The LCN Bible: An In Depth Cosa Nostra RP Guide
Written by: Chef
Formatted by: Caporegime
First let me begin by bringing in the basics, what is La Cosa Nostra? La Cosa Nostra (LCN) is an Italian term that means “our thing”. When Italians immigrated into America in the late 19th century they brought with them their heritage and ways. Organized crime had long been a part of Italian history so it was only natural that it as well would follow with them. When the groups starting popping up in America their members referred to it as Cosa Nostra which the press and law enforcement then borrowed to refer to the phenomenon.
The American mafia has been seen all over the world, being most active an infamous in places on the East Coast such as New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia – but as well in places like Chicago, Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New England and more. They’ve also been notorious in parts of Canada, more specifically the Rizzuto crime family of Montreal. New York is often the first place people see when they hear the term mafia, which is understandable as they’ve had the most influence and power when it comes to the mob. New York’s home to five different crime families known as the Gambino crime family, the Genovese crime family, the Lucchese crime family, the Bonanno crime family and the Colombo crime family. These families along with a few others make up the Commission, which is a panel of all the families bosses who meet together to discuss the control of organized crime within the United States (although the Commission’s last known meeting with full attendance by all families was in the 80s). The American mafia has had a long history that is still running today, though on a much smaller scale than in the past. Its membership is majorly Italian-American while having associates of a variety of different nationalities.
The next step to understanding LCN is the ranking structure. The structure of the American mafia is similar to its Sicilian origins. It works on a strict hierarchical structure which allows for its secrecy and successful flow. All members within the crime family are known as “made men”, given the exception of associates who are not officially part of the family. The term made man signifies that you are officially inducted into the family and are now untouchable in the criminal underworld, meaning if anyone causes you harm they will be met with some type of repercussion which in many cases can mean death.
The highest positions within a crime family are the boss, underboss and consigliere which make up what is known as the “administration”.
Boss – The boss is of course the highest rank which you can hold within a crime family, and usually a rank treated with great honor and respect. He receives a cut of all operations which his family takes part in and ultimately controls the entire organization, sometimes as a dictator. Depending on the boss, they will decide to either without all received assets to themselves (known as “eating alone”) or pass a cut to other members of the administration. The boss spends a majority of his time settling disputes and keeping the family in line. In most cases the boss obtains his position by the voting of his captains or “caporegimes”, but there have been other scenarios where the rank is taken by the use of force such as John Gotti of the Gambino family. Another thing I should add here is that contrary to popular belief, a boss cannot lay his hands on another made member. He may punish them or arrange the death of one if necessary and warranted, but he can’t slap around his own soldiers, captains, etc.
Underboss – The underboss is the second highest rank within the organization, and is usually a middle man between the captains of the family and the boss. He is responsible for settling disputes or carrying concerns up the ladder to the boss, which depending on the severity; he may or may not be responsible for settling himself. Usually he is chosen by the boss – but in some cases the decision is more political.
Consigliere – The consigliere is an advisor to the boss. He is the only one that is allowed to question a boss’s decision and generally holds great influence over the family. Usually a consigliere is an aged, respected member who holds no bias or corruption. Although he can question the boss he must ultimately respect the decisions made by him as everyone else in the family.
Below the administration are a number of men known as caporegimes, though in modern day they are referred to as captains. Captains are a position between the leadership and membership that are much similar to a manager, for example, in a business.
Caporegimes –Depending on the size of the family, the boss will appoint a number of capos, modernly referred to as captains, who hold leadership over a crew of soldiers (made men) and associates who answer to him known as a faction or crew. A captain reports to the underboss or boss and is responsible for handing up a percentage of his and his crew’s earnings. If his crew produces a large amount of money then the captain is usually in a safe and respected position.
Under the caporegimes you have the workers and earners of a family known as soldiers and associates. They are the ones who usually commit the crimes on the streets to earn money which they then kick a proportion of up to their captain.
Soldiers – A soldier (better known as a made man, wise guy, good fella or button man) is the lowest ranking official member of the crime family. Regardless of this they hold great influence and are usually well respected and well treated men. Traditionally in order to receive full membership (becoming made) you had to be of full Italian background. Today, this is no longer true. Although you must be at least half Italian on your father’s side – hence having an Italian surname. They are untouchable within the criminal underworld meaning no other man can touch them and to be murdered permission of the family’s boss must be gained. Being a soldier means you’re responsible for most of the family’s illegal activities and earnings. As a soldier you should be taking guys under your wing and teaching them the ins and outs, the dos and don’ts of Cosa Nostra. This means dropping them hints, or maybe even whispering into their ears things like “Show this guy respect, he’s straightened out.” If you don’t teach them, they won’t learn and they’ll become a future problem. A soldier, as long as they’re generating the minimum income, keeping in line and following orders, are safe within the family.
Associates – Associates (affiliated members or connected guys) are not official members of the crime family, they are workers. They come in all different sizes, nationalities, ages, religions and more. They can be responsible for a variety of things, some being errand boys such as drivers or some carrying out tasks similar to a soldier like running rackets or carrying out murders. They can also be anyone the family does business with such as union leaders or business owners. Their purpose is to earn for the family and to show their respect while doing so. They are not protected from the outside like soldiers are and have to work hard to earn the approval and respect of those above them. They are not allowed to disrespect or touch made members of a family. Associates who prove their worth are eligible to be “vouched for” by a made member, which means when the books open (when the boss is accepting new membership) they can be in line to become an officially inducted made man of the family.
All of these ranks make up the ranking structure of a crime family. It is organized this way to give insulation to the hierarchy and allow them to be protected from law enforcement. A majority of the time you will not see the boss passing orders directly to a soldier to carry out. He will speak to another member of administration who will then pass the orders down the chain of command. This way if the low leveled guys are caught or investigated, it will not harm the leadership of the family due to plausible deniability.
Your first step into aspiring to become a member of organized crime is making your character. Generally this will mean creating an Italian-American. This is because Italians in North America are usually third and fourth generation, meaning their roots to Italy date back to their great grandfather’s days. You’re rarely going to find any off the boat Sicilians or “Zips” in American mafia, especially on the west coast. That’s why your character should be born somewhere within America, aged somewhere in their mid twenties to early thirties, with an American name, influenced by the Roman Catholic Religion, such as Thomas, Frederick, Samuel, Jonathan, Joseph, Peter, Paul, etc.
It’s important to note when making an Italian-American that their first name is something usually influenced by the Catholic religion. Ever wonder why there are a billions of Italians with the first name Michael, Peter or Paul? Well there’s the reason. Use discretion and realism when creating your character. Also if you have no desire to make it past the rank of associate, you can always create a character of another nationality such as Jewish-American, Irish-American, etc. As long as you’re Caucasian and show potential you’ll have no problem joining as a non-Italian.
Now that you’ve got your character you’re able to start role playing and go onto the next step which is working your way into the American mafia. There’s -many- ways of doing this and a lot of different paths you can take. A realistic way of joining would be frequenting yourself around known are mobster hangouts within the neighborhoods (which of course will vary depending on the family) and getting your name out there as a felon. For example you or a group of friends start up a small earning scheme such as a B&E crew or something along those lines. You take initiative to begin earning money and show that you can get your hands dirty. Then maybe you try to approach someone who you believe is connected and offer to sell them some stolen goods at a discounted price. After that, the guy sees you’re legit and he might involve you in some of his tasks or pass your name up the food chain. As your name grows you get introduced to the made members and maybe even eventually come in contact with a captain and begin working under his crew as an associate. Showing respect and leadership are always important in making a name for yourself, but if you pick fights with the wrong people and act like a cowboy you’re on a sure-fire track to getting whacked. Be smart.
As an outsider don’t expect to get treated the way the made men do or expect to get fed role play. It’s up to you to prove your worth, not them. You’ll need to stay active and show your dedication while working your way in. At some points you may be out there on your own grinding to make money, only receiving a couple calls a week from other connected guys. The mob doesn’t want people outside knowing what it does. This is why building this trust is so crucial.
You can think of being an outsider as being in a trial period. You’re being watched by everyone, even though you may not know it, to see how you act and who you are. This is why it is important to give off a good first impression. Although you are free to role play and develop your character, the key to getting in the fastest and moving up is showing respect to everyone in the faction. This is an absolute must. It doesn’t matter if they’re another outsider or above that. You can do this by giving up your chair for them, asking them if they’d like anything to eat or drink, and more. Showing respect to everyone around you proves that you can present yourself on occasion and assures the family that you will not be an issue as far as “acting out of line” is concerned. Make sure you don’t openly present yourself, after someone has taken an interest in you let them introduce you to the others unless specifically told otherwise.
Once you’ve become an associate you’ll be made aware of requirements in your crew. You’ll be responsible for kicking up a certain amount of money on a weekly basis. This money comes from any illegal or legal schemes you participate in or organize. You represent the family on the streets which means you should be acting professional ICly and OOCly. Take some initiative at this point and read guides, books and watch documentaries to gain knowledge and ideas. If you’re creating RP for yourself and others, word will travel fast up the food chain and you’ll be making a good impression on the higher ups.
After you’ve been earning regularly, showing dedication and responsibility through following orders and completing tasks you may become suggested for full membership. This could take upwards of a few months to occur, but if you’re truly in the faction for the right reasons, this won’t be a bother to you. If this happens you will be called in front of all the made members of the family, including the hierarchy. An initiation ritual will take place and you’ll be asked to recite an oath. Afterwards you’re officially a part of the family. Congratulations, you’ve made it.
Being a Wise Guy 101: Acting the Role
An important part of being a mobster is secrecy. That is how the mafia operates and continues to exist. You should never talk business in front of those who are not connected to the family, and you should avoid talking over the phone. Wiretaps are a leading cause to the prosecution of mobsters. If they catch you talking about business over the phone, its evidence that can bring you and anyone else connected to the conversation down. Italian-Americans generally uphold Catholic morals such as disapproval for homosexuality, rape, harm for women and children and more. They keep their family life separated from their business and vice versa. They also don’t kill without reason, especially those that aren’t somehow connected with crime. A guy who’s alive is much more useful in some cases than one who is dead. Especially if you can make money off of him.
When talking business it should always be done face to face, typically in a public space where you’re undisturbed or in a building which you are upwardly confident has not been tampered with or “bugged” by law enforcement. Along with this, and a personal pet peeve of mine, not every Italian talks like your typical cugine from North Jersey, especially if you were born in San Andreas. It’s annoying to see every single person feel obligated to use a million apostrophes and make their character speak like:
“Ey Frankie, ho! Gabagool! How ya’ doin’ pal’? Come ova’ hea’ n’ gimme’ a hug.”
If you’re role playing someone from Brooklyn or someone that would have that sort of accent, at least role play having it disappear over your time in San Andreas. It doesn’t stick with you forever. A coded conversation is always important. Don’t be so obvious.
“Hey Paul did you murder that guy?” can easily be reworded to be more discreet such as,
“Hey Paul, did you take care of that thing, the one I mentioned at the park earlier?”
To which you could respond: “Yeah T, don’t worry about it. It’s been handled.”
Another thing you shouldn’t do is flaunt your cash. If a mobster makes himself look like a high roller, driving a fancy car and wearing tons of jewelry and the finest suits, he’ll appear more obvious. Soon enough law enforcement will investigate and see you have been flaunting and spending dirty money. Then you’ll end up behind bars. Wear casual attire and maybe one or two pieces of jewelry depending on your social status. Don’t run through the streets dressed up like John Gotti. Along with that you should have some type of legal entity. For example being a manager at a bakery so if you get investigated you look like an average human being. Having no job is a clear cut way of getting caught. How do you make all this money if you’re unemployed?
Mobsters don’t associate with law enforcement. They don’t give them information regarding the mob’s activities, they don’t give up fellow members or criminals of other organizations and they don’t answer to questions that could endanger another member. Doing this will ensure your death if anyone finds out, and you’ll be considered a rat or an informant. This doesn’t mean you shit talk cops 24/7 and treat them like garbage. Treat them as anyone else would. They’re there to do their job; you’re here to do yours. Also don’t evade from cops like a gang banger. You’re representing a crime family out on the streets. If you get caught, take the pinch like a man and keep your mouth shut. Ask for a lawyer and plead the fifth.
Performing a Hit
A hit is done for numerous reasons which you may or may not be made aware of ICly depending on who your character is and their reputation, rank, etc. If a captain or a made man tells you to take care of somebody, you do not question it. Of course if you think it’s unwarranted you can always vouch for the person to survive – but be careful. Vouching for someone can lead to your own demise if they continue to break rules. After you’ve been contracted, take one or two guys you trust and fill them in. You study the routine of who you have to kill and you appeal to them as a friend. You get their trust then you get rid of them discreetly whether it is in a vehicle, in the countryside, in a secluded garage, etc. Never do hits in the open unless instructed to do so and always dispose of waste and materials used during the hit. After that, you tell the person who ordered it that it’s been taken care of and you never speak of it again. Don’t run around with an AK strapped to your back to kill a guy either. Use a pistol, shotgun, or any type of melee weapon that will do the trick. Otherwise you’ll be getting a knock on the door from your local ATF agent, not to mention it’ll make your faction look unauthentic.
Rackets and Earning Schemes
The following is an excerpt from my Irish Mob RP guide. The same earning techniques apply in American mafia. These are only examples, mind you, and there’s plenty more ideas out there. Be creative.
Pornography - This one may sound very unappealing to some, especially on a role play server. As many of you probably know pornography is usually a form of media portraying sexual subject matter for the uses of personal pleasure or arousal. A porn racket is an operation that is usually done behind closed doors and out of the public’s eyes. I won’t go into enormous detail but the purpose is to film a pornographic film and distribute it. Similar to fencing, this could be done in the back room of a video store or a sex store.
Theft and fencing - In my mind, the theft and fencing racket is probably one of the most used methods of earning in criminal role play. I have seen it many times in the Irish Mob and in the crime families. The process of this is very easy, and is done by breaking into vehicles, houses, businesses, warehouses, storages, etc. and stealing whatever goods are in the vicinity. You then take the goods stolen and distribute them for a discounted price from what they would be sold for on the legal market. Some popular goods would be knives, liquor, tobacco products, clothing, jewelry, etc.
Extortion - Ah yes, extortion. Probably the biggest and most profitable rackets involved in any crime syndicate. Next to gambling, extortion was the largest breadwinner for the American mafia. The idea is very simple to understand. If a business or company opens up within a mob’s operating neighborhood, criminals convince them to pay a cut of their weekly profits in exchange for protection from competition and other criminals. This can either be done with or without violence. It is best you try without excessive force first before getting violent. Some “convincing” methods are threatening to burn down the business (arson), steal goods, or cause physical harm to the employees. If done properly and without flaws, extortion can earn you high profits.
Blackmailing - A rarely seen racket, though very powerful and profitable. Blackmail works very simple. You obtain evidence of a target doing something which could be considered morally wrong or illegal. This might be stealing goods, robbing someone, committing assault or murder, or even something such as catching someone cheating on their spouse. Using that evidence, you pressure the target into paying you money in order to keep it hidden. If the person refuses to pay you, you simply expose the evidence in bulk or expose it slowly to raise the pressure.
Car Theft - Another common racket which isn’t so hard to do, yet can be profitable if approached in a mature and educated manner. Start by teaching your character the process of hot wiring a car. It’s a skill that takes time to develop, but it will pay off. After you’ve established the tools of the trade, decide what you plan to do with the vehicles. Maybe you will pawn them off to other criminals or forge the documents in order to sell them legally. Another possibility is purchasing a garage and turning it into a chop shop.
Card games – Any easy racket to perform which requires you to gather a group of friends, connections or fellow family members to play a game of blackjack where bets are made with money. You can hold games with small pots or high roller games where you invite guests of higher social status in order to earn a bigger profit. Set up a motel room or a backroom where your guests can gather behind closed doors. Set up a minimum amount of money that all players must contribute, and then let the games begin. You pay those one win a certain percentage of the pot and you keep the rest for yourself and anyone else you involve in the scheme. You can also provide loans for anyone who gets hooked on your games, which then drives them further in the hole and makes them owe you more. Soon enough they’re giving you the deed to their car, their savings and more.
Loan sharking – A popular and well known method of earning that requires you to have some starting cash. Basically you find people looking to open a business, buy a car, buy a house or pay off their debts to another loan shark and give them a sum of money with the agreement that they will pay you back by a certain date plus interest (an added percentage of money on top of what they originally received). If they don’t pay, you begin to milk them of their tangible assets. Take their car, rough them up; make them give you ownership of the business. It’s highly lucrative but remember to be careful. If you kill someone they can no longer pay you back and then they are of no use to you beyond that point.