Shadows of the Cities
The Big Fish
Either by virtue of having a really big support system or an extensive presence in the Missiplex, these are the players you’ll want to really watch out for.
The local capo is a old school hardass by the name of Peter “Plastic” Abruzzi. While he’s competing with the Vory for the spot of ‘weakest syndicate’, his lieutenants are agitating for change and more aggressive action. Their position is a lot stronger in Old St Paul than Minneapolis, and they control a fair amount of the local pharmaceutical and smuggling routes.
A home grown, honest-to-Dunkelzahn syndicate, the Red Cloud brought something very special to it’s home turf in the Southern Barrens: Organization. Named for the peculiar shade of smog in their base of operations, the Red Cloud actually has more members than any other criminal group in the area. They don’t control any particular kinds of operations, but instead pick up the lowest, most marginal and dangerous jobs from the big boys. As such, they have a high attrition rate and a steep learning curve, but their members are already the most desperate and hopeless people around, so they persevere.
Controlled by the Cloud Circle, a group of founding and significant players, the Red Cloud tag has become omnipresent in recent years. They don’t have the best gear (that’d be the Vory), the most money (Yakuza), Mojo (Triads), or the most loyal members (Mafia). What they do have over the competition is the constant sensation of having nothing to lose, and every runner knows how dangerous that can be.
The Triads have a significant local presence, but their loose organization has resulted in some fairly serious turf-war problems. The Black Iron Triad in the North Barrens controls every form of escapism, while the Smoke Circle Triad runs semi-legitimate businesses through a series of fronts throughout the ’Plex. The Golden Dawn Triad, meanwhile, operates a talislegging and Awakened drug operation from the Southern Barrens, funneling their goods to the Red Cloud, Mafia, and the Jade Luck Triad, who have carved out a decent portion of the old Mall of America complex for their smuggling operations, as well as several connections in the MSP Air & Spaceport. All the Triads have a decent number of adepts and mages to call on, so watch your mojo around them.
- Confused yet? There’s about five more distinct Triads not named here. – Shih
- Why the hell wouldn’t they consolidate this mess into something that could actually turn a profit? -Silk
- Partly because each of the ringleaders hates the other. They’re a lot closer to being a bunch of small time gangs than a unified presence than most people think. Only the Incense Circle keeps them even slightly unified. Well, that and the cops. – Shih
- Incense Circle? -Ulrike
- The ritual masters of each Triad. They’re an initiation group / backchannel for the different Triads. They meet every so often and sort out conflicts, and are the only ones who can actually get the Triads to work together for more than an hour. -Shih
- …So they’re actually in charge? -Silk
- Pretty much, yeah. I wouldn’t tell Sweet Feng that though. -Shih
The significant presence of the Japanacorps in the Missiplex has brought with them the desire for all manner of vice. BTLs, Bunraku parlors, and the like form the basis of their cash flow, though they own what Law Enforcement describe as “A shocking number of legitimate businesses with little to no criminal activity on site.”
- They’ve got it backwards. The Yakuza in the Missiplex set their sights on feeding from the wageslaves and upper echelons of the corps a long time ago, and discovered that the best place to park a bunch of illegal money was somewhere that could earn yet more nuyen. Just because the businesses don’t engage in overt criminal activity doesn’t mean their capital is squeaky clean. -PrincessP
- The Star also tend to bury their heads in the sand – if you overlay the maps of the Wabasha Cavern complex over known Yakuza businesses, it’s clear they’re making extensive use of the tunnels for something, and I doubt it’s another floor of spas and massage parlors. -Ulrike
- Oh Nibbles. You’re just mad because they’re cramping your living space. -Silk
Vory v Zakone
The Vory are the smallest major syndicate, for which the ’Plex breathes a quiet sigh of relief. Their ruthless tactics, milspec arms, and loose organization make them feared all out of proportion to their actual presence. Still, they do a fair amount of racketeering and smuggling, and are the people to know if you need some firepower and the muscle to wield it.
- What the hell is racketeering anyways? -PrincessP
- No one knows. -Shih
These groups are arguably the most dangerous – they can’t afford to hunt you all over the ‘Plex and beyond, but if they catch you on their turf they’ve got the chops to lay down a lot of hurt. They’re also good to know, because they’re much less likely to screw you over than the bigger players who can afford to piss a few runners off.
These lunatics should not exist, and should not be successful. Wiz Gangs and Hackers get along about as well as diesel and flareguns, except with less predictable results.
That being said, these guys have been kicking around for nigh-on ten years now, and have established themselves pretty well. They started as small crew of wannabe anarchists, and have slowly and carefully expanded into a genuine presence more interested in making money than trouble. They still have the old school decker ethic, though, and it can be hard to tell when they’re on the job or just raising some hell. They run a few matrix sites and coordinate with the Red Cloud for distribution; they’re always buying any nova tech specs, programs, foci, or spell formula you can get them.
Personally, I think their rep as bunch of techno-punks is bull-drek – they’ve got a tight leadership team, and their ability to focus is way out of line with a bunch of turbo-mage ganger wannabes.
- Word has it one of their leaders is some bigwig at the U of M Thaumaturgical school. -Ulrike
- Yeah. Some tenured academic is going to risk everything to deface a couple matrix billboards and crash a few matrix clubs. Thanks for the lowdown, Your Nibs. -Silk
- Pattern analysis indicates they have support from or a vested interest in protecting the AA Corporation Veradyne. -Sylex01
- How do you figure, Sly? -PrincessP
- Their offensives show minimal damage to the AA Corp Veradyne, and no traceable equipment or prototypes have originated from the same. The monitoring of AA Security Corporation Lone Star, Inc. indicates a statistically significant disparity of the number of attacks on their properties and assets relative to other incident groupings. Further, these attacks result in a significantly lower amount of financial destruction than the next lowest incident grouping. -Sylex01
- What? -Mario
- They don’t hit Veradyne often, and when they do it’s small potatoes. Interesting theory. -Ocho
- No, I get that. How does the AI have access to Lone Star’s databases? -Mario
- It is not a matter of concern, Human. I would not reveal your identity without significant renumeration. -Sylex01
- How comforting. -Mario
For a bunch of gals who got a little too into the voodoo, this group has some pretty decent clout. They’ve got a decent sized operation in the Southern Barrens, and are the Red Cloud’s primary enforcers all over the ‘Plex. Two of ’em are sitting on the Cloud Council, and Eliza Hall is the Cloud’s first and current Warmaster. You’ll hear a lot of nasty rumors about them, some of which are true – that’s what happens when you tattoo giant skulls on your face, kids. It is known that they are some seriously nasty customers – their main business is muscle, but they’ve got some serious pharmaceutical hookups – combat drugs, specifically, along with a lot of other weird shit. I spent a couple evenings chasing butterflies after one of them stuck me with a penknife. More worryingly is that they occasionally seem to come back from the dead.
- This. This is why I hate magic. -Silk
- Sadly, magic can’t actually do that. -Shih
- Tell that to the one I shot in the head. Six weeks later she’s perched on the hood of my car, carving my real name into the glass. -Silk
- Do I hear wedding bells? -Ulrike
Like their parent organization, they’re not going to come at you with the latest and greatest tech or weapons. They do have a pretty good number of spellslingers, and they’re a tough bunch of broads.
- Sasquatch, what year do you think this is? -PrincessP
If you’ve got to deal with them, remember to respect their beliefs. They’re more of a cult than a proper criminal enterprise, and they’re a lot more superstitious than the average metahuman. Oh, and don’t eat or drink anything they offer you unless you’ve got a couple days to sleep it off. If you see one of them start talking to thin air, I’d clear out. They’re not crazy, and I’ve seen the aftermath of a couple of their possession parties that still make my skin crawl.
- “Possession Parties?” -PrincessP
- They’re sort of a side venture. Very sexual, very gross, and quite often lethal to the ‘clients’ paying to be entertained. -Shih
- I’ll second the gross bit. -Ocho
- Third. -Silk
- Well now I’m just curious. -Norseman
- I’ll send you a trideo. -Silk
- You recorded one of their rituals? The whole car thing makes a lot more sense now. -Shih
- He records everything. I imagine he’s selling it to Horizon for some low-rate thrill piece. -Ulrike
H2. Low Tier Gangs
-Knight Errant Threat Assessment #2071.126.957-A
-posted by Sylex01
- Oh good. It’s got KE’s data as well as Lone Star. Anyone else worried about how badly the AI can screw us? -Mario
- Do not be concerned. I have no interest in damaging any of you without significant renumeration. -Sylex01
- Yeah you keep saying that. -Mario