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FallenFallcrest
2016-10-10, 11:21 PM
I have a can upcoming D&D campaign in the works that focuses (at least for the first phase of the general plot) on the intrigue between rival gangs in an isolated but busy city and how the players interact with them. I have a very solid structure for the majority of the plot, but I am having trouble thinking of actual gangs. The main gang that will drive many of the larger plot points is a gang of primarily Drow that deals in weapons and black market dealings and has built their way up over the centuries to be a powerful force, headed by a tightly knight family.

I need help thinking of rival gangs. I was thinking of possibly having a vampire gang, but it occurred to me that a vampire gang might be a little bit cliche and not very interesting. Any suggestions?

Geddy2112
2016-10-10, 11:35 PM
Just steal the plot from Romeo and Juilet, or West Side Story if you want something more modern.

You have the rival families as Montague vs Capulet or Sharks vs Jets, and Verona/New York City are both fairly large city states.

Make the other gang primarily elves, add in a lover from each side. Done.

FallenFallcrest
2016-10-10, 11:37 PM
Make the other gang primarily elves, add in a lover from each side. Done.

I wanted gangs to be a bit more diverse than "they are all just different types of elves." and I was thinking of having four gangs.

Vitruviansquid
2016-10-10, 11:49 PM
You're going to want to tell us the angle you're going for with these gangs. Are they supposed to be themed and silly like in the movie, "The Warriors?" Are they going to be kind of realistic like gangs that actually exist in real life? Are they meant to scare people or be sympathetic or what?

FallenFallcrest
2016-10-11, 12:27 AM
You're going to want to tell us the angle you're going for with these gangs. Are they supposed to be themed and silly like in the movie, "The Warriors?" Are they going to be kind of realistic like gangs that actually exist in real life? Are they meant to scare people or be sympathetic or what?

Definitely a darker tone, but not like gangs that exist in the present day. Sort of like the romanticized mob boss prohibition era type, but with magic. The Drow gang in particular has several personal connections to the player characters, but part of the adventure is that they have conflicting opinions of the gangs and will need to resolve their own internal conflicts.

Themes wouldn't be a bad thing, necessarily, each gang would have its signature style, territory, and portfolio of illegal activities.

Earthwalker
2016-10-11, 08:21 AM
Lets watch stolen ideas fall out of my brain and will see if there is anything you like.

The City Guard – An element within the city guard are corrupt and they are basically an organized criminal gang. They hire out to other gangs cleaning up messes as well as making money take a piece of the protection rackets of all the other gangs.

Monstrous Gang – A gang made up of the various monstrous races in the city. They normally just run protection rackets within the monstrous neighbourhoods.

Smugglers – One gang completely owns the docks and is responsible for all contraband coming through the docks. Most of the other gangs pay them dues (as such they would love to get this area off the smugglers)

Kwalzi Rings – Let’s say a mainly Dwarf gang. One gang but organized into small “rings” each member of a ring knows members of their own ring and maybe one member of another ring. These small groups exist to make money and most of all annoy the hell out of the drow gang. They make their money mainly stealing from the Drow gang. Hitting them whenever they can.

Beleriphon
2016-10-11, 10:44 AM
Dank Gobs: Gang of goblin cutpurses, may or may not have a boss that is something definitely not a goblin (like a mind flayer, or beholder).

The Jackals: A gang of gnolls. I'd run them somewhere between The Warriors and Fallout's raiders.

Deepburrow Family: A gnome mafia. Run it like a classic La Familia like The Godfather, except the don is three feet tall.

Weirdlet
2016-10-11, 12:32 PM
(tried to post this last night, and the board cacked it in the middle of things!)

Prohibition era... well, two things you'll want to look at. A lot of those gangs were from immigrant or economically disadvantaged groups, people who would form their own gangs for protection against predation by others when the police couldn't be trusted. So who are your different populations in town? Halflings, dwarves, elves? What makes them unique can make their gang unique, especially within their own culture. Some species might regard their gangs as just good businessmen, while others might think of them as outcasts who shame the rest of their kind. Who are newcomers in the area? Who's old money entrenched in the city's machinery? Every gang has its way of making money, whether it's skimming off of gambling or controlling the thefts in an area or trade in illicit goods and substances- things that are either outright banned, or the city taxes them high and people with money want it at a lesser price and have to have it.

So, second thing to consider, is what each group's niche market is, and how that flavors the way they do business. Bathtub elvish wine, guaranteed not to give you the jakes? Smuggled dwarven weapons, vicious, lethal and- sacrilige of sacrilige- untraceable to a particular smith? What things does the city demand on the sly, and who supplies them with what?

The protection racket is an old favorite, and that might be the niche of whomever the ostensibly in-charge population is- a city run by humans, but hungry for elvish luxuries and orcish trophies, is also going to have local boys saying they'll be happy to keep you and your shop safe from all the pointy-eared, long-bearded vermin running around- for a price. Every species pays its own people off- but the majority population may have an interest in making sure that human interests stay human.

BRC
2016-10-11, 01:01 PM
In a city watch campaign I was part of, we had the Kha-Uzak, AKA the Orcish Mafia. A series of loosely connected, often rival groups, each run by a "Kha", united against external threats and led by the "Ur-Kha", who semi-retires from active crimelording, instead becoming responsible for ensuring the wellbeing of the Kha Uzak, and the Orcish community in general.

While the Khas are constantly fighting each other, the Ur-Kha is inviolate. When the old Ur-Kha dies, or is found unfit to hold the office, the Khas line up behind the most powerful and respected candidates, and resolve things in the Orcish Way, until everybody is either broken, or acknowledges the new Ur-Kha. The lieutenants of the new Ur-Kha usually become Khas themselves, taking the territories vacated by their former boss's defeated rivals. The Ur-Kha himself needs no large organization, just a few trusted assistants and guards.

The Kha-Uzak is brutal in their methods, but cunning. The more cunning orcs rise to become lieutenants, or even Khas themselves, meanwhile they have no shortage of brutish thugs brought up on stories of Great Orcish Warriors that they can use for muscle, then throw under the bus when the City Watch comes to ask questions. The Kha-Uzak makes their money with extortion, smuggling, illegal gambling (Mostly underground fighting rings), and protection rackets. The City Watch normally stays out of the Orcish districts, so there is little interference with the Kha Uzak's operations. Even if the Watch tried to raid an operation, the Orcs see the Khas as legitimate authority, and will tip them off as soon as the Watch starts to move.

Physically, members of the Kha Uzak mark themselves with tattoos and scar patterns, indications of their allegiance and histories. The city jails are full of members of the Uzak, all of whom look out for each other regardless of which Kha they serve on the outside. As a result, Orcs don't really fear Jail, but Prison can be a very dangerous place for the Uzak's enemies.


While all the Khas, and most of the members, of the Kha Uzak are Orcs, they're not above working with other races. Goblins especially fill out the ranks of the Kha Uzak, as are half-ogres, who are prized as enforcers. The Khas are proud, but Human, Gnomish, or Halfling criminals willing to treat them with respect can have quite a profitable relationship with the Orcs. However, they never work with Elves or Dwarves.


Your Drow gang could easily have a rivalry with the Kha Uzak, their control over the weapon's market is being threatened by the Orcs. Since the Watch leaves the Orcish neighborhoods alone, the Kha Uzak can operate without fear, and they have too much muscle for the Drow to threaten them directly. The Drow may try to weaken the Orcs by assassinating the Ur-Kha, even though doing so would set off a war that could throw the city into chaos.


Another Gang idea, "The Academics". In the last few years, a group of cash-strapped students at the local magical academy started illegally making and selling magic items to help finance the elaborate lifestyles they craved. Since then these "Academics" have grown into a powerful organization. While small in number, they're quite wealthy. Most of their money comes from crafting magically-enhanced Narcotics, but they do craft other items for sufficiently high bidders. Their members are usually Mages (with all the power that entails), as well as a handful of mercenaries and cutthroats hired to protect their operations. As they are mostly the children of well-to-do families, they have political connections, and operate in the wealthier districts of the city, where the Watch respects citizen's privacy. They're intelligent, ambitious, and drunk on their own power. So far, they have stayed away from violent crime for the most part, except where it was necessary to defend their business, but it's only a matter of time before they get more aggressive.

Fable Wright
2016-10-11, 02:12 PM
Monstrous Gang – A gang made up of the various monstrous races in the city. They normally just run protection rackets within the monstrous neighbourhoods.

You're missing out on the coolest parts of the Daask, if that's where you're stealing this from.

First, in Sharn at least, Daask protection rackets cover the places that the cops aren't willing to go, period. In a part of the city where criminals can take pack tactics to the next level, where invincible serial killers can stalk the streets, and where life-draining undead no longer feel the fear of the sun, the Daask will protect those who pay their dues, when all your pleas to the city guard will do naught. And protect they can; not even the serial killer Wounds-Shed-Like-Water is immune to the gaze of their basilisks, and will think twice about drawing their attention.

Not only do they corner the protection market, they're the only source of Dragon's Blood. Think Cocaine levels of addiction mixed with actual, tangible boosts in magical powers per dose. Where other gangs have well-established trade routes with local suppliers & smugglers for a wide varieties of drugs to draw their profits, the Daask simply own the market on the most powerful and reliable addicts in the city. Mess with their delivery system, and you're going to answer to some furious mages on a literal power high—after all, that stuff ain't cheap, and your supplier just promised to give them a free hit of the good stuff if they took care of the problem.

Couple that with a thriving underground entertainment business (ever heard of 'Six Stones'? Lock seven people without arms and armor in a room with a cockatrice. Last one standing wins a small fortune. Extremely illegal, but with the spectator popularity you'd expect from the cross between a cockfighting ring crossed with Russian Roulette) and being secretly sponsored by the Droaamish government, and despite being the new kid on the block, they're making big waves in the big cities.

Saint Jimmy
2016-10-11, 05:34 PM
Some of these ideas are really good and I don't think I can top them with a gang that operates out of the shadows. Enter the Skin Theives. A large group of doppelgängers with their own mysterious goals, operating as a shadow guild, with plants everywhere, from the lowliest scum to the Kings own bodyguards, or maybe the king himself...

(DUN DUN DUUUN!)

Anyway, with that it goes to reason that they would have a good presence in other gangs, pushing them to weaken themselves in the long term so the Skin Thieves can take over completely.

GungHo
2016-10-14, 01:54 PM
Smuggled dwarven weapons, vicious, lethal and- sacrilige of sacrilige- untraceable to a particular smith? What things does the city demand on the sly, and who supplies them with what?
Thompson Automatic Crossbow. Also known as the "Karzad Tunnel Sweeper" and the "Dwarven Meat Grinder". Uses special .88 Magnum bolts. Shoots through schools.

gkathellar
2016-10-14, 02:02 PM
The Jackals: A gang of gnolls. I'd run them somewhere between The Warriors and Fallout's raiders.

But ... gnolls are hyenas. What kind of self-respecting hyena calls itself a jackal?

BRC
2016-10-14, 02:04 PM
But ... gnolls are hyenas. What kind of self-respecting hyena calls itself a jackal?

The proper name for a Gang of gnolls is "the Chuckleheads"

gkathellar
2016-10-14, 02:32 PM
The proper name for a Gang of gnolls is "the Chuckleheads"

Here is a man who knows what he knows what he's talking about.

Beleriphon
2016-10-15, 10:21 AM
But ... gnolls are hyenas. What kind of self-respecting hyena calls itself a jackal?

The one that gets its name from the people they prey upon.

Other options for Hyenas: The Jokers. If you can do the Mark Hamill Joker laugh for their boss you are golden sir, golden!

Mark Hall
2016-10-15, 01:25 PM
Might be the Ringworld I've been reading, but what about a gang of ghouls, led by a ghast? They mostly work in bodysnatching and murder, selling (through intermediaries) some of the valuables to fences.

Beleriphon
2016-10-15, 05:46 PM
Might be the Ringworld I've been reading, but what about a gang of ghouls, led by a ghast? They mostly work in bodysnatching and murder, selling (through intermediaries) some of the valuables to fences.

There's an idea. In fact of all of the undead other than vampires I honestly think ghouls are the only ones that could work as a gang. That said, I'm not sure if they're a gang in the traditional urban criminal sorts, or a pack of predators that happen to be smart enough to fence the stuff they can't eat.

That being said, they do make a good disposal system for other gangs to use, the ghouls provide protection to some place important in exchange for bodies.

Herobizkit
2016-10-16, 06:16 AM
You generally can't go wrong with borrowing from reality.

Take the Yakuza, for example. They're an organized crime syndicate consisting of families who respect each other's territory and often take care of the general populace in their territory so long as the Yakuza are permitted to run their operations unmolested.

So, what you need is a strong group of organized criminals and a populace who actively protects them Robin Hood style.

Let's toss in Ninjas while we're at in. In history, one Japanese leader found the best way to prevent ninjas from spying on him or working against him: he hired them all, then turned them into his own government spy network, not unlike the U.S. Secret Service.

Now you've got a gang that deals in information brokering and assassination. That stuff's hard to fight with weapons. Now make this group all halflings (and *shudder* gnomes, maybe). Maybe this group takes homeless/parent-less kids off the street and uses them as agents. Once an agent gets too old/too tall, they're quietly 'retired'. Now what if someone from this group is being hunted, and needs a friend or six...?

Dr paradox
2016-10-16, 08:41 PM
I ran a similar kind of game, and I liked making sure that every gang had a distinctive weapon or strategy. Plus, they each had particular colors which was helpful for marking positions on maps and making it clear who was bulling up the street.

The Red Companions (red) were a group that verged on a private police force, so they all had feats and class features that marked them as skilled combatants who work in groups, mostly with clubs and maces for subdual.

Radu's Boys (green) were a traditionalist sort of gang that was big on family loyalty, and bred hounds to harry and pin down enemies.

The Dead Men (black) were an upstart gang built around a guy who'd survived repeated hangings. They used scare tactics and noose-like lassos.

The Barristers (purple) ran the gambling and numbers rackets. They didn't have many members, but their men were always decked out in the best gear.

The River Sharks (blue) worked smuggling and protection on the wharves. They'd fight with long pikes and nets, and could arrive in force quickly when near the water.

The Seven (yellow) played in superstition, pretending that they were flush with magic power. They used complicated "rituals" to make business associates think twice about crossing them, and they had a fondness for poisons and alchemical grenades.

They're all a little broadly drawn, but it makes sure players can make informed decisions early, and it provides enough wriggle room within each gang for interesting NPCs that are unique but true to the gang's mission statement. These gangs were what I came up with for a low-magic sword and sorcery setting, so I'm sure someone who wants to use more magic and monsters could get even more variety out of their gangs.