The Raphiki Mhaza? I've heard of 'em, little girls playing at being thieves. Someone ought to tell them to leave that to the real thieves.
Journeyman Pickpocket and Housebreaker Tibban Huel
Wandering the broad avenues of Ankarra proper, the members of the all female Raphiki Mhaza gang, share many common features. All of the girls come from poor or middle class Ankaran families and are generally in their late teens and early twenties. The gang, since guild would imply a much greater level of organization than actually exists, has a uniform of sorts. All of the girls wear peasant skirts that have been cut short above the knees, in a fashion similar to the slit skirts that Ankarran whores wear. A loose fitting white blouse or chemise is also worn, as well as a hat of some sort though these vary from girl to girl.
The Raphiki Mhaza girls mill about like many younger people do in the plazas and markets, but they tend to garner attention for their almost playful antics. Many a merchant has been left goggle-eyed after a bunch of girls come through his stall flipping their skirts high enough for him to see their bright pink panties. Gang members carry swaths of pink cloth concealed on their person for when things get ugly. Most people consider the Raphiki Mhaza to be a laughable threat. Those who have actually had to face a handful of these girls know better.
The Raphiki Mhaza have only been around in Ankarra for about four or five years. Unlike most gangs and thieves guilds, it doesn't have an illustrious founder, a subversive benefactor or any other hidden power behind it. Being a young girl in Ankarra is a dangerous prospect. The city has a staggering appetite for the loins of fresh and unspoiled young women and many of the Slave-Merchants are willing to covertly trawl the streets, sweeping up the unclaimed and poor girls they encounter along the way.
Young women traditionally traveled in groups to prevent this sort of depredation, but harassment continued, and sometimes if a group was small, the slavers would grab them all in one swoop. Not wanting to end up as a whore in a backwater Kraal, or Ankarran ranching community, one of these groups became para-military. The name, Raphiki Mhaza, is completely made up, but it has connotations to hidden organizations, powers unknown and the like. Some have tried to find the Raphiki Mhaza who started the gang, but have met no luck since 'he' doesn't exist.
Brothers and older sisters taught younger siblings how to fight, and the Mhaza have taken this a step further. Improvised weapons are an artform among the Mhaza. A cute girl carrying a sword can invite the kind of trouble that the Raphiki Mhaza like to avoid. Instead, victims of Mhaza violence suffer beatings from fists, kicks, stockings with potatoes stuffed in the end, parasols and weighted purses. A few carry knives, just to put enough sting in their efforts to remain a serious threat, but not enough to warrant excess attention from the City Watch. Thus far, only a handful of known criminals and slavers have been outright killed by the Mhaza, the rest of their victims have come away brutally beaten and then humiliated when they informed the authorities that they were brutally beaten by young girls.
Of Things to Come
The Raphiki Mhaza are starting to mature, not only as individuals, but as an organization. Originally numbering about a dozen, more than 150 now wear Mhaza Pink. With more and more members, a social structure is beginning to emerge with the founding members basically being elevated to senior status. No single leader has emerged yet but that is only because the inner circle thus far has remained in agreement on pretty much all matter so far.
Three factions have started to emerge among the ranks though. The largest faction, the Abolitionists, have a desire to see forced prostitution ended. To this end, they are the gang members who flip their skirts to see who looks too long. Those who look too long and are known to have slaver connections become their targets for beatings. This generally plays well against most slaver's penchant for staring at a girl while appraising her value.
The Second faction is more moderate, and is more interested in protection that aggression. Though they do not actively support a quasi-hopeless abolitionist agenda, the Protectors have actually done the most damage to the Slavers as a whole. The Protector faction are more likely to carry concealed lethal weapons and have been responsible for the deaths of several Slaver footpads as well as at least two Slave-Bosses themselves. While relatively minor merchants of flesh, the violence against the two served to sober up formerly arrogant and swaggering Slave-Bosses. Raids through the city for unescorted girls have dropped in light of the deaths, though for how long is unknown.
The third and final faction is actually starting to form into a proper Thieves Guild. Run by a circle of bright and moderately well educated middle class daughters, the 'Runners' have started selling their services as protection for various groups, mostly to neighborhood girls and Women's Schools and pauper convents. They also dabble in a bit of petty theft and have tentative alliances with several voluntary brothels, often also the target of unscrupulous slavers.
A Dose of Reality
The Raphiki Mhaza are still a very young and compared to other guilds and gangs, small and disorganized group. Thus far, their success has come more from audacity than from any sort of tactical skill of special abilities. The reduction of Slaver activity is more out of curiosity than outright fear. Should the gang be pressed seriously by either the Slavers and their enforcers or by the City Guard, the organization will very quickly collapse.
Mhaza Bracelets - usually made of plain hemp that has been dyed to varying shades of pink, women wearing these bracelets basically do so to claim the protection of the Raphiki Mhaza.
Weighted Bracelet - A heavy bracelet made of thick copper links, this piece of jewelry is heavy and fairly durable. It is also much less obvious than wearing a pair of brass knuckles.
Rose Ring - a commoners ring made of tin with a wood inlay, a rose ring has a carved wooden rose image, but notably has a large wooden thorn in the middle of the ring. A punch from the ring can easily tear through skin, though leather armor or thick cloth can render a rose ring ineffective.
Gang Colors - The PCs while traveling through an Ankaran market encounter a band of Raphiki Mhaza girls in the process of giving a Slaver scout a bloody beating. More than a dozen girls shout and cat call while they take turns, one and two at a time delivering punches, kicks, claws at the face and bites at the now overwhelmed and helpless man. None of the other market goers have stepped in to help, though this is because the Mhaza have a growing reputation of not killing, just beating and humiliations.
Hired Muscle - Approached by a comely dark-eyed lass of 18, the PCs are offered a job. Several Mhaza members and their charges have been nabbed by a local slave merchant. The Mhaza offers the PCs a decent amount of money if they will rescue their allies and charges. A number of Mhaza girls, generally 2D4 will volunteer to help in any way they can, plus they want to learn about weapons, fighting and defence skills.
Hired Muscle part II Opposite of above, the PCs are hired by a Slaver-Merchant to break up a dangerous and conniving gang. The PCs are sent to subdue the Raphiki Mhaza by any means required. If they underestimate the Mhaza, a sneak attack mobbing in a market can leave an unattended PC beaten and robbed of anything he had of value. If they resort to lethal force, the locals really don't like armor-plated thugs hacking up the pretty young girls.
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? Responses (4)
Their strength is partly their unity, if the gang fractures the slavers will crush them with ease.
No, it was noted that so far they have been lucky. In fact, they seem to be doomed as soon as anything major happens on their account.
But I like the bitter dose of reality. This calls for a great old (or not so old) city, that never sleeps and definitely never rests, to become part of the street folklore, one part of the large mosaic of poverty. Even if they are gone, there will remain groups and individuals behind, leaving interesting backgrounds for PCs and NPCs.
Ankara is the capitol of Turkey, dude.
Updated: Ankara, the capital of Turkey.
Ankarra, a major nation in Aterrizar. Any problems now?