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 5e Zhentarim....Iron Thone v2?
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ZeshinX
Learned Scribe

Canada
210 Posts

Posted - 31 Jul 2014 :  20:46:22  Show Profile  Visit ZeshinX's Homepage Send ZeshinX a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Strikes me that the Zhentarim in 5e are pretty much the Iron Throne. I would expect some similarities, given their basic concepts as trade organizations, but....I dunno.

The Zhentarim seem to be following the same pattern the Red Wizards did too. From 1e/2e -> 3e, went from straight up evil to more neutral (conquer via economy vs conquer with invasion).

Of course my knowledge of lore and organizations in the Realms has an enormous gap that is 4e Realms, so perhaps the changes to the Zhentarim occurred then.

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The Arcanamach
Master of Realmslore

1679 Posts

Posted - 31 Jul 2014 :  22:35:27  Show Profile Send The Arcanamach a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Someone may correct me but I believe Ed's homebrew Zhentarim were evil but smarter about how they did things (as opposed to how they were presented by TSR back in the day). They may have appeared more neutral to most outsiders at first until the extortion really kicked in. Maybe the 'new' direction is actually the original direction Ed envisioned from the beginning?

I have a dream that one day, all game worlds will exist as one.
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Seethyr
Senior Scribe

USA
813 Posts

Posted - 31 Jul 2014 :  23:48:44  Show Profile  Visit Seethyr's Homepage Send Seethyr a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by The Arcanamach

Someone may correct me but I believe Ed's homebrew Zhentarim were evil but smarter about how they did things (as opposed to how they were presented by TSR back in the day). They may have appeared more neutral to most outsiders at first until the extortion really kicked in. Maybe the 'new' direction is actually the original direction Ed envisioned from the beginning?



Like a Mafia of sorts?

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The Masked Mage
Great Reader

USA
2186 Posts

Posted - 01 Aug 2014 :  13:49:06  Show Profile Send The Masked Mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The old Zhents, led by Manshoon were smart about the way they did things. For example, Manshoon decides he wants to establish a force at the citadel of the raven. So he makes allies with everyone nearby, they work together to get it done and then he takes it over from the inside out. In this fashion he took over much of the region. Only when subtle tactics failed did he resort to brute force - though this happened too.

The Zhents always were interested in trade dominance. This was the big reason they conquered Darkhold, to gain a foothold in a location central to trade, despite that location being VERY far from their core strength. They also established the trade route across the desert to offer an alternative to the slower southern routes (which they exclusively control).

Unlike the Iron Throne, the Zhent's have a keen interest in political Empire. First this meant taking over Zhentil Keep. Then the citadel. Then Teshwave and Yulash... the list goes on and on

Another complicating influence is their connection to various religions. First there was Bane, then Cyric, then Xvim/Bane again - all of these changes bloody and brutal and often tied to RSEs.

Ultimately, though, Wizards cloned Manshoon to death :P so Fzoul got to be powerful, and then got to be a godling of strife so all subtlety went right out the window.


As far as the Zhent progression of evil, I'd say it goes along with Manshoon. Before Manshoon they were Lords and Merchants who wanted money and power. Then Manshoon took over and they became the Zhentarim we know and love. After the Manshoon wars who's to say what would change?
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Derulbaskul
Senior Scribe

Singapore
402 Posts

Posted - 03 Aug 2014 :  11:30:17  Show Profile Send Derulbaskul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ed's version of the Zhentarim seemed to have three major reasons behind its existence:

1. Manshoon wanted gold to finance his acquisition of more and more magic.
2. The beholders seemed to see the Zhentarim as a farm for the humans and other races they saw as livestock.
3. Bane wanted a tyrant to represent him on Toril and the subtlety with which Ed's Zhentarim went about its business seemed to offer a tremendous opportunity to turn Manshoon in that tyrant.

All three played major roles in the formation of Ed's Zhentarim if you read Ed's writings including the almost overt sponsorship of Manshoon by Bane as revealed in Elminster's Guide to the Forgotten Realms.

Frankly, I think the 5E version of the Zhentarim is simply getting back to Ed's original vision rather than two decades' worth of products that needed beatable villains.

Cheers
D

NB: Please remember: A cannon is a big gun. Canon is what we discuss here.
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Gyor
Master of Realmslore

1379 Posts

Posted - 03 Aug 2014 :  13:02:48  Show Profile Send Gyor a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I still find it strange that the Zhents are in an Alliance of sorts with groups like the Order of the Gauntlet andthe Harpers.
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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
5146 Posts

Posted - 03 Aug 2014 :  14:29:04  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well thats what happens when you pick ideas out of a hat that sound cool. I would try not to think too much about the reasoning behind it because there probably wasnt much reasoning put into it.

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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5055 Posts

Posted - 04 Aug 2014 :  03:08:38  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm afraid I must disagree with you on that point.
Ed tells me that for each of these stories, thought is put in right at the beginning, and refined as the tales develop, as to what interest each faction has in whatever's going on (i.e. WHY they will do what they do, and avoid what they avoid, in the unfolding adventure). So the designers are all on the same page. In most cases, DMs will end up being explicitly told some or all of this, because knowing it makes things easier for them to adapt on the fly in response to whatever PCs do, and to create their own sidetreks and complementary encounters. Players, of course, will have to discover what they can about such motivations and interests during play.
Ed was overjoyed when factions came to the fore in the Wizards design process; you'll be seeing and hearing more about them in the months to come.
love,
THO
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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
5146 Posts

Posted - 04 Aug 2014 :  08:29:09  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well in that case i apologise unreservedly

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Derulbaskul
Senior Scribe

Singapore
402 Posts

Posted - 05 Aug 2014 :  16:21:11  Show Profile Send Derulbaskul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That's great feedback, THO

quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One (snip)Ed was overjoyed when factions came to the fore in the Wizards design process; you'll be seeing and hearing more about them in the months to come.
love,
THO



I have to agree. For me, the inclusion of the factions was proof that WotC was trying to bring the Realms alive - and firmly grounding the PCs in the world - rather than doing what happened during part of the 2E years: slap a FR logo on a product and say that it's now Realmslore.

I also like the way the factions seem very much like the icons in 13th Age. :)

Cheers
D

NB: Please remember: A cannon is a big gun. Canon is what we discuss here.
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5055 Posts

Posted - 05 Aug 2014 :  18:29:11  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I like 13th Age. However, factions (though they've been fine-tuned all along, and are still being) have been part of Ed's original Realms concept since at least 1978 (which is the date on Ed's documents I was given, when I encountered them as a player) and part of the Wizards in-house design process since at least 2011 . . . and 13th Age came out in 2013.
love,
THO

Edited by - The Hooded One on 05 Aug 2014 18:30:27
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
3255 Posts

Posted - 05 Aug 2014 :  18:41:22  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't get this. Factions/organizations are not a made up concept, they have always existed in RW as well, it's just natural to implement them in a setting. Personally I find faction rules redundant, but understand why they are convenient for organized play.

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Derulbaskul
Senior Scribe

Singapore
402 Posts

Posted - 10 Aug 2014 :  06:14:46  Show Profile Send Derulbaskul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One

I like 13th Age. However, factions (though they've been fine-tuned all along, and are still being) have been part of Ed's original Realms concept since at least 1978 (which is the date on Ed's documents I was given, when I encountered them as a player) and part of the Wizards in-house design process since at least 2011 . . . and 13th Age came out in 2013.
love,
THO



Um, yes, I am well aware of that.

In 13th Age, the icons are front and centre and help ground the players in the world. I like how the AL is doing much the same thing with Ed's factions, putting them first and using them to help root the PCs in the setting (in addition to backgrounds etc...).

Frankly, this is how I have always run FR. The factions are far more important than most of the well-known NPCs and focussing on the factions, rather than the Elminsters et al, is a great way of getting rid of the unfair criticism of FR that it's all about super-powerful NPCs.

Cheers
D

NB: Please remember: A cannon is a big gun. Canon is what we discuss here.
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Brunellus
Acolyte

2 Posts

Posted - 25 Feb 2015 :  19:40:40  Show Profile Send Brunellus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seethyr

quote:
Originally posted by The Arcanamach

Someone may correct me but I believe Ed's homebrew Zhentarim were evil but smarter about how they did things (as opposed to how they were presented by TSR back in the day). They may have appeared more neutral to most outsiders at first until the extortion really kicked in. Maybe the 'new' direction is actually the original direction Ed envisioned from the beginning?



Like a Mafia of sorts?


That's what has been going on in our biweekly campaign. The Black Network is taking construction jobs through front organizations and getting redundant financing to build roads by telling multiple parties(Lords' Alliance, etc) that another party was offering to pay 25%. That's 50% off the top at a rate between 8000 to 10,000 gold per mile*. Gambling and narcotics are fine and fill a demand, and money can be had by giving people what they want.
The real money can be had by giving the government what they want.

*The cost of roads is so massive that 7500 gold per mile is probably too enticing to pass up.
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