Brothers in arms, partners in crime, from the lowly hangers-on through the ranks of the soldiers up to the bosses, the street gangs of Birmingham 2099 are pervasive across all areas of the slums. It pays to be on good terms with them on their turf.
Here you can see a sample of some of the major street gangs in the slums of the city.
The Rivets street gang are aggressive, violent and competitive. They fight their way up the ranks by being the toughest and meanest members of the gang, with "friendly" fights among gang members a common occurrence as they constantly test each others' abilities. This results in weaklings being quickly weeded out of the gang, and to be accepted as a true gang member they must be blooded killing an enemy.
Once they are blooded, they get their first metal. Rivets are named after the rivets they have installed in their bodies, often shown prominently on their foreheads. The more metal a Rivet has showing on their face, the higher up the gang hierarchy they have fought.
Though in constant struggle against each other, and with injuries commonplace among "friendly" fights, the Rivets are fiercely protective of one another against outsiders. If you're faced with two Rivets fighting, the quickest way to turn them both against you is to pick a side.
The Rivets are heavily involved in protection rackets, arms dealing and theft as ways of gaining power and wealth for the gang.
Anyone who can hack it is welcome to join the Rivets.
Skullplate, a Rivets lieutenant, on their rivals:
Mongrels - "The Mongrels are filthy bloody cowards! They're too weak to ever take us on in a real fight! If you ever see a Mongrel standing in the open, you better check the shadows for his five mates!"
Sharp Enders - "I got some respect for these guys, there's a lot of hard squaddies in their numbers. But they need to mind their own business and stop sticking their noses in."
The Mongrels are an evasive, stealthy gang with strong ties to the street and homeless population. They have spotters all across their turf, either full gang members or unhoused people who support the gang. They will typically flee from any direct conflict, but their assailant will be lucky to escape gang turf alive as they will not get far before being targeted by ambushes or traps.
There are no official gang colours, but the gang members wear what they need to for urban stealth. They can be seen in dark colours, face masks and hoods - which means they can blend in easily to any crowd. Instead they identify each other with hand signals.
Though the Mongrels do run protection rackets, their strong ties to the slums unfortunates and serious efforts to protect innocents in their turf results in the people under their protection being more receptive to the mandatory payments. They are also heavily involved in the drug trade.
A large number of homeless people, abandoned orphans and victims of crimes come to join the Mongrels for the safety of a group. But the gang will accept anyone.
Hyena, a Mongrels lieutenant, on their rivals:
Rivets - "A bunch of thugs. Let them think they're bigger and tougher than us and punch themselves out fighting shadows. When we need to, we'll move them aside."
Sharp Enders - "Their heavy-handed vigilantism stinks of being more interested in being recognised than actually making a difference. Their iffy recruitment practices say a lot more about them."
The Sharp Enders, based in the titular Sharp End of Birmingham, are arguably a band of vigilantes rather than a gang. They have a strong brotherhood, with more than half of their number having served in the military or police and disillusioned with the government they were protecting. Now they try to protect the people more directly, helping the defenseless of the slums wherever they can rather than trusting the government to decide who gets protection.
Though based in one area of the city, the gang are highly mobile with a lot of bikes, trucks and SUVs. They typically avoid the areas fully controlled by the major gangs - unless they're doing it as part of a planned operation.
The Sharp Enders subsist on payment from slums residents who (voluntarily) pay for extra protection, and dealing in the goods that they confiscate from gangs and other criminals that they are at odds against.
The Sharp Enders do allow women amongst their number, but they are only permitted to take part in reserve and support roles. This tradition dates back many years and is rooted in the military background of the founding members.
Simon, a Sharp Ender lieutenant, on their rivals:
Rivets - "Bloody barmy idiots. More trouble than they're worth most of the time, if they're in a mood for a scrap you can just wait for them to get bored and start fighting among themselves."
Mongrels - "Yeah, keep telling yourself that you're protecting the people and helping the homeless. The moment anyone holds back on 'donations', they'll change their tune."