Crime in Silverstream
This article applies to Silverstream in 451 OC, and is out of date now.
Crime in Silverstream is a major problem, and is becoming more so as time goes on. New members of the City Watch are offered this overview of the situation in the city.
Lasant’s cities are usually among the safest in Occident. However, the crime situation in Silverstream has deteriorated over the past couple of decades to the point where certain parts of parts of town are simply dangerous. All sorts of criminal activity have proliferated, and a few gangs have risen. The Knights Captain have made some headway in cutting down on the gangs, but the recent upsurge in criminal activity, attributed to the Crowd, is stumping them.
Depending on who you ask, several of Silverstream’s districts could be referred to as slums. Some are definitely better than others; none of them is completely crime free.
Tanagar is the civic center and public face of Silverstream. Crime is not particularly bad here, mostly what you would expect from a touristy part of town: confidence tricksters and pickpockets, mostly. A small number of the merchants have black market connections and deal in dark magic.
The Shacks are a dirty and poor part of town. Crime is rampant, if disorganized. Thievery is common, as are assaults. Illegal slavers occasionally kidnap people from this part of town. Because of the impermanence of the buildings and people in this part of town, illicit business deals often take place there.
Supposedly, the Walls is the center of Crowd activity. It is certainly the part of town where crime is most organized. Virtually every type of criminality is to be found here. On the other hand, it is both more wealthy and less violent than the Shacks or Tufar North, and plenty of legitimate businesses operate there.
Most of the Butcher’s Quarter is safe. A couple of sketchy neighborhoods exist, mostly in the northern parts of the district. The wall that surrounds the western part of the city is not so impenetrable, and it is a favorite route for smuggling both goods and people in and out of the city.
Eelmarket is one of the busiest parts of town, which is both good and bad for crime. Pickpockets and simple thieves have an extremely vigilant city watch contingent to contend with. On the other hand, the city watch does not have the wherewithal to stop the trade of illegal potions, magic weapons, and other items that are not easily recognized by common guardsmen.
Sweethills is even more strictly patrolled by the city watch, but the watch has no authority to enter the homes of the wealthy inhabitants of this district. The types of crimes here, therefore, are those that occur behind closed doors. The illegal slave trade is largest here, as is the trade in drugs.
The crime situation in Tufar North is so bad that to enter the castle-like apartments of the district unarmed would be close to suicidal. Gangs from the old city don’t bother coming up here, although Tufar has its own gangs. The place is like a war zone.
City-Wide Criminal Activity
Slavery is legal in Lasant, but tightly controlled, and slaves are accorded specific rights by the government. Illegal slavery is the trade of intelligent beings as chattel slaves. These arrangements are usually enforced through blackmail, fear, and/or magic. Such slaves might be captured in the slums, but today, they are more likely to be refugees from the Arcish Inquisition.
The purchase or sale of alchemical drugs is illegal in Silverstream, but they are frequently available anyway. Because of the expense involved, the drug trade is seen as a high-class type of crime.
Evil and chaotic spells and items are forbidden in Silverstream. This mostly amounts to a ban on creating undead and summoning fiends. The ban on chaotic goods is in response to a roaring trade of potions of protection from law amongst the criminal element. Curses of all kinds are also expressly forbidden in Silverstream, although this is redundant with assault laws that cover offensive magic.
Several gangs are involved in the protection racket, demanding money to “protect” business owners from being attacked, or robbed. Just as large is the “blessing” racket, in which gangs demand money to “bless” a place of business so that it should not be cursed. Individuals are often targeted in this racket as well; a supposed priest claims that a certain item has an evil aura, and demands to be paid to remove the curse.
One particularly heinous type of crime in Silverstream is magically assisted rape. There is a niche market in items such as elixirs of love or spells like reckless infatuation. Because the magical auras of such spells wear off in under a minute, offenders using such methods are difficult to convict.
Common thieves are, well, common. Almost all doors in Silverstream have locks on the doors. The wealthy of Sweethills take their protection extremely seriously, often shelling out for traps and permanent alarm spells.
Violent crimes of all kinds are to be found in Silverstream, despite the laws against unsheathed weapons or offensive spells within the city limits. Mercenaries are not hard to hire, nor are professional assassins if you know where to look.
Loan sharks are a feature of the criminal underworld in most cities. In Silverstream they are known as kelpies: they lure borrowers with too-good-to-be-true deals, and then invoke obscure clauses in the loan agreement to ratchet up interest rates. The authorities take a dim view of this, but some kelpies have mastered the art of doing it legally. Kelpies often have access to powerful divination magic, used to track down deadbeats, and sometimes sell this service to others.
The worship of most evil deities is outlawed in Arfàn. The sole exception is Saralek — roughly half of Silverstream would have to be locked up if she were banned, thanks to the popular Triune Religion. Small cults to certain other evil deities are believed to exist in the city’s dark places, but they are a very low priority for the city watch, next to organized crime.
Prostitution involving consenting adults is legal in Silverstream, but adultery is a crime for the married party. Blackmail is a serious threat to married johns.
Gambling is legal in Silverstream, but it’s considered very low-class, socially unacceptable. Most establishments do not allow it, which means that gambling dens tend to be seedy establishments and centers of criminal activity.