It seems that as long as there are organized societies there will always be a less savory element of mankind intent upon taking advantage of their fellows by dint of blackmail, robbery, violence and murder. These dark souls range from massive groups with a veritable legion of members to just the slag down the street who’s bigger than you and thinks you have something he or she wants. It’s the lazy uninspired way to make something out of nothing, but in today’s age it’s popular as its ever been.
The various organizations that filter through the scream-sheets and vid-casts in some cases pre-date the actual blackout of which so little is known by the general populace. From such age-old organizations as the Yakuza, various Triads and the Italian, Russian and American Mafia scattered throughout the world, to the countless gangs that subsist far beneath them, in the darkened alleyways and streets of every plex in the world, it seems that no matter where you might be; you’re standing on someone else’s turf, breathing their air and are expected to pay for the privilege of continued existence.
Like all things it’s a pattern, and an easily recognizable one at that. The big boys, the Yaks, Triads and criminal Mafia organizations aim just above the common Joe who’s walking down the streets, demanding payment from most non-corporate businesses and venues for protection from one of the others, the gangs that call such places home and of course themselves; dealing in everything from illegal arms, slavery, prostitution, organ harvesting, cyber and bioware harvesting, drugs, bliss-chips, blackmail, extortion and so forth. While the various gangs and groups who move en mass through the streets opt to pick on the individuals who are simply on the streets, just trying to make it from point A to point B or simply just trying to make it at all. In some cases it’s your credit or any objects of value that they’re after, while in others it’s what little dignity you might have, your skin, your body, or the various organs or wares inside…
The name of the game is survival, and these people and organizations are readily willing to literally do whatever it takes to raise their own status at your expense in the rough and tumble streets and regions of the world. Many find that their only hope of survival in the face of these varied people and groups is to acquiesce, or join them; seeking to turn the situation from one of simple victimization to shared goals and beliefs, often becoming what they once hated or feared as the brutal cycle continues…
Among them are countless dubious fixers, hackers, riggers and of course the ever popular brutal bullies who see to the day to day influx of credit and fresh corpses that fill the streets and derelict buildings of any plex. Below is a list of some of the more well-known elements of today’s underworld and at least a smattering of information about their various interests and a few of the key power-players of the moment. It's far from uncommon to find various Lancers, Corpse and even an occasional Edger in league with such illicit groups. Like the corporate world and the streets themselves, except for the rare occasion; the sharks in this ocean of filth and brutality are as eager to better their lot at the expense of others as any Mega-Corporate CEO...
The Yakuza – The Yakuza is an ancient organization, pre-dating both the blackout and the little bit of history that is available to even the most learned of scholars in this day in age. Like the Mega-Corps and Corporations of today, the Yakuza have no qualms about infighting, as long as such is done with stealth and skill, or with the permission of those who hold greater power in the grand scheme of things.
Primarily based in Japan and both Neu and Old Hong Kong, the Yakuza are as bloodthirsty and vicious as they come, exacting a terrible price upon those who resist their influence and making them examples to others so that future prospects have good reason to readily concede with their demands, whatever they may be. Like most of the various criminal elements and organizations existent in the world, how they managed to remain at least a partially coherent entity is a mystery in light of the recent past. It is believed that like most such organizations, their habits of infighting and backstabbing from within were ordered to stop, making them far more close-knit than in previous centuries and giving them a dedicated base from which to impose their will upon surrounding peoples and regions. As a result, the Yakuza are heavily entrenched in the cities and countries where they are strongest, and infighting in these areas is rarer than one might imagine.
In the wake of the blackout and the subsequent splintering of the United States and Canada, many of the would-be trouble makers and dissidents within the various Houses were sent to these locales to further spread their pervasive influence and begin reigns of terror that are handled through far subtler means in their home locales. As a result the Yakuza can be found in almost all of the various city-states that make up greater North America as well as slithering downward into Central and Southern America.
Likewise, unlike the majority of the various Mafia syndicates, the Yakuza still hold to time-honored traditions as a whole; and adhere to the ancient practices that see many of them sporting beautifully artistic tattooing and the occasional partially or totally missing pinky fingers. Despite the interwoven cultures that occurred as a direct byproduct of the massive breakdown of societies world-wide, the Yakuza only accept Asiatic members; It is exceedingly rare, with those of mixed breeding finding it far more harrowing and difficult to rise amongst the ranks than those who are full-blooded. It is exceedingly rare, but Asiatic women have occasionally entered into this age-old tradition, though in the past this was unheard of, such women as a result of what they've had to do to achieve such prominent status tend to be far more vindictive, calculatingly cunning and pervasive than their male counterparts. When a gaijin or outcast is used, it is usually a suicide mission that they’re given or something of little to no true consequence to the organization as a whole.
Like all of the varied criminal elements, the Yakuza are brutal and unforgiving with their enemies; often going through great pains or elaborate steps to exact a revenge that leaves any who would contemplate standing against them pondering the wisdom of doing so for decades after. Like the Mafia, that likewise holds to some of the tenants it once espoused; the Yakuza generally focus their abject lessons on specific targets, knowing that to become too overt is to court the attention of the various Mega-Corps who are the only true organizations that the Yakuza has reason to fear.
Despite this fact, or perhaps because of it; the Yakuza have gradually begun to exert their subtle influence, albeit carefully and with great forethought; upon a few of the lesser to middling Corporations. Their intention as always is focused on gaining greater power and influence as a whole, subjugating and destroying those that they can, who resist their efforts. In every sprawling plex and locale their relationship with other criminal organizations is at varying degrees of war, some of which are as guileful and delicate as a master composition while others are blatant episodes of wholesale slaughter and apparently wanton destruction.
The Mafia – Much of the mafia of old is dead and buried for the most part and the term is generally used to refer to any non-Yakuza or Triad criminal group that stands out above the petty criminals who exist among most of the world’s various gangs. There is still some remnant of the mafia that is both highly organized and exceedingly influential and deadly. Unlike the Yakuza, elite mafia members often include Corpse who have a zeal for power and control that they cannot easily gain in the precincts of Corporate Enclaves and the like without leaving a troublesome paper trail or taking undue risks. Whether turned through blackmail or dint of far worse to join the criminal organization, they provide great benefits to the illicit families that they join, though usually such members of the organization are middling both within their respective Corporations and the Families themselves.
The true heads of the various Mafia organizations are brutal, bloodthirsty souls who have no compunction about killing anyone who gets in their way. Like the Corporations and the Yakuza, infighting is expected and encouraged as long as it isn’t sloppy and doesn’t hurt the greater interests of the Family involved. Killing or framing potential rivals successfully, without leaving an obvious trail that leads straight back to you, are highly prized skills that warrant both attention and merit in the eyes of the criminal Mafia.
Certain old-school rules apply to various Families, whether it is the injunction against pursuing other member’s wives or husbands, or that certain people who hold a high degree of recognition and importance within the Family are sacrosanct from the power plays and murders that account for most of its members rise to higher stature within the organization itself; these injunctions vary from Family to Family. In most cases, unlike the councils of Oyabuns who generally rule over and decide on the greater issues that stand before the Yakuza, Mafia organizations usually have a single head. A big boss who is the totalitarian ruler of the Family and whose word is generally considered law among his or her extended family. Until someone decides he or she is better suited to the task and attempts a coup, it's usually only a matter of time...
Usually the various Families lay claim to whole states, or coastlines and are as brutal if not more so than the Yakuza in their defense of such. Their syndicates can be found in the various Russian states and countries, the Free-States of North America and Canada, and amongst the older European countries and locales. Unlike the Yakuza who generally prefer pinpoint strikes to remove obstacles and scatter would-be rivals, the various Mafia organizations seem to prefer mass or collateral damage that leaves little doubt as to the source of the destruction and the abject lesson intended. Unlike the Yakuza who command respect even from its inherent zealots who are unwilling to be patient in garnering greater power, the Mafia’s history is marked by countless bloody wars and insurrections fought by would-be leaders who are eager to usurp the reins of control and power, but are incapable of the patience their Boss's require. Even in this the general families at large approve of such things for the most part as it insures that only the fittest rule the various regions, that are filled with constant wars and power struggles against the encroaching scum who bear allegiance to the Yakuza or one of the innumerable Triads.
The Triads – The various Triads that litter the globe were initially composed of powerful gangs, much like the Mafia in its earliest incarnation. These gangs are more terrorist in nature than the other criminal organizations, making the bloodthirsty destruction that accompanies most abject lessons by its rivals seem almost gentle and surgical in nature. The Triads prefer mass destruction and the total annihilation of rivals and examples alike. Engendering such fear and terror in the streets that even most non-affiliated gangs and citizens become their eyes and ears, eager to gain their favor for fear of the retribution that awaits those who betray them.
Often, a store owner who resists one of the various Triads ends up getting his or her entire neighborhood destroyed if they’re persistent enough in their resistance. Unlike the older organizations, the Yakuza and Mafia; the Triads seem to care almost nothing about the attention that their attacks earn them, instead lauding praise on those who perform acts of mass destruction and going to ground as a whole when the various powers that be rise up in response to their attacks. Unlike the older organizations, the Triads rarely maintain a base of operations or even the vaguest hint of legitimacy; living as they do but one step above the streets and keeping a warren of bolt holes and hideouts for use in avoiding rivals, both criminal and otherwise.
As with the Mafia and Yakuza, there is usually a primary personality guiding and developing any Triad's actions and interests. This blighted soul is without conscience and has earned their station within the Triad through brutal violence and bloodthirsty example. Amazingly enough, like most sociopaths these individuals often effect an air of both culture and kindness in public dealings, keeping all around them blissfully ignorant of the ravenous beast that lies within. Rumored to have risen from the darker regions of Vietnam and more recently the arid deserts of the Middle East and Africa, Triad leaders are known to gather their best and most trusted members and plant them in positions of anonymity where they can be called upon without fear of foreknowledge to perform the most atrocious of deeds on their leader’s behalf.
Like their various members, the Triads are scattered across the globe; holding particular sway in some of the Free-States ranging from North America downward into the furthest reaches of South America as well as being scattered throughout Europe, Central and Eastern Asia. Almost to a one, the various Triads are hated and despised by everyone, though like most things in this day in age they are recognized for their potential usefulness as pawns or a means to an end by the less scrupulous souls who exist and it isn’t unheard of for various members of Corporations and other criminal organizations to make use of them through a series of deniable assets.
Lacking the fiscal and pervasive influences of their older rivals, the various Triads traffic in the most sordid of dealings as a rule of thumb; involving themselves in snuff-sim and the darkest of mankind’s most base desires. Unlike the Mafia, and akin to the Yakuza in this area; there are members within the various Triads who take upon themselves the role of martyr, living a life of quiet desperation or simple means until called upon to provide an abject lesson to their organization’s foes as suicide operatives with no compunction or second-thought about waltzing into an enemy’s holdings and setting off low-yield explosions that utterly decimate their foes and themselves. Because of such actions, Yakuza and Mafia holdings that are theirs without question tend to be phalanxes of security and sharp eyed scrutiny.
This is but one of the reasons why the other organizations vaguely fear and respect the danger that the Triads represent, both to themselves and their interests.