There’s plenty of secret societies in the Hollow Earth Expedition and Secrets of the Surface World books. We just introduced the Terra Arcanum and Thule Society into our current campaign, and we’ve used the Green Gang in Shanghai before, and of course, the Ahnenerbe… One of the groups our intrepid explorers has crossed paths with is a Jewish Relief Society in Istanbul that is working s an underground railroad to get Jews out of the Ukraine. So here we go…
The Bosphorus Hebrew Relief Agency
This “secret society” is hardly that — registered in 1925 with the Turkish government, the BHRA has been instrumental in aiding many Ukrainian Jews escape from the Soviet Union since the post-war pogroms began. More recently, they have been bringing in many of the German scientists and entertainers currently settled in Istanbul.
The head of the BHRA is Rabbi Chaim Riger, a charming, middle-aged man from Odessa, who fled his country in 1922. He is the public face of the legitimate organization aiding jews throughout the Soviet Union and Europe.
The BHRA, due to their work, is tied tightly to organized crime, and specifically the Rabinowitz Group — led by Cantor Werner Rabinowitz, late of Warsaw. His arrival in 1930 saw the disparate Jewish gangs in Istanbul pulled together to help fund the BHRA and other Jewish groups. While the cantor is not involved in day-to-day criminal enterprises, he is the undisputed “boss”, making sure a cut of the various illicit activities goes to the various aid groups. His brother, Pavel, is his right hand, and is known for his “object lessons” doled out to those that would operate outside the Rabinowitz Group’s direction.
Mostly, the group is involved in smuggling — people out of Europe and the USSR, guns, opium and hashish into Europe through Greece (Turkey is not a signatory to the International Opium Convention), as well as gambling and prostitution, and the protection thereof. They are known for delivering swift and violent retribution on Turkish and Greek gangs that cross them, and they have a tight relationship with Armenian gangs.
Sample character: Nathan Baum
Nathan is one of the Rabinowitz go-to toughs. Born in the Crimea in 1910, his teen years were shaped by the violence and hardships of the post-revolutionary Ukraine. He is a strange man, highly loyal and sympathetic, yet willing to commit grave acts of violence. He has been known to cry over people he has had to kill, and even paid for burials and the support of widows. He drives a 1930 Mercedes Manheim 370 saloon, and his favored weapon is the Luger P08 9mm. I described him as a sort of Daniel Craig-esque fellow.
Archetype: Criminal Motivation: Survival Style: 3 Health: 8
Body: 3 Dexterity: 2 Strength: 3 Charisma: 2 Intelligence: 2 Will: 4
Size: 0 Move: 5 Perception: 6 Initiative: 4 Defense: 5 Stun: 4
Skills: Athletics 2/5, Brawl 2/5, Bureaucracy 2/4, Con 2/4, Drive 2/4, Firearms 2/4, Intimidation 2/4, Linguistics 3/5, Melee 2/5, Stealth 2/4, Survival 2/4
Talents: Iron Jaw
Resources: Artifact 1: Mercedes 6-seater saloon, Rank 2: Rabinowitz Group (+2 social bonus and Artifact resource)
Flaws: Loyal, Vow
Weapon: Luger P08 — Dam: 3L Attack Rating: 7L Cap: 7 Rng: 50′ Rate: M/A Spd: A(this is one of the few artilery select-fire versions that uses a wooden shoulder stock to activate automatic fire. If he knows he’s going into real trouble, he has a 32 round drum for the pistol.)