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    Canonfire :: View topic - Replacements for Factions in D&D 5E
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    Replacements for Factions in D&D 5E
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Dec 27, 2019 10:46 am  
    Replacements for Factions in D&D 5E

    Princes of the Apocalypse D&D 5E hardcover recommends the following replacement:

    Quote:
    The Harpers = The Circle of Eight
    The Order of the Gauntlet = The Church of St. Cuthbert (Trithereon might be a better choice for Naerie, as he is an outlawed religion that must operate in secret)
    The Emerald Enclave = The Old Faith (worshipers of Beory, the Oerth Mother)
    The Lords' Alliance = (any of the various knightly orders of the Flanaess; or, I suggest the Idee Volunteers, which is a group of rebels who seek to overthrow the government of the Principality of Naerie and restore it to former Idee)
    The Zhentarim = The Thieves' Guild of Greyhawk (more appropriate for Naerie however, would be the nearby Scarlet Brotherhood).


    These seem to fit for the most part, and they make sense to me, but I still need some guidance. This is planned for campaign starting around CY 576 for reference.

    First for The Lord's Alliance. Okay which Knightly Order would be likely to be trying to set up a regional lawful confederation? Would one of the orders be able to dispatch agents across the Flananess? Would a loosely allied of leaders from Knightly orders be more likely?

    Second The Zhentarim: Does the Thieves' Guild of Greyhawk actually have reach across that many nations? With their penchant for influencing thrones and stuff, I'm inclined to have the Scarlet Brotherhood behind it, but operating openly as some Innocent sounding trading company. Maybe have the connection made common knowledge during the events that constitute the Greyhawk wars there.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Fri Dec 27, 2019 11:24 pm  

    As a far reaching subversive group, the Scarlet Brotherhood is a much better choice to replace the Zhentarim than the Greyhawk Thieves' Guild.
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    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

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    Sat Dec 28, 2019 1:12 am  

    Cebrion wrote:
    As a far reaching subversive group, the Scarlet Brotherhood is a much better choice to replace the Zhentarim than the Greyhawk Thieves' Guild.


    I always felt that the Zhentarin were the FR version of the Scarlet Brotherhood. WoW seemed to have lifted the SB pretty much wholesale
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    Sat Dec 28, 2019 2:31 pm  

    Remember, these are replacements, as you pointed out in your post. Rather than equivalents.
    They don't necessarily share the same goals or motives as their counterparts in the Forgotten Realms.
    It's not just, like, a name-switch and then they play the same way.
    In my game, I make sure they retain the same motives and behave the same ways as they would normally in WoG.
    So, even though the factions have a particular bent or certain things they do, I make sure that doesn't conflict with the goals or behavior they normally have. I've seen it a lot from Princes of the Apocalypse that some people try to make the GH factions fit into the FR ones.
    For me, personally, I try to make it the other way around.

    As far as the ones you asked about
    Lord's Alliance - I think something like Shieldlanders would be appropriate. Maybe Knights of Holy Shielding. Knights of Luna certainly have "national" interest, as well. Or even Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom might be interested in trying to span the entire region, trying to preserve the GK's purpose. Knight's of the Hart are certainly already an organization of knights from three different realms: Veluna, Furyondy, and the High Forest.

    Zhentarim - I think the Thieves' Guild of GH is a better fit than the SB, personally. While they may not have as wide-reaching plans internationally, they certainly have as much impact just by influencing the Free City which in turn impacts the rest of the region.
    Also, I think they fit better theme-wise. I don't think the motives of the SB really are quite the same as the Zhentarim. I think the TG is closer, even though the SB has the more world-spanning thing going on. The Zhents aren't based on racial world domination, they're more about forcing people to deal with them, and "protection" money. and they are certainly a near mafia kind of group who does shady stuff but has a good public face because people think they're doing good for them.
    I do realize some of that can be pushed into defining the SB, too but, I don't really think it's a better fit than the Thieves' Guild.
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    Sat Dec 28, 2019 9:37 pm  

    I will definitely be looking into the Knights of the Hart. I wanted an "international" flavor to the group. Would it be appropriate for a lone member of that order to be investigating possible threats to the in neighboring regions? (not so much Iuz, he's a relatively known threat, but maybe looking to keep tabs on certain temples near Hommlet, growing powers of bandit kings, that sort of thing)

    I honestly haven't read much about the Thieves's Guild of Greyhawk. While I assumed that they had one, as it's mentioned in the Gord novels, but there's not much flesh to it. Also no real personalities and larger goals that stood to me. Likely, as with many things Greyhawk, I just haven't read the right sources yet. :D Yay reading!

    but these conversations help me get a handle on the differences between FR and Greyhawk. Scale is an important factor.
    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

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    Sat Dec 28, 2019 11:03 pm  

    mindseye wrote:
    I will definitely be looking into the Knights of the Hart. I wanted an "international" flavor to the group. Would it be appropriate for a lone member of that order to be investigating possible threats to the in neighboring regions? (not so much Iuz, he's a relatively known threat, but maybe looking to keep tabs on certain temples near Hommlet, growing powers of bandit kings, that sort of thing)

    I honestly haven't read much about the Thieves's Guild of Greyhawk. While I assumed that they had one, as it's mentioned in the Gord novels, but there's not much flesh to it. Also no real personalities and larger goals that stood to me. Likely, as with many things Greyhawk, I just haven't read the right sources yet. :D Yay reading!

    but these conversations help me get a handle on the differences between FR and Greyhawk. Scale is an important factor.


    Keep in mind that a lot of what you will hear are later versions of the campaign that vary wildly in quality, style, direction and tone. Gygax promised us a City of Greyhawk and he had something noted out but nothing was ever completed or released during his time leading TSR. After he was forced out there was a City of Greyhawk boxed set. I'm not a big fan of it or most of the post-Gygax publshed material but it does offer details and you might find information on the CoG Thieves Guild that would benefit your campaign. For myself I'm looking at developing the a more Lankhmaresque City of Greyhawk with the new 5e campaign Im running.
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    Sun Dec 29, 2019 12:04 am  

    So there would be a difference between the Gods inGreyhawk versus the Gods of Greyhawk?
    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

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    Sun Dec 29, 2019 12:19 am  

    mindseye wrote:
    So there would be a difference between the Gods inGreyhawk versus the Gods of Greyhawk?


    Gygax definitely had Gods bobbing around, he even wasted a lot of ink stating them out, but in the other post where you were talking about superheroes and heroes you might note that it wasn't till the post Gygax years that Oerth-shaking, campaign disrupting events made their way to the published setting.

    My Greyhawk campaigns don't get that high level and don't tend to be involved in big events. The Gods are generally seen and not heard and preferably not seen so questions arise about their actually existence and a force channeled by believers, but NPCs definitely believe in the Gods.
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    Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:52 am  

    mindseye wrote:
    So there would be a difference between the Gods inGreyhawk versus the Gods of Greyhawk?

    As far as conjunctive phrases, no, there's no difference between the two grammatically.
    Unless one wants to draw some pedantic linguistic difference based on "in" or "of", there's no difference.
    There is certainly a difference in which authors wrote them, or when different gods details were published but, there's not a difference in deities of the setting based on which is "in" GH or "of" GH.
    They are what they are.
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    Mon Dec 30, 2019 9:10 am  

    Icarus wrote:
    mindseye wrote:
    So there would be a difference between the Gods inGreyhawk versus the Gods of Greyhawk?

    As far as conjunctive phrases, no, there's no difference between the two grammatically.
    Unless one wants to draw some pedantic linguistic difference based on "in" or "of", there's no difference.
    There is certainly a difference in which authors wrote them, or when different gods details were published but, there's not a difference in deities of the setting based on which is "in" GH or "of" GH.
    They are what they are.


    This was actually meant to refer to Lankhmar, as Leiber wrote it, where there was a very big difference between the gods in Lankhmar, (basically a series of Cultists who begged for worshipers) and the gods of Lankhmar who were undead monsters who would come forth to defend the city in times of need (although even they were not omnipotent.)
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Dec 30, 2019 9:40 am  

    mindseye wrote:
    This was actually meant to refer to Lankhmar, as Leiber wrote it, where there was a very big difference between the gods in Lankhmar, (basically a series of Cultists who begged for worshipers) and the gods of Lankhmar who were undead monsters who would come forth to defend the city in times of need (although even they were not omnipotent.)
    Fair enough.
    I've never read Leiber enough to know.
    But, while not a grammatical issue, then the response is still valid enough.
    There's not a difference in deities.
    The gods are what the gods are.
    Whether someone uses them or not, or they like the stats and power levels given to them in various editions, or like who wrote them, which pantheon the belong to, or whatever

    Gods are gods. They are what they are.
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    Mon Dec 30, 2019 10:22 pm  

    Happy

    Completely right in Greyhawk the gods are gods. I was trying to tease whether there would be wrathful mummies rising to defend the Free City of Greyhawk the next time Iuz stuck his nose in town, not trying to step on St. Cuthbert's toes.
    Laughing

    As a side note, from reading Night Arrant Gord is so meant to be the Mouser, and Chert is a capable stand in for Fafhrd. This is not meant to disparage Gygax in any way, it's a nice Homage, and the rest of the series differentiates Gord sufficiently.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Tue Dec 31, 2019 4:17 am  

    Icarus wrote:
    Zhentarim - I think the Thieves' Guild of GH is a better fit than the SB, personally. While they may not have as wide-reaching plans internationally, they certainly have as much impact just by influencing the Free City which in turn impacts the rest of the region.
    Also, I think they fit better theme-wise. I don't think the motives of the SB really are quite the same as the Zhentarim. I think the TG is closer, even though the SB has the more world-spanning thing going on. The Zhents aren't based on racial world domination, they're more about forcing people to deal with them, and "protection" money. and they are certainly a near mafia kind of group who does shady stuff but has a good public face because people think they're doing good for them.
    I do realize some of that can be pushed into defining the SB, too but, I don't really think it's a better fit than the Thieves' Guild.

    Minus the racial overtones of the SB, the Zhentarim has a similar goal, that being world domination (through the vehicle of dominating trade). Their organization/methods are very similar to the SB- their inner circle of powerful individuals rule over a large area, their membership includes powerful wizards, evil priests, thieves, and assassins, they have a literal standing army, send agents far and wide to subvert rivals from within, employ humanoid bands to wipe out competition/terrorize, etc. Discounting the Scarlet Brotherhood, the Greyhawk analogue to the Zhentarim would roughly equivocate to the Greyhawk Thieves' Guild + Greyhawk Assassins' Guild + Greyhawk Merchants' Guild + Horned Society. The Zhentarim are that powerful, but then it's the Forgotten Realms, where everything goes to 11. Laughing

    But...I think the adventure is supposed to be placed near the Kron Hills in Greyhawk, and the SB are far from there (in force, at least). Also, I don't think the adventure calls for the full-fledged might of the Zhentarim to be in play, so that offers a greater amount of latitude as to who in Greyhawk can fill the role of this power player. Perhaps a better choice would be one less obvious than both the SB and the Thieves' Guild of Greyhawk, that being The City of Dyvers. Evil Grin What I mean by that is really a combination of organizations within that city working together in hopes of countering/collapsing the influence of the City of Greyhawk, its organizations, and even some of Dyvers' neighbors (i.e. Furyondy, Verbobonc, etc.) The Dyvers in my campaign is rather more dark than the City of Greyhawk, with a Temple of Nerull operating openly (as in the Gord books). If portrayed as such, Dyvers offers everything to play up a very dark Zhenatarim-ish organization. So, perhaps replace the Zhenatarim with Dyvers Thieves' Guild + Dyvers Assassins' Guild + Temple of Nerull + Dyvers Mages' Guild+ Dyvers Merchants' Guild (who all have an axe to grind with City of Greyhawk counterparts). And one gets to create many Dyvers NPC's whole cloth, which could be fun. Cool
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    Last edited by Cebrion on Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:53 am; edited 2 times in total
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    Tue Dec 31, 2019 8:35 am  

    Fascinating. Perhaps this gets right to the point. Similar to the scope of Oerthian heroics being smaller than those in Faerun, maybe the scope of the villainy is less wide ranging as well?

    For example, if it's near Dyvers, then the Thieves' Guild of Dyvers takes the Zents Place. If it's further South the SB could take the be the organization. Characters would still be able to take their faction with them when the travel wherever, but how useful they are would vary based on whether the organization normally operates in that area. Similarly to how the benefits of the Acolyte class depends on the local Clergy. (good luck with St. Cuthbert in the Empire of Iuz.)

    Up near Furyondy, the Knights of the Hart might stand in for The Lords of Order, whereas down by Naerie City or out in Yeomanry or Geoff, different groups would fulfill the same role. Happy
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:48 am  

    Sure! The adventure really could be set up anywhere there are the appropriate geographical requirements (and even that can be changed if one wants to do the extra work). I haven't read the adventure in a while, so I don't recall if the whole Elemental Evil angle is the main angle or not. It may have been recommended to be set in the Kron Hills simply because the old Temple of Elemental Evil is not too far away, but that need not be the case. In the old ToEE super-module, the whole Elemental Evil bit was merely an angle used by Iuz to appeal to/attract more followers. In effect, it was a tool Iuz used to help achieve his goal, which was not the further empowerment of Elemental Evil, but of himself. The various cults in this adventure, from what I recall, are about the power of Elemental Evil itself, and so the adventure could easily be set where it does not play the role of tool/patsy/pawn, but of the main power in the area. And the adventure could really be placed almost anywhere.
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    Last edited by Cebrion on Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Sun Jan 05, 2020 5:51 am  

    Cebrion wrote:
    Discounting the Scarlet Brotherhood, the Greyhawk analogue to the Zhentarim would roughly equivocate to the Greyhawk Thieves' Guild + Greyhawk Assassins' Guild + Greyhawk Merchants' Guild + Horned Society. The Zhentarim are that powerful, but then it's the Forgotten Realms, where everything goes to 11. Laughing

    You know, I think this is a really good point.
    As you mention, there's a lot of factions in the Forgotten Realms that are "turned up to 11". You're right in that they use assassination as a tool, and they are also a strong mercantile presence.
    I actually rather like the idea of de-centralizing what equivocates to the Zhemtarim. That makes it feel a little less "world-spanning", and a little more guild-y to me, which, in my opinion, is part of the characteristic of the Free City and of WoG in general. WoG certainly has the Co8, and we aren't without the presence of world spanning organizations but, I kind of like the feel of fewer omnipresent factions, and more specialized ones.

    I don't actually know if you intended this to be an actual suggestion, or if you meant to say we'd have to use four factions to actually replace the one. But, I really rather like the idea, and I think whenever I need to translate FR stuff, I'm going to try doing it that way, and see how it works out.

    [PS, sorry about taking the better part of a week to respond. Because, you know, life.]
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    Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:50 am  

    And Yet, the Old Faith is connected in a world spanning way, and like you said the Circle of Eight put their noses in everything.

    The order of the Gauntlet was a specific subset of the LG and LN Deities' clergy and paladins. St. Cuthbert and Heironeous, for sure. I don't know enough about Pholtus and Rao to know if they would fit in a group....
    GreySage

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    Sun Jan 05, 2020 2:09 pm  

    mindseye wrote:
    And Yet, the Old Faith is connected in a world spanning way, and like you said the Circle of Eight put their noses in everything.


    I prefer the system described above by Icarus. In my WoG campaign, I see the Co8 as more a group of autonomous mages that keep in touch with one another to help prepare for Flanaess-wide surprises (like Iuz reappearing and plunging all the nations into war rolleyes ). I don't like the idea of Mordenkainen and the Circle having a hand in everything that happens, or even being aware of everything of importance that happens in the Flanaess. If they did, there wouldn't be any chance that lesser individuals could influence much of anything. The Circle of Eight would be a sort of Illuminati manipulating everything that happens. In my Greyhawk, communication and organization isn't that advanced, even for powerful mages. They simply don't have the time to devote to such an endeavor.

    The druids of the Old Faith are another, similar, example. They each focus on their local area, keep in touch with superiors and fellows in nearby locations, and recognize the High Druid that is over a larger area, though they rarely interact with that individual. That High Druid position is actually mostly an honorary title with little responsibility, accept to organize druids to act together when a larger threat appears.

    FR has world-spanning organizations. I don't like that in my Greyhawk. I want my players to be able to go somewhere and carve out a kingdom where no other power has sway, if they choose to do so. If they want to contact the powers nearby, they may do that as well, but those powers aren't much involved in issues outside their immediate environment.

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    Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:09 pm  

    Okay so regionalism for everyone. It does make sense for the scale that Greyhawk works at. So even if someone WANTED to keep tabs on everyone there just simply isn't the communication infrastructure to support it.

    The essence of my understanding of the Circle of 8 is that they are Neutral not good. Was that just Mordenkainen, or were the rest of the original circle that way too?

    I may be operating from a misunderstanding of the lore too. Originally, the Co8 established a citadel somewhere (and at least some weren't mages) that was surrounded by enemies, so they wouldn't have far to go for adventure. Was there ever a Citadel in the published world, and if it was, is it still there circa 591, after the betrayals and bringing the new members in?

    So if you were one of the most powerful mages in the setting, what would you be paying attention to? Lost in your research? Searching for more power? Playing politics?
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    Mon Jan 06, 2020 3:10 am  

    mindseye wrote:
    Okay so regionalism for everyone. It does make sense for the scale that Greyhawk works at. So even if someone WANTED to keep tabs on everyone there just simply isn't the communication infrastructure to support it.

    The essence of my understanding of the Circle of 8 is that they are Neutral not good. Was that just Mordenkainen, or were the rest of the original circle that way too?

    I may be operating from a misunderstanding of the lore too. Originally, the Co8 established a citadel somewhere (and at least some weren't mages) that was surrounded by enemies, so they wouldn't have far to go for adventure. Was there ever a Citadel in the published world, and if it was, is it still there circa 591, after the betrayals and bringing the new members in?

    So if you were one of the most powerful mages in the setting, what would you be paying attention to? Lost in your research? Searching for more power? Playing politics?


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    GreySage

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    Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:46 am  

    mindseye wrote:
    The essence of my understanding of the Circle of 8 is that they are Neutral not good. Was that just Mordenkainen, or were the rest of the original circle that way too?


    Most of the Co8 are Neutral, but several of them (Jallarzy and her sponsor, Tenser, among them) are decidedly Good. This has caused the Circle to lean towards Good in their overall goals to the consternation of the more Neutral members of the group.

    In my campaign, Mordenkainen is truly a Neutral, not caring about Good or Evil except to maintain a balance. His purpose in this is to prevent either side from gaining enough power to thwart his pursuit of power. If Evil gains a significant advantage in the Flanaess, he will be constantly assaulted. If Good gains a definite upper hand, he fears he will come under far more scrutiny from other powers (mages, specifically), and his goals may be discovered.

    These goals of Mordy's are myriad, but they all aim to gain power for himself. I have taken several ideas from various fan websites for this version of Mordy. It goes a long way toward explaining both Rary's betrayal and Tenser's decision to leave the Circle.

    Quote:
    I may be operating from a misunderstanding of the lore too. Originally, the Co8 established a citadel somewhere (and at least some weren't mages) that was surrounded by enemies, so they wouldn't have far to go for adventure. Was there ever a Citadel in the published world, and if it was, is it still there circa 591, after the betrayals and bringing the new members in?


    I recall that the actual Citadel was, and is, Mordenkainen's center of power and it is located somewhere in the Yatil Mountains. It was the base of operations for the original Citadel of Eight and the origin of the name for the group.

    Quote:
    So if you were one of the most powerful mages in the setting, what would you be paying attention to? Lost in your research? Searching for more power? Playing politics?


    Depends upon the mage's personality and alignment. As described above, True Neutral Mordenkainen is after personal power. He doesn't go out of his way to hurt anyone in the process, but doesn't shed a tear if pawns die or other unfortunates get in his way and get trampled for it.

    Lawful Good Tenser, on the other hand, is driven to help others. He spends his time, effort, and resources seeking ways to protect people from threats. He is frustrated at Mordy's apparent indifference to the suffering of others.

    In my campaign, Rary discovered the extent to which Mordenkainen had been manipulating the rest of the Co8 into doing his personal bidding and became furious at being used as a pawn. This led to a mental break-down resulting in his betrayal. He now regrets killing his fellow members of the Co8 and wishes he had not attempted such a rash reaction, but is comfortable with the outcome and is determined to make the best of it. (Neutral Rary, in his rage, decided to thwart Mordenkainen by helping Evil gain the upper hand in the Flanaess. He reasoned that allowing Iuz to gain more power would be the quickest way to distract Mordenkainen's attention from the pursuit of his goals, so he tried to prevent the Greyhawk Wars from ending.)

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    Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:26 am  

    Icarus wrote:
    I actually rather like the idea of de-centralizing what equivocates to the Zhemtarim. That makes it feel a little less "world-spanning", and a little more guild-y to me, which, in my opinion, is part of the characteristic of the Free City and of WoG in general. WoG certainly has the Co8, and we aren't without the presence of world spanning organizations but, I kind of like the feel of fewer omnipresent factions, and more specialized ones.

    I don't actually know if you intended this to be an actual suggestion, or if you meant to say we'd have to use four factions to actually replace the one. But, I really rather like the idea, and I think whenever I need to translate FR stuff, I'm going to try doing it that way, and see how it works out.

    [PS, sorry about taking the better part of a week to respond. Because, you know, life.]


    Hey, you reply to forums, blogs, and manage the cat herding required to get The OJ out too, so no worries! Happy

    Yes, the suggestion was purposeful. However, it occurred to me that I had lazily fallen into a trap I am somewhat critical of, and that is going with the same ol' same ol' thing. Now, while I understand why somebody might want to stick with the familiar (i.e. "City of Greyhawk Thieves' Guild" name recognition/branding/ease of dropping in extant material), it does represent a lost opportunity to expand on something else, and so the Dyvers recommendation.

    Another thing I like about having multiple organizations involved is that it really opens up the box of plot strings. With the Zhentarim being a single entity, there is a greater unity of purpose in achieving their goal, with only minor jockeying for favor within the organization by the various power players. With multiple factions working toward a common purpose, each faction still has its own agenda, and none of them are content to play second fiddle to the others. If this is figured out, clever players could turn it to their advantage, and I like the idea of such a possibility very much (that's the DM in me talking, not the Killer DM Razz).
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    Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:46 pm  

    As it so happens, just last week I posted a free book on "Factions and Organizations of the Flanaess" to my blog. You might find it of interest.

    https://www.greyhawkgrognard.com/2020/02/05/factions-and-organizations-of-the-flanaess/

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    Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:14 pm  

    I did it was very helpful!!!
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