The Seedy Underbelly is Always There
One of the things you can count on in any large population center is crime, and Eisenstadt is no exception. The massive amount of money, people, and goods flowing through the city at any given time present a tempting target for the opportunistic, and the grinding gears of any large city chew up some portion of the population, pushing them into poverty and from there into desperation where crime is one of only a few means of survival.
At the same time, the presence of both wealth and magic allows for those who would carve out underworld empires to extend their reigns beyond the limits of normal lifespans, and so the Undying Families have been born in Eisenstadt.
The Undying Families collectively refers to a number of crime syndicates headquartered in Eisenstadt whose leadership have achieved immortality (or at least extraordinary longevity) through a variety of means. This week’s blog post will deal with one of these organizations: the Iron Ranks.
Ageless as Metal
The leader of the Iron Ranks is simply known as “The Statue.” It’s unknown exactly how The Statue managed to transfer their consciousness into the body of an iron golem, but they did, and they have been in there for some 200 years. It’s also unknown as to who The Statue was or even what their gender was, and admittedly now that they occupy an animate pile of iron, it’s less relevant now than perhaps it used to be.
The Statue is an old-timey crime boss, which is to say while it and its minions engage in all sorts of criminal activity, they try to do so in a somewhat honorable and civilized manner. The Iron Ranks keep mostly to a couple of blue-collar neighborhoods on the northeastern side of Eisenstadt and maintain a more-or-less permanent truce with the Candle Street Hustlers, the nearest gang still based inside the city. Most of the people living in their territory are humans, half-elves, and dwarves, and all three races and a smattering of others are found in The Iron Ranks; they are more of a geographic crime family than an ethnic one.
Members of The Iron Ranks are typically easy to spot, as they combine heavy (or medium) metallic armor, particularly plate mail, splint mail, and breastplates with specially-tailored business suits. The Iron Ranks “look” is typically a dark suit jacket over such armor.
The Iron Ranks engage mostly in illegal gambling, large-scale robbery, protection rackets (though their protection actually means something more than “giving us money will protect YOU from US”), and various forms of graft and corruption such as ghost payrolling. They are not particularly patient about people abusing the folks on their turf, and they tend to look out for the people who live there.
Some of this may be altruistic, but The Statue has also decided it’s simply good business. The loyalty of the residents in The Iron Ranks’ neighborhoods has the kind of shielding effect you would expect it to have. Witnesses didn’t see anything, didn’t hear anything, and got there after everything interesting had already happened. Key pieces of evidence go missing, and so on.
The same can also be said for anyone The Iron Ranks don’t like, including people who are just a poor fit for the neighborhood. More than one person who rubbed their neighbors the wrong way has turned up floating in the harbor or disappeared entirely, never to be seen again.
In terms of relative strength, The Iron Ranks are one of the nastier and more dangerous criminal groups in the city. In addition to their obsession with armor, they tend to be very well-armed and distressingly well-trained, functioning almost as well as a military unit. When expecting trouble, they actually go out on the streets with scouts and varied squad compositions mixing ranged and melee fighters. In addition, they are somewhat expansionistic and have been known to force weaker gangs out or even to slaughter them wholesale, though the latter treatment is typically reserved for especially cruel gangs or ones tied up in life-ruining vices such as drugs imported from Alchova.
The organization is not terribly magically-inclined, other than The Statue, who most agree probably contracted the service that transferred it from its former body into the one it currently occupies. Though their turf isn’t anywhere near that of The Arcane Gentlemen, the two gangs don’t get along at all, though given the cruelty of that gang, it’s not terribly surprising.
The Iron Ranks enjoy a better relationship with the police than many of the other gangs, as any cop from one of their neighborhoods is likely to have favorable impressions of them from growing up and they tend to do a good job of facilitating corruption in a way that’s not super risky for the cops involved in it. That makes it extra seductive, and probably about 70% of the officers patrolling the territory of The Iron Ranks are on the take to them to at least a small extent.
Residents outside of their territory mostly know The Iron Ranks for their involvement in repelling an attack by a kraken and its horribly warped army of aquatic creatures about 70 years ago. While a lot of the other criminal organizations hid or even worse, committed opportunistic crimes, The Iron Ranks fought alongside the city’s military and police against the horrors swarming out of the harbor. This was another PR move that got them lasting goodwill.
It’s rumored that The Statue is planning something big that may spend some of the social capital it has built up in the city, but so far nothing concrete has emerged and there’s no unusual variance in the organization’s behavior. Only time will tell.