Thieves in Kethaela

From: Joerg Baumgartner (jorganos@hotmail.com)
Date: Wed 04 Mar 1998 - 13:51:43 EET


Frederic Ferro:
>Is Lanbril worshipped outside of Pavis and Adari (and all the Zola Fel
area)?

>When Guillaume Fournier designed an adaptation of Refuge,
>in Tatou #4, he mentioned Lanbril in his description.
>Later (in the fanzine Broos #5), he wrote that Greg Stafford explicitly
>said there were actually no Lanbrili in Kethaela and that Lanbril was
only a
>regional cult.

In that case, I wonder where Lanbril should come from. The deity
certainly did not originate in Pavis, even though he is well represented
there. Lanbril doesn't seem to come from Dara Happa either, too little
direct interaction with Yelm and his breed, too much Orlanthi ties. This
leaves us with an "Orlanthi" origin in an urban environment (since rural
thieves don't tend to survive for long). Either that's Kethaela, or
Tarshite cities (with urban Orlanthi from Saird and environs immigrating
in flight from Hwarin Dalthippa).

Now, it is a known fact (though hardly published) that the early 3rd Age
Orlanthi of Sylila, Saird etc. had a tradition of criminals within their
society - most likely something like the Sicilian mafia. There were some
among these who opposed Hwarin Dalthippa's conquests and took refuge in
Arim's newly founded capital in Bagnot, which actually is a mis-spelling
for "Beg Not!". I don't know whether this prohibition against begging
came from Arim's touchy pride (his epithet "the Pauper" may well have
stung with him) or from an attempt to keep these criminals in check. In
any case, the criminals survived, and when Bagnot finally fell under
Lunar dominance in 1582, Terasarin offered its refugees a new settlement
in Alone. Unsurprisingly, that's where Griselda's family lives...

(There is also a Dragon Pass unit called "Thieves Arm", but AFAIK this
was made up from highway-robbers turned rebels. Still, highway-robbery
can be organized by mafia-like groups as well; only this isn't quite
what Lanbril with his specialities in pick-pocketing and burglary seems
to stand for.)

The existance of organized crime in Kethaela shouldn't be in doubt - a
country with two rivaling trade deities (three with Etyries pushing in,
ever since 1490, and not counting Dormal-associated trade by the open
sea or Choralinthor- and river-based trade cults in Esrolia and along
the coasts) and a long tradition of urban centres _must_ have some sort
of criminal network.

Given the proximity of the Footprint, Krarsht figures greatly in the
underworld, offering - among other benefits - a nifty method for
Rimini-like burglaries through sewers expanded with Krarshtkid tunnels.

>I would like a Refuge Thief God and I have only created
>small crime-rings with various Aspects of the Trickster.

Well, one thief cult you are sure to find in Refuge would be Krarsht -
her minions dominate about 50% of the Heortland underworld IMG, with
whatever major "acceptable" thief god running a long second at 20-30% of
the criminals (the organized ones). Trickster tends to defy
organisation, so even a Trickster-run gang of thieves gets a bit hard to
imagine.

(It could be a nifty encounter to get a Trickster-led gang of criminal
Lightbringers, though - Eurmal in his aspect as burglar of Hell's
domain, Orlanth the Thief as the daring muscle, Lhankor Mhy as the
informant, Issaries as the fence or the embezzler, Flesh Man as the
beggar and all-purpose man, Chalana Arroy as beggar?)

IMG I use Raymond Feist's Mockers from the city of <C/K>arse as a
Lanbril ring. They are a quite unpleasant bunch of criminals-
extortioners, muggers, and only a couple of "stylish" pickpockets and
cat-burglars (those 4 or 5 named in the book). In Karse they are
dominant, but the smugglers and a fairly well-situated Krarshti network
have a good share in the criminal activities. Not counting the less
pristine activities of the Hazara Khan Etyries merchants of the Sable
people from Kostaddi, or Issaries merchants like Gunnar Halfstead.

I don't know whether it has to be Lanbril or Orlanth the Thief who is
the patron deity of the thieves. Orlanth Adventurous surely has enough
mythical potential to make the cult a suitable background for criminals
(in fact, I have a pet theory that a good portion of the Dara Happan
"4%" thieves as per Genertela Players Book are Sairdite Orlanthi who
migrated into the Dara Happan cities and thrive on the Orlanth the Youth
against the Evil Emperor myths). In any case, I want the underworld of
Kethaela in a constant struggle between the Krarshti network and another
network of thieves. Gang-wars, uneasy truces, etc. This allows for
oddities like a Storm Bull-led band of thieves (well, extortion rackets
and mugging rather than burglary, I suppose) who work to clear the
sewers of Durengard from the over-powerful Krarshti thieves "guild" in
the capital.

I haven't yet thought through the implications of the Lunar occupation
and the officials' treatment of the Krarshti criminals. To the Lunars,
the fact that Krarsht is associated with chaos is nothing to worry about
- - I guess that some of the best Dart Competition mercenaries are
Krarshti. However, neither Fazzur nor Tatius the Bright seem to be the
types to deal openly with an established criminal network - their
subordinates, especially if they are non-Dara Happan Heartlands types,
would take a different view, though. (Somehow the idea of Yelmic
patriarchs engaging in Dart Competitions doesn't feel right, but feel

free to convince me otherwise...)

I would be interested in working out a campaign for thieves in Heortland
associated with Krarsht. A close brush with chaos without actually
embracing it? The PCs would be criminals admitted into the domain of
Durengard's crime lord, a Krarshti (though not necessarily high in the
cult hierarchy? - I need to check the cult write-up, it's quite possible
that the crime-lord has to become a Jaw or Lip of Krarsht in order to be
able to ignore other cultists' commands).

Starting in 1617, the PCs could be "victims" of the civil war leading to
the Rokari kingdom of Malkonwal who turn to a criminal career in order
to get even with the new power. This could include the children of
formerly respectable nobles and citizens who lost life and property
during the struggles, i.e. mainstay society cultists "forced" into this
kind of resistance, and then into the folds of mother Krarsht's vast
network.

Why Krarsht and not Lanbril (or whichever other thief cult opposing the
Krarshti)?

Well, the PCs might well try their hands in "unlicensed" burglary
against their arch-villain (i.e. some opportunist Durengard merchant
and/or noble, possibly with criminal connections to the "good thieves")
who brought about the ruin of their families, and get caught in the
preparations or during / after the break-in by the crime-lord's minions.
Follows a confrontation with the mysterious leader of Durengard's
underworld, and the choice to swear allegiance and keep their lives and
freedom, being sold off into slavery (as a ship-crew to Teshnos or
Pasos, or into the royal silver mines south of the Footprint), or (at
worst) death, e.g. as sacrifices to Krarsht.

(I don't like to treat PCs' choices too rough, but some coercion is
needed to get them into the strange situation where they run afoul of
one of the crime lords, and get into the enemy organisation. The slavery
option is for renitent players who refuse the scenario hooks offered to
them; if MOB's "Beneath the Salt" about the Sun County salt mines gets
published, that would be one possible way out...)

The main theme could be enthusiastic raids on the upstart new powers -
both Richard's Rokari followers, especially those who find a quick taste
for the luxuries of a conquered country, and his native supporters who
see the need to have a strong king in a time of political upheaval and
outside threats (like the increasing wolf pirate activity and growing
hostilities with God Forgot after the disappearance of the Pharaoh).

PC activities would be participation in greater crimes (mass-burglary,
extortion enforcement) of the crime-lord, licensed burglaries or
pick-pocketing, getting information for burglaries, and keeping the
enemy criminals in check. And of course getting the enemy criminals (as
well as law enforcement) into their way during their own activities.
They might even run afoul of that Storm Bull-led ring...

Over time, the PCs will be confronted with the ugly side of the
business, and slowly be admitted to the cult of Krarsht. If they get
real cosy with the cult, they will get ugly assignments - nasty stuff to
make them reconsider. They might get to explore the Foulblood Forest...

If the PCs get drawn too far into Krarsht, the referee might want to get
them involved with the Lunars, to give them at least a certain moral
position...

Things to work out would be: the rivalling crime lords and their
henchmen, the law enforcers, the targets for the criminal activities,
and the city in general. Anyone interested?

A RQ3 write-up of Lanbril might be worked out as a by-product, though
belatedly...

Joerg Baumgartner (via Hotmail)
mailto:joe@toppoint.de

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