Crime pays in Phlan, but not if you have to fight over all the spoils all the
time. In the rough and tumble atmosphere of the city, the most important local criminal organizations
have worked out an uneasy but functional alliance: Konsje. Each group maintains control
over its own turf or interests while cooperating together to protect themselves
from the Watch.
The alliances are not easily maintained however. Rivalries are bound to crop
up, and when the gangs of Phlan go to war the Watch invariable spends a day
fishing the corpses out of the river while blood pools in the streets.
The Good Folk
In the River district of Phlan lie the areas last reclaimed, if not yet
completely civilized, by the continued effort to take the city back to its
former glory. These areas are often populated by the most adventurous or
desperate, since real estate is cheap but not a few threats loom in the all too
close Western Ruins. Among these there are a number of immigrants from nearby
lands, and the most significant is a large group of families from Melvaunt. The
Melvauntians are widely despised by the average citizen due to the recent story
of enmity among the two cities, but they are in great demand for the
reconstruction efforts because of their skill and productivity. Unfortunately
the latter has not been enough to prevent some pogroms to happen in the past,
and as a result the Melvauntians, who refer to themselves as "Good Folk" have
turned into a group very closed to strangers, and the scores of thuggish youths
that roam their streets in gangs do much to reinforce that image, to the point
that among the Phlanites, "Good Folk" has become another way of saying
"odd-skinned thugs from Melvaunt".
Stories are told about an elite team of men that fought for Phlan during the
war, carrying out daring commando operations and eliminating enemy leaders.
After the war, nothing was heard again about them, as if they had vanished, or
never existed. But rumor has it that they are still around, and that if only you
could find them maybe, just maybe, you could hire them.
There have always been rumors of 'them' being behind the scenes, their tentacles
reaching all spheres of power, manipulating like puppet masters everything that
happens in Phlan to their benefit, for unknown purposes. The thing is, nobody
really knows if 'they' exist, who they are, what they have actually ever done
and what the hell they would want to achieve. Outrageous conspiracy theories
abound among the citizens but the Watch doesn't give them a lot of credibility,
they have enough blatant criminals committing real crimes to worry about any
possible criminal masterminds that have no apparent bearing on the day to day
life of the city.
A loose confederation of patriotic rogues, scoundrels, beggars, bastards and
harlots has adopted the sarcastic name of "The Welcomers" or "the Welcoming
Committee". It operates overtly (but without the sanction of the town), so many
locals know the members' identities. Thus the group targets visitors almost
exclusively, leading to its questionably clever name. The Welcomers are best
known for cutting off their left ears as a sign of loyalty and identification, a
practise commonly referred to as "Cutting and Dangling". The guild is about 150
members strong, and the only reason it is allowed to exist at all is that its
member's services as scouts and defenders have served the town well during past
crises. As a result of the Welcomers' unique identifying mark, there is good
work in Phlan for anyone with regeneration spells. Former Welcomers and those
thieves who wish to be a bit more inconspicuous are always willing to pay good
money for those services.
The Wharf Rats
The docks of Phlan are ridden with all kinds of vermin, and those walking on two
legs are the worst of all. The run down areas of the harbor and surroundings are
full of bad people who wouldn't hesitate to gut you like a fish over a wrong
look. A particularly nasty group whose members call themselves "Wharf Rats"
seems to be almost everywhere, often not far from where some cargo was
misplaced, or a ship went missing, or a citizen was seen swimming with a rock
necklace. They seem to concentrate around the warehouses near the harbor wall,
an area which no citizen with any common sense would be walking through unless
it was in broad daylight and they had a compelling reason. And a bodyguard. Or
two. The wharf rats are commonly accused of almost all the petty and not so
petty crime happening in the harbor area, although few believe they are anything
but a rag tag band of thugs not even fit for piracy.
What is Konsje?
Konsje is the term used to refer to a loose pact existing among the main criminal
organizations that operate in Phlan, with the goals of keeping a peaceful coexistence,
using each other's power and influence to the benefit of all, and keeping the outsiders
at bay. In short, it is a "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" kind of agreement
between otherwise disconnected criminal rings and groups with completely different
and very often conflicting goals. Historically the term Konsje was used throughout
the Moonsea to seal pacts of allegiance among enemies who chose to make peace in
order to fight a common enemy (more often than not the Zhentarim).
Criminals bound by Konsje often refer to it with more mundane terms, such as "the
pact", "the oath" or "the agreement". The word Konsje is commonly used as a threat
or a warning to those outside the pact. Among the general population, Konsje is almost
a synonym for crime, and often used to refer to the entire criminal underworld of Phlan.
Saving the distance, Konsje could be compared to how the Mafia families arranged
their areas of influence in a city, dealt with outsider groups and the law as a
single entity (Cosa Nostra), and generally had a certain code of honor, all the
while trying to get the control in underhanded ways, betraying and killing. The
difference would be that instead of all being Italian Americans running mobster
groups, in Phlan you would have much more varied and loosely connected types of
"families": smugglers, assassins, local thugs... Each group bound by Konsje has
its own motivations and characteristics, and they are not by all means complementary.
In fact, they have been designed to have conflict with each other and within
What is it not?
Konsje is not a single organization. As mentioned above, it's made up of multiple
groups. It doesn't even have a structure, or a leader. It is just an unwritten contract
whose terms are interpreted differently by their members, but which boil down to
avoiding turf wars among them and helping each other outside their area of control.
E.g. an organization that smuggles goods may need a group with well connected fencers
to distribute them; a group with a lot of wealth may need a group that sells muscle;
a group with strong influence in an area but little to none outside may take a cut
from operations by the other groups in its area in exchange for the ability to work
there unhampered. And so on.
Konsje is not an unchanging entity. As its groups fight for power or are eliminated
or weakened by the law, Konsje itself changes. A group that finds itself in a
position of power may demand a payment from the weaker groups in order to be allowed
to function, and suddenly find themselves wiped out by a coalition of all the other
Konsje and its member organizations are not a DM faction club. In the beginning,
all the factions sworn by Konsje will be of course DM controlled. A few will be open
to PCs, while other will remain NPC only. PCs may gain positions of power within their
own factions and maybe even control them. Likewise, PCs may form their own PC-led
criminal rings and join Konsje as an independent faction. This of course will have
to be done in game, since disturbing the statu quo is bound to cause trouble.
Konsje is not the only way for criminals in Phlan. Criminals may very well function
outside of it, either as individuals or as factions. But of course how they're treated
by Konsje members will have a lot to do with how much of a threat they become. Factions
covering a niche that Konsje doesn't claim as its own could very well live without any
conflict and maybe even have a friendly relationship. However, we are mean bastards
and we've pretty much guaranteed that in order to live outside Konsje you or your
faction will have to deal with some conflict.
Who is in the Guild?
There are five major organizations under Konsje, two of which will be open for
applications from day one. Of the others, some will likely remain NPC only or
perhaps have room for very specific types of PC characters. There is also an
undetermined number of minor unnamed factions that may pop up at any time as
plot devices. And of course, in due time we expect some PC factions to make
their way into Konsje. Widely known details about the existing factions are
available in the Website, and of course more information will be available in
How do other factions see the Guild?
That is a hard question, since Konsje is not a single entity with one public face.
Most people in Phlan will be aware of the existence of some of its factions, while
others are completely unknown or covered in a shroud of mystery. For the population
at large, treating them as one or multiple entities is splitting hairs. But for those
dealing with the underground, Konsje is very much a reality that cannot be ignored.