The Jesting Shadows
Thieves’ Guilds are common enough in the major cities of the world, but the Guild in Kestral, headed by the mysterious figure known as The Laughing Man, is a bit of an oddity. Formerly called “the Shadow Knives”, the guild took a different, and unexpected, change of direction when the Laughing Man took over.
Membership is considered invitation only. Typically new operations are given 2 opportunities to cooperate with the guild before being labeled “non-compliant” by the Laughing Man.
Once membership status is granted, inductees are issued a Jester’s Coin, a specially minted silver coin with a fool’s cap on one side, and a humanoid silhouette on the inverse. This coin is used as a badge of membership and an emergency signal.
Members of the Guild are given access to the Guild’s resources, namely information, a reliable fence, numerous safehouses and bolt-holes, and protection from Guard interference. In exchange, members must follow a few rules and regulations. Violation of these rules can result in probationary status or immediate repudiation by the Guild.
The Guild instituted a number of rules when the Laughing Man took over, designed to keep the city stable and to keep the Guards from looking too closely at the Guild’s activities, outlined as follows to Guild members:
- The Guild will take 20% of the profits from clandestine activities. The tithe is considered a little high by some, but the Laughing Man uses much of the levy to pay bribes to the right people and to maintian safehouses throughout the city.
- Steal only from those who can stand to lose it. If the Guild determines that one of your marks is having trouble with basic expenses, you are expected to make a donation. Note that this does not apply to gambling debts or loans -anyone who winds up in the poor house because of that sort of trouble is assumed to have brought it on themselves.
- Violence is only a last resort. Roughing somebody up to get the goods is fine; killing them deliberately is not. Violence of an even more unsavory nature is not to be tolerated.
- We are not assassins. If approached for a violence-for-hire proposition, check in with the Guild. Typically, non-lethal jobs are acceptable (although a larger fee will be levied), but lethal contracts will be reported to the Guard.
- Respect the Guard. The last thing the Guild needs is a revenge-driven crackdown. If cornered you can defend yourself to avoid capture, but avoid lethal force and flee when possible. Give the Guard a tip-off regarding non-sanctioned activities, especially regarding violent acts or vandalism.
- All large jobs and long cons need to be cleared with the Guild first. We don’t want to hit an ally, and we really don’t want to double up on jobs. Let’s not repeat “the Yellow Skullfish incident”.
- Keep your area clean of trash and dirt. We all have to live here.
- Do whatever is in your power to help your brethren, but use your judgement also. If they have dug a hole too deep, you need not implicate yourself.
Organizations or individuals labeled “non-compliant” by the Guild are monitered closely. If they take actions that threaten Guild security or allies, the Guild may step in. Often the guard will be informed, but it is also possible that the Guild will involve itself directly, by eliminating or apprehending the offending party.