Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crime 101: Hiding The Mob - Part 2

Continuing the topic from Monday, since there were a few more questions on the subject, namely how can crime hide - or stay untouched - in a society where the law does not have to use due process or prove a crime is happening like they do in the United States. I discussed the topic with Atraties a bit, and we both had the same idea and similar historical references for some things. That being said, this post may make more sense if you have read the first part, which you can find here. After that, read on down for more on hiding organized crime in society, this time, without the legal side needing to prove something to make a move.

Keep Paid Up
Whether the government needs to prove you are involved or not, being paid up with the right people is always a good way to stay protected. If those in power are enjoying the cash, and other perks, you are regularly sending their way, than they will not be likely to come after you. Now, being paid up with the right people doesn't necessarily mean high power, it can also mean low power. If the common folk love you, then when you need to go to ground it is very easy to simply blend in with the masses. Having all of these covered, and you have yourself a very stable place to work from. Now, granted, this isn't total protection, but nothing really is. If the King really wants the mob gone, and doesn't need to prove anything, he can just keep hammering and hammering on it until it goes away. Being paid up can still help, politicians can make pleas, or give forewarning of coming raids, but at some point being a known enemy of the state just comes out bad for you.

Private Army
In the time before Louis XIII of France, there were no national armies. Armies were made by calling on the nobles under the king to put their troops together and thus form an armed force. During times of peace, these soldiers would be back under their home lord's rule, and thus the military was very decentralized. During these times, many criminal organizations were able to stay alive because they, quite simply, had an army big enough that they would be able to hold off a major attack from the legitimate people. Would they be able to win indefinitely? No, but it would be a costly victory. They had fortified positions, good supplies, and lots of money.

Never underestimate the power of having a stick of your own can have. It doesn't need to be bigger, stronger, or more damaging, it just needs to be able to hurt. With that comes the fact that anyone who comes after you then has to judge if taking you on is worth taking that pain.

Now, aside from being paid up with the right people and the high and mighty, there is also a lot to be said about blackmail. You collect a lot of secrets working the underground and doing other peoples dirty jobs. If you also keep proof of those secrets and dirty jobs, you then have leverage over others. Leverage you can use to coerce people into helping you, and making it harder for the government to come after your group. When a local lord starts to come after you, you simply send word that it would be a shame if his rivals found out about his indiscretions with those brothel girls, or his wife's family found he'd squandered her dowry by betting on boat racing.

Aside from out and out blackmail and extortion, there is also just lending your support in the right way to have those in power liking having you around. This goes back to being paid up with the right people, but it bears a second mention.

Assassination and other Terror Tactics can also be used to keep your group safe. While this is a dangerous game, and the set up would have to be specific, the execution is simple enough. When someone powerful comes after you, they die. Eventually the other powerful people start to get the message, and if they don't, well the people under them may not want to be putting their lives, or their family's lives, in danger just to satisfy some dispute over who can transport what where.

This also, basically, falls under private military in how it works, but was different enough I felt it should get its own mention.

Move Around
This is the weakest of the ways, and definitely has its vulnerabilities, but simply staying moving can also be a potent defense, especially when paired with any of the above techniques. Sure they know who you are, but they don't know where you are, which then makes sending a group of guards out to grab you a lot harder. Bonus points if you can actually move around in the guard.

Wrapping Up
That is about five ways you can "hide" (more like protect) your organized crime syndicate in a setting without due process of law. Most of them are oldies, and some of them I don't have direct references for but could also work. Hopefully it gives enough to get people's brains going on other ways to set in their crime syndicates into their games.

If you have other questions, let us know!


  1. Wow this is great stuff! This will be put in my campaign reference folder!

  2. Glad you like it. Thanks for the questions too. I think this gives the new series a hell of a good start.