Tyranny of Dragons
The Zhentarim, or Black Network, is an organization of well-trained mercenaries, savvy rogues, crafty warlocks, and deadly assassins who seek to stifle the greatest threats throughout Faerûn. Agents of the Zhentarim know that if they play by the rules, nothing gets accomplished. They never hesitate to get their hands dirty, and take pride knowing they are the ones to turn to when the situation looks grim. They walk a fine line when it comes to the letter of the law and don’t shy away from the occasional shady deal or illicit activity to get the job done.
To the Zhentarim, wealth is tool that gets results. Its agents know that nothing else inspires such confidence and dispels doubt so well. In an instant, wealth speaks louder than a thousand bards. Zhentarim agents routinely carry the finest weapons and armor, with no expense spared. When a merchant needs an escort for a caravan, when a noble family requires bodyguards to protect its holdings, or when a city is desperate for trained soldiers to defend its walls, the Zhentarim provides an elite band of the best warriors money can buy.
In years past, the Zhentarim was a ruthless organization bent on domination through subterfuge and tyranny. Despite the efforts of one of their greatest enemies, the Harpers, this iteration of the Zhentarim grew to a terrifying level of influence and power throughout Faerun. Their power began to overwhelm them, however, and soon greed consumed those in the loftiest positions of the order. The Zhentarim imploded under the weight of internal scheming and infighting.
Recently, the Zhentarim have arisen from the ashes of their old organization under new leadership, and with a creed vastly different than before. The Black Network now has a public face, and no longer conducts its business entirely within the shadows. By diminishing their collective power, spreading it throughout their members, and offering their services to the common people, the Zhentarim hope to avoid past mistakes. They have transformed from an evil institution into a conclave of mercenaries, spies, and informants.
No other organization in Faerûn understands evil and darkness more than the Zhentarim. They seek to weed out those who draw their strength from it, even if it means taking drastic measures. They hope to be a weapon for the defenseless, and dispose of those who would keep them low… for a price, of course.
The Zhentarim encourage its members to strive for excellence, never accepting less than they deserve.
A member of the Zhentarim thinks of himself or herself as a member of a large family, and relies on the Black Network for resources and security. However, members are granted enough autonomy to pursue their own interests and gain some measure of personal power or influence. The organization encourages individual drive and rewards innovators who take matters into their own hands.
The Black Network is a meritocracy. Results are all that matter. Those who come into the Black Network with nothing can become major players within the organization through their own moxie and hard work. As a whole, it promises “the best of the best.”