In the days before the printing press, news and information in general could be kept closely controlled. Suddenly when printing was invented, news could spread with ease. And with the coming to Vallermoore of, if not quite democracy, then at least a much more enlightened despotism under Queen Amber, then newspapers could be openly be set up and print openly, bringing in rich rewards for their owners-and danger for at least some of the reporters.
The danger was twofold. First, the criminals of Vallermoore and the surrounding region were not at all happy at having their foul deeds brought to light, as it brought them heat and hassle from the City Guards. Reporters were assaulted and a handful that got in too deep and trod on too many toes during their investigations were murdered.
Second was the danger of the law itself. Although the majority of journalists tried to behave themselves and to tell the truth, inevitably a few overstepped the mark and printed stories without clear proof or even blatantly lied. The papers responsible faced heavy fines in the civil courts and even the risk of being shut down.
One of the newspaper owners decided on an illegal solution to both problems and secretly made a deal with a dozen or so gangsters. In return for reasonable pay and a promise that the reporters would not bother them in their own illegal dealings, the gangsters would act as bodyguards to reporters in dangerous situations, and lean on (and if necessary murder) leading top civil lawyers and people with strong legal cases who dared to sue the press. Also, none of them would harm reporters or their families. These hard men became the top secret Press Gang. And it worked-reporters who came under attack were defended or at least soon avenged, and several legal cases against the newspaper were dropped after the plaintiffs either died in *accidents* or disappeared.
When they are called in to end a problem, they are told to make it look like either an accident or a robbery gone wrong. Reporters then (usually with no idea of what has really happened) report it as such. Whilst the reporters are aware of their protectors, only the owner and the chief editor know about the murders. If the murders were ever to become common knowledge, it would result in the closing of the newspaper and the heaviest punishments the law allowed for everyone involved.
The Traitor-One of the Press Gang has switched sides and begun murdering reporters, knowing where they live. Unable to get the authorities involved in case he then tells everybody about the Press Gangs murders, and unsure how reliable the Gang would be against one of their own, the owner has brought in outside helpthe PCs.
The Witness-One of the Press Gang has been caught for one of his murders and the PCs are sent to bust him out of prison, kill him, or both, to keep his mouth shut before he gets his revenge by informing on all his friends to try and save himself from punishment.
The Know-Too-Much-One of the papers reporters has stumbled on the existence of the Press Gang, found the evidence to prove it, and has called on the PCs to help him or her bring the information to the authorities and to keep him or her alive.
Notes-although this is set in Vallermoore, it could be set in any sci-fi, modern, or slightly in the past game, as long as there is first a printing press of some kind, and secondly a free or at least a semi-free press operating openly.