Saturday, July 23, 2016

Jack Marston

Concept:  Bounty Hunter

AKA: Some of the people in his office call him “Cactus Jack” Jack’s okay with this because he’s a Mick Foley fan.

Desc: Jack looks like he ought to be on old school cigarette advertising. Rangy and tough looking. He has a nice smile( he flosses)  and pleasant blue eyes. He tends to wear jeans and a denim jacket as his everyday wear. He tends to go for boots. His frame is fairly compact but he has serious muscle. He’s got a deep tan that comes from growing up on a farm and working outdoors a lot. Keeps his blond hair short and clean cut.

History:  Jack isn’t dumb but he knows that a guy who grew up on a farm, and who went into the Marines as soon as he was old enough has limited options when it comes to the job market. After a while, it was clear to him that career Marine wasn’t going to be for him.  He came home and for a while did some bouncing.  And that was okay and all.  But it just wasn’t for him. He wasn’t interested in getting into crime. Finally, he answered an ad in the paper for a Bail Bondsman’s office.
It turned out that Jack had a real talent for it.  The way it works is like this.  Some guy gets himself arrested. That guy may not necessarily have the monies to pay the bail. So they get a bail bondsman to cover the necessary payment.  Then at some point, the person may go to trial.  If they decide that they’d rather skip and take their chances on the run, that’s when Jack swings into action.  A lot of his actual work day involves a little pre-emptive investigation on the people who use the bail bondsman’s service. This way, if a guy decides to skip, They already have a certain amount of intel already banked and they aren’t caught flat-footed and on the clock.  Of course, when they skip, that’s when Jack has to go on the road and run them down.
      There’s something about it that he likes. He’s good at solving puzzles.  He’s decent at talking to people and getting them to give him information. And he likes meeting new people and traveling to new places, even if it does mean people setting their dogs on him or pointing shotguns at him.

Attitude: “Listen, Jorge...Are you listening?  Dude, It only takes about 17 foot-pounds of pressure at this angle to break your arm.   Now I don’t know what unfortunate state of affairs led you to this sorry pass. But whatever it was...You ARE coming with me.  I’d just as soon you be conscious and ambulatory.”

Skills:  Jack breaks down like this. He’s got more Resolve than other forms of mental. More Manipulate than other forms of social.  He’s got more stamina than other physicals but his other physicals are pretty high. He’s got a martial artist’s build (He’s a practitioner of Jiu Jitsu and has some dots in M.A.C too.) and he runs to stay in great shape. Running tends to figure into his work.  On the social side of things, Jack doesn’t tend to come on heavy. He smiles and is pleasant to people and usually has a premise worked out ahead of time for contact with locals, (“No Ma’am. The lawyer sent me to find him because his uncle died and he’s coming into some money. Might be he might kick a slice to someone who helped me find him”. *Big sincere smile*)  He’s also got lots of dots of Animal Ken which has come in handy more than once. (“ That’s right. you were just being a good boy. I get it. I understand. Yes.”)
While he’s nobody’s hacker, He’s got more than a single dot of Computer and a few dots of Investigation with a specialty in “finding people”.  He is actually pretty good at answering a lot of questions through statistics, reference books, and web searches.  And clients of  Mr. Lee’s bail bonds service have their affairs looked into, BEFORE they skip, as I mentioned.  Mr. Lee is prudent that way.

Gear: Jack’s primary mission is to bring them back alive.  As such, he is usually armed with Taser and stun baton.  He keeps a bull-pup configured shotgun with bean-bag rounds in the trunk of his 76 Dodge Duster. (Don’t laugh, it’s got a v8) He has kevlar inserts for his denim jacket and if he’s expecting fire, he’ll bring along a motorcycle helmet.  He also carries a sheaf of zip-ties. (He knows that zip ties can be snapped in two, so he’ll tie the thumbs too.)  If he can close, he’ll use his martial arts.   He also carries a hunting knife. Because you never know.  He’s jacked up more than one runner just by jamming the thing through the front of a radiator.  Can’t get far with a hole in your radiator.

Home: Jack lives in an apartment. A nice one too. He has a large Irish wolfhound named “Mick” which keeps an eye on the place while he works. They also go running together. Jack has a fairly large collection of music. His CD’s take up a whole wall in his apartment.  He may have every single album that Johnny Cash ever recorded.  He has friends in the apartment complex too, who aren’t shy about looking after Mick. In fact, Mick may have more friends than Jack does. 

Circle: Jack has friends at his office, at his apartment complex and on the weekend he has friendly people at his dojo and at the C&W watering hole where he likes to line dance. Jack is pan-sexual but doesn’t exactly put that on blast. (Mr. Lee is a bit conservative. He might not take it well.) so he occasionally brings home people...And sometimes they end staying in the spare bedroom for a while.

Story Uses:
“Can I bring him in? Yes.  Will he be any use to you by the time I get him back here...That I can’t say.”
As you can imagine Jack would be a pretty good addition to any supernatural creatures payroll. He’s competent and doesn’t rattle easily. He’s good at what he does and takes pride in his work.

“Stings like a sumbitch, don’t it?”
On the other end of the scale, One might have to deal with him in a more professional arrangement. Most supernatural creatures think they’re above the law. And as such, might pay the bondsman and then just skip, thinking to disappear.  This does not work out well when Cactus Jack is on the case.

* knows Joseph Cartolano from his dojo. The kid really dropped the weight.We're all really proud of him.
* Has used Rory O'Halloran to case certain targets. The P.I. who put him onto Rory said he was gold and he was right. Also, who'd have thought Irish cuisine could be so good?
* Has had peripheral contact with Tyronne "Tiberius" Glover by dint of having to run down some of his boys. There was a tense situation or two where Jack was forced to explain to Tyronne that some of his boys had made certain promises and had broken them. Weird thing is, Tyronne gets pretty upset about broken promises.  On both occasions, he handed the boys over to Jack, although both were the worse for wear. Tyronne has an interesting relationship with Mr. Lee and boys who attempt to skip...Are endangering it.  He doesn't take that well. Tyronne's got RULES.
* although he is essentially a part of the Law Enforcement community, there are times when it might be necessary to patronize someone on the other side of the tracks. Hence, he knows Dr. Ronnette Franklin and is, just a little bit smitten with her. In fact, if he gets hurt, he'd rather go to Ronnette and put money in her pocket than to another doctor. 
* Had to run down Teflon John Galloway once after he tried skipping on a narcotics bust. It was too bad. John was kind of cute in Jack's assessment.  His lawyer got him off though. 
* Used to work as a bouncer at The Witness. So he knows all the crew there. Every once in a while business takes him that direction and he stops by and they treat him like the prodigal son. He'd go there more regularly, but the music isn't to his taste.
* After his bouncing gig, Big Dan Tarleton made an approach, but Jack wasn't interested. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Selma Collins

Concept: Arsonist for hire

AKA: As will become apparent below, Selma once became a woman named Emily Coleman

Desc:  Selma is about 5’8 with shoulder length brunette hair. For fitness, she runs and swims. She has eyes that seem to take in everything.  She’s also got a bit of “Resting Bitch Face”. When under stress, she tends to hum to herself.  If you listen long enough, you can eventually identify the song she’s humming as “Sunny came home” by Shawn Colvin. She is not aware that she does this.

History: Pyromania is a form of pathology that is essentially about stress relief. Selma as a young child was one of those few children who went through the sociopath troika. (I.e: Bedwetting, Cruelty to animals, fascination with fire.)  Both of the other phases were short, but the fascination with fire lingered.
It was the strangest thing. Her old home town was simply PLAGUED with fires.  Any place that was old and looked deserted. Houses of kids in her neighborhood that she didn’t like much.  Uncle Lou’s house. The Junior high (once)  and even the high school (3 times).   Most of the time, nobody ever looked twice at Selma.  It’s fairly rare for women to express as pyromaniacal and she was able to keep her mouth shut. So naturally the community thought it was a boy, or boys, who were setting these fires. No one ever put it together that Selma was the one common element at each of these fires.

Selma is Off the Chart Smart.  And like many teens who go through a period of lawbreaking without getting caught, she had to determine whether or not to continue until she set a fire so big that she would HAVE to be caught. Was that what she was planning for herself?  Setting herself up to fail in the biggest way possible. It didn’t feel that way really. It’s just that setting fires was such a deep release for her.

So, she reasoned, If I can’t really stop. I’ll have to find a way to do it professionally. Taking some money she’d saved from birthday savings bonds and such, she bought herself a decent fake ID and got herself a job. Convinced her clueless parents that she’d gotten a job as a secretary in an office.  Which was technically true.

What she didn’t tell them, was that she’d gotten hired as a secretary in the Fire Marshall’s office. She spent all day and many nights surrounded by all the information she could ever want about how to set fires, what sorts of chemical residue would be found at the scene, and the kind of decision-making process during investigations to determine whether a fire had started via natural misadventure or arson. Like many budding young sociopaths, she would use her youthful body to deflect attention and to allow her to be close to the office so she could keep learning more. Sure, she’s almost completely asexual. It’s only the fire that arouses her really. Although, if a person caught her in just the right mood on a night when she’d set a fire...That person might be in for a wild ride. Pathologies can be complicated.

Then, at the point when it was clear, she couldn’t really ask any more questions without tipping her hand, and she’d learned all she could from reading the reports, she simply disappeared.

A year later she turned up here. She put her out shingle out as an arsonist for hire.  Naturally, it’s a bit of a specialty in criminal circles, and hard for unknown people to break into.  So she had to set a few fires in order to stymie the local Fire Department and get her name into the hands of the right sorts of criminals. When she began to work, she bought a new identity and went back to school to get a degree in chemistry.  Granted, she’s double majoring in psychology because she’s interested in understanding this problem in her mind... But as long as she can keep setting fires and getting paid for it. She isn’t necessarily wanting to cure herself.

Attitude: “No one can exactly accuse me of being a sensualist. But we all have a sensual relationship with the elements. The feel of the wind, how our skin reacts to water and earth. I tend to have an affinity for fire. The way the heat feels on your skin and in your bones. The smell of it. The way that a large fire will drive the moisture out of the air. the snap and crackle of it. There is something about it that feel like coming home...Like touching the face of an angry god...I don’t know how to describe it properly...”

Skills: A dot or two of athletics and a single dot in Firearms. Several dots in Science, with specs in fire science, chemistry, and psychology, and some dots in crafts for making home-made explosives and detonators. Also some dots in Investigation with a spec in Arson. Some social acumen, mostly in persuasion. 

Gear: Owns a mini-van. Normally keeps her fire-making materials in a bundle in a stroller. No one looks at her twice coming into someplace, but they might notice she hasn’t brought the stroller out.  On her person, she keeps a flare-gun, (which has come in handy more than once.) a tiny multi-channel radio detonator, and a stun gun.  She also carries picks, (which she’s not very good with) and a set of bump keys, (which don’t require much skill at all.)  For certain gigs, she’ll wear a Nomex suit and a respirator, but those are rare. Normally, the gaff with her is to set up a fire to go off at a certain time and be elsewhere when it occurs. She dislikes clock timers though and prefers timed chemical reactions.  She got a lot of mileage out filling the bottom of an envelope with a certain type of discontinued hair crème and sprinkling pool chlorine on it, sealing the envelope and then walking away.  The chemical fire caused by that is very very hot and doesn’t leave much in the way of trace residue for accelerants. Has a smart phone and leaves it in her glove box when she’s “Working”

Home: Bought herself a nice place with a large concrete reinforced basement/attached garage. Manages to keep the usage of her own personal fireplace down to about once a week  in the spring and fall. And she seems to do a lot of grilling out in the summer months. Funny.

Circle: Doesn’t have anyone she holds particularly dear. She’s gotten herself a new job working in an insurance office.  Occasionally, it puts her wise to investigations, it points up other arsonists (pro and amateur) and suggests clients to her (which she might approach through a proxy.) Pretends to be BFF’s with the other girls in the office. Can’t help but fantasize about burning the place down.  To be clear, Selma does NOT actually need the job. But she uses it to her advantage.  

Story Uses:
 “Don’t worry, the chemical reaction won’t happen until the aluminum triiodide dries out completely. We’ll be long gone by then.”
Selma prides herself on being a pro. Sure, there is a whole other side to it for her, she’s not just in it for the money, but she CAN be patient and wait if it’s necessary. She’s the sort of criminal specialist that many different types of people would like to have in their Rolodex..or in their back pocket.

“They told me about people like you. I must be something like your worst nightmare...”
Fire cleanses. Selma might be a problem for the sort of PC that fire is bad for.  Worse thought, what if Selma developed Pyrokinesis?  I mean, even if she was only able to kindle a fire with her mind, her knowledge of chemicals and accelerants would make her super dangerous on ground she had prepared ahead of time.

* Psych department usually being small, she's met both Dr. Paul Pickford and Collette Reeves. Both have pegged her as Asexual, but they figure she's on the autism spectrum somewhere. She comes off as a bit of a cold fish around the department.  She tends to save her "Friendly" act for the insurance office. It's too draining otherwise.
John Patmos has turned up at a number of fires that she's caused. Occasionally, if she can manage it, she likes to watch the fire she's set and take video footage if she can.  She's seen this man more than once.  He seems to have an appreciative look on his face when he looks at the fire. Could be a fellow arsonist or a fellow pyromaniac. Selma is wary of both because of the one's she's met, she has better impulse control than any of them.  But this one is strangely intriguing.
* Once got hired by Lorna Crane in another city a few years ago.  Doubt they would recognize one another, though.
Don Pentangelli has hired her in the past. sometimes, a good bust out scheme needs a blow-off or a business partner needs an insurance windfall to finance a do-over. When this occurs, The Don calls Selma.  The Don is perhaps one of the few people on earth that Selma thinks might be as smart as her.
She's not afraid. That would require greater emotional sensitivity than she is capable of. But she IS respectful.
*While Selma is smart, she doesn't have all the time in the world being a part time employee and a part time student.  As a result, she's found that it's good to do some digital recon and the best person for that is T.C. Mitnick.
* Told Clavo Hernandez a cock and bull story about working as an accountant for the mob and needing to get out of sight. He didn't buy it entirely, but he took her money and gave her good paper. He also liked her look and sketched her, but she wasn't into him. Must just not like fat guys or something.
*Is in the Rolodex of Alejandro Dean of Holmes, Gillis, Baker, Savage, North, and Dean. Occasionally it's handy if a place burns down right before a trial. I'm not saying that's happened...Wink wink nudge nudge.

John Joseph Staglione

Concept: Mob Sniper/Grandpa

AKA: Answers to Johnny, or Joey. But you call him John-John or Jo-jo, and you’d better be ready for a smack in the chops. Sometimes among friends, he’s Johnny Two-Tap

Desc: in his 50’s and still got game. Dresses well. Shaves his head, because he used to have a serious head of hair back in the day, and now it’s all gone on top and gone gray all around the fringe.  Fuck that noise. He'd rather be smooth. His eyes still have a bit of twinkle and he still walks a 6 mile stretch every other day.  He’s the kind of dude who can pull off a canary yellow dinner jacket, bright green pants, and white shoes, and not look like a putz.

History: Johnny is a career man. He grew up in the kind of neighborhood where you got into the Outfit if you wanted to go anywhere in life.  He started young as a runner and a bag-man. they put him to work as a soldier when he was old enough and discovered he had a talent for it.  In fact, one of the older guys, who’d had some experience overseas, worked out that Johnny had some serious talent with long arms and he taught him all he knew about the gentle art of sniping.
  Don’t misunderstand, Johnny’s plenty capable of handling himself in a fight. Or a least he used to be, but with a long arm in his hands, he is more than capable of putting a target on the deck from over a half mile away.  Still is.
   He swears he’s retired now. He made decent money killing people for the mob, and occasionally being hired out to take care of problems for other criminals.  He’s even got a young person who he’s teaching, He’s never been greedy, that shit never paid for anybody coming up in the ranks. So he’s got a certain amount of credibility.
   But every once in a while someone needs to be shot down, and maybe the guy is impossible to get at by other means, and maybe the Don asks Johnny a favor...And Johnny, for his part, although he plays it cool, gets the itch sometimes. And hey, he can always shovel some of that money into his grandkids college fund.

Attitude: "It’s all about stillness. You have to learn how to be conscious of all the little twitches and ticks the human body is heir to. You have to learn to calm your mind and slow your breathing. You have to be able to squeeze the trigger not jerk it like some guys prick. The slightest movement won’t have an effect on shooting close-up. but shooting close up is a whole other set of problems.  But stillness is what you need to hit a target a long way off. Okay, Lisa...Hit the match heads. Make Grandpa proud."

Skills: Firearms 4 possibly even 5. Dots in Sniping FS. A couple of dots in melee and brawl too. at least a couple of dots in athletics (“You laugh Tony, But walking, isometrics, and yoga make me shoot better and helped me get my diabetes under control. So shut the fuck up.”)  He’s not the most educated guy, but he’s got a decent amount of native cunning to be able to do okay at business and his life in the mob means he’s got a dot or two in politics. Socially, he’s pretty adept.  He can intimidate without coming on all heavy, and he’s still got strong game when it comes to the ladies, His wife has been dead for a few years now, so he and his girlfriend have been much more open about their relationship, at least to the kids.  Johnny is a pretty decent dancer too.

Gear: Johnny favors tools in the field that are durable. His arm of choice is an old and well cared for Dragunov. The FBI could likely close 40 cases if they could ever get their hands on that weapon. He keeps it broken down in a safety deposit box along with its ammo in a neighboring box.  He also carries a mini-uzi with a silencer for any work he’s forced to do close up. A pearl-handled switchblade (which was a present from the Don) and a strangling wire round out his basic field kit.  He carries an attache case for most of these operations, and walking away from the scene looks for all the world like a bank manager hurrying back from lunch. Never carries a phone while working. 

Home: Johnny owns his own home under the auspices of a “Tactical and security consultancy firm” that the IRS would dearly love to prove is bullshit, except that Johnny has gone to some lengths to make it into an actual business, and one that pays pretty damn well.  He lives in a decent sized place in the “Really Nice, but not SUPER rich”suburbs.   His kids live near him, not because they can really afford to, but because Johnny loves being able to stroll down the block and see his grandkids whenever he wants.  His son at least knows that it’s possible that his father might go away on “Business” and never come home again.   His daughter has worked very hard to be completely unaware of this, to the point of screaming and crying anytime her brother brings it up.

Most his social circle consists of his old goombah friends and a few of his “Clients” and a couple of people he knows at his church.

Story Uses:
“There...That ought to...What the fuck?”
Of course, the most direct way to meet up with Johnny Two-tap is to be in his cross-hairs. Not that this will ever be fun for the target, but it might not be fatal... Johnny has seen some weird shit in his time though, and he doesn’t rattle easily. So just because you got back up, doesn’t mean you’re necessarily off the hook.

“Hmm. Can you make your approach from right there, where I'm pointing? That opens up my field of fire.”
Every once in a while, it’s good to know a criminal specialist. It can mean the difference between a successful negotiation and a blazing clusterfuck.

*  Don Pentangelli wishes he had a dozen just like him. While they didn't come up in the same neighborhood, they have found the other one to be "Their kind of people"  The Don appreciates talent and composure. Both if which Johnny has in spades. Johnny appreciates an even temper in the people he's doing work for. That's Francis all over.
* Has heard good things about Marcie Hawkins but has yet to work with her directly. They'd get on well though.
* While the Mob has a certain amount of institutionalized racism, one tends to get respectful in the face of real talent and competence. NOBODY but the dumbest of fuckers calls Immanuel Washington a "fucking eggplant" The one thing that bugs Johnny though is that Manny seems to have "Rules" with a capital "R"   Johnny doesn't care about that stuff. If the Don says the target has to go, then they have to go.  Granted, The don isn't likely to order a hit on an innocent. But Manny has to fucking check for himself all the time.
* Once, Johnny went along and kept a watchful eye on a little operation being run by Lawton Krase It went SO badly, that Johnny packed up his gear in disgust and ex-filled before it was all over. If that dumb son-of-a-bitch managed to survive it, he'll likely fall over dead from shock.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Ilya Grishenko

Concept: Art Mafioski “The Cleaner”


Desc: Buzz-cut hair and icy blue eyes. A storm of ink in the Bratva style stretched over a lean muscular body.  Strong jaw and largely silent demeanor. Late30’s-early 40’s. He has one of those chiseled faces that will make it look as if he's in his late 30's until he's well into his 60's. He’s not overly confident of his English, so he’s doubly quiet. His fellow "Mafioski" tend to go in for flashy ill-fitting suits and gauche jewelry that even a car salesman would blanch at.  On those rare occasions when he doesn't have on his studio overalls, he wears a suit that fits and little to no jewelry.

History:  Ilya’s father was an engineer. Ilya grew up wanting to learn a trade and he learned as much as he could at his father’s knee.  Kolya, his father taught him as much as he could before he got sick.  Ilya might have gone to school, had it not been for that.  
    As it was, Ilya ended up enlisting in the army and being slotted into their nearest equivalent of the army corp of engineers.  And that probably would have been okay, as the red army wasn’t exactly fighting a lot of wars at the time.
And then Afghanistan happened. Which, as Ilya could have told you, was going to be a disaster. Only an engineer could have known that the soviet army’s machinery was in so woeful shape that the Afghanis would be able to cripple and kill soviet tanks with hand axes. (Which they did.)  In Afghanistan, Ilya saw a lot of truly horrible things.

And in Afghanistan, Ilya DID some truly horrible things.
He came home. and without much in the way of direction, fell in with some army buddies and got involved with the Bratva. Occasionally things needed fixing, and it WAS something that Ilya was good at.

The higher ups in the Bratva liked Ilya. He was good at taking orders. He wasn’t ambitious. He wasn’t greedy and he never mouthed off.  If there was anything that concerned them, it was that he generally wanted to be left alone.

He spent a lot of time alone, whenever he could. He found himself doing something he couldn’t really explain or articulate to the others. He started doing art. Metal-working mostly, with the occasional foray into sculpting. It soothed him and allowed him to express certain things that words couldn't.

It wasn’t until he presented his Pakhan with a sculpted iron wolf about the size of a skull, that they began to realize that maybe Ilya had hidden depths.

Ilya’s just a soldier but a valued one. He still earns money from the Bratva by dint of the fact that they use him to fix problems and get rid of bodies. He makes art in his own time, and as a bit of a side hustle, is essentially the Art Mafia in this place.  Don’t kid yourself. Politics in art can get ugly. and at times can get violent.  There ARE people who are willing to pay to have a rivals hand broken, or put out an eye. There ARE people who are willing to pay to burn down a gallery or take a razor to a real painting in order to prop up a forgery. That sort of thing happens.  Ilya would rather not have to do such things...But many times, he doesn’t get to choose.

Attitude: “I do what I have to.”

Skills: Ilya is craft savvy with multiple specialties. He also has a nice dollop of science dots mostly geared towards chemistry. His socials aren’t great and the only thing he’s actually good at is intimidation.   As a former soldier, he’s been in fights, and he’s got a dot or three in melee and firearms. It should be mentioned that Ilya is a serious physical specimen. His strength,dexterity, and stamina are non-trivial. 

Gear: On his person he doesn’t carry much. He has a garden variety Glock and a Kerambit knife that has seen plenty of use. He hates cell phones. But he does carry a digital camera. Occasionally, he sees things he wants to take pictures of.  And occasionally, he needs to takes pictures to prove that something has been done. He carries a fat wad of cash. Because he’s found that money talks in America.  He also has a large black step van. It’s been pressed into use for body removal on more than one occasion. It houses a black metal cabinet full of various chemicals, and a large drum of sulfuric acid.

Home: Ilya has an upscale loft in the seedy but artistic side of town.  It doubles as his workshop/studio. It has a freight elevator and that’s where Ilya keep the motorcycle he’s been working on for the last six months. He’s having to machine certain parts by hand because they no longer exist. Otherwise he’d be driving that thing.

Circle: Kind of depressing. Does’t really have the tools to be able to market himself in the art world, even though his work has a rough brilliance. A number of his old friends from the army are all dead now. Some got killed, some got greedy and then, got killed.  Most of his fellow Bratva don’t really get him all that well, and he hasn’t had sex with a woman in years ,who wasn’t a whore.  

Story Uses:
“I like your work...but someone does not.”
If your PC is an artist and has garnered some envy, If your rival has the money, Ilya may come around and bring trouble with him.

“I won’t forget this kindness. It is rare.”
Ilya has seen a lot and done some bad things, but he may not be unsalvageable.  The right friend or even, the right woman could turn him around.  This, of course would be an UTTER disaster for him as the Bratva probably won’t want to let him go.

*Occasionally, Ilya has need of a machine shop with more resources than he already possesses or he has need of some bit of technical expertise that he himself does not have time to do. He has become aware of Axle's shop and has met Darla Grumman. Darla is so unlike any other woman he's ever met that he is a little fascinated with her and oddly, they've become friends. Darla has NO knowledge of his criminal business and while his Ink tells the story, she's not exactly up on that stuff.
Lillian Penobscot owns an Art Gallery. Ilya has leaned on her in order to get his work shown. Of course, In exchange He burned down the Bergman Gallery, So it's kind of worked to her advantage. Lil thinks that maybe she wants to bring him a little bit more into her orbit. Might come in handy to have a man like him in her corner. Not recognizing that maybe her corner would not really belong to her much longer.
* Has met Captain Roy Gunderson in passing during certain things. Captain Gunderson will smuggle for anyone really, but the organized crime clients tend to be the most reliable. Well...SOME of them.

Friday, July 8, 2016

"Dr. Coulton Bennett"

Concept: Big Con/Long Game

AKA: His real name is Sherman Pentonvale

Desc: Tallish and barrel-chested. Capped Teeth. Twinkle in his eyes. Shock of white hair. Strong hand-shake and always great eye contact. Looks great in a tux. Think Brian Denehy at his most charming.

History: Sherman is pretty good. I’m not saying he’s never done time, Short cons tends to make more trouble, at least that’s the way he’s always felt.  But you do a big con, and you do it well enough, and you can retire. Or you can take some of your retirement now instead of at the end of your life.
   So, Sherman as a part of a big con, was forced to attend a charity event, and frankly it was a bit of an eye opener. And with a little research and a lot of thought, Sherman realized that Charities, with the right management and with the right handling, can be a never ending gravy train.
  So, with a bit of help from some con artist friends and some very well made credentials, Sherman went into business for himself.
    He created Dr Coulton Bennett, and set about making the YDLSF. (The You Don’t Look Sick Foundation)  which is, on the face of it, a medical research charity specifically for curing and treating diseases that have very few outward symptoms, like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,or Fibromyalgia.
   And in truth, He’s actually done some work to raise awareness of people who have these illnesses.  And if he were putting ANY of the money into anything other than the charity galas (And he STILL gets people to donate time, venues and catering.) Maybe it would DO something about the problem.  

In any case, Sherman has plans in place in case the balloon goes up ahead of schedule of the blow-off. And his team has code-words to know when the walk-away is now.  But frankly. He’s having the best time of his life right now and he kind of thinks that this particular con will become legend.

He would likely be right. If it weren’t for the fact that certain members of The Vermillion House have looked into him.  They are actually a little split. Some want to make an “Example” of him. Others...Are impressed, and want to see what he might be capable of with some real backing.

Attitude: “Friends let me tell you, the statistics about these sorts of diseases are staggering and the social stigma of having one of these diseases and receiving passive pressure NOT to talk about it is like the double whammy in my opinion. The foundation is all about treating these silent agonies, and it’s my devout hope you’ll help end the suffering. God knows that some people need more spoons.”

Skills: More dots in Empathy, Expression, and Subterfuge and Science: Psychology, than any PC is EVER likely to have. Strong socials, and while he’s not had much formal education, his wits are ridiculous.  He’s charming like a sociopath, but he does have his limits. Additionally, Sherman has become pretty adept at Ballroom dancing.  He’s good that way. He’s probably got a sprinkling of single dots in nearly every skill.  In truth, Sherman likes learning, but his learning is usually broad and shallow.  At present, he can pass himself off as a credible epidemiologist.   

Gear: Smart Phone, dead sexy automobile (leased), Blank firing pistol in an armpit holster. Two wallets. One with getaway documents and tin foil (For wrapping the phone) . a second burner phone. Money belt.

Home: Upscale and leased. But he’s got a winnebago stashed somewhere in case he needs to get out of town.

Circle: Professionally, he cozies up the rich and powerful, initially, love bombing them a bit and then pulling back a bit with small judgments about their morals and ethics. Which of course, makes them want to prove themselves to him. He usually takes the opposite tack with women he intends to bed. ignoring them or discounting them and slowly warming up to them.  If allowed to continue in this particular con he’s developed a fairly good cross section of high society types, both old and new money. 
On the more serious side, he’s got a fairly decent troupe of fellow con artists and a few criminal specialists on speed dial.  He used to have a protege,but that didn’t turn out so good. She thought she was much smarter than she was. And now she’s committed to the violent wing of the state mental hospital.  She’s not actually crazy...but good luck getting anyone to believe THAT.

Story Uses:
“Ugh...My...heart...Quick... Get my pills. They’re in my jacket.”
And he’ll be gone by the time you turn back around. Sherman may be a crass,greedy, scum-bag. But he might be a useable crass, greedy, scum-bag.
But you’d have to see him coming, and put him on the hook. and neither of those things will be easy to do.

“Kid. You may have talent. If there’s anything I can’t stand. It’s talent.”
While Cindy has probably soured Sherman on ever teaching anyone how to grift, you could do worse for a mentor, and Sherman’s pride generally means that if he gives his word to a fellow criminal, he’ll abide by it. Not keeping your word in criminal circles is usually bad for business...unless he can fix it so that no one ever knows that he broke that word. In which case...

* Has met Marcie Hawkins in passing. Was impressed with her.  If he was planning a con which required serious stage management, he'd definitely give her a call. Marcie, for her part tends to be wary of professional extraverts.
Meredith Shaw's family is one of many who routinely gives to charities as a means of massaging their ego's, their guilt, and their taxes. Meredith and "Coulton" had a lovely dance at a charity gala affair. Each walked away having thought the other figured out. Neither was entirely correct. Meredith, for her part is willing to put on a "Friendly" smile.
* Something about Lorna Crane puts Sherman's antenna up. He's not sure what. Something about her reminds him of Cindy.
* Every single "Man of God" that Sherman has ever met, especially the ones who preach about what a Moral cesspool this country has become, has something to hide.  He definitely gets this sense from Reverend Mike Plumber and would dearly love to know what it is, so he can soak him for serious money through a proxy. For now, he smiles and plays the game and allows the good reverend to be his entry into a world of rich conservative people with more money than sense, and more guilt than desire to give their excess wealth away. You Christ instructs.  He may be a con man, but he's READ that gideon bible.
* Has employed Lambrose Karanikas and First Class Limo Service as window dressing for various events. Lambrose loves this guy. He's fun.
* Has used T.C. Mitnick for tech support in the past.  Sherman is one of the few people who is psychologically adept enough and patient enough to REALLY talk to T.C. And on some level, T.C. appreciates it. Also. the money's good.
* Has used Clavo Hernandez over and over and has touted his work to other career criminals. Clavo enjoys repeat business and Sherman is very complimentary of his work AND his art. 
*Has been ducking Patricia "Carnie" Pitt because he says the work of the foundation isn't about him and he doesn't hold with "celebrity doctoring" (Whatever the fuck THAT is.) but it's mainly because he doesn't want to be on camera and get recognized.
* Yeah...Lillian Penobscot. You got to know he hit that...Just saying. Lil is actually enjoying the attention a bit. But she IS recognizing that she has to keep certain secrets from him. After all, he's a man of science, and probably wouldn't understand.
* Knows Esmerelda Duchene of Bryson Import/Export from the bad old days. Remembers a memorable night when she came to him with a proposition that needed some head-shedding. After that, Tino met a bad end. Good for her.  Each time he hears about Bryson he smiles and privately thinks he ought to come up a with con that he can cut her and her girls in on. After all...They're already trained.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Christine Horowitz

Concept: Public Defender

AKA: Known to her sorority sisters as “Spex” SOMEHOW it managed to get around her office. Thanks Tiffy!

Desc: On the short side, Keeps trying to get to the gym fairly regular but her work schedule fights her tooth and nail. She’s still got some good muscle definition but her job entails a lot of study, and she eats too much fast food. Wears sneakers in the office, heels for court. Long black hair and a nice smile. Her eyes still have a bit of fire in the them, but she’s starting to feel a little worn around the edges. Tiny gold star of David that used to belong to her mother.

History: Christine is the only child and it appears that she inherited her father’s unerring moral compass. In fact, she flirted with idea of becoming a Rabbi just like dad, but it turned out to not be such a good fit for her. The idea though of putting her intelligence and her natural bookishness to work for her was still a strong one and she sort of fell in love with the idea of becoming a public defender. Righting wrongs. Defending the defenseless. There was a rightness to the idea. She went to law school and while she had the kind of grades that normally would have put her on track to be a judge, she ended up signing up to become a PD as soon as she had passed the bar.
The romance of being a public defender wore off very quickly. She knew that there would be long hours. She knew that her case load would be...non trivial.  She even knew that there would be clients who were plainly guilty of all manner of things and that she would have to defend them. She was prepared for that.  What she wasn’t prepared for, the raw number of people caught in the gears of the Justice system and ground right the fuck down. She wasn’t prepared for how badly it would hurt. I mean, Christine is a damn good lawyer, most of her colleagues say so. But many times her clients are caught with precious few actual choices, and almost none of them good.  When the best you can do for someone who is innocent is a guilty plea for less time and THAT seems like the best the client can takes a little piece of your heart. It takes a little piece of you each time.   
If you’re someone who cares.  
Christine cares. 
It’s leading to a certain amount of “compassion fatigue” for her, and a certain amount of having to compartmentalize her feelings. About once a week, she finds herself sobbing uncontrollably in her car after court.  She’s worried that she’s going to have some kind of breakdown, and her parents see through the act she puts on when she goes to visit. They’re worried for her too.  Maybe if she got on with a firm defending people, but people with real money...Would that be so bad?
  And Christine knows...No. It wouldn’t be so bad. But what would all the really poor people, who need a good lawyer, do?

Attitude: “Look. You have no good options here. You can try to peddle that weak sauce story in front of a jury, and then the D.A. will go to work on you like there’s a three day weekend coming up, or you take the deal and you take protective custody and you’re out in 6 months. Assuming of course you can keep your nose clean.”

Skills: Academics4+ with a specialty in Law naturally, and the status to go with being licensed and working for the PD office. She’ll kill you on facts in court. She’s damn good at research. But she also has a gift for making complex facts pretty simple and not sleep inducing to a jury. (Give her some dots of Expression. and her socials are pretty decent too)  Also, since members of the PD’s office occasionally find themselves in tense or violent situations with tense or violent clients, they’ve actually chipped loose some budget for some self defense courses and target range time.  As a result. Christine has a couple of dots in firearms, and Brawl. with dots in Krav Maga as a style. (A cousin of hers runs a school.)  It’s come in handy.  They look at her diminutive frame and think they can come on all heavy...and then suddenly they are on the floor with their testicles kicked clear up into their sinus cavity. Speaks fluent, almost idiomatic Spanish and on those rare occasions when she has a real honest night off, she likes to blow off steam dancing, and she’s a pretty good dancer.

Gear: Her laptop bag is a tiny arsenal. She owns a Glock, Has a can of pepper spray, and one of those pointy key-chain deals. She also has a black belt in iPhone. And has certain law books loaded onto her phone for quick reference.

Home: She’s got a fairly nice apartment. She’s taken to purchasing foreign appliances, not because she’s a snob about buying American, but because Scandinavians manufacture stuff that takes up very little space. And frankly so much of her apartment is taken up with books, that the space has to come from somewhere.  She’s thought about getting a pet of some sort, but she’s home so seldom, that she’s afraid that they’d die of loneliness.

Circle:Known to judges and fellow lawyers as a decent sport and fairly good at her work. Has a few friends in low places based on people she’s defended in court. But by that same token, has a few enemies. (Yeah, never mind that you kept sticking up gas n’ go’s, it’s all HER fault you’re in the state pen... Asshole.)  The bulk of her close friends come from people she went to college with, and a few folks at Temple.
(For a while there, she went through a serious folk dancing phase...She mostly over it now. Mostly.)

Story Uses:
“Look. You let me do the talking and don’t volunteer a single bit of information and you might be okay.”
Into every characters life, a little rain must fall, and occasionally, after doing wildly criminal stuff, occasionally characters get arrested. If it happens that your character is poor, then the gods have smiled if you happen to draw Ms. Horowitz.

“Did my mother send you? Look I really don’t time for...”
The poor girl is stretched a little thin and she really isn’t giving herself much of an opportunity for any kind of social life. She’s bookish and a little shy (She puts on a very convincing mask in court.) So she doesn’t have a special person in her life. (Guy or girl)  Maybe you could be that special person. Although if you aren’t able to produce grandchildren for her mother...Well. it won’t be pretty. There may be some high pitched keening.

*Has defended certain girls from The Caboose who have been arrested for possession. Has never been in the place though.
*Once got Dolores Hernandez from Caligari's off on an aggravated assault beef. Has been telling everyone in her hood that Christine is the shit.  It's why the Spanish speakers have been asking for her.
* Once ripped Officer Honus Brightwater to shreds on the stand. He hasn't forgotten that.
* Has had occasional dealings with Detective Bela Janofski. She likes that he's polite and knows his stuff.
* Has defended a few of Tyronne "Tiberius" Glover's boys in court. If she ever went out on her own or joined a defense firm. He'd put her on retainer immediately.
* Successfully defended Teflon John Galloway and still can't believe she screwed him afterwards. I mean, "What in the hell was I thinking?"
* Law firms keep an eye on one another, So there's no way that a talented girl like Christine would have escaped the notice Holmes, Gillis, Baker, Savage, North and Dean. But Roderick Holmes divines, (correctly) that she has a lot of inconvenient morals and ethics and might not deal well with their clientele.
* Has deposed Norman Cayce on the stand. Knows his stuff and doesn't rattle easily.
* Got a friend off a bullshit beef. Clavo Hernandez has let her know that she can claim a favor from him anytime she wants.
* Has defended numerous members of Rory O'Halloran's family. Especially that maniac sister of his.
* Counts Patricia "Carnie" Pitt as one of her dearest friends from college. Carnie is loud and extraverted in the way that Christine is absolutely not.  They try to catch lunch once a week and they have more success at this than trying to go to the gym together.
* Has defended Ezekiel Stubbs and some of the members of the Gallowsbait MC.  As a result, her little Toyota runs like a top even though it's ten years old. Don't tell anyone, but Zeke figures heavily into certain fantasies that Christine has.
* On occasion, if it's an act she's heard of, she'll go down to the The Witness and dance her ass off. Never takes anyone home though.
*Dated Dr. Paul Bickford briefly. The card tricks were cute and all, but MAN was he dull.

Whispering Hills Sanitarium

Dr Ephraim Waverly was inspired. He’d been to Battle Creek, Michigan, Had met with Dr Kellogg, and had come away from that meeting with the idea that a sanitarium of his own was a worthy goal and a worthy vision. He’d taken his inheritance and had bought a patch of land in a remote, but beautiful, spot out away from town. He hired a brilliant architect, and set to work making a peaceful and restful resort/medical facility.
   And frankly, The rich folk were very interested in taking the rest cures, in the new fads in dietetics, and the new types of exercises and therapies. Dr. Waverly began to make money hand over fist.  Most of which he plowed right back into the San, and occasionally helped to hire new doctors and therapists.
   And it was, without a doubt, an idyllic spot. A lovely view looking out over the bowl of Crater Woods.

Oh sure. No business is without it’s problems. There were occasional stories of the staff seeing ghosts or other hallucinatory phantasmagoria. Even Dr. Waverly noticed that occasionally there was a bit of a pall that seemed to hang over the place. When Dr Frehley hanged himself, it was shocking of course, but even his family had mentioned that he’d always had a melancholic disposition all of his life. There wasn’t even a whisper of anything more..untoward.

Occasionally, patients would come to the San, looking for a restful getaway, only to have a hysterical breakdown of some sort. Some recovered. Some did not.   Then, one of the groundskeepers went missing. They never even found a body.   People in town, especially the sort that didn’t care for the rich tourists, began to revive the old stories about how Crater Woods was haunted and that the spirit of the Wendigo stalked its woods in the winter. Hunters and fishermen went missing out there every once in a while.

But Dr. Waverly poo-poohed such superstitious notions. He worked tirelessly to make the San into a beautiful and healthful spot.  It had, after all, become his home. He lived in a peaceful little cabin not too far away, and devoted most of his waking hours to helping people. Sure, there was the occasional disappearance, or odd burst of unusual tension from customers or staff. But it being so far from town proper, not much made the papers.

Until, one of the children of a very rich couple went missing. Police were summoned, and eventually a detective set about trying to locate the young girl. The detective was able to round up a few hunting dogs and with one of the young ladies bonnets, they went in search of her.

The scent led right to Dr. Waverly’s door. and then, right into the cellar of the cabin...Which is where the scent stopped.  It’s said, that the sights the detective saw there, in that cellar, unseated his reason. He certainly took to drink thereafter. but when he arose from the cellar. He stalked back to the sanitarium, located the Doctor, and emptied his service revolver into the man, then reloaded and calmly did it all over a again. Taking unusual care not to kill him too quickly. 

It was all over the papers. The bones of at least 16 separate people were found in that cellar and some may never be identified. The Doctor’s journals were gone over with a fine tooth comb, but there was never any conclusive sign that Dr. Waverly was even consciously aware of his whole “Other Life”  His journals were quotidian, Dull even. and no sign of another journal was ever found, although there ARE stories of one. Always “friend of a friend saw it once” sort of stories.

This, along the with the stock market crash, two years later put the place out of business for good. and that’s the way it stayed for a while.

But you know how it is. Some damn people can’t leave well enough alone.
A developer for a health consortium found the place and thought it was a peaceful. and with just the right sort of security, could make for a nice, remote mental institution.  A sanitarium in the modern sense of the word. Naturally, being a group of out-of-towners, none of them had ever heard the wild stories and by the time they had, well...That was fifty YEARS ago for crying out loud! Besides, they’d already bought the land and had sunk money into building new structures and renovating the old ones. These were men of business and science. They weren’t going to be scared off by ghost stories from around the campfire.

The new structure was a squat 4 story edifice that hunkered in the middle of the formerly expansive greensward of the old San, and was made of large slabs of poured concrete. Dubbed, “The Grey Lady” it was the actual facility for the housing of the mentally ill.  The older buildings were retrofitted into offices and dormitories for the staff. A high concrete wall was erected around the perimeter and an underground system using one of the tributaries of the Wicomicomico River for both power and clean water was built.

And you know, for a bit there, it seemed as if the ghosts of old had indeed been chased off.  It never seemed like any of the patients really ever got better there, but that was never expected. Psychology was still in the business of warehousing people who couldn’t function in normal society. At least, in the late 60’s it was.

Oh sure, once the ghost stories got around, it seemed like every one on the staff had to see one. One poor nurse literally had an anxiety attack from seeing...SOMETHING, she knew not what.  And of course, there was always the story about Wayne Mason.

Wayne, had had a psychotic break and had gone on a 4 state killing spree. When the cops finally managed to stop his motor home, he offered them the drivers license of the man who’s face he’d stapled to his own.  The cops were not particularly fooled as you can well imagine. After a whirlwind trial, whose coverage was only truncated by the Charles Manson trial, Wayne was dumped at Whispering Hills, hopefully to rot for the rest of his damned existence.

Wayne, for a violent psychopath was still a chatty fellow. So it was a bit interesting in his therapy sessions when talked about making a new friend...Dr. Waverly.  Dr Waverly told him that things run in cycles...That the tension builds up and then...well.  The cycle to come was going to be the biggest yet.  The doctor had told him. Yes. He had FORESEEN IT.

This went on for about 4 months. Mason would wax messianic about the coming cycle without exactly saying what the hell he was talking about.  It was a new and interesting wrinkle to his pathology, but after 4 months of it, nobody paid it as much mind as they should’ve.

6 days before the Christmas holiday, the violent wing had a completely inexplicable but utter failure of it’s internal security. 3 nurses and an orderly were the only ones who managed to escape. Every one else was butchered mercilessly, then the inmates turned on one another. Mason’s body was never found.

Now, the place is deserted and people who still remember, including members of the city council, won’t allow that area to be re-developed. No one even wants to go up there to bulldoze the place. People who fancy themselves ghost hunters go up there.  Some see nothing. Others see too much.

What’s really going on:
Here’s the deal. The Ghosts are actually incidental. It’s not exactly a magnet for ghost activity like Brockton Hall is on the campus in town.  The ghosts have accumulated over the course of time because of the horrible events that have taken place here and around Crater Woods.  But they aren’t work of some Major Demon, or horrible dark magic, or anything like that.
The fact is, Crater Woods is unusually but naturally acoustically “warm”, like the best sort of concert halls are designed to be. The Wicomicomico River and Crater Falls, generate an infrasonic standing wave. Temperature, humidity and soil plasticity cause this infrasonic frequency to fluctuate. But given the right conditions, over the course of time, it literally could drive any person mad.  The whole place, under the right conditions, can create an enormous caldera of crazy.  And sometimes, it absolutely does.
   Now the fact there ARE ghosts sort of muddies the water in terms of seeing the actual cause, especially since you can’t actually hear it with your normal hearing. But that being said, the ghosts are scary, but with a few exceptions, harmless.

The Layout:
Unlike some descriptions of places that I’ve done before, I’m not doing this one like a turn-by-turn map. The place is very large and has many different locales contained within it. As a result. I’m only going to hit the highlights.   

Dr.Waverly’s Old Cabin: Was bulldozed many years ago. there is still a particular spiritual “Stain” on the area and it may be the nesting place of some nasty (non-ghost) spirit as a result.  Dr. Waverly can occasionally be seen sitting on a stump, looking off into the distance and writing in his journal. It’s not good to attract his attention.

The Gatehouse: The primary security location for the facility. Since there’s no power up here none of the monitors or P.A, system work at all. The gun racks have been picked clean long ago.  Shades of slain guards may keep watch on similarly dead televisions. With the right kind of eyes, one can see guards tooling around on the parapet of the wall.

The Main Building: Lies to the left of the “Grey Lady”. Few of the windows are intact. The main building is a bit of a manse.It’s main hall is easily a hundred feet wide and the main admitting station takes up a minuscule amount of that space. The dining halls and kitchen still bear signs of the massacre that took place here last. The east wing of the building is given over to doctor’s offices, medical storage, and a retrofitted operating theater. (Using the original Operating theater that the San once used) Part of that area had been given over to the ECT suite, and there may be bad echoes of spirits still reliving the horrors of electro-convulsive therapy.

The “Dormitory”: Originally used to house rich patients, the original floor plan made each of the dorm rooms quite large. Staff lived on the premises for the most part, although there were a few who would drive in from the city if they already owned homes, or had families. Horrifying murders still play over and over here, but few of the shades here have any motive force.  The spirit of Head Nurse Collins, roams these halls though and her approach is usually heralded by a drop in temperature. She’ll assume any one not in hospital garb is a patient and will likely attempt to see them back to their cell in the Grey Lady.  Any attempt to prevent that will draw an unpleasant response. Please note that I have just made an understatement of some depth.

“The Grey Lady”: Housing for the inmates of the asylum. Magnetic locks on the doors, they just failed one night.  No one seems to know how or why. The whole place still smells faintly of concrete, bleach, alkali sweat, and old death.  Bats have taken roost in the upper floors where some of the windows have been broken out.  The bottom levels of the building house the power and water station for the complex. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. It’s just been off for ages.  There is also an enormous septic tank that is separated from the water/power station by a concrete slab wall. The tank was so large because it needed to be able to not be serviced for at least two months at a time.  There are still times up here when the roads get impassible in the winter.  
Inmate ghosts can be a mixed bag of interesting conversationalists, violent psychotics, and as per usual, the combo platter.  Wayne Mason considers this his little kingdom and takes a paternalistic interest with anyone messing with his children.
It should be noted that symptoms of graphomania manifested in a statistically significant number of the inmates and most of the walls in the place are covered with script in ink and various bodily fluids.  Do an Image search on Google for graphomania and you won’t lack for visual cues for your players.