Skull and Shackles
The Aspis Consortium is a trade organization with interests in many parts of Avistan and Garund. What distinguishes them from other trade groups is the size of their operations, and their willingness to do whatever is necessary to accomplish their goals. While it is not unknown for merchant groups to sell weapons to both sides in a conflict, the Consortium might take it further and actually have a hand in starting the strife to begin with. Others might praise the Consortium for providing desperately needed grain to a famine-struck region, without knowing that agents helped cause the drought. They are loyal to no government, having members from many countries and nationalities. This also allows them to take neutral positions in any disagreements and appeal to all sides. The Consortium’s emblem is that of a golden snake on a shield.
The overall goals of the Aspis Consortium are dictated by a shadowy group calling themselves the Patrons. They meet once every new moon in a different Chelish city and take great pains to hide their identities from outsiders and even each other.
Membership in the Consortium can be broken down into two groups: merchants and mercenaries. Merchants are the brains behind most Aspis operations, deciding where profits can be maximized and how the goals of the organization should be implemented. They are drawn from the tradesmen classes of many lands, although all seem most eager to promote the Consortium’s profits before all other considerations.
Second are the mercenaries, who provide protection for the Consortium’s operations and provide guidance on military matters. The rest of the people working for the Aspis Consortium are unaware of whom they serve, only knowing that they are paid well for their work.
Agents of the Consortium are often distinguished by metal badges which they carry concealed on their bodies. Bronze tier agents are strictly regional players, and are made up of former soldiers, experienced merchants, or seasoned mercenaries. They are chosen for their expertise in a given field or region, and are generally unaware of their employer’s larger machinations. Silver agents guide the work of the bronze, coordinating regional operations and gathering intelligence for their superiors. Gold agents rank just below the Patrons. They organize Consortium business within a large geographical region.