Arcanum 1780: A New World
Crime In New Britain
Crime In New Britain
Since the advent of steam and especially techno-magic in New Britain, tens of thousands of working class people who would otherwise have lived in rural communities centered around agricultural labour, have instead settled in the booming cities and towns. Slum areas have expanded rapidly, becoming tense, over crowded melting pots where different social, religious, ethnic and political groups are forced to fight for their place in the new world. Meanwhile, individuals of a more predatory nature have quickly realizing that crime is much easier, more profitable and has a higher chances of success with the help of like-minded people. Powerful street gangs have began to emerge in cities across the country and violent turf wars have erupted as they look to carve out their territories.
The Forty Elephants
The Forty Elephants, also known as the Forty Thieves, are an all-female crime syndicate who are based in the slums of Philadelphia. They specialize in shoplifting and smash and grab raids The Elephants are tightly run and neatly organised, operating a collection of cells whose activities extended across Philadelphia and into other cities. They mount carefully executed raids on expensive shops, wearing specially tailored coats, cummerbunds, muffs, skirts, bloomers and hats sewn with hidden pockets, which they use to plunder thousands of pounds worth of goods in a matter of minutes.
Their leader is the notorious Diamond Annie, the gangs undisputed queen since the time she was 20. Annie has proven to be a highly effective leader, dividing the gang into cells to simultaneously ransack multiple shops across the city. Her nickname comes from the powerful punches she delivers with her diamond ring studded fists. The gang is also capable of shocking violence and guards their territory jealously. Any thieves found to be operating on their turf are forced to pay a percentage of their takings and those who refused are often kidnapped and badly beaten.
The Scuttlers a not a single organised group but rather a collection of neighbourhood-based youth gangs formed in working class areas of Boston and the surrounding townships. Scuttlers can be identified by their distinctive dress as most wear a kind of uniform consisting of brass-tipped pointed clogs, bell-bottomed trousers, colorful silk scarves, flat caps and shot hair with long fringes. Nearly all Scuttlers carry knives and wear heavy buckled belts, often decorated with pictures such as snakes, scorpions, and hearts pierced with arrows. Their thick leather belts are their most frequently used weapons and buckles are often sharpened to create a flail capable of inflicting horrific injuries. Clashes between rival Scuttler groups can involved large numbers of youths. Local newspapers described one such instance in May 1779 as involving more than 500 people.
The High Rip Gang
As a major port city, New York is home to a number of criminal gangs. The most feared of these groups is the High Rip Gang. The High Rippers became infamous following the shocking 1784 of a Spanish Sailor who was brutally beaten and stabbed to death in a mugging gone wrong. The gang has become renowned for their extreme violence, vicious street robberies and carefully planned revenge attacks. They were until recently locked in bitter turf war with their arch rivals, the Logwood Gang, but have won that war and absorbed the remnants of their rivals They mainly operate in the dock area of the city and were known to target lone docker workers on their way home from work. They have became so bold in their activities that many within the city fear they were untouchable and those unfortunate to live within their territory live in constant fear of their attacks. After a series of sickening killings, a number of members were executed last year which has somewhat curtailed their activities for now.
The Peaky Blinders
the Peaky Blinders are another prominent Philadelphia gang and earned their name through the practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their flat caps. They were originally little more than a loosely organised groups of thugs and petty thieves living within the worst slum areas of the city but, over time, the Blinders have evolved into a sophisticated organisation that runs an extensive criminal empire based around illegal betting, protection rackets and the city’s black market. Members can be identifies by their sartorial style, wearing uniforms consisting of donkey jackets, silk scarfs, bell-bottom trousers, steel-capped boots and their distinctive weaponized flat caps.
The Cock Road Gang
Not all criminal gangs operate out of the industrialized cities, many rural communities are also plagued by bands of criminals who have grouped together in hope of greater profits. The Cock Road Gang of Massachusetts are a criminal family who specialize in highway robbery, burglary and horse theft. They primarily operate on lonely stretches of the roads that lead in and out of Boston and other coastal towns. Taking their name from the small hamlet in which many of the members live, the gang is made up of half a dozen or so inter-married families – the Caines, Baker’s, Brain’s, Bryant’s and Fry’s. They are so well established and feared within the area that they will rob travellers in broad daylight and run a structured protection racket, where local farmers pay due according to the size of their estate.
The Garduna are a criminal organisation which has fairly recently spread to the South of New Britain from New Spain. It is said to have originally been a prison gang that has grown into a more organized entity over time, involved with robbery, kidnapping, arson, and murder-for-hire. Garduna “clans” are family based and act independently of each other, often feuding among themselves. Each clan holds to the Garduna’s written statute, the frieno, which includes an initiation rite and stipulations for funds set aside for the families of those imprisoned.
The Garduna has never been a coherent whole nor a centralised organization. Instead, it has always been a loose confederation of different, independent groups or families. Each group is bound around kinship ties and controls criminal activities which take place in its particular territory. Each family clan takes care of its own business, protects its territory, and sometimes tries to expand at another group’s expense. Although not centralized, there is some minimal coordination, to avoid mutual interference. The families compete to maintain a system of checks and balances between equal powers. It is estimated that there are about a dozen Garduna clans spread across the Caribbean and New British mainland’s southern shires.