Friday, 1 April 2011

The Red Hand

The Red Hand is an organisation that is part criminal organisation, part cult of Chaos. The Red Hand is very secretive and subtle, and many members are only aware of its criminal activities, not the Chaos worship aspect. Members of the Red Hand are often members of gangs, thieves, hired thugs, pirates and mercenaries who find the Red Hand to be a convenient network to be part of - the leadership takes a modest slice of the takings, and in return provides the lower-ranking members with good information and contacts, including fences. The leaders are quite adamant about two things - firstly any member must be absolutely silent about both his own membership of the Red Hand and any knowledge of other members of the Red Hand, especially when dealing with investigators and those in authority. Secondly, the leadership will sometimes ask "favours" from its members that are related to long-term goals. Those who are asked may not understand why they are doing something, but it is widely recognised within the Red Hand that those who do not comply will fall out of favour with the leaders of the Red Hand, and that may well be fatal. Those who carry out the favours well will be rewarded and, if the leaders think it appropriate, a little more of the nature of the Red Hand may be revealed.

The Red Hand generally works on a cell structure, small clusters of Red Hand members, usually in the same bandit gang, same thieves guild or same pirate ship. If they are captured or investigated, there should be nothing to lead the enemy further up the hierarchy.

Some members of the Red Hand actually stay away from obvious criminal activities and appear to be law-abiding citizens - these are the hardest to detect, and when they reveal their true loyalties, it can be shocking. These are among the Red Hand's most valuable operatives, and they do not blow their cover lightly, certainly not to help out a single cell such as a street gang that has been caught by the town watch.

The long-term goals of the Red Hand are difficult to ascertain, but foremost among them is further infiltration of society by the Red Hand's operatives, as well as bringing more criminal muscle under its control. Its ultimate goal would be the complete subversion of society to Chaos-worship, under the direction of the Red Hand's leaders. 

The exact nature of the Red Hand's religious views is well-concealed, and this rules out some of the more violent and impulsive gods of Chaos (Bhael, Slargor and Skreech are not known for their subtlety). Some members of the Red Hand talk about worshipping Chaos in general rather than any one deity, but others are clearly followers of Pelepton, Chaos God of greed, ambition and treachery or Hernas, goddess of decadence and pleasure. 

The Red Hand has a presence in Teiglin, including cells in almost every major baronial town. There are other agents and allies scattered among the smaller villages, in the countryside and also in the borderlands. The Red Hand normally avoids direct conflict except when victory is certain - the borderlands and areas dominated by other forces of Chaos are considered not the best place for the subtle and devious members. Humanoid tribes may be affiliated with the Red Hand if agents can negotiate with them, and certain hobgoblin tribes in and around Brasstooth have fought against the forces of Teiglin when the Red Hand has bribed them enough.

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