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blog A Primer on Organized Crime for Writers

Discussion in 'Research' started by Black Dragon, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    Ban submitted a new blog post:

    A Primer on Organized Crime for Writers
    by Ban


    Organized crime has become a mainstay in modern fiction. From suited-up dons to street thugs struggling to survive, criminal networks make for interesting stories. As writers and worldbuilders, how do we make organized criminal groups believable?

    Buckle up, because in this article I'll tell you how.

    1.Mafias and Gangs

    In the golden olden days, the word mafia exclusively referred to the criminal organizations born in Sicily around the time of the Italian unification. Language, however, is an ever-changing entity and now the word mafia is synonymous with highly sophisticated criminal networks. Within this article, mafia will be the word I shall use for describing highly organized criminal networks. They are organizations that have managed to infiltrate their national and even global economic and political system through various means. To put it simply, if your group is powerful and resourceful enough to speak one to one with the local mayor, they’re probably a mafia.

    Gangs on the other hand are those groups who have not reached this mark. Unlike the highly organized culture of the mafias, gangs rely on largely informal and individual relations. Its members swear allegiance to the organization, but earnings and status is up to the individual to earn for themselves. That being said, gangs can still be highly lucrative organizations through the combined efforts of...
    Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
  2. Does this formation pattern follow for terrorist organizations as well?
  3. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

    An impressive write up. I could see this information transposed to the "guild" concept often found in fantasy settings. Besides the guild of assassins, and the guild of thieves, I can see this applied to more legitimate guilds such as the guild of smiths or the guild of bankers.

    I especially like the finer details like the cost of leaving an organization, or the special language used.
  4. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    Aside from number 2 and 5, the formation patterns above are applicable to terrorist organizations as well, but they dont need to follow these patterns. Unlike in regular profit-driven criminal organizations, terrorist organization can and often do form purely out of radical ideology, but those tend to have less members. Big terrorist organizations usually form outside of prison due to a combination of socio-economic problems and radical ideology, and once formed they use the prison system for recruitment.
  5. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    Thank you for the compliments and I hope you can use it. I think applying this to banker guilds and other guilds that emerged from the outskirts of society would be a great idea. Perhaps a tinker's guild could emerge from a gang of metal thieves. Or a mining guild from a mafia that emerged out of a gold rush.
  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    I got really inspired to try and use this for a werewolf pack that plays a big role in the story I'm currently working on. The first two drafts are already done though, and there's not much room to develop the pack.

    Even then, it helps to think of the pack in terms of a gang.
  7. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Sage

    Terrorist organisations don't function like an organised crime group for two key reasons: the first is they would be too easy to detect and destroy if they have a hierarchy like a mafia and the second is a terrorist organisation has religious and/or political objectives that organised crime groups don't usually have. Modern terrorist groups usually operate through stand alone cells (generally a handful of people) who pledge allegiance to the cause or movement. Al-Qaeda is a classic example. Islamic State also operates along similar lines.
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