Thursday, December 27, 2012

Changeling Lost Vegas: Orientation (Part Two)

The second half of my interlude post for the players of our G+ Changeling the Lost Campaign. First Half Here. 

“Me, I just lucked into being a part of the Winter Court. Each one has a few people considered Courtiers- who handle the business and ritual parts of the Court. In my case, that’s primarily business shit. Simon, Questions-So-Loud, and sometimes Mrs. Pang wrangle weird things. We only have six Courtiers in Winter, but the two bigger ones have something like a dozen, plus various hanger-ons. But they have to handle a lot more and they take on more responsibility keeping things together. They have influence but they also spend more energy and resources making sure this whole place doesn’t burn down around us.

But most people aren’t Courtiers, though they may be associated with a Court. If you get through your probationary period without killing anyone, or turning out to be a plant, or doing something monumentally stupid, then you’re accepted into the Freehold. You take a modest pledge and the Freehold offers you protection. That means if you need help, you can ask for it. You can get protection and generally if you’re in, you have people watching your back. You can go one step further after you’ve done tasks for the Courts. You can request the patronage of one of the Courts. In this case, they’ll help you out more. They’ll make sure you have a roof over your head, they’ll help you get settled into the life you want, and they’ll give you a modest stipend to keep you afloat. In return, they might ask for seasonal tasks, glamour gathering, or just helping out with things. That’s why Terrible Job’s here. He’s clearing a debt.

Plus when they come looking for new people to bring up, they usually go look at their clients first. At least that’s how it is supposed to work.

If you don’t pledge to the freehold? Well in that case, people take a hands-off approach. Changelings of the freehold won’t help you- in fact they aren’t supposed to speak to you. There are a few of those around in Las Vegas- weirdoes, people with bad reputations, exiles who crossed one of the Courts and couldn’t find help elsewhere. Simon tries to help those people move on to another city if he can. But some people are just Broken.

Part of the problem is that unlike other places, it can be harder to make a living in Vegas. The Courts make pacts and create ties with businesses as a means of generating money. But in Vegas, money, wealth, luck, and fate are all tied up together. When you start mucking with one, you tug on the others. The Courts generally switch through businesses and people, because if they run them too long there’s a backlash of fate, where that reverses and burns you back twice as hot. A gamble, it is always a gamble here. But even more dangerous…mucking with money and chance, well let’s just say that can be like ringing a dinner bell for the Others. The ones in Vegas, they can smell that, especially when glamour, Wyrd or contracts come into play.

Some pass-through Changelings will somehow make it over the In-Betweens and into Vegas. And they won’t listen or we won’t spot them in time. And they’ll go to one of the casinos and put a chain on luck, and they’ll keep tugging and tugging. And they’ll win big…but they won’t be able to find their way out. Something will come for them.”

“When they took you…well there’s a chance they left something in your place. Maybe they showed it to you, made you watch. Mine did.

It looks like you, sounds like you, and even when it fucks up your life your friends and family won’t know it isn’t you.

You’ll have to decide how you want to deal with that. It’s a personal decision. Some avoid it, some destroy them. Some people try to go home after that. No one can talk you out of that, but I’ll tell you it is a bad idea. But you’ll have to find out why yourself.

And the fetches, well some of them know they’re bad. Some of them don’t. Some of them bear some of their maker’s power- making them extra dangerous. The nature of fate is this- even if you weren’t taken from Vegas…your Fetch will end up here if it is still around. That’s just the way these things work.

And if you kill you fetch…you have to be prepared for the consequences. Things happen when you do that- bad, good, in-between. It can break you if you’re not careful, killing your doppelgänger.”

“No, that’s not a joke. There’s other stuff besides us around.

Well, mostly werewolves and wizards.

Stop laughing. Seriously. The Autumn Court knows the most about that kind of stuff. I used to think that they were just broken Changelings, but Hopscotch Takebacks told me that wasn’t it- or at least that wasn’t all of it. I’ve only crossed paths with the werewolves once. They’ve got their own ways and grouping and they don’t seem exactly like Beasts. I don’t know. They’re…well…they’re kind of boring. Take a second and picture for yourself the most clichéd form of werewolf, like from a movie or TV show. That’s pretty much how they act. Most of them, anyway. There are a few exceptions.

The Wizards- and again this is second and third hand for the most part- have some weird division. I’m not even sure they’re the same thing. There are apparently a few serious dudes with some real power who have a kind of magic company. Hopscotch says to steer well clear of them. But then there’s the scattershot street mages. Supposedly. Crazy people- ladies and guys- picture homeless Big Lebowski’s. They can do some stuff based on their craziness. I don’t know if they’re really wizards or just somebody who managed to activate a token or ate a glamour fruit and didn’t die.

Other stuff? Yes, there’s other stuff. Ghosts, demons, poltergiests, Frankensteins, voodoo priests, crazed god-touched, and Wayne Newton. I mean, it is Vegas, you’d expect all of that here, right? No vampires, though. But again, rumors and gossip so who knows what’s true, what’s coming from broken people, and what’s someone’s plot.

Newton? That’s a whole ‘nother story.”

Terrible Job
“There are plenty of dangers out there…but keep in mind you can also do real damage to yourself if you’re not careful. That’s especially true around the holidays. The holidays are bad.
Sorry, yeah. So you’ve been in a place where you had to do things to survive. I’m not going to make you talk about that. Hell, no one wants to talk about that. But you know it changed you, made you different and I’m not just talking about how we look now. We have pieces missing- memories, feelings, bits of our soul stuff- and where that got torn out they poured glamour and wyrd in. Who you are now has to figure out how to balance and contain all of that.

I’m not putting this well…

Sometimes Changelings break. It can happen when you do something that one part of you rebels against. It can happen when your Changeling instincts kick in and someone gets hurt. It can happen when self-preservation or fear make you into someone you don’t want to be. And it can happen when you see something of your Keeper in yourself…

They call it clarity, your vision of the world. As you have…problems, conflicts…you can lose some of that clarity. When you do you have a harder time keeping straight what’s real and what’s imagined, what’s right there and what’s magic. You might get flashbacks to your life before or to your durance. You might develop problems. I knew someone who had to stop and count beans when he saw them. Run his hands through them and count them. That was a problem. We couldn’t go a bunch of places…

Why beans? I don’t know. Something in his past, in his life that had to do with that. He could never explain it. Good guy too, always decent so I don’t know what he did that pushed him. It might not have been something he did- sometimes weirdness, the Hedge, and other things can hit against your clarity. I’ve heard it is worst for the Fairest, but I couldn’t say.

The key is balance, at least that’s how I see it. Others are different I know Simon and his Winter folk believe in talking about it. Changelings who avoid other changelings and just spend time with people and those who only spend time with us- they’re most vulnerable.

Oh, by broken I mean there’s something seriously wrong with them. Sometimes it drives them back into the Hedge, sometimes it makes them do awful things, sometimes they start seeing things. You can’t always tell who has the madness on them- it isn’t exactly like other madness, the kind you play with Contracts for. The real danger is that the broken ones get inured to the bad stuff, they start to not care about their actions and what those mean to themselves and the people they call friends.

He shot himself. Last Christmas. Dumbass beancounter…”

“So apparently the Hobs around here are a little different from those elsewhere- at least that’s what some of the travelers have said. They’re better organized, more ready to put pressure on Changelings, and less…feral…

They’re also highly divided which is a good thing. The most together of them live in the Close Hedge, in one of several spots near the major Trods…especially in the hedge by the Strip. They used to be up by Fremont, so they say, but they all scattered down to the Neon at some point. If you go a little deeper into the Hedge then you get rougher and nastier Hobs- creatures and awful things hunting around.

But our Hobs, the real Vegas Hob, they run Casinos…Goblin Markets of a kind where Hobs and Changelings go to pick things up- sometimes that means gambling, sometimes bargains. You can find all kinds of things there tokens, contracts, pets, fates, identities, hedge fruit, and other modest weirdnesses. You want to be really careful though- some of those places are better than others, some have special rules they want to catch you in. Like every other place in Vegas, the house always wins in the end. But if you play your cards right you can come away with some things you want- just at a price.

Some Hobs leave the Hedge. They’re usually oddballs with a weird fate or fancy to them. Last year we had to clear out a batch of them with a dirty linen fetish from a rundown hospital. That was weird. Oh, and of course there’s the Taxi service. We haven’t talked much about the hedge and the Trods. You’ll want to get really settled before you go back into the thorns, but it can be a useful means of escape or travel. But it takes some know-how and skill to do it successfully. On the other hand, one of the Hob groups operates, I guess you could call them vehicles. If you absolutely have to get somewhere quickly or there’s some kind of traffic jam, you can use them.

Settle the price before you get in. Always.”

“So here’s the bad news. Keepers sniff around Las Vegas. To be specific they say there are twenty-one Keepers- a Blackjack hit of nastiness. They take people, play games, feed on dreams, gamble, and fight with one another. All of that keeps them caught up and distracted. From time to time one of them does catch a scent- someone runs the tables too long. A Courtier plays with something they shouldn’t. A questing one ends up entangled. Slavers pop up. It doesn’t matter. Bad stuff can go down then. But Vegas is a big city and there’s plenty of room to run and hide. And occasionally someone manages to eke out a victory. But unless you’re in a Motley, joined together, people generally won’t help when that kind of thing goes down.

There’s lots of fine talk about help and support and that’s great for the day-to-day. But when the big noise comes down you can expect the first thing they’ll try to do is find a reason why this is happening to you. What you did to bring this on yourself? You’ll figure out who your friends are based on the price they charge. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to get up on stage with the tigers. There’s bright lights and big city here, but we all carry just as much fear as anywhere else. The big Courts will downplay that- that’s in their interest. They each have a philosophy of that.

We know some of the twenty-one, not all. No, I don’t know how they know that number. That’s just what I’ve always heard. Some of the big ones we can spot and see the signs of The Friendly One, First Fire, The Director. They have turf battles of a kind, which works to our advantage- they’re competitive. Some of them have spots and they even have a few shared places, like Circus, Circus. Don’t ever go there. Don’t ever cross off the sidewalks and lines near there. That’s a bad place. A very bad place.

Very bad.”

Kappachani Mask
They provide you with a smart phone. It’s a monthly generally anonymous phone with all the frills 
and utility of something you’d give your grandparents. But given the advances in technology in 8 years, it actually has some utility.

They also give you a basic fake state-issued ID. That will allow you to pass basic checks, rent, open a bank account etc. However it will not withstand much scrutiny. Imagine it as a fragile version of the New Identity merit. Kappachani suggests not getting arrested with it.

Everyone also gets an additional free Specialty from the following list. Specialties give you +1 die when attempting a related action. The specialties represent something that struck your interest while you were listening.

  • Courts of Las Vegas
  • Fitting Into Mundanity
  • Freehold Do’s and Don’ts
  • Getting Around Las Vegas
  • Hob Factions
  • Keeping Off the Radar
  • Modern Fashions
  • Other Magic Folk of Vegas
  • Rules of the Games
  • The Keepers of Vegas
  • Vegas on Zero Bucks a Day
  • (Neighborhood) Specialty

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