The Syndicate is the catch-all term used to describe the massive network of criminal organizations that thrive across the Civilized West. To the average person, it is a common belief that it is indeed a single organization with a unified chain of rulership who have their hands in every pie all at once. In truth, the Syndicate is a collection of various families who all maintain legitimate facades while secretly controlling nearly all the organized crime to be found in their respective countries (and beyond in some cases). Their influence runs deep, and their secrets are well-kept. If you become a member of one of these families (either by blood or by "earning" your way in), there's only one way out if you change your mind….

The Families in Aequor

The Armaz are an old and enormous family, though outside of Adriono D'Armaz and his (surviving) children, all of them remained commoners after the 30 year war with nothing in terms of title.

The extended family has spread throughout Aequor and Four Corners, and practically all of the male children are inducted into the Family Business at an early age, taught the value of loyalty above all else, and honor. The Armaz are as good as their word, and will rarely break a promise; of course, it is devilishly hard to get them to promise anything, but. They tend towards naval trades by way of tradition, and are natural sailors and merchants. Adriono himself fathered a veritable army of bastards in his youth, and by now has countless grandchildren and great grandchildren. His younger brothers were equally prodigious. A joke in Four Corners goes: 'Throw a stone, apologize to Adriono'.

Naval Trade: - D'Armaz ships are some of the best in the western world, and Adriono D'Armaz has a fleet of merchant galleons and warships bristling with canon and harpoon. The warships can be found throughout the Fiore Rivers which ramble all over Aequor, protecting the towns and cities along those banks from pirates and raiders alike, recognizable immediately by the crossed-keys and rose banners that fly from their masts. The merchant ships bring goods from all over the world, and are famous for their reliability. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the two. Any merchant traveling up or down the rivers or the coasts of Aequor is bound to run into a D'Armaz ship at some point, and it is considered wise indeed to offer the captains of these ships to look out for them and offer protection from the dangers of the waterways.

Black Market: - Where there's trade, there's illegal trade, and the D'Armaz have an invested interest in seeing that these things benefit them equally. They have protection rackets everywhere, but their control of the naval trade naturally involves them here, though always intelligently.

Mercenary: - The D'Armaz are rich as hell, and can afford to keep a large force of men on a permanent basis to protect their interests on land and water. Their forces are largely centered in Four Corners. Many of these are actually part of the Four Corners Council Guard, and are loyal to Adriono D'Armaz alone.

The Families in Galenthia

Human Trafficking, Brothels, Assassinations

Four Corners - Neutral Ground

Four Corners is as close to an official headquarters of the Syndicate as there is, and the creation of that City State thirty years ago allowed for a certain consolidation of power that had heretofore been much more difficult. The more lax trade laws, lack of nobility overseeing affairs, and "neutral port of call" nature of Four Corners makes it a natural focal point for criminal enterprise, and the Syndicate has thoroughly infiltrated all tiers of society here. Indeed, in many ways the Syndicate runs Four Corners as surely as the Merchants' Council (due in no small part to at least a few members of said council being heavily involved with the Syndicate).

Thus, for the first thirty years of its existence, it was one of the few "sacred" notions of the Syndicate that Four Corners was neutral ground. No overt action was taken against other families of either nation while within Four Corners bounds. To attack (much less kill) a rival in Four Corners would cause all the other families to fall upon the perpetrator…but of course, that's only if you get caught. So naturally, plenty of skullduggery and what could be termed as "overt" action occured between the families even in Four Corners. They were just much more careful about making sure it didn't get traced back to them. Even so, Four Corners was marginally safer for Syndicate members than outside its' borders, and every single Syndicate family has representatives that reside and operate within Four Corners on a regular basis.

Since the mid 1870s, however, a shadow war between syndicates has been fought in Four Corners, with an extremely high death toll. The gangs as well as the state is involved in this war, which remains away from public eye. The bodies in the canals of the town, however, speak volumes to the locals. Four Corners is no longer safe.

Kentaire - Under the Thumb of the Iron Fist

Kentaire is by far the most authoritarian nation of the West, and the Viscarin's iron-fisted internal rule is reflected in Syndicate operations there. The Prince is well aware of the Syndicate and that it operates in Matera. However they must keep their operations extremely subtle for the Prince's inspectors are always searching, and while for most crimes many inspectors will accept the payment of a "fine" to look the other way (most of which gets funneled back to the Prince's coffers) anything that might be genuinely harmful to the good order of Kentaire is ruthlessly and generally fatally suppressed. In particular, attempts to steal and smuggle Kentaire-made weaponry are never permitted to operate. If the Prince wants weapons smuggled out, he'll do it with his own people (you know, not that they're officially his people, but still), or patsies from other nations, thanks!

Indeed, the Viscarin family is so ruthlessly efficient at their "management" of the nation that there are no official Syndicate "families" of Kentaire, and outside of Matera, the Syndicate is virtually nonexistent in that nation. Every couple of decades or so, some Syndicate bravo or another gets it in their head to try to show the Viscarins "who's boss" and establish a more permanent and lasting Syndicate presence in Kentiare or to threaten the Royal Family. It usually ends with that person, their immediate family, and other family members out to their second or third cousins (depending on how angry the Prince/Princess is) being hunted down, rooted out, and swiftly executed.

In short…even the Syndicate contacts who operate within Matera don't have much more information on the workings of that secretive city-state beyond the City's borders, and are often less organized and successful than the Syndicate tends to be in other nations.

Joining the Syndicate

Don't call them, they'll call you.

There is a common misconception that every criminal that shows any sort of organization or well-honed skill is a direct member of the Syndicate. Of course, this confusion is exactly what the Syndicate families want. The truth of the matter is that while the Syndicate families contract out a great deal of work to skilled criminals (and thus many criminals ARE working for the Syndicate), comparatively few people end up becoming permanently attached to one of the families and thus "true" members of the Syndicate. Still, if you prove yourself skilled enough, or loyal enough (or ideally both) one of the families may well make you a permanent member of the Syndicate.

"True" Syndicate members all have what are referred to as "marks." These are a particular sigil that they use, usually representing the family they are a part of. Not as elaborate as an actual seal, most "marks" are subtle and simple enough that they can be worked into correspondence surreptitiously. Of course, the Syndicate has let the rumors slip that true members of the Syndicate have elaborately tattooed symbols "marking" them as true members, which has led vast legions of small-time criminals to go get elaborate tattoos of these supposed symbols, and thus muddies the waters considerably for investigators trying to wade through all the wannabees looking for heavily tattooed people that generally don't exist as part of the actual organization they're looking for (which isn't to say that plenty of Syndicate members don't have tattoos, it's just that they don't actually signify membership in the Syndicate). Ironically, several Syndicate members got their tattoos as "wannabes" and proved good enough to later be offered a soldier's position.

In any case, there is a certain ritual and making of oaths that corresponds with formally joining the Syndicate, which varies from family-to-family (and often centers upon their specialties in some way). Only two constants are shared between every family's oaths - beginning them with "I will take many oaths in my life, but these are the oaths that I will hold above all others." The other constant amongst the oaths is the oath of absolute secrecy as to the family's dealings, and the Syndicate as a whole.

Of course, arguably the easier way to join the Syndicate is to be born into one of the families.

Syndicate Ranks

While the names may vary from family-to-family, the Syndicate does have a fairly rigid system of authority that is generally mirrored between all of them:

While not "marked" these individuals are still affiliated with the Syndicates in significant ways. The main source of associates are the "legitimate and respectable" members of the Syndicate families…those that run the front businesses and handle the "public face" of the house without ever dirtying their hands with the darker business of the Syndicate. They are generally aware of and loyal to the Syndicate but not necessarily "full members." It's especially a bit of a grey area where blood relations of Syndicate members are concerned. Not every Capofamiglia wants all their children in "the business" and yet it is extraordinarily difficult to shelter them from it entirely. Associates are not actually sworn to secrecy, but they all understand that betraying the Syndicate will mean death for them, their family, and anyone else that they value.

Syndicate Player Characters

Players may apply for any rank within a Syndicate family (or as Contractors), but Capofamiglia, Consigliere, Capobastone, and Contractors are Elite Characters. Caporegime, Soldato, Picciotto, and Associates may be applied for freely.

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