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Underworld, Criminal, in the Sea of Stars (A to Z, U)

24 April, 2019

While the Sea of Stars gives the illusion of a world where the dragons control everything, this is far from the truth. most dragons can simply not be bothered to put the amount of effort into running their realm that would amount to ‘control’; most simply set guidelines, maybe send a satrap to oversee and do not bother to look too closely as long as the tribute, sorry, taxes keep rolling in.

Getting ready to smuggle the goodsThe states that actually rule, under the direction of their draconic overlords, are no more or less efficient than any other state.  So, crime and corruption exists almost everywhere and in some places, it positively flourishes.  Gap between laws and desires, inefficiencies of trade, all of these will find some way to be exploited.

Most criminal networks and syndicates are confined to a single city, or a small states, with a few exceptions such as various associations of smugglers who, while usually local, have ties with other such groups forming a large informal network.  The smugglers naturally exchange goods and routes with the pirates and the (illegal) slavers who form one of the sources for the smugglers stock.

Local criminal networks tend to concern themselves with control of the illegal markets be that sex work, illicit intoxicants, theft, protection, gambling or what have you.  Wherever there is a black market, there will be people trying to control it to maximize control and profits.  Taren Kost, for example, has no less than three syndicates vying for control of the various niches of criminality in that large city.

Some smuggling networks are so regularized and small scale that they are almost legal, the trade in small quantities of fine wines and spirits by the Elfin ships is one such.  While technically such trade should be taxed in most of the ports, the value of the friendship of the elfin fleets (and the gifts they give to the nobles and port master) make it a grey market at worst.

The Sen’tek maintain a network that distributes weapons and alchemical mixtures, mostly of dubious legality, across the Sea of Stars, primarily collecting rare materials and knowledge in exchange.  The Sen’tek network is pervasive but also very low key and focused only on high-value items, it often works with other syndicates and networks as it does not challenge the control these groups have of their trades while providing extra profits.

As long as there are profits to be made by breaking the law, someone will organize to do so.

Notes: As opposed to the actual physical Underworld and the metaphysical Underworld, both of which have already been visited in previous articles.

Image “Rigging Out a Smuggler” by Thomas Rowlandson is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

 

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