political/criminal connections, etc) that will be assessed afterwards; indentured servitude of all family is required until payment is made in full. If the Guild cannot or chooses not to achieve success, it will return half of the amount charged if there were undisclosed defenses, the full amount if there were no special defenses, and double the amount if there were known special defenses they failed to breech. Obviously the Guild hates returning this fee, and so the informants are careful, often waiting until more information is gathered before accepting the contract. The Guild retains 10%, with the rest going to the successful assassin.
 

In my world Willan's Fox and Crow started ~20 years ago, running the under bridge in the bridge-city of Fort Ooshar. By the time of the campaign the Fox and Crow operated in most of the Western Wilde's cities. They are mostly petty criminals, street gang types.

But Willan himself was involved in the discovery of a Lorebook (access to magicks), the disappearance of one of the PC's fathers, and was in opposition to the Necromancer and his lover (who are connected to another PC with one degree of separation).

As the Fox and Crow have a leader with magic, they were able to hide from authority quite easily. For this reason Fort Ooshar became more and more influenced by the group after the city of Sheljar, capital of Ooshar and surrounds, fell. Ooshar is now a near lawless town, governed by bandits and yet still a waystation for traders.
 

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