Expedition to Wave Echo Cavern
The Zhentarim were a mercenary company who, over their 200 years of existence, experienced several leaps and bounds in terms of successes, but also several major defeats. As of 1479 DR they were a shadow of their former glory, but still an organization of great power and influence.
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.
- The Zhentarim is your family. You watch out for it, and it watches out for you.
- You are the master of your own destiny. Never be less than what you deserve to be.
- Everything—and everyone—has a price.
Founded in 1261 DR in Zhentil Keep by Manshoon, the Zhentarim were originally created for Manshoon’s ambitions for expansion. Fzoul Chembryl joined in 1263 DR and was able to dispose of the high ranking priests and convert low ranking priests to the cause of Bane. In the organization’s first thirty years, they were able to assemble mages dubbed the Black Cloaks. Manshoon would offset the possible threat of Fzoul by concocting a plan with the beholder Xantriph. The two would have the Banite priests swear fealty to Manshoon and confess to their sins. Xantriph’s lair, found in what used to be Teshendale, became a base for Zhentilar patrols. It was around this time that the Zhentarim would finally begin to live up to their original purpose.