Lets Build: A Thieves’ Guild

A thieves’ guild is an organization of rogues, criminals, burglars, con artists, beggars, and tricksters. Most major cities have one or more thieves’ guilds growing within it’s seedy underbelly. Some of them are powerful enough to hold some significant political power, which is often obtained through bribery, blackmail, or intimidation.

Running a thieves guild as a Dungeon Master can be an incredibly fun experience, providing a near constant stream of quests, interesting NPCs, and story elements to your game. I have created a handful of helpful tables that can help you create your own thieves’ guild for your game.

Naming Your Thieves’ Guild

Use the table below to generate a name for your thieves’ guild. Roll two d10 dice, one for Name A and Name B. Then, when you have both your rolls, combine the two together to create your thieves’ guild name. For example, if I rolled a 9 and a 7, my guild name would be The Street Illusions.

1d10Name A1d10Name B
1The Fallen1Shadows
2The Forbidden2Hands
3The Venom3Serpents
4The Nefarious4Assassins
5The Bloody5Crew
6The Shifting6Striders
7The Silent7Illusions
8The Casket8Legion
9The Street9Outlaws
10The Alley10Whispers

Entrance to the Guild

Every good thieves’ guild has a secret entrance to their headquarters; a place where it’s members can feel safe and hidden from the watchful eyes of the city guard. Use the table below to generate a hidden entrance to the guild!

1The entrance to the guild is located in the sewers underneath a massive city.
2The entrance to the guild is located in a large graveyard, inside of a seemingly abandoned crypt.
3The entrance to the guild is in an abandoned warehouse, which leads to a large safe house underneath.
4The entrance to the guild is underneath a notable tavern, via a secret basement entrance.
5The entrance to the guild is hidden in a series of maze-like caves near the beginning of a great mountain range.
6The entrance to the guild is at the bottom of a dried-up well.
7The entrance to the guild is an underwater cave system in a nearby lake.
8The entrance to the guild is in a hidden room behind a bookshelf in a massive public library.
9The entrance to the guild is in the ruins of a burnt down cathedral outside of town.
10The entrance to the guild is in an ancient shipwreck off the coast.

Guild Services

Task Master: The task master hands out and assigns jobs that need to be done for the thieves’ guild. Players can talk with this person to receive a quest that can benefit the guild and it’s members. (Use the Thieves’s Guild Quests Table below to help you come up with some quest ideas!)

Fence: Players can use the guild’s fence to sell stolen items to without raising any suspicion.

Poison Dealer: A poison dealer is a master of malicious potions that can make a thief’s life easier. Speak with a poison dealer to buy sleep potions, knockout potions, sedatives, memory blockers, tranquilizers, potions that cause you to fake your death, etc.

Accountant/Appraiser: The guild’s appraiser can aid the players in finding out just how much the items they’ve stolen are worth, in order for them to get a fair price for them.

Locksmith: The guild’s locksmith can open any lock that the players can bring to them. The locksmith can also sell thieves’ tools to the players for when they encounter locks on the outside.

Smuggler: The guild’s smuggler can aid the players in smuggling weapons, narcotics, and other illegal goods into places they don’t belong. For a small fee, the smuggler can make sure the player’s items get to where they need to go, without the city watch noticing.

Forger: The guild’s forgery master can help the players forge important documents. For a fee, the forgery master can create real looking documents and signatures that can help them on their quests.

Disguise Master: Sometimes the players need to rely on disguises to get what they want. The guild’s in-house disguise master has hundreds of costumes, wigs, makeup, etc. that can aid the players in coming up with the perfect costume for the job.

Trapsmith: The guild’s trapsmith is a master of traps and trap-making. They can give the players tips on creating their own traps and ways they can avoid other people’s traps.

Rumors: The guild is also filled with rumors of the outside world. Thanks to a special connection with the beggars and vagrants of the outer world, the guild has a frequent supply of useful rumors that might aid the players in their quests.

Guild Quests

1d20Thieves' Guild Quests
1The Guild Master has stolen a magical painting from a wizard tower. When the correct command word is said aloud, the painting acts as a portal that leads to the fortress of a great Demon Prince. The Guild Master wants you to accompany him inside the painting to see what you can quickly steal before the portal closes.
2The Guild Master is ready to retire. He needs the player's help coming up with a way to fake his own death so he can retire in peace.
3A couple other members of the guild have been bit by wererats while traversing through the sewer. The Guild Master wants the players to investigate the sewers and destroy the source of these wererats.
4There are six different dead drops throughout the city that need to be picked up. Rumor has it that one of the dead drops is being watched by the city watch, but no one is sure which one.
5The guild has been hired to plant incriminating evidence on a very high profile political figure to make him look bad in the eyes of the people.
6The players must break into a noble's estate and steal at least 500gp worth of goods without being caught by the guards.
7The Duke of a local region is supposedly traveling through a dense forest tomorrow. He is known to travel with all kinds of riches. (What the players don't know is, the Duke had already been robbed when he and his men entered the forest. The "Duke and his guards" are members of a rival Thieves Guild pretending to be them so they don't rouse a suspicion. The real Duke is currently tied up in a chest that a horse is carrying behind them.)
8Your guild has encountered some unwanted smuggling competition in the city. Your job is to ransack their base of operations and leave before dawn.
9Someone is robbing temples and beating priests and supplicants half to death. The guild is being blamed for it, which is destroying all the goodwill they have with the common folk. Find who is truly responsible for this, whether in the guild or out.
10One of the guild's accountants (a wealthy merchant in town) has recently bought a new estate that should be way out of his league. The guild suspects him to have stolen money from a transaction. Find out about how he got that much money and if he's stealing from the guild.
11Many of our members are ending up snatched up by guards soon after completing officially sanctioned jobs, one even arrived at the mark's house to find a group of guards waiting for him. We suspect there is a mole in our midst. The latest casualty is a man who led an airtight second-life as a public notary. Find the mole and bring them to the master.
12The king has recently set aside funds to rebuild and expand the sewer system. You need to persuade the head engineer that is worth his time to add some extras to this new sewer system including secret passageways, 3 storage shed (for smuggling goods) and an underground headquarters for the guild.
13A lord was recently poisoned and died. The King is blaming the guild (which wasn't involved as far as you know) and has been arresting guild members, closing off know guild routes and stopping guild business in it's tracks. You have to find out who poisoned the lord and why to clear the name of the guild.
14A young scholar, an acolyte to the Halls of Illumination has been studying Thieves Cant. Before he can receive his robes of matriculation, he is scheduled to present his research at a public lecture. While very few people ever show up to these lectures, nonetheless we cannot risk that information being disseminated! The guild has secured a rare memory-effecting serum that specifically targets language learning and which should render all attempts to use secondary languages to gibberish. Introduce the serum in his drink and ensure it has taken effect—he is known to frequent The Finch & Fork. Many a scholar has cracked under the pressure of tedious research, so while a murder might arouse suspicion, his mental faculties abandoning him would not. Then collect and destroy all of the acolyte’s notes and research. Not a scratch should remain.
15The Thieving Games are on. Set yourself apart as one of the greats in this year's contest by taking top prize in one of five categories: Gold, Daring, Power, Dreams, or Renown. Each theft should be submitted along with a description of how it fits into the selected category. Contestants may enter multiple categories and individual jobs may award points toward different awards (e.g. last year Arwen the Fox replaced a master painting in the museum with a child's drawing of a fox for points in Daring and Renown), but all jobs must be done within one week.
16Some rascal has been carving misleading and incorrect thieves marks on various structures - 'easy mark' on the shop of the sharp-eyed wizard with a disintegration wand, 'escape' on a dead-end alley, 'fence' on the home of guardsman. We've had to bail 3 novices out of jail this week alone! Erase all the marks at the locations listed. If you find the rascal, bring him in alive, if possible. Good condition is optional.
17The royal alchemist has developed a truth potion so potent it threatens the very existence of the guild. This potion not only forces someone to tell the truth, but it compels them to be as helpful as possible to the questioner. What's worse, it seems that no amount of magic or mental training can resist it. It's only a matter of time before the Royal Guard captures a guild member and uses it on them, revealing the whole operation. We need you to break into the alchemist's apartments and find the formula for the potion so a counter agent can be developed. Failing that, either kill or kidnap the alchemist. Oh, and grab as much of this truth potion as you can find - no use letting it go to waste.
18The Dwarven Noble, Kirakzz Stonehewer, only arrived at his current position thanks to the Thieves' Guild stealing the Crest of an Ancient Dwarven Noble from their ancestral tomb. Unfortunately, our little Kirakzz has been getting ideas above his station and passing edicts that have been affecting our duties. Sneak into his fortified manor and stealing that crest back, leaving as little evidence of your intrusion as possible. A little paranoia should serve as a reminder of our skills and past dealings.
19One of the younger members of the guild unknowingly stole a beloved artifact from a powerful, and vengeful, ally of the guild. Break into their house and return the item before it is missed.
20 Someone in the city is pulling reckless heists, unsanctioned by the Guild. The party is hired to find out who is perpetrating these crimes and to "discourage" them before too much heat is brought down upon the local underworld.

How Can I Further Develop My Guild?

There are still a few more details that we need to figure out to put the finishing touches on your new thieves’ guild. These small details can really bring your guild to life and further integrate it into your fantasy world. Take some time to answer the following questions about your guild:

  • Who is the current leader of the guild? How did they become the leader? What happened to the previous leader?
  • Do the town guards know about the guild?
  • Are there any other establishments nearby that are working with the guild?
  • Are there any rival guilds that are a danger to your guild?
  • What is the common person’s view of the guild? Are they seen as heroes? Villains?