Tyranny of Dragons
The Zhentarim—also known as the Black Network—is a loose affiliation of merchants, mercenaries, and malefactors. Common folk know the Zhentarim as the people to talk to when you need the best guards or mercenaries money can buy. And if the cargo is shady or the cause you’re fighting for is questionable or even unjust, the Zhentarim don’t mind. Affiliation with the Zhentarim can be profitable to sellswords, thieves, and rogues of every stripe.
The Zhentarim seeks to become omnipresent and inescapable, more wealthy and powerful, and most importantly, untouchable. The public face of the organization appears much more benign, offering the best mercenaries money can buy. When a merchant needs an escort for his caravan, when a noble needs bodyguards to protect her holdings, or when a city needs trained soldiers to defend its honor, the Zhentarim provides the best-trained fighting men and women money can buy. However, the cost of doing business with the Black Network can be high.
The Black Network wants to make it necessary—and preferable, even—to deal with its members. It wants to secure, over time, an iron-fisted monopoly. Members must be the best—the cheapest, the fastest, and the most secure—at providing services and goods both legal and illicit, willing to lose coin if it means destroying a competitor, and securing profits from everyone they deal with, except when to do so would work against the Black Network’s ultimate goal: to make everyone dependent on it.
A member of the Zhentarim thinks of himself or herself as a member of a very 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