Ptolus, City By The Spire
Balacazar Crime Family
Probably the most powerful crime family in the city, the Balacazar clan is certainly the oldest. Menon Balacazar is the aging head of the organization, with his son, Malkeen, taking his place as second in command. Menon has two other children, his daughters Fesamere and Maystra.
For more than two centuries — dating back to Menon’s great-great-grandmother, Maven — the family has literally run the business of crime in Ptolus. Far from the seat of power in the Empire, Ptolus seemed an opportune place in which to do business: lots of commerce, lots of money, and few obstacles. Today, the family’s extensive organization funds a number of criminal enterprises, gaining profit from theft, extortion, smuggling, illegal gambling, assassination, and trade in slaves, poisons, and drugs.
In addition to the various houses and apartments it holds in a variety of false names throughout the city, the family owns a number of warehouses, storefronts, crafthouses, and other build
ings. Some of its businesses are entirely legitimate, some are purely fronts. In any case, all these locations serve as potential safe houses or meeting places for members of the organization.
Under Menon, the family has begun to deal more and more in magic-related contraband, such as magic items with illegal spells (dominate person, animate dead, contagion), evil magic items, mind-controlled slaves, and demonic or undead slaves. He seems to have a fascination for black magic.
The Balacazars are very smart. They know that as long as they don’t do anything terribly overt — burn down a noble estate, kill dozens in broad daylight, murder a large number of City Watch guards, or commit a major crime easily traceable to the family itself, the Commissar will allow them to continue. Taking them on would be too difficult, and in the end fighting them would amount to a war in the city. So the Balacazars keep their businesses going subtly and quietly, earning hundreds of thousands in gold every year. This is the way it has worked for generations, and it’s the way the family feels it should continue. Now and then, challenges to this status quo arise to make trouble for the Balacazars.
The Balacazar family really has no allies, but it does have partners. The twin Lords Keper of the Vai do as Menon commands, and in exchange receive goods and information. Through them, the Balacazars can exert influence over the various chaos cults and even — to a degree — the Forsaken. And, of course, all these groups, plus the Fallen and most religions of evil gods, do business with the Balacazars to obtain various commodities: slaves/victims, poisons, drugs, evil magic items, and so on. The family also has friends in the Nobles’ Quarter, particularly among Houses Vladaam and Sadar, but also in House Rau. They even do extensive business with some of the darker members of the Inverted Pyramid and among the Pale Dogs of the Warrens.
As influential and long as their list of business partners may be, the Balacazars surely have more enemies than friends. No one hates the Balacazar family more than the Sisterhood of Silence. While the Sisters need not limit themselves to acting upon what can be proven in court and do not worry about evidence, they don’t confront the Balacazars directly; they do not believe it to be a fight they can win — at least, not yet.
Throughout his administration, the Commissar has done little to oppose the Balacazars. He views them as something of a necessary evil. Sure, he’d like to see Menon behind bars and all his criminal operations brought to an end, but the truth is, there will always be crime. The structure of the Balacazar family brings a sort of organization to the otherwise anarchic nature of the crime in the city. With the Balacazars behind it, criminal activity maintains an ordered, predictable pace. The Commissar knows that Balacazar doesn’t want a war with him, and so he makes sure that those under his command never stray past unacceptable bounds. It’s a way to maintain the status quo. And, truth be told, the Commissar is not entirely certain that if he went to war with the Balacazars, he could win.
The family’s greatest opponent is also its newest. The recent emergence of the Killraven Crime League onto the organized crime scene has hit Ptolus’ underworld elements like a firestorm. Suddenly, the Balacazar family has competition. Today the city exists in the midst of a gang war between these two organizations: The bloody aftermath of the secret, nighttime battles can be seen in back alleyways the following mornings.