Guild of Shadows
"Thieves in Aerith be brothers, all."
Type of Organization
Type of Members
|Thieves, Assassins, Mercenaries Thugs, Bandits, Fences, Spies, Informants, Bounty Hunters|
|Number of Members||387|
|Demographics||Human 73%, Dwarven 15%, Grum 7%, Orcish, 4%, Other 1%|
|The City of Aerith|
|Artec Voslu, human male, retired thief|
|Year Founded||1458 CY|
|Symbol||Iconic representation of the subterranean chambers beneath the city of Aerith that the Guild of Shadows uses extensively.|
Every major city has an underworld and Aerith is no exception. The largest and most well organized group of criminals call themselves the "Guild of Shadows". This group consists of a broad spectrum – thieves, assassins, pick pockets, fences, informants and thugs. It operates in network of hidden subterranean chambers that connect to several shady businesses in town. The symbol of this group is a representation of those underground chambers.
From the earliest days of Aerith, there have been small groups of thieves working in cooperation with each other. Various alliances would often form between these groups. However, such alliances were always short lived. In 1204 CY, a single thief named Vanikar managed to unite all of these groups into a crude guild of night stalkers that controlled thievery in the city for over two centuries. Guild masters came and went, but the guild remained strong. In 1454 CY, five thieves broke away from the then-ruling thieves guild to conduct their own thieving. They called themselves the Five Shadows and they boasted that no treasure was safe from them. Their thieving skills, street smarts, luck and talent won them some modicum of fame and fortune. Other thieves soon began joining them. When the guild decided that it deserved a fair cut of their take, the leader of the five assassinated him. The guild broke into several smaller groups and a veritable underworld war began with thieves hunting thieves. This continued for over a year until the Five Shadows and their followers finally proved victorious and regained control of the city’s underworld. In 1458 CY, the group was renamed the "Guild of Shadows" and expanded its operations. The Guild of Shadows has ruled the night in Aerith ever since.
The Guild of Shadows is primarily concerned with the safety of its members and the continued flow of ill-gotten wealth into the guild’s coffers. Because of the militant nature of the city and the tight security to be found everywhere, the Guild of Shadows is rigidly organized with rules, ranks and established procedures designed to minimize risk and protect the guild. The most important rules of the Guild are summarized as the "Rules of Professional Courtesy"... sometimes informally referred to as "the courtesies". Training is of paramount importance for all involved. The Guild also takes an interest in the doings of independent thieves in the city. Any thief visiting the city is expected to check in with the guild and offer up a share of any take as a show of good faith. Failure to do so may invite a night time visit by some of its members.
The Guild of Shadows has many friends and contacts and safe houses scattered through the city. Many citizens are not officially members of the guild, but are sympathetic to the guild. Others simply exchange a service (a guard turning a blind eye, a jeweler not asking questions about the origins of a gem) for a healthy tip.
A rival faction, known as the Ravens, broke from the Guild of Shadows 20 years ago and formed their own loose alliance. This splinter group of radicals, led by an accomplished 33 year old thief named Ulon, rebelled against the rules of the Shadows. As if to contrast against their former comrades, the Ravens have no rules, no established ranks and no true leaders. They are, very much, a group of independent thieves working as a collective. Despite this, some of the traditions (such as the manner of testing initiates) is borrowed from the Shadows. While less than a third the size of the Shadows, the Ravens are still the second most powerful underworld guild in Aerith.
Anyone is free to join the Guild of Shadows. Usually, this is by way of introduction to a member in good standing who sponsors the hopeful. There is then a test of basic skills. Should this prove promising, the aspiring member to be is then trained by his sponsor. Full membership is not approved until a final test is passed.
Membership with this guild is an all-encompassing commitment. It is more than family, for these men and women literally depend on each other. The sacrifice of any thing, even the life of a member, is acceptable if it is needed to keep the Guild safe. This belief is one of the things that has kept the Guild of Shadows in operation for centuries under the nose of the most organized and brutally efficient government in the lands.
The concept of sacrifice extends to possessions as well. While a thief lives, what he steals and keeps is his own. But should he die, any and all of his holdings are seized by the Guild and redistributed as needed for the greater good. Most thieves know to inform the guild master of any extended trip they make. A guildsman missing or too long out of contact will be presumed dead and his possessions claimed for the greater good.
Members of the Guild of Shadows swear a formal oath of loyalty. In this oath, they are sworn to follow a number of rules which guide the functioning of the Guild. These rules are collectively referred to as the Rules of Professional Courtesy. There are not strict rules, per se, but more like pearls of wisdom. They have evolved through the years and are frequently quoted to younger members.
Leading this crime cartel is the guild master. The guild master, a master thief who has proven himself on many occasions, leads with very little restraint on his authority. The current guild master is Artec Voslu. Beneath him are a handful of lieutenants who carry the title of "master thief". These masters carry out the guild master's orders, help run the guild and train the younger members. Beneath the masters are the common members. Finally, there are the non-members with who the guild deals such as young thieves in training and various citizens who are on the take.
This page last updated September 26, 2020. Copyright 1990-2011 David M. Roomes.