Assassins in the Mist Edit
So you want to join an assassin's guild? Or just want to contract for an assassination? Where do you turn? Research and suggestions follow.
- Doctor Van Richten asserts that "vampires hold positions as grandmasters of various thieves' and assassins' guilds throughout the lands of mist" (Van Richten's Guide to Vampires, p 91)
- the Ba'al Verzi in Barovia are said to number roughly a handful (Gazetteer I, p 35);
- Nicu Moldonesti (Ari1/Rog6/Asn6), a nosferatu vampire, assumed leadership of the Ba'al Verzi and turned many of its master assassins into nosferatu; with the power of domination of the nosferatu innocents are increasingly being used to safely deal death at a distance (Gazetteer I, p 35);
- Lady Kazandra, leader of the Martira Bay faction of the Kargat and official head of the Kargat is a vampire assassin (Rog5/Asn3) (Gazetteer II, p 147)
- Venrith Chole, leader of the Karg faction of the Kargat, is a ghost, werewolf assassin (Rog6/Asn6 LE) (Gazetteer II, p 36)
- “assassinations can be contracted at Boem camps” (RCS, p 207);
- “Many darklings become rogues or assassins.” (CoD, p. 116);
- The League of Nine in Borca is composed of apothecaries from the domain’s leading families and can be solicited to intervene to ‘right’ a ‘wrong’ (Gazetteer IV Web Extra, p 3-4);
- The Spider (Ancient Assassin) in Matira Bay is a vampire and had probably been hibernating for 200 years (Van Richten's Guide to Vampires, p 90-91);
- An assassin sent by the Gentleman Caller murders Arabela and, at the hands of Isolde, becomes the first of the Abominations (C pg. 40);
- Bane, an outlander mercenary and most likely an assassin, is sent by Strahd against Azalin (FoD, p 16);
- Voan Darl, an assassin, from Darkon is sent against Azalin’s forces by Strahd (I, Strahd, The War Against Azalin, p 261, p 268-289);
- Mordal, an assassin, worked for, betrayed, and was imprisoned by von Kharkov (Forbidden Lore: Oaths of Evil, p 30);
- The Church of the Spider Queen lost the last of its founders as part of a long string of assassinations in the Shadow Rift (Gazetteer 5, p 108);
- Clerics of the Church of the Spider Queen often multiclass into assassin (Gazetteer 5, p 111);
- Lustmorde is a group of killers united and egged on in their savage passion for murder for murder’s sake by a tenebris known as the Second (or Deeper) Shadow of Death (Gazetteer 108, p 111);
Now according to the DMG villages (401-900) are only going to harbour, at most, 1 expert and 1 rogue of sufficient level to be assassins. And on average villages would harbour 1 expert of sufficient level to be an assassin.
Small towns (901-2000) are only going to harbour, at most, 1 bard, 3 experts and 1 rogue of sufficient level to be assassins. And on average small towns would harbour 1 expert of sufficient level to be an assassin.
Large towns (2,001-5,000) are only going to harbour, at most, 3 rogues, 3 experts, 1 bard and 1 ranger of sufficient level to be assassins. On average large towns would harbour 1 bard, 1 expert, 1 rogue and 1 ranger of sufficient level to be assassins.
Because of the skill requirements no other classes will have individuals of sufficient level in towns or smaller places.
In Barovia then, with two large towns (although not of Barovian origin), three small towns, and one village there would be, at most, an upper possible limit of 33 assassins consisting of 16 experts, 10 rogues, 5 bards and 2 rangers. And there will be, on average, an upper possible limit of 12 assassins consisting of 6 experts, 2 rogues, 2 bards and 2 rangers. Practically, 1d3 experts, 1d3 rogues, 1d2-1 bards and 1d3-2 rangers would be imaginable, for an average of 4.8 assassins. That squares well enough with a handful of Ba’al Verzi. But it makes for a tiny guild. And assumes, not unreasonably that Strahd doesn’t keep any assassins on staff, having the Boem of the Vistani to turn to in case of need.
Small cities (5,001-12,000) could, at most, harbour 6 bards, 6 experts, 2 fighters, 2 rangers, 2 rogues and 2 warriors of sufficient level to be assassins. There would be an upper possible limit of 24 assassins. On average small cities would harbour 2 bards, 2 experts, 2 rangers and 2 rogues of sufficient level to be assassins. This would yield a upper limit of 12 possible assassins. Practically, 1d3-2 bards, 1d3-2 experts, 1d4-3 rangers, 1d2 rogues, 1d6-5 fighters and 1d6d-5 warriors would be imaginable, for an average of 2.75 assassins. That is probably below the critical density needed for a guild. Which is to say that most of the largest population centres in Ravenloft, save for places where assassins are over-represented, are too small to have guilds exclusive to themselves.
Large cities (12,001+) would harbour on average 2 adepts, 9 bards, 2 clerics, 9 experts, 3 fighters, 9 rangers, 9 rogues and 3 warriors of sufficient level to be assassins. At the maximum that would be 46 possible assassins. Practically, 1d6-5 adepts, 1d2 bards, 1d6-5 clerics, 1d2-1 experts, 1d4-3 fighters, 1d3-2 rangers, 1d3 rogues, and 1d4-3 warriors, for an average of 5.75 assassins, would be imaginable. That makes for tiny guilds in Lekar, Il-Aluk, Pont-au-Museau and Kantora.
Some Conclusions Edit
- in light of the skill and dispositional requirements rogues form the backbone of the profession; experts may also have a not unimportant place, followed by bards, then rangers;
- adepts, clerics, fighters and warriors are, at best, infrequent members of the profession;
- aristocrats, barbarians, sorcerers and wizards of sufficient level, except in the case of multiclassing, are too rare to be found (save for exceptionally) in the profession;
- the deepest, most diversified and most exceptional assassin talent pool, that in the former Il-Aluk, died with, but was preserved in unlife by, the Requiem; if Death has anything going for it, it’s demographics;
- assassins’ guild numbers could be increased by 25% to 150% by stipulating that members include those in training who have not yet qualified for the class;
- a domain without at least two small cities is unlikely to have any guild proper to itself (historical reasons justify the Barovian exception);
- a domain with two or more small cities but no large city is likely to have one or more guilds that straddle all places in the domain; many cities and large distances between them favour two or more straddling guilds;
- a domain with a large city may have a guild proper to itself, but this guild is likely to straddle, or at least attempt to straddle, all places in the domain and in any immediately surrounding domains lacking a guild;
- assassins’ guilds are not going to be sufficiently large and powerful to have an official existence unless it is integrated into some larger government sanctioned institution (the military, the intelligence service, the secret police, etc.);
- guilds probably lack the resources for anything so substantial as a guild house and most especially the means to properly defend it; boltholes and safe houses are far more probable;
- inter-guild warfare should be extremely rare as there are simply not the numbers to waste on it;
Canon Organizations Engaged in Assassination Edit
- Ba’al Verzi, guild based in Barovia, members are ethnic Baloks and most are also nosferatu vampires, a handful of full-fledged members at present, led by Nicu Moldonesti (nosferatu vampire Ari1/Rog6/Asn6 CE), historically the most infamous, feared and secretive assassins in the Land of the Mists, and this despite rarely striking outside of Barovia, Borca or Invidia, the contemporary reputation probably owed in part to other guilds sometimes fabricating evidence against them to mislead investigators;
- Kargat, secret police and intelligence service of Darkon numbering 200 members, up to half of who may be stationed abroad, 20 mid- and high-level members, mostly lycanthropes and undead, are assassins, Martira Bay faction and overall organisation led by Lady Kazandra (vampire Rog5/Asn3 LE), Karg faction led by Venrith Chole (ghost werewolf Rog6/Asn6 LE), and Corvia faction, which is gradually crumbling into disarray, led by the paranoid Beryl Silvertresss (vampire Ftr5/Ari5 NE), secretive and cellular organisation that never engages in contracted assassinations in its own name but from time to time may create fronts that do, accepting only those contracts consistent with the will of one or more of its leaders and not inconsistent with the commands of Azalin Rex;
- The Ministry of Intelligence (Falkovnia), based in Lekar and operating in the nations immediately surrounding Falkovnia and also in Invidia too, members are ethnic Falkovnians, the number of trained assassins would be a finger or two over a handful with at least one likely on loan to Invidia at any time, directed by the Minister of Intelligence Falkfuhrer Calons Weir (LE), anyone so foolish as to approach the ministry to contract an assassination ends up, at best, impaled upon a stake;
- Lustmorde, a highly secretive, loosely associated fraternity of sadistic murderers with Morfenzi lying at the centre of their Falkovnian wide activity, members are ethnic Falkovnians, including at least some low level assassins; initiation is by a tenebris identifying itself as the Second (or Deeper) Shadow of Death.
- The League of Nine, elusive and mysterious guild based in Borca, members are in fact apothecaries from leading families, they are 9 in number, the guild may be appealed to right wrongs, which it does according to the advancement of its own pretensions to importance and power and in return for which it issues a bill.