Goddess of Shadows, Guild of Thieves
Wizards of the Coast
This article is a WotC ArticleWizards of the Coast, Inc.
Wizards of the Coast
Note that at the time of publishing this was 2nd edition, thus all stats are still in 2nd Edition format
by Sue Weinlein Cook and slade illustrated by Bob Klasnich
Everyone knows that rogues can liven up a campaign. The other player characters never quite know what to expect when a member of the local thieves guild joins the party. But what happens when the thieves guild in question is also secretly linked to a powerful temple?
Dungeon Masters can expect some interesting results when they link the worship of a god or goddess of thieves to the local Criminal network in their campaigns. One such combination thrives in the BIRTHRIGHT® campaign setting, in which thieves and other denizens of the night worship Ela, goddess of shadow. In Müden, a cosmopolitan, trade-oriented domain, in the land of Brechtür, the predominant thieving brotherhood walks hand in hand with a legitimate church to form the guild and temple known as Ela's Quick Fingers.
This article offers some background on this cooperative organization, which DMs can adapt to their own campaigns. Plenty of information is provided for PCs wishing to join either guild or temple.
- 1 The Sister of Thieves
- 2 The Church
- 3 The Guild
- 4 Church Membership
- 5 Customs & Duties of the Priesthood
- 6 Guild Membership
- 7 Guild Services
- 8 Quick Fingers Adventures
- 9 Quick Fingers Allies
- 10 Foes of the Guild and Temple
The Sister of Thieves
Ela, better known throughout the land of Cerilia as Eloele, is a Chaotic Neutral (Evil) goddess of the night, the sister of thieves. While not a cruel goddess, Ela is deceitful, selfish, and manipulative. Considering this last trait, it should be no surprise that this goddess tends to involve herself in Cerilia's current events more than most deities. Legends say that one cannot whisper a secret without her divine ears catching every word. Rogues across the continent seek the favor of this subtle goddess, who prefers trickery over violence.
Ela's church has a greater presence in Brechtur than in any other nation of Cerilia. As described in the BIRTHRIGHT accessory Havens of the Great Bay, the Brechts are not a highly religious people. Instead, they prefer to dwell on more practical, every¬day matters. The fact that the Brechts are, by and large, a race of guilders and merchants makes Ela a perfect choice for citizens who have no qualms about straying from the straight-and-narrow in order to turn a profit. Many who pledge their support to her church and guild, in fact, often rise to the enviable ranks of guildmaster in Muden. Guildmasters, in turn, enjoy more political clout than any other sector of the population, so it's easy to see how many of the domain's positions of power are held by high-ranking members of Ela's Quick Fingers church and guild. Every member of the Quick Fingers knows that those who control the money control the domain.
The temple of Ela is the only visible portion of Ela's Quick Fingers at work in Muden. This group of devotees worships the Goddess of Night and the Sister of Thieves. It is not a dogma-heavy faith, but it has several layers of beliefs. On the surface, the faithful praise this goddess of shadows for her control over the passages between Cerilia and the Shadow World, hoping their attentions will convince the goddess to stay the insidious doorways between the worlds. However, the true but unstated motivation behind most of this adulation is quite different: Worshippers acknowledge Ela's influence over thieves and rogues and offer her obeisance to stave off misfortunes in their own lives and business dealings.
The strictest devotees of Ela-her priests r and clerics earn a darker doctrine. Ela's teachings instruct them in lying as an art form. Violence has its place in helping one achieve one's goals, they are taught, but one should learn to savor the pleasures of finding more subtle solutions to dilemmas, such as thievery and deceit. Muden sees more money change hands daily than almost any other realm in Cerilia. Failing to placate the Sister of Thieves could mean bankruptcy for a negligent guilder a fate worse than death for many merchant masters. Therefore, the most respectable (and successful) guilders and merchants-including those who regularly worship Neira, goddess of the sea, Muden's other major faith never fail to leave offerings at the temple of Ela. This widespread practice allows Ela's church to bring in more money than its guild in some provinces. The goddess's temple holdings, found only in the most cosmopolitan areas of Muden (see the holding chart sidebar on this page), are ably guided by Fulda Spiritwalker (Fhlf Pr6 Ela; Ma, major, 32).
Ela's entire temple organization is actually owned by the goddess's powerful but secret guildwork. Ela's Quick Fingers controls the illegal commerce of Muden and specializes in illicit business opportunities not available through the domain's legal channels. What this means is that Ela's Quick Fingers is a front for stolen goods, a black market for illegal or banned material such as prod-ucts most members of society consider indecent, and a vehicle for conducting businesses around activities likewise considered immoral. While other local guilds are aware of Ela's organization, they can do nothing about it, for it provides services for which the folk of Muden seem willing enough to pay.
The guild is managed by a most secretive individual named Genevieve Streicher (F1Ae; F5/T5; AZ, major, 18). This half-elf doesn't permit the public to know who she is, issuing her orders through mysterious contacts who don't know her name. No one is ever allowed direct eye contact with her. Even those who are aware of the guild-including its members-have no idea that Genevieve merely serves as an intermediary for the organization's true regent: Ela's high priestess, Fulda Spiritwalker. Quick Fingers Membership
Membership prerequisites and duties for Ela's Quick Fingers guild differ from those for Ela's church. Very few individuals belong to both, as Fulda seeks to minimize the risk of exposing her connection with the thieves guild. The DM is strongly discouraged from letting PCs join both organizations, even multi-classed or dual-class priest/thieves. Only in the rarest of circumstances, such as a regent designated Fulda's chosen heir, would such an allowance be made. Members of the two groups do share a few commonalities. All Quick Fingers members, both of the church and the guild, must have the disguise proficiency. Members gain the appraising proficiency as a bonus at 5th level. Those of either organization who perform their duties to the satisfaction of the goddess reportedly are rewarded with a sign of her favor: In the night, their weapons (usually daggers or similar small blades) mysteriously turn black, supposedly through the goddess's divine intervention. These night blades carry several temporary enchantments that work only at night. They allow their wielders a 20 percent chance to hide in shadows (or increase a thief's Hide in Shadows ability by 20 percent). In addition, a night blade carries a +1 bonus to attack rolls and damage, and it is impervious to normal means of destruction (nonmagical fire, breakage, etc.). The enchantments and black color last for only 1d8 weeks, although the DM may increase the night blade's enchantment by 1d8 more weeks if he or she deems that the character has used the magical weapon in a fashion that has further pleased the Goddess of the Night.
To become a priest or priestess of Ela, a player character needs a Wisdom score of 9 and a Dexterity score of 12. Any chaotic-aligned character who meets these requirements may join the priesthood by applying at one of Ela's temples; promising candidates who appear before the keepers of one of the shrines are directed to the temples in either Saarmen or Brechlen. Applicants are brought to a special chamber within the temple that is subject to several permanent darkness, 15 radius spells. There, they must navigate the Maze of Night, a labyrinth fraught with traps and other hazards designed to weed out those who fail to offer proper respect to the Goddess of Night's preferred environment.
After a short training period to instruct the candidate in the ways of Ela, the character can take his or her vows of fealty and secrecy and become priests of the faith. However, new members of the clergy are not taught the secret of the church's connection to the Quick Fingers guild until after they have risen one experience level while a member of the priesthood.
Daggers, darts, crossbows, slings, and short swords are permitted to members of the clergy, as is leather armor, but not shields. ln addition, priests of Ela gain the special abilities of a thief of half their own level (rounded up), as well as infravision to 30 feet. They can cast darkness, 15' radius once a day as a granted power and can command undead. Priests of Ela receive the religion (Ela) nonweapon proficiency as a bonus at 1st level and may select other thief nonweapon proficiencies as if they were thieves. (See The Book of Priestcraft for more details on these abilities.) Priests of Ela can cast spells from the Animal and Chaos spheres (see Tome of Magic), as well as Charm, Divination, and Sun as major spheres. Such priests also have minor access to the All, Healing, and Necromantic spheres. Ela's Quick Fingers priests all favor illusion and dis-guise spells to aid their subtle trickery. They also favor the following spells introduced in The Book of Priestcraft: circle of secrets, imbue with blood ability (third-level spells); magical tithe, consecrate relic (realm spells); and daythief (quest spell).
The priests of Ela's Quick Fingers are entrusted with a special spell that allows them to enforce strict codes of secrecy upon guild members and others who may have stumbled onto something Fulda considers "sensitive information."
Code of Secrecy
(Enchantment/Charm) Sphere: Charm Level: 5 Range: Touch Components: V, S, M Duration: Varies Casting time: 1 round Area of effect: One creature Saving throw: Neg. In order to safeguard some of the best-kept secrets of the Quick Fingers guild and church, its priests make it physically impossible for a target creature to speak of a specific subject forbid-den by the spell. A successful casting prevents any communication whatso-ever about the forbidden topic: speech, writing, hand signals, painting or other symbology, etc. Should the affected creature attempt to break the secret, he or she ends up talking about (or communicating in another manner) a completely unrelated matter: the menu at lunch, his or her opinion of the mayor's recent speech, and so on, as the DM decides. Not only can the target not reveal the secret, he or she cannot even speak of the forbidden topic. During the casting, the priest exhorts the target creature to remain silent about a certain fact. It's in the caster's best interests to be as specific as possible, for the more general the forbidden topic is, the shorter the spell's duration. For example, consider the various degrees of secrecy:
- A General Secret: "A guild called Ela's Quick Fingers exists in Muden." Duration: 1 day/caster level.
- A Specific Secret: "Ela's Quick Fingers guild works in conjunction with the temple of Ela." Duration: 1 week/caster level.
- A Very Specific Secret: "Fulda Spiritwalker leads both Ela's Quick Fingers guild and the temple of Ela." Duration: 1 month/caster level.
- An Explicit Secret: "Behind a plaque of a black dagger in the east hall of the Basilica's basement level lies a secret door that will open up onto a staircase leading down into the Quick Fingers guild's headquarters if one speaks the password correctly." Duration: 1 year/caster level.
Each secret to be enforced requires a separate spellcasting. This spell can be cast only upon intelligent targets (i.e., those with an Intelligence of at least 3). Wisdom bonuses apply to the target creature's saving throw. The spells material component is a piece of animal tongue.
Ela's priests, once they have achieved a level of experience while servants of the church, also have at their disposal a spell that offers them some useful skills: Ela's Blessings (Enchantment/Charm) Sphere: Charm Level: 3 Range: 0 Components: V, S, M Duration: 1 hour/level Casting time: 1 round Area of effect: Caster Saving throw: N/A Once a priest has spent enough time in the faith of Ela's Quick Fingers, he or she learns that the church embraces some of the thieving habits of the denizens of the night, whom the goddess protects. This spell gives the priest the special thieving skills of a thief of his or her level for its duration. For example, a 5th-level priest, after casting this spell, gains the base thieving skill scores (PP 15%, OL 10%, F/RT 5%, MS 10%, HS 5%, DN 15%, CW 60%, RL 0%), plus racial, armor, and Dexterity adjustments and the 180 discretionary points the priest would have as a 5th-level thief. The priest can allocate the points differently each time the spell is cast, but players are encouraged to adopt a standard set of scores for their character when under the effect of this spell, to speed play. The normal restrictions to point allocation described for the thief class in the Player's Handbook apply. The priest can cast this enchantment only on himself or herself. Its material component is the symbol of Ela.
If a PC of at least 5th level becomes the regent of Ela's Quick Fingers faith (or founds a new arm of the church outside Muden), the PC can cast the following reversed version of the honest dealings realm spell: Dishonest Dealings Spheres: Charm, Law Regency: 3/province level Req'd holding: 3 Character level: 5 Gold: 2 GB Duration: 1 domain turn +1 month/level This realm spell creates a charm effect that guides citizens of affected provinces toward deceit in all negotiations and business practices. It allows most agitate and espionage actions to succeed automatically, pursuant to the DM's approval; this spell does not allow PCs to assassinate the Gorgon, for example! The DM should feel free to assess bonuses to agitate and espionage actions where it seems inappropriate to allow them automatic success. Dishonest dealings also gives diplomacy actions a +4 bonus and improves guild holdings two levels for collection purposes in affected provinces. Law enforcement officials and anyone else who intentionally tries to foil some criminal activity (for no personal gain) must make a saving throw vs. spell to determine whether their crime-fighting attempt succeeds. Priests may affect one province at 5th level, two at 7th, three at 9th, etc.
Customs & Duties of the Priesthood
Most members of Ela's priesthood clothe themselves in the style they believe the goddess herself favors when she walks the land: Loose clothing and capes of dark colors that allow their wearers to fade into the background or shadowy corners. (Of course, they wear finer-quality clothing for rituals.) At their ceremony of ordination, they earn the privilege of carrying a black dagger, the symbol of the goddess. At the DM's discretion, high-ranking priests of Ela's Quick Fingers may wear vestments of defense, a magical item introduced in The Book of Priestcraft. Ela's clergy takes care of her temples and her far-flung shrines and participates in the thrice-weekly public services in honor of their patron goddess (as well as the rites held daily one hour after dusk for Quick Fingers guild members). Perhaps these priests' most important duty, however, is the least visible one.
Fulda Spiritwalker has instructed her clergy members to keep accounts of the assets of everyone of import in the communities they serve. The priests of Ela make it their business to know the financial status of all members of vari¬ous local guilds and all political players. It's important for them to know every¬body's business, Fulda says-especially the financial side of their affairs-so they can determine whether donors to the temple have given sufficiently of their wealth to insure success in their future ventures. The records are kept in a vast repository in the temples of Brechlen and Saarmen.
To assist in this venture, Ela's priest-hood commands the power of the fol-lowing enchantment, a more specialized version of the charm person or mammal spell: Ela's Accounts (Enchantment/Charm) Sphere: Animal Level: 2 Range: Touch Components: V, S Duration: 1 hour Casting time: 5 Area of effect: 1 person Saving throw: Special When the time comes for Ela's church to update its financial records, her priests must each take a turn visiting local merchants and other business folk, usually in pairs. While the subject is conversing with one of the priests, the other can casually approach and cast Ela's accounts. When the priests then ask the charmed subject for details of his cur¬rent financial situation, the victim is magically compelled to recount his properties, income, and holdings to the best of his knowledge. The caster can ask to see various items the subject mentions in particular, allowing the other priest to use his appraising proficiency to calculate the objects approximate value. The subject finds himself unable and unwilling to lie or withhold information requested specifically. When the priests depart, the subject has no memory of having divulged these details, only that he or she had a conversation with a couple of priests from the Quick Fingers temple. The spell does not affect the subjects attitude toward the caster in any way (though the church usually sends representatives who have a good rapport with the subject), nor does it give the caster control over the subject beyond the compulsion to reveal his or her financial secrets. Only other priests of Ela's Quick Fingers can attempt a saving throw against this spell. If successful, the save negates the spell's effects, and the sub-ject knows that a fellow priest has attempted to charm him. It is considered inappropriate to cast this spell on comrades of the faith, however, unless under orders from a superior.
Accounting calls, as described in the "Quick Fingers Adventures" sidebar, can provide adventure opportunities for priests of Ela's Quick Fingers who find the call of wealth too strong to resist. More than one priest has been known to accompany a group of acquaintances from the Quick Fingers guild on "unofficial" missions to relieve wealthy citizens of particularly fine items. Of course, the church frowns on such behavior-unless it receives at least half of the item's value in tithe, of course. As Ela's guild activity increases throughout the domain of Muden, exist-ing shrines to the goddess will become temples, and new shrines and temples will appear in other provinces-perhaps even in neighboring realms. This growth potential offers a blooded PC Quick Fingers priest an opportunity to become a regent of a new branch of the faith. Anyone taking up regency of a holding within Muden must serve as a vassal to Fulda Spiritwalker, the high priestess, offering at least a quarter of all GB generated each domain turn to the temple in Brechlen. Those who expand the faith to other realms, however, operate beyond Fulda's sphere of influence at present and need offer her no such fealty.
Unlike PCs seeking to join Ela's Quick Fingers faith, those wishing to become members of the guild of the Sister of Thieves need meet no specific ability score requirements nor face weapons or other restrictions. The wide range of duties the guild oversees means that the organization needs members of all talents and abilities. That's the good news. The bad news is that joining the guild is no easy matter, for the organization does not openly acknowledge its existence. PCs might conceivably find out about the guild after listening to the word on the street in Saarmen or Brechlen. However, no mem¬ber of the guild will acknowledge its existence to a PC seeking to join. If the character visits one of Ela's temples or shrines seeing guild membership, he or she receives the same response; especially difficult customers will be ushered off the premises. PCs can't find the guild. However, the guild can find them, once its had an opportunity to see them in action. Those who practice any type of illegal activity without guild sanction soon receive a visit from a representative, who explains that such conduct isn't allowed. Even before this contact, however, the Quick Fingers operative will have watched the PC long enough to determine whether he or she has the proper skills and character for the guild's needs. If the PC passes this discreet inspection, the guild member follows up his warning with an invitation for the character to meet "a friend of mine" at a guild-run establishment: a tavern, a shop, but never the temple. At that meeting, the PC is offered a circumspect invitation and told the bounds of permitted behavior. The PC is also given a hint of what might happen should he or she choose to go beyond those bounds. The guild continues watching new members for a few weeks or months- until they have proven themselves trust-worthy. At first, PCs might think that, in exchange for their hefty annual dues (100 gp), all they receive in return is per-mission to practice their own con game or mode of thievery. Bit by bit, however, members learn more information about the group they have joined. It can take years before PCs begin to understand the scope of the Quick Fingers guild, but eventually they learn that the paltry 100 gp (plus a percentage of earned income) is nothing compared to the kind of wealth one can earn as a member of the Quick Fingers. Some of the things PCs can learn:
- The guild's membership numbers are not widely known, but most members are given to believe that 75 percent of its members are street-level workers (beggars, pickpockets, etc.). Another 20 percent are mid-level operatives, who perform enforcement duties and operate the guild's black market efforts (see next page). The final 5 percent are the elite of the Quick Fingers: the most specialized of its members and the "bosses" of its many ongoing projects. These elite receive their orders straight from the top.
- PCs generally have a guild assignment at all times, whether a specific mission or merely orders to continue in his or her normal line of criminal activity. More unusual members, like couriers or assassins, can enjoy some "off time" between assignments and might need to keep a normal job to help pay the bills or stave off suspicion.
- A PC must check in monthly with his superior (at the beginning, the "friend" who recruited the PC) at a designated meeting place or, after he or she has spent some time with the guild (i.e., gone up one level while a member) at the local headquarters. At these meet-ings, the member discusses his recent
activities on the guild's behalf, hands over the guild's cut of his or her profits (50%) or receives pay for a recent "job," and is expected to mention anything out of the ordinary he or she might have witnessed lately. After one missed appointment, the errant guild member is reminded that if you don't come to the guild, the guild comes to you (see "Behavior Modification," below).
- The guild can offer its members a number of "deals," such as a discounted rate of interest on loans (see below), the best mission training available for those chosen to undertake special jobs (offers PCs a bonus of +10 percentage points to thieving skills appropriate to the mission for the duration of the job only), gifts of equipment or cash bonuses for those who surpass their superiors' expectations, and so on. In addition, if a member in good standing is caught performing illegal guild duties through unforeseeable circumstances, the Quick Fingers network ensures that the member goes free or at least receives the minimum sentencing. Important guild figures can even count on their comrades breaking them out of jail, if the need arises.
- No one can reveal the guilds secrets and get away with it. On the first meeting with his or her superior in the guild, a character meets a priest of Ela as well and has a taste of the code of silence spell described earlier, just so the character sees firsthand the power of his or her new organization.
- Once you join, you're a member for life. The guild has been known to extend leaves of absence to exemplary members under unusual circumstances, but on the whole, there's no leaving the Quick Fingers. PCs allowed to leave Muden are subjected to the code of silence spell. Members who attempt to escape the guild's sphere of influence without permission, however, are hunted down by multi- or dual-classed fighter-thieves (two experience levels higher than the highest-level renegade mem¬ber) and quietly "removed."
The guild offers a bewildering array of duties for its members, from messengers and fences to more straightforward thieves. Below is a small sampling of the types of duties player characters might receive as part of the Quick Fingers operation. The DM might also use these "services" as a way to bring a party of PCs into contact with the guild for the first time.
- Behavior Modification: One can hire the guild to "convince" a target to think or act a certain way through the power of suggestion (read: threats) at a cost of 100 gp per level of the target (minimum 100 gp cost). The guild doubles the price for council members, multiplies it by five for a mayor or equivalent, and increases it by a factor of ten for a regents lieutenant. The price of behavior modification for a regent is 10,000 gp per level. The fee must be paid whether the modification attempt succeeds or not.
- Bonebreaking: Any kind of bodily harm against a target is considered part of this service. Once the "job" is done, immediate medical attention and the immobilization of a limb is generally necessary. If the target bribes the bone-breakers, the severity of the harm can be lessened to, say, only a weeks medical care. The price of this service is double that of behavior modification.
- Elimination Services: This service involves one simple fact: death. The guild's assassins will take bribes from the target to employ a painless method. Murder, being an expensive business, is three times the price of the behavior modification.
- Loans: The Quick Fingers guild is a good source for a fast pocketful of coins. A surcharge of 50 percent per month (20 percent for guild members) is added until the client pays the balance. If the borrower doesn't make payments sufficient to chip away at the original amount of the loan within three months, refer to "behavior modification." After four and a half months, the guild sends out its bone-breakers. After six months, refer to "elimination services." All the negligent bor¬rower's possessions are then processed through "resale fronts" (see next page).
- Black Market: The "black market is a pretty loose category. Without get¬ting too explicit, this arm of the Quick Fingers guild buys and sells anything illegal and immoral (except stolen goods, covered in "resale fronts"). Objects, creatures, humanoids, food, and information all can be bought and sold to the guild through this department. Characters should expect to pay five times the price listed in the Player's Handbook for the goods in question. For living creatures, the purchaser must pay at least 1 gp per experience point.
- Resale Fronts: This service sells products of questionable ownership at prices that range from 0 to 45 percent
Quick Fingers Adventures
The following examples are only a sampling of the Quick Fingers' ongoing concerns. DMs should feel free to adapt them to suit their own campaigns or to use the information from the Havens of the Great Bay accessory to extrapolate other ideas. These ideas suit both situations in which the PCs are working for the Quick Fingers cooperative and those in which they work against it.
A Family Affair
Ela's Quick Fingers' guildmaster has learned that Brecht Seelundkaufen is running illegal logging operations in the domain of Treucht southwest of Muden. The loggers have engaged in this activity without the knowledge of the guildmas-ter or the bureau lieutenants. Should they be caught in the act, a political confrontation could break out between Muden and Treucht. The loggers' illegal guild actions bring in about 2 GB per domain turn of pure profit—"pure" in that the loggers pay no taxes or guild shares. Right now, Fulda Spiritwalker is still pondering what action the Quick Fingers should take. Should she seek a share of the cut in exchange for silence? Should she just ignore the activity out of her commitment to staying out of the affairs of her uncle, who runs the Brecht Seelundkaufen? Or, should she report the logging to the authorities to avoid a possibly explosive situation when the government of Treucht finds out about the illegal operation?
A pair of PC priests of Ela are sent to Allesrecht on an "accounting call" (5d10 - 5) of the Player's Handbook price. Guild members under the guise of legiti-mate merchants and storekeepers will buy property no questions asked—unless it's irrefutably property stolen from the guild itself (then see "Bonebreaking"). Conducting the above underground activities without belonging to the guild will create one "friendly" confrontational reminder between a character and a Quick Fingers guild member. The erring PC should consider this meeting a very strong warning to either cease and desist all illicit activities immediately, or simply join the guild. Thereafter, the continuing offender becomes subject to the "bonebreaking" services described above (starting with fingers and toes). It should be noted that Ela's priests keep accounts of the assets of Quick Fingers guild members as well as those of other local guilds and organizations. Should the priests ever discover a Quick Fingers guild member who has swindled the guild or temple in any way, they immediately report the news to Fulda. She makes certain that such perpetrators are lauded for their ingenuity at deceiving the deceivers—then finds a suitable (described elsewhere in this article). A number of thieves faithful to the goddess accompany them, planning to make con-tact with a guild member trying to strengthen the Quick Fingers' holding in that province. As it turns out, the guild member has been arrested for peddling stolen goods, a crime he didn't commit-but which the subject of the call did! If the PCs don't break the guild member out of jail and expose the truth, the guild may lose its foothold in the province entirely.
Project Stake and Dagger
Melisande Reaversbane, captain of Muden's Royal Fleet, fears that the Count of the realm has concentrated far too little on the actions of the Vampire, whose domain lies west of Muden. Rumors of the awnshegh's involvement with the Swordhawk of Massenmarch, Muden's longtime enemy, have led her to believe that the two have formed a pact to conquer Brechtur and share its spoils. She believes the awnsheghlien too dangerous to ignore—therefore, she has taken matters into her own hands. With the help of Ela's Quick Fingers guild, she has specially trained seven warriors under a program Melisande calls Project Stake and Dagger. Once her team of swordsmen, assassins, thieves, and propaganda artists was shaped to perfection, they were unleashed onto an unsuspecting Vampire's Hold. Meanwhile, the Quick Fingers guild did its part to spread the word that the Vampire was collecting an army of darkness—a mob of crea¬tures of shadow and myth to avenge every wrong ever committed against him, be it fact or fiction. During this apocalypse, the story goes, nightmares will become tangible, and reality will be distorted to horrific hallucinations. punishment. If Ela favors the victim, she'll find a way to save him.
Quick Fingers at Work
The church's center of power lies in Brechlen, Muden's capital city in the province of Wesbralen. There, Fulda Spiritwalker conducts services in the Grotto of the Evening Star, the largest temple complex devoted to the goddess in all of Cerilia. This magnificent structure is built atop natural hot springs and conceals a grand cave complex with tunnels that lead to many secret locales. (For more details on the worship of Ela in Brechlen, see Eloele's section in The Book of Priestcraft.) However, the combined church and guild enjoy their greatest sway in the
In the two years since Project Stake and Dagger infiltrated the awnshegh's realm, the team has succeeded in creat-ing dissension in the Vampire's population, but their presence has been seen and felt. The awnshegh knows they came from Muden, and he seeks revenge through his experiments designed to tap in to the subliminal aspects of the Shadow World. These insidious attacks have also caused him, ironically, to meet with the Swordhawk to discuss plans to nullify the threat from Muden.
Brutal Vos criminals are moving in on the territory belonging to Entractengild, a group of thieves working the highways of Allesrecht, Cohrtab, and Golbrag for the Quick Fingers organization. Its illu¬sionist leader, Kirsten Windhaufen (FBr; W4; CN) tells the guild that these indis¬criminate murderers commit the most unsavory crimes in the name of theft and asks for assistance in quashing them. This small clan of thugs, which fled to Muden from the realm of Rzhlev to the north, actually serves a Vos war-priest of Belenik, who is trying to estab¬lish a temple foothold in Muden.
A rift leading to the Shadow World opens suddenly in the province of Ubalmulen, and undead pour into Cerilia. Ela, more interested than other deities in interfering in the affairs of mortals, tells the PCs in a vision that the creatures seek to destroy Genevieve Streicher, the half-elf leader of the Quick Fingers guild. The goddess will not close the shadowy pas¬sage until the PCs learn why.
province of Hauptrehr, home of Saarmen—the domain's second largest city and its major outgoing port. Saarmen's temple, the Basilica of Ela's Suppression of Shadows, is the largest synagogue in Saarmen. According to Ela's clergy, its name evokes the goddess's ability to control the Shadow World. Services are held for the general public three times a week, but daily for the clergy themselves, as well as members of the Quick Fingers guild.
The temple's holdings in smaller provinces consist only of small shrines to the goddess, where the faithful may come to pray or leave offerings. These shrines are administered by low-ranking priests; this can be an excellent assign-ment for low-level PC priests of Ela who are not attached to either of Muden's large cities.
City-dwellers notice plenty of move-ment in and around Ela's two major temples at all times—day or night. Some people think "funny business" goes on there, while others believe the church is involved in some sort of underground business dealings. If only they knew that the Quick Fingers guild operates from out of those very temples! The guild's headquarters lie hidden away in the deepest sublevels beneath the temples, behind numerous secret doors and wards. These headquarters serve as administrative centers, meeting places, and treasuries (not as barracks for guild members). So great is the skill of Quick Fingers guild members that no connection between Ela's temple and criminal activity has ever been proven.
The internal politics of local govern¬ing councils can be messy at times-especially with Ela's Quick Fingers in attendance. For instance, of the 41 members of the Saarmen council, five serve the greedy needs of ha's Quick Fingers guild (even though anyone would be hard pressed to determine which five they are, for no one admits to being in league with the secret group), while another three envoys represent Ela's Suppression of Shadows. The situation is much the same in Brechlen (basically, each temple and guild has one representative per point of holding strength).
These delegates, like those represent¬ing other special interest groups, have a great deal of power in local councils. They have been known to "buy" votes and even purchase voting rights by rent¬ing a council members signet ring for a day and using it to stamp official documents that serve their own purposes.
Usually such misuse of power is not brought to the publics view—except when it aids one special interest group to do so. For example, the Brecht Seelundkaufen guild recently informed the public of the passage of a law that would allow the sale of stolen goods 90 days after the property was reported missing. The law allegedly was thrown into the council by representatives from Ela's Quick Fingers guild, and 8,000 gp were "donated" to 27 other council members to purchase one days use of their signet rings. That day, the council passed the law 32 votes to 3 (including six absentees or no votes). Of course, those 27 council members were either on vacation or home with a case of the flu and denied voting or renting their rings to other council members to make the all-important voting stamps.
Count Richard Talbehr (MBr; F4; Br, major, 30), official regent of Muden, knows that the existence of the Quick Fingers guild is more than just idle specu¬lation, although he has no idea of its connection to the high priestess of the local temple. The count disapproves of the guild's presence, but his chief ally, Melisande Reaversbane (FBr; F9; Br, minor 19) keeps his attention focused on threats outside its borders,
such as neighboring awnsheglien and the pirate king of Grabentod to the north. Despite the counts predilection toward law and order, the guild network has managed to remain just outside of his attentions. And the church of Ela has managed to remain above suspicion, for the most part. After all, the more tithes Mudenites donate, the less likely they are to be robbed—what more proof of the god-dess's power could one want? asks Fulda Spiritwalker. (Of course, its easier to have people give you money than it is to steal it.) Even the poor of the realm remain strong supporters of the church, for they find that even their meager contributions keep them fairly safe from the denizens of the night. True, the Quick Fingers do tend to target wealthy citizens more than the lower classes, but not due to any feeling of charity—they go where the money is.
Quick Fingers Allies
Eight known bands of thieves and murderers work in Muden. Ela's Quick Fingers church and guild has contacts with most of them and receives a small cut from the profits in return for the trav¬el vouchers of merchant houses. PCs might find themselves sent to offer instructions to one of these groups, train them for a new assignment, or lead the group in a mission vital to the guild.
- The Commercial Recreants (a dozen Brecht fighters of 1st and 2nd level) are a bit totalitarian and violent with their victims. They tend to over¬react and hurt (or even kill) people when they believe they've been provoked. Luckily their realm of influence is small, polluting only the provinces of Nodarch and Ruelshegh.
- The Quick Fingers have given Entractengild (20 Brecht thieves of 2nd and 3rd level, led by a 4th-level illusion-ist) exclusive rights to work the high¬ways of the provinces of Allesrecht, Cohrtab, and Golbrag.
- The Highwaymen (more than two dozen Brecht and Khinasi fighters of 2nd level on the average), a vicious mass of murderers, prowl the provinces of Cohrtab, Golbrag, Trestahlen, and Wesbralen.
- Kliegclan (a handful of Brecht thieves of 3rd level on the average) is an almost unknown group that robs mer-chant trains in secret when they stop for the evening. This gang runs in the Allesrecht and Wesbralen provinces and in the neighboring domain of Treucht.
- The Journeymen (about a dozen Brecht bards of 4th level) work in the provinces of Marchbehr, Ruelshegh, and Ubalmulen, as well as in the Banshegh's domain and the realm of Rhuelgard. They're known for enticing wealthy trav-elers with their songs and stories before making off with their valuables.
- The Road Wolves (15 Rjurik fighters and thieves of about 2nd level) work with some success in Hauptrehr, Kostwode, and Nodarch provinces.
- Robengild (30 halfling and Brecht thieves of 4th level or higher) is the rich-est and most influential band in Muden. Working Hauptrehr, Kostwode, Marchbehr, and places in the domain of Berhagen, they're known for their patience, calm manners, and polite demands. Some merchants and other frequent travelers consider it a point of pride to be robbed by Robengild.
- The Toll Trolls (about a half-dozen goblins) work the Trestahlen and Ubalmulen provinces with little prosperity.
In addition to these bands, Ela's Quick Fingers enjoy good relations with various leading citizens of Muden, including:
- Elsa Darindorf (FBr; W3; Br, minor, 24), daughter of one of Saarmen's lead-ing businessmen, enjoys her life of priv-ilege. Often, this erstwhile mage's new-found (and rich) friends in Brechlen ask her to deliver small packages or mes-sages to protect themselves from pos-sible indictment or jail time. She happily delivers all of them, and so far, she's never been arrested or even approached by the constabulary (almost as though the authorities consider her too foolish to be guilty of any crime). These pack¬ages, of course, are part of the Quick Fingers illicit courier network. The DM might choose to make a PC an unwitting accessory to the Quick Fingers in much the same way Elsa is.
- Melisande Reaversbane, men-tioned earlier, is Captain of Muden's Royal Fleet and a lieutenant to the count. She is well loved in the bayshore provinces and well feared by Muden's enemies for her military know-how. She maintains ties with the Quick Fingers guild in order to finance the training of candidates for secret military projects (see Project Stake and Dagger in the "Quick Fingers Adventures" sidebar). This training involved such behaviors as sneaking about in the shadows, ways to lacerate the neck so the victim can't scream, and ways to break into a house silently without leaving a trace. However, if the captain harbors assassi¬nation plans, she has not offered the guild any details.
Foes of the Guild and Temple
Not surprisingly, the Quick Fingers have few public enemies, as those who vocalize their discontent with either temple or guild have the habit of disap-pearing. In general, Ela's faith opposes the activities of the churches of Haelyn, god of noble war; Avani, goddess of the sun and reason; and Laerme, goddess of fire, beauty, and art. However, none of these churches maintain a presence in Muden (perhaps that fact explains itself). A number of guilds and public figures do attempt to foil the activities of the Quick Fingers from time to time, how-ever, and a PC guild member might be assigned to surveillance duty involving one of them (or be hunted by their agents). These enemies include:
- The Brecht Seelundkaufen, the most powerful guild in Muden, consists of several bureaus that each specialize in a particular profession. A small sampling of the bureaus include the Blacksmiths' Weld, the Butchers' Block, the Dock-hands' Quay, the Lightsmithies' Weld, the Lumberjacks Board, the Miners' Well, the Ranchers' Stall, the Sailors' Jaunt, the Shippers' Dispatch, and the Shipwrights' Founding, to name only a few. Together, they pose a great force throughout Muden, for all bureaus are willing to strike against an employer or business that treats a single bureau unjustly. Such solidarity can easily run a target out of business.
The guild, whose main interests lie in the lumber and shipping industry, is con-trolled by Theofold (MHIf; T9; Mu, minor, 18), a lieutenant to the Count of Muden. This old halfling knows of the existence of Ela's Quick Fingers guild and despises its activities. He has said, however, that he's willing to leave the guild alone, as long as the Quick Fingers do not prey upon the Seelundkaufen's bureaus. Theofold even attends services at the temples of Ela every now and then, and he is very proud of his niece, Fulda Spiritwalker, for attaining the post of high priestess. He has no inkling of her involvement with the hated Quick Fingers guild—and Fulda intends to keep it that way.
- Stefen Negus (MBr; W3), the silent mayor of Saarmen, remembers what its like to be "one of the little guys," and he has vowed to protect the rights of the individual over the interests of those who own businesses. Since he entered office, several business owners have found themselves working hard labor in prisons in the Hauptrehr province. Idle tongues in Saarmen speculate as to how long it will be before a consortium of local business¬men hires the Quick Fingers guild to do the mayor in. The one thing that may have saved him until now is that he rarely makes it into the public eye.