Thieves are often people who don't fit in elsewhere. Unlike other classes, nearly all thieves are adventurers, often by necessity. True, many settle permanently in a single are and live off the local population, but when your life tends to be in defiance of the local law, you have to be ready to leave at a moment's notice! Each job is an adventure involving great risks (including, possibly, death), and there are precious few opportunities to relax and let your guard down.

Thieves occasionally form guilds, especially in major cities and places with a strong sense of law and order. In many cases, they are forced to cooperate merely to survive. Influential thieves see guilds as a way to increase their own profits and grant them the image of respectability. They become dons and crimelords, directing operations without ever having to dirty their hands.

At the same time, the membership of a thieves' guild is by definition composed of liars, cheats, swindlers, and dangerously violent people. Thus, such guilds are hotbeds of deceit, treachery, and back-stabbing (literally). Only the most cunning and powerful rise to the top. Sometimes this rise is associated with level ability, but more often it is a measure of the don's judge of character and political adeptness.

Curiously, thieves who are masters of their craft tend not to advance too high in the organization. Their talents in the field are too valuable to lose, and their effort is expended on their art, not on maneuvering and toadying. There is, in fact, no rule that says the leader of the thieves' guild has to be a thief. The leader's job involves charisma, character appraisals, and politicking--the powerful crimelord could turn out to be a crafty merchant, a well-educated nobleman, or even an insidious mind flayer.

(See also
Thief, Players Handbook)

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