From publisher blurb:
From Original Sin to The Oldest Profession, people have been ignoring the moral constraints placed upon them since there have been people. For some it’s a conscious choice to display their freedom and individuality, while for others it springs from a moment of passion; still for others, it’s simply a means of survival. Some make flaunting the rules a habit and become very, very good at it, whether it’s murder, theft, blackmail, or providing banned substances. Even primitive cultures can deal with individuals like this, often resorting to shunning or banishing the offenders. But as societies become more complex and sophisticated, so do the criminals, many of whom see banding together as the best way to ensure their long-term survival.
Criminal organizations in a fantasy world can be especially tricky. Not only do they have access to spells and devices to aid them in disguise, stealth, and escape, but some are also able to call upon deadly magics and truly powerful otherworldly beings.
The Five Families presents a system for creating criminal organizations in a way that they can be treated just like a character -- with ability scores, skills, feats, and hit points -- ranging in scope from a back-alley gang found in a single city, to a secret society spanning the entire world.
In addition, five sample organizations are presented:
- The House of Nath: A crime family that controls all criminal activity within the capital city, and has outposts in most of the major towns in the kingdom. Woe to the outsider rogue who starts thieving without the House's blessing...
- The Carnival of the Air: A magical troupe of confidence tricksters and swindlers who operate out of a travelling carnival run by the mysterious Lord of Misrule.
- The Daughters of Repose: A devout sisterhood, devoted servants of the Goddess of Fate and Death, for whom assassination is the ultimate act of religious duty.
- The Minders: A cabal of scholars and agents who gather intelligence on behalf of those who can pay, or to extort money from wealthy victims.
- The Skrinn: When the city was built on top of the warrens of the ratfolk, they stayed -- and now offer their own particular brand of alchemy to the citizens of the surface world, trading in poisons and illicit drugs.