There is a truism in RPGs that if you want the players to do something, you should design the game to make them do that something. I want The King is Dead to be about plots and skullduggery in the alleys and parlors of pseudo-Georgian Malleus, so why the heck did I put a hybrid pirate/highwayman guild in the core secret societies?!
“I’m a respectable landowner who is secretly a mad scientist.”
“I’m a Clavish valet who is secretly a deadly assassin.”
“I’m a disaffected noblewoman who has turned to magic.”
“I’m a pirate! Arr!”
Yeah, why deliberately create a situation where one player is going to have a character who doesn’t fit with everybody else – who is yearning to be off gallivanting about on his ship while everybody else built their character to fit into the society of mainland Malleus? Presented below is the new “thieves’ guild” to replace the Red Brotherhood.
The Benevolent Association
They say there is no honor among thieves. The Benevolent Association of Highwaymen, Pickpockets, and Second-Storey Men is the exception that proves the rule.
The underworld of Malleus is a treacherous maze of constantly-shifting loyalties and alliances of convenience. The innkeeper that’s been your fence for years would sell you to the thief-takers in an instant if he knew you were schtupping his daughter; the old man who taught you everything you know has ratted out a half-dozen apprentices before you. It takes a thief of true honor to resist the siren’s call of easy money.
The Benevolent Association is comprised entirely of those brigands who have proved themselves loyal to their friends and allies. They’ve got a safehouse in every town and village where you can rest easy without fear of treachery; they’ve got the manpower and money to stage jailbreaks or bribe guards at all but the most secure fortresses. They’re the shining knights of the underworld -- paragons of the simplest of virtues -- and they will enforce that code of honor with steel and shot, boyo.
Don’t screw with them unless you want six inches of steel in your gut.
Archetypes: gallant highwayman, quixotic gentleman, smiling cutthroat, young burglar.
Membership in the Benevolent Association grants one die in Streetwise and one die in either Riding or Lockpicking.