Among the dubious umbrella term of “organized criminal” elements none are as widely spread across the continent of Partum as the Black Marbles. Commonly thought to exist only in the lands and realms surrounding the Forzarrean Sea, it is well known among authorities in these areas that the Black Marbles are more scattered, and perhaps more organized, than is frequently believed.
While little is known about the Black Marbles there are tidbits of knowledge that have been pieced together by law enforcement and curious adventurers. The origin of their name stems from a tradition common among Forkanzan professional, trade and merchant guilds. Whenever a potential candidate would petition for membership in these guilds the matter was put to a vote among those already members. The matter would be done anonymously by each member dropping either a white or black marble into a jar. A white marble indicated approval, while a black marble would be a vote against the candidate. In a similar fashion, members of guilds that had transgressed the governing rules and laws of the organization could be thrown out. The group that is now widely known as the Black Marbles are men and women who in one way or another have been similarly tossed out of their respective professions, societies, and perhaps even their families.
Whether or not each of the individuals who claim to be Black Marbles are bent on lives of criminality or not, and while each of them has undoubtedly done something of their own free will to have been cast in this way remains a mystery. Each of them must in their way fulfill their obligations to their peers to allow this society of outcasts to thrive in ways that more “acceptable” people would find out of reach. The lavishness of their lifestyles can only be rivaled by the decadence and debauchery that they seek from the evil within their hearts. It is doubtful that any of the Black Marbles can be truly virtuous due to the expectations their peers will have in order for their own wickedness to be pursued.
All of this being said, it must now be noted that dealing with any of the Black Marbles is a terrifyingly risky proposition. There are so few clues as to who is and isn’t a Black Marble that one might not know how much trouble you are in until it is far too late. But there seems to be a couple of common factors that all of the Black Marbles share. Firstly, they are all human. It has been speculated that the somewhat xenophobic nature of Forkanzan society is the reason for this. Secondly, and as alluded to by the first factor, they all have Forkanzan origins. They may move to other countries and states after securing their positions as Black Marbles but all of them begin their lives in Forkanzan society. And thirdly they all have on their person or among their most personal belongings a black marble. It might be a part of their jewelry, or integral to an item of clothing they always wear, or inset into the pommel of a weapon. The black marble isn’t necessarily hidden because it isn’t a widely accepted fact that the Black Marbles exist as an organization. However, they know they exist and if one member happens upon another they can spot the presence of the black marble and know immediately they are among an ally. It can also be used as a clue to those that seek to find a Black Marble for less than friendly purposes. Few and far between are the men of valor and honor that would go looking for a member of the Black Marbles to bring them to some form of justice. More frequently these intrepid would-be heroes are found dead or simply not found at all. Powerful men accustomed to lives of comfort and leisure are ill-disposed to have their selfishness disturbed.