Mafia, Image I (Shadowrun Sourcebook, Vice)
Mafia, Map (customized map from Shadowhelix)

Mafia (operations of the the 3 regional Commissiones)

The Mafia is a criminal underworld which originated in Italy.


The Mafia was born approximately 2 centuries ago, on the Mediterranean island of Sicily. In the 18th and 19th centuries a wave of Italian immigration to the New World, gave rise to Italian gangs in America which fought against other ethnic gangs. Eventually the Italian gangs joined forces and formed La Cosa Nostra in the early 20th century, creating what would come to be known as the National Syndicate. It's wealth and power exploded during the Prohibition. and after Prohibition ended the Mafia kept its network and would go on to dominate the underworld in the United States, eclipsing other contemporary ethnic mobs (primarily Irish and Jewish).

The most powerful gangster in America, Lucky Luciano formed the American Commissione which was modeled on the Sicilian Mafia's Cupola. It included not only the Italian-American families but the powerful non-Italian ethnic syndicates too. Immigration to Australia by Italians and Americans after World War 2, spread the Mafia to that continent. Eventually new anti-organized crime laws and the emergence of vicious new syndicates like the Mexican Mafia and other national prison gangs weakened its power, and led to the entry of foreign mobs like the Vory and Yakuza.

Back in the European Union, Italian organized crime remained pretty much dominant for decades or centuries, and spread beyond Italy. They diversified into white collar crime and narcotics, leaving behind most of the street level crime to local outfits and gangs. The Crash of 29 crippled their higher-level criminal operations, forcing them to return to the streets and rebuild. The chaos of the EuroWars and its aftermath, the Russian mafia advanced on the Italian syndicates everywhere. They had already been major players in Europe since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the EuroWars provided them with new opportunities which they exploited ruthlessly.

The establishment in 2046 of the Alta Commissione was the turning point for the Mafia's history. Now united, the European Mafia regained a lot of its former power if not the territory which was taken by the Vory. Back in America, the mob wars had resulted in the replacement of the old dons by outfits that were newer and more modern. The Mafia in Australia was finally united in 2067 in the Melbourne Commissione, with the backing and influence of the European and American Commissiones.[1]

Mafia's Hierarchy from Shadowrun Sourcebook, Vice

Organization Edit

In the Mafia, there is great variety in how the syndicates or families are organized. Especially in Europe, where the various Italian organized crime organizations have widely different organizational structures and traditions. In North America, the Mafia is organized along the lines of the Sicilian Mafia. They are divided into families, who are ruled by Dons. These families are organized into regions (based on geographical areas around major cities), with each region ruled by a Capo (fem., Capa). The Capo leaders as a whole are called the Commissione. In theory the Commissione reports to the Inner Circle, which consists of the 12 most powerful Dons and Capos, who in turn report to the Capo di Tutti Capi, the Big Boss.[2] Europe later followed suit with its own Commissione (the Alta Commissione) and the mafia in Australia was the last to establish a Commissione (the Melbourne Commissione)



Many of the families are traditionalists and the most bigoted among the Mafia, refuse to hire metahumans as anything except disposable muscle.[3] Some families are prejudiced against certain types of metahumans.[4]

Among the newer families, some of them are progressive with metahumans in all levels of the organization, but they are in the minority.[3] When it comes to metahumans, generally speaking they prefer to keep them as "associates" rather than initiate them into the family.[5] The racism toward metahumans results in the anti-metahuman Humanis Policlub receiving financial support from various Mafia dons.[6]

A fact that the Triads have been able to take advantage of as they are both more accepting of metahumans (actively recruiting them) and more willing to promote them (including to the highest and most powerful positions). The Triads go as far as to purposely recruit metahumans who are disaffected because of the lack of opportunities with the Mafia.[7][8]


Generally speaking, Mafia families don't trust magic.[9] When it comes to mages and shamans, most families prefer to keep them as "associates" rather than initiate them into the family.[10] Because of this anti-Awakened bias, there are Mafia dons that contribute financially to the Humanis Policlub.[11]

Among the few progressive families, magicians are accepted and can be found in the upper tiers of those families.[3] Even among the "progressive" families there is a distrust of magic among the rank and file, and more so among the elder wiseguys as some progressive dons have discovered.[9]

This puts the Mafia at a disadvantage against the Triads and Zobop the voudon crime syndicate. In the case of the Triads, they were the first major crime syndicate to accept and use magic. Triads attract the Awakened (both magic users and adepts) at higher rates than other crime syndicates and they are favored within the Triads, being promoted more often and faster. Usually the Shan Chu (Dragonhead or Lodgemaster) of a Triad is an Awakened. Reinforcing this advantage over the Mafia is their dominance over the talislegging market.[12][13][14][15]



The Mafia soldiers (soldati) are known for using implants and cyber augmentation, a lot of cyberware. The average soldato uses as much cyberware as the average Yakuza soldier (kobun) or the average Triad soldier (sze kau).[16] It's in the quality of the cyberware where they end up at a disadvantage. The Mafia has access to secondhand cyberware, unlike the Yakuza and Triads who get their cyberware brand-new straight from the corporations due to their corporate connections.[17][18]


The Mafia is not known for having a strong internal Matrix ability, usually relying on decker/hacker gangs. Which has put them at a disadvantage with the Vory and the tech-savvy Triads. The Vory have gone into Matrix crime in a big way, beyond what most of the other crime syndicates have done.[19] In turn the Triads have become a power in the Matrix, having whole decker and Matrix crews within the Triads. Not to mention being the first to recruit the technomancers and in a massive way.[20][21]

Mafia SoldiersEdit

The Mafia soldati are tough and ruthless, and most of them stay loyal to the Mafia. Unfortunately the Mafia like nearly all other crime syndicates has to deal with informants in its ranks and infiltrators. They also have to deal with members who may hesitate to take certain actions for the family.[22] Which puts it at a disadvantage with Zobop, the Vory, the David Cartel, and the Triads.

The soldiers of Zobop truly fear for their souls if they betray the syndicate.[23] The Vory and Aztlaner (Mexican) syndicates are among the most brutal in the world, and the Triads are possibly the most ruthless of them all and among the most savage.[24][25][26] Former soldiers of the Russian army have swelled the ranks of the Vory and continue to join the syndicates.[27] In turn the soldiers of the Triads receive training in both martial arts and weapons, are fanatically loyal to their Triad, are willing to execute any command given without question, and their silence and loyalty is nearly guaranteed by the use of lethal magical oath rituals.[28][29]


When it comes to the Mafia, their "Johnsons" don't have major issues with shadowrunners. They prefer to meet in public places they control (often restaurants or clubs), and will either pay the shadowrunners or kill them.[30]

Mafia SetbacksEdit

Of the major criminal organizations, the Mafia is the one that has been most negatively impacted. The Japanese Yakuza, Chinese Triads, Russian Vory, and Latino Drug Cartels (David Cartel and the Ghost Cartels) have for the most part been able to keep foreign syndicates out of their home countries and maintained a near monopoly over the local underworld. The Mafia in turn has lost a lot of territory and still has to contend with numerous foreign syndicates in its cities, in both Europe and in North America (UCAS and CalFree). Not to mention the rise of local ethnic syndicates which have replaced the Mafia in their new sovereign nations (Comanche Mafia, Lakota Mafia, and the Koshari).

The one that was impacted the worst were the Europeans who lost most of eastern and northern Europe to the Russians. What is now the "European Mafia" is to varying degrees under siege as it faces pressure from practically every direction. In the north the Russian Vory in France and central Europe battle the Mafia. Down south in the Iberian peninsula, the Netherlands, and along the western Mediterranean coastline they are in conflict with the Muslim syndicates (Arabs and Albanians). Internally they face the rebellious Baptista Family which has erupted into a long civil war. Not to mention that the American, European, and Australian Mafias have to contend with a dizzying array of street gangs and go-gangs (or biker gangs), which range from being nuisances to challenges at the street level, unlike the Yakuza, Triads, Cartels, and Vory who for the most part don't have to deal with such a problem in Japan, China, Russia, or the Andean nations.

In turn the Mafia has made few inroads into the territory of other crime syndicates. It has no strongholds in South America. They had a foothold in Tenochtitlan, the capital city of Aztlan but the David Cartel recently wiped out all foreign syndicate operations in their country.[31][32] In China, the only Mafia outpost is in the city of Macao and it does not challenge the Triads.[33] Not one Mafia family has a foothold in either Russia or in Japan, unlike the Triads who established a stronghold in Russia and are now expanding across Russia.[34][35] Not to mention Japan where the Triads have spread throughout Japan and both the Triads and the Russians have strongholds in Neo-Tokyo.[36][37][38]

The Mafia AlliancesEdit

The CommissioneEdit

Each of the three major Mafia alliances have thier own "Commissione" which controls and mediates relations within each area.  There may be some confusion among readers of various in-universe sources using the word Commissione, as well as thier respective founding dates.

  • The American Mafia has the original "Commissione" or alternatively spelled "Commission".  It was founded by Charles "Lucky" Luciano in 1931 in the Fifth World. It has authority over mafia organizations in the UCAS, the California Free State, the Republic of Quebec, the CAS, the NAN, and the Caribbean League.
  • The European Mafia has the second "Alta Commissione", formed in 2046.  It is in control of the Italian, French, Spanish, and Turkish Mafia.  It does not control the British, Austrian, Dutch, Serbian, Polish, or Dutch mobs.
  • The Australian Mafia has the third Commission, called the "Melbourne Commissione", and was founded in 2067.

Reason for the SetbacksEdit

The reason for the Mafia slowly but steadily losing territory in both Europe and North America are many. For starters it faces crime syndicates which have powerful advantages over the Mafia when it comes to their organizations;

  • Yakuza: has the edge in cyberware,[39] it's a more tech-savvy group,[40] has soldiers who are more disciplined and loyal,[41] is backed by Japan's megacorporations,[42] and in San Francisco they were for a time backed by the Imperial Japanese Marines.[43]
  • Triads: has the edge in magic,[44] the edge in cyberware,[45][46] is a more tech-savvy group,[47] has greater manpower,[48] better trained soldiers,[49] they're more ruthless and brutal,[50] harder to infiltrate,[51] with more loyal soldiers,[52] possess superior firepower,[53][54][55][56] offer metahumans greater opportunity,[57][58][59] and have the guidance of the great dragon Lung.
  • David Cartel: has the edge in magic, the edge in cyberware, possesses superior firepower, it's more ruthless and brutal, with more loyal soldiers, better trained soldiers, and offers metahumans greater opportunity (all advantages which come from it being basically part of Aztechnology).
  • Vory: have better trained soldiers,[60] are more ruthless and brutal,[61] and have superior firepower.[62][63]
  • Zobop: has the edge in magic,[64] and more loyal soldiers.[65]
  • Seoulpa Rings: they are more ruthless and brutal,[66][67] and offer metahumans greater opportunity.[68]
  • Ghost Cartels: have superior firepower,[69] the edge in magic,[70] the edge in cyberware,[71] and offer metahumans greater opportunity.[72][73]
  • Mexican Mafia: it's more ruthless and brutal,[74] and as a prison gang it's stronghold is in prison.[75]
  • Jamaican Posses: they're more ruthless and brutal.[76]
  • Koshari: has the edge in magic.
  • Lakota Mafia: has the edge in magic and the backing of the Sioux military.

On top of that from a business standpoint, they are disadvantaged in the two most important rackets a criminal organization can be involved in the Sixth World (one an old standby which is the largest and traditionally most critical, and the other one new but vitally important in the Sixth World);

  • Matrix crime where it's not the Mafia which is a major power but its the international foreign syndicates, the Matrix syndicates, and it's domestic rivals who are (e.g. the Vory, Triads, and Seoulpa Rings).[77][78][79]
  • Smuggling of everything from drugs to custom duty-free goods, where its the international foreign syndicates and pirates which dominate the smuggling rackets: Triads, David Cartel, Ghost Cartels, Kabul Maffiya, the Grey Wolves, the Fanti Syndicates, and the Kussundulola Ghost Cartel


In reality, the Mafia has been in decline since the 1970s and is on its last legs today in the United States. It's only in Europe where the Italians continue to be a major player, one of the two dominant organized crime networks (the other one being the Russians) and one of its major drug traffickers (especially the Calabrian N'drangheta).[1][2] In the United States, the Mafia has only one stronghold left in which it is still at the top of the pyramid, New York City. It has a few outposts elsewhere in the Midwest and the Northeast (Boston, Detroit, Buffalo, and the suburbs of Chicago). A far cry from the two dozen families of the 1970s and its nationwide reach.

The decline began with the rise of the Latino and Black syndicates in the big cities in the 1970s along with the growing drug trade under the control of the Colombians and Chinese. By the 1990s, the Mexican drug cartels began to slowly displace the Italians at the top and in the mid-levels it was the Chicano prison gangs, white biker gangs, and various ethnic groups (Dominican, Jamaican, Chinese, Russian, etc).[3][4][5] As shown in the fictionalized Hollywood stories of American Me (Chicanos), Scarface (Cubans), American Gangster (blacks), New Jack City (blacks), and Year of the Dragon (Chinese).

Today, the Mexican drug cartels command the heights of the American underworld and have done so since the start of the century.[6][7] The Chicano prison gangs dominate organized crime in California and the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, & Nevada), as well as their prison systems.[8][9][10][11] Latino and black street gangs dominate the streets of every major city, and occasionally it might be a Southeast Asian street gang (e.g. Tiny Rascal Gang) or in the poor rural white areas a white street gang (e.g. Simon City Royals).[12][13]. Mostly white biker gangs dominate parts of the South, the Rockies, the Great Plains, and the Midwest.[14][15][16] Depending on the city there might be a Russian, Chinese, Dominican, Vietnamese, Jamaican, Nigerian, or Cuban syndicate but rare is the Italian syndicate and even rarer is the Irish, Jewish, Polish, or Greek crime family (who traditionally have been aligned with the Italians).


  1. o33031982Vice p.26
  2. o33031982Vice p.36-40
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.31
  4. o33031982Vice p.41
  5. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.31
  6. o42265136Loose Alliances p.33
  7. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.57
  8. o33031982Vice p.68
  9. 9.0 9.1 o94379615Target: Smuggler Havens p.20
  10. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.31
  11. o42265136Loose Alliances p.33
  12. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.53
  13. o33031982Vice p.68
  14. o59345449Street Magic p.76
  15. o35238545Shadowrun Fifth Edition Core Rulebook p.34
  16. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.58
  17. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.58
  18. o35506625Chrome Flesh p.38
  19. o33031982Vice p.79
  20. o54409473Montreal 2074 p.13
  21. o33187922Emergence p.46
  22. o33031982Vice p.30
  23. o33031982Vice p.113
  24. o33031982Vice p.76-77
  25. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.73
  26. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.170
  27. o33031982Vice p.73
  28. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.55
  29. o39478620Runner Havens p.25
  30. o02196230Run Faster p.208
  31. o53561113Aztlan p.166
  32. o33031982Vice p.86
  33. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.27
  34. o94379615Target: Smuggler Havens p.52
  35. o34954845Sixth World Almanac p.151
  36. o33031982Vice p.86
  37. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.82
  38. o07914318Corporate Enclaves p.103
  39. o35506625Chrome Flesh p.38
  40. o61900501Ghost Cartels p.53
  41. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.42-43
  42. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.50
  43. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.51
  44. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.53
  45. o35506625Chrome Flesh p.38
  46. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.58
  47. {{src eme}} p.46
  48. o33031982Vice p.66
  49. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.55
  50. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.170
  51. o39478620Runner Havens p.25
  52. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.55
  53. o33031982Vice p.73
  54. o9865633210 Mercs p.6-9
  55. o01399750Battle of Manhattan p.36-40
  56. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.56
  57. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.57
  58. o33031982Vice p.68
  59. o39478620Runner Havens p.46
  60. o33031982Vice p.76-77
  61. o33031982Vice p.76-77
  62. o33031982Vice p.76-77
  63. o33031982Vice p.79-80
  64. o33031982Vice p.68
  65. o33031982Vice p.113
  66. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.63
  67. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.63
  68. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.66
  69. o33031982Vice p.88-89
  70. o33031982Vice p.90
  71. o33031982Vice p.90
  72. o33031982Vice p.86
  73. o61900501Ghost Cartels p.88
  74. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.73
  75. o33031982Vice p.26
  76. Shadows of Latin America p.62
  77. o33031982Vice p.79
  78. o54409473Montreal 2074 p.13
  79. o33187922Emergence p.46


External LinksEdit