Of Smoke and Mirrors
The Spring-Heeled Jacks
The Spring-Heeled Jacks is the name of a criminal gang of robbers and thieves operating mostly against middle to upper class targets in the shadier areas of the East End, London. The gang first seems to have appeared sometimes in the early fifties though exactly when or under what circumstances remain unclear. The name was taken from the legendary Spring-Heeled Jack, a never confirmed monster or demon said to have haunted London for a few bloody months in 1817, particularly famous for its ability to leap or bound over considerable distances. The gang, exhibiting similar abilities when it comes to leaping was given the name in angry newspaper articles and it seems to have stuck. Though the Scotland Yard has for the most part ignored the Jacks, quite possibly due to a lack of resources, their activities have on occasions stirred up vigorous newspaper debates on the uselessness of the London Police. More then a few amongst the lower classes actually view them as heroes, modern day Robin Hoods who steal from the rich and return it to the poorest. As far as reports and observations go the gang is mainly made up of beastfolk, orcs and humans, all from the lowest strata of society. Beyond this very basic information startlingly little is known about them, though perhaps that is about to change.
For one our intrepid adventurers have discovered that the Jacks’ broker is a male orc, of intimidating physical stature and with a heavy northern accent. He also seemed to be in possession of an aggressive demeanour and noticeably smelt of bad tobacco.
The Spring-Heeled Jacks has set up a seemingly brisk business robbing their betters, their activities confined to the Whitechapel and Wapping districts of the East End. This is not without its reasons, as this area close to the Docks are famous for their frivolous nightlife and many houses of uncertain virtue. Such areas always attracts its fair share of better of gentlemen (and the rare lady) with an inclination for adventures of the most scandalous and improper kind. The Jacks is not known to seriously injure or kill their victims, merely incapacitating them before robbing them of any valuables. Usually, the scandal that would ensue if one where to contact the police and have to explain why one was present in the area is enough to keep the victims from doing anything about what happened, that is beyond the odd anonymous and raging letter in the papers.
The stolen property is later sold to various pawnbrokers of lesser repute, often not inclined to ask too many questions, and in this fashion it seems the gang is doing a brisk business indeed. They also use at least some of their gains to employ a net of informants and runners in the streets and rookeries of Whitechapel who marks potential targets and keep an eye out while the operation is completed.
Methods and Equipment:
Most noticeable about the Spring-Heeled Jacks, beyond their startling successful venture, is that the gang members seems to employ several pieces of fairly expensive or at least technologically advanced gear. As observed first hand by our ever curious researchers the Jacks’ tell-tale jumping abilities came from a clever little contraption mounted at the heel of their boot, allowing them to leap significantly further. They also utilized a variety of chemical bombs and wore gas-masks to protect themselves from the substances. Finally, the Jacks also utilized a pistol-sized weapon seemingly firing needles or dart, though of a design and purpose not yet uncovered.