Friday, December 10, 2010

Crime 101

I've been thinking about adding another small series to chip at from time to time, and this is something I've also been debating looking into for adding to M.A/C.C when I get back into it at the end of the semester. So, I figured I'd give it a shot and see how I do at writing things. Now, to be honest and up front about this, a lot of this comes from a whole ton of watching TV shows like The Wire (you need to watch this show btw), and then putting it through the "Sociological Lens" to try and pull out what they're doing. So, this may not be real, but it works well enough for fiction, and fiction is what we're talking about when it comes to games.

So, who will benefit the most from this little blurb? Well, as always the focus for this blog is the GMing side of things. I do have the snippets for players, but my primary focus in gaming is the design and GMing side, so I find it hard to not blog about that. That being said, I am hoping there will be something for everyone in these. GMs may get the benefit of some ideas on how to run various facets of crime.

Atraties is going to be helping with some of the posts, and the hope is to go from the very low types of crime (say, muggings and street level drug sales) to the tops of various aspects of corporate crime. If we can swing it, we're also going to try and adapt some stuff for Fantasy nobles, and Sci Fi sector governors. After all, the beauty of crime is that while the details change, the basic methods have been constant for a couple hundred years.

That being said, this is a waste of a blog post without asking what you guys want out of this. Anything special you want, need, or would like to see going up sooner rather than later? A type of crime you'd like to have in your game, but aren't so sure on how to implement it.

Though, I do want to put a disclaimer on things. To the best of my knowledge, neither Atraties nor I have done much in the way of organized crime in our life. Like I said, most information comes from studying the subject as students, years of experience in gaming and as GMs, and active watching of various other fictional protrayals of the subjects. What we don't know, we'll do some research on, or disclaim that it is guesses and how we'd run it on short notice.

So, let us know what you want to hear. If I don't hear otherwise, I'm going to go over two of the basic ways of selling street drugs. If only as that is always a good way to start things, since a drug trade can always be useful to find in games.


  1. The thing that I stink at is a crime mystery (a la Holmes, Monk, etc). Sometimes my clues are breezed through and the players figure the story out in ten minutes and other times they're scratching their heads after six hours. I know a lot of other GMs that are really good at this so I know there has to be some formula (even if it's just instinctive to some).

    A formula for how to lay out clues to a crime would rock.

  2. I've actually talked about that a bit. Here are some URLs for posts that may get you started on it. First thing to keep in mind though, mysteries are HARD to do.

    this may also help:

  3. Oh cool, guess I should have done some reading first, lol.

    So then next request then, since this is from the sociological viewpoint. Under what conditions do you expect to see things like gangs, organized crime, and pirates emerging as strong entities.

    To explain, why does Los Angeles have such a strong gang population, almost serving as the stronghold of gang society while other large cities, have gangs but are not as powerful?

    What enabled the Mob to continue operating in Chicago in the 20s when everyone knew they were there? Now the answer would seem obvious, they had a strong policy of secrecy. But why specifically Chicago? Obviously the Mob operated in other locations and continues to but why was Chicago so dominant?

    I kind of know why Pirates were able to operate in the Caribbean but China is said to have a very extensive history of Piracy that did not rely on letters of marque.

    My short answer would be there there are hiding places for them in all situations. Gangs have a buffer of a society that protects them, Mobs were able to hide in plain sight because of loopholes or weaknesses in the law and Pirates were able to hide at sea. So how do you create convincing hiding places?

  4. Emmet, I had a response written up for this but it is so long I think I am going to make it the update for Monday. The short answer, making a convincing hiding place by making it appear legitimate, and then protecting it. How that can work, I'll go into in more detail on Monday.