Friday, May 25, 2018

Wizard Gangs!

I couldn't find a (free) resource for wizard gangs, so I decided to make one.

Assumes a high magic, and a particular setting. Probably not for everyone.

Huge thanks to my friend Alex K., especially for his in-game contributions of The Black Magic Fraternity, as well as the League of Felonious Gentlemen, the idea for Dr. Mercy, and reviewing the list.

From here???

Need a wizard gang for your wizard city? Roll a d20!

1. Third Eyes

A bunch of oracles and diviners that figured out they can make way more money by predicting races and gambling outcomes than telling fortunes. They sometimes outsource bandits to rob mail carriers that are secretly carrying valuable goods.

Criminal Activity: Foreseeing gambling outcomes. Robbing mail carriers.

Gang Signal: Lidless eye tattoos on forehead, covered up by hair. Some are real, functional eyes.

Leader: Doria, the Oracle of Greel

By the laws of the land she can never leave her shrine. Her leadership of the gang is a total secret. She rules her gang from the countryside atop a pile of riches, through parcel messengers and animal carriers.  Nobody will ever question why an Oracle has a lot of money, so laundering is never an issue.

She is a thin young woman with unusually long hair bangs - more than enough to cover her actual third eye - with radical, bitter notions of the role of Oracles in society and a tendency of losing her temper with unrelenting questioners. She has little idea what to do with all of her wealth, other than asking animals messengers to buy and bring her luxury foods and jewelry. She eats caviar with actual gold flakes every meal.

2. Transmutation Mafia

Their specialty is minting coins made of wood and transmuting them to gold, then moving the counterfeit currency quickly before the spell ends. Very unpopular with oligarchs and merchants, since they frequently cause and exploit hyper-inflation and deflation. When the police crack down on gang activity, it's usually these guys they're going after.

Criminal Activity: Forgery, Money Minting, Election Fraud, Market Exploitation, Money Laundering

Gang Signal: Secret invisible sigil printed on fake coin.

Leader: Edward Codsworth Humperdink IV

The fourth of his name in a long line of famous transmutation specialists - every one of them an utter nuisance to society. It's a miracle the entire lineage hasn't been snuffed out, as Edward will proudly proclaim. It is, he'll say, only by his family's wile that they have outfoxed society for so long. An exaggeration. (All of his ancestors going back 10 generations have died in prison.)

Despite the somewhat mediocre record, Edward is a very wealthy man. The Transmutation Mafia is great at money laundering, and only a fraction of the family's wealth has been reacquired by authorities. Most of it is very, very old money, kept in land deeds and water rights.

3. The Wandmakers Union

Wandmaking is a tough business. Anyone with the right supplier, a bit of magical aptitude, and a solid amount of time can make wands. The Union makes sure it's done right*. They have a large host of low level spellcasters at their disposal, along with an army of exotic location adventurer-woodcutters ready to take apart any wise guy with eon-tree cutting axes and "smart" pistols (trigger-activated wands). They've got deep pockets and a lot of manpower. Don't mess with them.

* = Exclusively by Themselves.

Criminal Activity: Corruption. Bribery. Grand Larceny. Extortion. Terrorism.

Gang Signal: Axes. "Smart" pistols.

Leader: "Big" Guy Gary

"Big" is a notorious wizard don. He's 3 feet tall. Nobody dares point out the irony. Surrounds himself with hulking lumberjack-bodyguards and carries an ivory-handled smart pistol holstered inside a bespoke suit. Despite his size he's a psychological giant. Always speaks with purpose, or not at all. His one redeeming feature, if any, is that at least he genuinely cares about his people.

4. The Black Magic Fraternity (Order of the Nine Eyes)

Is, in fact, a registered university fraternity. Omega-Alpha-Omega. Nobody even dares walk on the same street as their backalley frat house, which raises such a stink as to drive even the rats away. That street has the highest murder rate in the city by a factor of 3. Its members are constantly up to something awful, whether it's summoning demons, raising undead, or forming non-consensual dark pacts with the terrified mailman.

Criminal Activity: Illegal Summoning, Assault, Manslaughter

Gang Signal: Three triplets of three lidless eyes. Location of triplets on body not important.

Leader: The Man of Many Faces

Nobody knows what he really looks like. Wears several layers of disguise, at least two of them magical and two non-magical. Has adopted no less than 30 identities and personas around the city. Suspected Elf, Unregistered Hivemind Entity, or three children dressed in trench coat.

5. Rooftop Dueling Federation

Wizard street duels are illegal, as they have a high probability of causing collateral damage and burning down entire city blocks. Some ingenious individuals figured out that there was a legal loophole, not disallowing dueling on rooftops, and so a subculture was born.

Criminal Activity: Unsanctioned Wizard Duels.

Gang Signal: Weird scars.

Leader: "The Overtaker"

A rather burly wizard, real name Norman Skies (had it legally changed), with a stern face and big black beard, known far and wide for his mastery of reverse-gravity spells. Won several infamous victories by flinging rival wizards a good fifty feet vertically and laterally, well outside the dueling ring... and the rooftop. His win streak caused the Federation to adopt impenetrable sphere cage-match rules. He continued to win despite that, and has been undefeated for 20 years.

6. Charms

What happens when you get a bunch of enchanters and bards with absolutely no moral compass? Charms. They are utterly despised by all decent folk. They get mileage from the Charm Person and Suggestion spells, using them to rob ordinary people of their money or do their dirty work. They are an utter menace. Nobody should travel alone near their territory. Only the prettiest, most charismatic, and creepiest wizards are allowed to join (no magical augmentations!).

Criminal Activity: Fraud, Robbery, Kidnapping

Gang Signal: Bleeding heart stabbed with knife per victim. Always hidden.

Leader: Pretty Derrick

An absolute shit sandwich of a human being - professional on the outside, rotten to the core. Acts as a mentor to would-be creepers and charlatans inside the gang and out. Gives lectures and sermons on a regular basis in seedy bars, behind password-guarded bouncers in VIP sections about how to maximize your "coercion potential". Surrounds himself with people prettier than him who brown-nose their way to his favor by complimenting his looks and awful ideas. Doesn't look as good as he thinks he is.

7. Nightmares Steed Club

Nothing beats the freedom that a good Phantom Steed can bring. These guys are nonconformist outlaws - wizards on rides, driving a variety of high phantom horsepower engines of destruction. Conjured chariots and muscular phantom steeds are popular. The only thing worse than a rogue wizard is a highly mobile rogue wizard.

Criminal Activity: Street Racing. Illegal Drugs. Robbery. Arson.

Gang Signal: A bitchin' ride.

Leader: Black Betty

She loved horses when she was a little girl. The phase never really went away. Now they're spiky black demon horses that exhale burning sulfur and drag flaming chariots of death and misery across the shattering bones of her screaming enemies.

Nobody beats her when it comes to Phantom Steeds - the fastest and toughest rides in the world. The very sight of their burning eyes causes small animals to perish and the feeble to shit themselves. People say she's actually a demon, and her horses are actually Nightmares. It might be true. Black leather jackets, red eye shadow, and metal spikes all day and all night. You will almost never see her without a demonic horse. She takes no nonsense and always gives it direct and straight - leaves more time for death racing.

8. Fourteen and Five-Eighths Street

Technically speaking, extra-dimensional pockets are not a law-enforceable zone. Hence all sorts of illicit and illegal activities can be sanctioned up a Rope Trick or inside a Magnificent Mansion. The gang name refers to the space between Fourteenth and Fifteenth Streets, where the majority of legal dead zones they've conjured are maintained.

Criminal Activity:  Destruction of Evidence, Kidnapping, Extra-Dimensional Speakeasies

Gang Signal: 14 5/8 tattoos in just the most awkward places.

Leader: Samuel "Aggravated Sal" Williams

His friends call him a "great guy", a "clever guy", but even they won't talk about when he's using. A few drinks or some wizard drugs in him and he's liable to kill someone just for looking at him funny. Doesn't help that he's got a terrible fashion sense - always with mismatched shoes and awful undershirts. His friends have disposed of a lot of bodies into extra-dimensional spaces on his behalf. He's wanted in the city for murder, if he ever returns.

As expected, Aggravated Sal is capable of casually casting spells like Rope Trick, Magnificent Mansion, Secret Chest, and Dimension Door.

9. Steeves

Steeve cloned himself two hundred times. About three-quarters of them are dead or imprisoned. The rest formed a street gang. Steeve was an undiscovered wizard serial killer before the cloning. Forming a gang has only made it worse.

Criminal Activity: Illegal Cloning, Murder, Extortion, Tax Evasion

Gang Signal: Every single one of them is Steeve.

Leader: Steeve.

Steeve has the least memorable face, personality, and fashion sense. He uses this to his advantage. Imagine he looks like that unremarkable coworker you pass by in the hall every day, except he gets this creepy-ass serial killer grin every time you're not looking at him (or maybe your coworkers are like that, who am I to presume?). The creepiness, of course, is multiplied by the number of Steeves simultaneously grinning.

Steeve was an bureaucrat before the cloning, so he knows how to hide his paper trail footprint. He's good with Wall spells, his favorites being "Wall of Kitchen Knives" or "Wall of Screams".

10. The Good Boyz

A wizard gang composed entirely of dogs. They're either polymorphed, shapeshifted, or otherwise altered to exploit the fact that friendly dogs are cute and fast and people rarely suspect them of foul play. There are probably a few druids in the mix, but nobody's going to judge. Their favorite crime is stealing babies to sell to other wizards.

Criminal Activity: Assault, Shoplifting, Arms Smuggling, Child Abduction

Gang Signal: They're dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Leader: Biscuit

Biscuit is best boy! An adorable golden retriever, which is in actuality a polymorphed balding 30 year old man with horrifying back hair. He will gladly look cute while his Boyz mess you up, sitting upon a dog comforter throne. His weakness is peanut butter.

Biscuit can cast polymorph as a dog. Only his lieutenants, or other experienced members, can do the same.

11. Dirty Rascals

About half of them are prepubescent boy wizards. The other half are wizards disguised as prepubescent boys. They do crimes prepubescent boys are frequently asked to commit: generally tasks requiring small hands and bodies.

Criminal Activity: Pickpocketing, Shoplifting, Burglary, Battery, Murder

Gang Signal: Working class hats. Grimy faces.

Leader: Samantha "Sam" Prescott

Appearing as an 11-year old spunky tomboy is, in actuality, a 50-something year old woman using a magical disguise. Goes by Sam. Call the leader of the Mini Rascals anything other than "Sam" and you'll get properly shanked. She is notoriously ruthless, and doesn't care a lick for new members until they prove themselves by committing a major crime.

Her signature spell is called: “And Now You Don’t Have Hands Or Feet”.

12. Bones ("Dead Janes")

A smuggling ring categorized by flamboyantly-dressed necromancers pimping out their undead for specialized tasks. Typically involves smuggling illegal drugs or weapons inside well-groomed zombie bodies drenched in perfume. Their trademark drug is a substance called Brainjuice, which is drunk right in an open skull and causes major memory dissociation. It's not unheard of for the group to take high profile contract killings by haunting a place with a banshee or violent poltergeist. Most of the group is women.

Criminal Activity: Smuggling, Drugs, Assassination

Gang Signal: Necromancers dress in flamboyant purple with magnificent feathered caps. Zombies have toe tags.

Leader: Dr. Mercier a.k.a. “Dr. Mercy”

She’s got Friends on the other side. Dr. Mercy, holder of a diploma from the definitely-not-fake Wizard City College of Spirits and Ghosts, is a notoriously charismatic gangster with style. She’s got the hat, she’s got the cane, and she’s got about a thousand active deals and pacts going on with various spirits. Her spiritual debt is something to balk at, with no less than twenty big-shot spiritual powers claiming some part of her soul upon death’s release. Won’t that be a sight, when it happens, if it happens.

13. Black Dragons

These guys are all about acid. They dress like they're cosplaying black dragons on a low budget. Notorious for taking hit jobs to throw everburning acid in peoples' faces, mutilating them for the rest of their painful life.

Criminal Activity: Arson, Contract Mutilations, Extortion

Gang Signal: Black parkas lined with metal plates, Splash goggles, making a claw with your hand.

Leader: Ancient Black Dragon (Korbor the Black)

Its leader is actually a adolescent black dragon, masquerading as someone pretending to be an ancient black dragon called "Ancient Black Dragon". He acts all mysterious and cryptic and mystical, in ways that would certainly be considered hokey if someone wouldn't throw acid in your face for calling it out. Long black hair, pale skin, black tongue, long black painted fingernails, fake black dragon wings, the works. A bad actor in every sense, though his minions eat his performances up. His “Lair” is rife with smelly incense and bubblings pits of water with too much green food coloring in it.

14. Better Reality Union

Commonly known as BRU, or "Brewers". Inception-style illusion drugs that whisk users away to new realities for days at a time. Occasionally let a paying client "have fun" with a hallucinating drug user. They wear white robes like healers or doctors, and are absolutely terrible at keeping their facilities and equipment clean.

Criminal Activity: Drugs, Prostitution, Human Trafficking

Gang Signal: White Robes

Leader: Father Bishop

A serene wizard with a god complex and maddening hypocrisy. Looks how you'd expect someone who demands to be called "Father". Speaks in truisms and proverbs, always proclaiming the benefits of the realities he offers while never going under himself. Actively exploits his own gang members and clients. Advertises his services as healing remedies for psychological maladies while roping and entrapping people in and taking their money.

Master of subtle illusion magic, such as making people paranoid, rotting their brains in mind-prisons, and screwing with dreams.

15. Lock-Key International

Known colloquially as "LoKI", or "Low Key". They specialize in doors, and are frequently landlords. Breaking and entering or locking people up, they have ways of making life very inconvenient for their "clients". It’s not unheard of, for a person who failed to "pay the rent", to find themselves trapped in a closet for three days, or to have their doors remain open during the winter, or for their locks to suddenly grow teeth and bite them. Technically speaking, this sort of thing is illegal, but wizard cops are easy to pay off. And "misunderstandings" happen.

Criminal Activity: Extortion ("Rent"), Blackmail, Kidnapping, Burglary

Gang Signal: Flash a key tattoo on the ankle.

Leaders: Alfred Lock and Sarah Key, partners, not lovers. Don't make that mistake. They look and act like that couple at the grocery store that's been together for 30 years and still shops together.

Lock specializes in the imprisonment aspects of the group, Key specializes in the breaking and entering. Together they own more domiciles than all the other wizard gangs combined.

16. Sons of the Serpent

They are secretly snakes with fake human heads. They can pop their heads off at any moment and grow a huge snake neck to bite people's' heads off. Also they're wizards, having been witnessed casting a multitude of spells, particularly turning various things into snakes.

Criminal Activity: ???, but it can’t be good...

Gang Signal: Other than secret snake heads? Nothing.

Leader: ???

Barely anything is known about the Sons of the Serpent. Occasionally there will be a story about some store clerk, or old lady walking her dog, or a member of another gang, suddenly being accused of being a snake by a bystander, then popping off their own head and chomping said accuser and eating them, before being shot down by the wizard police.

17. George the Cripple's Gang

They control the docks, and frequently make use of forceful hands to smash open store fronts for looting or to crush those that trespass on their turf.

Criminal Activity: Ram-Raiding, Exortion

Gang Signal: A Closed Fist

Leader: George the Cripple

He can't walk or move his arms, not that he needs to. He is a powerful psychic, capable of reading minds and summoning giant telekinetic hands and feet to compensate for his wrinkly frailty. He typically rides on the back of his hulking nephew, a dull but giant lad named Bo.

18. The Dark Forces of the Curselord

These guys are a bunch of jerks. They’re Evil with a capital “E”, believing that by committing heinous acts they’re yadda yadda cosmic balance yadda yadda divine alignments blah blah blah they must earn the Curselord’s favor. They don’t even commit crime for the money or the power, just for the sake of it, like a bunch of weirdos. The Dark Forces frequently recruit edgy teenagers.

Criminal Activity: All crime, for the sake of EEEEEEEEEEVIL. Tends towards easy victim-crimes like kicking puppies and punching babies.

Gang Signal: Loudly proclaiming fealty to the Dark Curselord. Wearing an impractical number of spikes. Making an “E” with your three middle fingers.

Leader: Tom “Dungeon Master” Gurds

Tom… Oh Tom… He is such a doofus.

Tom has no idea how stupid he looks and sounds literally all the time. He’s like someone in their 40s who never got out of his Edgy Teenager phase. He’s a balding, sweaty, cultist tryhard who needs the affirmation of teenagers and some bogus cult shit to justify his existence. No professional wizard ever takes him seriously, not even the wizard police. He doesn’t commit any crimes, so they don’t bother. His “minions” commit plenty, but they tend to be pretty minor things, and they also tend to stop after reprimanded by the authorities.

Tom ‘specializes’ in curse magic, though his curses fail, often spectacularly, 80% of the time. He’s gotten them to look really dramatic, though, so it might scare someone’s grandma (provided she isn’t a wizard).

19. The League of Felonious Gentlemen

Most gangs are in it for the money and the power. These guys are it in for the fun of the challenge. Impeccably dressed, studiously polite, classy - they are the perfect gentlemen. They are well-known for their ludicrously elaborate heists, using Rube-Goldberg levels of sophistication, to steal utterly unimportant things from very powerful people - a family picture, someone's pillow, a favorite drinking cup. Nobody knows what happens to these items.

Criminal Activity: High Profile Burglary

Gang Signal: Proper Etiquette and Dress. Top hats and bandit masks.

Leader: The Man in the Dazzling Mask (Crown Prince Ferdinand)

The most mysterious and well-kept secret of The League is its de facto leader - a wizard of extraordinary subtly, power, and class. Behind his stunningly beautiful diamond mask is none other than Crown Prince Ferdinand of the Ruby Isles, heir to The Throne of Coal. He is wreathed in diplomatic immunity, should he ever get caught. His masked persona is as famous as he is, and it is only by his clever wizardry and cunning that nobody has drawn the connection between the two. He only ever reveals his masked persona to lower-class women, and his real face to the wealthy and powerful, and so his proclivities remain a secret.

The Crown Prince is enviously proficient in all magic except necromancy. Capable of casting Wish.

20. The Bookprinter's Cartel

You know why textbooks are expensive? These guys. They have a monopoly on book printing and intend to keep it that way. They're well known for various acts of arson whenever an independent entrepreneur gets the bright idea to dip into the book printing market. A side effect of being the only book printer is that they can enchant them with all sorts of Orwellian spells, making every book in the city a potential ear for their "Listeners".

Criminal Activity: Monopoly, Arson, Espionage, Blackmail, Information Brokering

Gang Signal: Official Bookprinter's Cartel Identification, or obviously-trying-too-hard-to-look-casual clothes.

Leader: Professor Z

Zachary Zargot, “Professor Z”. A right greedy bastard, he is. Very fond of overt and decadent displays of wealth, especially in front of people much, much poorer than he is. Includes such activities of dubious stimulation as: smoking banknotes through hole-punched platinum coins, having wizard lackeys transmute everything he touches to gold, snorting relic dust, and having an animated ass wipe.

His worst display of all, however, besides his chin, is that he doesn’t actually have a PhD. At most he got a Master’s in Public Health, and even that is debatable (didn’t complete all the requirements, intimidated his guidance counselor). His magical ability, especially under duress, is particularly lacking.

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