Wednesday, January 10, 2024

New Salem: Renaissance and Criminal Hierarchies

Crime is bad. Just lets get that out of the way. I get frustrated with the post Godfather tendency to romanticize organized crime which, in real life, is made up of generally brutal thugs. 

That being said, organized crime generally flourishes in places where the state is failing to provide either security or services. If any interaction with the state ends with you being punished by the bureaucracy, then finding an extra-legal way to get security or services makes some sense. Yes, it's inefficient and capricious, but at least it's there. If the Syndicate can get you paid work when no one will hire you due to prejudice or your lack of documentation, well then you take it. If they can get you vengeance against those that wronged you when you have no hope of the state providing justice, then you take it. This is the soil where the Syndicate grows. You don't have to trust the Syndicate a lot for you to trust them more than the cops. 

What the Syndicate feeds on is all the things that a puritanical society frowns upon (in public... by the lower classes) - gambling, prostitution, drug use - as well as all the ways you can make a little extra profit by not doing that pesky tax and import paperwork. These are the nodes in the Conspyramid that I've been filling will villains. 

There will eventually be some totally freelance villains in this experiment, but right now everyone we're looking at has a job to do in the Syndicate. It's a business, because in a proper OSR fashion the opposition is reacting to the player characters, not vice versa. The PC heroes have to take the initiative, and that means planning, scouting, learning the enemy's habits, and so on, just as if they were exploring a dungeon looking for the lost idol and the gems in its eyes. 

The 6th and lowest level of the Conspyramid is for people overseeing prostitution, burglary/robbery, and numbers running (an illegal lottery popular in poor neighborhoods as there are higher odds of winning than the legal lotteries (albeit still bad) and no taxes or paperwork). The node leads for the 6th level all report into the 5th level. 

The 5th level is gambling houses and bookmaking, in general running a smaller number of higher yield scores. In theory burglary should be in here to make it distinct from pickpocketing, mugging and other street crime, but I didn't want to overcomplicate. these nodes oversee the 6th level and are overseen by the 4th. 

The 4th level is protection rackets and smuggling, that is to say drug smuggling. In theory node 6 should handle drug distribution but none of the people at that level have the right feel for it. This node oversees the 5th, and half of its members are the highest ranking Havana Mob members who came up from the Caribbean. 

The 3rd level is logistics and enforcement. The innovation of the Syndicate is organization and controls, so that everyone gets their proper slice of the pie and there aren't a lot of turf wars. Since that part is pretty boring for super-heroes to fight the nodes mostly focus on the enforcement/assassination arm. These oversee the 4th level and are overseen by the second. 

The second and first levels are the triumverate of the Syndicate, where in theory all of them are equal but one of them, the topmost node, is more equal than others. 

That gives us 21 villains controlling all major crime - that is seen as crime - in New Salem. To get into corruption, well, that's the February pyramid. 

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