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In a Victorian city on an apocalyptic world, a haberdasher has gained social power. All things pertaining to the Victorian life circa 1880 would be proper here, save for the equine industry. He has established a high-quality reputation providing quality products and services, generating word-of-mouth recommendations. For his craft, he interfaces with assorted artisans and offers custom fittings or consultations, further elevating his standing among customers. I’m trying to determine which connection is the most logical pathway a haberdasher would use to discreetly propagate his blackmail and extortion communiques.

His role is a purveyor of intelligence for the underworld. I’m trying to avoid obvious interfaces with seedy thugs and lowlifes which could tarnish his carefully manicured reputation. He needs an interface which can travel in both those social strata unaffected. What would be a typical connection for his profession that could serve this purpose; who he could be seen with and no eyebrows would raise?

There are five cities in the world, each with their own major markets and products, networked by train and airship. I’m basically looking for a liaison this haberdasher would have with vast reach and would be likely corruptible.


The goal is building a "door" in my criminal underworld society that can safely transport intelligence without getting dirty. Think of it as designing a spaceship that need a door to keep bad air out, how do you engineer that? Well, my spaceship is a society, and my door is a courier, and the "bad air" is a soiled reputation by being seen with anyone unsavory. My world is not a spaceship, it's a society. Doors look different, but they're still just doors.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm with @KerrAvon2055 here. He's rich, he has footmen to deliver messages. Or he can hire a messenger -- they had public messengers for hire in Victorian times. Or he can have a business relationship with a policeman. Or with a versatile supplier. And so on. P.S. A haberdasher (and a tradesman in general) does not have clients; he has customers. On the other hand, an architect (and a professional in general) does not have customers; he has clients. The difference is that a customer pays a price, whereas a client pays a fee. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Sep 12, 2023 at 23:35
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    $\begingroup$ On-topic world rules are independent of all stories. Off-topic story help depends entirely on circumstance and narrative necessity. Do we suggest a policeman? Thee are situations/circumstances/locations a policeman would be inappropriate. Messenger? Ditto. Priest? Ditto. Tax collector? Ditto. I can come up with too many choices (see Help) for crossing the social strata. Provide us with all the details of one such circumstance to and I believe the Q would be on-topic. After you see how we select one, you can select the others. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 13, 2023 at 0:05
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, but when reading your question, it feels like you're more trying to build the (back)story of a specific character than a more generalizable situation. It's because it's about someone making connections, and those are made on a more individual level. A better -but far from perfect- approach would be to tell your dashing haberdasher has a link with let's say a textile worker, how likely this worker can get access to the foreman's locker/office to put... Uh... Compromising documents :p. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2023 at 0:10
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    $\begingroup$ Your edit obsoletes everything. The answer, all the comments, the down votes, and the close votes. I'm not sure what you're expecting us to do. Your comparison doesn't make sense, either. If the querent asking about nacells is asking for aesthetic reasons ("would the ship look better?") it would be quickly closed. If asking for engineering purposes ("given the current design, would the nacelles on the bottom produce too much stress?") it would remain open. The choices of characters in your story are always off-topic because they're always unpredictable or subject to narrative necessity. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 13, 2023 at 3:13
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    $\begingroup$ @VogonPoet Please don't invalidate existing answers with your edits. Ask another question instead. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Sep 13, 2023 at 3:28

3 Answers 3

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A priest

A priest, especially of lower or middle rank (so no bishop etc.) is the ideal candidate. The clerus is usually considered their own caste and associates with people of high and low rank and even criminals. They are educated but still have professional interest in people of low rank, as they are the herd he cares for. Also confidential talks with a priest aren't anything suspicious.
But also people of high rank belong to their herd and need talking to to secure funds for the church.
Even known criminals would not be an odd sight with a priest as they might be still worried for their immor(t)al soul. The italian mafia for example is known for that behaviour.
As for being corruptible: priest are people with a degree of power, people with power tend to be corruptible and priests are not immune to it, if you just take a look into present or history. Why this specific priest is corrupt is up to you to write.

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  • $\begingroup$ I had already written him long ago, never knew where "Joachim" fit in to the puzzle! Amazing! «Father Grigori pleaded gravely, “Joachim! Do not do this! I beseech you, this is not the way!” The cantor quickly raised his pistol at the Father. “The land shall be UTTERLY emptied. UTTERLY spoiled; Dominus enim locutus est verbum hoc.” “Joa, come pray with me. If God’s will be this city shall fall, His timing will not be upset by a prayer.” The Father lowered to his knees, kissed his shawl, and commenced praying through tremulous breaths.» $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Sep 13, 2023 at 10:00
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If i understand this question correctly, you're looking for a person who would both have contact with an upperclass haberdasher and be able to communicate without raising question with both lower and upperclass castes?

If thats the case, what about a ship captain? If they were military or from a passenger ship they could talk to both lower class sailors and the upperclass traveling.

And while it might be a stretch, a haberdasher could have a contact with a ship captain in order to facilitate more reliable shipments and source more uncommon materials.

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  • $\begingroup$ For the record, the Help Center explains that you should answer well-asked questions. SE uses a one-specific-question/one-best-answer model, which we carefully bend by permitting finite list answers, but this question doesn't meet that expectation. If you can't explain why your answer is better than every other possible answer (and in this case there are at least dozens), then you shouldn't have answered the unprepared question. Also, remember the help center teaches that we help build worlds, not tell stories. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 13, 2023 at 0:21
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    $\begingroup$ I had never considered this. If not the captain, then a stevedore who would directly handle cargo. Very logical! $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Sep 13, 2023 at 0:24
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A high ranking policeman would be best. It's been done by everyone from Royalty to Mafia to do their shady deals without problems.

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