The Vipers is a name attributed to many loosely affiliated criminal organizations operating around Findle and the Helmstadt Valley.
Viper's Gang was a group of notorious bandits and assassins who operated along the King's Road between Tus and Illden in the third age. They were blood rivals with the Prairie Dogs, a group of highwaymen who operated in the same area. Viper's Gang was headquartered in a cavern system North East of Illden. Eventually, the guild was disbanded in the area by an adventuring party including Saint Geshran, who discovered a rich platinum vein in the cavern and used this wealth to become governor of the city of Illden.
Viper's Gang vs the Prairie Dogs
The gang had a blood rivalry with a small band of highwaymen calling themselves the Prairie Dogs, who traveled into their territory from the South. The Prairie Dogs often prayed upon merchants and dwarven caravans traveling the kings road, but would go out of their way to spare lone travelers or poorer individuals. Viper's Gang would often lay traps for the Prairie Dogs, capturing them and torturing them for information on the location of their "burrows," locations where the Prairie Dogs would store caches of supplies and loot. Eventually they had captured and killed all of their rivals save for one last Prairie Dog, Jodando Legault, who was saved at the last moment by Saint Geshran.
Viper's Gang vs the Vonovich Bard's College
Months after the gang was driven out of Illden, they ransacked the Vonovich Bard's College in Houndsheim, taking many bards captive and ransoming them to their families. Once such bard, a gold elf by the name of Arundel Shay, had no family to ransom him to and spent several weeks chained in one of the Prarie Dog's old burrows, now used as a base by Viper's Gang. He was only saved when Jodando Legault, Reluse Goldscale and Quixote the Blackhorn attempted to recover what they thought was an old Prairie Dog supply cache. Arundel quickly joined up with the three adventurers. They would eventually become known as The Four. With the disappearance of Arco Vonovich as well as the sacking of the campus, the Vonovich Bard's College would never recover, eventually falling to ruin and becoming a haven for the gnolls of the area. The traditions would be passed on by house Shay and live on in many regions of Findle.
Stone Lake Vipers
Centuries after the disbanding of the Old Vipers Gang, The Stone Lake Vipers rose to prominence under the leadership of a grey elf named Halafas Raeranthur, who claimed to be a former member of the old gang. The Stone Lake Vipers were a thieves gang operating from within the abandoned platinum mine just outside of the city of New Illden. They claimed to be the successors of the Vipers Gang that was disbanded by St. Geshran in Old Illden during the third age, but few understood their true purpose as puppets under the control of the noble house Shay.
It is unknown if the Stone Lake Vipers continued to operate later into the 5th age.