Thieves' Guilds


Homebrew and House Rules

Liberty's Edge

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I will be running a campaign where two major guilds from two different cities will be competing for the road between them. These guilds will also have a large foothold in the cities they live in.

There will be a third guild, the party, that will be trying to establish themselves. They will be gaining a small keep deep in a tropical forest that has no strategic advantage to the other two guilds, except that this keep will eventually have a silver mine connected to it and producing silver at a slow rate.

Obviously the silver will be of interest to the other two guilds, but in all honesty, there are easier ways for them to make money. I assume they will be ignoring most of what goes on at the mine, but rather intercept shipments from time to time.

Does anyone have suggestions, book references, etc to help me run a thieves' guild as a GM? I anticipate the party eventually wanting to destroy the opposition. Infiltrating the other guilds' and taking them over from the inside is not going to happen.


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Number one in my opinion is "Do not refer to them as Thieves Guilds". In other words make them real, bring them to life. There are several ways to go with rival guilds and each can make them a unique experience for the players.

Are they a crime family with favored members all relatives of the family head? Think Mafia families. Research renaissance Italy for origins.

Are they philosophically based like the real world Assassins or The Eater's of Hash" with the Old Man of The Mountain as their leader.

Are they religious (as in God of Murder, Trickery, Wealth, etc.) with priests holding high positions?

Are they like the Yakuza families of feudal Japan controlling neighborhoods or who towns?

Do they style themselves as rebels or "for the people", acting against what they consider an oppressive ruler?

Are they wilderness bandits organized loosely under a charismatic individual?


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The first question is whether they are "official" guilds, with entries to the city councils and possible support from the authorities (they are outlaws but they are OUR aoutlaws and they regulate crime) in which case they would thrive on protection rackets and the law would stomp down on unauthorized, outguild crime.

or are they just a bunch of bandits trying to assert authority over a turf, in spite of competition and the authorities?

Liberty's Edge

These are a couple good posts. Thank you.

Does anyone have a system that would help track such a game component? My players would definitely like to see the numbers and be able to involve themselves in the over all scheme of things. Is there some sort of campaign manager? I did not think the Ultimate Campaign organizations was enough crunch for what they are asking.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

If you can get a hold of it, take a look at AD&D's "Den of Thieves". It is still one of my favorite RPG products.

Liberty's Edge

Amanuensis wrote:
If you can get a hold of it, take a look at AD&D's "Den of Thieves". It is still one of my favorite RPG products.

Is that the Dragon magazine or the 2nd ed module?


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As far as fiction I reccomend Steven Brust's Taltos novels for a fantasy based organized crime setup.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Irranshalee wrote:
Amanuensis wrote:
If you can get a hold of it, take a look at AD&D's "Den of Thieves". It is still one of my favorite RPG products.
Is that the Dragon magazine or the 2nd ed module?

I meant the accessory (I think that is what they were called) by Wes Nicholson. It focuses on the different organizational aspects of a thieves' guild. It is a bit outdated, but I found it still quiet inspiring when I took a peek inside.

Another one that I really like is Iron Kingdom's "Five Fingers Port of Deceit". It includes write-ups for different criminal profession skills and it has rules for turf wars between different gangs.

Liberty's Edge

I had heard that Council of Thieves #5 was decent. Does anyone have experience with that Adventure Path?

Also, is there anything free online that others have used to help track an extensive organization like these guilds?


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Rite publishing adapted the settlement rules from UC to rules for Samurai clans and yakuza gangs. They are available here. See also this thread on starting players as members of s noblehouse for some advice. Social combat rules, politics, even Relationship rules all seem to fit well.

I advise to use Ultimate Leadership rules and thus have each PC gain leadership at lvl 7 and gain a small gang of his own loyal followers.

The D20 book Crime and Punishment from the Penumbra line might also be of interest.

FGG's Unusual Suspects details underworld NPCs

Goodman Games has Crime Pays (Just look at the cover! Half Orc godfather ftw! ). Though this is a 4e book it offers new rules for running a mob which maybe useable for advice or conversion.

Rite Publishings 101 Not so random Urban Encounters details interwoven urban NPCs with lots criminals.

Raging Swan Press has Urban Dressings: Thieves. The rest of the urban dressing line is worth a look too.. there's Alleyways, The Watch for example as well as two bigger supplements GMs miscellany Urban Dressing and GMs miscellany Urban dressing Ii collecting several of the lines books.

Here'san old thread with links to DM tools' NPCs for the Dagger Guild. Alas dmtools is lost apparently.


And I have to plug the excellent Burglary and other fine hobbies thread for a lot of links to heist rules and advice...


And +1 for Steven Brusts Vlad Taltos novels.


Irranshalee wrote:
Does anyone have suggestions, book references, etc to help me run a thieves' guild as a GM? I anticipate the party eventually wanting to destroy the opposition. Infiltrating the other guilds' and taking them over from the inside is not going to happen.

I will also +1 the Taltos series. Stephen Brust is a good place to start in fiction.

One thing to keep in mind, and the Taltos series does lay this bare, is that, outside of a war or revolution, localities tend to exist in a steady state. There may be some instability at a micro level, but overall power structures form and take hold, and they tend to shift slowly. Radical change has consequences.

Wipe out the Thieves' Guild and you create a power vacuum that will have ramifications far beyond what the party is doing. The Guild probably has connections to and influence in the local government, directly or otherwise, and is probably financially entangled with it as well as local or regional financial institutions. Crippling it may also lead to intra-city strife, localized gang or turf wars, etc.

In short, it's complicated.

Dark Archive

Rival gangs sound like the clint eastwood western fistfull of dollars - originating from Kurasawa's Yojimbo - which in PFS is Red Harvest.

If you see a dog with a humanoid hand in its mouth, you know where you are.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Rival gangs... have you been watching Gotham (the series)? Great stuff for rival thieves guilds.


RSP's Barroom Brawls might also be of use...

Quote:
I advise to use Ultimate Leadership rules and thus have each PC gain leadership at lvl 7 and gain a small gang of his own loyal followers.

And even if you do not get that awesome book just give everyone the feat for free, which is the genius solution to the supposedly broken feat, as explained originally by the author Alex Augunas here

Liberty's Edge

Thanks for all the ideas guys. I just put in a request for the Taltos books. I will start there. One question about the Ultimate Leadership thing. Is that a book or a system in a different named book? I did find something called Ultimate Rulership.


By Ultimate Leadership i meant the Leadership rules from Ultimate Charisma

Liberty's Edge

Thank you.

Did it ever come in print or do I need to buy it via pdf?

Liberty's Edge

I found it on DriveThru. Thank you again!


In the waaaay old D&D Karameikos Gazetteer, the Duchy had three guilds: the Kingdom of Thieves, the Veiled Society and the Iron Ring.

The Kingdom of Thieves was more cutpurse, shoplifting, occasional burglaries. The Veiled Society was more Mafia (and was old-family run); protection rackets, strong-arm loansharks, extortion and the occasional kidnapping. The Iron Ring were ruthless, kidnapping, slavers and assassins.

Each "sort of" gave the others a wide berth, as they rarely crossed one another's area of criminality. But when they did, there was potential for MUCH strife and underground payback... each organization was Duchy-wide, not just one in one city and another in another city.

Consider going that route, with the crime families or organizations co-located and more or less tolerant of one another, just having different areas of criminality... until one gets greedy and wants all the silver (for instance.)

Side note - in the old Gazette, the Kingdom of Thieves also acted as a spy network for the Duchy Crown - so long as the crimes remained petty, they got pretty much free reign.

Liberty's Edge

Java Man wrote:
As far as fiction I reccomend Steven Brust's Taltos novels for a fantasy based organized crime setup.

These have been fantastic reads. Thank you for turning me on to them.


Irranshalee wrote:
Java Man wrote:
As far as fiction I reccomend Steven Brust's Taltos novels for a fantasy based organized crime setup.
These have been fantastic reads. Thank you for turning me on to them.

Very welcome!


From my Way of the Yakuza product are yakuza gang creation rules. Adjust the Asian fluff to fit your setting themes, and I know it would easily work for you to custom design varying thieves guilds in your game.

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