The World Of Twilight

World Building => The World => Topic started by: Pyre on August 19, 2012, 08:39:50 pm

Title: Twilight Ramblings 16a - Bandits and Smugglers
Post by: Pyre on August 19, 2012, 08:39:50 pm
This piece started out as an idea which was spawned by the Trader Family Rambling. If so much wealth was being moved around the Empire surely there would be groups taking advantage of it. I pitched the rough outline of a faction Mike who correctly said "whoa, whoa slow down there. What are we actually talking about?", hence the piece below... Enjoy.

The vast areas in between the imperial settlements are home to more than just packs of Devanu and the nomadic cultures of the south.  It is common to find groups of raiders or cutthroats within two or three days ride of most settlements. The problems these groups cause to the local populace are further compounded by the smugglers that shadow the trade routes which crisscross the Empire.
Comprising largely of the disaffected and desperate of rural society most of the bandit groups number around 25 members, are autonomous and are highly territorial. Without exception they require a strong or cunning leader otherwise they quickly disband due to internal power struggles or are ravaged by the dangers of the wild. Even with a strong leader they rely on the luck and opportunity of today rather than planning for tomorrow. The leaders frequently embody the worst traits of imperial culture and beat these traits on the rank and file aided by their enforcers. Some bandit groups specialise in livestock rustling, moving large herds of stolen beasts through the wilds to the markets of larger settlements. Many are expert riders and beast handlers who endure long days in the saddle outrunning any pursuers.  Other raiders specialise in overwhelming smaller settlements using them as a base for a while before moving on to the next.
The freedom of the wild can come at a very heavy price. The isolation paired with the brutal and abusive methods used to keep the group together pale against the constant games of Graku & Skerrat with the Devanu packs.  A well defended base or a significantly maneuverable force will minimise the inevitable attacks. A tactic of the bolder groups is to bait the Devanu into attacking the raiders chosen target first and then moving in after they have sated themselves.  However the clashes with the Devanu can be as profitable as they are bloody for those raiders with the stomach for it, or rather those that survive. The bodies of the Devanu and their beasts are yet another resource to be used and traded and some of the more successful groups will even sport Devanu hide armour and brutal looking weapons fashioned form claws and fangs. This has led the leaders of some settlements to claim that the local bandits seem to be allied with the smaller Devanu packs. Most discount such notions as utter fantasy or as an inept call for knights to be called in. That said who really knows what price these groups of outlaws are prepared to pay.    
The raiding parties of the smuggling cartels are a different matter entirely. Where the bandits rely on luck and brute strength the Cartels long ago learned that planning and strategy is the only way to outlive their chosen profession. While brutality and luck are still admired they are certainly not relied on. On the surface the raiding parties of the cartels mirror the size and organisation of the common bandits, a fact they exploit, and they certainly face the same dangers. However this is where the similarities end as each party can make contact with the local cartel representative for information or be put in contact with other nearby groups for larger raids.
The smuggling cartels control most if not all of the black market within a given settlement and its surrounding region. It is the closest thing to organised crime within Anyaral and it is dedicated to the supply of goods and products which are either illegal, hard to find or expensive to buy through the trader families. It can also move individuals and small groups across the Empire and beyond, for a very large fee. While their primary source of their goods are the trading caravans they prey on they also organise raids of depots and warehouses. In leaner times or when the traders increase their protection the smugglers are not above engaging in what most would consider common banditry. Some of the smarter smugglers do this regardless as there are times when leaving a trail of rather obvious devastation is desirable.
As long as the cartels keep limit themselves to the destruction or theft of property and not its citizens the Empire rarely takes more than token action against them.  The contradiction in this attitude finds its source in the growth and wealth of the trader families. Their increasing influence concerns the rulers of the Empire and the predations of the smuggler cartels allows them to keep their growth in check with relatively clean hands.  Local authorities will of course make firm examples of any smugglers caught to keep the populace confident in their ability to dole out punishment to criminals.
The largest smuggling cartel in the Empire is referred to as Broken Tower or simply the Tower. Named after the ruined Devanu tower which operates as the centre of their own empire it is an organisation with an extremely long reach.  The Tower controls the black market within most large cities but especially Gar Loren and has done since it was founded shortly after the liberation of the Fubarnii. Its leaders think of themselves as the alternative the trader families and cultivate the same veneer of respectability and social leadership.  These leaders do more than simply organise the movement of contraband around Empire. The darker and perhaps more earnest elements within the cartel can be approached by those Fubarnii with enough money to make obstacles to their plans disappear. There has been more than one example of small settlements that were wiped off the map because they were becoming too self-sufficient for a traders liking or stood in the way of expansion of a nobles farmlands or mines.
With the advent of the Retribution some settlements have entered into arrangements for protection with the local raiding groups and cartels where they serve in the role of mercenaries. This is a lucrative proposition for most raiders and one which has seen them fighting on both sides in the northern Empire. Only time will tell whether the price was too high. Both for the settlement and the raiders.

Title: Re: Twilight Ramblings 16a - Bandits and Smugglers
Post by: Lost Egg on August 22, 2012, 09:48:22 am
Overall a cool idea but did come up with a few points...

*I think the size of some bands/ gangs would vary from 2 or 3 members up to 25+ depending upon whether they are organised or opportunistic. I could see the small opportunistic raiders groups as friends or family that are looking to make a fast buck. While larger organisations could hire themselves out to rival merchants. Just like the Yakuza gangs perhaps some larger "crime families" could have existed since the dawn of the Empire; groups who refused or reluctantly embraced the new Empire but continued with their own codes of conduct & motives. Some raider gangs could even be sponsored by the clans to raid their neighbours and competitors.

*I like the idea that some bands might set themselves up in long abandoned Devanu towers.

*With the Tower there would need to be a reason why they themselves have not been broken up by the knights. Perhaps they are to organisations in one ala the IRA (raiders) and Sin-feign (public face of mercenary/ trader organisation). The location of their base would then likely be a rumour as such underground groups would be unlikely to last long if its location is known.

Just a few ideas. :D


Title: Re: Twilight Ramblings 16a - Bandits and Smugglers
Post by: Carcharoth on August 22, 2012, 04:40:43 pm
Cant believe I forgot to actually respond on here!
Great ideas - definitely something that'll make up part of the history of the world. I'm not entirely sure how they and the casani fit in with the old feral ideas, but the ferals might eventually evolve to fit in...
As discussed offline, this should be put in as a Ramblings  :)

Title: Re: Twilight Ramblings 16a - Bandits and Smugglers
Post by: Pyre on September 30, 2013, 09:35:20 am
A draft faction list has been posted up for the Broken Tower Cartel. It can be found Here (