Dungeons and Dragons – Mystara
Organisations – The Zhentarim
- Source Material: Princes of the Apocalypse (pota15), Sword Coast Adventures Guide (scag)
- Who are the Zhentarim
- Background – Faction Agent
- Mystara Adventure Hooks
- Zhentarim in Mystara
- Zhentarim in Other Settings
- Further Information
- Content Updates
This is a post relating to the migration of The Zhentarim as an organisation called Thyatian Agents into my Mystara setting so when I reference them in sourcebooks I know who I have adapted them to and why.
Who are The Zhentarim
The Zhentarim are an organisation set in the Forgotten Realm Campaign Setting.
The Zhentarim-also known as the Black Network-is a loose affiliation of merchants, mercenaries, and malefactors. Common folk know the Zhentarim as the people to talk to when you need the best guards or mercenaries money can buy. And if the cargo is shady or the cause you’re fighting for is questionable or even unjust, the Zhentarim don’t mind.
This shadow network seeks to expand its influence and power base throughout Faerun. Its members coerce, persuade, or buy their way into every major area of influence. Rogues and warlocks fill the Zhentarim’s ranks, but the faction recruits any who can conduct its business without too many moral reservations.
Background – Faction Agent
In recent years, the Zhentarim have become more visible in the world at large, as the group works to improve its reputation among the common people. The faction draws employees and associates from many walks of life, setting them to tasks that serve the goals of the Black Network but aren’t necessarily criminal in nature. Agents of the Black Network must often work in secret, and are frequently proficient in Deception. They seek aid from the wizards, mercenaries, merchants and priesthoods allied with the Zhentarim.
A typical Black Network agent is a highly capable adventurer with no scruples. Some Zhentarim have winged snake companions that carry messages on scrolls as they fly, allowing agents to keep in contact with one another.
Mystara Adventure Hooks
Zhentarim in Mystara
The Zhentarim in Mystara are going to be based in the Thyatian Empire as agents of the Emperor. They are spread everywhere and make a good villain and hero for the setting.
Every capital in the region has a branch of the Lords Alliance as the major trade hub for connecting with the rest of the world. It is here you can find most of the diplomats ambassadors and representatives of other nations meeting.
- Zhentarim Thug (oota131)
Zhentarim in Darokin
Rian Nightshade (Lawful evil female tiefling warlock) An agent of the crown of Thyatis, and special advisor to the Council of Darokin.
Zhentarim in Shadowlands
Zhentarim agents traveling to and from Mantol-Derith have recently passed on information and rumors concerning demonic activity in the Underdark. The organization’s members have yet to realize the full extent of thc threat, as corruption and madness have already infiltrated their secret outpost since those initial reports (see chapter 9). However, even the most cautious member of the Zhentarim knows that demons at large in the world are bad for business, The organization thus views the possible presence of the demon lords in the Underdark with the same concern as any other external threat to their way of life.
Zhentarim bonds of oath and honor hold the network together and galvanize its members in united purpose. More importantly, those bonds reflect the pattern of tight control that the leaders of the Zhentarim hope to one day see imposed across the North and beyond. The organization is thus willing to commit to stop the demon lords from breaching the surface – knowing that such a fate would destroy the Zhentarims plans for control of Mystara
Zhentarim in Vestland
These are notes from Princes of the Apocalypse and Apply to the Red Larch region in the Dessian Valley connecting Vestland to the Ethengarian Steppes.
Zhentarim operatives might be found in any settlement, but in the North the organization is based in the Bargewright Inn. Zhentarim mercenaries and spies meet within its many private chambers. The Black Network disguises its ownership of the inn to avoid unwanted attention. The organization also has a vested interest in maintaining the prosperity of Yartar.
Zhentarim in Other Settings
Dark Sun – Athas
House Tsalaxa (from Princes of the Apocalypse)
The great merchant houses of the Tyr Region maintain warehouses and emporiums in all the major city-states. All are fiercely competitive and seek out any advantage to use against their rivals, but House Tsalaxa of Draj is widely regarded as the most ruthless of them all. Agents of House Tsalaxa do not hesitate to engage in assassination, bribery, or even sponsoring raids against the caravans of rival houses. For the Tsalaxa, the Cult of Elemental Evil represents a threat to the existing order; widespread destruction is bad for business, even by House Tsalaxa’s standards. If the house’s agents can seize the cult’s secrets in the process of eliminating the threat, so much the better.
Dragonlance – Krynn
The Seekers (from Princes of the Apocalypse)
In the Abanasinia region, the role of organized crime is mostly filled by the Seeker theocracy. While some Seekers truly do search for evidence of the gods, many are more concerned with establishing and controlling local rule, and do not shy away from using coercion and threats to get their way.
Greyhawk – Oerth
The Thieves Guild of Greyhawk (from Princes of the Apocalypse)
The Thieves’ Guild of Greyhawk is a good conversion for the Zhentarim. Based in the Free City of Greyhawk, the Thieves’ Guild seeks to control trade and influence events in many lands throughout the Flanaess. Like the Zhentarim, its members have a reputation as troublemakers but often are forced to meet the threat posed by truly abhorrent villains and monsters, and the cults of Elemental Evil certainly qualify.
The Order of the Emerald Claw or House Phiarlan or House Thuranni (from Princes of the Apocalypse)
Replace the Black Network with the Order of the Emerald Claw, though you should downplay the connection to Vol.
Further Information for the Dungeon Masters
- Tyranny of Dragons (tod19)
- 2021-08-24 – Added in section on adventure hooks.
- 2021-08-18 – Update to menu. Fixed description from Merchant Guild Agents to Thyatian Agents.
- 2020-08-30 – Added in information from Tyranny of Dragons.
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