Dancing 'Twixt Dusk & Dawn
The powerful elite of the city contrive to keep the lower classes in servitude and want, to profit from their labors and control them in their desperation.
But there are some who try to find a way out of the traps laid by the establishment; some who make their own fates with the only tools left to them: skulduggery, violence, and the dark arts. These daring few of the underworld are labeled criminals, villains, and scoundrels by high society; they’re hunted down, locked away, and eradicated before they can upset the rigged games of the status quo.
The underworld factions that do survive often become what they battle against. Their power and influence corrupts them until they’re just another agent of control and oppression—feeding on the weak and vulnerable, as they once were.
And so, a cycle perpetuates: violent resistance to authority, violent response, and violent ends—or else an ascension to power and privilege; out of the gutter and onto the overlord’s perch.
The most notable of these ascended are:
- The Unseen: An insidious criminal organization with secret membership, whose agents are said to be placed within every institution in Doskvol. They profit from vice and extortion at all levels of society.
- The Hive: An Imperially-recognized “merchant guild” with many legitimate businesses and contracts—cover for their much more profitable trade in contraband and human trafficking.
The rest of the underworld is in a constant war of attrition—vicious competition among desperate gangs, each scrabbling to crawl out of misery on the backs of their victims. The landscape of criminal power constantly shifts, street to street, block to block, district to district, as the struggle for dominance rages on. Right now in the city, several bloody conflicts consume the underworld:
- In Crow’s Foot, a district ruled by violent gangs, the crime boss of the area has been murdered, and it’s all out war on the streets between the most likely successors: the Crows, the Lampblacks, and the Red Sashes. Each faction is recruiting every scoundrel they can to fill out their ranks and seize control.
- In Coalridge, a district dominated by factories and workhouses, groups of laborers and indentured servants are rallying to form a union to demand their rights, while the overseers hire mercenaries to crush resistance with displays of violence, and predatory opportunists swoop in to profit from both sides.
- At Charterhall University, a group of nefarious students has established a successful criminal operation from within the school, drawing the attention of other gangs who now see the halls of academia as a ripe target.