What is the Iron Guild? Well, that's difficult to really say. They are omnipresent in the Tear, directing the force of legitimate commerce and less legitimate crime. But, unlike ZetaCorp which seems to have its brand on everything and its spokespeople in front of all the cameras, the Iron Guild prefers to operate a bit more subtly. Newcomers often profess a belief that the Iron Guild doesn't really exist, it's just an elaborate hoax that the Tear plays.
Originally, the Iron Guild was just that...a guild of iron and steel workers. They organized after the immense growth in their industry once the Fornax landed. Pieces of the satellite had to be broken down, flattened out, re-purposed to make the base of the city. And that city, a city the size of New York City, now rests on a base that was erected by the Iron Guild. However, once that base was completed, there was an extreme decrease in the amount of work available for the guild members. Many of those members took to crime, but remained loyal to the Guild, and with their success in crime, brought immense amounts of money in for the Guild. Soon, the Iron Guild had purchased most of the lots in the Tear and from there, basically became the controlling party of the Tear.
Most importantly, the Iron Guild keeps the peace in the Tear, a place that can be volatile and crime-ridden. Businesses in the Tear are expected to pay The Tax, which is assessed yearly by the Guild based on the amount of business that you do, legal or illegal. In return, the Guild protects businesses from too much crime or violence. Those who do not pay The Tax may find their store robbed repeatedly, or that supply shipments go missing, or any other number of terrible fates. Although this extortion is unpleasant, it's actually seen as better than the alternative - chaos in the Tear, or worse, ZetaCorp deciding it might be able to take over the Tear.
Most residents of the Tear have a love-hate relationship with the Iron Guild. Sure, they're largely a mafia, but at the same time, they are the TEAR'S mafia. They also do a number of good works in the city, and the Iron Guild is known to work very hard to ensure that the people of the Tear always have access to water. Some of the Tax is known to fund pump-wells in the poorest neighborhoods, allowing people to congregate and pump water from a communal courtyard well. They also sponsor the Tear Clinic, a free clinic which can assist in some basic medical offerings, such as pre-natal checkups or screening for STDs. Although not a full hospital like in the Reach, it is still more than the Tear would have without the Guild.
The Iron Guild is the faction with arguably the largest power-base. 25% of the citizens of New Convergence live in the Reach, and 25% live in the Depths or in the nearby forest. But a full 50% of the city's population resides in the Tear, making it crowded and desperate. Without the Guild keeping control, nobody really knows what would happen in the Tear. The Guild is run by the Maestro, whose identity is often not revealed or is obscured.
Subfactions and Businesses:
Upmarket: The Upmarket is more than just a floating strand of street food booths. It's a communal kitchen and dining area which attracts people from all around the Tear. A great many people in the Tear do not have kitchens. They can't afford running water, and cooking without water is a bit too dangerous. Many of them bring their food to the Upmarket, where for a few credits it'll get cooked up to your specifications by any number of once-reknowned chefs, and retired grandmas. And if you don't have any food, for just a few credits more, you can get something nutritious, flavorful, and filling. Upmarket is a favorite destination for visitors from the Reach, as well as visitors from the Depths. It's the culinary destination of the masses, combining fresh food from the Depths, spices and exotic items brought in by the Traversers and Exos League, and even the occasional re-purposed Food Cube(tm) from the Reach. Everyone from the elite of society to penniless paupers can be found at Upmarket. The Guild keeps a good watch with Upmarket guards, but it's also believed that many of the friendly souls who will sit down and listen to your woes, maybe share a bowl of soup, are spies for the Iron Guild. The leader of Upmarket is known simply as "The Chef".
Red Zone: The sex trade is always lucrative. And in a poor area, it can be quite the draw for a great many who are down on their luck with no other skills. In the Red Zone, an area built to slightly resemble pictures of the lovely Silk District of Old Convergence, almost any perverse delight a person could enjoy might be found. A few of those who work there are brothel-owned Volse, people who have sold themselves into Voluntary Servitude in return for a tidy cash sum at the end of their term. But many others are simply employed normally, plying their trade for what credits they can. The dream of many is to end up working as an Oiran, fabulously wealthy escorts who set the trend for fashion and entertainment, and who become stars and status symbols, often appearing on stage as singers or dancers, or performing on Exos League yachts. There are only three Oiran at any time, who need not be female, the Red Oiran of Romance, the White Oiran of Artistry, and the Black Oiran of Mystery. Each of them has up to two apprentices, or Maiko, often almost as celebrated as the Oiran themselves. However, most of the sex workers are ranked much lower, mid-ranked Tayu or Courtesan, all the way down to the lowest ranking, of Veshya, more commonly simply termed "whore". The party in charge of the Red Zone is known as the Red Mistress or Red Master, and they skim a certain percentage of the profit to pay back to the Guild.
Dimetown: If you're down on your luck, with not a credit to your name, you might end up in Dimetown. Dimetown is a hard-drinking, hard-fighting, hard-living sort of place. Many of those who live there sleep in tents or makeshift shacks, or even just out on the street. Dimetown, they say, is also where the worst kind of people end up. Criminals of every flavor. Everyone has a hussle. Everyone has a scheme. The Iron Guild lets things get a bit more gritty than usual in Dimetown. It turns out that desperation is a great motivator for wanting to participate in just about any scheme the Iron Guild thinks up. Many of those that the Maestro lifts up out of obscurity to work in ruthless positions come from Dimetown. You can generally find any kind of drug imaginable in Dimetown -- many of which are new or experimental. There are always flop houses to try out a taste before buying more. The central locale in Dimetown to get the gossip or pick up a gig is the Dimetown Saloon. Hardly a night goes by that there isn't a fight in the Dimetown Saloon. The drinks are awful, but they sure as hell will knock you on your ass. To control this hive of villainy, the Guild appoints a Mayor. The Mayor of Dimetown has absolute say over who stays and who goes, what's permitted and what's not.
Port Authority: The Tear Docks are the busiest hub of commerce in the whole city, and possibly all of Juniper. And it is the Port Authority which has control over who docks, with what priority, inspections of ships, and certifications of commerce. Without a Port Authority certificate, nothing can be moved into the Tear, or exported from the Tear. This makes the Port Authority a very powerful entity when it comes to the commerce of the city as a whole. Docks complete a variety of tasks, from loading and off-loading cargo, inspecting cargo, inspecting ships, ship repair, safety certification, medical clearance, and so forth. Of course, there's also the smuggling -- always the smuggling, and the bulk trade of drugs, and the human trafficking and who even knows what else. The Guild gets a percentage of all fees. The Port Authority works very closely with the Exos League, of course, and League members get many benefits -- higher priority, easier inspections, more blind eyes turned. (Because we can't really represent the whole of the docks on the sim, we won't officially have this subfaction in play, and the docks will instead be the Exos League HQ. However, you can assume the Port Authority is around, doing Port Authority things.)
Steamtown: Another prominent section of the city, Steamtown contains much of the industry of the city. There are textile mills, steel factories, processing plants, printing shops. The most industrious section of the city, it's also quite polluted, and the air quality is notably degraded in some sections. However, there have been recent efforts to "clean up" Steamtown, starting with the addition of the Strand. The Strand is an area at the edge of Steamtown where the wares of the factories and plants were once sold to consumers at a discount. Now, it is the shopping district of the Tear, containing numerous boutiques and cafes. It's not unusual for Steamtown workers to be seen in the Strand on their breaks or after work, having a coffee and picking up something nice to bring home to the family. Although the people of Steamtown must work very hard to make their living, they are a proud and independent sort, priding themselves on well-made wares and ingenious innovation. The shopping district of Steamtown is a great place to buy just about anything on the cheap, and if you're really adventurous, you'll seek out the back ally within the shopping district where you can find guns, body parts, forbidden magical reagents, and more. Like Dimetown, Steamtown has an appointed Mayor.
Bashers: Gang activity is not unusual in the Tear, even if all the gangs must, in some way, pay homage to the Guild. The Iron Guild keeps the gang violence from getting too out of hand by setting limits and rules on what kind of things can take place, and by marking out the territories of the gangs. The most powerful gang in the city, and the one most closely associated with the Iron Guild, are the Bashers. Identified by their propensity for wielding bashing weapons, such as baseball bats and tire irons, the Bashers do a great deal of the Iron Guild's dirty work. If someone is not complying with the Guild's rules, or is crossing the line, or not paying the Tax, it's likely that the Bashers will show up one day and break many of your bones. And if bone breaking doesn't cut it, well...they'll get very creative. It is also believed that the Bashers are the main distribution point for drugs in the Tear. And the Bashers often run various criminal enterprises in the city. Many Bashers consider themselves "gentleman thugs", anmany of the upper eschelon of the gang wear suits or clothing from eras such as the 1950s of many Earth Realms. However, rank and file Bashers tend to do whatever kind of thing they want, fashion-wise. The leader of the Bashers is simply referred to as "the Boss".
Namida-kai: While the Bashers are feared for their propensity for being sent out to keep the populace in line, and running various criminal pursuits, the Namida-kai, despite their more savage beginnings, are the protection and bodyguard group of the Iron Guild. Started by Aja Fitzgerald Yoshimoto (now known as Yoshimoto-sama) shortly after the Fornax landed, the Namida-kai were originally a criminal group in the Tear with roots in the yakuza. Whilst the Tear was being built, the Namida-kai would extort protection money from contracting businesses and other entities. Yoshimoto had come into control of the newly constructed Red Zone and the area became a den of crime and villainy. Eventually, Yoshimoto's daughter, Ikuyo-oiran was kidnapped by an entity the Namida-kai could not overpower. In that time of need, they pledged allegiance to the Maestro of the Iron Guild in return for assistance in getting Ikuyo back. The Maestro's requirement? The Namida-kai must turn away from overt crime, swear loyalty to the Maestro, and become the Iron Guild's protectors. Eventually, the Namida-kai moved out of the Red Zone, leaving its management to the returned Ikuyo-oiran. The Namida-kai is not exactly a police force. That would quickly become a task that would overwhelm them in the largely lawless Tear. However, they will respond to large incidents such as riots or attacks from outside the Tear, investigate those happenings that the Maestro finds troubling, provide security at large events, and act as bodyguards for important personnages in the Tear such as the Maestro. Businesses which are in need of security and who pay their Iron Guild taxes can request a member of the Namida-kai to help protect their business. Those who join the Namida-kai swear to protect the Iron Guild's assets and the Maestro at the cost of even their own lives if they have to. Many in the city see them as heroes. However, the Namida-kai can also be very brutal. Leaving the group is not easily permitted, and often some sort of "penalty" is assessed -- usually the loss of a body part, sometimes something worse. The leader of the Namida-kai is known still as the Oyabun, a callback to their yakuza roots.
Perks and Abilities:
1) Although the Tear is the poorest, water-wise, with no natural sources of water, the Iron Guild provides a 35% ration of water for all citizens through a water ration card. Additional water can be bought at water kiosks throughout the Tear. The Guild buys this water from others, from Ice Harvesters from the Exos League, buying it via the Stalk from the Thorns, or buying it off of ZetaCorp's water ration buy-back program, and they sell it to Tear citizens fairly cheaply. The money for this water tends to come from The Tax, and fees levied by the Guild to those who don't stay in line. In the Tear, water theft is a SERIOUS crime and can get you killed.
2) Although there is no food ration, food in the Tear is not overly rare, even though it seems like it should be. This is simply because it is the agreed-upon marketplace of most of the city, being at the center of all other areas. The phrase, "You can buy anything in the Tear" is seemingly true. In the Tear, a chef can become as famous as an Oiran, and there is fierce competition to win high marks at the yearly culinary competition, Tasty Tears.
3) Tax-paying businesses in the Tear recieve priority assistance from the Iron Guild should there be trouble. They recieve a land-line to Guild HQ, which they need only active to have a Guild representative (often one of the Bashers if the need is due to a breakout of violence) sent to the business. Businesses (and citizens) which come to the aid of other tax-paying businesses during trouble get a deduction on their yearly tax, which encourages businesses to help each other keep the peace in the Tear.
4) Tax-paying Guild members get priority and free care at the Tear Clinic. And if they have to be referred to the hospital in the Reach, transport fees are waived.
5) Guild members can get loans from the Iron Guild bank rather than go into Volse. Of course, then you must pay back the bank...in some way.
6) Guild members get 80% off fees to use the Baths in the Red Zone, which comes with a complementary glass of water (because they don't want people drinking the bath), and 25% off of all other Red Zone services.
7) Businesses and Citizen-members may register property with the Iron Guild, and are then insured for 75% of the price of the property should it be stolen or destroyed by forces beyond their control.
8) Once per day, members of the Iron Guild get a re-roll on one of the following: an Artisan/Crafting skill, Cooking, Charm, or Subterfuge.