Hoard of the Dragon Queen
The Salamanders were a youth gang based in the Shou Quarter of Westgate. In their early days, the gang primarily operated on pickpocketing, petty theft, and non-violent odd jobs (legal or illegal). They tried to work most of their thefts in the more well-off neighborhoods surrounding the Shou Quarter. As the group grew and the members got older, the Salamanders also started working in burglary and smuggling.
The children and teenagers who formed the Salamanders did so from a drive to make a name and place for themselves in the world. They came from the orphanage and from poor families in the Shou Quarter slums of Westgate, and saw organized crime as a way to climb up from the meager existence that most of the people around them. Their dreams included a house, respect, and enough money to lead a comfortable existence – they didn’t dare dream higher – and they meant to achieve those dreams by any means necessary.
Notably, the group was also committed to their members’ education, since it was formed as a road to a better life. They set aside time as a group to study literacy, math (geared toward accounting), local history, and world events. Some of the members even learned Halfling from some halflings settled in the Shou Quarter.
Eventually, the Salamanders were noticed by and integrated into the larger yakuza organization, The Nine Golden Swords. Most of the Salamanders were happy to be “moving up” in the world, so it didn’t matter that they were given little choice in the matter. Once integrated, the leaders of the former Salamanders were separated to prevent the perpetuation of a sub-group within the yakuza.
Li: A young man who grew up in the Shou Quarter orphanage, and has no known last name. He has a way with people and is a charismatic leader. As a talented actor, he often worked as a front man or distraction in the group’s rackets. He had just turned 15 when he helped found the Salamanders.
Aoyama Kyo: A confident and assertive girl from the orphanage, Kyo was the driving force behind the Salamanders’ formation and ambitions. She is also a gifted strategist, and was the brains behind many of their activities. The Salamanders were founded about 3 months before her 14th birthday.
Mori Kenta: A gentle giant, Kenta was large and tall for his age (14 when they were founded), but it is his shy and likeable spirit that draws people to him. He often used his intimidating stature to scare people in gang activities, but dislikes active violence. Kenta saved most of the money he earned with the gang to take home to his widower father, a dock worker, and his little sister Kimiko. Kenta has had an abiding crush on Kyo for years, but has never been able to work up the nerve to tell her.
They chose the salamander as their symbol because it is an adaptable animal that thrives in multiple environments – it makes a place for itself. It’s small, and may not seem like much at first glance. However, it can sometimes be poisonous, and larger creatures that mess with the salamander may come to regret it. It can also regenerate from even very serious injuries like lost limbs, symbolizing the tenacity of the Salamanders. They are opportunistic predators who will eat whatever they can get to survive and grow.
It took about 3 years to save up enough money, but once they had enough the 8 founding members (3 leaders and 5 others) all got matching tattoos of a red and orange salamander, identical except for the location on the body.