The Tyranny of Dragons: Dawn of Heroes
There are those whose abilities lie not with sword or the Art, but with quiet motion, dexterous action, and stealth. Such talents often lead to illegal endeavors, which plague most major cities, but can be placed to good use in dealing with dangerous monsters and lost treasure.
Most large cities in the Realms have a number of thieves’ dens that compete with one another. A few places, such as Baldurs Gate, have an organized group of rogues that controls all such activity. Most thieves’ dens are secret gathering spots, often beneath the city, and move after they’re discovered.
The city of Waterdeep had once been home to the most powerful guild of thieves in the North: the Shadow Thieves. The Lords of Waterdeep smashed that guild, forcing its leaders to flee the city (the group still operates out of Amn). There are still thieves and even assassins in Waterdeep, but they are broken into innumerable small groups or operate alone.
The most common respite for such robbers is what they call the Honest Trade— adventuring, where roguish abilities may be used without censure and are later lionized in song and legend. Many thieves take to this life, adhering to a code that keeps them out of trouble in civilized areas but still keeps them rich; they vow to burglarize ancient tombs and monstrous lairs instead of the homes and businesses of the wealthy in civilized lands.
Some rogues have learned it is easier to pick someone’s pocket when you have a royal writ, which is to say many rogues are diplomats, courtiers, influence-peddlers, and information-brokers, in addition to the better-known thieves and assassins. Such rogues blend more easily into civilized society, more often acting as grease in the wheels than a wrench in the works.