Saturday, March 18, 2017

Joseph "Shlomo" Kahn

Concept: The Numbers Man

AKA: Joseph’s only nickname is the one above.

Desc:  He’s like a living Drew Friedman drawing. Great big black frame glasses perched atop a remarkable bulbous nose. He had some work done on his teeth, so he’s got a decent smile. He’s lost most of his hair but for a bit of fringe. He dresses comfortably for a man who would prefer it’s a few degrees warmer than it is and tends to shuffle rather than stroll. On colder days, he walks with a cane.

History: Joseph was a smart young man growing up. His mother thought he might be a doctor, a lawyer, or even a respected rabbi.  But sometimes, when you grow up in a rough neighborhood, you turn your intellect to more pragmatic pursuits.  Especially if your best bud is Frankie Pentangelli.
      So maybe you grow up hard. and maybe you make a few hard choices along the way. You take a little advice from your best friend and you set yourself up in business.  You start out as a shylock, and you’re a decent earner because you understand that there are more ways to motivate someone to pay the vig than to break legs or throw acid in a child’s face.
   Joseph had a true gift for mathematics, maybe not the high-end calculus requiring serious proofs. But still, a gift for running the numbers and percentages and be able to do it in his head. An ability to look at a spreadsheet and “feel” irregularities. And as he grew older, an ability to apply his knowledge of people in an almost mathematical way.  To the point that when Joseph turns to Francis and says, “There’s a 27% chance that Tony Cannavale is skimming more than 6 percent off the top of his earnings. We can absorb about 6% percent without too much trouble. But if he’s getting greedy, then he’s getting stupid.”  Francis hears that, and Tony has a whole slew of new troubles in his life.

So, while he runs the entire financial side of the Don’s business, he is also effectively the Don’s Consiglieri. He’s still the only one that Francis knows he can talk straight with. It’s a good thing that Joseph knows the sorts of things that he knows otherwise he’d be in some monster’s pocket.  In addition, to his other skills, Joseph is a practitioner of Gematria and Kabbalah. Between him and the specialists they hire from the Vermillion House, Francis and Joseph, and their inner circle, stay well protected.

Attitude: “I’ve done some bad things. I’ve killed guys and I’ve hurt people. Nothing really balances that. But I’ve got my loyalty. I know who I stand with. I’ve built a life for myself and my wife and my children. and if I’m called on to do bad things in the service of all of that. I’ll do it.”

Skills: Physically, Shlomo is an old man, and creaky like an old man is. He’s nothing in a fight except he’s  familiar with a firearm and in a fight for his life, he’s not above using an automatic weapon. His hands shake a bit, though. Socially, he’s fairly soft spoken and he’s never been exactly a social machine. He’s got a pretty good bullshit detector.  Mentally, Well...Let’s put it this way. He’s a genius. Intelligence of at least 4. He’s got 4 dots of Academics with specialties in Mathematics, Psychology, and Hebrew.  He’s got pretty decent dots in occult as well with specs in Gematria, Kabbalism, Sacred Geometry, and Geomancy.  He’ll have one of the Hedge Magician templates from Second Sight (Probably the Ceremonial magician template.)  On top of all that, He’s got Trained Observer as one of his merits. It’s HARD to slide things by him.

Gear: Joseph doesn’t have too much on his person that he bothers with regularly. He favors a leather wallet that he was given by his father at his bar mitzvah. He like wild cherry life savers. He has about a dozen little pocket knives, (He keeps misplacing them, so now he buys them in batches.) He has them professionally sharpened because you never know when you might have to cut a guy’s throat. His bodyguard keeps his phone which, is pretty gee-whizzy and top of the line.

Home: Joseph researched the land, bought and paid for it, and then designed his own house. It’s particularly well aspected in a Geomantic sense and is optimized for feng shui potential. Most supernaturals can’t come anywhere near the place. (If you like, you can make his home into a largish geomantic nexus from the Ordo Dracul book.)   He also has an upscale summer home in Boca Raton and a yacht that his bodyguard Walter can pilot.

Circle: He and Madeleine still get along for the most part. Loves all 4 of his kids, (although Chaim tests him somewhat fiercely)  He’s got people that he works with that he’s friendly with and a few people he knows at Temple.  He tends to keep his circle small out of necessity. 

Story Uses:
“He’s a good man I think, and I think he’s likely to keep his mouth shut...But why take a chance?”
Francis has a large and robust organization and it deals with numerous dynamic situations. This means occasionally, decisions have to be made. Hard decisions. Decisions that may affect people that your characters know and love.

“If I were you I would hold off on having the sit-down with the Chinese until 4:30 on Thursday. The numbers are better then...”
Occasionally, the numbers do odd and unexpected things. So it might be that players will find Joseph an unusual and unexpected ally in some things where their interests connect.

* Obviously we've got to talk about Don Pentangelli. Each owes the other their life at least a couple of times over. As much as two mob guys can ever trust one another, these guys trust each other.
The Vermillion House While formally a member of the House, Joseph doesn't tend to go in for those sorts of reindeer games. So, he only goes for the formal events, tends to go home early and isn't much for the decadence. He's more interested in getting things done on the golf course.
Selma Collins In the rolodex Captain Roy Gunderson too.
John Joseph Staglione Knows him from the old neighborhood. Rock solid.
Detective Marty Bennetti is useful for certain things. Joseph does sort of understand Marty, they've talked a bit. Joseph understands there's a line that can't be crossed with him.
* As far as Paul Castellamarese goes, Joseph sees him coming a mile off. He's talked with Francis about this...But Francis doesn't really see him as much of a threat.

The Persoff Building

It started, like many things do, with a deceptively simple question.
“So what exactly does “Negative Chi” mean?”

It was said snidely by one of those Invictus vampire dudes.  It had to do with some question of zoning and re-districting. The Ordo Dracul were all upset about a particular change that was going to jack up the ley lines. If it doesn’t appear on a ledger, it isn’t real to those dudes.  Naturally, there was a lot of agita over that particular piece of real estate and a lot of bad noise in Elysium over it for months.

But the question remained. Is there some way to quantify the effect of negative chi on a place? Something that you can put in front of a bunch of Invictus dickheads that is statistical and hard to ignore.

When you have a question like that, An experiment is called for.
So, a study group was assembled. Assets and resources were marshaled. Some thinking was done about experimental controls. And a plan was put in place.

And that was about 50 years ago. Give the Ordo credit. They know how to think long term.

Two building were built. Decisions were made at the beginning to find a place in the city where the ley lines were very auspicious for the placement of both buildings. Feng Shui experts from within the covenant were consulted on the most efficacious architectural choices to enhance each of the experiments. Each building was bought and paid for through a dizzying array of holding companies and omnibus stock accounts that would make it impossible to trace back to the Ordo.  The Ordo even went to the lengths of consulting the local mages and in exchange for leaving the experiment alone, there was a promise to share data.  The Consilium at the time thought about it and shrugged and said, “Ok. Sure.”

The other building is the Neimoller building. Over across town. It’s that one in the nice neighborhood. The main business in that building is a software company that makes predictive psychological modeling software. They’re doing really well. Defense department contracts, stock prices are up and everyone who works there loves the place.  I may talk about the Neimoller building another time.

But the Persoff building is the one I’m talking about today. And the Persoff Building is not a nice place to work.

It’s 16 floors of pure brutalist angularity on the outside.  Not only that, but there are large specifically machined iron ingots that have been placed in the foundation of the building. The shape of building, those iron deposits, and the actual topography of land that the building sits on combine to make for a truly spectacular flow of negative chi.  The ingots actually help to localize the effect of the negative chi within the building and a 2-3 block radius. Negative chi is DRAWN here.

The Ordo wanted Statistics and they got them.  They set their study group to gather intel on the Neimoller building and a number of other corporate concerns they had their hooks into, in order to have a control group. they discovered the following:
*36% more sick days taken than the average.
*14% more instances of employee having “Episodes” or mental breakdowns.
*8% more suicides.
*13 recorded instance of people in the building going completely missing. including at least one member of the original Ordo Dracul study group.  After this took place, the decision was made to move the group off-site and do the research remotely.
*11 Recorded instances of employees at various companies becoming supernatural in some way. Most of them deeply unpleasant.  (As opposed to the Neimoller building which has recorded a whopping 26 people that have become supernatural, most of them full magi.)
*3 recorded incidents involving dimensional breaches of some sort. Usually during high cyclical activity. The Avernian Gate however is persistent, stable, and resists being removed.
* The entire building is a strong geomantic nexus (3+) and the energies it most closely allies itself with is the skill Intimidation. (No mental skills appear to be enhanced.)  This seems to show itself in a great tendency to overbearing managerial styles in the various companies that do business here.
* The sorts of businesses that tend to have offices in the Persoff building tend to be businesses that either thrive on stress or have high turnover.  Call centers, divorce lawyers, the Burgerhoid District managers office. At least one boiler room stock operation (they ended up burning some Invictus dudes, and while there was chuckling around the Chapterhouse, they ended up serving them up, and now those guys are all doing time on securities and exchange fraud.)  At no point in the life of the building has the occupancy of the building been over 77%
* While ghostly activity seems to be completely unaffected, Other spiritual entities actively avoid the place. even the sort of baneful entities that would ordinarily bask in that sort of energy. Spirits that have been interviewed about this indicate that while the energy is pleasant, there is a spiritual “undertow”. Smaller and weaker spirits are probably swallowed whole by it. Even the more powerful spirits, say that they feel the tugging.  This has the pleasant side effect, of making the building unimportant to the local Uratha.
* There appear to be at least 14 distinct and separate hauntings. None of them are particularly benign, but none of them appear to be particularly powerful either. (Although, there is a suspicion that at least one of the hauntings is more powerful than she lets on.)
* Vermin and insect infestations tend to be cyclical and intense. There is also a creeping mold problem which contributes to the sick days.
* A Corporate law firm that was moved from the Persoff to the Neimoller building (as part of a controlled experiment) reported an uptick in business of over 40%
* Employees in the various firms report feeling enervated, that the Fluorescent lights in the hallways seems to trigger migraines, and feeling symptoms of clinical depression. (This intel gathered under the cover of a health-care professional firm during an investigation into “Sick Building Syndrome”.)

This generated a fat file. A fat file that’s been copied and sent to other chapter houses so that when some Invictus says that there’s no evidence that bad chi will harm business, they can whack them pretty hard with it.

Tim Deacon and Charlie both avoid the Persoff building and the surrounding neighborhood. It makes both of them itchy.
*Before she came to work at Holmes, Gillis, Baker, Savage, North, and Dean Victoria North used to work in a little firm in the Persoff building.  Whenever she's under stress, she dreams she's lost in the corridors and all the doors are locked.
Lewis Flowers used to work in the building as a claims adjuster before he became something of a hermit.
John Patmos has an office in the building. He's rarely there of course. He's probably the only person who smiles in the elevator.
* The Paraphysical Research Society has been to the building a number of times to investigate numerous stories. They never stay long. Miss Virgie Hawkins has a bad reaction to the place each time and usually an upset stomach to go with it.
Christine Horowitz worked at a defense firm right out of school that was in the Persoff building. She was acutely miserable and the stress gave her a case of hives.
Selma Collins attempted to burn out a business on the 12th floor for an insurance scam, the fire refused to catch completely. It was the only time she was never able to cash out.
Rosalie Prescott had a gig as a commercial artist for a little tiny firm in the building. The guy who ran it was an erratic genius she knew from school. Unfortunately, the place made him more erratic and the company folded.
Bartholomew Reines's school is about a block from the building. This shouldn't surprise anyone.
* The Insurance company that screwed over William Lee Travis was headquartered here. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Temple of Athens

4 out of 5 restaurants go out of business every year. Mostly, it's because they're undercapitalized and under planned. Even established restaurants have to deal with the fact that the business is stressful and prone to the vagueries of economic weather.
   But even though anyone can get fed at Burgerhoid, or Dickies, or Shark Island, or any other fast food place. White Tablecloth operations will never go out of business.

Dimitrios Karanikas is a lucky man in some ways. He's got a brother who props him up when things are lean. he's got a family that he can lean on for manpower. He's got a relatively stable clientele of the small Greek community in this town. And his restaurant sits squarely on a crossed pair of ley lines. It really is all about location.

 Sure, it's caused a problem or two. Spirits seem to congregate. (people say the place is haunted.) There have been a couple of new hires who turned out to be a bit more psychically active than was healthy for them. There have been a number of weird incidents and Magi, Sin Eaters, and Werewolves have taken to keeping an eye on the place. Some to police the spirits, others to transact business with them. There are even a few who have taken to eating there regularly. Because if ANYTHING is true, Dimitrios runs a damn fine restaurant.

The Neighborhood:
The Temple is in one of those sections of town where it seems that most of the restaurants are being kept. There's a healthy mix of fast food and a few other sit-down restaurants. There is a big-box store nearby, (S-mart, if I'm recalling correctly.) which anchors the whole commerce district. The general ambiance of the neighborhood is one of barely restrained energy. Perhaps this is as a result of ley-line leakage.  This tends to come out in little ways, Of the restaurant staff that works around here, there is a greater tendency towards cocaine abuse. Diners are impatient as a general rule, and there once was a situation where a guy got out of his car over at the Dickies drive through and shot another guy who was ordering for his entire office.

The Place.
ToA is a stand-alone. The décor is in faux ancient greek. Dimitrios once read years ago that ethnic styled restaurants don’t do very well if they don’t have ethnic decor. One of those quirks of psychology. So the exterior has fake-ass columns, and the interior is all terra-cotta with fake olive branches twisting around everything. One of the many Karanikas’s is a painter and so, she got press-ganged into service creating murals of scenes from greek mythology. This was terribly annoying until a local art collector asked about the artist, Dimitrios gave the collector his cousin’s contact information and now she’s got a good job doing large reproductions. While the wall stuff is all fake, Dimitrios and two friends did all the flooring and tile themselves. (He’s handy that way)
The front is like any standard double glass door foyer you’ll see in any chain place. There is, however, a coat check area about the size of a postage stamp. His sullen Grand-Niece Justina holds court here. She brings her laptop and a portable hot-spot with her because Great Uncle Dimitrios is a fucking dinosaur who has yet to join the 21st century. First timers here don’t know what to make of her, and her purple hair, and the dead eyes she gives most customers.  The Regulars just shrug and say, “That’s just her way.”  Justina takes a while to warm up to people. Tips help.

Stepping through the doors, one is likely on most evenings, to encounter Rhea Aristides-Karanikas. Normally she is manning the hostess station. There have been other hostesses over the years but none of them have ever really been up to the challenge of this business and Rhea is fast to point this out to them...Until it’s a near constant drumbeat. Those few who have been able to handle the business up to her exacting standards (and the far less exacting standards of everyone else on the staff...) have inevitably fallen into the problem of Rhea suspecting that they are trying to steal her husband.

While Dimitrios is not a bad looking man at all, He’s simply too busy and this is more of a reflection of the fact that Rhea has put on 3 pounds every single year she and Dimitrios have been married and is quietly freaking out about it. (Again, There's nothing wrong with the way Rhea looks either. She not unpretty and Dimitrios likes her curves.)  Rhea is one of those poor souls who, for one reason or another, requires a certain amount of tension and drama to surround her world at all times.  It’s the only way she knows how to interact with people really. Needless to say, that on the nights that she has off, or any evening where she might actually be ill and stay home, the restaurant is a great deal more relaxed as a general rule.  Weirdly, the customers love her. They think she’s colorful and seem to enjoy when she freaks out on their behalf because of some perceived problem with the food or the service.

From the Hostess stand there is a section off to the right where the bar and restrooms are, and to the right and straight back all the way to the far wall of the place is an open space of dining room. The place is sectioned off a bit by 5 foot high walls, but if the place is full, the walls don’t really absorb much sound and it can be hard to hear yourself think.

There are three entrance/exits to the Kitchen area and a second set of restrooms on the far side of the place. Out the back door is loading dock about the size of a large deep freeze, and a ramp down towards the fenced off dumpster.

The Staff:
They are your usual typical restaurant staff. Young. Poor. Preternaturally horny. Afflicted with the sorts of problems that would make a top-flight soap opera. Ramped up on stimulants to get through the shift, and then drunk to take the edge off, or studying until daybreak. or both. The kids that work here know that anyone who has an actual greek surname is likely a relative, and they can fuck up as many times as they want without getting fired permanently. But it has also been noticed that workers who are NOT family and show a certain amount of responsibility will often be promoted over family. Dimitrios learned the hard way to NEVER allow any of his relatives to be the head bartender. He still won’t talk to Lukas at family gatherings.  That’s how bad it was.  It is instructive to note that most of Dimitrios's hard core line cooks never cooked a greek dish before working here.   This doesn’t bother Dimitrios. But for some reason, it does bother Rhea.  Most of the line cooks have learned that the best way to deal with Rhea is to go into “Freeze” mode.  They stop working and give her the thousand yard stare until finally she stops yapping at them and goes away. Dimitrios only wishes he could get away with that.

The Shadow:

There seems to be a LOT of energy that runs through this place. Not like GLASTONBURY or anything like that, but still noticeable. There has been some idle talk amongst some of the night-folk about whether something ought to be done to divert the flow or leave it be and let nature correct. Naturally, each of the various groups have their own agendas, but at present nobody has wanted to upset the applecart as there is a LOT of attention on the place. Any person or group who made Dimitrios an offer (He won’t sell) or tries to coerce him, would have a lot of night-folk talking.  There is at least one greek Uratha who claims the area as his territory.  Giorgio loves this place. He may even be a relative. Nobody seems to be sure.

Sheriff Hank Settles Go figure. A simply ask, to keep an eye on the place, evolved into a love of greek cuisine and a desire to eat there at least once a week. Which was fortunate, because Hank was in there one night when some nut with a 22 revolver tried to hold the place up.  As a result, Dimitrios says the Sheriff Hank's money is no good here. While Hank doesn't sweat having a free meal from his favorite restaurant, he does see how it affects the Mrs. So he made an agreement with her. He eats for free, but only comes once a week and if he drinks, he pays for the drinks. This made Rhea very happy. As a result, Sheriff Hank is now considered a family friend.
Rosalie Prescott Rosalie's store is in the same section of town. And since Dimitrios works long nights, he's gotten to know her some. He's one of her regulars.
John Patmos If he's in town, and needs to take a meeting which involves a meal, He'll have it here. Patmos doesn't NEED to eat. but he can, and on those occasions when he must do so for appearance sake. He'd just as soon have comfort food.
*Lambrose Karanikas Any client who steps into Lambrose's limo and says, "Take me to the finest restaurant in town" get's brought here of course. Some get annoyed. Most try it out, Many are pleasantly surprised.
*Milo Karanikas Most people in the family are aware that Milo is making money doing something shady. Mostly, this doesn't bother them. But if someone needs to film a commercial, he's the first one they turn to, and his commercials LOOK professional grade. Dimitrios has however had a strong talk with Milo about chatting with the young women in his employ. A meat cleaver was involved in that discussion. Milo doesn't trouble the waitresses here. Nope.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Paul Castellamarese

Concept: Up and coming mob guy

AKA: Most people, including his mother, call him Paulie,  He insist that his mob nickname is “The Snake” but most of the other guys who have been around him for a while call him Pop-Pop. Mainly because he tends to fly off the handle when he gets mad, he’s liable to drill you twice before he calms down. Naturally, Most people don’t have the sac to call him this to his face.

Desc: Middling tall. He’s got a great head of hair that he’s going to ruin if he doesn’t learn to stay away from gel. He’s fit and moves well. He can actually ballroom dance. (Mama insisted.And you know what? she was right. It’s gotten me laid) He dresses like an undertaker with a dash of color.  No ink. (“That shit’s for animals.”)

History: Paulie is third generation. Eldest of six and there was never any doubt in his mind that he was going into the family business. And while he’s still relatively young he’s imbibed of the whole idea of being a “Man of Respect” his whole life.  Paulie has it in his head that one day he’s going to run things. He’s got an Alpha wolf’s attitude and frankly, the day when he is in charge can’t come fast enough.
   And in truth, he’s not stupid. He’s got an understanding of what the life calls for.  This is why he’s got his own crew at an age when most guys are still bag-men or soldiers. He treats his boys like family, and he’s made it abundantly clear what would happen if someone were to hurt his family. So his boys are in that nice balance of completely loyal and scared shitless of him.
   Which is good. While he’s got a few things going on that his Don has directed him to do, and he does not slough off on his duties, he’s got a side thing going on which the Don would NOT approve of.  Paul has a source for China White and it’s keeping him and his boys in beer and skittles. He’s worked extra hard to make it impossible to trace back to him, and while that calls for additional overhead, it's a small price to pay. If the don found out, well. It would be bad, it would mean He’d have to put his plans into action before he was really ready.
Make no mistake. He’s NOT ready. Paul doesn’t know nearly as much about the way things really work as he thinks he does. For instance, he doesn’t know shit about the supernatural. Should he actually managed to unseat the don somehow, he’d been someone’s plaything inside a week. Assuming, of course, the Vermillion House doesn’t get involved right from the jump.
     But Paulie doesn’t worry about that. He keeps his nose clean. Doesn’t get greedy. Is always respectful and is careful about who he shares his confidences.  The only thing that could conceivably jack up the whole works is if some supernatural creature takes a liking to him and decides he’ll be a usefully ally or tool. Then, things will go sideways very quickly.

Attitude:  “I’m very happy that you thought enough of me to bring this matter to my attention. I will speak to the Chinese and I am confident that we can resolve all of this peacefully.”

Skills: Socially, he’s solid. Physically, he’s pretty tough but not fast. He’s got some muscle and some Boxing chops. (Pop insisted, and he was right.)  He’s a decent shooter when his temper is in check, but if he’s flipping the fuck out. (Composure no better than 2) then he’s less so.
Intellectually, he’s not stupid, but he IS the kind of person who thinks that education is for saps. As a result, his Resolve and Wits are far more developed. He’ll have a dot or two of Investigation, just because occasionally, you’ve got to find some Mook and show him the error of his ways.

Gear: He’s got a firearm on his person. He’s even got a permit for it. (It goes without saying that Paul hasn’t even done time.) Of course, the trunk of his sports car is a small armory, and every weapon in there has been steam cleaned for identifiers. Fortunately, there is a cunning hidden panel. Cops have stopped him more than once.  He’s also got an iPod like the Don’s but instead of opera, he opts for Sinatra. He never writes anything down. (His memory isn’t flawless, but it is pretty good)  He has a European styled wallet that he got from Amazon, although he is formulating some half-ass story about how he got it in Sicily. 

Home: I should probably mention Veronica. They grew up together, teased one another in middle school, got naked with one another in high school, and to give Paulie a certain amount of credit. He’s never even considered marrying another woman. They’ve been trying to have a kid for a while now, but so far, no soap. Veronica has a lovely house in the upscale side of the Burbs. Veronica is very much a kept woman. But she doesn’t believe that gives her license to be some kind of slob. So, as a result, their home is a showplace and their garden is beautiful. Not that Paulie actually notices that sort of thing. But he would notice HARD if it stopped being the case.  He spends most nights at home.
Those nights he does NOT spend at home are usually spent with Svetlana. Veronica knows all about that. It comes with the territory. She knew what she was getting into. Doesn’t make it any easier. 

Circle: Paul makes an effort on the social front. He knows his neighbors and the people that go to his church. (and if they are interesting at all, he’ll look into them some.)  He’s got his crew and other goombah friends. And he’s made some inroads with some of the other ethnic gangs. Enough that he thinks it might be a good idea to learn some Chinese. I mean, how hard could THAT be. It sounds like baby talk.

Story Uses:
* “I don’t think I know what you’re talking about officer.”
Paul is a loyal man. He’s never had to take the weight for a crime yet, but he likes to think that he could if he had to. It might even be true. It certainly would pave the way to becoming a “Made Man” within La Famiglia.  What he’s not considering is how bad it’s going to be on Veronica and/or their potential kid(s) Especially if he has to take a LOT of weight.

“Oh yeah? So I suppose I have to ask. What do I get out of this arrangement?”
Paul could be a useful ally and he might even be someone you might want to put in your pocket. He’s not squeamish. and that’s more useful than you’d think in the NWOD

Detectives Blanchard and Skiggs  "These fucking guys, Right? Can't a man enjoy his fucking frosted flakes in peace?"
Drago Velikovski "Probably one of the most easygoing guys I know. How he's still in business, I just don't see.
Selma Collins "Twisted little bitch. She did some jobs for me. One time, after a thing, I banged her, but she looks at me like she's considering a cheese danish or some fucking shit. Like I need that. Still. She does thorough work.
John Joseph Staglione "Nah man. I'm not going to bust your balls for making light of Johnny Two-tap. He's more than capable of doing it himself. Learning curve on that is pretty fucking steep."
The Witness "Rough neighborhood. It'd be bad if something were to happen to the place. I'm just saying..."
Jamal Cooper "The guy may be a staunch supporter of Cocoa Puffs, but he and his boys keep my hands spotlessly clean. Fucking crazy eggplant. But he at least understands the drug trade. I'll give him that.
Don Pentangelli "Look. Don't misunderstand. I respect the man and everything he's done. But there comes a time when you have to pass the torch. Maybe to someone who's young and hungry."
Big Dan Tarleton "The Don's been talking to this guy off and on for years about going to the next level with his operation. But I don't never see no movement. Personally, Me? I'd ground floor that shit."

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Detective Nell Wesley

Concept: Narcotics Detective/Adrenaline Junky

AKA: Nell goes undercover fairly often. She’s developed a few personas that she uses with back story and documents to back them up. Within the department proper, they’ve started to call her “Tyson” Because she has a right cross that will make you re-think your life path.

Desc: Middling tall, built like a brick house. Muscular, but she’s working on flexibility too. because she doesn’t want to get TOO muscular to the point it stands out. Very dark skinned. Tends to keep her hair braided and out of her face. Because of the nature of her work, she doesn’t go in for anything elaborate with her hair. Eyes that betray a certain amount of laser-like focus. She has a smile like a sunrise, but you don’t get to see it very often. Walks like a boxer. She has a tattoo on her upper bicep of two Feminine symbols that have been conjoined side-by-side. Most of the guys in the force have already figured out what that means.

History: A girl grows up in the hood, she’s going to see some things. Some of those things will mark you. Maybe you see someone from the neighborhood get gunned down in a drive-by. Maybe you had a classmate fall in with drug-pushers, and the Mexicans cut his balls off and stuffed them in his mouth. Maybe you had a cousin OD on crack and had to sit next to your Aunt at the funeral while people lied to her about how “natural” he looked. They meant well. They always mean well.
   So maybe at some point, you have a teacher who sits down with you and seriously talks to you about making a difference in the world. And you chew that over for a while in your head, and while that’s taking place the crack dealers are muscling for territory in your corner of the city. And maybe you decide you want to be a cop because you want to make a difference.
     Nell gets a job with the police and she does okay. She’s not super smart, but she knows what’s what and has good experience. She makes detective (Although probably slower than some straight white dude...) and when they’re asking her where she wants to go. She makes it very clear that she doesn’t give a DAMN how short-handed Vice is for women police. She wants Narcotics.
They looked into her eyes and realized she was pretty serious.
   So they put her into Narcotics. And that’s where she’s been ever since.
And if you ask her, on any given day, she goes back and forth on whether she’s made a difference or not. The thing that makes her worry, though, is that she feels like she’s getting reckless. undercover work is fraught with perils and traps of all sorts. Addiction from having to take drugs in front of the dealers. Dealers who have very good cop radar or are twitchy and paranoid. inter-departmental politics and internal corruption.
   The thing that worries her is that the edge of adrenaline has replaced that need to make a difference. She prays at night to a God that her pastor says has damned her for her sexuality, to regain that sense of purpose...To not need the adrenaline.  But she’s seen enough junkies in her time to know how deep she’s in.

Attitude: “Tommy. You have the right to remain silent, and if you so much as twitch, I’m going to hit you so hard your tomorrows are going to fall off. Now get up motherfucker.”

Skills:  As far as she goes, Nell has worked very hard over the years. She’s not the best mentally, but she’s got better than average resolve so that makes it easier for her to stick to a program. She’s as good as any police person with a gun or a hand weapon, but she’s excelled with the Boxing and she’s kept it up because it’s great for emotional management. Physically, she’s wire tight and in GREAT shape. SHe’s got Fleet of Foot because all dealers and junkies run. Socially, she’s pretty solid. No Animal ken, and despite her size, no real Intimidation to speak of. But the rest of the social skills get plenty of practice and her Streetwise is practically off the charts. Her antenna is almost always up and it’s kept her from getting killed more than once.  Her Composure is damn near bulletproof. Having the occasional Meth addict wave a hunting knife in your eye puts your other problems into perspective for you.   Her subterfuge is also pretty damn good. She routinely has to act as if she’s high, stupid, and totally willing to fuck a guy for whatever hard narcotics he’s got to offer. She is not usually any of those things.

Gear: Nell carries her usual weapon, and a holdout weapon on her ankle when costuming permits. Her personal vehicle is a dull-as-dog-crap Toyota Camry. She has a nice little smart phone and additionally has a regular Skype number along with a program that transcribes voicemails. While this little set-up has been pressed into service for gathering evidence, it also serves as Nell personal notebook. She’s got this half-assed idea that she’s going to write a book about her experiences.  What makes this interesting is that Nell is not a very good writer, but has enough solid Resolve that she still going to write the damn thing and worry about prettying it up later. She’s also something of a game nerd, so she’s got a PS3 with a lot of music on it too.  Pity the poor bastard who gives any girl down the road for being a fake gamer girl within earshot of her.

Home: Some years ago, Nell met Moira. They got together and they were good with one another. There was the usual stress over being with a cop, that made it hard on Moira sometimes, but by and large they were good together.  They bought a house together.   But then Moira got sick. And this was before you could get gay-married in this state.  So her parents came up and shut Nell out of their daughter’s life. Even tried to sue the bank for the return of their daughters investment. (Thankfully, the judge wasn’t having it.) Refused to let her visit at the hospital and didn't let her have any of medical information about what was going on. (HIPPAA makes that sort of bullshit trivially easy.)  They even tried to prevent Nell from attending Moira’s funeral along with all of her other gay friends. Moira’s father finally went too far and put hands on her and she broke his jaw in 3 places.  Officers who were called to testify in the assault case that came afterward, said that they hadn’t seen a thing. “I didn’t see a thing, your honor. Polar bear fell on top of me.” Was pretty much what every one of them said.  So, as a result, Nell has this lovely old victorian styled house, that is too big for her and has too many memories. Mama is having trouble seeing these days, so she’s moved her into a bedroom, but that does mean that Nell can’t bring a lady friend home. Not easily.  Not that Nell’s wanted to for a while.

Circle: Nell still attends church although not as often as she used to. She got recognized on a buy-bust because one of the dudes involved also went to her church. Hey, it happens. She's got her cop friends and some of her people in the gay community. Her various aliases are cover for buy-busts and usually this mean going out to some club and dancing some.  It’s just putting the hook in the water. Any women working Vice are usually happy to act as a wing woman for her so they don’t have to put on the hooker boots and go trolling for johns.

Story Uses:
“You want to put that shit in your veins, that’s fine. You want to sell that shit to other people one block from a public school, I’m going to beat you into paste and THEN arrest your ass and throw you up under the jail.”
Nell, for all her worry, does make a difference in the drug business in the city. She’s not hooked on anything or jonesing for anything at all. She hasn’t been offered enough money to make her pause, and the brass get the idea that if they were to try to pull her off something, she won’t go quietly. Not by a long chalk.  If your PC is a user, That won’t bother her all that much, But if your PC is a dealer or distributor, well, you’ve just made a new “special friend”

“it would be a good idea to play this one close to the vest. Narcotics has never been all that good at keeping secrets.”
If your PC is working on THIS side of the law and order divide, odds are good that you know that Nell is one of the good ones. Where your PC falls on that whole Good Ones/Bad Ones scale, is up to you.

*It's good thing Nell doesn't work Homicide because then she'd be in close proximity to Detectives Blanchard and Skiggs. Skiggs doesn't make a ping on her radar, but she and Blanchard don't get along. It would like come to blow and the betting would be fast and furious because they'd be a pretty even match.
*While Detective Dana Crowley never worked Narcotics, They know one another and kept bumping into one another socially. Dana likes Nell, and moreover, considers her one of the few cops she'd probably never have to worry about. Nell, for her part, is a bit attracted to Dana, but truthfully loves her as a friend, and admires her detective skills. When Nell feels really stuck, she buys Dana lunch and they hash it out.
Reverend Dr. Miranda Goines is one of Nell's cousins. On some issues, Nell is a bit more conservative than Randa. Working in a field where you get to see people at their worst, and you also get to see the needle and the damage done will do that for you. So at family gatherings, they argue.
While Nell isn't as crazy smart as her cousin, she's got way more experience and after these arguments, she'll go off and look things up and formulate a response. Don't misunderstand. They both enjoy these little talks. Everybody else in the family is terrified of getting involved in any of that. Weirdly, the two women have a kindred spirit.
* All of the Gangbanger sets in the city have their mitts into drugs on some level so she's not exactly a fan of any of them. But she and Jamal Cooper are going to run headlong into one another someday. It's not going to be pretty.
Darla Grumman "Come a little closer white girl. I don't bite. unless you like that sort of thing."
Rick Deluca "Yeah. I heard of the "Eskimo".  I hope he fucks up some day, and I can be there to see it.
* Sits one desk away from Detective Bela Janofski in the bullpen. "Bela's good people and damn, if only he'd come back to Narcotics. We could use him."

Carlos "Armas Dos" Villalobos

Concept: Cartel Problem Facilitator/Corpse Producer

AKA: Most of the people who know him call Señor Villalobos. Those who he considers friends call him “Dos”

Desc: Lean like a piece of jerky. Plenty of ink. Not a bit of it less than professionally done. Dresses like a businessman. Tailored jacket. Armpit rigs. Dual holders in the small of the back. Unless the job calls for him to look like he’s from the streets...In which case, he snaps back like reflex. He still wears his mother’s cross.

History: Carlos grew up in Juarez, right across the border from El Paso. The problem with border and port towns is that if you don’t control the port. Then you cannot move the drugs. The Problem was that El Chapo had just escaped from prison and was determined to put his organization back together. There was only one thing stopping him. The Juarez Gang, and the fact they’d already suborned most of the local police. So El Chapo went them one better and put money into the hands of the federal cops.  So not only do you have the Juarez gang and Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel killing one another. But you Juarez cops and federal police killing one another. So if you’re going to be a guy in El Chapo’s gang, then you’re going to have to be good at staying alive and it would help if you’re pretty good at killing people.

Carlos is PHENOMENAL at both. In a place where 1 in 6 males don’t make it past 21, it is a testament to Carlos’s skill that he is now 32.  He makes good money. Knows El Chapo personally. Owns a beautiful home. and travels all over the world.  Granted, The reason he travels is because someone got stupid, or greedy, or sometimes because the competition is stiffer than homegrown soldiers can handle. Carlos is not a soldier. he is an Assessino. And when he goes to work. he leaves a lot of hats on the ground.

Attitude: “Listen Primo. I don’t want to be here. And you don’t want me here. I already know what happened. If you talk to me...I can put in a word for you. I may still have to kill all of your boys, though.”

Skills: In the intellectual realm, He’s picked up some skills. Not a lot of academics or anything like that. A dot or two of investigation. Some streetwise. Some subterfuge.  Plentiful dots of survival with a specialty in Urban
The only thing about him intellectually that is remotely serious is that he thinks lightning fast. His wits and his Dexterity are truly gifted. On the physical front, He’s not terribly strong, and he’s got a good amount of Stamina. He’s been shot and stabbed a few times and come out fine each time. As I say, he’s crazy good with Dexterity. He juggles throwing knives. It is his only hobby. He is additionally, ambidextrous and has the gunslinger merit. Dots in Combat marksman are not out of line for him.  He is, however, utter shit at sniping, he’s not great at hand to hand, (maybe 2 dots, it’s not like he’s not been in fights.) and he’s got some dots in Weaponry with throwing knives.
Socially, He’s pretty bland. He’s not much of a talker. he hasn’t had sex with anyone who wasn’t a professional in over 10 years. He doesn’t even bother with trying to intimidate people anymore. Carlos knows what he can do. He doesn’t feel the need to come on all heavy to anyone. Many people have tried to come on all heavy to him. Most of them are dead now.  If there is anything that could be considered weird about him socially, it is that for some reason, he’s very polite. and he usually gives targets an opportunity to walk away, if it can be allowed by his bosses.

Gear: Carlos has this thing about revolvers. He had some problems with automatics in his early days. An ill-timed jam nearly cost him his life. So he carries paired 38 revolvers under his armpits and at his ankles. The two pistols in the small of his back are 45’s and if he KNOWS that he’s in for trouble, he’ll supplement his gear with an additional gunbelt with another pair of matched 45’s. Carlos has this thing about killing people who he isn’t contracted to kill and who aren’t seeking to kill him, so he loads all of his guns with Glaser slug ammo.(for greater combat precision) If he’s going into a combat situation, he’ll additionally be carrying 4 throwing knives and be wearing a leather body suit with an undercoating of ballistic ceramic scale mail. He went for this rig because it impedes his movement the least but provides decent coverage. Normally, the “Attack Suit” is also topped off with a motorcycle helmet. Even in his normal “Professional” attire, he’ll be likely to have a subtle undercoating of kevlar. Fortunately, he gets his suits tailored so he simply looks a little bulkier.
His attack suit also has multiple speed-loaders for his pistols, (which he can identify by feel) and two smoke grenades.
His normal everyday carry gear includes an iPhone, A straight razor which he keeps in his jacket pocket. He’s had a vasectomy, so he never carries condoms anymore. He usually has a sheaf of hundreds in his wallet and a stack of gift cards that are worth 500 dollars each.  It’s simply easier to keep track of expenses that way.

Home: Carlos has a sumptuous home in Juarez. He gets around these parts about once a year. Sometimes more than once. It depends on whether the local distributors are dumber, greedier, or more hapless than usual. As a result, he’s leased a small condo near the very edge of LatinTown where it borders on slightly more upscale neighborhoods. Carlos’s extremely well-forged passport indicates that he’s a corporate negotiator for a south American oil company. He does, however, get a little vain about his vehicles. While he enjoys a nice sports car back home, he vastly prefers a performance SUV. Especially for tasks that involve moving a body. Don’t misunderstand, though. That SUV will have a nitrous bottle.

Circle: The local distributors live in mortal terror of him. His legend grows. He’s like the “Bill Brasky” of cartel hitmen to them. As a result, they will do nearly anything to please him. He takes that in stride and never raises his voice. If there is anything that might get him in trouble on the social front it is that he is something of a horn-dog.  He doesn’t even really seem to have a type. Except maybe “Whore” as a type. Otherwise, Redheads, black girls, Asian twins...he’s not picky.

Story Uses:
“I begin to see that my Hermanos were not exaggerating. My apologies for this unfortunate situation. Now I’m going to have to kill you.”
Let’s face it. Carlos is not a local. He’s a problem, like Aldous Church. He comes to town every once in a while, usually on business.  If your PC’s bump into him, it’s not an accident. It’s because they’ve been muscling the drug trade in town, or trying to put it out of business.  Carlos doesn’t care which. He’ll be looking to solve the problem.
It should also be understood, that Carlos has had to deal with supernatural threats before. If it is clear that the problem the cartel is having is supernatural, he will be loaded for bear, if it is discovered in the field, he’ll break contact with the threat as best he can, make some calls, and when you see him next, he will be loaded for bear.

* When it looked like Rick Deluca was going to jail, Carlos got the call. By the time he'd arrived in the city to handle the problem, Rick had already taken care of the rich kid. When Carlos heard the story about it. He actually smiled, congratulated both him and Pablo, and said that their solution was very cool. That night, there was much tequila and then he flew home the next afternoon.

Surrender Dorothy!

It’s an unobtrusive door. It’s on the backside of a building that houses a design firm and a tiny art gallery. Neither business makes any money at all. But it’s a nice excuse for the parking lot in back with the 9-foot brick wall around and the ivy that covers it. The parking lot is a little bit larger than either business would ever ever need.  The employees don’t park here. They park in the nice public lot two blocks from here.

The cars are nice. Real nice. Upscale. The door is a dull brown. Steel fire door. Boring as hell. Practically yells, “Don’t look at me”  Has a push button lock and a keycard reader.  It opens into a vestibule which is nothing more than a video camera pointed downward and a nozzle that smells faintly of gasoline. Also pointed downward. Once you’ve been positively identified, the inner door clicks and you walk down a short hall to the elevator cage.

When you get off the elevator, You enter through a pair of doors. There is a locker room on each side. Men on the right, women on the left.  Club tradition is, that if you enter the main room, you will have taken a shower first. Even if you put your street clothes back on to go inside.  The dress code is remarkably relaxed. People walk out of the shower room in full tuxedos or clad in nothing more than electrical tape.

The main room looks like the interior of a black box theater. There’s even a rudimentary grid with Fresnel lighting instruments. The rest of the room is dimly lit by dozens and dozens of strings of white LED Christmas lights.

There is a circular stage in the center of the room. Doms and subs compete every night to put on the best show for the other clubgoers to the sounds of Trance Ambient.  There are low tables and the chairs in here are the good kind of executive rolling chairs. There is a large black metal cabinet at the back of the main room which holds toys, lube. condoms, and various other props. The center stage is usually home to a large wooden “X” cross
Or a lightly padded wooden A-Frame, but other props can be arranged ahead of time.

The only other feature of the main room is the full bar. There is a pantry-like room behind the bar for cold storage.

Below the Main Room, accessible only by a spiral staircase is the area known as the “Descent”  It’s a dark hallway of doors on both sides lit only by black light. Each room is a separate mini-dungeon much like the main room upstairs. Each room has a metal cabinet like the one upstairs. Multiple rings bolted to the wall, multiple pulleys, and one comfortable loveseat. The cabinets downstairs also feature clean towels and a tiny mini-bar.
Needless to say, the cells are heavily soundproofed. Unbeknownst to the clubgoers, each cell is linked to a secret passage.

The Staircase continues downwards beyond the Descent, but only the staff ventures down there. The owner’s office is down there as is the laundry and the room where they disinfect everything. (Fun fact: You can sterilize sex toys in a dishwasher) Also, They store the larger frames, cages, and whatnot down here. Happily, all that stuff is modular because otherwise getting it up the spiral staircase would be a massive pain in the ass.

The Membership:
While membership in Surrender Dorothy! isn’t exclusive, it’s certainly not cheap. it costs a 1000 dollars for a years membership, and just like a gym membership, you won’t get your dough back if you don’t go. Both Doms and Subs and Switches understand the whole concept of rules, so generally, everyone is well behaved. It is incredibly rare for anyone to require the Bouncers attention. (He’s very large and surprisingly fast.)
Only one person in the history of the club has ever been banned from the place.  And even Lothar Van Doren freely admits that he had a lapse in discipline and got caught up in the moment.
Members are usually given a small velcro wristband upon entering the club. Does are red, Subs are blue, switches are yellow, and guests of another member are green. This makes rolling up on someone and propositioning them a great deal less socially ticklish. These can be acquired at a kiosk in the locker room. One can also acquire a simple black mask that ties in back. (Think like Zorro’s mask.) Not everyone feels the need to conceal their identities, but some people in the political realm don’t want to take that chance. One of the club members is an Assistant District Attorney.

The Owner:
He’s a rapier slim Italian gentleman who appears to be in his early 40’s. He dresses very well and carries a  riding crop whenever he is within the club. Rumors indicate that he’s a night folk of some sort. But no one seems to know what kind. He goes to great lengths to conceal his true nature. In fact, He simply has people refer to him as “Cagliostro”  He even hired a person for sixth months to come into the club and impersonate him. the man was clearly not the same man, and yet he seemed to know everything that the former Cagliostro knew. (Vampire? Demon? Magi? Beast? I’m leaving this one purposefully vague.)
“Mr. C.” as many of the staff and clubgoers know him, also owns the design firm and the gallery upstairs. After all, they are a handy tax write-off. He’s not a member of the Vermillion House, but he is a treasured ally.

People that you know that might go:
Blaise Newkirk doesn't really go in for that sort of kink. But he considers the membership fee money well spent since he's allowed to bring guests who ARE into that sort of thing.
The Vermillion House, as mentioned before, is considered allied with the club. It is of course not unusual for members of one to visit the other.  Members of SD, are carefully vetted before being invited to a House soiree. And members of the House enjoy slumming it with the lesser rich and their plebian guests. These include Ralston Van Doren (switch), Meredith Shaw(dom all the way), Schuyler Lavey (ditto), and Lorna Crane (bossy bottom)  sometimes Lillian Penobscot tags along even though this isn't really her scene.
Frederick Wyngarde can't afford to be a member of the club, but ever since he went along as a guest to the place, he started using Fet-Life to look for women with a few extra dollars.
Milo Karanikas Considers his membership to be a good investment. He uses the place to network and scout for people who are interested in films.
* Some of the senior partners at Holmes, Gillis, Baker, Savage, North, and Dean like the place. Ilyana Baker will top anyone. She's too type "A" for anything else. And Gilbert Savage, well...He'll do anything to anyone and let anyone do anything to him.  Just as long as they can deal with the aftereffects. 
* Mr Cagliostro ("Piacevole per incontrarlo. Speranza indovinate il mio nome.") is one of the few people in the city who actually knows who Lara X is. But as you can imagine, he keeps his mouth shut. It's really no one else's business.