fascinating and horrible ideas for fantasy TTRPGs

The Northern Syndicates

Trebbelhold is crawling with criminals but most of the organized crime in the city is run from slightly outside the city in a small town in the Underdark called the Underlanes.

There, two gangs live side-by-side in a tenuous peace — the Grimmstones and the Classic Black.

Led by Garbek Grimmstone and inhabiting the western side of the Underlanes, the Grimmstones are a gang of duergar who control Trebbelhold’s black market of weapons. Most of the weapons they sell, distribute, supply, smuggle, and deal are common weapons made with a fine degree of quality. Each carries the mark of the gang: a warhammer with a G in the center of the head.

Mr. G is known to be a brutal leader who nonetheless enjoys the fierce loyalty of his gang. Almost all of the Underlanes witnessed Garbek publicly experience a family tragedy. His handling of this tragedy earned him reverence from his gang and the respect of most of the Classic Black.

The Grimmstones have found an especially rich vein of black iron ore within the Underdark beyond their city. From this, they fashion especially sinister weapons for the highest prices possible. These weapons, sometimes called Garbek Specials, are known to harness magic especially well and the gang work with evil mages to imbue their weapons with terrible powers for very high-end clients.

The Classic Black are a gang of drow led by Zaknafein Zolond (although if your players buy this, they don’t know much about the matriarchal structure of drow culture). TCB traffic poisons and potions all over Trebbelhold. They are recently known as the traffickers of a dangerous pair of potions called Friend and Foe.

Selling for only 1 gold piece per vial each, Friend and Foe produce competing magical effects. Consumption of Friend usually produces a benign effect and a mild, enjoyable high in its user. Foe produces an instantaneous wild magic effect in its user and a brief, extreme high.

The most popular way to consume these potions is to buy 1 vial of each as you begin your night’s carousing, chug half of each, hope for the best, and save your second dose for when you need to rally. Combining the two has unpredictable and often deadly effects but the high lasts longer. Most users believe it’s unlikely that the effect of the Foe will be so extreme as to cause harm to those around them. But they’re also chasing the high of causing a lightning storm in a crowded bar.

Lately, the Classic Black have been employing halfling children as their pushers. This has raised alarms among the lawful enforcers in Trebbelhold and some concern among the Grimmstones.

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Wearing this ring makes you appear weak to any potential enemies. To remove the illusion from yourself, you must remove the ring.

drama & discovery & danger

We've learned a few lessons from running all sorts of RPGs. We've collected our GM advice here.

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