Saturday, July 20, 2013

D&D Humanoids as Gangs from The Warriors (1979)

I watched a couple of scenes from that hoary old classic The Warriors today, and the way gangs acted and interacted inspired a lot of insights about how demihumans might act in a scenario like The Caves of Chaos.

1) Truces are made and broken. The New York of The Warriors is a disputed landscape where a semblance of peace is kept only by truces among gangs, but straying into alien territory without permission will still get you roughed up or killed. Also, when a leader dies and a power vacuum is created, all bets are off until authority is restored. Adventuring parties in populated dungeons should find a map of relations and territories just as useful as a map of the dungeon itself.

2) Leaders should stand out. Many of the gangs from The Warriors exhibit leaders who stand out from their group. The leader of the Boyle Avenue Runners sports a decorated vest; Gramercy Riff chiefs and subchiefs wear silken robes to differentiate themselves from the rough judogis worn by the initiates; and the head of the Rogues is armed with a gun while his henchmen sport melee weapons. Let your leaders stand out, give them facepaints and headdresses, but as these will draw fire, also let them have superior weapons and armor, or even some magic to compensate for wearing a bull’s-eye.

3) Each group has a way of collecting information. When searching for the Warriors, other gangs listen to the radio station on boomboxes carried with them, and some members serve as runners or messengers in case of emergency. Having Quicklings or Brownies serve as dungeon runners, and groups carrying Scrying crystals or Orbs tuned into one dungeon channel would be a cool way to make sure demihumans work together to prepare against invaders to their realm.

4) Gangs are self-serving, untrustworthy, manipulative, and divided by schisms. The leader of the Rogues kills Cyrus and frames the Warriors basically for kicks; the Warriors are rocked by Fox’s challenge of Snow’s authority; the Lizzies lure the Warriors with a promise of sanctuary then try to capture and kill them. Group motivations should always be inscrutable to outsiders. Choose a motivation for the group but include deception and false friendliness as ways they use to achieve their goals.

5) Gangs have different sizes and fit into different niches. The Riffs are the largest gang and so their leader, Cyrus, also speaks for all the other gangs. The much smaller Warriors are stuck out on Coney Island, while the Jones Street Boys and Saracens constantly fight over Bensonhurst. The Riffs do martial arts, while Satans Mothers are a motorcycle gang. Having kobolds and gnomes fight it out on the margins as spies while gnolls and ogres dominate the center as bodyguards or enforcers would add to both the depth and attraction of a dungeon.



  1. Great ideas in this post! It sounds like these are intended for a specific dungeon environment, do you have ideas for how to apply them to a larger setting?


    1. I think I was reading B2 when I hit on this. Would work for The Lost City as well, but basically any adventure with factions.