The Thieves' Guild

To the general citizenry of Greyhawk, the thieves are everywhere and into everything. There is little you can do within the city that won’t be spotted by the thieves and reported to their masters. Anything that is lost or goes missing in the city is blamed on the guild and Greyhawk mothers will even tell unruly children who refuse to sleep that the thieves will come in the night and steal them away.

The Greyhawk Thieves’ Guild has become part of the myths and legends of the Flanaess. It has become, in the many tales that are told around campfires and in taverns across the continent, the very epitome of stealth, cunning and thievery. The reputation of the city itself as a den of thieves has spread far and wide over the course of the city’s history, and travelers will be warned off by innkeepers and tavernkeepers many hundreds of miles away with terrible stories of the guild’s ruthlessness, and the thieves’ amazing, almost supernatural, ability to part you from your riches.

In reality, the Thieves’ Guild is now but a shadow of its former self, although nonetheless still skillful and influential. Once a truly massive, clandestine organization, the guild saw its membership dwindle as the city grey in economic strength, and as more time and effort was spent by honest folk within the city to defeat the guild’s efforts and foil its plans. More recently, the war precipitated by former Guildmaster Arentol against Theobald and his Beggar’s Union both killed off or discouraged many low-level thieves and apprentices, reducing the guild’s pool of talent. Nevertheless, the guild is still a force to be reckoned with; the Guildmaster openly sits on the Directing Oligarchy, the Lord Mayor (unbeknownst to the general populace) is also Assistant Guildmaster, and two of the Merchants’ and Traders’ Union representatives on the Directorship are also senior members of the Thieves’ Guild.

Actually thievery, although still an important part of the guild’s activities, is not as common as many people would imagine. The Thieves’ Guild prefers to rob outsiders, be they merchants or adventurers, and leave the locals (especially those who belong to the more powerful or influential of the city’s guilds) alone. There are strict quotas imposed by the guild’s leaders on exactly how much can be stolen from the Merchants’ and Traders’ Union in any month, for example, and the possessions of any member of the Wizardry are generally considered inviolate (for good reason!) However, non-union traders are fair game, and adventurers offer rich pickings.

But that is not to say that the Thieves’ Guild does not steal at all from the natives. They do whenever possible (although many of the city’s average residents have little worth stealing), and this fear of robbery allows small businesses and middle-class house holds to supplement the guild’s considerable income.

The Guild is organized into sections corresponding to each of the city’s quarters. The membership of the guild in each quarter normally remain in that quarter; there are few transfers, although members will occasionally be temporarily transferred to the control of another Master in another quarter for a joint operation. The exception to this is the Thieves’ Quarter. A large proportion of the membership here are apprentice thieves who are then transferred to another quarter upon their effective graduation. The guild’s activities in each quarter are coordinated by a Master Thief, all of who sit on the guild’s Directorship which meets regularly in the basement of the Thieves Guildhall. (The title “Master” is an honorific and does not necessarily denote that the individual has attained or exceeded a certain level of experience).

The Guild and Adventurers. The Thieves’ Guild does not take kindly to non-guild thieves plying their trade within the city’s boundaries. The guild takes great care in balancing its activities so as not to provoke angry reactions from some of the more powerful groups within the city. Freelance thieves who are caught by the guild will be dispossessed of their valuables, told to join the guild, pay their dues, and abide by guild law, and are warned of the dire consequences should they wish to carry on their own individual activities. Freelance thieves caught a second time by the guild do not get a second chance to make amends.

The guild will provide training for non-members, but only when the applicant has made a sworn statement not to use his abilities within the boundaries of the Free City, nor to betray any of the guild’s secrets. All non-guild thieves, once on the register, must report to the Guildhall prior to their departure from Greyhawk and whenever they subsequently return to the city.

Guildmember thieves receive free training from the guild. Guildmembers pay an annual fee of 3 gp and, in return for free training and the use of guild facilities, member thieves are required to pay a full 10% of all their earnings into the Guild Treasury. Such payments are normally made to the guild’s agents within the Union of Moneychangers and Pawnbrokers, who will also fence goods for guildmembers. Guildmembers must also avoid protected businesses and households, and operations against any city guilds may only be undertaken with the consent of the Quarter’s Master.

One final note about free training of guildmembers: While training is indeed free, such training will be undertaken at the tutor’s leisure, and since there is nothing really in it for the tutor, it could be a while before he gets around to starting the course. It is a well-known fact among member thieves that a little palm-greasing goes a long way, and tutors are much quicker to respond when they are given a suitable financial incentive.

Carl Sargent and Rik Rose. Greyhawk Adventures, Folk, Feuds, and Factions. 1989

Gem of the Flanaess

The Thieves' Guild

Greyhawk Samaryllis Samaryllis