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Shadows over Baltimore

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Baltimore News Net (BNN)

Special Crime Report

Miranda Wallace

Organized Crime

Wherever there’s illegal money to be made, you can guarantee that the organized-crime syndicates are on the scene and doing their best to take control of as much of the pie as they can muscle into. The syndicates that shadowrunners are likely to come in contact with include:


• Mafia: Everybody’s heard of the Mafia—you know, that collection of Italian guys in pinstriped suits and pinky rings? Actually, the Mafia’s come a long way in the last couple hundred years, and their influence is still strong all over North America and Europe. Organized into “families” and operating in every major UCAS city, the Mob is involved in just about every lucrative type of crime out there including shipping and smuggling, extortion, loan-sharking, hijacking, and gambling.


Yakuza: An old and honorable Japanese criminal organization, the Yakuza demands unswerving loyalty from its members and punishes transgressions harshly. Its members—almost always male, Japanese, and human—are usually identified by their extensive tattoos and sometimes by missing pinky fingers (one of the more minor ways they pay for failures). The Yak’s major areas of influence are prostitution, gambling, sokaiya (shaking down companies for credit and influence), drugs, and chips.


• Triads: The Chinese Triads don’t get a lot of press when compared with the Mafia and the Yaks, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a powerful force in their own right. Each Triad is its own organization, with none of the central

control of the Mob and Yak groups. They take a far more enlightened stance toward women and metahumans, numbering many of both (as well as non-Chinese) among their ranks, and also featuring a number of adepts and magicians. Crime-wise, they specialize in extortion, protection, smuggling, gambling, illegal drugs, and BTLs.


• Vory: The Vory v Zakone, or “thieves who follow the code,” originated at the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, but since then they’ve undergone many changes. Exported around the world by Russian expatriates, the Vory are organized into factions run by a single powerful leader (much like the Mafia). Though involved in smuggling and black market operations, the Vory’s most profitable enterprise is black-market information, or “data brokering.”



Below the organized-crime syndicates on the criminal ladder are the gangs. Every sprawl has them, and they range

in size from small groups that get together for self-protection or mayhem all the way up to well organized, multi-city gangs that nearly rival some of the smaller crime syndicates. Gangs come in many varieties: the most common are garden-variety sprawl gangs that control territory and run criminal enterprises like protection, smuggling, or extortion, but most sprawls are also home to mobile “go-gangs” that prowl the highways looking for fun, profit, and victims. Rarer but no less dangerous are “wiz-gangs” made up of young spellslingers who seek their kicks on both the material and astral planes, and Matrix gangs that roam cyberspace terrorizing other users and hacking systems.


Some of the larger and more well known gangs with operations throughout UCAS major cities include the Ancients, the Cutters, and the Spikes, but old gangs die and new ones pop up every day. Wise shadowrunners know that staying on the right side of the right gangs can pay dividends when they need gear or the run starts going to hell.

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