During the Feywar any creatures that were judged as possible collaborators were persecuted and thrown into squalid concentration camps. Amongst those judged to be in league with the elves were the gnomes who had settled in the larger cities performing mundane hedge magic. These gnomes who are naturally physically weak, felt the worst of the internment camps and many died while under detention. During this time of hardship, a small number of gnomes turned to their knowledge of magic to escape the suffering, giving birth to a gnomish criminal society known as the Acrcane Cartel, who ruthlessly fought for gnomish survival.
The Arcane Cartel continued to thrive after the war and is now the largest criminal syndicate engaging in necromancy, illegal residium distribution, ritual sales and magical arms dealing. Those who oppose the Cartel are often found brutally murdered, and it is no secret that the Arcane Cartel are at war with the Imperial Mages Guild.
The Arcane Cartel is head quartered in the rough and tumble city of Towertown. Hidden amongst the sagging buildings and winding alleys the Cartel possesses small workshops and dens to hide its members. It is also said that the gnomes have a sought of extra dimensional crawlspace for their base, which is why neither law enforcement or the mages guild can find the Cartel's hideout.
Amongst the most sinister of the Cartels enterprises is the practice of 'spellchanging'. The process magically infuses spells or the souls of other beings into a living creature. Outlawed by the guild for its inhumanity and the dangerous creatures it creates, there is a large demand on the blackmarket. From lowly gangsters and injured veterans to sinister organisations the Arcane Cartel has many customers.
A cute name given to the illegal magical goods that the Arcane Cartel makes and moves, magewares range from enchanted daggers to fully animated constructs and demiplanes. However, eventually one will find the wrong item sold to the wrong type of person, such as a cloak of invisibility to a murderer, scrying rituals to bank robbers or bags of holding to grave robbers. Usually the people that buy from the Arcane Cartel buy from them for a reason, because the guild refuses to do so on the basis of moral grounds. One of the guilds biggest customers are the barbaric tribes on the edge of the Empire such as the giants, gnolls, orcs or goblins who have an insatiable appetite for magic weapons and combat rituals.