Cu è surdu, orbu e taci, campa cent’anni ‘mpaci
“He who is deaf, blind, and silent will live a hundred years in peace”
In Night’s Black Agents you play highly competent covert ops and intelligence operatives, in the Bourne/Bauer/Mills vein. Experienced bad asses at the top of your game, unexpectedly thrown against opponents even more deadly, skilled and bad assed – a vampire conspiracy.
Presented here is an alternate mode of play for NBA. You’re still a bad ass, you’re still at the top of your game, you’re still highly competent and both feared and respected.
You’re a Man of Honour. A Made Man. A trusted member of a Mafia crime syndicate.
You’re not a good guy, and you work for very bad people.
You find people.
You find things.
You hurt people.
You find things to hurt people.
It’s a growth industry.
This thing of ours – The Cosa Nostra business
An uncomfortable truth is that a mob run neighbourhood is often a well run neighbourhood. Crime is low. It’s safe to walk the streets. Businesses do well.
Protection rackets often get a bad rap. They’re seen as extortion, mob guys extracting cash from businesses in exchange for not trashing the place. There is occasional truth in this. Protection is supposed to be just that; protection. A business pays the mob to look out for them and their interests. Anyone threatening the business is then dealt with.
Kids stop graffitiing the building, shoplifters know better, robberies are severely punished, rival businesses move on.
Illegal betting, either on sports (legitimate or illegitimate) or unofficial lotteries (an actual numbers racket). Mob run bookies extend lines of credit, offer larger payouts than state run Lottos whilst taking less of a share (typically 20%-40% compared to 50% for legit lotteries). The chances of winning are low enough to make it a lucrative exercise. And then there’s the interest on credit lines…
Transporting goods across state lines and international borders usually results in taxes and surcharges, official documentation and complications. What if the goods are not from an entirely legitimate source? What if the product is regulated or illegal in the target destination? What if the goods are alive? A person?
Don’t worry, you know a guy who knows a guy who owes a favour.
From the halcyon days of rumrunners and bootleggers in the prohibition era to modern day cigarette smuggling, people trafficking and drug muling, the mob have always had their hand in the distribution pie.
Vote Buying and Bid Rigging
The Cosa Nostra hold considerable sway and influence with businesses, unions and associations in their neighbourhoods, and can swing an election or rig a bid for lucrative government contracts, and often do when employed to do so. With each Man of Honour being able to muster up around 40-50 votes each, it becomes a simple matter of multiplication when helping a politician enter office.
Bid rigging is slightly more visceral, and involves intimidating or actually assaulting rival bidders.
The Rules of Omertà
All Made Men swear Omertà, the Code of Silence and Loyalty that members of the Cosa Nostra, and the parent Mafia organisations in Sicily and Italy, adhere to.
Those who follow it are Men of Honour.
A Man of Honour does not inform the Police if they are wronged. They take revenge or restitution themselves. If the offending party is also a Made Man or important to the Cosa Nostra, then the offended party must ask permission to seek revenge from the local family.
The Cosa Nostra safeguards itself by relying on introductions from established members or friends. No one may present themselves directly to the organisation, a known third party must always make the introduction. Someone who can be trusted is referred to as ‘a friend of ours’, someone who is unaware of the business is ‘a friend of mine’.
A Made Man does not look at the wives of others and always years then with respect, does not drink in public, is never seen with the cops and when asked for information by a friend, always speaks the truth.
A Man of Honour is always available for duty, and appointments are absolutely respected, no matter the situation. This includes the imminent birth of a child and ill health.
Finally, a Made Man cannot interfere in the business or interests of other members of the Cosa Nostra. This ranges from petty theft to competitive business practises. Doing so opens the doors to justified retribution (see above).
But what about the Vampires?
How do vampires cross over with the mob? Here are some possibilities.
The bosses of the ‘Ndrangheta Mafia of Italy literally hide out in a network of subterranean tunnels, and use them to move freely between towns and villages, to smuggle goods and evade the police. Maybe an old tomb is disturbed whilst excavating a new tunnel.
Some friends are asked to help move a large object into the country or across state lines. When the container turns up, it’s full of corpses.
A new family are establishing themselves in the neighbourhood. They’re running the numbers, taking care of business and taking no shit from your guys. There are rumours that the Made Men are straight over from the Old Country, and seem bulletproof.
There have been more muggings and assaults in the neighbourhood recently. Some people have died. Others are in hospital. Folks don’t want to go out at night. Businesses are suffering. It’s an embarrassment.
Once a vampire sets itself up in a mob neighbourhood, it follows that business as usual will be disrupted, which is counter intuitive as the vampire was most likely attracted to the neighbourhood just because it is so orderly.
Maybe the vampire wants agents or capital, and a hostile takeover of the local family will provide just that.
The local Don may be acting strangely, having been influenced, hypnotised, possessed or turned, or possibly one of his family, Made Men or opponents.
Revised Build Points
Investigative Build points
Two players – 28 points
Three players – 20 points
Four players – 18 points
Five+ players – 15 points
General Build points – 60
Investigative Ability Changes
Men of Honour are both skilled and competent, yet do not possess the same skill set as standard Night’s Black Agents characters. Men of Honour are a little more… Focused.
Remove the following Investigative Abilities:
- Human Terrain
- Data Recovery
- Electronic Surveillance
- Forensic Pathology
- Traffic Analysis
Should any of these skills be required, the players can feel free to spend Network points to enlist the aid of a friend of theirs with the correct skill set.
New Stability loss incidents
Members of the Cosa Nostra are, on occasion, required to assert dominance, punish a transgression and/or deliver a cautionary tale. They commit acts that would haunt lesser men, and are expected to take it in their stride without breaking a sweat.
Such violence does extract a toll, though
In addition to the established triggers for Stability tests in the main rules, a player must test for Stability loss when performing the following acts.
- You attack a human opponent with intent to do serious harm. Potential loss 1
- You torture someone. Potential loss 3
- You execute someone who has displeased the Cosa Nostra. Potential loss 3
- You execute an innocent who was close to someone who has displeased the Cosa Nostra. Potential loss 4
- You brutally murder someone who has displeased the Cosa Nostra. Potential loss 4
- You brutally murder an innocent who was close to someone who has displeased the Cosa Nostra. Potential loss 5
- Break the rules of Omertà. Potential loss 5
New Mental Illness
In most other lines of work, even within the core Night’s Black Agents setting of hyper competent spies, Compassion is rarely seen as a weakness. Within the Cosa Nostra, though, unmetered Compassion is a real and present danger.
Compassion may be shown by a Don or a Made Man as a tactical move – I do you a favour by showing you some mercy or kindness – but not out of the actual kindness of their own heart.
That’s how you wind up dead.
Men of Honour who suffer from Compassion instead display kindness, mercy and other weaknesses as a means to assuage their guilt. They’ve done terrible things, not always to terrible people, and they’re tired. They might let someone live – “Get outta town and never come back. If you do, we’re both dead”. They might turn a blind eye or give a warning or, in extreme cases, turn stool pigeon and talk to the feds.
Compassion is now a third option for player characters when reduced to -5 Stability for the first time, along with PTSD and Addiction.
Links, Inspirations and References
‘Ndrangheta: Exploring the mafia’s underground world – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22315469
The Strain – Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro (book and TV series)
Donnie Brasco (movie)
The Untouchables (movie)
Man on Fire – A.J. Quinnell (book)
Cosa Nostra https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicilian_Mafia
The Departed (movie, and yes, I know it’s about the Irish mob)
Night’s Black Agents at Pelgrane Press http://www.pelgranepress.com/?cat=153