My party has unknowingly done a large favor for an important member of the Zhentarim by rescuing his daughter. They don't know he is a member of the Zhentarim, and did the rescue for selfless reasons. The Zhentarim wizard is high enough up to know about some previous adventures that the party did for allies of the Zhentarim.

The adventures are set in the 1350s DR, so this is the really evil Zhentarim as noted by Ed Greenwood as @TheEdVerse, not the kind of shady faction of the 1490s DR. The party members are mostly from Shadowdale though they've spent a lot of time in Daggerdale and are currently in Zhentil Keep itself. The party is made up of mostly good aligned characters who have been quietly working to oppose the Zhentarim, while publicly taking some missions from Zhentarim allies.

How would the Zhentarim try to recruit such a party? I am looking for actual recruit attempts or plot hooks from published adventures or books with references. I prefer more of the people are the real monsters feel of adventures like The Doom of Daggerdale than the classic hack and slash of In Search of the Unknown.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you after examples from published adventures or AL adventures or something like that? That restriction may make this not opinion based (but rather a bounded list, I think)? But as it stands, I think it will likely draw opinions as answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Mar 20, 2020 at 15:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS I've clarified the question that I want examples from published sources not just opinions. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20, 2020 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough, I have retracted my close vote. I'm not sure if that's enough to stop the question being closed overall, but it's a step in the right direction, I feel... \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Mar 20, 2020 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ We've reopened this question with its clarification, but - and I say this mostly to answerers - if it does draw too much idea-generation answers it will have to be closed again. I hope everyone proves those fears wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Mar 23, 2020 at 11:55

1 Answer 1


In the Ruins of Zhentil Keep campaign book on page 48 is a section entitled Joining the Black Network that suggests that:

Joining the Zhentarim, whether as an inside agent or for personal advancement, is extremely easy. Individuals merely present themselves to the lords of Zhentil Keep, Darkhold, or to Manshoon himself. After a few tests, such a killing an enemy of a Zhentarim lord or seeing a trade caravan to it's destination, prospective agents are inducted into the society through secret rites.

I find the book's explanation incomplete, as powerful lord or wizards are hard people to get ahold of. Given the corrupt and paranoid nature of those in power in Zhentil Keep, who is going to let a group of halfway competent adventurers into their presence without some extreme vetting. To wit about Manshoon on page 111:

Although others face danger at his bidding, Manshoon is almost never there when heroes fight their way to the heart of the matter.

Ruins of Zhentil Keep has an answer to my question, so it may have to do.


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