Triad (simplified Chinese: 三合会; traditional Chinese: 三合會; pinyin: Sānhéhuì; literally “Triad Society”) is a term used to describe many branches of Chinese criminal organizations. Their history extends back to earlier Chinese secret societies, though their focus is devoted to the making of money today. They function much like Japanese Yakuza.

The earliest triads started as resistance/rebel forces who opposed rulership in China during the. The Heaven and Earth Society (天地會) was founded with its objective to overthrow the current Dynasty and restore Han Chinese rule in China. As the society’s influence spread throughout China, it branched into several smaller groups with different names, one of which was the Three Harmonies Society (三合會). These societies adopted the triangle as their emblem, usually accompanied by decorative images of swords or portraits of Guan Yu. While never proven, it is “highly probable” that triad organizations either took after or were originally part of the revolutionary movement called the White Lotus Society.

Since that time they have lost their primary goals, becoming havens for criminals. Triads currently engage in a variety of crimes from extortion and money laundering to trafficking and prostitution. They also are involved in smuggling and counterfeiting goods.

Triads use numeric codes to distinguish between ranks and positions within the gang; the numbers are inspired by Chinese numerology based on the I Ching. “489” refers to the “mountain” or “dragon” master, while 438 is used for the “deputy mountain master”. “426” refers to a “military commander”, also known as a “Red Pole”, overseeing defensive and offensive operations, while “49” denotes a “soldier” or rank-and-file member. The “white paper fan” (415) provides financial and business advice, and the “straw sandal” functions as a liaison between different units. “25” refers to an undercover law enforcement or spy from another triad, and has become popularly used in as a slang for “traitor”.

Triad members are most likely to use:

  • Thief, DF1: Adventurers pg 12
  • Innkeeper, DF10: Taverns pg 8
  • Big Guy, Action 3: Furious Fists pg 5
  • Fast Guy, Action 3: Furious Fists pg 6

Or built using a combination of the following templates:

  • Assassin, Martial Arts pg 32
  • Contender, Martial Arts pg 33
  • Spy, Martial Arts pg 39
  • Gladiator, Martial Arts: Gladiator pg 28
  • Lanista, Martial Arts: Gladiator pg 29
  • Venerator, Martial Arts: Gladiator pg 30
  • Bandit, Fantasy pg 118
  • Peasant Adventurer, Fantasy pg 124
  • Thief, Fantasy pg 126
  • Wardancer, Fantasy pg 128

Bosses may add Merchant (Fantasy pg 123), Instructor (Martial Arts pg 35), Sorcerer (Fantasy page 218, magic built as innate or psionic abilities), or even Village Sage (Fantasy pg 127).


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