Have you ever read the Drizzt Do’Urden books? Who hasn’t, right? Do you remember Pasha Pook? He was a smarmy guy who double-dealt among everyone, even his own employees. I mean, who double deals Artemis Entreri?
And he was a punk.
Let’s face it, he was your typical guy who came to power in the criminal underworld and he was feared, but why? He was unintimidating. He had Artemis and, later, wererats. What was so special about him? Word on the street was he was deadly with a crossbow. Man, then William Tell should have been the Godfather.
Look, far too often we get some generic villain who is in charge of the thieves’ guild and he or she is only cool because of plot or suspension of disbelief. It’s some fat, lazy, lecherous guy or some gorgeous “Black Widow” type or a dumb half-orc or a Bugbear who comes to power for who-knows-why.
Enter the Kingpin.
Maybe you remember him from the Spider-Man comics or from the Daredevil series on Netflix. He’s awesome in both, but let me tell you about the Kingpin during Frank Miller’s run in Daredevil, long before he made “The Dark Knight Returns.”
Daredevil had to infiltrate the Kingpins gang and he knew little, next to nothing about the crime lord, only that he was some really fat guy named Wilson Fisk who had a lot of money. Daredevil went undercover as a thug who wanted a job as hired muscle for the Kingpins organization. After proving himself by beating up a few guys, he was hired.
All of this was indirect, always involving a middle-man, because the Kingpin never got his hands dirty so as to never be implicated directly. Daredevil found his way to Wilson Fisk’s vault where he was hoping to get some documents to prove Fisk was the head of organized crime in New York City, and he used his radar sense to try and figure out the locking mechanism on the vault door so he could pick the lock.
Problem, there was no lock.
After some thinking, he realized the only deterrent to access the safe was that the door was really heavy. Straining to the point of pulling a few muscles and hurting his back pretty badly, Daredevil was finally able to open the door just enough for him to squeeze in and, in no time, he found the documents.
However, not before the Kingpin showed up.
Notified by a silent alarm, Fisk swung the door open and closed it behind him … with one hand. Daredevil attacked with a powerful dropkick that should have knocked anyone out, but he hurt his legs and lower back, falling to the ground in agony.
Daredevil gathered his senses enough to use his radar sense and see that Fisk wasn’t fat at all. In fact, he had barely 2% bodyfat and he was in amazing shape, becoming a sumo master. It was one of the last things that Daredevil remembered as he suffered one of the most horrendous beatings of his life.
The Kingpin is a very smart, very strong, and very charismatic man (intimidation), much like a Jarlaxle Baenre character, but bigger. He knows how to run an entire crime syndicate while maintaining the public image of a humble spice dealer. He is exceedingly patient and has the right people (mini-bosses) in the right places. Yet, if he’s ever backed into a corner then he is a match for any party.
When I am making my thieves’ guild in my campaigns, the Kingpin is one of the main sources of inspiration that I draw from. Do you have any other examples from popular literature?
Comic Book University