Protection Racket Hijinks

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jojodogboy
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Joined: 2017-09-04 12:05
Protection Racket Hijinks

I'm trying to come up with some rules on extortion protection rackets and hijinks.  The required skill would be intimidation.  I don't know if the payoff would be worth the extra complexity.

What I'm thinking of is a little mini-game or realm play in which an urban area is divided into neighborhoods.  Each neighborhood would be given an extortion value of 2 to 9 (based on the extortion potential - more industry the higher) and a resitance value (based on patrols, existence of guilds, etc.).  Every month that someone is assigned to an 'extortion/protection' hijink they would make an intimidation reaction roll  with the following mods:

  •  -2 if only one person, normal if two persons, +2 if three BUT increases severity of the crime if caught (so bonus for extortion roll is instead a penalty on the crime severity roll). 
  • - the resistance level of the block (or maybe the value of the block if I only want one value)
  • + the existing influence level of the rolling syndicate
  • - the existing influence level of any competing syndicate

It would be on a modified reaction chart:

 2      Caught!  Roll on the  crime chart.

3-5    Syndicate influence goes down by one.  If zero or below, the roll on the hijink caught table,

6-8    No change

9-11   Syndicate influence goes up by one

12     Syndicate influence goes up by two

The maximum amount of influence from all syndicates is the total extortion value of the block.  At the end of the month the syndicate will get an amount from the block equal to the influence value x 100gp. 

Example: Smiling Pete (intimidation and +1 CHA mod) and  Macio (level 0 thug) of the Dock Boys Syndicate are told to collect protection money in the lower docks neighborhood.   The Lower docks has a total extortion value of 5, and a resistance level of +3 (people in the docks are not easily intimidated and tend to stick together).  The Dock Boys already have an influence of 2 in the area,   Smiling Pete rolls a 7, adds +2 for intimidation, +1 for his CHA mod, and +2 for the Dock Boys current influence.  He subracts 3 from the roll for the neighborhoods resistance.  The result is a 9.  The Dock Boys add a few businesses to the rolls and collect 300 gp from the neighborhood.  

  • I don't know if the cash multiplier is high enough.  Once the work is done, a single thug can do collections with little risk, but it does pale in comparison with other hijinks
  • I don't know if the risk is high enough
  • Should the pay out or rolls scale with the level of the thug?
  • Does it make sense to have 2 values for a neighborhood, or should the resistance value equal the total neighborhood value (NV) or NV/2?
  • What should happen when the influence of competing syndicates is more than the total value of the neighborhood?  do they get caught?  Is there a chance for a battle betweeen the different crews assigned to hijinks in that area?

Please let me know what you think.  

 

Asics Onitsuka Tiger
GMJoe
Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

Unlike every other hijink, the one you propose doesn't scale with thief level. This means that it's much more attractive than other hijinks for low-level characters, and less attractive for higher-level ones who can reliably perform high-income hijinks such as theft and treasure hunting. (Or at least, it would be, if not for the point in the following paragraphs.)

This is the only hijink that allows you to earn money in a month without having to dedicate people to it month after month. This makes it the most powerful hijink available, especially because there's no ceiling on syndicate influence. A level one mage with a +3 charisma modifier and the intimidation and mystic aura proficiencies could, while working single-handedly, reliably achieve a monthly income in the thousands in only a couple of years, and then sit back and let the money pour in for the rest of his or her life.

It's not clear how you award experience points to characters performing this hijink. Presumably they don't get a steady income of experience points each month based on the amount they've increased the syndicate's influence by over their lifetimes, but there's no other guideline beyond that.

You really need to define how many neighbourhoods exist in a market of a given size, so that players and GMs have a useful guideline. If it helps, the ACKS core rules assume that most markets have only one or a small handful of criminal guilds present.

Neighbourhoods paying protection money are presumably guaranteed some protection from the criminal guild they're paying for protection, or they'd stop paying. There should therefore be well-defined consequences for attempting other hijinks in a neighbourhoods where protection money is being paid.

jojodogboy
Patreon Supporter
Joined: 2017-09-04 12:05

This is the only hijink that allows you to earn money in a month without having to dedicate people to it month after month. This makes it the most powerful hijink available, especially because there's no ceiling on syndicate influence. A level one mage with a +3 charisma modifier and the intimidation and mystic aura proficiencies could, while working single-handedly, reliably achieve a monthly income in the thousands in only a couple of years, and then sit back and let the money pour in for the rest of his or her life.


-GMJoe

In order to collect the income, someone has to collect the money.  The hijink includes the act of collection; that is what the roll indicates, going business to business collecting protection money and soliciting other for more.  If you only assign one thug to collection, the roll is reduced.

Perhaps a better way for it to work is to have the syndicate's current influence level act as a reduction to the roll instead of a bonus.  You could also allow an increase of +1 to the roll for each level.  In the above example, assuming Smilin Pete is 1st level, the roll would have resulted in an 6, so the influence would remain the same the syndicte would earn 200 GP (roll 7 +2 intimidation +1 for CHA, +1 for 1st lvl +0 for 2 people, -3 resistance -2 current  level = 6).

It's not clear how you award experience points to characters performing this hijink. Presumably they don't get a steady income of experience points each month based on the amount they've increased the syndicate's influence by over their lifetimes, but there's no other guideline beyond that.

You really need to define how many neighbourhoods exist in a market of a given size, so that players and GMs have a useful guideline. If it helps, the ACKS core rules assume that most markets have only one or a small handful of criminal guilds present.


-GMJoe

XP would be the same as anyother campaign activity - based on cash squeezed out of the neighborhood per month.  It really wouldn't scale well.  the only way I can figure how to make it scale is to lower the base amount and add a level multiplier (say 1d4+2 * lvl* 10 gp, giving an average of 45 x influence for 1st level).  I just don't know how to make scaling work in the fiction other than perhaps the additional money includes numbers running, loansharking, and gambling inside of the neighborhood.   

As for the number of neighborhoods, I would make it a function of the total number of syndicate members in the market (from the starting criminal guilds chart in ACKs core).  I like the idea of total number of members/25.  That would give a Class II market (the largest city in my current campaign) have about 30 neighborhoods,  That feels about the right size for turf wars.

There is nothing in ACKs core limiting the number of guilds in a particular market.  The examples only have 3, buit I can easily see a campaign (focusing on this sort of thing) having a large number of competing guilds fighting for money and territory.  In my Dwimmermount Campaign there are 5 sydicates of various sizes in the Class II Market Adamas - The Guild (traditional guild -374 m), Dock Boys (crime family 242m), Scarlet Brotherhood (assassin's guild 100m), Nightblades (elven Assassins 16m) and the Deathbringers (Termaxian culstists 16m) for a total of 749 syndicate members in a class II city.  Not all of them are interested in Extortion/Turf hijinks.

Neighbourhoods paying protection money are presumably guaranteed some protection from the criminal guild they're paying for protection, or they'd stop paying. There should therefore be well-defined consequences for attempting other hijinks in a neighbourhoods where protection money is being paid.


-GMJoe

Great idea.  I'll have to figure this out.  Syndicates who participate in Turf hijinks should have some limits to other hijinks to reflect this.  It also makes for interesting realm play re: targeting another syndicates turf.

GMJoe
Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

In order to collect the income, someone has to collect the money.  The hijink includes the act of collection; that is what the roll indicates, going business to business collecting protection money and soliciting other for more.

-jojodogboy
Ah, OK. You might want to make that clear in the hijink description.

In that case, the big issue is that syndicate influence never goes down unless you roll less than 6 on the reaction roll, but can continue accumulating month after month. Ths means that if you have a character who's average intimidation reaction roll result is 8 (or higher) doing the collecting, statistically syndicate influence is going to gradually grow higher and higher without any limit.

If you only assign one thug to collection, the roll is reduced.

-jojodogboy
It is? How?

XP would be the same as anyother campaign activity - based on cash squeezed out of the neighborhood per month.  It really wouldn't scale well.

-jojodogboy
It definitely wouldn't. Most hijinks available at level 1 are either highly risky for the ruffians performing them or provide extremely small amount of profit. Yours is extremely safe (having only a ~3% chance of being caught assuming average charisma and no relevant proficiencies) and allows a level 0 ordinary man to earn enough experience points in a month to become a level 1 thief as long as syndicate influence is at least 1 at the end of that month - and if there's at least one character with a +1 or greater intimidation modifer in the syndicate, you can guarantee it will be.

The only way I can figure how to make it scale is to lower the base amount and add a level multiplier (say 1d4+2 * lvl* 10 gp, giving an average of 45 x influence for 1st level).  I just don't know how to make scaling work in the fiction.

-jojodogboy
Hmm... Well, higher-level characters in ACKS are already assumed to have more impressive reputations (hence the followers gained at level 9), so a higher-level character would presumably be able to intimidate a larger percentage of people in their assigned area based on that. Would that work?

As for the number of neighborhoods, I would make it a function of the total number of syndicate members in the market (from the starting criminal guilds chart in ACKs core).

-jojodogboy
Doing it by population could also work.

There is nothing in ACKs core limiting the number of guilds in a particular market.

-jojodogboy
There is a limit on the number of criminal guild members a given market can support, which indirectly limits both the number of guild members a syndicate may have and the number of syndicates that can exist: After all, if there's already three syndicates that between them have hit the cap, the only way for those three syndicates to expand (or for new syndicates to edge in on the action) is for them to "steal business" from the competition... Which means there's already a basis for turf wars in the core rules, though it lacks the concept of neighbourhoods that yours has.

Come to think of it, rather than having hijinks, you could simply model a syndicate's "turf" as a traditional domain. It's basically the same thing, anyway: The (crime) lord charges the people on their turf exorbitant "rents" and "taxes" and provides "protection" in exchange. (Even if you don't do this, it should probably be unfeasible for the protection money earned from a location to exceed the taxes its residents would normally pay, or the tax collector is slacking on the job.)