Saturday, September 2, 2017


This wasn’t the plan.

The woman who runs the place goes by “Paige Turner” and although it is her craft name, she doesn’t seem to have a problem with letting people know that her last name is really “Burwinkle”.

She and her merry brand of practitioners got pretty sick of being poor and also being oppressed and persecuted by people who don’t understand.  They’d known one another for a while, and when Paige said one night after a lovely party on the roof of her building. “You know, I think I’ll retire and buy myself a bar.” 

And in that moment, it was like she had taken some kind of oath. The others felt it too. So they got up a collection. Did a spell or two. Dipped into funds held for rainy days. Bought a number of scratch lottery games.  They bought a place.

Merl’s doesn’t make a ton of money on its face.  But then again it doesn’t have to. Its clientele is exclusively true magi, hedge magi, psychics, odd talents, and the occasional visitors from other supernatural communities.  And people of that sort have ALL sorts of means of paying their bar tabs.  Once every blue moon or so, some normal person wanders into the place. A place that is EXCEPTIONALLY ordinary looking and dull and unwelcoming.  People who do this, almost never walk out unchanged. The place is geomantically charged and there is some sacred architecture at work too. Paige often crabs about how the high ceiling makes for ridiculous heating bills.

Paige can’t actually work magic while the bar is open. It’s a weird little holdover from that night so long ago. So she takes Sunday and Monday night off, and if a fight breaks out in the bar, one of two things will happen.
1) The patrons will unleash a wave of destruction on any asshole foolish enough to break the peace.
2) Paige will say “This bar is CLOSED.” and then the hexes and curse will fly. Rarely anything that will kill you. Paige says she ain’t about that life no more.  But she’s gotten creative in her old(?) age. And the curses will make you WISH you were dead.

The place is warded. Not against Magic, of course,  That would be silly, and pointless besides. Magicians are like hackers, Tell them that the wards will prevent magic and they go out of their way to prove you wrong. But it is warded against spirits, angels, demons, ghosts, and living creatures with violent intent. Not that there are many who go to Merl’s with the idea in mind to start a fight.  If you’ve a got a spirit or ghost, you’d just as soon have with you when you enter, you can ask for a token and they will allowed entry through the wards. Although they do caution you that should your spiritual buddy be separated from you by more than 3 feet or if they start some sort of violence on the property, swift consignment to the Turgid Places is the usual prices of not minding their manners. Most spirits get this and are on their best behavior.

Other night folks who do any kind of business there are often cautioned by their elders to be on their very best behavior. There was an incident some years ago of some fool vampire losing his temper, He died in seconds. His siblings in minutes. His sire in hours. His grandsire the next night. As near as we know, the entire line might be extinct now.  In any case. It made an impression.

If you’re at Merl’s. You’re there to do one of four things. 1) Talk business. 2) Talk shop, and presumably unwind. 3) Pick-up some fellow night folk for some slap and tickle later. or 4) Drink.  It used to be that there was a kitchen. But there was an accident there and now, no one wants to go in there. There’s a bad feeling in there.  Even Joey can feel it. And Joey is about as psychic as a rock. Anti-Psychic actually. Every place like this needs one.

The Cigarette machine near the front door is an involved operation. Sure, you’ve got about a dozen regular brands and some clove cigarettes for those who aren’t over their goth phase. But you’ve also got cigarette brands from all over the globe. Pricey. But if you’ve developed a taste for Turkish smokey treats, then you are likely to turn up here rather than try to buy online.  There's been some talk about buying some couches for one of the corners and a Hookah.  It may yet happen.

Merl’s also prides itself on its collection of various types of alcohol. In fact, Paige considers it to be a point of pride to be able to provide for her patrons anything alcoholic that they request. And if she doesn’t have it, by god, she’ll have it next week at the latest. We’re talking Peruvian liqueurs, and Asian moonshine distilled with a bit of coral snake venom for kick.  As you can imagine, the storeroom is actually bigger than the front of the house. It may be bigger than the whole building actually.

There’s a door at the back of the coat closet. It’s warded of course.  Heavily. It will connect with any unwarded door that you are personally familiar with and you can make it home, even if you’re pretty sloshed.  But it’s only one way. You can only go through on this side. And even if something TRIED to come through from the other way. Joey minds the coat closet and Joey doesn’t rattle easily.  He may not be a magi. But he knows his way around a gun and sword. ya know?

The TV doesn’t have a tuner. Or at least, they’ve never needed one. They bought it some years ago from Desmond Goodlow. (“Great guy. Good tipper.”) and it seems to have a sense of what people in the bar are most interested in. CNN. The History Channel. on rare occasions, televised fishing and championship Curling. Sports doesn’t generally tend to turn up on the TV in a bar full of Magic Nerds.

Other than that, place looks like any other bar. Maybe a lot less neon, because it doesn’t seem to work as well around those sorts of people. But plenty of mirrors. Plenty of dark wood that smells like beer. (Although, with a lot more runic writing carved into it.) There’s even a pool table.  Although Walter Roedecker has come up with a form of divination based on ball at any given time, it may be in use for more than a game.  Saying “I got next” is liable to get you the stink-eye.

Okay. So it’s not your normal bar. Not on any level. Not really at all. Not even a little bit.

*Charlotte Wilson This one of the few places where Charlotte can be a bit of a party girl. Most of the old timers though...They've seen her like before. They may smile...but they'll hold her at arm's length. Like you would a rattlesnake.
Tim Deacon Tim's not what you call a regular. he doesn't like to presume. But they got no problem standing him to a beer or two. When he does come around, He normally has some talk with Joey, or with Paige. And usually, something weird cooks off in the next day or so. When it does, they are prepared. As I said, people got different ways of paying their tab. Mostly, Tim allows Charlie  to drink on his. On those rare occasions when Charlie is lucid enough to "Talk Shop" EVERYBODY listens.
Blaise Newkirk Reeks of black magic but is calm, polite, charming even. He's also a decent tipper. Not one to start shit, and on at least occasion was willing to pitch in when there was someone else creating trouble. Normally comes in to meet with someone in an accorded neutral territory. 
Sheriff Hank Settles is the lawman they call on those rare occasions when someone actually has to call the law. Hank just has more experience in these matters than the metro police.
Ralston Van Doren is NOT welcome here any longer. He's tried to cause them some problems using his connections. Mostly, his connections end up ground in the gear between the two sides. So far, no one has felt the need to take the fight to The Vermillion House. If that changes, it will get very ugly.
Collette Reeves Everyone loves Collette. They'd offer her a job if her schedule wasn't already packed. They have however come up with a hand gesture that has spread among the regulars which means, "Colette, you know I love you, but I need you to move away from while I'm trying to do my thing here."  Collette, being the kind of girl she is, insisted that it be "The Bird" Joey thinks that maybe he can help her hone her gift some. But Joey is a little bit smitten with her and Collette can see it. It's too bad, But for the scars on the left side, Joey's a pretty handsome dude.
Schuyler Lavey is GOING to get his ass thrown out one of these days, but always manages to stay just on the windy side of care. He's always testing the boundaries. Joey punched him once. Hard. 
Lillian Penobscot "Diamond Lil" as the regulars call her is usually a welcome sight. She did, however, make the mistake of bringing something in here that gave the wards indigestion. But was so instantly apologetic that they chalked it up to a rookie mistake and everyone went on with their lives.
Paige keeps Lil's business card just in case someone needs to get rid of something serious. Odds are good Lil can find a buyer.
* Various members of the firm Holmes, Gillis, Baker, Savage, North, and Dean drink here and do business, with the exception of Gilbert Savage. Occasionally, Paige has to ask Roderick and Cullen to cool it with the racist jokes.
The Grimoire Bear and Penny come in every once in a while. Penny brings cookies.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Thomas Jones Rutherford

Concept: Novelist turned Serial Killer

AKA: TJ has a bewildering number of names really. Old friends and people he went to school with know him as “Jonesy” and he often introduces himself this way.  He writes his horror novels as “T. Rutherford” his occasional crime and detective fiction as “TJ Ford” and he still writes the occasional romance novel as “L.D. Cooper” (Say what you want, they got him through the lean times when he was starting out.)

Desc: TJ is middling short. He wears glasses because he’s put a LOT of mileage on his eyes. He’s mixed race but passing as white. His hair tends to come in dark and curly, but he tends to keep his dome shaved. He just likes the way it feels. On any given day, he’ll likely wear a T-shirt and sweatpants and if he has to go out, he’ll wear chucks.  But he has a closet full of many different types of clothing and he can really wear anything and make it look good.  He tends towards a serious mein. Although he does have a nice smile. His eyes are a pale grey. he has a mild stutter. He’s worked on it ever since he was a kid. It doesn’t trouble him so much anymore unless he is very very stressed out.

History: His parents had a bit of money, and his mama was a heavy reader, so he picked that up early. And pretty much anything that was on Mama’s shelf was considered fair game. He was maybe 10 when he read a novel entitled, “The World According to Garp” by John Irving. And pretty much from there, his fate was sealed.
      There was something impossibly romantic to him about writing. He started early, writing a high fantasy series of novels that he shared with his junior high classmates.  He worked hard and got himself a decent scholarship to go to a good school where he majored in English and Psychology.   He learned how to turn himself into a word machine. None of this waiting around for the “Muse” to turn up. Not for TJ.   It was how he managed to get out of school ahead of schedule. He had CLEP examed out of many of his general studies and was doing independent studies in the back half of his junior year. Truly. He types like the wind.

After school. He got himself a gig working retail and in the evenings he wrote. His favorite has always been horror fiction, followed closely by the detective fiction. If there’s something that TJ absolutely loves, it’s learning about things. He’s never been what you would call an overnight sensation. He’s never going to have that Stephen King “fuck you” money.   But he’s got some fans in each of the genres he works in and he’s made a name for himself among publishers as being low maintenance and able to turn in work on time. Now, because his needs are simple, he’s effectively independently wealthy.

And you know, That would likely be the end of the story right there. If it hadn’t been for his father being killed. Jim Rutherford had been a hard working civil engineer all of his life and while he and his bookish son didn’t always have a lot in common, they did love one another and they did love mama.  Jim was pulled over in a traffic stop one night. You might have read about it.  Apparently, while being calmly questioned by law enforcement professionals due to his resemblance to an assailant reported in the area, Mr. Rutherford went berserk and attacked 6 police officers. In order to preserve their lives. they were forced to shoot Mr. Rutherford 19 times.

That was the official story of course. It’s really too bad for all of them that TJ was the first person they located to identify the body. Because TJ was able to identify defensive wounds and cuff marks on the wrist. Naturally, there was a stink. However, a grand jury cleared all of the police involved quietly and months after the fact.

To say that Mama didn’t take it well is an understatement. She’s getting treatment now for clinical depression and has moved in with some old girlfriends. But for a while there it was touch and go. She still drinks and smokes a bit more than is strictly healthy for her.

And TJ?  Well. It’s perhaps dramatic to say that he cracked. It wasn’t like that.   For the first time in years, he couldn’t write. Couldn’t even stand to read.  Didn’t want to talk to anyone about it.  He spent a few weeks just sitting on his couch and watching tv.

Then one night he woke up from sleep with a plan on the edge of his mind. He called up some police that he knew and started asking questions.  Mind you, they knew him as TJ Ford and he asked questions, as writers will do. Not pointed questions though. Not direct.  But he asked enough questions to be able to get a good idea of where to look for the names of the police directly involved with his father’s slaying. And he already knew where Hanlon’s, the cop bar, was.  If nothing else, he could watch the place and follow half-sloshed cops home.

He picked them off. One by one. Each of them in a different way. Two he poisoned. One he attacked in the guy’s own house and tased him in the neck. They never DID find that guy’s body. One officer's apartment exploded. and another left his family in the morning and just never came home. They found him crucified out in the country somewhere.  Each of the crime scenes scrupulously free of useful evidence.

That should have been the end of it honestly.  But once you’ve started down a road like this, it’s hard to stop. Especially when you see African Americans, Latinos, and even deaf people and developmentally delayed people suffering the same things that his father had.  The media may even be slowly waking up to this longstanding pattern of police behavior, but it certainly isn’t stopping it, and they are just as happy to turn some young black man who menaced a cop with a “gun” (Read=sandwich) into either a saint, or a burgeoning crime boss and probably a satanist too.

So occasionally, TJ is forced to go on the hunt again.  He may see something on the news. Or maybe in the paper...and he’ll start having trouble sleeping...and writing.  And once the words dry up. Well. It’s just a matter of time.

Attitude: “Look. I didn’t start out to do this. Maybe you do have a hard job and no one is paying attention to the idea that maybe you have PTSD or something like that...But I’ve been following you for months. And it’s not that. You’re kind of a racist fuckhead.  So. I’m going to put this box on your head, and when I do, you’ll get to meet Randy. But you won’t want to get him upset. He’ll sting you if you do...”

Skills: Physically, he’s nothing special. He’s got essentially a “dad bod” He’s trying to get in a bit of running because he already knows he needs to be in better physical condition if he’s going to hunt cops. He’s learned to use a taser, and he’s actually getting pretty damn good with the blow gun and the dart pistol.  
Socially, he’s a bit of a chameleon. Strong on Manipulation. He always has been this way.  He has a good ear for the way people express themselves and can slide into social interactions with little preamble. He tends to set animals off though. They can sense something of the hunter in him.  He is, of course, active in about a dozen different places online and reads about 100 RSS feeds.
On the mental side. He’s ridiculous. 4 in everything, 4 dots in academics(Specs in English, Research,)  some dots in medicine (With specialties in psychology and toxicology)  Dots in Occult, normally reserved for his horror writing, but there are options which I’ll discuss below. and dots in Investigation. He’s also got some dots in Science with specs in forensics and in improvised explosives. He’s also picked up some Larceny.

Gear: In the toolbox of TJ’s truck there is a large tool bag which has necessary materials. His stun gun, taser, Blow guns, and his dart pistol is there along with a few ampoules of useful toxins and hallucinogens. He’s bought a number of lock picking tools. (Mail order, all through a remailing service, of varying levels of usefulness.) Also, there’s a tarp, shovels, Bungie cords bought in bulk from Costco. Latex gloves from rite aid and all the usually forensic defeating chemicals.
His phone is pretty gee whizzy, but he still carries his Kindle because he never wants to be without a book at any point, and he can size up the text easier than the phone.

Home: Technically, He owns the family home. But he holds it in trust for his mother and her roommates. Every once in a while, he’ll go around there to fix something.  Unless it’s something big and he can’t glean the basics from a youtube video. In which case he’ll hire out. He covers the house insurance.
   After his dad was killed and he went into a bad place, he went out and purchased a mobile home. He’s never exactly needed a lot of space. It’s a single wide. He has his bedroom with the blacked out windows (“I work odd hours. I’m not cooking meth or anything weird in there.”) The other bedroom is essentially where he goes to relax and read.  He keeps his office in the “Living room” and has a TV which is normally tuned to a news station or just music of some sort as wallpaper.  He also maintains a studio apartment which has another computer that syncs all his devices once per day. The studio apartment is where he keeps gear for his hunting, he calls it the “Workshop”.   The Workshop and his single wide are each armed with motion detectors that fit over the doorknobs and will go off if the knob is tried. These are connected to his phone. The landlord at the studio apartment has FINALLY gotten the goddamn message about calling him prior to sending in the guy in to spray for pests. TJ keeps the place clean.

Circle: TJ has a few friends around town and he’s gone out of his way to become professionally friendly with a number of people. Cops and criminals alike. He buzzes the occult scene every once in a while especially if he’s writing about some aspect of it that he’s only read about. But he’s not really a known name. He’s discovered that if you tell someone that you’re a writer, The people who don’t know dick will talk your ear off, and the people who DO know dick, will clam up.
It probably bears mentioning even though it has exactly no bearing on his activities, TJ is Asexual. After high school, he bumped into the concept of asexuality in one of his psychology courses and was utterly relieved that there was a name for what he was and that he wasn’t alone.  This precipitated a long talk with his current “girlfriend” (They are still friends) and an even longer one with his parents. (Mama is still sad about no grandchildren.)  In any case, TJ is relieved at least that he doesn’t really have anyone in his life that he has to explain anything to except his literary agent.

Story Uses:  “Are you aware that if you get capsaicin in your eye, you can die from shock?” 
I think I need to tackle this section on story uses a bit differently than normal. Thomas is, as written, a dangerous, but ultimately human killer of cops. While your attitude towards law enforcement professionals may go all over the map, the one thing that can’t be elided is that he hasn’t stopped at revenge of the original 5 and that he seems to take an inordinate amount of delight in terrifying them horribly before dispatching them.
This might seem to take TJ in a couple of different directions.  For those thinking to keep him essentially human, The addition of a hedge magus template might be useful.  You might also use him as a spirit urged or claimed individual which will give him a little more juice.  He might find common cause with a seductive murder spirit or maybe a twisted “justice” spirit.
If you are in proud possession of a copy of Beast: the Primordial, You could posit that TJ is a beast or even that one of the cops of the original five was one and that he’s some twisted form of Hero. Either is possible.  Last, but certainly not least, is the idea that Thomas has become a Slasher of some sort.

*He actually knows and thinks well of Officer Karl Richter. That relationship will get real complicated real quick if you make TJ into a Beast, or give Karl the slightest inkling of what's going on.
* Has met Charlotte Wilson and talked writer stuff with her. Charlotte, for her part, is confused that he doesn't seem gay, and yet does not even look at her tits. Not even once.
* Thomas keeps a fifth of decent whiskey in the truck at all times in case he sees Tim Deacon or Charlie out on the street. Tim normally passes it off to someone else, but in both cases, Thomas is just paying for interesting stories.
Chris Murphy Depending on how supernatural you make TJ, Chris might make a ready ally. In any event, Chris has twigged and might be helping behind the scenes.
* Has struck up an acquaintance with Rosalie Prescott. It's sensible, He's up at weird hours. He's seen some of her art. He likes her and her kid. He's even asked his agent about the particulars of commissions for cover art just to see if he can kick some business in her direction. She, of course, knows none of this.
* Went to high school with Jack Marston and still keeps in touch via Facebook. He recommends music and Thomas recommends books. Jack is always good for interesting stories about the bondsman business. Thomas is actually thinking about basing a character on Jack.
Officer Wesley Ullman "I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to have to do something about this guy at some point."
Special Agent Owen Maccready "Love this guy. Great to talk to. understands a LOT about how the mind works.Interviewed him a couple of times for various books.   I have to be extra careful about M.O. so that none of my killings get classed as serial killings. I mean, some of the occult trappings alone would put him in the field. Looking for me. I don't think he'd understand."
*T.C. Mitnick "Asked around online about computer crime and ended up paying this guy to tell me some of the things he'd done. Interesting character. Later, I ended up making another approach for some actual "Work". Thankfully. He was willing."
Rory O'Halloran "Rory's my boy He read some of my junior high books. Good guy. GREAT cook.
Clavo Hernandez  TJ got referred to Clavo by a mutual friend. TJ told Clavo a mostly true story about needing documents for multiple pseudonyms. He said he was trying to maintain a sense of mystery about himself for his horror and detective fiction reader. Of course, he also told Clavo that he works in about three more genres than he actually does. Those identification papers are all safe as houses in his "workshop" should a need to skip the country arises.
Norman Cayce "Talk to this guy pretty regularly. Have to keep notes, so I don't accidentally do something to a cop that we've talked about. Norman's sharp.
The Borland Farm "Yeah. I may have heard about that place."
Dr. Ronnette Franklin "Yeah. Ronnie and I dated in college... Our relationship is complicated. But there's nothing I wouldn't do for her. Still.
Officer Honus Brightwater "Let's just say he's on a list."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Marcus Williams

Concept: Precognitive Drug Dealer

AKA: Those who know him on the streets call him “Ghost”

Desc: Tall African American male. Short dreadlocks. He’s got good teeth although he rarely smiles. Has the kind of build you get when you’ve played B-ball on the corner every day since you could stand. Sadly. he’s not exactly tall enough and wasn’t scholarship-crazy good. And by the time it would have mattered he already had a non-trivial rap sheet. Does not smoke or drink or use. He has a sprinkling of tear shaped tattoos on his face.  Goes in for the track suit look, but without the flashy jewelry. Tends towards dark colors.

History: You could say that Marcus’s abilities are a natural outgrowth of his upbringing. He grew up dirt poor in the worst part of the city. His pop was killed in a gang throw down, and his step-father drank and beat him and his siblings. Like a lot of kids with that sort of problem. Marcus got real good at reading people and fast.  He also spent a lot of time away from home especially as he was catching his growth spurt and his stepfather seemed intent on beating him into submission each time he saw him.
    Well when you spend a lot of time away from home, you need money to survive. So Marcus got himself on as a lookout and then as a runner for a crack and freebase dealer.  He was a good enough earner that eventually Leroy took him under his wing and started teaching him the business end. Eventually, one evening, Leroy and Marcus and the rest of the crew went around to Marcus’s house and put Marcus’s stepfather into the hospital. Never had no more trouble out of him no more, and he was so fucked up, Marcus’s mom couldn’t stand to look at him no more.
     Marcus is good at the game. Real good. In fact, he’s so good, Leroy started to get jealous and decided that he might have to take Marcus down a peg or two. It never really came together though. It seemed like Marcus was always two steps ahead of him. The one time Leroy and his boys finally caught up to him, the police turned up at the exact same time, and Marcus was able to bolt, and Leroy got caught with his gun on him.  Bye, bye, Leroy.
      There’s a reason. Leroy catches visions of things to come. Most of the time they come to him in lucid dreams. He’s also really good at spotting ambushes and telling when someone is lying to him. Not that those skills are supernatural, but taken together they have combined to make Marcus damn near untouchable. he always knows when the cops are coming. He always knows when someone is coming to fuck him up and most of the time, he calls the cops himself and makes sure they turn up right when those dudes turn up. While this sort of invincibility does not extend to the crew, it does mean that they HAVE been able to up their game considerably. They were even able to go independent and secure another distributor when their old guy got popped. Can’t imagine how that could have happened... They make more money now than they EVER made under Leroy and if he got out of jail tomorrow, they wouldn’t back his play to get back.
    Marcus occasionally still catches flashes of the first vision he ever had. Him. Sitting on a golden throne counting his blood-stained money as all around him drowns in darkness...Whenever he has this dream. He knows tomorrow is going to be a good day. Sometimes, he almost smiles.

Attitude: “You want to make it in this game son, You got to be hungry. And me, I’ma bout starving.”

Skills: Physically, Marcus is talented. Built more for speed and stamina than strength. he’ll have fast reflexes and fleet of foot. His Wits are likewise somewhat fast. he’s really good in any situation that can turn on a dime. He’s good with a gun, less so with a knife, and not hopeless with his fists. He knows he’s nothing special in combat. He does, however, have a knack for knowing when to hit someone when they are most helpless and unable to defend themselves. He doesn’t have any problem leaning into that.
Intellectually, He thinks real fast, but for a guy who can see the future, he doesn’t really do a lot of thinking about it. He doesn’t have much education or any interest in any of that really. Spends much of his leisure time on his X-box.  He DOES know the streets like the back of his hand. 
Socially, Most people who know him are scared of him. His boys, His mama, and his sibs are the only ones that he seems to give two shits about. He’s developed a reputation for being the guy who is always two steps ahead of everybody and for being willing to do horrifying shit to protect his little empire. He knows how to read people and situations almost subliminally fast. And he doesn’t rattle. Like at all.
Shit, he may realize that you’re an undercover cop and know it fast enough to take you into the heart of his operation, throwing open the doors and let you see it all...Right before he nails you with the stun gun.
   At least 3 undercover narcotics cops have just gone completely missing.
His Precognition is not something that there is a mechanic for. Mostly he has dreams that he remembers when he wakes up. (he keeps a little journal by his bedside.) if he’s trying to figure a way out in the middle of a firefight or something stressful, he can still do so if he spends a point of willpower.

Gear: it pretty much goes without saying that Marcus never goes anywhere unstrapped. He favors Mac10’s and also carries a very pretty silver chased straight razor. He also has a couple of burner phones on him at any given time. He almost never carries product on his person any more

Home: Owns mama’s home. Swears if she so much as LOOKS at a cop, that he’ll make sure it burns down with her in it.  He never goes there. Too many ugly memories. They can’t hurt him anymore, but why give them any purchase, right?  Has a few places that he moves around to from time to time. Little studio apartments with little more than a futon. He’s got three of these and he’s been thinking about supplementing them with Airbnb. Normally carries a big travel suitcase in the car with all his necessities. The bolt holes also have caches of weapons, product, and cash.
He drives a black Lincoln town car which is just old enough and conservative enough that he rarely gets looked at twice in his apartment complex parking lot. Also, it’s got a boxy frame, so that it can be armored without looking freakish.
He’s also got a deal with a guy who runs a little bar in the neighborhood. in exchange for a taste of the crack, and a slice of the traffic in the place, Marcus and his boys can essentially use the place as their personal living room. This is the sort of bar in the sort of neighborhood where they have bars on the windows. As far as anybody outside can tell, the place is called “BAR”.

Circle: Puts money in the hands of his siblings, usually in exchange for little favors. Nothing that’s liable to get them sent to jail or to the graveyard, but not always pleasant things...that’s for sure.  His boys are true blue and while the people he WANTS to have contact with are a short list, anybody he WANTS to know about, he ends up finding out about. Nobody has figured out how he does this yet. Keeps his ear to the ground and anytime it seems like there’s a new player, he makes time to go meet the new guy and get him straight.

Story Uses:
“I don’t run these streets. Not yet.”
While a drug dealer you can’t get close to could be bad enough, it may be that this may be just a stepping stone in some horrifying saga.  Marcus might undergo some transformative event and become some other kind of supernatural creature. (Vampire, wolf blooded, or Beast seems likely.) It might mean the loss of his visions, but open up more serious power to him...And he wants his golden throne.
The Problem is, what he doesn't know yet is that some types of supernatural creatures may be shielded from his visions.

“Dude, this is my city. It don’t belong to some freaky...whatever the fuck that is. *blamblamblamblam*”
Weirdly enough, he might also find himself nominally on the side of the angels if he feels like there’s an angle to be worked. He could end up as a Vigil Hunter, or a Hero. Maybe he’s been one all along. could have killed a kid who was a Beast himself while still in Juvie and never connected that that’s where the visions came from.  Give him an excuse to kill a monster, like say, gain more powers, and he’ll be all over that like cheap on a K-mart.

Detective Nell Wesley Nell was SO close. In fact, when she figured out who she was dealing with she could barely contain her excitement. She had the drugs in her hands almost when a whole other set of cops turned up and fucked the whole thing up and in the ensuing confusion the dude managed to get away. Later, Nell found a note inside the package of what turned out to be rock candy. It read, "If I see you again Bitch. I will kill you and your family."
Blaise Newkirk  "No idea how this dude found me. But he keeps me like, "on retainer" like a lawyer or some shit. Pays good though."
Rick Deluca "Ricky's okay. I can say that because he and I don't really work in the same circles. If we did. I'd have to kill him probably."
Jamal Cooper " That motherfucker thinks he's going to roll it all up. he ain't got half what I got and he thinks he gonna own it all. He ain't takin my throne. Bitch-ass bullshit Muslim motherfucker...You can tell him said so!"
Grace Cook "Yeah. I used to know her back in the day. She was aight. The kinda girl nobody got a hate on for."
Tyronne "Tiberius" Glover "I'm not interested in going to back to the way it used to be when I worked for someone else. T-dog made an approach. I said I wasn't interested. He was cool with that and we parted without a problem. I tell you though, that if I had to throw in with someone, it'd be him. He knows how to do it right."
Dr. Ronnette Franklin "I don't know what I said to piss her off. She fixed up one of my boys, and I, just bein neighborly, offer her a taste...Bitch gets all up in my grill!"

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Klaus Dietrich

Concept:  Ex-Nazi Bank president

AKA: Klaus has had some experience with having to create new identities for himself. At present, he is going by the name “Radcliffe Barrington”

Desc: Stocky framed and only middling tall. Wavy iron gray hair that never really gets very long at all. Normally clean shaven. No ink. Saggy cheekbones that make him look as if he never gets any sleep. The silky purr of his Austrian accent only ever comes out during lovemaking or if he’s really pissed. He’s fairly hirsute. Still wears his original wedding band.  He is missing two fingers on his left hand. He’s got good muscle tone and decent wind. He runs most mornings and is a decent polo player.

History: It is a well known historical fact that the Thule Society, an occult group made up of mergers of small occult and racialist groups in Germany and Austria after the collapse of the Weimar Republic, was the backbone of the Nazi party.  And it is similarly known, that the S.S. was essentially an Occult group and an offshoot of the original Teutonic Knights.  It was modeled that way because Heinrich Himmler was an avid occultist. It is known that he created a “Round Table” of S.S. members that met regularly at Wewelsburg castle until the end of the war.
    Klaus Dietrich was one of those knights.
At the time of his induction, right around the age of 35, He had become the leading expert on Antigeria magic within the inner circle of the S.S. He had been on the track of some kind of ritual magic, far beyond the power of the limited hedge magics that he and his brethren practiced routinely. Far beyond the power of Blood Bathing and similar distractions. He had been, with Himmler’s consent ordering operations to scour the libraries of Europe for these rituals. Even operations into the heart of Moscow had been approved.  And to his credit, he succeeded in locating a codex in Denmark that outlined the steps of the ritual. But by the time he’d translated it, and saw that it could be accomplished, Hitler had already committed suicide and the power of the Axis had been broken.
        Naturally, Klaus couldn’t exactly go home. And the project he’d been working on most of life had come to naught...Except, well maybe the Dream of the 1000 year Reich wasn’t dead...Maybe it could live on through him.   So, he tried it on himself.
      And it worked.  To this day, he’s not sure exactly how.  It hasn’t worked on anyone else since.  He suspects that it may have something to do with the ephemera, but the conditions he was operating under haven’t repeated themselves yet. Maybe in the next decade or so, he’ll be able to replicate the experiment, but there is still the question as to whether he can find a good site for the experiment here in America or whether he’ll have to return to Denmark.  For the moment, the question is somewhat academic.
     It’s not all beer and skittles of course. The loss of two fingers in a knife fight in Argentina taught Klaus that while his body will regenerate a lot of damage, there ARE limits. Also, he has noted over the years that he HAS aged some, but at a greatly decreased rate. He has the body of a fairly hale 50-year-old man.  As far as, disease and infirmity go, he seems to be proof against the smaller problems of life.  It may be that the only way he actually CAN die is by violence.   When you come to THAT conclusion, you start avoiding violence as much as you can. Right?
    Which is not to say that Klaus is a coward exactly. He’s spent a lot of time becoming quite practiced in the martial arts, in case trouble comes looking for him.  At his core, he still thinks like a professional soldier.  And a professional soldier is nothing if he’s not prepared.
    When Klaus left the Fatherland, he went on a journey of self-discovery. He traveled the world, with a small cache of Nazi gold that he’d liberated for himself and could have stayed and lived like a sun king in obscurity in South America. But he’d become very very good at investing and decided to look for a place to hang his hat that was more congenial to his ideas and attitudes.
       That road lead him here. It also lead to The Vermillion House. He runs the investment group/slush fund that funds so many of the group's activities and has accumulated a truly startling base of influence and power, like most of his brethren on the inner council.
   Klaus likes to keep busy. He is the president of a bank. (Yes, one you’ve likely heard of) and sits on the board of about a dozen companies, and is on the board of about a dozen more charities and non-profits. He’s not a big fan of large amounts of unstructured time.  When he’s not attending to his many many little projects or grooming others to handle those projects, He still finds time to keep his occult studies razor keen. and when he’s not doing that?   Well, it’s a fairly well know fact Klaus has the sexual stamina of a brick silo. he keeps about 6 “Concubines” in his home, much like Hugh Hefner. They’re all lily white, and blonde, and tall.  They want for nothing, and can leave anytime they like...But some women get really used to having anything they desire brought to them after a simple phone call to the downstairs staff. So...

Attitude: “Philosophically, Nazism and racism is something of a dead end. It took a long time for me to come to that realization. But it is true. However, the underlying idea that some people are simply BORN better and are the natural rulers of this world...Well, that’s an idea that will never ever die. You can find this basic idea in EVERY culture and in every race extant on this planet. Some can be given every advantage in their birth, and still squander their opportunities or their potential, and others can rise from lowly beginnings and make themselves into a force to be reckoned with.  I will always have more in common with them than with some churlish fool born into luxury. Such a person doesn’t have the faintest notion of the work that needs to be done to keep this world spinning the way that it should. Nor will they ever...”

Skills: Academics and Occult out the yang, plus multiple specialties in both. He speaks a dozen languages, Is very conversant in Investigation techniques (Also has a spec in Financial investigation)  Intellectually, he’s a fucking beast. He will drink your milk shake.
Socially, he’s also pretty strong, having honed his understanding of human beings over many years. He’s quite good at interrogating people without them realizing that they are being interrogated.  He’s persuasive in a similarly subtle fashion.  Many times, he gets the feeling that his social acumen is very much like a game of connect the dots and he likes the odd occasions when someone confounds his expectations and upsets his apple cart.   He is very good with animals. Not because of some supernatural affinity, it’s just that he’s always been good with animals.
   Physically, He’s fit and has some modicum of combat training. but normally he prefers to employ much more interested individuals to do the actual dirty work.  He reasons that it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.  He tends to heal faster than normal humans do. (Like a Bashing once per turn, and a Lethal once per 15 minutes) But anything that comes away from the main body won’t heal back completely.  As long as his torso and head are intact, he’ll likely live through it.
He’ll also have a hedge magic template. He’ll have essentially a “Nazi Inflected” form of Apostle of the Dark One template, but he has also done a lot of work and traveled to a lot of places and picked up the elements of a dozen different forms of Praxis. In other words any non-exclusive practice of magic that a human could have, he could have some dots in, if you choose.  He is very active in helping to shore up the defenses of the Vermillion House

Gear: Most of Klaus’ every day carry fits neatly into his attache case. He has a top of the line smartphone, and a large Ipad (It is not particularly secure, but his emails ARE encrypted and most of his personal files are in Japanese) He also possesses a couple of Passport outboard solid state drives stuffed with hard to find occult books. He also carries some paperwork, a Desert Eagle with a laser sight, some ritual tools in a false bottom of the case.  His wallet is a forest of plastic and he can do quite a bit damage with this alone.  He keeps a duplicate case in his home, a bolt hole, and the trunk of his car with the added bonus of new identity documents and a money belt loaded with Krugerrands.  He can disappear in 6 minutes time. Not that he necessarily needs to...He just likes to know that he still can. Getting out of Denmark was pretty harrowing.

Home: A rolling multi-floored estate in a neo-Grecian style. The staff works downstairs. “Mr. Barrington and his Secretaries” live upstairs. There is a large pool and on the back end of the property a proper barn which is home to 4 horses.  The house is also home to 8 Rottweilers that have been extensively trained.  They won’t accept food from any other hand than Klaus’s and they only accept commands in German.  The sub-basement of the property hosts an armory of steam cleaned long arms and assault weapons, a krugerrand cache, and an escape tunnel that can be used to vacate the house and then flooded with old school mustard gas. Anyone attempting to remove the sewer grate on the far end of the tunnel is going to catch 50,000 volts and set off an alarm at the house. Good luck locating the keypad.

Circle: Klaus’s business interests put him into many many different companies in financial and industrial sectors. That is some pretty big swinging social dick right there.  Not to mention he’s got crazy statuses from being a business leader and pillar of the community. Not only that but he’s gotten himself into the Masonic end of the pool too.  Additionally, he uses a set of cutouts to put money into the hands of white supremacists groups in exchange for specific services. Such men have their uses. He employs an in-house security company to make certain that his household and his person are properly protected and these guys are pros. He even has a group of diviners and hedge magicians who create an aggregated forecast for market fluctuations and runs their profit sharing fund himself. As you can imagine, they are highly motivated.  The Vermillion House has reaped fat benefits from this group more than once.

Story Uses:
“What makes you think I had anything to do with that?”
Klaus is a spider. He’s careful. He’s smart. and worst of all, he’s patient. He’ll be one of the main voices on the inner council that preaches caution and incremental change. If you’re trying to jack up the Vermillion House, He is likely to be the hardest one to get... and if he manages to crawl away from the field of battle, you might never see him again...Or, you might see him again about 30 years down the line. He’ll have brought friends. They will be armed.  They will have done their homework on you.

“Look, you shouldn’t misunderstand me. Evil is FUN, but it doesn’t always make money. And I’d rather have the Money...”
Klaus is, perhaps more than most of the member of the inner council, of a more reflective bent. He’s philosophical about his motives and attitudes. He takes the long view. He doesn’t necessarily do things unless he’s got a reason, and if he’s got one, odds are good that he’s got six.
He likes money and power and the things that they buy. But he isn’t really interested in being a mustache twirling evil-doer its own sake.  In fact, it’s entirely possible that Klaus, might look at some scheme from another member of the Inner council and find it stupid or distasteful, and in such cases, he might just quietly drop a file folder into the hands of interested parties. It’s happened a time or two.

* He pays a staffer to go around to The Grimoire once a month and see if there is anything interesting. He doesn't go himself. The older woman is unusually sensitive.
* Has Aldous Church in his Rolodex. Because, if you KNEW about a guy like him, wouldn't you want him on retainer?
* Occasionally, it's necessary to adopt a new name. it turns out that Holmes, Gillis, Baker, Savage, North, and Dean has extensive experience with this sort of thing.
Lillian Penobscot "Ah. My dearest one. You know, she can put her ankles behind her head. And for an Occult Dilletante, she's quite sharp. I might take her under my wing if she ever gets over her vampire infatuation. I already know a dozen spells that can keep her taut and tan for another couple of decades."
Lorna Crane "She likes being slapped around some. Not exactly my kink. But I'll try anything once. Fairly sure she tried to poison me afterward. She gets the funniest look on her face whenever I come around and then normally has to excuse herself. I find it hilarious.
Reverend Mike Plumber "Mike's always game. Good for a favor or two. He's a good soldier."
Schuyler Lavey "Young Mr. Nesbitt reminds me of myself in my youth. Which is likely why I haven't killed him and can barely stand to be around him. I'll keep an eye on him. If he manages to make something of himself, then I'll see if he wants a mentor."
Meredith Shaw "Also, not my kink. I have seen that there is a marked difference in the way that she speaks to me and the way she speaks to men who have been conquered by her. I think it's better to be on this side of that divide."
Robert Nathan Herbert  "Hasn't failed me yet. But then again, I don't ask much of him."
"Dr. Coulton Bennett" "Oh Coulton...You really don't have any sort of clue of who you are screwing with. I can't wait to see the look on your face when you realize."
Selma Collins "I'd hire her again. She's quite good."
Ralston Van Doren "Not as dumb and as reckless as he'd have you believe. He's like his grandfather in that respect."

Friday, July 7, 2017

Winifred Martindale

Concept: Goddamn Busybody

AKA: Winnie, or Win to her friends. As you can imagine, she inspires rather unpleasant epithets from people who do not like her much.

Desc: Tan. Toned. Fit. Blonde. No ink. Clear blue eyes. Constantly on the go. Phone constantly in hand. More frown wrinkles than laugh lines. A strident note in her voice that causes agitation in small animals.

History: Winnie didn’t used to be this way. She actually was a sweet girl once upon a time. But she grew up poor and in a place where the walls of reality were a bit thin. Some people can thrive in situations where they don’t have actual control over their lives. Others cannot. So one night, While Winifred was trying to get to sleep over the noise of her arguing parents. An “Angel” spoke to her and asked her if she would like to have the ability to have more control over her life and the lives of others.
    That was a long time ago. When the “Angel” moved into her, changes started happening. And now, when she looks back at the past, it never seems that bad.  They’ve been together so long, they no longer think of themselves as separate entities.
    Winifred is still a youngish woman. She went to college and studied Art history with the idea in mind to become a museum curator someday, but really, she was husband shopping. She met Kyle at a Tri-Delt mixer and over the course of time, browbeat him into marrying her and getting his law degree. (Secretly, he yearns to go back to music.)  They have  3 kids.  Noah (7, Has had a picture taken of him every single day of his life.) Taylor (4, and likely already clinically depressed) and Deirdre (1, Total drama queen)  Naturally, The family had needs so, Kyle was forced to sell off his prized restored Mustang so they could get the minivan. It’s better this way really.
    Winnie doesn’t work. How could she? She has these little angels to worry about. But she does keep herself busy with the PTA, and the Home Owner’s Association, And the neighborhood church, and nearly any other avenue that allows her to manipulate and move other people around on the chessboard in her mind. She’s very active on social media and even has her own mommy blog where she regales people with stories about her children and her man and coping strategies (Read= borderline narcissist manipulations) for dealing with same.  #blessed!

Attitude: “Rhetta, Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m afraid that your lawn garden doesn’t conform to HOA standards. Now, I get that it’s pretty and all. I’m not unsympathetic. But unless your landscape is brought up to HOA code by the end of this weekend, I’m afraid you’re going to have to be fined for every day that it remains this way. You can, of course, appeal this decision at next month's meeting, but I think we both know how that’s going to go. No one really likes you, Rhetta...”

Skills: Physically, she’s in fine shape. Kyle, on the rare occasions when he actually gets some, has no real complaints. She’s not really what you’d call a combatant, but she has taken a course or two at the “Y” in self-defense. Intellectually, she’s smart enough. No genius mind you, but she does have a decent education. Socially, she’s nearly goddamn unstoppable. She’s pretty and she’s the sort of person that people naturally gravitate to. She’s confident in the way that a narcissist always seems to be and she has a positive gift for being able to suss out people's motivations and secrets. Not only that but she has a gift for becoming a sort of “Grey Eminence” A power behind the throne.  Her “Friends” are usually all the people that run the organizations that she stays active in.  She is very skilled in going around behind other people and getting a lot of things done and handled very quietly.
On the spirit side of things,  She’s about a middling level spirit with at least 2 dots of Influence: social control. She possesses the following Numina: Omen Trance (used for staying ahead of game.) Implant Mission (Used for whipping her “Friends” into a workforce frenzy) Drain (used to top off essence and stop arguments cold.) and Aggressive Meme (No one does “Whispering Campaign” better than Winnie)  She has the following Ban: She is not allowed to hold a position of significant power directly.  She also possesses the following Bane: She cannot abide being laughed at. If she is laughed at, she must withdraw.

Gear: She carries a gym bag with all the necessary oddments that a mommy on the go might have with her. Wet naps, tasteless granola bars. a tube of Neosporin, etc. etc.  The only serious piece of equipment that is part of her daily carry is her iPhone. She can destroy you with just this.

Home: She dragooned Kyle into buying an enormous place on the edge of the really pricey neighborhood in town. One of those McMansion deals with a Great Room for entertaining. Kyle really doesn’t make that kind of money yet. But if he stays with the DA’s office, he probably will someday. Mainly because she’ll put it into his head that he’ll make a good DA himself..and then eventually State Attorney...or maybe a judgeship someday.  He’ll be fine. He can put in the hours.
There is also a Pomeranian named “Lucy”  Lucy knows who the Alpha in the house is.

Circle: Large and ever shifting. Winifred is a seasoned intriguer and most of the enemies that she has made don’t have the desire or wherewithal to tangle with her again. Winnie likes having the wives of the rich and powerful in her cabal and is not above flirting with the men-folk to get what she wants. (She’s never actually cheated on Kyle. She doesn’t think that’s appropriate. But you never know when the situation might call for it. And it’s not like Kyle really satisfies her or anything...Only control satisfies her.  But if Kyle divorced her, she might lose things she’s worked very hard for...and others might laugh at her.

Story Uses:
“I think she looks tired. Don’t you think she looks tired?”
Winifred is the kind of antagonist that you’d actually have to look pretty hard to see that she was supernatural. In fact, she prides herself on being able to use her social acumen to get her way without having to use her Numina. It may be that not a lot of plots in the World of Darkness cook off in the burbs. I get that. But it’s not as if they don’t have the potential.

“Kyle. I want you to go over there and speak to those people. I want you to tell them that those sorts of shenanigans will NOT be tolerated in this neighborhood. We have children here.”
Like any spirit keenly interested in control, wild elements tend to upset the applecart. So if your characters happen to cross paths with Winifred, she will end up turning into the sort of snoopy busybody that was the stereotype of the suburban housewife in the 50’s.  You will no longer enjoy living in the neighborhood.

Maurice Van Rensaslear Faithful reader of his column. Considers herself something of a foody too.
ADA Calvin Donloe  A co-worker of Kyles. Might have to have something bad happen to him if he gets in the way of her...of Kyle's ambitions.
Bartholomew Reines I did mention her self-defense courses right? Guess who?
Alex Mahoney "Did you listen to his latest program? Mind shattering stuff right? He and I are cousins. Did you know that?"
Payton Breckinridge "Lucy's vet is a tasty morsel...He needs the right woman in his life. I know that if something happened to Kyle (God Forbid) I'd be looking for someone like him."
Reverend Mike Plumber "Mike is an inspiration to us all. I won't hear an evil word against him."
Parker Mortuary and Black Creek Cemetery Winnie supported Mary Parker for PTA president. Mary has come to rely on Winnie's oracular pronouncements for any major step she takes.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Steve Chang

Concept: Security Services Entrepreneur 

AKA: Known to family and friends by a myriad of nicknames. Most commonly “Steve-O” and “Steverino”.

Desc: Average height, well built and muscular. Short black hair and a pleasant smile. He’s got great teeth. (He’s a little vain about it.) One Tat from his days in Army Ranger school. 

History: Steve grew up here. He doesn’t know a lick of Chinese, except for some stuff his grandpa used to say when he was pissed.  He does live up to the Asian stereotype of being a martial artist. But his preferred art form is Brazilian jiu-jitsu and he never got into it until he was in the army.
      Steve was a pretty smart kid, if not the best student. Most of his interests were a bit more visceral. There was some talk that he might get a football scholarship. He can still run like the motherfucking wind. But those hopes never seemed to materialize. Like most kids that live in a middle-class situation, He was kind of banking on that scholarship. But rather than trash his college career, He elected to enlist and get himself the G.I. bill.

The good news is, Steve is a hell of a good soldier eventually going on to Ranger School. The bad news is that because of when he went in, He ended up seeing action in Iraq and Afghanistan and ended up being stop-lossed, which delayed his college some.  Steve came home, got his G.I. bill and went to school.
It was weird being home. It was weird being in school again after having been in the war. But Steve knew how to stick to the plan. He got himself an MBA and left school determined to get himself a great job.

You’d think that a fella who has all manner of military training, an MBA, and can speak Iraqi would be able to find a decent gig. But the country was still climbing out of an economic downturn and jobs weren’t exactly thick on the ground.
Steve was drinking with some of his old army buddies when he hit on a basic idea.  “Boys, I think it fairly fucking clear to me that in this economy, being dependent on some rich fucker for a paycheck is dumber than a bag of hammers. We should go into business for ourselves.”
   And you have to know, that was the best thing the boys had heard all night. And in the morning, after drinking about a gallon of water, Steve realized that it was still probably a good idea.
   Steve organized something that he knew would be the one thing that his army buddies could do. He created a security company. At first, he went round and round about what to call it before finally settling on "Gate One"  At first, it was fairly easy. Lots of places need some dude to come around and simply keep an eye on the place, and many times, the uniform did a lot of the work. All you’d need would be the ability to read and a pulse. All of Steve’s buddies had that and a few skills besides. Steve even set it up so that the guys who worked for him had profit sharing. So as the business grew, it got good for everyone.
    And that probably would have been a good, if small, kind of dream.  But as Steve thought about it more and more, he realized that his guys were being underutilized.  So he started seeing about expanding the business.  He got into armored car transport and acquiring the certification for same. And he’s been working on taking certain of his employees that have shown a willingness or an aptitude for it and giving them more specialized training for second tier security work.  He’s even got a small group of guys who have certifications and training to be personal bodyguards. That’s where the real money is. Steve, as I say, has never been the best student, but he’s done serious work to read up on and stay on top of advancements in the security field.
   Steve tends to wear a suit more often these days. and his spiky black has a few gray ones in there now. But frankly, he’s never happier when he’s got on his regular uniform and is training the new hires. He’s a good guy to work for and he’s got a smile for everyone.

Attitude: “Okay. So in a hospital situation, the bulk of your work will be to escort nurses and lady doctors to their cars. Do your clock rounds and certain other bits of business as dictated by your post commander. However, a small amount of your work will be restraining patients and/or members of their family. And I don’t think I have to tell you that that restraint should be designed not to cause additional damages. So today we’re going to learn about joint locks...”

Skills: Physically, Steve is still a specimen. Maybe not as fast as he used to be, but still pretty fast. he works out regularly and runs every single morning, rain or shine.  He’ll have dots of Fleet of Foot and he’ll have martial arts dots and stuff like brawling dodge and disarm. He may even have dots of Parkour. He’s not super strong, but he makes up for it with speed and decent tactics.
    Socially, he’s a friendly sort and people tend to like him. he’s also decent looking. And he doesn’t rattle easily. But the main trouble he has in his life is that he has zero chill with the ladies and he tends to gravitate to the most neurotic woman in the room.  This is not to say that he hasn’t had relationships. But they do tend to flame out rather spectacularly. Eventually, his positive nature reasserts itself, but it seems to take longer and longer these days.
   Intellectually, Steve thinks pretty fast, He can stick to a plan and this is what has enabled him to get through all the schooling. He’s got some academics and some investigation dots (A spec in Business, natch)  His mother still gives him shit about this stuff even though he’s grown ass man and owns a successful business. His little sister is a neurosurgeon. It makes holiday meals a bit tense.  If you’re using merits like Professional training, Steve is likely to have some in “Soldier”

Gear: iPhone for nearly every bit of his actual computational needs, and he’s got an Alienware for games and storage.
Has a right armpit holster for his Glock 17, and another holster under his left for a snap baton. Carries a tough military style velcroed wallet. Has one of those key organizer things that looks like a swiss army knife. Also, carries a swiss army knife. If he’s got a suit on or if he’s in the field, he is likely to be wearing concealed armor.  The toolbox of his pick-up truck is a combination armory and medical trauma surgery He’s got maybe 1 dot of medicine but he can’t stop buying this stuff. He’s also bad about impulse purchases of office supplies.

Home: Steve owns his own home. it’s a nice place. Very upper middle class if not necessarily palatial.  He’s got extra space so whenever the parents visit, they stay with him.  Also, his sister Cathy occasionally crashes here if she’s had a very long day and can’t take the drive home. 

Circle: Steve is a decent guy to work for and likable. he’s read that men in their 30’s tend to lose some of their social circle and Steve fights this tendency tooth and nail. He stays in touch with Facebook and Twitter with most of his employees and old army friends.  He’s got good contacts with people he’s done work for and they tend to pass new customers along.  He’s even gone to the lengths of making an effort to get to know his neighbors and he hosts a cookout once a year in the spring.

Story Uses:
“Sir. I’m going to have to ask you to turn around very slowly and keep your hands where I can see them.”
Steve and his workforce may stand between you and your prey someday. I want to make you aware, that Steve is NOT some kind of slam-dunk pushover.  He’s smart and he knows what he’s doing and if things go sideways, he is NOT going to lose his cool. He may still go down, but you will know you have been in a fight.

“Sir. We’re going to have to initiate ex-fill. Like...Right now.”
On the other hand, it’s also possible that you may be in the position of having Steve keep you alive. If that’s the case, there really aren’t many who are better at it in the region. 

* Has worked for Blaise Newkirk at least a couple of times. Blaise is impressed with the service that his clients have received and would recommend him again. Blaise sees Steve as the sort of person who might take offense at some of the things that Blaise does as a matter of course in his workday. So while their relationship is cordial, it's also sort of distant.
* Went to college with Detective Dana Crowley. He's still a little hung up on her. She likes him and all...but she doesn't LIKE like him. Ya know?
* Has done work for Alex Mahoney. Alex is one of those clients, where the money is good, but Steve just does not like him. It helps that Steve never listens to his radio show. Steve's a little conservative, but that guy is a nut.
* He is a bit obsessed with Marta Reyes. He saw her play live at an event he was doing work for and she simply knocked him out of his socks. Every chance he can get, he'll go see her play.
* Has worked personal protection for Meredith Shaw. At first, he was very attracted to the woman, but then something about vibe was off. Normally, he doesn't listen. This time though...
* over the course of many years, Holmes, Gillis, Baker, Savage, North, and Dean has kicked Gate One a lot of business. Steve considers Allejandro Dean to be a decent guy. They've even been out drinking together. Allejandro came very close to spilling the beans about the internal workings of his firm. Still might.
* For non-essential security tasks, The Vermillion House will sub-contract out. The money is good, but Steve can't help notice that the in-house staff guys are hard, cold, and usually total pricks to him and his boys.