Monday, June 28, 2021

B/X Thieves Guild Info — Guild Organization

This is the 5th of my posts for a B/X thieves’ guild reference I'm working on. Today is a long one, with the entire section for Guild Organization (minus the section on Association with Other Guilds that I posted the other day.

Guild Organization

Guild Structure

There is no single structure which all thieves’ guilds will follow. There are major models to which the majority of thieves’ guilds will ascribe, but they are certainly not limited to the ones that follow.

Centralist. A guild organized by this principle is characterized by a powerful and dominant leader with whom the loyalty of the entire organization lies. All decisions ultimately lie in the hands of the guildmaster. In this structure, the identity of the guildmaster is almost always known to all members. 

Cohesive. The cohesive guild structure is characterized by a central authority and organization, with room for senior leadership (under the guildmaster) to make some important decisions on their own. It is possible that a this type of guild uses a “blind ladder” where the identity of the “higher ups” are not known to lower level guild members, and orders “trickle down” from above.

Factioned. A factioned guild operates as a central body, but dominant figures within the guild maintain ownership of certain aspects of guild operations. They act under their own discretion in those areas, and try not to intrude on the affairs of aspects under the ownership of other guild figures. These factions are sometimes referred to as “sects.”

Guild Leadership

Guild leadership will vary based on guild structure. Following are the most common models for guild leadership.

Guildmaster. This is, by far, the most common form of leadership. This responsibility generally falls to the highest level thief in the guild. Centralist organizations are predominantly led by a guildmaster.

Council. In this model, guild leadership is in the hands of a select number of individuals who, when necessary, replace or expand its members from the senior ranks of the guild. Council leadership is common in cohesive and factioned structures. 

Democracy. Though this type of leadership is rare in thieves’ guilds, it is not unheard of. Democratic guild elections are typically plagued by bribery, corruption, and all manner of fixing and election rigging.  

The Guildhouse

There are four important considerations common to the guildhouse (or guildhall) for almost every thieves’s guild.

Location/Cover. It is of utmost importance that the location of the guildhouse remain secret to non-guildmembers. A small guild may need no more than a backroom somewhere, but larger guilds will need something far larger and more strongly protected.

Contents. The contents of a guildhouse will vary based on the physical needs of the guild. For example, guilds operating a substantial forgery or alchemy rackets will need facilities and equipment dedicated to those concerns, in addition to standard needs (like meeting rooms, lodging, etc.).

Protection. A guildhouse will almost always have guards on duty (and the ability to summon more quickly), as well as plenty of locks (to which only members have keys), traps, and other forms of protection (guard dogs/monsters, magical wards, etc.).

Attitude toward Non-guildmember Thieves

The guild will definitely have an opinion on non-guildmembers operating in its territories. This may be scripted or determined by a 2d6 roll on the table below.

Membership Terms

Membership terms may vary from guild to guild. The following terms are meant only as a guideline.

Recruitment & Resignation. Wether or a not a thief is required to join the guild operating in a specific area will depend on the guild’s view of non-guildmember thieves (as above). Recruitment, therefore, will vary from simple to solicitation to downright violence. Resigning from a guild is not usually an option, as it means the guild’s secrets go along with the former member. Guildmembers seeking to sever their ties with a guild may need to use deception to do so (e.g., faking their own death). Membership in multiple guilds is particularly frowned upon. 

Tithing. The standard tithing for a member (regardless of level) is 50sp/month, plus a 10% take for jobs approved in advance by the guild or 20% for those not approved ahead of time by the guild. If the guildmember goes 3 months without pulling a job, the tithing requirement increases to 100sp/month.

Secrecy. This is equally important as tithing, usually requiring an oath of loyalty. If the oath is broken, punishment will vary based on the attitudes of guild leadership, and may be as extreme as death.

Information. Guildmembers are expected to provide the guild with information about their own plans. They are also expected to gather and feed general information back to the guild that may help in other endeavors. The latter will help assure the guildmember remains in good stand with the guild. 

Other Limitations & Expectations. Guildmembers will be given explicit instructions relating to the territories in which they may operate and the activities in which they may engage. They may also be expected to do legwork for upcoming jobs or participate in other guild activities and rackets. Additionally, traveling thieves (e.g., those that spend the majority of their time adventuring) are expected to remain members of the guild, and are not permitted to become Guildmaster.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

B/X Thieves Guild Info — Services

This is the 4th of my posts for a B/X thieves’ guild reference I'm working on. Today, the services available to members...


General Services

The following services will be available in most thieves’ guilds, regardless of the size of the settlement where it is based. Unless otherwise specified, these services are not available to non-guildmembers.

Repair & Replacement of Thieves’ Tools. Repair is free and takes 1d3 days. New tools are available at standard pricing (25gp). Specialty tools (with a singular purpose) are available for purchase for 50gp or rental at 10gp per day (paid in advance, with the balance refunded upon their return).

Money Changing. Conversion of one type of coin into another (e.g., platinum to gold) is free.

Gem & Jewel Assessment. This service costs 1gp per item assessed.

Fencing/Black Market. This involves the movement of stolen goods through a middleman to an unsuspecting third party. Guild members generally receive 50% of the price the fence believes he can get when selling the stolen merchandise. The guild and fence split the profits at a negotiated rate. If this service is available to non-guildmembers, they will receive as little as 25% (or less). 

Lockpicking Assistance. Guild members may bring in a locked item which they were unable to open and receive assistance from more-skilled guild members. There is generally no fee for such assistance, but a thief who successfully picks the lock may require a favor in return.

Knowledge/Information. The thieves guild is a wealth of knowledge for its members, particularly in regards to planning jobs (e.g., information about a mark, the weaknesses of a location, the most opportune time to strike, etc.). Information is usually shared freely between members, and may be made as a Lore Check to determine how much or little any member knows about the question being asked. It should be noted that 

Location & Procurement. One of the main benefits of guild membership is help in locating assistance, support, people, and goods. This includes, but is not limited to: henchmen and hirelings, sages, cartographers (including map analysis & consultation), transportation, accommodation, equipment, and illegal and illicit goods, including poisons. There is no guarantee that what the guild member is searching for will be close or cheap.

Safe Houses. Safe houses are locations which provides thieves protection from capture. In every community, there will be a number of buildings assigned as safe houses—locations where a thief can lay low until the heat is off. The use of a safe house is free for guild members. Non-guildmembers will not be allowed in a safe house unless accompanied by a guild member, but there is no guarantee they will be allowed in to a safe house that is being attended by guild members.

Legal Help. Should a thief become entangled with the law (have a bounty placed on their head, get arrested, etc.), the guild may be able to provide legal help. This most often involves bribes or the calling in of favors. The costs of bribes will, in one form or another, be passed on the member in need of assistance.

Specialized Services

The following services may or may not be available from the thieves’ guild. Additionally, specialized services (like forgery and translation) require the engagement of a retainer with expertise in that area. If the guild does not have the relevant specialist (or specialists) in their employ, they may be able to refer the guild member to the specialist. In such cases, the fees outlined below do not apply, and the guild member must negotiate directly with the specialist.   

Forgery. The creation of false documents (identification papers, licenses, forms, etc.) is the domain of the forger. The forger is a specialist that usually works independently of the guild, unless the guild operates a forgery racket (see “Thieves’ Guild Activities (Rackets),” below). The cost of a forgery varies, but guild members will usually receive a discount.

Magic Item Identification. Unless the guild employs a magic-user who knows the spell identify, the identification magic item is based on experience and intuition, and is not foolproof. The cost for identifying a magic weapons is 10gp and the cost of identifying a miscellaneous magic item is 25gp. 

Magic Item Exchange. Only minor items may be exchanged. 

Scroll Exchange. This service is only permitted to thieves of a level high enough to read magic. The rate of exchange is based on the level of the spell on the scroll (as a spell for hire).

Language Translation. The cost and time required for this varies based on the obscurity of the language and the length of the sample being translated. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

B/X Thieves Guild Info — Associations with Other Guilds

This is the 3rd of my posts for a B/X thieves’ guild reference I'm working on. I had planned to post the guild services information today, but based on a comment from yesterday's post by Chris Stogdill asking about beggars as a racket, I'm jumping to the section on the thieves' guild's relationship with other guilds (assassins, beggars, bards). 

Associations with Other Guilds 

Thieves’ guilds are most likely to cooperate with guilds of assassins, beggars, and bards. 

Assassins. Thieves and assassins are, in many ways, kindred spirits. They will usually maintain at relationship that is, at a minimum, moderately friendly. They will share information and even plan together. However, this association can become strained if the assassins are particularly evil or the thieves particularly disreputable.

Beggars. Beggars are a great source of information, and make great spies. They seem harmless to most, and may not seem suspicious in places where others would. Not to mention, they work cheap. When beggars and thieves guilds maintain a good relationship, the beggars guild may even allow thieves to spy by posing as beggars within the territories maintained by the beggars guild.

Bards. Though they train as thieves and rogues, there is no natural connection between bards and thieves—they don’t think alike, and they don’t necessarily like each other. 

In lieu of the DM scripting a thieves’ guild’s relationship with these other guilds, a 3d6 roll may be made on the table below.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Thieves Guild Activities (Rackets)

Yesterday, I posted about working on a B/X reference about thieves guilds. This is a draft of the section on "Thieves Guild Activities (Rackets).

Thieves Guild Activities (Rackets)

A thieves’ guild may operate a number of activities as a source of secondary income for the guild. The number of “rackets” which a guild operates will vary based on the size of the guild and the size of the city or town in which they operate. Generally 4-5 rackets will sufffice for providing the guild the income it needs.

Street Crimes (Pickpocketing/Mugging/Cutpursing). These crimes against pedestrian victims are the responsibility of the lowest level thieves in the guild. They are expected to bring in a certain amount of revenue each week, from which they receive a cut/percentage. 

Protection. This racket is so named because the racketeers often phrase their demands as payment for "protection" from real or hypothetical threats. Homeowners and/or shopkeepers pay a weekly or monthly fee to prevent their homes, businesses, or selves from being destroyed/robbed/beaten up. Making the collection rounds is the duty of low-level thieves with the high Strength scores. These thieves are paid a fee based on the number of places from which they collect.

Blackmail. Blackmail is the extortion of money from people in exchange for not revealing or publicizing either substantially true or false information about them. Making blackmail arrangements is the duty of low-level thieves with high Charisma scores. These thieves are paid a percentage of the amount they are able to collect.

Robbery & Burglary. Robbery is the taking of property from the person or presence of the owner by force or the threat of force. Burglary is the illegal entering a building or other area for the purposes of theft, robbery, violence, or murder. Robberies and burglaries are typically planned ahead of time and executed by a crew of low level thieves led by a thief of 4th or 5th level. Crew members are paid based on their level, with violent crimes paying a flat fee, and theft paid as a cut of the take.

Fencing. Fences are individuals who knowingly buys stolen goods in order to later resell them for profit, acting as a middleman between thieves and the eventual buyers of stolen goods who may not be aware that the goods are stolen. Fences are specialists who may or may not be Thieves who patronize a fence must be willing to accept a low profit margin in order to reduce their risks by instantly "washing their hands" of the loot and the criminal activity that procured it. These services are often provided to non-guild members at an even lower profit margin. The fence gives a percentage of their profits to the guild.

Smuggling. Smugglers specialize in moving contraband from one area to another while avoiding detection by authorities. Sometimes a smuggler’s cargo is illegal goods, like narcotics. Other times, a smuggler hides legal goods to avoid paying duties or taxes. The most common contraband are: narcotics, potions, exotic creatures, discounted wares (tax dodging), and antiquities. Smuggling is often set up as an ongoing activity executed by a regular/established crew of thieves of varying levels. Given the subterfuge involved, this will often be under the direction of a thief of approximately 5th to 7th level. The fees for smuggling vary greatly by the type of cargo and the risks involved. Lower level crew members are paid a per diem, as is the crew leader. However, the crew leader will often be paid a bonus for particularly lucrative jobs. 

Cons/Scams. A con (short for “confidence trick”) is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust. These may be executed one-to-one (by a single thief) or by a crew of thieves, and most often are orchestrated under the direction of sharpers and pilferers (6th and 7th level thieves), even if executed by others. Crew members are paid as a percentage of the take, with the guild receiving a percentage off the top. 

Fraud (Forgery/Counterfeiting/Coin Clipping). Forgery is the creation of false documents (identification papers, licenses, forms, etc.). Counterfeiting is the creation of an unauthorized imitation of a genuine article (e.g., a work of art, or a false magic item—an item with no actual powers but enchanted to appear has them). Clipping is the act of shaving off a small portion of a precious metal coin for profit. Over time, the precious metal clippings can be saved up and melted into bullion or used to make new coins. These are specialized activities beyond the ability of normal thieves (regardless of level). Specialists in these skills are hired as retainers at a weekly rate. If the guild has access to these resources, guild members will be referred to these specialists without having to pay the guild a commission or finder’s fee.

Gambling. Gambling activities may occur at a moveable location (e.g., shooting dice in an alley), a general location (e.g., a cock fighting ring), or a fixed location (like an underground casino). The types of gambling that is legal or illegal in any location will be set by community standards. The guild will usually have a monopoly on illegal gambling, but will often attempt to control legal activities as well, even resorting to violence against legal gambling operations to do so. The odds are always in favor of the house, especially when the games are rigged.

Kidnapping. Kidnapping is the capture, imprisonment, and transport of a person against their will as a show of force or for the purpose of exchanging them for money, information, or other concerns. Kidnappings for ransom will usually be orchestrated by a crew of guild members with pay based on a fee for each thief based on their level. Kidnapping for other reasons will usually be executed on contract for parties from outside the guild for a negotiated fee.

Assassination/Murder-for-hire. Assassination is one of most lucrative activities of a thieves guild, with prices for contract on a high level character by a high-level assassin reaching as much as 250,000gp! When executed on a contract by the guild for a third party, the guild may take as much as 50% of the fee (with the remainder going to the assassin). Assassination is a specialized skill with the utmost concern for secrecy, so assassination contracts are never given to standard thieves to execute.  

Prostitution (Brothels/Streetwalkers/Call-outs). Prostitution is the exchange of sexual services for money. Brothels are a fixed location for the sale of sexual services. Brothels may be run independently or under the direct oversight of a guild. Independent brothels pay a fixed tribute based on their size. Streetwalkers (prostitutes who work publicly in or a around a certain location) and call-outs (prostitutes who work privately, going to a pre-determined location for service) may work directly for a guild or independently, but pay a percentage of their income to the guild either way.  

Alchemy/Poisons. While alchemy isn't necessarily an illegal activity, the production of potions that cause (including poison) may be. Additionally, the guild may be involved in the manufacturer of potions for sale to its members, and possibly non-members. Poisons, however, will rarely be sold to non-guild members. 

Narcotics. The guild may be involved at one level or another with the manufacturing, distribution, and/or sale of narcotics. The greatest risk is with distribution, but when sold directly provide a higher rate of return for the guild.

Next up... the "Services" section.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Thieves Guild Information for B/X

Recently, I was needing some thieves' guild information for the city at the center of a campaign I was working on. I cribbed something together quickly, but realized there could be a B/X resource. So I'm working on it. Here's the tentative outline...


What They Are

What They Do

Why Join



— Repair & Replacement of Thieves’ Tools

— Money Changing

— Gem & Jewel Assessment

— Fencing of Stolen Goods/Black Market

— Lockpicking Assistance

— Location & Procurement (incl. illegal goods/poisons)

— Knowledge/Information

— Legal Help 

— Safe Housing

Specialized Services

— Forgery

— Language Translation

— Map Analysis & Consultation

— Magic Item Identification

— Magic Item/Scroll Exchange

Guild Member Responsibilities




Other Duties

Thieves Guild Activities

Core Activities




Forgery/Coin Clipping

Associations with Other Guilds




Guild Organization 

Guild Makeup by Size of Community

— no. of thieves by population

 level of thieves by total number in guild

The Guildmaster

The Guildhouse

Recruitment & Resignation

Monday, June 14, 2021

The System Surpasses 13,000 Downloads!!!

It has been a while (actually several years) since I provided any sort of update on The System

Well, as of this past week, it has surpassed 13,000 downloads (as a free PDF). Holeeshit! Thirteen thousand freaking downloads! WTF!?

As a published RPG product, it predates the other things for which I'm known (including the d30 DM Companion, the otherwise first of my published products). It has been available as a free PDF download (direct from this link) and in print-on-demand from

If you've never heard of The System, here's the topline overview... I originally wrote/designed this in late 1985/early 1986 (when I was about 16 years old) before other universal role playing systems were available on the market. As I was getting ready to playtest it with my friends, a guy in our gaming group brought in a copy of the (then) newly-released GURPS, and I shelved my system in the disappointment that comes with having someone beat you to the punch. In 2011, I "rescued the from oblivion" (that is, I scanned the old daisy-wheel printed version that came from my dad's word processor at work), gave it a (very) quick polish to the ruleset, and typeset it with a decidedly retro (1st generation) RPG feel to it.

As stated previously, I'm quite willing to admit the game has its flaws... I mean, c'mon, I was 16 or so when I wrote it. (e.g., there is a very convoluted constitution-to-hit-point system, and there is an innovative but ultimately ill-conceived initiative and movement tracking system, and while it purports to handle supers among its genres, I can't claim that it actually scales to reflect the expanse of power levels between the weakest and strongest heroes). But over time, I have more and more appreciation for the fact that it uses d6s only, and led to some underlying things that Welbo and I would like to see become part of a "2nd Edition" of The System. (Should we ever get back to it, but may something it takes us 10 or more years to complete.)

• If you want the full story on The System, check out this post.
• To download a free PDF from MediaFire, click here.
• To buy a deeply-discounted print copy of The System from, head over here.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Creature Compendium Special Edition Boxed Set is in final stages!

As a quarantine project last year, I scoured PD pulp sources, culled a bunch of images, cleaned them up and populated them into a set of four 6"x9" books, each featuring 45 new monsters (based on these classic images). Book three also includes some animal-related spells, and book four includes some new B/X psionics disciplines. They are statted up for B/X (so that's makes them compatible with all those similar editions and retro-clones). And easy enough to adapt for white boxers and first editions. 

I just finished writing book #4. The first three have already had a first edit (and a pre-release at the most recent NTRPGCon), and we'll do another proof on those over the next couple of weeks as we edit the final book. We'll order test copies of the box, and look to make these available (as a boxed set) by August.

Once released, PDFs will be available as a bundle through a super great price ($1 for all four). Individual books will be available POD through, and the boxed set will be available directly through the NBD storefront (looking like the boxed set will sell for $30 + shipping).