Supposedly founded thirty years ago by a pair of bored nobles, the Griffins are a gang who focus their efforts on giving folk the illegal things they want, rather than victimizing folk. They deal drugs, fence, sell smuggled goods, and arrange for illegal gambling dens, all with the aim of thrilling rich folk and parting them from their coin. The Griffins maintain the northernmost territory of any other gang, bleeding slightly into the North and Sea Wards.
- Badges: Brown leather bracer, with three slashes as though from talons, on left forearm. Many of the Griffins get tattoos of the gang's sign (the griffin) as well.
- Signs: A stylized griffin symbol, usually painted outside of establishments hosting Griffin Gathers.
Drug dealing, confidence games, fencing, middlemen for smuggler sales, host illegal gambling dens (in events called "Griffin Gathers"), illegal pit fighting.
- The Roost: Tavern. A ratty local drinking hole, the Roost has been the defacto headquarters of the Griffins since their founding. Most nights Valesta can be found there, with her lieutenants and whoever else has business with her. The back part of the tavern has basically been claimed by the gang, who urge others trying to sit there to move on.
- Enemies: The Drunkard's Own have remained antagonistic with the Griffins for quite a while now, although that antagonism is mostly confined within each gang's boundaries. Recently, the gang of hoodlums raided a Griffin Gather and made off with several thousand gold pieces in coin, plus the jewelry of the attending nobility, and Valesta has sworn to get her revenge for it.
- Allies: None, though the Griffins have hired the Squires to provide extra protection in the form of additional fighters in recent days.
- Treaties: Arulembar's Shields and the Griffins have a non-aggression pact, and both are careful to observe the niceties. Rumors say that the Shields may have struck up an alliance with the Drunkard's Own, however, so it may just be a matter of time before that treaty is broken.
Agents of the Griffins in good standing might receive the following benefits:
- Call for Help: Rank 2+. When in Griffins turf, you can call for help from your fellow gang members. If they have been established as being on-scene, they come running. If this hasn't been established, there is a 30% chance that 1d4+2 thugs associated with the Griffins are nearby and within earshot. If this roll results in a 5% result, one of the upper echelons of the gang with them.
- Doss Space: Rank 2+. You always have doss space with members of the gang. It's not always the best accommodations, of course, but beggers can't be choosers, right? You may always receive the Poor Lifestyle benefits for free as long as you are in Waterdeep. This will always be padding down with some other Griffins, and so is almost guaranteed to be within Griffins turf.
- The Good Life: Rank 3+. Griffins like to live it up. You only pay half the cost for alcohol and other intoxicants. Additionally, when taking the Carousing downtime action, the cost for lower class carousing is halved.
- Pulling Jobs: Rank 3+. At full membership, you are expected to do work for the gang's interests. You must spend one tenday of downtime per month tending to this effort. You may choose one of the following types of downtime performed for the gang.
- Crime: When taking the Crime downtime action, you may choose to get the aid of your fellow Griffins. This reduces the cost to perform the action by 10gp, and gives you advantage on up to three of the checks involved (minimum one). For each check you gain advantage on, you have to give over a quarter of the takings, assuming there are any. So, help on just one check requires you relinquish a quarter of the Loot Value, on two checks, it is half, and three-quarters if you take advantage on all three. Additionally, you are expected to hand over half your take to the gang, but only one one such heist per month.
- Gambling: If you work one of the Griffin Gathers and gamble on behalf of the house, they cover 100gp of your gambling coin. You may choose to gamble more, but the gang covers 100gp of it, and still takes half of what you win after recovering their initial buy-in for you, regardless of how much it may end up being. The gang deals with any Complications that may crop up, however.
- Pit Fighting: The gang takes half of your winnings. The gang deals with any Complications that may crop up, however.
- Work: There are plenty of jobs necessary to the gang's livelihood: recruitment, bodyguarding, security, information gathering, playing messenger, and more. If the task doesn't fall into the above, it is covered by the Work downtime activity.
- Crew: Rank 5+. Griffins of this rank can get the assistance of their fellows for other tasks, although if it's not something for the gang, they'll need to hand over 2gp a head to the gang for the "loan" of the muscle. If the request is for within a tenday, 3d6+2 Griffins can be available. If it it within five days, 2d6+1 Griffins can be available. Only 1d6 are available within a day, or 1d4 within an hour.
- Upper Echelons: Rank 5+. Now, when performing a Pulling Jobs-based downtime activity, the gang claims only one-third of what you make.
Griffin Queen (Rank 10)
The unassuming Valesta is often underestimated – which is just how she likes it. She is a capable fighter, and a decent tactician, but most of all her manners and comportment are up to the standards of the nobles who most often frequent her Gathers. Though clearly from the streets, she knows how to dress up to meet the standards of the highnoses she's out to fleece. According to rumor, one of Valesta's ancestors was one of the last Waterdhavian griffin riders.
Wing (Rank 9)
Acrobatic and utterly ruthless, Saembesta is Valesta's main bodyguard. The two women are fast friends, though one couldn't tell by their behavior in public: Valesta is the gregarious, charming one out in front, and Saembesta watches with sharp eyes from the shadows.
Wing (Rank 8) •
A moon elf with a distinctively acid-scarred face, Whiteveil does not discuss where he got his horrific scars. For all his aloof appearance, Whiteveil is best of companion with all the other Wings, and with a good many of the rest of the gang. Though composed, he is very good at seeming to cut loose in the company of his gangmates, and they love him for it. He is also a magician of some talent. Whiteveil acts as the main announcer and Pitboss for the fighting circuit.
Wing (Rank 7)
The newest of the Wings, the hobgoblin Grother oversees the security concerns for Griffin Gathers. As such, many of the Griffins who act as security are under his command. He is a former pit fighter himself, and sometimes oversees the training of some of the Griffins' own fighters.
Former boss of the Griffins
Though retired for a few years now, Brivitil still seems to be subtly in touch with the criminal underworld of Waterdeep. He often acts to advise Valesta – the two have dinner at least once a tenday – and he also is known to act as a fixer of some sort.
The Griffin Gathers Fighting Circuit
The Gathers are host to a variety of types of gambling, but the most hotly anticipated is the pit fighting. An entire fighting subculture has developed around the Griffin Pits, with a variety of fighters and their trainers vying for the coveted "crown" of the Champion of the Gather: the champion fighter for the circuit.
- The Pitboss: Part announcer and part judge, the Pitboss is the Griffin who heads up the Circuit. The current Pitboss is Whiteveil, one of the gang's Wings.
- The Champion: The Champion is a celebrity that has fought their way to the top. They are always brutal warriors and skilled performers, able to draw out a fight to give a good show. There are two ways to get to fight the Champion: the Challenge Tithe and the Victorious Contender.
- The Challenge Tithe: Any fighter in the Circuit may pay a fee to claim a fight against the Champion. The fee for this is 100gp multiplied by the number of times the Challenge has successfully defended their title. This means that in the early days after a Champion's victory, they are frequently Challenged, but as they successfully defend the title, it gets more and more expensive to try for the crown.
- The Victorious Contender: The "long road to the crown" involves being made a Contender, and accumulating ten victories against other Contenders. Once those victories are accumulated, a Contender has the right to call a Challenge on any night the Champion is fighting. It isn't uncommon for fighters to accumulate those victories but never call the Challenge, if the Champion is demonstrably strong. A Contender may only call Challenge once per ten full victories.
- The Championship Challenge: The winner of the Championship Challenge not only wins the title of Champion, but the Championship Purse (usually 4d6 x 20gp), a Champion's Reputation, and the Champion's Palace, a swanky tallhouse owned by the Griffins, complete with servants and bodyguard, and given over to the use of the reigning Champion.
- Contenders: Contenders have more Wins than Losses to their record, with a minimum of three wins.
- Chumps: A fighter with more Losses than Wins, or fewer Wins than three to their name, is considered a pit chump: someone there to get beaten on for the pleasure of the crowd.
- Fights: A bout follows the Six Rules, and continues until someone surrenders, retreats out of the Pit, is knocked unconscious, or killed.
- Winner: The winner gets the purse, which is equal to (winner's Wins - Losses] x 50 gold pieces. The more wins a fighter has, the more folk who bet on them in the pit. Additionally, a winner also frequently gains tips from doting audience members, in a sum of 1d10gp per point of CR their opponent has, multiplied by their Charisma bonus.
- Loser: Losers gain no purse, although they frequently also gain a tip from the audience, in a sum of 1d10gp per point of the opponent's CR, multiplied by their Charisma bonus.
- Betting: Viewers may bet up to 50 gold pieces on the matches, although those who are considered "Queen's Guests" (a distinction that some folk pay good coin to get, earning them special treatment at Griffin Gathers) may bet up to 200 gold pieces on a match. Odds are usually based on the relative strength, wins, and reputation of the fighters.
- A relatively equal pairing would get 1:1 odds (a victory gains the bet amount back, plus the bet amount again).
- A strong opponent versus a weaker one would get 1:2 odds (a victory gains the bet amount, plus half the bet amount again), while a weak opponent versus a strong one gets 2:1 odds (a victory gains the bet amount, plus double the bet amount again).
- Particularly egregious disparities in strength may push these to 1:4 or 4:1 odds, but those are usually reserved for particularly foolish Challenges.
The reigning Champion is the half-orc swordmistress Aufthak. The curvy, charismatic swordwoman has an incredible following, and she knows how to work a crowd into a frenzied bloodlust. She has successfully defended against twelve Challenges to date, making the fee to Challenge her a hefty 1200 gold pieces.
|Diremmond the Devil|
The Pit Fiend • Contender (20 Wins, 5 Losses)
Diremmond is one of the few Contenders who has an active Challenge yet undeclared against the Champion, and it seems as though he is waiting for something. He is vicious and charismatic, a cruel sadist in the Pit. A soft-trader, Diremmond originally signed up for the Pit in order to elevate his name to gain more patron customers. His time in the Pit has made him realize just how good he is at bloodletting, and he has taken to the fight with relish. His closeness to the Championship makes him very attractive to a certain class of customer for his intimate services, of course.
The Berserker • Contender (17 Wins, 4 Losses)
A merry mead-drinker who is quick with a drinking song at the bar, Dondorn is a berserker in the battlefield, chewing on a strip of gnawed leather and succumbing to a battle ferocity that rolls his eyes back in his head. He nears the right to a Challenge, and has made it known that he intends to use it as soon as he is eligible. He flirts outrageously with Aufthak, who has told him that she'll consider taking him to her bed if he manages to beat her in the Pit.
The Darkblade • Contender (15 Wins, 3 Losses)
Fighting with a pair of short blades, the crowd loves Quelene's fast acrobatics and quick, flashy bladework almost as much as they love her sneers and mid-battle growls.
The Riptide • Contender (17 Wins, 6 Losses)
A water genasi adventurer, Xeera likes to find her way into the Pit when she's in Waterdeep and has some free time. She is a fine fighter, with a deft style with her blue glass khopesh, a weapon whose only magic is in the strange material it is made from, and considered legal by Whiteveil.
The Lord of the Blade • Contender (17 Wins, 6 Losses)
Fat Lord Thantarom is the fighter the audience loves to hate. He riles them up with his sneering, lordly contempt early in the match. Woe to the foe who assumes his size and age mean he is an easy target, for Lord Thantarom is a veteran of more than twenty years as a mercenary captain. He fights in these matches to keep his skills up.
|Opyneth the Hammer|
The Mauler • Contender (18 Wins, 8 Losses)
Strong and brutal, Opyneth's iconic maul is justly feared by those who enter the Pit. She loves the roar of the audience, often riling them up during fights; unfortunately, she sometimes turns her back on her opponent while doing so, which is responsible for her significant losses.
|Felees of the Red Knight|
The Red Maiden • Contender (15 Wins, 6 Losses)
A beloved fighter of the Pit, Felees' star is on the rise. A paladin of the Red Knight, Felees is an incredible tactician, quick thinking and perceptive. She is also the fighter on the circuit who has received the most marriage proposals from the audience to date.
The Suddenblood • Contender (15 Wins, 8 Losses)
Pit fans love Bolgrim for his fighting style and his arrogant silence. Rumors say that he is mute thanks to an assassination attempt that slit his throat but did not kill him. In battle, his footwork is uncanny, making him seem to flash from spot to spot. He frequently switches blades from hand to hand, no small feat for a man who frequently wields two of them at a time! In these flashing switches he usually strikes, and opponents are injured before they are even entirely aware of it.
Lady Fury • Contender (16 Wins, 10 Losses)
Athletic and leatherclad, Ghele is a whirlwind of strength and steel in battle. Though beautiful in a savage way, she has no use for playing coquette in the Pit: she is all fury and blood, going for first blood as soon as possible.
The Blood Dragon • Contender (15 Wins, 9 Losses)
A copper-scaled dragonborn, Himorn is a serious fighter who does not rely on showmanship for his appeal: his technique is breathtaking in its flawlessness, and his sleek draconian form a delight to watch in battle.
The Drunken Duelist • Contender (7 Wins, 5 Losses)
A graduate of the Newsalle Academy of swordfighting, Kelshin is a known rake who frequently shows up to his fights at least half inebriated. Of course, the crowd loves his derring-do, but it has certainly earned him the lowest ranking among the Contenders, as his losses are quickly catching up to his wins, risking his standing as a Contender entirely.