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Let's say you are a Zhentarim faction agent.

What methods do the Zhentarim use to communicate with agents, what kind of information and support can they offer? I’m wondering how to have this come up in an adventure as a player.

We are not playing in Adventurers League.

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    \$\begingroup\$ When you say "how to roleplay" what do you mean exactly? Do you know how to roleplay in general? Are you mainly asking how you would contact the Zhentarim and what kind of support they would be able to offer? \$\endgroup\$ – jgn Nov 28 '19 at 6:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, how to contact the zhentarim, what support can they offer, how to have this come up in an adventure as a player? \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Nov 28 '19 at 6:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this for an AL game or a home, non-AL game? (AL has specific rules for the factions, which don’t constrain non-AL games.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 28 '19 at 7:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ I edited based on your comments. In general, avoid asking “how to roleplay” something when you just want to ask how to do something within a game. “How to roleplay” something is asking how to act it out in game, which is usually a matter of personal taste and often leads to a closed question. Not always, but usually, and when roleplaying is not even what the question is supposed to be about, best to avoid that wording. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 28 '19 at 8:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jgn I've put the "I’m wondering how to have this come up in an adventure as a player." part back in, because whether OP is player or DM might influence answers. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Nov 28 '19 at 8:41
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Waterdeep: Dragon Heist describes well how to join the waterdavian-branch of the Zhentarim, and what support they offer (p17). They are described as

The Zhentarim is a shadow organization that trades mercenaries and goods (including weapons) for profit.

And players can join the Doom Raiders branch of the Zhentarim in Waterdeep.

The leaders of this branch of the Black Network are retired adventurers who have become business entrepreneurs. The Doom Raiders consider themselves the true Zhentarim of Waterdeep. The group's leaders are Davil Starsong (Master of Opportunities and Negotiations), Istrid Horn (Master of Trade and Coin), Skeemo Weirdbottle (Master of Magic), Tashlyn Yafeera (Master of Arms and Mercenaries), and Ziraj the Hunter (Master of Assassination).

Examples of Zhentarim support include

Zhentarim support comes in these ways:

  • Davil can arrange meetings with influential nobles and members of city guilds.
  • Adventurers can procure discounted potions and poisons from Skeemo's shop, Weirdbottle's Concoctions, which is located in the Trades Ward.
  • Tashlyn offers affordable mercenaries, either thugs costing 2 sp per day each or veterans costing 2 gp per day each.
  • Istrid offers loans of up to 2,500 gp with an interest rate of 10 percent per tenday.
  • Adventurers can hire Ziraj to assassinate someone, in return for some undisclosed favor to be called in later.

And missions are sent to characters either in person by Davil or Tashlyn, or sent through flying snakes.

Subsequent mission briefings are written on scrolls and delivered by flying snakes.

Exemplary missions in Waterdeep include:

  • Helping the City Guard killing a racist drow elf murderer
  • Transport potions from a local shop to their client
  • Locate a missing noble that has joined a gang of halfling wererats
  • Kill a traitor that was selling Doom Raider secrets to the Manshoon branch of the Zhentarim
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As depicted on the Zhentarim banner, Flying Snakes are commonly used by Zhentarim agents to communicate messages between other faction members. They would also use standard methods available to any mercenary company: private couriers, sending stones, or Animal Messenger. The faction often deals in illegal goods (slaves, poisons, drugs) and would be able to offer support with smuggling, buying, and selling such wares, as well as thievery, assassination, and other spy work.

As an example of using this for an adventure, a player could rely on Zhentarim contacts to locate recently stolen goods, track down rival thieves or assassins, or assist with smuggling operations. Some of these might be offered on a quid pro quo basis.

The faction could also be used to give missions to the players if a smuggling route has been taken over by competition, an item needs to be stolen, a person needs to be assassinated, or some goods need to be taken somewhere safely.

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