View Full Version : Question about thieves guild and verisimilitude

2007-08-16, 09:58 PM
One of the problems I have with thieves guilds, especially in the larger towns and cities, is why hasn't the city government remove it using wizards/clerics, especially in places with access to higher level magic users. I can understand in some places if the thieves guild was supported by the government or in the smaller towns where it might cost too much to afford to pay a magic user to rid the town of the thieves. And yes, I could see the thieves being low profile enough to not be seen.

So my question is, besides having magic users that can help them hide some of their dealing, willing supported by the government, or being supported through bribes how do DM rationalize the existance of thieves guild in their cities such as the DMG suggests to be in many places?

2007-08-16, 10:13 PM
The thieve's guild could BE a good chunk of the government. IE: Same leaders.

Or, you could go for a Discworldian feel and take a leaf out of Lord Vetenari's book as having the thieve's guild taxed.

Other then that? Perhaps blackmail? Perhaps the city leaders don't want to be responsible for the war that would happen if they tried to wrest the thieve's out, or fear the vaccum that would follow thier eviction..

2007-08-16, 10:18 PM
"They're only targeting unimportant people, like peasants" is a good one.

If the thieves guild ever stole from the noble men, you can bet that fireballs are going to go off and a lot of peasants are going to get caught in the crossfire. Satisfied, they then ignore the guild for awhile until it happens again.

Now the people themselves might be pretty upset about it, but they can't really do much because the thieves guild is too strong.

Which is another possibility too, the reason they don't get wiped out of existence is because they also employ high level wizards and clerics (the Clerics probably being priests of trixter gods and the like. Also would you believe trixter isn't in the spell checker I'm using? Oi)

Maybe it's like Shadowruns Z-Zones. Tracking down criminals, arresting them, giving them a trail, throwing them in jail and trying to rehabilitate them is a big hassle, and expensive. So they tend to just wall up the bad parts of town and forget about them. Mind you it's a lot easier in D&D when you can cast spells and execute people for no particular reason so this one doesn't make as much sense.

2007-08-16, 10:21 PM
I tend to think of Thieves' Guilds as mafia. In some cases, they may be too powerful for the leaders to touch, or they may actually be in league with the government.

2007-08-16, 10:23 PM
The shortest answer I have with you is that they are smart. If they don't get purged its because they are smart. If you look at every big theives guild in the forgotten realms for example they have their own powerful magi and spend a ****eload of money on protecting their interests.

2007-08-16, 10:30 PM
You ever read Stephen Brust, especially the Taltos novels?

Thieves Guilds don't just run thievery. They run (untaxed/illegal) gambling and prostitution.... which people want. If you close down the entire guild, then someone WILL fill the void, and there's no guarantee that they'll be as "nice" as the current ones. So, the Thieves' Guild is tolerated... shaken down from time to time, some of their members taken to jail, their worst excesses curbed with police/military force, etc. ... because to get rid of it is to allow the possibility that there will be monsters doing worse, and harder to catch.

Other things a Thieves' Guild will be involved in:

Pawn Shops
Protection Rackets
Assassination (a valuable resource for higher-ups)

2007-08-16, 10:36 PM
Keep in mind also: thieves' guilds are rich - or at least the good ones are.

With loot, the guild can hire their own thugs, spellcasters, clerics, and other minions - enough to make an all-out assault by law enforcement a very, very messy thing for both sides.

Besides, no one wants anything to... happen... to anyone's family, right? :amused:

2007-08-16, 10:45 PM
Also would you believe trixter isn't in the spell checker I'm using? Oi)
That would be because the correct spelling is trickster.

2007-08-16, 10:57 PM
I'd say two likely main reasons :

1) They have their own casters to prevent that sort of thing.

OR, and this is more likely,

2) Annoying as it may be to have the guild being a pain, a Thieves' Guild that's highly regulated, and protects its turf. They keep random thieves from becoming an issue, and they won't go beyond a certain limit, because they know that if they do, the city comes down on them. It's really a "Well, if they WEREN'T here, things'd be worse off, because at least NOW, the thieves are civilized" deal.

2007-08-16, 11:13 PM
Like folks have said, it's because of the fact that they're actually integral to the economy of a larger city. I imagine the best-run thieves guilds are like the Mockers from the original Riftwar saga: They're efficient, they're not brutal in any sense, they have their hands in everything, they regulate their own members and keep them from getting too violent, and, most importantly, they're not afraid to cut the throats of the competition. Because of the first three, they can be seen as runners of the necessary parts of society that the government would look better not running. Because of the last two, they're keeping their own from running amok and keeping another guild from arising, and both could potentially spell disaster for the city: random assassinations, people getting mugged in broad daylight in the middle of the busiest streets, and general widespread panic.

And, despite the efficiency and the capabilities of wizards in D&D, thieves are notorious for being impossible to completely exterminate. I guarantee you that the thieves guilds are going to employ their own wizards to block scrying, they'll use illusions and other forms of misdirection to cause the city to waste resources, and in some cases, if powerful enough they may even plan the assassination of whatever noble is behind the crusade. Once that noble dies, the next in line will be a whole lot more willing to just let the thieves guild go about its business.

One last thing, even should the city be able to win the war against the thieves guild, the costs would be massive. We're talking coffer-draining, here. And then there's the panic in the streets when the next guild comes in and proves to be much more brutal in their tactics than the last. So the city taxes its citizens to all hell and back to raise enough money to win the war against this next thieves guild, and then yet another guild rises up. Continue ad infinitum, until all the rich people leave town for fear of losing all their assets, and all the poor people revolt from becoming even poorer.

Thieves guilds exist because the city needs a well-established, well-regulated guild to make things run smooth, bottom line. And, really, I realize that all this post did was consolidate what everyone else said, but, who cares? :smalltongue:

2007-08-16, 11:31 PM
Other things a Thieves' Guild will be involved in:

Pawn Shops
Protection Rackets
Assassination (a valuable resource for higher-ups)

I ought to create a thieves' guild that at centers on (or at least fronts with) payday loans and rent-to-own programs. you know, legal forms of thievery.

2007-08-16, 11:36 PM
I ought to create a thieves' guild that at centers on (or at least fronts with) payday loans and rent-to-own programs. you know, legal forms of thievery.

You left out tax collectors.

2007-08-17, 12:21 AM
Hmmm, I forgot about the other side of the economics. Thanks everyone for reasoning and ideas why they would exist besides using fire to fight fire (magic).