==THE CITY'S DYING BREATH==
=AN EXPLORATION OF 90s NOIR=
Pictured Above: The Vanitas Casino District, 1996
The story so far...
Intended to be the next Las Vegas, Vanitas was the poorly-executed dream of young playboy millionaire Francis Blake. Technically classified as a resort, this small collection of casinos, spas, and glamorous restaurants was met with initial success beyond Blake's expectations, and soon a small city of sorts sprang up around the resort. First came hotels, then condos, then apartment buildings, grocery stores... a community was born, which ended up being rather unfortunate for Blake. Instead of visiting and pouring money into the casinos, people were living there, investing their earnings and settling down.
Vanitas, now officially a city, became less and less profitable for Blake by the day. Due to his role in founding the city, Blake was given a seat on the city council and even served as mayor for a term, but his profiteering ambitions didn't mesh with the council's idea of planned expansion. Soon the resort was eclipsed in importance by office buildings, schools, and hospitals. The casinos began hemorrhaging money, and soon Blake's fortune was a comparatively paltry sum. At this point, well-known mob boss Don Cartigo stepped in and offered Blake a loan to keep the resort open for another year.
This was a very poor decision on Blake's part. The resort continued to do poorly, and Blake didn't make nearly enough to pay off Cartigo, especially with the added cost of his rather high interest rate on top of the interest loan. This had been Cartigo's plan all along; Blake sold the resort to Cartigo in the end, and to make up for his "debt", he became the Cartigo family's personal puppet on the city council.
A decade passes. Cartigo now has the city almost completely in his grasp. After paying off more than a few officials, the Cartigo family achieved a majority on the council, despite a rather straight-laced mayor. Cartigo also masterminded the rise of the wildly incompetent Stanley Trappe to the position of police commissioner. Under Trappe's leadership, little is done to crack down on Cartigo's operations, which include drug trafficking, firearms sales, and prostitution. However, some believe that Trappe isn't stupid as much as he is allied with Cartigo; any rackets of rival mob families are quickly and efficiently put down, but Cartigo's operations are never touched, oddly enough.
Vanitas quickly becomes one of the most dangerous places to live, but also one of the most profitable ones... provided you don't interfere with Cartigo's business. Due to the incompetence of law enforcement, the city also becomes a hotspot for private investigators; people and precious items often go missing, and with Trappe heading the police department, little headway is made in righting such wrongs, necessitating the hiring of outside help. These PIs are often given a lot more leniency (once again due to Trappe's lack of skill) than in other countries, often causing them to cross the line into bounty hunter and even vigilante territory.
This all changes in 1996, when Cartigo miraculously dies of natural causes, something very rare for a Mafia Don. The Cartigo operation splinters into many smaller factions under the incompetent leadership of Cartigo's son, Franco. The Cartigo's longstanding monopoly quickly falls apart and the rate of violent crime climbs uncontrollably as a result of factions scrambling for profitable territory. Trappe resigns from his position quickly after Cartigo's death, and is replaced by young hotshot Harold Jefferson, who seems to be above blackmail and is prepared to do "anything it takes" to eradicate the crime problem, something that truly strikes fear into the hearts of the many small factions that now inhabit Vanitas.
The streets aren't safe anymore, if they were ever safe to begin with. With crime on the rise but a newly motivated police force, who knows what could happen next in the black pearl of the United States, Vanitas?
The major players...
Faction Name: The Cartigo Family
Faction Turf: Although the influence of the Cartigo Family use to spread across all of Vanitas, what remains of their operation now stays primarily in the lower east side of the city, the industrial center of Vanitas. What used to be the most imposing collection of arms, drugs, and cold hard cash in the city has now been reduced to three warehouses on the waterfront, although what does remain is heavily guarded, with thugs at every door. The Cartigo mansion, half of which burned down when the Vigotellis attempted to snuff out Cartigo's heir, Bluto Cartigo, remains an eyesore on Rainy Street in Midtown, the upper class suburbs on the north side of Vanitas.
Purpose: The Cartigo family used to have total control over the extremely profitable markets of drugs and weapons, although ever since the operation splintered, the family's been hemorrhaging money trying to keep a hold in both fields. Unable to compete with the many splintering factions undercutting their prices, the Cartigo family is caught up in several turf wars trying to regain their hold on these markets, while selling petty amounts of drugs and guns to stay afloat.
Characteristics: The Cartigo family is now mostly composed of those not smart enough to jump ship when the Don died, so don't expect a great deal of intelligence or competence from any of its members. While the family still has a great deal of footsoldiers in its employ, made men in the family dress in expensive suits and all wear a golden ring bearing a large C on their right hand. Regardless of its unorganized state, Cartigo men are usually trained killers, so it's not easy to push them around.
Bluto Cartigo - Don Cartigo's heir and the current head of the family. A young, short, portly manchild of only 20 years, Bluto is neither imposing nor competent in his position. Many believe it was due to his poor management skills that the family splintered. A spoiled brat and an overt cocaine addict, many believe control of the family should never have been given to him.
History: The long-standing jewel in the shit crown of Vanitas' criminal underworld, the once great and powerful Cartigo family has nearly died out following Don Cartigo's death. Now barely staying afloat, the Cartigo family currently battles the police as they attempt to stamp out what remains of this once glorious family.
The Vigotelli Crime Family - Furio Vigotelli, Don Cartigo's former right hand man, has recently become the head of his own family since Cartigo's death. Vigotelli, sensing that Bluto wouldn't be able to hold the family together without his father, was one of the first to stab Cartigo in the back, defecting from the family and taking a third of the operation with him. Since then the Vigotellis have been taking advantage of under the table deals to rob the Cartigos of most of their weapons deal contracts. The Vigotellis have been in an open war with the Cartigos since they attempt to burn down the Cartigo mansion and kill Bluto.
The Dukes - Most of the suppliers and dealers who used to handle the narcotics side of the Cartigo family have formed a new gang called the Dukes, essentially pushing the Cartigos out of the drug market by absorbing most of their operation. Many Cartigo footsoldiers have died raiding Duke warehouses, causing both factions to declare open war on each other.
Vanitas Police Department - Stamping out what remains of the Cartigo family has been a top priority of the VPD since Jefferson became chief of police. As a result, several officer deaths have been traced back to Cartigo hitmen, many of whom top the VPD's most wanted list.
Faction Name:The Vigotelli Family
Faction Turf: Aside from a small section belonging to the Cartigo's, the Vigotellis keep to the waterfront warehouses of the lower east side, many of which hold crates of weapons and explosives in addition to lumber and other construction materials. The higher ranking members of the Vigotelli family live in the Gilded Lord Hotel, a swanky, five-star hotel in the casino district of Vanitas. Furio Vigotelli himself lives in the penthouse suite, surrounded at all times by armed guards.
Purpose: Masquerading under the guise of a construction supply company, Vigotelli Supply Inc., the Vigotelli family is the most prominent arms dealer in Vanitas, with standing contracts to many prominent factions across the city. Unlike the Cartigos, the Vigotelli family maintains a facade of legality with the construction supply business, meaning they're under the radar of the police department for the most part. Vigotelli seeks to build a criminal empire to rival that of what the Cartigo family used to be.
Characteristics: Most of the workers for the Vigotelli Supply company double as footsoldiers, so as far as the thugs are concerned, one should always be wary around someone wearing Vigotelli Supply company coveralls or jumpsuits. Made men in the Vigotelli family appear less conspicuous than that of those of other families, usually taking the guise of dock managers or warehouse foremen. While lower level thugs fight with construction equipment and other inconspicuous tools, never underestimate the amount of heat they could be packing; working for the biggest arms dealer in the city typically means high-class toys.
Furio Vigotelli - Former right hand man of Don Cartigo, Vigotelli is a middle-aged man who appears humble, handsome, and fatherly, but this only hides his true colors as a cutthroat businessman with profit always at the forefront of his thoughts. A sly criminal genius, Vigotelli is good at maximizing profits while avoiding costly scuffles with other gangs, save the Cartigo family, against which he has a rather large vendetta.
History: The Vigotelli family rose to prominence following Cartigo's death under the leadership of Furio Vigotelli. By acquiring most of the weapons contracts of the Cartigos and buying out a construction supply company on the waterfront as a cover, Vigotelli struck a careful balance between profit and legality. Despite his usual calm, passive attitude, Vigotelli began a war with the Cartigo family by attempting to kill Bluto Cartigo by burning his house down.
Relations: The Cartigo Family - The Vigotelli family is currently engaged in a war with the remnants of the Cartigo family.
Many of the factions of Vanitas rely on the Vigotellis for their weapons, so they hold contracts with several other operations across the city.
Faction Name: The Dukes
Faction Turf: The Dukes make their home on Washington Avenue, a particularly shady and dangerous street well known for meth labs, growhouses, and dealer hangouts -- basically a narcotics hotspot. Housing projects that have fallen into disrepair line the streets, providing living quarters and hideouts for the Dukes and their friends. A dealer on every corner and armed thugs always watching closely to make sure deals go off without a hitch, any cop or other do-gooder would be wise to steer clear. The Duke courtyard, a small enclosure in the middle of the largest project on the street (the Jefferson Estates), serves as a popular Dukes hangout and a meeting place when the shit goes down.
Purpose: The Dukes are in the business of selling drugs, and that's all. Preferring not to dabble in the other muddy business of turf wars and backstabbing, they keep to themselves unless they're really provoked.
Characteristics: The Dukes are a multiracial gang comprised mostly of blacks and hispanics. Preferring to keep a low profile, the Dukes dress in typical urban fashion, identifying themselves largely with their gang color - orange. Higher level thugs and dealers have a D tattooed on the underside of their wrist for easy identification. Most Duke dealers and footsoldiers carry pistols and knives that can be easily concealed, but they're not afraid to roll out the heavy ordinance if need be.
Important People: Ricardo Dominguez - The leader of the Dukes. Formerly the head of the narcotics division of the Cartigo family, he jumped ship and basically stole the Cartigo drug monopoly out from under their powdered noses. A careful drug lord, Ricardo does most of his communicating over the phone or through a messenger, and stays locked up under heavy watch in an unassuming apartment on the top floor of the Jefferson Estates. A man who does not use his own products, Dominguez is a devout catholic and a reasonable man, but he's not afraid to get his hands dirty to get the job done. Happy to deal with anyone, Dominguez is a businessman first and a criminal second.
History: The Dukes were born out of the great schism of the Cartigo empire, and have remained a profitable enterprise since. Due to the fact they operate in such a tightly managed and concentrated area, the police prefer not to trifle in their affairs, as the war on crime often takes priority over the war on drugs in Jefferson's eyes. The Dukes have essentially cornered the market on drug distribution in Vanitas since they began operation, and they often put competitors out of business not by force, but with better prices and service.
The Jackals - Given that the Dukes are a gang of drug addicts and junkies whose influence extends only to the end of Washington Avenue, Dominguez negotiated an alliance with the Jackals, a group of violent, nearly insane burnouts who live on the adjacent Kennett avenue for protection. In exchange for discounts on their product, the Dukes are now often accompanied by members of the Jackals on a regular basis to make sure that important deals and deliveries go down smoothly. Many members of the Dukes criticize Dominguez for allying with these brutes, but nobody complains about the extra muscle.
The Cartigo family - While primarily a one-sided conflict, the Cartigos have declared open war on the Dukes in an effort to regain their footing in the narcotics market. Preferring not to get bogged down in such matters, Dominguez often ignores Bluto's threats, dismissing them as the whining of an impudent child.
Faction Name: The Jackals
Faction Turf: The Jackals make their home on Kennett Avenue, another street of housing projects adjacent to Washington. Several hoop-less basketball courts, covered in graffiti and surrounded by rusty, bent chain-link fences line the streets, with a baseball field devoid of grass and stained with blood at the end of the row on the corner of Washington and Kennett. These fields are called Dens by the Jackals, and the big baseball field is simply known as the Diamond. Within the Jackals are smaller, tribe-like groups who each claim a Den for their own hangout. Larger meetings are held in the Diamond, but a gathering of all the Jackals is rare given their reclusive nature.
Purpose: The Jackals are a gang in more of the "Clockwork Orange" sense than a "Godfather" sort of way; they thrive on chaos and brutality, not profit or influence. Their leader dubs the Jackals as a "masculist" movement, hoping to regain the primal, dog-eat-dog nature in which man once lived, but the lower ranking members of the gang think of the gang as a way to do drugs and fuck shit up for fun.
Characteristics: The Jackals are not defined by what they wear, but rather by their preference for elaborate tribal tattoos. Many prefer to go shirtless to show off their impressive ink, but otherwise they dress like common junkies with a more punk-rock heavy metal twist. The Jackals organize themselves into smaller subfactions called Dens, each Den hanging out on one of the many basketball courts on the street. Each Den is themed after a certain animal and has a leader, a position usually achieved by defeating the previous leader in single combat; each Den leader wears a necklace made out of animal teeth corresponding to the Den's animal. Promotion is earned by being the strongest, so Den leaders and above are typically extremely skilled brawlers, usually with some background in martial arts. Any Den leader has the opportunity to challenge the Chief of the Jackals for his position at any meeting, but so many have died in the process that few bother anymore. Due to the chaotic and dangerous nature of the organization, most of the Jackals are young men, but the gang is unique in that they are racially diverse and turn no one down due to color or creed. Even some women have been allowed to join.
The Jackals typically don't carry firearms unless they have to, but expect a lot of melee weapons -- knives, baseball bats, shovels, machetes, hockey sticks; the more obscure, the better. All of the fights within the organization, however, are simply hand to hand and one-on-one, a la Fight Club. The Jackals fight dirty, and are not afraid to seriously fuck up opponents if need be. Because of this, most police officers stay away from Kennett, fearing for their lives.
Chief James Dawkins - Most of the Jackals simply call him Chief. Founder of the Jackals and an ex-military psychologist, Chief Dawkins returned from service in Africa a jaded man, filled with greed. After seeing the brutality and profit gleaned from tribal conflict overseas, Dawkins began the Jackals as a social experiment in bringing back the primal, masculine nature of the past and inserting it into the modern world, believing Vanitas to be the perfect blank slate on which to test this idea. Cartigo's operation forced Dawkins to lay low for a while, but since the family splintered, the Jackals has finally blossomed into the chaos he'd envisioned. An extremely muscly tower of a white man, Dawkins is perhaps the most heavily tattooed of all the Jackals, with tribal markings all over his body.
History: The Jackals began as a small sect of deranged young men under Dawkins' rule in 1990, slowly growing while making sure to stay off of Don Cartigo's radar. Ever since Don's death, however, the Jackals have been growing at an alarming rate and allying with other factions.
The Dukes - The Jackals, many of whom are amphetamine junkies, have allied with the Dukes, exchanging their manpower for discounts of drugs. Their relationship is uneasy, but honest. Neither side has any intention of screwing the other over yet.
The Street Knights - Being basically the antithesis of what the Street Knights believe in, the Knights are a common target of vandalism and assault by the Jackals. The Knights consider themselves above petty rivalries, but have begun venturing onto Kennett street more often than usual.Faction Name: The Street Knights
Faction Turf: The Street Knights have different branches in many of the suburbs of Vanitas, but their headquarters is a tidy little office on the corner of Main street and 2nd. Not exactly a fortress, the main office had little more than a conference room, a few cubicles, and a computer bank that holds information on all reports made, patrol logs included.
Purpose: Basically the neighborhood watch on steroids, the Street Knights are a non-profit anti-crime organization that is dedicated to protecting the common citizens of Vanitas from harm. Despite fighting an uphill battle, the Knights do their best to right wrongs when the police can't, which is sadly quite often. The Knights never seek to go on the offensive against crime like the VPD, remaining on the citizen's side more than anything else. The Knights are often viewed as more of a neutral entity than anything, and they are often employed as mediators when opposing gangs wish to negotiate peace. Always cooperative with both the police department and private investigators, the Knights are one of the few truly virtuous entities remaining in Vanitas.
Characteristics: The Street Knights' standard uniform is a bright neon green safety vest and a black baseball cap with their logo stitched on the front, an outfit chosen to make them easily identifiable in case of an emergency. Its member base is composed primarily of ex-police officers, former soldiers, and security guards. The Knights don't ever actively pursue leads or criminals, but rather patrol areas with high crime rates to ensure the safety of common citizens and report any news of suspicious activity that comes their way. However, if they witness a crime or run into a well-known criminal, they won't hesitate to take action and make citizen's arrests. The Knights never carry lethal firearms, preferring to stick with tasers, pepper spray, heavy maglites, and zipcuffs.
Marvin Nash - The founder of the Street Knights and the organization's current president, Marvin Nash used to be nothing more than a 9 to 5 rent-a-cop at a department store. When his wife was murdered by a mugger who took things too far, Nash was furious with the VPD for not being able to catch the man responsible. Vowing to make sure that no one else would ever have to suffer the same loss he did, Nash consolidated the many individual neighborhood watch groups across the city under one banner -- the Street Knights. A kind but firm leader with a tough stance on crime, Nash is well into his fifties and still goes out on patrol every day. It is due to Nash's leadership that the Knights refuse to carry lethal firearms while on patrol.
Stanley Trappe - The former VPD police commissioner threw his support behind the Street Knights after his resignation from the office, joining up as Vice President. While some believe this is just a shallow attempt at public redemption for his incredibly lax stance on organized crime during Cartigo's reign, his heart is in the right place and his experience as police chief has made the Knights more efficient than ever. Trappe, unlike Nash, believes that every Knight should be carrying a gun when out on patrol, and is pushing to arm the Knights as soon as possible despite Nash's wishes.
History: Begun in 1988 by Nash, the Street Knights have been making the streets of Vanitas safer one neighborhood at a time. While at first the organization only watched over a small part of the city, new branches of the Street Knights have been opening up all over Vanitas since Cartigo died. While this has been making the streets a little bit safer, it has also earned them the ire of the many gangs whose territory is being encroached upon by these pesky do-gooders.
Relations: The Knights are an independent and neutral investigation who don't ally themselves with anyone, nor make enemies of anyone in particular. They are simply out to stop all crime of any form, and assist those who also wish to stop crime in any way they can.
Faction Name: The Black Eyes
Faction Turf: The Black Eyes have no known boundaries or turf. Where they operate and meet is secret.
Purpose: The Black Eyes are an underground ring of high trained assassins. They will kill anyone for money, provided the price is right and the challenge is suitable. As ruthless as they are mysterious, no one has ever gotten close to their operation. Or at least, if any have, they haven't lived to tell about it.
Characteristics: If someone is a member of The Black Eyes, they will die before they let you know it. As a secret organization, there is no easy way to tell who is and who isn't a member of the gang. They are, however, ruthlessly efficient and nigh impossible to trace. Whenever they select a target, they always send a calling card (a black and gold playing card bearing the Ace of Spades) one week ahead of time. By the end of that week, the target is dead. The way the killings are carried out is varied; some targets have died from gas leaks, automobile accidents, allergic reactions, even heart attacks. If the Black Eyes want you dead, it'll happen within seven days. That card is more of a death sentence than anything handed down in a courtroom; even the electric chair can fail -- the Black Eyes never let their prey escape.
Important People: ???
History: The Black Eyes have been around as long as Vanitas has. Many important people on both sides of the law have met their end after receiving one of those cards. Only one man has been known to be reliably able to contact the Black Eyes: Don Cartigo himself.
(Submitted by Vulture)
Faction Name: Dixie Mafia
Faction Turf: The DM operates primarily in the blue-collar neighborhoods of Endeavor. Naturally, they've swooped up the various cowboy bars in town, mainly because no one else cares to own the territory. They hang out in the Ten Gallon, a country western joint on the very edge of town.
Purpose: The Dixie Mafia's primary sources of income come from protection rackets run on local businesses, as well as illicit shipments of liquor and cigarettes, stolen and sold at low prices to undercut the heavy vice taxes levied by the state. This money is typically used for completely legal investments, and the mob runs several legitimate small businesses throughout town. These not only provide supplemental income but provide useful cover jobs for members, as well as opportunities to launder illegal income.
Characteristics: The Dixie Mafia consists primarily of white men from the Deep South. Surprisingly for white Southerners, they will accept any race or creed, so long as they are useful, though it is extremely rare to find a non WASP member. In terms of weapons, they tend to exclusively prefer Bowie knives and guns made by American manufacturers like Winchester, Ruger, or Smith & Wesson.
Chuck Harrell- Recruited to the Dixie Mafia while serving an armed robbery sentence at the Tucker Unit state prison in Arkansas, Harrell was a good ol' boy who knew to keep his mouth shut about other inmates. The favor was repaid when Harrell was inducted into the Little Rock branch of the mob. Long years of dedicated service paid off when Harrell was sent to Vanitas to oversee the beginning of operations in Vanitas, hoping to capitalize on the confusion. Harrell, a kindly man in his fifties, is well-suited to the job, being patient and pragmatic by nature.
History: Founded in the 70s by various petty criminals in Mississippi, the Dixie Mafia operates in Southern cities like Birmingham, Baton Rouge, and Knoxville. Interested purely in profit, they have recently begun to expand to other cities, becoming more confident and aggressive. They are new to Vanitas and are struggling mightily to establish a foothold and gain respect.
Relations: The Dixie Mafia's primary allies include the biker gang Manhunter MC and the Neo-Nazi street gang the Purebloods. Being new to town, they have no strong relations, positive or negative, with either of the Italian families.
(Submitted by Vulture)
Faction Name: Vanitas Kkangpae
Faction Turf: The kkangpae operates mostly in Koreatown, though they have small bits of territory scattered throughout town- a building here, a building there. They mainly hang out at a garage owned by the boss.
Purpose: The kkangpae styles itself a community organization, and as such they provide protection for many Asian business owners, most of whom voluntarily approach them. In addition, they also function as a placement agency, finding jobs for illegal immigrants (for a fee, of course), and operate a number of underground gambling clubs.
Characteristics: The kkangpae is exclusively made up of Korean men, who have a taste for shotguns and SUVs.
Jeong Ho-Seop: A graying Korean man in his seventies, Jeong is a kind, considerate man, yet also extremely vicious- the kind of fellow who will politely ask about your interesting tattoo while beating you bloody with a baseball bat. He has led the organization since the late sixties, and knows his time will soon end. He hopes to leave the group in good hands once he passes.
History: The kkangpae began in the late sixties, when an influx of Korean immigrants to Vanitas found themselves ignored, picked on, and abused as a group. Banding together, the gang was founded to watch out for the interests of the Korean community, gradually growing in strength. They enjoy the firm support of their neighborhood, and it is extremely rare for anyone in Koreatown to come forward with any information on members or activities.
The Dukes - The kkangpae and the Dukes have been frequently involved in small conflicts based on race, what with the kkangpae being Korean and the Dukes being primarily black and hispanic. While this has yet to develop into open war, the racial tensions continue to rise everyday.
(Submitted by Mr Odin)
Faction Name: Солнцевская братва: “Solntsevskaya Bratva” or the Solntsevskaya Brotherhood
Faction Turf: Little Solntsevo. Named after the Mafia controlled neighborhood northwest of Moscow’s city center where one of the Russian Mafia’s most dangerous off shoots has been headquartered since the early 1980's. Little Solntsevo in Vanitas is roughly twenty by twenty city blocks but like any neighborhood it has grown and shrunk with the rise and fall of former Soviet bloc immigrants and the development of Vanitas itself. This area sits within one of the older city developments north of the casino district and occupies a small portion of the upper east shore warehouse district and harbor. Having a heavy presence in the smuggling of all things from people to black market electronics the Bratva has been making attempts, often violent, to push into the lower east side of the warehouse district in direct conflict with the Vigotelli Family in order to expand the Bratva's operations along the shoreline. With the 1990’s seeing a heavy influx of former Soviet bloc immigration the neighborhood is currently expanding reaching out past United Street to the west, the immigrants finding the corruption, crime, and violence to be not unlike their homelands.
The neighborhood consists mostly of smaller buildings when compared with the casino district, the taller tenements never more than fifteen floors high. Brick and stone make up the majority of the architecture, carts and stalls fill most of the streets during the day, cable lines high above the street often have clothing hanging out and drying on them in the warmer months, and all together the streets maintain a very old world feel to them. Many of the business signs and advertisements are in Russian or other Eastern European languages and the majority of the population speaks more Russian than English. While business owners will be more than happy to take a tourist's money the people of Little Solntsevo are typically wary of strangers, especially after night. Many of the families in this district are supported by working legitimately at the North Harbor and its various shipping companies. The Bratva also operates more than fifty businesses in the areas and provides protection for double that. A division of the Baltic shipping company at the North Harbor serves as the main base of operations for the Bratva while a combination restaurant hotel called the Mamaison Pokrovka, on 53rd and Aurora, serves as the gathering place for the high level Vory, the leaders of the Bratva.
Other places of interest throughout Little Solntsevo are listed below.
Kolyma bar: Named after Russia’s worst Gulag, this bar is a smoky hole in the wall frequented by low level members of Bratva operations. A few poorly maintained rooms may be rented out above the bar.
The St. Alexius church: This Russian Orthodox church on Peters Street is the head of the cities Eastern Orthodox Christian organization. It is typically the sole place that members of the Bratva wishing to worship attend.
The Ural Markets: Open air markets that set up under and around the overhead rail tracks on Ural Boulevard. These places are the prime location to legitimately find ethnic food, clothing, and items from the Eastern bloc, along with many of the comforts of the homeland. Illegitimately they are rife with low level pickpockets, dealers, and prostitutes if you know who to ask.
Purpose: Many of the Vory of the Solntsevskaya Bratva emigrated to the US and Vanitas to escape the violent realignment of power that was crippling the New Russian government and crime organizations. In the early 1990’s many of the Russian Mafia’s crime families were splintered and the deaths were rampant, in 1993 alone thirteen family patrons were murdered. In order to escape this "house cleaning" the Bratva established a presence in Vanitas and began taking over the smugglers that had been around since the cities early inception. However with the boom of new blood from the homeland the brotherhood is branching out. Currently they bring in the majority of the city's heroin through their shipping interests connected to the Afghan poppy growers through the Baltic Sea. Hashish is another product that the Bratva floods the city with through connections in Afghanistan thru the Eastern Bloc. With the collapse of the Soviet Empire there is also a small but growing trade in Soviet style weapons brought into the city by the Bratva's various shipping fronts. Above all, the Bratva traffics in human beings, mostly poor girls from Russia, the Ukraine, Romania, Georgia, etc. They are brought here through the various shipping arms owned by the faction and are forced to labor in sweat shops or prostitution rings to work off their “debt”. The Bratva has been focused an increasing the volume and scope of all their operations within Vanitas by trying to chip away at the Vigotelli Family’s hold on the lower east side of the city.
Characteristics: Comprised entirely of Russian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Georgian, Armenian, or Azerbaijani members the Solntsevskaya Bratva is a crime family in the truest sense of the Russian mafia. Any member that has been inducted into the ranks of the Bratva has done time; most of them have spent time in Soviet Gulags or prisons. There is a strict code within the Bratva and while the Vory v zakone, the Thieves in Law, are the only ones required to follow it the lower functionaries of the Bratva typically imitate this code to one degree or another wishing to be Vor one day. Many of the common principles of the code are listed below.
-Forsake your relatives: father, mother, brothers, and sisters.
-Never have a family of your own: no marriage, no children.
-Rule and arbitrate the criminal world.
-Keep information secret about the whereabouts of accomplices.
-Demand an inquiry and judgment by a council of thieves to resolve disputes.
-If necessary, participate in such inquiries if called upon.
-Punish any offending thief as decided by the judgment of the thieves’ council.
-Have good command of the thieves' slang, Fenya.
-Never gamble without being able to cover losses.
-Teach the criminal way of life to youth with potential.
-Never lose your reasoning abilities when drunk.
-Have nothing to do with the authorities.
-Never serve in the military.
-Make good on promises given to other thieves.
-Never deny your Vor status directly, if asked the questions 'Are you a Vor?' or 'Who are you for life?’ a vor should always answer: "Yes (I am a vor)", even if asked by police.
The members of the Bratva also are known for intricate and meaningful tattoos, most obtained in prison, that define their history and actions as a member in service to the brotherhood. These cryptic tattoos all have meanings mostly known only to other members or people that have made a dedicated study of them. Each tattoo is only obtained with the approval of a higher member in the brotherhood and is a significant event. These murals of ink tell the criminal life story of those who wear them and anyone caught falsely wearing a tattoo they did not earn would be subject to the most severe forms of punishment.
Some examples of recently incarcerated Vor are shown below.
Besides these traits the Solntsevskaya Brotherhood is known to be a organization that is slow to anger but when roused is capable of terrible violence. Since prison time is required to be initiated into the higher levels of the brotherhood many young members have no problem committing acts of arson, murder, and assault at the order of the Bratva. More than a few of the city’s historic running gun battles have been between members of the Bratva and Vanitas Police Department, the youths responsible captured, incarcerated, elevated within the family, and upon release full members of the Thieves in Law. This anger is typically slow to surface though. As an organization that has endured Soviet oppression and near extermination and with most members spending more than a decade of their lives in prisons, the Bratva is in no short supply of patience.
Semyon Veniamin – The current and oldest Vor leading the Solntsevskaya Bratva. Semyon is a man of the Old world born in 1936 in a Russian village. During his time on this earth he has survived WWII, Soviet government crackdowns, political prisons, and gulags. He immigrated to the US in 1984, through various criminal means, when the Soviet Union still existed. Once established in Vanitas he immediately began rising to power in a branch of the Russian Mafia that had come up while he was imprisoned. In Russia it was powerful, in Vanitas it was nothing more than a fledgling trafficking and smuggling operation. Soon Mr. Veniamin was lifting the Vanitas Bratva to a status that all Vor could respect. Mr. Veniamin is a very patient man who embodies the aspects of the cold Siberian winters that slowly sap the life out of any who dare test their power. The old man always wears well tailored and well worn suits and is never alone, always accompanied by his functionaries and guards. His hair is an impressively thick shock of white atop his weather worn head and his voice still seems to carry the exhaustions of the labor camps though none would ever doubt his conviction.
Yegor Iosif – The right hand man to Semyon and current successor to his position, Yegor is a prodigy of criminal networks. Born in the Dnieper Basin in 1956 Yegor is of the old world and came over to Vanitas with the recent fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 quickly beginning to prove his astute ability to manage all the various fingers that the Bratva had in all the various pies of Vanitas. Yegor is a small man, bookish looking, and wears thick glasses over milky blue eyes. Though his frail looking form has often been presumed to mean he is weak the tattoos Yegor bears from his time in Soviet prisons indicate he is no stranger to murder.
Rostislav Timur “The Red Bear” – The chief enforcer of the Solntsevskaya Bratva, Timur the Red Bear is a beast of a man. Born in 1960 in the Ukraine, Rostislav came to America with his parents when he was a small boy and was soon orphaned when members of an Irish crime family tried to rob his mother and father and ended up murdering them. Growing up on the streets of Vanitas Rostislav began using his prodigious size to his advantage and soon earned the moniker the Red Bear. Taken in by the Bratva as a "youth with potential” the Red Bear began busting heads as a low level functionary and was soon imprisoned for arson and assault at the age of twenty. Eight years later he was released from prison and began working for the newly arrived Semyon and Yegor and has been a power to be feared ever since.
History: Named after the Solntsevo neighborhood in the city of Moscow the Solntsevskaya Bratva officially began in the 1980’s. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the world and is the largest faction of the Russian Mafia but the branch in Vanitas is not the main arm of this family. Despite all Mr. Veniamin had done the branch in Vanitas is still a fledging arm sent from its Russia headquarters to establish a foothold in the now open U.S. market. Steadily growing out of the Little Solntsevo neighborhood the Bratva is seeing an influx of members from the old Soviet bloc’s that are trying to escape the murderous reorganization process that is going on in the criminal world of the former Socialist Republics at this moment.
Establishing itself in Vanitas in 1983 the Bratva was nothing more than a small heroin trafficking group until Mr. Veniamin arrived from the old world in 1984. By 1991 the Bratva had carved out the Little Solntsevo district, made Vanitas a place for former Soviets to come to, increased the heroin and hashish markets two fold and had slowly begun the smuggling of arms and people from the blighted former Soviet Republics. In 1991 the growing Bratva enlisted Yegor into the higher echelons of Vor and he began to expand the operations, connections, and dealings of the brotherhood even further. Yegor was instrumental in forging deals with Don Cartigo, The Dixie Mafia, and the Vanitas Kkangpae. These deals of course were all minor things, mostly affirmations of who held what assets where and how infractions of such deals were to be handled, nothing groundbreaking as far as criminal networks go but they helped to secure the cities criminal world. The result was that things went very well until the Don’s death in 1996. With his death most of the deals flew off the table as factions began scrambling for the scraps that had fallen from the Don’s table. The Bratva secured its borders and its ranks after the Don’s death and has mostly sat back keeping their comparatively small but profitable businesses going.
The Bratva has no association with any legitimate authority in the city; it would be a direct conflict of their code to work with any official, even corrupt ones.
The Jackal’s - While not a direct rival, are seen as worthless gutter rabble by the Solntsevskaya Bratva. Their lack of any code of honor or law makes them less than animals in the eyes of the Bratva. The brotherhood does nothing to directly attack the Jackals but the disgust that they have for the Jackal’s is no great secret in Vanitas.
The Vigotelli Family – This is the primary rival of the Bratva due to the fact that the Bratva would like to control the entire eastern harbor and to do that they would have to remove the Vigotelli Family from the lower east side. While armed conflict has not been uncommon the conflict has switched to a more subtle nature as of late. The Bratva is actively trying to use every method it can legal and illegal to gather up land along the harbor front.
And finally, the cast...
(to be decided following the auditions)
Hello, and welcome to The City's Dying Breath, an exploration of 90s noir. I'm Sho Buraiken, the GM. It's not my first rodeo, but please bear with me as I try to organize what is likely to be a lot of members.
1)All the rules of the forum apply in terms of behavior, both IC and OOC.
2)No godmodding. This RP will be realistic, at least in terms of combat and your character. I will expect you to act realistically if your character is wounded. Characters may die, too. That's part of Noir -- people die. You can always make new characters anyway.
3)No metagaming. The city is way to big and the scope of the story way to broad to have your character know about EVERYTHING here in the OC. Think about it; do you know about all the gangs and organized crime in your area? Of course not. This also applies to plans made by other player characters; nobody likes that one asshole whose character deduces his enemy's master plan in two seconds. You do not have a sixth sense, so please remember to keep IC and OOC knowledge entirely separate.
4)All important loot to be found is to be dictated by a GM or a co-GM. I don't mind you bumming a cigarette off an NPC, finding a quarter on the ground, or swiping a dead guy's wallet, but I do not want to see people tripping over briefcases full of cash, assault rifles, and address books full of names and phone numbers of all the most wanted men in the city. If you're not sure about what qualifies as important loot, just ask.
5)All important NPCs are to be controlled only by a GM or a co-GM. If someone is listed under the "important people" section of the above factions, or is mentioned in the synopsis at the top of the page, then it's safe to say they're off limits. Other NPCs -- waitresses at a diner, junkies on the street corner, random people on the street -- I don't mind if you control them. Certain characters myself or my co-GMs introduce may also be uncontrollable; typically if we give them a name, some dialogue, and an appearance beyond a sentence or two, it's safe to say they're off limits. When in doubt, just ask.
6)If your character does stupid shit to get themselves killed, like pulling a gun on a bunch of armed thugs in hostile territory or running into a speeding bus, then I won't hesitate to kill them. You've been warned. When it comes to player vs. player combat, I'm much more hesitant to let players kill other players. Such a thing will have to be examined on a case by case basis.
7)Ammunition and guns will be monitored closely; this is not an RP of bottomless clips. This is why it's important to denote the make and model of any firearms used in your character sheet. I guarantee you I will always do the same for the guns of NPCs.Name:
Occupation/Affiliation: (If you're going to be a part of a faction or entity, please try to keep your character near the bottom of the totem pole; I don't want any characters starting off with too much political clout, you see.)
Age: (Have to be at least 16, just to avoid any pesky kids in the mix.)
Appearance: (In at least one short paragraph, describe your character's physical appearance, including hair color, eye color, skin color, physical build, scars, facial hair, tattoos etc. A picture is also acceptable, but please make sure to note any differences between the picture and your intended appearance in text.)
Clothing: (Please try to keep in mind the fashion of the 90s. Because I assume your character won't be wearing the same clothes every day, this is more of a broad overview of your character's fashion choices than it is any specific outfit. If you're a police officer, then don't bother describing the uniform; Vanitas uses the standard navy blue uniforms of most other police forces. Don't forget to include details such as common accessories your character wears on a regular basis; badges, watches, hats, glasses, jewelry, etc.)
Weapons: (Keep it light, and keep it few. If your character is a police officer, make sure to be reasonable with your service pistol; I don't know of any police force that hands out Desert Eagles to patrolmen. Gun control laws are still enforced, so be reasonable. Things like grenades, RPGs, sniper rifles, assault rifles, LMGs are a definite no-no. They may be given to you later (some more likely than others), but you're definitely not starting with any heavy ordnance. Also include ammunition counts, as well as where your character typically keeps their weapons when they carry them in public. Knives and such are also acceptable in this section.
If your character uses firearms, you MUST include three things in this section.
1)The exact make and model of the weapon.
Ex: A Colt Single Action Army with wood grips and a blued finish
2)What type of ammunition the weapons use and how much your character carries on them on any given day.
Ex: John carries his SAA with six .45 Long Colt rounds loaded at all times, and keeps twelve extra just in case.
3)Where the gun(s) and ammunition are stored, either on their person or somewhere else.
Ex: John always has SAA loaded with six bullets and keeps twelve more in his jacket pocket. Two extra boxes of Long Colt cartridges are stored in the trunk of his car.)
Inventory: (Other items of note that your character carries around on a regular basis. Wallets, watches, cell phones, etc. Unless you want to carry a backpack everywhere I suggest you pack light. You must also include where on their person these things are worn/kept. This is helpful in case they're tied up or their pocket is picked; we'll know if it's reasonable for them to be able to reach their stuff in that case.)
Vehicle: (If your character owns a vehicle, list it here. Be reasonable, and make sure their ride matches their social status. Sometimes a less conspicuous car can be better. Only so many people in a city own bright red Ferraris...)
History: (In at least two decent length paragraphs, describe what happened in your character's life up until now. Make sure how to detail how they came to live in Vanitas (very few adults were actually born there due to the recent emergence of the city) and how they came to be employed in their current job.)
Motivations/Goals: (This is not a Personality section, although some elements of your character's personality may effect its contents.
As this is a character driven RP, every character must have something they're shooting for or some sort of goal they want to accomplish. In this section, denote exactly what these goals are and why your character has them. This is very important, so don't breeze through it! Don't pick something lazy like money or something cliche like revenge on the man who killed their parents/wife/daughter/son etc. Try to make it interesting and unique. If you're really cool, you'll pick an ambition that contradicts someone else's; this sets up rivalries further down the road.)
Other Info: (Is there anything else you want us to know?)Faction Name:
Faction Turf: (Where does the faction typically operate within Vanitas? Feel free to make up locations as needed; I don't have anything too specific in mind for the layout of Vanitas, so long as you make it reasonable. I don't expect any heavily armed group of thugs to be hanging out across the street from city hall, nor do I see any reason why a meth lab would be right down the street from the police department. If you're extra special cool, you can choose to have turf that conflicts with that of another faction to set up turf wars in the RP. Yay conflict! Make sure to include information about locations that are common meeting places or hangouts for this particular faction.)
Purpose: (Why does this faction exist? Are they a gambling operation? Drug dealers? Hitmen? Part of a mob family? Or are they just in it for the thug life? Or maybe they don't have criminal aims at all. Who knows?)
Characteristics: (What sets this faction apart from the others, if anything? What kind of people join this faction? Are they known for using a certain type of weapon, dealing a special kind of drug, wearing certain colors or accessories, etc.)
Important People: (Who are the leaders and/or prominent members of this faction? Provide a brief description of what they look like and why they're important to the faction, making sure to include any other important information as well.)
History: (When and why was this faction started, and by whom? Are there any important events that occurred within this faction that we should know about? What is their current standing considering the sudden changes in Vanitas?)
Relations: (Do they have any partnerships, rivalries, conflicts going on with other factions? It'd be a good idea to ask first if you're going to have some sort of relationship with a faction I created, or with a faction created by another player.)
And that's all the information for now. Seems like a lot, but I'd rather get all of that done now rather than worry about sticky situations further down the road.
Audition Info: I will be accepting characters through an AUDITION process. You cannot reserve spots; I will take any and all applications before the deadline (Thursday, 1/10 at midnight CST) and then decide on who I want to keep. I will choose as many as I consider worth including the story. If you aren't chosen, I expect you to clear out of here without a fuss; throwing a hissy fit over not getting picked won't help your case. If someone drops out, I will find alternates myself, so please don't bug me about it.
WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A GOOD APPLICATION:
-Acceptable spelling/grammar. This is a high-casual RP, and I expect you to be able to put forth the basest of efforts in keeping clean, well-written posts.
-Overall neatness/consistent formatting. Never underscore the importance of presentation, especially in auditions. This DOES NOT mean I want you to use pretty colors or choose a weird font. Just make sure it's neat, easy on the eyes, and isn't inconvenient to read.
-Unique/interesting/compelling characters. Does your character fit with the conventions of Noir? Do they have interesting motivations? Do they have the depth of a real person, or are they a flat character?
The audition will consist of three parts.
1)A completed character application using the sheet provided above. Feel free to ask me any questions about the rules or how you should fill out the sheet. Any sheets filled out incorrectly or incompletely will not be considered.
2)An RP sample of around 300 words. It can be about anything, as long it involves your character and has something to do with the RP. Maybe it's them going on a job or just waking up in the morning. I'm not looking for groundbreaking stuff here; I just need to see that you have acceptable writing skill and your posts won't be a nightmare. Unlike the character sheet, please don't ask for my opinion about your writing sample. I am NOT here to be your writing coach. You can ask me about the topic, but not the content. I'm not your personal editor.
3)Background check. If I'm considering you for a spot, I'll probably poke around in your posting history to make sure you're not an asshole or a flake. Just a precaution to make sure I'm choosing people I can rely on.
You can submit your auditions here in the topic or via PM. It makes no difference to me.
If you have any faction ideas, please submit them as well. Please note that submitting faction profiles will not earn you any points in the audition, nor will it guarantee your acceptance. It does mean that you're a pretty cool guy, though, so I mean... yeah. >_> I understand if you want to hold off on submitting faction profiles until you know you're in the RP.
IF YOU SUBMITTED YOUR CHARACTER APPLICATION IN THE INTEREST CHECK, YOU WILL NEED TO SUBMIT IT AGAIN HERE (OR VIA PM) FOR IT TO COUNT IN THE AUDITION. IN ADDITION,
THE WEAPONS AND INVENTORY SECTIONS HAVE BEEN CHANGED ON THE PROFILE HERE IN THE OOC, SO IT'S LIKELY THAT EVERYONE WHO SUBMITTED IN THE INTEREST CHECK WILL HAVE TO MAKE A FEW QUICK EDITS TO THOSE TWO SECTIONS BEFORE SUBMITTING. DO NOT SIMPLY COPY/PASTE!