On the Thieves’ Collective: An account by Dravis Neconder, TradeGuild/Collective Good Fortune Payment LiaisonBased in Theria, the Thieves’ Collective represents nothing more thanan organised crime syndicate at first glance. Young thieves are givenareas of the city to pickpocket, while middle-aged thieves operatecomplicated smuggling and fraud set-ups throughout the country.Children often end up in the Collective through misadventure, such asbecoming orphaned or running away from home.However, on closer inspection, the Thieves’ Collective is closelyintegrated with the society of Theria, even as far as the royalhousehold. It is well known that the King demands a tithe from thethieves, tolerating them rather than seeking to eradicate them. Inreturn, the Thieves demand a series of ‘Good Fortune Payments’, orbribes, to ensure that the Treasury and other Government buildingsremain free of hindrance from thieves. In fact, were a thief, unlicensedor not, to be found working against the Crown they would quickly beidentified and an example would be made of them. Past exampleshave included the unfortunate Ridalian thief Lepar ‘Nboyn, who waseventually found by the city guards in five different locations at once,and Ricardo desKreig, who was found attached by his ears to the bellsof the Temple of Lindriss, although not until they had been thoroughlyrung. This naturally leads one to question why the Crown continuouslytolerates the cavalier attitude of the Thieves. The answer is that aswell as being a den of thievery, the Collective represents a kind of university establishment for people bright enough to learn, but toopoor to afford a higher station. There are regular classes operated bythe oldest Collective members, who bear the title ‘Grey’. The Greysteach thievery techniques, but also teach literacy, numeracy, manners,cooking and a host of other subjects. As a result, the children andyoung people who emerge from the sewers (what the thievescolourfully refer to as ‘The Runs’) tend to be well-educated and polite,even as they remove your purse. The head of the Thieves’ Collective is a mysterious personage by thename of The Gaffer. He reveals himself infrequently, and reports havecited him as appearing variously as an elderly bald gentleman, amiddle-aged man with dark hair and a grand moustache, and a youngman of about twenty, completely hairless even to his eyebrows. Eitherthe post is constantly being filled, most likely due to ‘dead men’sboots’, or the identity of the leader is kept intentionally vague.