Mean Streets (April, 2010)

By tooth and nail, trade and barter, blood and metal…the Wastelanders have always scratched and scraped from day to day in order to survive.  Some choose to wander the streets alone, trusting only in themselves.  Such loners either drift away into the sand and swamp… or they endure the struggle, taking root in the soil and finding a niche among the rocks and ruins.

Meanwhile, other scavengers gather together to form clans and tribes.  They rely on each other for information, salvage, food, and protection in the streets where calm silence can quickly break into chaotic violence.  Many such gangs and groups have formed and splintered throughout the history of the settlement…some persist and some wander away only to return again later.  Such is the way of all things in this world and so it is among the drifters and scavengers of the Wastelands.

Lately, I’ve taken some time to scour the wastes … digging up bits of news and following word of mouth to seek out signs or stories of such factions that are (or were, as the case may be,) recently active in the region.  For the curious reader, I’ve gathered some of my notes below at various length and detail regarding these clans.  How much of this may be fact or fiction is not entirely unknown.  I leave it to curious scavengers to find out more on their own…

((Dev Note:  Despite this article, current and new factions are still encouraged to add their group to the Forum thread devoted to factions. – S.K.))

Founder: Psycho Baroque
-Based in the Great Fissure, this band of scavengers have no specific leader, but Psycho, as the founder, serves best as their representative.  A loose collective that keep to themselves and focus attention to their own business of salvage and trade.  Their activity is quiet for the most part these days but the Psycho and the Tigress, Dassina Andel, can sometimes still be found searching the ruins for supplies.

Leader:  Corwin Bellic
-A tough group, semi-nomadic and mostly human from what I’ve seen, as they scavenge the streets for their clan’s survival.  They stick close and watch each others backs.  Sometimes seen dealing and trading with the Black Market.  Potential rivals with the Bandits, a new gang recently arrived in the Wastelands.  Looks like the Pirates aim to build a little community of scavengers, dwellings, and shops down in the belly of the earth.  Various shacks and huts and catwalks cling to rock walls inside a large dim cavern below the southern streets of the Wastelands.  A lonely scavenger could probably find a decent place to rest down there…maybe find some allies too if one has a worthy skill or service they can offer the Pirates.

The Black Market at the Monkey Bar
"You just let us know when yer ready fer a taste...First one's free." - Graves (right) and Oleg (left) of the Black Market at the Monkey Bar (Bartender Lunesta Matova, center)

Black Market
Leader: Graves
-The ghouls of the Black Market remain strong in numbers, still lurking among the tunnels and wreckage of their home in the Junkyard.  Oleg Kiranov, the obsessive researcher of the gang, has finished his studies on the fungus they found on some plants, suspecting it to be related to their own ghoulism.  He even mixed up a strange brew of liquid spores extracted from the fungus, keeping it in a large glass bottle that he regularly drinks from with strange ecstasy.  He’s made some claims about its effect on humans and ghouls but they remain unconfirmed.  I’m certainly not going to taste the stuff even though Graves and Void ((VoidTraveler Seetan)), another of the clan’s high ranking ghouls, encourage me to do so.  Regardless, the Market is now interested in any news or info about a strange breed of plant-creature recently sighted…

Leader: Hannibal Mercy
– One of the oldest and creepiest clans of the Wastelands as I recall from my past encounters with them.  Nomadic bloodthirsty raiders back in the day.  Disappearing for a time…but returning with hunger.  True numbers are unknown but their ranks appear smaller with each return.  Perhaps the old rumors of cannibalism ring true.  From atop an overpass, I’ve eyed them in their new home, the North Yard.  The disturbing Hannibal and their witch, Vikki Placebo, are possibly half-mad hermits out there…roaming the ruin and rubble of the desolate barren.

Current Speaker: Mutsy Kaligawa
-A mysterious family of mutant survivors, former tribals and exiles, that are often seen near the burning fires of Fort Stygian, the chasm of the Great Fissure, or among the stones of Cormac.  They refer to each other as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ and sometimes one of them will be called ‘speaker’.  This may be a role passed among them but I do not know by what manner or ritual the next speaker is chosen, nor for how long they hold their title.  Regardless, this young tribe seems peaceful enough but still proud and protective of each other and their resources.  Typically, the Grotesk mutants are dismissive but tolerant of humans.  From my past experiences, I know some of their ranks enjoy the taste of ‘smoothskin’ or manimal flesh after a good skinning, but it’s been a long time since i felt a pair of mutant eyes stalking me.  They’re disgusted by rotted ghoul flesh but curious about rumors of strange plant creatures…maybe they want some vegetables to go with their meat.

Scarab Outposts in Hambone Slash (built by Riptorious Ulrik)
Scarab Outposts in Hambone Slash (built by Riptorious Ulrik)

Leader:  Riptorious Ulrik
– An old clan recently reformed under Rip’s leadership.  Although currently few in number but looking for new recruits, they’ve built impressive outposts in Hambone Slash, and Fort Stygian.  Riptorious is proud of his pets, a gruesome collection of rats taken from the Junkyard tunnels.  They’re not very lively critters but he insists he’s trained them to perform a trick or two.

Paw Tribe
Leader: Hemms Osterham
– Stories tell of a fire raging at the Paw Tribe compound some weeks ago followed by word of a division in the ranks of the manimals.  Now, the tribe is dissolved.  Dispersed upon the winds.  Former members have been seen among the ranks of the Asfhall Tribe and the Artful Dodgers.

Leader: Tresha Gothly
– The status of this strictly human clan is unknown and their outposts have gradually disappeared from the southern reaches of the Great Fissure.  Previously seen clashing with the Black Market ghouls on occasion.  I reckon they’ve cleared on out.

Riza Karu of the Ashfall Tribe
Riza Karu of the Ashfall Tribe

Ashfall Tribe
Leader:  Riza Karu
– A manimal tribe often seen in Hambone Slash and the southern regions, preferring sand under paw and claw instead of the hot asphalt streets and thick bog mud.  They seem to be a tight group gathered from lone wanderers and remants of the Paw Tribe by the fast and evasive Riza, a dirty rabbit-like creature bearing their tribal symbol in paint, maybe polish, upon her pale fur.  Ashfall expects potential members of their clan to show talent and skill for the good of the clan and their survival…by strength of arm, scavenge, trade, or craft.  Creatures gifted with craft and the knowledge of Making, such as the intimidating beast Tremmor ((TK Tremmor)), are highly valued and revered as Shamans, spiritual leaders in the sacred masheen rituals.  Their inquistive scout, Cork ((Lucky Xootfly)) is particularly interested in finding any old books and tomes of the Old World…

Leader: Unknown
– Unseen and unknown, at least by this digger’s eyes.  So far I’ve only heard their name spoken in passing.  I had seen a humble camp at the south edge of Hambone Slash which might’ve belonged to this clan.  It had some signs of recent use but now it’s gone.  Perhaps they were merely nomads passing through.

The Barrel Dok reclines in its office
The Barrel Dok reclines in its office

Artful Dodgers
Leader: Barrel Dok ((Niles Cournoyer))
-A curious faction based in the Rusty Wrench, a precarious assembly of salvaged wreckage and catwalks perched on Hambone Hill.  They are a diverse team, scavengers of scrap and knowledge, and welcoming wastelanders of any race who share their passion and curiosity for craft and collection.  Calling them a mere “gang” will probably excite their leader into a passing moment of anger.  It insists they are a “charity” for the scavengers and stake a neutral position outside of the various clashes and conflicts that may arise between clans.   This “Boss”, as the sign in its office claims, is Barrel Dok…a rare sight indeed in the Wastelands.  A manimal ghoul, it freely admits and it’s fairly obvious to the casual onlooker.  Its pale fur and hide is bloodstained, torn, and stitched…as if somewhere somewhen someone tore it apart and put it back together again.  Nonetheless, Barrel appears generally calm despite its ghoulish nature and a habit of regularly smacking and licking its fanged maw with glee or hunger…perhaps calculating its next meal or the ongoing progress of the Dodger village rising up on the western edge of Hambone.

Leader: None
-I haven’t encountered them myself but from what I’ve heard, this seems to be a rag-tag gang sighted around the ruins and streets of the Wastelands looking for salvage.  Rough-and-tumble rascals with no apparent leader.  Organization and tactics unknown but some unconfirmed reports of mugging.  Not sure how dangerous they are since  Apo claims one of them tried to hold her up for ball and twine … to hold up his pants? Some may be more deadly than others.   Bandits supposedly look out for themselves, dealing for salvage or trouble each in their own way.  Rumor has it they are close-knit and WILL protect their own, watching each others backs if necessary.  I might have spotted some of them hanging out among the wrecked shacks near the Press.

The Vile Sun
Leader: Sandling Honey
-The trading group of industrious scavengers who first sparked the long-running salvage economy.  Highly skilled at crafting and gathering supplies.  Knowledge and secrets tightly guarded but always willing to broker a business deal if it’s worthwhile.  Led by the inquisitive Ace of Parts, Sandling Honey.  Their warehouse still sits in the swamp of Malady Bog.  Although Sandling’s activity has been quiet for many moons, I don’t underestimate the Ace’s skill at the masheen.  That crafty manimal may now be the only visibly active member of the Vile Sun but even so, I’d bet its warehouse is very well stocked.

Some prior clans and factions of note…disbanded or departed:
The Clubs – the notorious first gang of the Wastelands.  Diverse racial background.  Highly efficient and brutal.
The Rangers – Highly skilled at crafting.  Aimed to bring law and order among the rabble, a noble yet impossible task.
Southsiders – Simple collective of scavengers living on the south streets of the Wastelands.  Good neighbors watch each other’s backs.
Moskvitch Mercs – Opportunistic and proud mercenary crew available to hire for salvage, defense, or aggression.
Sand Dogs – Manimal mercenaries and scavengers sometimes at odds with the Reavers.
Teeth Grinders – A grisly and zealous tribe of disturbing mutants and ghouls, bound together by secret rituals and dark religion.
Scorpion Tribe – A primitive clan of human nomads and hunters.
The Trade Post – Infamous collective of salvage traders once based in Kronbelt, offering neutral ground, food, drink, and rest for any weary scavenger.