To Walk a Crooked Mile

Game Description


Setting: Medieval fantasy homebrew.

Concept: The characters are members of a criminal organization seeking to gain a foothold in Fairhaven after the elimination of the previous regime. They have been sent here to unite the disparate criminal elements and take over.

This organization and its subsidiary affiliations have not yet been named or completely defined. I'm leaving a lot of room to build around the characters. Players will have a lot of input in the ultimate structure and function of the organization, at least inasmuch as those portions of it they wish to focus on.

The mood will be serious, but that does not mean we don't have room for humor.

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile,
And found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile,
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
Fairhaven, once the jewel of all the Kingdom of Elanth˘r, a center of learning and culture and capital of the Duchy of Fennick, had long ago fallen to the depredations of certain powerful yet corrupt nobles who, seeking personal gain, had divided it amongst themselves forming a powerful criminal syndicate with diverse interests and a stranglehold on trade into and out of Northern Elanth˘r.

This ancient and powerful group, named the Kirling Brotherhood after its founder, soon controlled most criminal activity in all Northern Elanth˘r, and Fairhaven was their undisputed capital. The Duke of that age, seeing discretion as the better part of valor, relocated to nearby Kestrelhame, which in turn became the new capital of Fennick.

For centuries the Kirling Brotherhood ruled the criminal underground of the north; although provincial upstarts and street gangs occasionally challenged their supremacy on a local scale, or managed to operate beneath notice, the only true threat to the Kirling Brotherhood's iron-fisted hold on criminal activity was a rival organization that had sprung up in the south.

The Crooked
A series of steps or rungs by means of which a person may pass over a wall or fence that remains a barrier to sheep or cattle.
Stile Fellowship
began as a grass-roots movement in Southern Elanth˘r founded by merchants and craftsmen seeking to
Hence the name!
circumvent the Brotherhood's hold on northern trade, avoid the graft, theft, and racketeering that bit deeply into their profit margins, and to prevent the spread of the Brotherhood into the southern territories.

Over time, the Crooked Stile grew in power and influence, recruiting members of the aristocracy and, eventually, becoming just as corrupt and greedy as its rival to the north. Many bloody, secret wars were waged between the two organizations before they fought themselves to a standstill, reluctantly dividing the nation between them; Brotherhood to the north, Fellowship to the South.

For fifty years a grudging truce has kept the peace between these two crime syndicates. Occasional misunderstandings (the odd assassination, kidnapping, mysterious explosion... nothing to worry about) have arisen, but, for the most part, a strict policy of non-interference has ruled the day.

Until recently.

In his infinite wisdom, Duke Versephius Madragorn, current Duke of Finnick, seeking to re-establish control of Fairhaven, arranged a meeting through intermediaries with the heads of the Kirling Brotherhood, ostensibly to negotiate a more equitable trade agreement in exchange for other legal considerations.

It is unclear how the Duke managed to convince so many of the most powerful criminal minds in Northern Elanth˘r to attend this meeting, or why their security precautions were insufficient to protect them during the ensuing blood-bath, but Duke Madragorn (himself not in attendence) managed to destroy them all, imprisoning their souls so that even the dark priests of Nerull could not bring them back.

It was the Duke's intent, once he had cut off the serpent's head, to bring his army into the city and restore order. Unfortunately for Duke Madragorn, the Brotherhood's leadership contained members who were well-connected and of noble birth. No sooner had he acheived his victory than the neighboring Principality of Umbershal declared war on Finnick and the Duke was forced to withdraw his forces to protect his eastern border.

On the western coast of Finnick, Fairhaven was untouched by the new war, but had its own problems to deal with. Chaos ruled the day as the scattered remains of the Brotherhood struggled to regain control of their city as upstart gangs ran the streets and battled for the empty
Metaphorically speaking.
throne of King of Crime. The ruling oligarchy did its best to maintain order, and, after the riots and burnings finally died down, were marginally successful.

Demoralized, the remaining members of the Brotherhood fled or went into hiding.

To the south, the Fellowship watched with interest. Bordering the southern territories, the Duchy of Finnick could potentially serve as a stepping
There's that stile metaphor again!
stone into Northern Elanth˘r. Yet the Brotherhood was still a powerful force throughout the north, and so the matter had to be handled carefully, slowly, and discreetly.

Thus the Crooked Stile Fellowship decided to take the place over from the inside, surreptitiously, by sending in some of its own members who were ordered to form their own organization, hiding their affiliation with their southern fellows. Later, if successful, they would be brought back under the wing of the Fellowship and handsomely rewarded. If unsuccessful, the Fellowship could claim ignorance, leaving them to their fate.

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