Gangs
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The Black Friars

  • GENTLE: Formerly Father Abbott (now deceased)

Monks with tea and beer. About 20 years ago it ceased to be the highly guarded hiding place for the key to heaven, and subsequently lost its focus. The only department of the Black Friars that continued to function as normal was Catering, so they became a cafe where the Undersiders came for the occasional bit of R&R. It is now a neutral and safe meeting place in the Underside, and the venue of choice for inter-gang meetings and trading in between the Floating Markets. Don't mention angels if you want to be served quickly.

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The Costermongers Guild

  • GENTLE: The Pearly Princess

The Costermongers are also referred to as 'wombles', although only when they're definitely out of earshot. They beg in corners and sweep the streets/pockets/locked buildings for mislaid treasures. All Costermongers can be identified by their mother-of-pearl button - the higher the rank, the more buttons. There's a strict road of progression within the Guild, starting at the bottom with

Dodgers, the lowest of the low. Lost boys and pickpockets, whose fingers are so quick they can ignore closed zips and shut handbags. If a dodger shows no promise and can find another gang to sponsor them, they are permitted to leave with all their organs functioning. If they make it to the next Guild rank, they're a Costermonger for life.

Gloaks are thieves with coshes. Muggers, if you will. This is the rank that dodgers move to if they're well-built rather than lean. The alternative is

Snakesmen, who treat gravity as an option rather than a rule. They prey on houses rather than pedestrians, and need to be thin enough to wriggle through windows.

Fences are those who are good with fixing up the stolen goods and selling them at the Floating Market. For London Under, they tend to be the public face of the Costermongers. They also take commissions.

Upright Men are the highest rank of the Guild, under the Pearly Princess. These are the ones with brains, who coordinate the big jobs. They're also the people you talk to if you need a problem removing and don't want to go to the toshers. Upright Men charge bigger fees but they can handle bigger problems.

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The Ekstasis

  • GENTLE: The Baron

The Ekstasis are hunters and information-gatherers. They have been known by many different names down the centuries, changing to suit the times - specifically, the fear of the times. In the Dark Ages, they were Saxons; in the 1600s, they were plague carriers; in the mid 1900s, they were communists. For a brief period they were a gang of sexual predators called the Velvets but those days are now behind them. They currently specialise in identity theft - taking the life from others and leaving their victims as nameless husks, or just missing. They use charm and appearance to prey on both London Above and London Under - something which has earned them scorn from many, particularly the Neon Court. Tensions there are continually high, as the best Above prey is to be found in the nightclubs and pubs that the Neon Court lay claim to, and scuffles between the two gangs are a regular occurrence.

Lamias are the most well-known. Usually pale-skinned and well dressed, they have cold skin and suck the warmth from their prey, feeding on the energy of heat to gain strength.

Sanguines take it a step further, actually consuming the blood of their prey. They can be spotted by their extended canines, which enable them to feed.

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The Gap

  • GENTLE: The Earl

The Gap are powerful Mystics who control all the ley lines in the city. Most importantly, they control the Greenwich Prime Meridian - the most potent ley line in the world. The abilities of Prime Meridian-powered rites are significant enough to make the Gap something of a nuclear deterrent in London Under. When speaking to the Gap, it's hard to forget that they can level the city entirely or wipe out your entire gang. On the whole, politeness is considered to be the best approach. The Gap are recognisable, if practically invisible, by the wearing of a hi-vis jacket and/or a builder's helmet.

The Ghillie Dhu

  • GENTLE: Charles Oak

The Ghillie Dhu are a collection of dryad families that can be roughly split into traditionalists - the Oak Branch - and modernists - the Elm Branch. Tensions between the two Branches are high, particularly as the gentle of the Ghillie Dhu is a firm traditionalist and the Elm Branch frequently complains of poor treatment. Members of the Ghillie Dhu can be recognised quite easily as their appearance tends to reflect the nature of their home.

The Oak Branch, named after the most powerful dryad family, are the guardians of the green spaces. Not private gardens, which have their own caretakers, but the city's commons, parks and heaths. Where trees line the pavements, where wildflowers flourish along railtrack banks, there the dryads live and care for their charges.

The Elm Branch, named after the family who began the new approach to dryading, broke away in the late 1960s when a virulent strain of Dutch Elm Disease left most of the Elm family homeless and dying. With the help of the newly formed Sacred Circle of Muswell Hill, they emigrated to telephone poles and street lamps. The Elm Branch now provide a useful role in urban living, keeping poles healthy and lamps lit.

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The Neon Court

  • GENTLE: Lady Neon

The Neon Court claims dominion over all nightclubs and loud bars. Wherever there is a pounding beat and a floor made sticky with alcohol; wherever there's powder and pills; wherever there are flaring, flashing lights or purple darkness or whirling mirrors in a cacophony of blindness, there you will find the prowling denizens of the Neon Court. They prey on London Above with all the charms and illusion of London Under.

The Neon Court and the Ekstasis are frequently at odds, as the Ekstasis persist in trespassing on Court territory in order to hunt. The Court considers the Ekstasis to be contemptuous as, not content with stealing Neon prey, they will even target the denizens of London Under.

Drummers are the soul of the Neon Court. They enchant and entrance by matching the beat of their music to the rhythm of pulses, drawing the victim under their control. They feed off the sweat and energy and ecstasy of the dance. Drummers almost always have a pair of earphones around their neck, or trailing from a pocket.

Dreamers (aka 'dream thieves') are where the Neon Court gets their money. They take the dreams and visions of the high and unconscious, bottle them and sell them to the denizens of London Under. Certain dreams fetch a high price for use either as drugs or spell components. Dreamers usually carry an assortment of small bottles about their person, and wear a black glove on their dominant hand.

Daimyos are the muscle of the Neon Court. They prefer to use medieval weapons and martial arts, rather than shivs and bats. They consider violence to be an art form and a thing of beauty. Daimyos wear white oval masks with eye slits but no mouth.

Thralls are the willing servants of the Neon Court, often those for whom it was serve or starve. They last as long as their youth and beauty, or until they refuse an order. Thralls wear immovable silver coils around their necks, one loop for every two years they have left to serve. Loops generally start off at a maximum of ten. When the last loop is gone, the thrall withers into death within days.

The Sacred Circle of Muswell Hill

  • GENTLE: None

The Sacred Circle of Muswell Hill - a collection of urban druids - was formed in 1968 when the outbreak of Dutch Elm Disease became more than individual druids could handle. The Circle was regrettably too late to save most of the affected trees but was able to play an instrumental role in aiding the continued survival of the Ghillie Dhu Elm Branch. Since then the Sacred Circle have maintained good relations with the Ghillie Dhu, trading potion components for aid against disease and storm damage.

The Sacred Circle specialises in potions able to achieve almost anything, though they naturally take time to prepare and are usually costly. Members can be recognised by their stained fingers (most often with the thumbs permanently stained green). They live throughout the city, but the Circle as a whole meets in Muswell Hill on a monthly basis. They are, via the City of London, major investors in the charity Trees For Cities.

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The Tideways

  • GENTLE: Mama Thames

The Tideways make their living from the waterways of London. They are the most socially unwelcome of any gang, despite their efforts to disguise the smell, but the most financially stable. This is where many of the foundlings who have fallen from London Above as babies end up. The three parts of the Tideways gang behave as big families, with many internal arguments and solidly sealed ranks against outsiders. Upset one mudlark and you've upset them all.

The mudlarks comb the banks of the river for bodies and shiny things to trade. They get out in the fresh air and the daylight more than most, although daylight is still risky for body-retrieval, and tend to have a fairly healthy appearance. They can mainly be recognised by the mud-stains to the thighs.

The toshers are the group that give the Tideways their smelly reputation. Toshers hunt for their treasure in the city's sewers and have a nice side-line in the disposal of unwanted bodies. They usually make an effort to clean up when in company, at which point the stench of sewage is replaced by the excessive application of strong floral scents such as lavender.

The trolls are controllers of the city's bridges (with the exception of Night's Bridge, which even they don't touch). If you want to cross the river, you pay them. If you want to sail up or down it, you pay them twice. They also claim the goods from any bridge suicides, although there's lively competition with the mudlarks over who can get to the body first. Trolls can be identified by the carabiner clips that they always wear on their belts.

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The Varmints

  • GENTLE: The Rat King

The Varmints are pervasive, working in every suburb of London Under. They talk to the urban creatures that see everything - the rats and pigeons and foxes - and hold their animal friends in extremely high esteem. If you're after information on something that happened in a lonely midnight back alley, or need to run a message quickly across the city without anyone seeing, the Varmints are the people to ask.

The ratspeakers are the most numerous and, as the name suggests, these are the ones who talk to rats. They collect the secrets from inside buildings. When people say 'the walls have ears', ratspeakers nod sagely. Their fondness for their ratty friends often leads to emulation through dress, with a hunched posture and whiskers made from coathanger wire or similar.

The vulpies specialise in talking to foxes, using food-based bribery rather than adoration as a basis for the relationship. If you know someone who always saves the last two slices of pizza or the final third of the kebab, they're probably a vulpie.

Fanciers use pigeons for their informants. The birds aren't as intelligent but they do give a different perspective. Skilled fanciers can communicate with an entire flock of pigeons at once, although they usually have to lie down with a headache afterwards. Fanciers can be identified by either the brown bag of breadcrumbs that's always in their pocket, or the distinctive white splatter-marks of pigeon proximity on their head and shoulders.

Crows are the dark arm of the Varmints. The ones who act on information received. The murderers. They tend to travel in flocks, dressed in black and grey rags. Their main skill is for finding their victim, be he ever so well hidden, and leaving nothing left to identify.

The Wardmote

  • GENTLE: The Queen of Clocks

There are only ever fifty members of the Wardmote, which is based in the Square Mile. It's divided into 25 wards, or suburbs. One Alderman and one Beadle is selected from each of the wards. If they die, they are replaced by someone from the same ward. No one messes with the Wardmote. It's hardly ever worth it.

The list of wards are as follows:
Aldersgate Aldgate Bassishaw Billingsgate Bishopsgate
Bread Street Bridge Broad Street Candlewick Castle Baynard
Cheap Coleman Street Cordwainer Cornhill Cripplegate
Dowgate Farringdon Within Farringdon Without Langbourn Lime Street
Portsoken Queenhithe Tower Vintry Walbrook

The Aldermen are the heavy hitters of the Wardmote. Dressed in black suits with lapel pins showing the badge of the city (white shield with red cross, and red sword in top left corner), they are extremely recognisable. They have only one agenda - the protection of the Heart of London - and only one trick, but it's a good one. In the execution of their duty they can draw upon the power of the Silver Dragon, clothing their skin with shining metal, their fingers with talons and their breath with fire. Of course, they have to justify this use of resources to the guardian afterwards so if they are driven to such an extreme they're usually quite irritated about it.

The Beadles are the friendly face of the Wardmote, relatively speaking. They're the smooth talkers, the pattermasters, the public relations officers. The unkind would call them 'spies'. Where the Aldermen only care for the protection of the Heart, the Beadles have a finger in every pie and a line on every rumour. This knowledge is what really makes the Wardmote dangerous. Beadles are tricky to pick out, as they're good at blending in with their surroundings, but they always have a city badge somewhere on their person.

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The Whites

  • GENTLE: Tag

The Whites are a fairly homogeneous gang. There's no ranks or subsections. Either you can cast magic through graffiti or you can't. They can be recognised by their bags full of aerosol cans. The hoodie, whilst not a requisite uniform, is also common. They seem not to have a political party line - individuals act independently a lot of the time and concentrate on building up their own personal networks. That can change without warning, however, and people from across London Under owe them favours.

PHOTO CREDITS
1. Neighbourhood Watch and Metro Gnome, photo by Liss Macklin
2. China of the Costermonger's Guild, photo by Tom Garnett, www.tgarnett.com
3. Anya and Madame Tussaud of the Ekstasis, photo by Tom Garnett, www.tgarnett.com
4. Nigel Walker and Wick Tyburn of the Gap, photo by Tom Garnett, www.tgarnett.com
5. Seamus and Ruby Corday of the Neon Court, photo by Liss Macklin
6. Cannon Bridge, Linne, Cinnabar and Steptoe of the Tideways, photo by Tom Garnett, www.tgarnett.com
7. Squeak, Daisy and Carnaby of the Varmints, photo by Tom Garnett, www.tgarnett.com
8. Bill Stickers of the Whites, photo by Tom Garnett, www.tgarnett.com

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