There are few lands where entertainers are not welcomed. Performers are found in locales as diverse as the common room of the meanest tavern to the gilded court of the mightiest empress to a mercenary company’s campfire. Their ubiquity, and the relative ease with which they travel between social groups, makes them ideal spies, informants, and agitators.
Members of the Troupe of the Diamond Sky pose as minstrels, actors, playwrights, and other entertainers of the public. In truth though, they are spies and dissidents, passing vital information to usurpers and assassins and otherwise stirring the common folk against their rulers. With more than a century of existence under its belt, the troupe has members and contacts in almost every court of almost every kingdom. Its agents can be found in every major city of any note whatsoever.
While members of the troupe position themselves as revolutionaries and friends of the small folk, the organization’s ethos favors the status quo. Whenever threats to the established order are uncovered, the information is hastened to agents who can ensure those threats are put down quickly.
Joining the Troupe of the Diamond Sky. To join the troupe, a prospective member must meet three criteria. First, they must work as an entertainer, preferably itinerant, in some capacity. Second, they must have the confidence of at least two people of strategic import. Finally, they must identify an existing member and deliver thirteen pieces of actionable intelligence to them within a six-month period. Once the final piece of information has been actioned, the troupe invites the prospect to join. In the rare instance a person refuses the invitation, they are killed in a fashion that implies their death was accidental.
What is Expected of a Member? Members of the Troupe of the Diamond Sky are expected to learn everything they can, sift the gold from the dross, and deliver that information to other members of the troupe as well as to third-party agents who can use the intelligence. While greater value is placed on information about threats to the regional holders of political power, every potential threat is assessed and passed along. It is not uncommon for a series of accidental-seeming deaths to occur in an area after a member of the troupe has passed through.
As all the members of the troupe are entertainers, they are expected to seek out opportunities to perform as often as possible. When they cannot perform, they are expected to attend as many performances as possible, both to seek out new recruits and to uncover any dissatisfaction the public has with their leaders.
If captured, a member of the troupe is expected to escape at the earliest opportunity, or if that seems unlikely, to end their own life before revealing any information to their captor. Many members have a poisoned capsule secreted on their person for just such an eventuality.
Troupe of the Diamond Sky Axioms. The core beliefs of the Troupe of the Diamond Sky are as follows:
- There are no small threats. The difference of a day can transform a turnip farmer into a titan.
- There is no profit in change.
- Your work is not finished until you have asked every question.
- Look like a fool, but do not become one.
- The prettiest lies hide the ugliest truths.
Important Texts or Dogma. Every troupe safe house holds a copy of Perception is the Art of Deception, a treatise on war and tactics.
Allies and Enemies. The Troupe of the Diamond Sky is both valued and reviled by rulers and spymasters. The intelligence that can be gained from members is often very valuable and can be used to shore up gaps in a kingdom’s security. At the same time, the people that benefit most from the troupe wonder if their own information is also ending up in the hands of people who will use it against them. While they are almost always greeted as friends and treated with respect, members of the troupe are also viewed with suspicion. If their status as a member is known, their host inevitably works to prevent them from seeing or hearing sensitive information.
Benefits of Membership. Membership in the Troupe of the Diamond Sky has several benefits:
- If they are visiting a settlement of any import, members are guaranteed a place to stay while away from home. The food and lodgings offered to them will be of the finest quality their host can afford.
- Venues that have ties to the troupe guarantee that visiting members will be given an opportunity to perform.
- Members can learn how to play an instrument for half the usual cost and have no difficulty finding a teacher
- Once every 12 months, a member of the troupe can visit their primary sanctuary and procure a feather token of their choice.
In Midgard: The Troupe of the Diamond Sky at a Glance
Type of Organization: Spy ring
Symbol: A palm oasis standing on a sky blue field filled with diamonds
Disciplines Taught: Acting, detecting falsehoods, espionage, innuendo, lip reading, performance, singing, subterfuge
Affiliated Weapon: Whip
Important NPCs: Ara Mukhtair (CN elfmarked cult fanatic), Ghayth Ahmul Tefed (CE human virtuoso lich, see Tome of Beasts 2), Yasef Ghan (NE human scorpion assassin, see Creature Codex)
Primary Sanctuary: The Hearth-Bound Hyena Playhouse in Per-Bastet
Major Sanctuaries: The Broken Yardarm, a tavern in Nuria Natal; Nijam’s House, a performance hall in Laksor
Ghayth Ahmul Tefed. While he was alive, Ghayth was a middling performer with an uncanny ability to extract truth from gossip. He turned his talent into a profitable business, selling news of impending rebellions to spymasters and sultans. After his rebirth as a lich, Ghayth sought out others like himself and organized them into the troupe. Ghayth collects scripts and will pay dearly for particularly rare or obscure ones.
The Troupe of the Diamond Sky can be found everywhere. Consider the following ways you can introduce it to your campaign:
- The PCs meet a traveling minstrel on the road and share their fire and local news with her. A short while later, they discover the same performer in a town they are passing through, and the news they imparted is being used to imprison local “troublemakers.” How can the characters free the unfairly imprisoned commoners? What do they do about the tattling entertainer?
- A noble awakes after a night out at a playhouse with no recollection of the previous night. Concerned he may have spilled secrets about local troop movements, he hires the PCs to look into the playhouse and find out what happened.