Monday, July 21, 2014

Ghosts of Detroit ep01: Dresden Files

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06/15/2014

Ghosts of DetroitEpisode One: "Seeking"

Dresden Files

Adrian, Gia and Rocky considered playing a new game.   After hearing that they wanted to try something that had a touch of modern fantasy and strange things, I realized it was a good time to get them to try EvilHat Productions' The Dresden Files role-playing game.

Gia plays Paprika
High concept:  Business (family), Middle child of business, Has a restaurant that caters to the supernatural.
Trouble Aspect:  Bored and Impulsive
Background: Well-connected family clan.  Serve the supernatural community.  Street smart.  Human education.  [Used to the supernatural]
What Shaped You: Moved out of family.  Parents understood.  [Let me note that down]
First Adventure: Lost in the Dark Tunnels.  Inhabited by angry spirits think that they are still alive.  Was able to escape with cellphone (the light bore a hole through them).
Guest star:  City guided her out.    [There's Always a Way Out]
Redux: Looked for Peddler cause brother drowning in world. Guest star: Peddler [Always have something to trade for.] 
Guest Star Redux: Errand girl of the Alchemist.  Goal: Seek a better future.  Forward thinking.
Guest star: The Alchemist [Can’t We Get Along]

Adrian plays Detroit                                  
High concept:    Personification of the City
Trouble Aspect: Decrepitude
Background:  Once a boom town (industrial:Detroit). Now dying cause jobs shifted abroad.    [Well-Oiled Machine]
What Shaped You:  Chose to automate. [Machines are better than people]
First Adventure:  People rebuild lives as it was crumbling.
Guest star:   Mother Craft (Teacher of crafters and makers.  Helped form the community.) [People are Important After all]
Redux: 
Meets Paprika.  Realizes the inhabitants don't have to be exclusively human. [A whole new world.]
Redux:
Bayza welcome as a resident.  [Make yourself at home.]

Rocky plays Bazya
High concept: Peddler of Desires
Trouble Aspect: Seeking something lost
Background: Human with family.  Middle class.  [ Simple yet Satisfying.]
What Shaped You: Met who the previous Peddler of Desires.  Chance to have anything you could desire, and in return grant one of his. [There's Always A Catch.]
First Adventure: You peddled "I'd give anything for a hot dog" (memories of childhood)
Guest star: Older Sibling : Cinnamon [Bargained well and done]
Redux:
Meets the City.  Settling in.  [There’s One Born Every Minute]
Redux: Bartender.  Human.  Runs a supernatural catering bar.  Neutral territory.
Bartender Bob.
[Leave your Troubles at the door.]
*

The scene opens with Paprika sitting on the window sill of the tower of the Alchemist's headquarters.  The place is a massive library in the southern part of the city.  The building is three storeys tall. Paprika is chatting with Robert as he works on a scale model of the city.  He has been meticulously reworking some of the buildings and talks about his plan to transmute the streets of the city into solar panels to provide free energy for all.  Paprika's thoughts wander towards how the future of the world will have discrimination between the normals and the monsters.  Paprika slips away as Robert blabs all about the fruits of free energy and makes her way instead to the streets to look for Detroit, the personification of the City.  She decides to head for the busiest part of the city.

At the City Square, an old shop that sells secondhand books stands.  A sign on its facade reads: Robins.  Quietly tucked in a corner, Detroit sits as he enjoys a book.  The owner of the bookstore, Amaya, inherited the place from her father.  The logo of the place is that of a bird.  Most are shocked that Amaya smokes her pipe of sweet tobacco in the shop.  Detroit finds the smell heavenly as do many others who find themselves drawn to the area.  
Detroit exclaims about a part of the book that he's reading that he finds hard to accept, and Amaya jokes with him about how he has always read that book over and over.  She suggests to him to try reading the modern version of the tale.  Detroit stares at book as it pops open and a pop-up of the great white whale is visible.  He finds it odd, especially the tiny companion of the hero - a green creature in a top-hat.  She laughs.  She sees a couple looking through the shelves and remarks to Detroit, "I will never understand young love.  I was never in love..."

"I was never young," Detroit admits, "And that makes us a couple."

Amaya admits she always enjoyed the stories in books.  She never liked how the new ones tend to be more tragic.  She shares how she hates it when books arrive in boxes.  How they are stacks of things that fail to do their purpose.  And how people only notice them when they get hyped up in television shows and signings.  Detroit shares how he misses gossip.  Especially about books. "If people knew that this place was really great, the smoke was really sweet, they'd spend more time here."

"Yeah, but that would mean more people.  And more people would mean more that I have to serve, and I am not to keen on that,"  Amaya hisses.  A guy asks for the price of a book and Amaya just directs him to the basket on the counter, "Whatever you can afford." 

Paprika arrives at the City Square and she sees the entertainers and artists and living statues and musicians.  She sees the stoners and the hawkers and the lovers.  And not too far away, she sees Robins.  The smoke seems thicker today.  A couple steps out, clearly happy as they leave.    As Paprika approaches, her mage senses pick something odd.  Her fine senses tune in.  She looks around and sees a figure moving among the crowd.

A ghost.
Or worse, one of those things she faced in the tunnels before.

Paprika dashes to Robins, pulling a notebook out as she slides the door open.  Amaya watches as she stops at the nearest table, draws out a pen and writes:
Meet me at the Public Library tomorrow at 10a.m.

Amaya tells her that she won't accept books that have been written on.  Paprika convinces her to just hand the book to "A guy who always goes here.  The guy who always reads the Moby Dick."  Amaya realizes the book isn't a book, but a note book and queries if Paprika is making her a messenger.  Paprika insists she isn't asking her to do it, and that it is all up to her.    Amaya shakes her head and tells Paprika she won't.

"I don't have the time for this," Paprika leaves the paper on the classic books aisle and as she scans the shelves for the book, Detroit sees her.

"City!  Hi!"


Paprika tells him to meet at the public library but Amaya interrupts and admits it makes more sense now why she was looking for him.  Paprika realizes Amaya isn't quite human either.  "You..." Amaya realizes who Paprika is, "You're from that restaurant.  I wasn't a fan of the dimsum but I did like your soup.  You're the girl who had left.  Now it makes more sense."

"Amaya, be nice," Detroit tells her.

Paprika passes the note and tells them she has to go.  Detroit offers to tag along, and they leave.  "I'll give you the soup next time," she tells Amaya as the two leave.

Amaya motions her hand and the books all return to the shelves.  She sighs, "At least, she's human."
*

Detroit asks what is so pressing to have Paprika drag him out.  She tells him that she suspects there is another spirit from the sewers on the streets.  Detroit however seems happy to know the city has another newcomer.  "I found this ghost.  She was making her way through the people.  There's something wrong.. I want to track her down as soon as I can," Paprika admits.   She shares how the last time she saw such things were from the tunnels, and thinks the tunnels are too far away from here.  Detroit however offers that she may not be from the tunnels.  There are, after all, many kinds of energy spirits.


"She could be someone looking for a home. Or a friend.  Of which, I am both," he smiles.

Paprika offers to tell Detroit about a cool thing the Alchemists are planning if he is willing to find it.  Detroit agrees to do so and he reaches out to all the CCTV and securities around the city as his eyes.  Given how this is his town, Detroit admits he can't seem to find her.

"I found four other ghosts, but they probably are not the ones you are looking for."

Paprika considers options to find her.  Detroit tries asking what she looked like and Paprika tries to recall.
*

The Peddler of Desires is standing at a street.  Bazya stares at the man who is looking at him with desperate eyes.  As they talk, the man tells Bazya that he is starting to think she is dead.  "She has been missing for almost a week now."  Bazya asks if he wants him to find her and he says he just wants her to come home.  "It's a little tricky when you want me to do something to someone else.  That is not how this thing works.  But I can help you," he explains.  "I can help you find her, and then it is all up to you."

"Times like this you just.. I really appreciate that you are talking to me about this,"  the man admits, not truly grasping how he is actually an eyelash away from making a deal with a supernatural creature that grants wishes... for a price.  "Its not... after all... as if you can really help me," he adds.  Bazya tries to steer the conversation further.  "Considering all the pain and anguish, don't you wish you can just forget the last week so far?"

"If only that were possible," the man sighs.  "All the fear.. the anger... the pain.. if it were only possible to forget all that.."

"In exchange for finding her," Bazya suggests, "Wouldn't you be okay with forgetting what the last week was"

"Baz," a woman's voice interrupts the conversation and Bazya turns to see the Mother Craft standing nearby.  He tells her he is working, but she counters that he is not the right one for this.  The man looks at them, and asks Baz if she's his wife.  Baz of course explains she's  more his mother, which Mother Craft finds incredulous.  She calls for him again and he retorts, "Kind of busy here!"


"I don't believe he even knows," Mother Craft scolds Bazya.

"It is not about knowing. It is about wanting," Baz hisses.  "You want to find her-"

"He has to understand if he is about to make the deal," Mother Craft reminds him.

"What would I give to have her come back!" the man gasps aloud.

"Close!  Very close," Baz smiles.

Mother Craft suggests instead that he looks for a clue on where to find her.  Baz still feels a week of time is worth the exchange.  The man wishes she can just magically appear, but both Baz and Mother Craft admit that's not how it works either.  As the two argue, the man decides to go instead.  Baz easily convinces the man to stay and he starts ignoring Mother Craft.  The man plays along with Baz' hypothetical proposal and agrees to the deal.

"Bargained well and done," Baz smiles.   Mother Craft calls him a name for making deals this way and he just tells her he just helped him find where she is.  "But now," Mother Craft exclaims, "He is wondering who we are as well!"

"The best deals end that way," Bazya grins.

Mother Craft complains to Bazya how he is making things too easy.  How people are gaining things without earning them.  Bazya of course tries to redirect things on how Detroit opted for machines to show up and handle the work.  Mother Craft raises the point that in as much as Baz had taken the worries of the city's inhabitants on how the machines appeared out of thin air overnight, he has not removed such worries from the future generation.   She reminds him that the mortals now are in a world where technology allows them to do things none of them used to believe possible.  She even brings up how some are starting to suspect something odd about the Kennedy assassination.

Baz remembers that day.  The car driving by and a man mumbling, "I wish he was dead," and Baz leaning to the man and asking, "I can help you with that."

The two argue a bit more about things, including religion and how things are getting - at least in Mother Craft's viewpoint - difficult.  She warns Bazya that mortals  are starting to notice.  And that the City might not be big enough for the two of them.

"You're free to leave," Baz grins.

"Oh, I was the first Mother here," she reminds him defiantly.

"We can change that," Baz smiles.

"Realize:  I can create your Nemesis.  And NO ONE has to want it," Mother Craft threatens and walks away with a huff.

"Nemesis?  Sounds like a customer to me," Baz shrugs.

A flier lands on Baz' hand. The biker giving them out continues on his way.  Baz stares at the flier and it talks about Spices: a Beer and Bar.  He notices the address used to be this noodle house which served supernaturals.  "I guess I need a drink," Baz decides.

*

Detroit still cannot find any sign of the ghost.  "She was wearing a yellow dress.  I don't know what kind.. I am not a fashionista," Paprika admits.  "Black pants... yellow tank top."  Detroit admits, "Its pretty modern.  The ones I sealed away under the tunnels were pretty old.  This is someone who had recently died."  With that, Detroit tries to search more carefully.  Paprika stands back to give him more space to work.

Still nothing.

"Okay, let's be calm about this," Paprika mumbles, "Maybe she is going to a bar?  Is she?"  Detroit admits he doesn't know.  The two decided to try going back to the bookstore and they find a bunch of people heading out with lots of books.  Amaya smiles, "Back so soon?"

Paprika asks Amaya if she's seen a girl matching the ghost's description.  Amaya sadly admits its probably a pure mortal who scored a tragic death and has not moved on.  She asks why the interest in the dead girl.  Paprika admits she finds it unusual and Detroit even supports her concern.  Amaya admits most who die nowadays don't reach the point of an angry ghost.  Most pass on come the 9th day.  Amaya inquires if the Courts are aware of this concern and Paprika tries to stress this is something the Courts would probably overlook.   Detroit does admit that if he's lost an inhabitant, he would want to know why.

Amaya suggests that if the ghost is a recent one, she would probably search for familiarity.  Or places she is used to.  But if none of them know who the girl is, Amaya suggests that the mage can scry on her.  Paprika decides to try it.  She threads a crystal and preps for the spell.  "Do you think she's ready for this," Amaya asks Detroit and he admits to her no one is ever ready.

Paprika successfully casts the spell, but realizes the toll is a painful headache that will be ringing on her forehead until she releases the spell.   "Let's go," she tells Detroit.  But as they follow the trail, it does not lead them to the bar she suspected.  The spell leads them to Spices.

*

Spices has transformed.  The place is now a hipster central place serving artisanal beers and the like.  The entrance now has a cashier who takes a flat fee, and everything instead is then a buffet that customers can enjoy freely.  The tables have been removed for side tables on the walls. There are no chairs.  Television screens are still being installed on the walls.  The center of the room has an island, with a bartender.  The waiters are prepping drinks and delivering them around.  The woman at the cashier is not any of the Asians that Bazya has been used to.

The woman tells him that they had just purchased the restaurant and that none of them know what happened to the old owners.  The place now serves Spiced Beers, it seems.  The entrance is $20 to drink as much as they want once inside.  Baz feels the concept of money bothers him.  He pays a hundred and tells her to keep it.

"Hipsters... they practically have anti-desires," Bazya groans.

Bazya sees Bob, who is actually working at the bar.  He tells him this is a second branch and that its to serve "both kinds".   He eventually soon learns that Bob has a "brother" handling the other branch, thanks to Mother Craft.  Bazya realizes he isn't quite certain which Bob is the real Bob.   

Paprika and Detroit arrive to see the changed place as well.  Paprika is overwhelmed, and horrified to see what had happened to the place.  The two step in disbelievingly and Paprika tells Detroit to pay for the bill.  She wants to find the ghost and leave.  But Detroit admits he has no cash.  Paprika tells him, he will owe her.  Paprika and Detroit ask for the management and she notices the cashier does not mention any member of her family.

"I don't have time for this," Paprika sighs, "Where is the management?"

They approach the island where they are directed to go and see Bob offering a drink to another customer.  "This is Tomato-Carrot and Spirits."  Paprika interrupts the two and asks, "Where are the Spices family?" Bob realizes she means the previous owners and exclaims, "You are that missing sister!"

"Let me just clarify, I had left by my own terms and they agreed to it."  

"What I mean is, you're the missing one.   The one who was not present when they came to claim the oath."  Bob tries to explain, "You're the one who didn't have to pay back the promise."  He tells her how they made a promise with the previous Peddler of Desires.  Bazya looks at them, surprised.  He knows nothing of this.  Turns out, Paprika's family made a promise to serve the Peddler for 16 years after being given 16 years of success.  "Where is he, the Peddler?" Paprika hisses.

Bob motions to Bazya.

"Wait wait... I am not responsible for the actions of my predecessor-" Bazya exclaims but Paprika pulls out the menu from the counter and hits him with it!  "Paprika!  What are you doing!" Detroit exclaims.  The menu smacks Bazya on the face, leaving a mild bruising.

"No, this is not how you do it," Detroit tells her.  He wraps his arms around her to hold her back.

"Hispter... Organic... What kind of a bar is this!?!" Paprika shrieks.

"Would you rather have the bar yourself?" Bazya grins.

People are staring at them now.  Bob reassures them that the whole deal was an amicable one.  Bazya offers to do that for her.  She hisses that he's the last one she would trust.   Detroit asks Bob if there is a place where they can discuss this.  Bob motions outside.

*

Bob explains that the family had to fulfill a promise.  They are now serving the former Peddler of Desires after 16 years of success.  "To be quiet honest, it was quite a fair deal considering what they had in exchange," Bob admits.  "They gained wealth.  They gained a considerable amount of Influence in the city.  There is no discounting the number of Contacts they amassed.  Your family had the better end of the bargain."

"Coming from that man over there?" Paprika hisses.

"Not me precisely," Bazya holds both hands up.

"Look, where is my family now?" Paprika demands.  Bob admits he cannot answer that.  He does not know.  If he wishes, she can speak with the Council and they might lend her the services of a Wizard to find them.  Paprika hates the red tape of these hidden societies.   Bazya offers to help again and she shuts down that offer.  She reminds him that she knows how wicked and selfish he can be.  But he counters that she knows that he always does deliver.  Detroit admits he does.  Paprika whines that Detroit is siding with Bazya.  Detroit insists he is not.  "I am only saying the truth."

The people nearby start mumbling about seeing a ghost.  Paprika and the others turn back to the bar to see the ghostly figure in the bar.  Most of the hipsters think it is simply some kind of special effect.  The ghost begins to scream and the glass in the room begins to shake.  Bob stars panicking, fearing the cost.  "How much for nothing to shatter!? How much for nothing to shatter?!?"  Bazya asks, "What are you offering?"  Bob offers, "No more hipsters in the bar!"  Bazya takes the deal.

The scream erupts.  The hipsters quickly rush out in fear.  But nothing of glass breaks.  Bazya grins.  Paprika and Detroit however are staring at the phantom, whose scream has now become fully audible.
"PAPRIKA!"


The two stare at the ghost.  The woman looks around, frantic, and asks, "Is there a Paprika here?  The sister sent me.."  Paprika stares at the ghost in shock.
End of Chapter One.






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