View Full Version : Building an empire of crime

2009-07-24, 11:16 AM
How would you go about setting up your own thieves' guild in 3.5? Obviously Leadership is a no-brainer, but RP elements are also important. What preparations would you need to be making from level 1, and when would it be feasible to set everything into motion?

2009-07-24, 11:20 AM
DMG II has some helpful stuff in there, I should think.

You'll obviously need some sort of stronghold or guildhouse as well, which will likely cost quite a bit.

2009-07-24, 11:45 AM
Guild? You are thinking small!

My rogue unionised the rogues of his city in Iron Kingdoms. Proper working hours! Decent pay! Standardised punishments for thieves who are caught!

Basically I approached the major crime lords of the area, worked my way into their good graces, figured out which were amenable to the idea, worked out who could actually be worked with (no longstanding grudges, for example), then manipulated my allies into attacking the ones who weren't in favor of the union...

The party were my dupes and personal protection. That was a fun campaign, helped that the DM fleshed out the underworld so well.

2009-07-24, 11:47 AM
Leadership, not so much for this situation. Your underlings want to get paid, and followers just follow you 'cause you're awesome. Also, The Stronghold Builder's Guidebook should be handy for designing said guildhall.

2009-07-24, 11:56 AM
Make sure you have some good paladin screening tests, like drowning toddlers or tripping old ladies.

2009-07-24, 01:12 PM
You'll also need to find the easily-corruptible local city officials. What good is a thieves' guild if you can't spring your people from jail or get relaxed sentences with a few well-placed bribes?

The structure of the guild will also be important. Is it run by one individual? A council? A bunch of loosely-affiliated groups relating to types of crime or areas of the city? How are new members recruited/accepted/screened? What are the responsibilities and benefits for members; why do people want to join your guild? Do they get a free place to stay and store their loot and the knowledge that if they get arrested, the guild will help get them out of prison? Or do they join out of fear that they'll be killed if they don't?

Front businesses are also something to consider. Stealing things is fine and good, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't move the goods. You'll either need connections to some shady merchants, or be willing to open your own guild stores to sell things, and/or find some nice people in the "import/export" business to get the valuables out of town to sell.

None of this is really anything mechanically helpful, but for RP, it should help. :D

2009-07-24, 01:18 PM

2009-07-24, 01:19 PM
In the real world, crime syndicates past and present (including the Mafia) have, at times, actually done more net business through legally owned businesses (even if they are fronts) than actual income from direct criminal activity.

Civil War Man
2009-07-24, 01:34 PM
Step 1: Befriend a crime boss
Step 2: Multiclass into Spymaster
Step 3: Model your alternate identity after the crime boss
Step 4: ???
Step 5: Profit

or, as I did in one Dark Sun campaign

Step 1: Be recruited into a Merchant House
Step 2: Befriend a Psion
Step 3: Multiclass into Spymaster
Step 4: Multiclass into Assassin
Step 5: ???
Step 6: Assume all seats in the Merchant House board of directors

Good times.

2009-07-24, 04:06 PM
Keeping what everyone else has said so far, I would say that the most important step to take would be to ensure monopoly.

Make so that thieves, brigands, muggers and scammers all know that if they are not part of your guild, practicing their craft will almost certainly get them killed, or possibly massively indebted to said guild.

And as Rhiannon87 said, a trade route that you can use to sell off your hot merchandise is a must. Preferably to someone outside the city, by a fair range, or maybe to another shady group or individual.

It'll require some mooks to establish something like this, and most likely a decent amount of cash, but if you find suitable, and bribable, officials, all you need to do is give the other criminals of the city a little evidence as to why they should join them, I.E, killing some and spread the news of why and how to avoid it.

Make it a pretty brutal death, and you've got extra kudos for that.

2009-07-24, 05:45 PM
Go into politics.....

2009-07-24, 08:12 PM
run for local office.

or in game, you could just do what unions did when they were new.

walk into an honnest negotiation, put an obviously poisoned blade on the table, and as soon as someone raises their voice anyone is free to go for the weapon. I work with guys that have been in "put a gun on the table" meetings. It works because people keep tempers in check and are agreeable.