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About Kaige

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  1. Trying to do some worldbuilding here, tying together our three (technically four?) cities of adventure through related criminal organizations. Today, the Mafia. Feedback and suggestions welcome! I'm considering updating what's going on with Freedom City's three mafia families, but I'd have to consult the ref team first. I plan to add a little more overall, but I'm out of time for today. Ultimately, I'm hoping that the Commission as a massive group of antagonists could provide plot hooks to bring heroes from one city to another for a thread or two, or at least have them hear about each other. The Commission The Mafia was originally formed in the nineteenth century as a group of Sicilian freedom fighters seeking to expel Napoleon and the French; the name itself is an acronym for "Morte Alla Francia Italia Anela,” which means "death to the French cry the Italians!". The traditions of mutual protection and loyalty at the expense of the state that developed during this period persisted over the following centuries, and as Sicilian immigrants traveled to America and ran up against intense nativism, these families became respected parts of their communities. To outsiders, however, they became synonymous with insidious crime. The Mafia as a criminal organization in the United States began in the early 1900s in major East Coast cities, predominately New York, New York and Freedom City, New Jersey. Early on, they were supposed to be administered by a single "capo de tutti capi," or "boss of all bosses", but brutal infighting over who could hold such a powerful position led the heads of the various Mafia families to reevaluate this style of leadership. In 1931, after a particularly brutal murder of one capo de tutti capi, the nation's most powerful mob branches met in Chicago to decide on an alternative. The result was the Commission, a sort of Mafia board of directors composed of the leaders of the twelve most powerful families: the Five Families of New York; Al Capone's Chicago Outfit; the Scarpias, Igglionis, and Gorganzuas of Bedlam City; and the Drioganos, Olivertis, and Tonifannis of Freedom City. The Twelve Families, as the Commission was also known, met to make all significant decisions about the future of the Mafia as a whole. Meetings approved or denied the admission of Sicilian-born men as Made Men, meted out retribution to traitors, and made the fateful decision to get involved with the drug trade. As lesser families, such as the Manettis (who arrived in Emerald City in the 1940's), began to spread, members of the commission increased their influence by offering to champion their interests; both the Manettis and the Los Angeles mob were long represented by the Chicago Outfit. But despite this show of cooperation, uneasiness between families sometimes erupted into near-open hostility. A series of ugly incidents in 1967 nearly put the Chicago Outfit at war with Bedlam's Scarpias, and although the Commission forbade hostilities, neither group has been welcome in the other's city since. As the Mafia's influence grew with the drug boom, so did law enforcement scrutiny, vigilante attention, and competition within the organization. The activities of superheroes in many of the major cities of the United States began to take a serious toll on families that had until recently been unshakable institutions. After the murder of New York Mafia kingpin Paul Castellano in 1985 and a major defection by insiders who revealed the organization's secret structure in order to get revenge on his killers, the mob began to be muscled out of its nationwide place as undisputed head of the criminal underworld. The Five Families of New York and the Chicago Outfit stayed in contact, but never called or attended a meeting of the full Commission again. In some places, however, local circumstances allowed the Mafia families to hold onto more power. In Freedom City, the corruption that came with the Moore Act era largely destroyed any chance for local superheroes and law enforcement to deal the mob a knockout blow, and the three families there managed to retain significant influence in the city's underworld. In Bedlam City, lack of effective oversight by the half-disbanded commission allowed the Scarpias to wipe out the Igglionis. The city was already so corrupt and economically depressed that it had little chance of rooting them out. With heroes and police in Freedom City still working hard to put an end to the Mafia's operations now that the Moore Administration is a distant memory, and with New York and Chicago largely running their own affairs, the axis of Mafia power in the United States has shifted to Bedlam City, where they rule effectively undisputed. Taking advantage of the situation, the Scarpia family reinstated the Commission in the early 2000s, this time with seven seats: three for the Freedom City families, one for the Manettis of Emerald City, one for Bedlam's Gorganzuas, and two for the Scarpias, representing both themselves and the Igglionis. Although a blatant grab for further power and influence by the Scarpias, this new Commission ("the Seven Families" now, although really there are only six) has had considerable success. The member families run contraband routes from coast to coast, dispose of evidence for one another, hide wanted members of families from other cities, share information on superheroes and law enforcement, and have a shared list of assassins and metahuman contractors to pull from when someone interferes too much in their operations. Whether the new Commission can fully revitalize the Mafia as America's most powerful criminal organization remains to be seen.
  2. GM Xavier's trained eyes passed over many possibilities, dismissing most of them in turn. Squatters in the parking garage at Liberty Shoppes had to be tough, or at least to look it. It wasn't that there was a lack of space; the parking garage was huge and largely empty. It was more that anyone who showed weakness was a target. The weakest gangs stayed together and kept morale high by finding someone weaker to beat the tar out of, and with no one much motivated to stop them, it wasn't uncommon that the ambulance that came for the victim headed straight to the morgue. Hard eyes followed Xavier - if he'd looked less capable, he'd certainly have been mugged. His gaze finally settled on a young woman - a girl, even, probably not much older than Susan - who lounged against one of the concrete pillars, warming her hands by a barrel fire. The summer heat outside didn't penetrate far into the thick concrete slabs, and the breeze from overactive ventilation systems kept the place late-Autumn cold. She wore fingerless gloves, jeans that had probably been bought distressed but were doubly so now, and a faded, dirty Minnie Mouse sweatshirt. A silver ring pierced her lower lip and left eyebrow. Her hair, dyed black but starting to grow back to its natural blonde at the roots, lay in a pixie cut just long enough to shadow her steel-colored eyes. "Alright," she said, straightening and stretching her lean, wiry form with the feigned carelessness of an alley cat. "I'll show you around, old man. I want twenty bucks and a burger that ain't fast food, and I want one of them upfront." She walked toward Xavier, then circled slightly to the side, keeping a carefully counted distance between them. With one bony hand she patted a bulge in the pocket of her hoodie. "I carry a glock and a rape whistle," she told him, "and I'm faster with the glock." No matter how the two of them moved, she managed to adjust so that Xavier was slightly in front of her and her back was covered by a wall. People learned quickly down here. "So, what are we looking for?" She asked, her tone at once casual and guarded.
  3. GM Perhaps any candy company that brands a product "Liquid Yum" deserves to be on its last legs. Either way, that was the situation for Snacktastic. Once upon a time Snacktastic was the king of the off-brand, sold in bulk to dollar stores and mini-markets across America. But that was largely back when it was the Hardwick Candy Company, almost thirty years ago. It was also before better federal sanitation laws for food production facilities - and before the ensuing lawsuits. In more recent years Snacktastic had the dubious honor of selling most of its product in third world countries with no safety or quality regulations to speak of, though even that business was drying up. Back in the glory days, Goober Balls and Chock-O-Splat had been made in separate dedicated factories. As of a few weeks ago, they shared a single assembly line. Industrial Drive backed up onto sickly, smog-choked forest, a long line of manufacturing complexes in which only every fifth one was still wheezing along. The illegal nightclubs held on former factory floors probably raked in more money than most of these half-abandoned wage slave hellholes, but they didn't go on anyone's growth projections or tax returns. By night their neon lights, strung around rusted smokestacks, would illuminate a frenzy of activity. Drug dealers would rub shoulders with spoiled rich kids out on a dare and overworked Wolvertonites desperate for some fleeting moment of happiness or excitement. Off-duty cops, struggling to make ends meet on their pitiful salaries, would provide security for the places they should legally be shutting down. During the day, though, everything was quiet. Any noise was restricted to within the functioning factory complexes, and most of the people working inside were too tired to speak over the rumble of jumbled machinery. Very little traffic came out to this edge of the city. It was the perfect place for uninvited guests to squat, at least while the sun was shining. The old Snacktastic factory was surrounded by a crumbling brick wall, its former reddish hue lost beneath a thick layer of soot. The large iron gates had been chained shut, but it looked like someone had taken the lock off with bolt cutters and moved it aside. The building itself was huge, with a multi-story interior; it was hard to make out much of what lay within through the grimy windows, but it looked like massive steel vats took up significant space inside. For anyone who cared to look, nearly twenty motorcycles were parked just inside the gate, alongside several battered vans that looked just like the one from Rothstein's security footage.
  4. GM Liberty Shoppes was a great subterranean maze. It had been planned as a destination that would draw in shoppers from north and south, making Bedlam into a real destination. But like so much in the city, its good intentions had quickly been devoured whole by corruption and mismanagement. Its cavernous halls had collapsed into warrens of iniquity divided between brutal security forces and vicious gangs. Half empty, covered in graffiti and ankle-deep litter, it sat as another testament to the city's ability to drag anything down to the lowest common denominator. And now it was where Xavier would have to continue his search. A parking stub wasn't much to go on; the mall was big enough to have its own police substation, practically a precinct unto itself. It boasted apartments, restaurants, and now all manner of stores that could not easily exist in the public eye. Drug paraphernalia sat openly in cracked windows, and discount tattoo parlors with below-minimum hygiene standards (but unbeatable prices!) were a dime a dozen. If Xavier wanted to find out where the van was dropping off its human cargo, he would either need some kind of guide or to wait until the van made one of its deliveries. Either possibility held certain dangers.
  5. So I came to this site over the summer, and I had tremendous energy and excitement, and I jumped in with all my ideas and the threads I could run. And then the school year started, and my energy totally evaporated. I went from posting every day to every two days, then every four. And that is not what I promised and not what I wanted, and I'm sorry. I put a lot of effort into the Bedlam setting, and its a setting I still love and want to see grow and be successful on the board, but my job is almost literally killing me and I come home every day feeling extremely defeated, which is not good for my muse. So I need to do better, because I want to be a part of the site and see Bedlam continue and reward the trust the staff have put in me by making me a guide. I plan to do my utmost to finish my current threads, provided people are still interested after my slowdown, but then I plan to cut back on running threads and focus on contributing to the Guidebook. My hope is that I can get some other brave souls to run some Bedlam adventures. I'd be happy (frankly eager) to provide adventure ideas and even detailed breakdowns of threads you could run, but I don't think I'm capable of being a consistent, engaging GM at this point in my life. I'm genuinely sorry to have promised so much and delivered so little. I plan to contribute as much as I can to this site, which is a remarkable and unique place, but right now I can only manage it in bursts.
  6. Sorry, was unclear. If you have an action planned for Xavier in light of the new info, go ahead. If not, let me know and I'll jump in to continue the story.
  7. If anyone was going to figure out that it was the chocolate golems from the Pits of Diabeetus, it was Osla with that Theology check. Alas, it failed. You'll be in the dark until it's too late. Arrowhawk notices that some of the men have left their sleeves a bit rolled up, and their arms are heavily tattooed. When she points this out, Justiciar recognizes the tattoos as typical among skinhead motorcycle gangs - though if she's seeing the tattoos right, the men are not members of the Brotherhood, the only motorcycle gang with Mafia permission to operate in Bedlam. Osla also spots a reflection of the side of the opposite side of the van in the van's side mirror. It's been partly painted over, but she can make out the letters SNAC. Linking the letters with the smell, Stronghold remembers that the Snacktastic Candy Company recently shut down one of its last factories on Industrial Drive - and it's not unreasonable to guess that they left some of the older vans in the parking lot while they figure out how to sell the place and its associated equipment.
  8. It's tampering with a control panel rather than a computer, so let's do Disable Device.
  9. The van is an older make, maybe ten or fifteen years old, and probably doesn't run very smoothly. It looks like it was originally a delivery van - beneath the grey paint, which was sloppily applied, Xavier can just make out a smiling rodent holding up a piece of pizza. Due to the vehicle's design, the back compartment is not open to the front seats - there are no windows in the back area, and it must get very hot. The van lacks a license plate, but it's marked with a red circle with a line through it just above where the license plate should be. It smells strongly of old cheese. There is no dirt on the tires or undercarriage that would indicate driving outside the city, and there's no wear from highway travel, so the destination is probably within city limits and relatively close. Still, the Rock would not need this kind of anonymous transportation to move anywhere in Wolverton. Xavier's guess is that i's what he would use if he had to cross Mara territory in Hardwick Park, probably on the way to downtown. He would only risk a route that long and dangerous for a big operation, something the smaller buildings in Wolverton couldn't easily conceal. There's an old parking stub on the dashboard for the crime-infested Liberty Shoppes subterranean mall downtown.
  10. Moved us along to a neutral location. Notice and Knowledge checks might reveal additional information. Other skills are also welcome if you can think of a use.
  11. GM It took a bit of negotiation, but the three vigilantes managed to agree to meet and view the footage. Finding a working public computer was a challenge in Bedlam, and finding one that wasn't in line of sight of people who might become suspicious was even trickier. But there was one place that was a pretty good bet - at least for the brave. The Endler Library was widely considered one of the City Redevlopment Commission's biggest mistakes, which was saying something given the number and scale of disasters it had achieved. The building was a neo-brutalist travesty of architecture, often mistaken for the Bedlam City Jail. Inside, it was dark and run down, perpetually prowled by winos, drug dealers, and hookers who lurked in the bathrooms. But there were a few banks of public computers tucked into isolated corners of each floor, favorite spots for teenagers and dirty old men with no home internet access to look up adult entertainment but were otherwise undisturbed; no one came to the library to look for books. It was also easy to enter and leave unseen through the building's maze of riot-proof corridors, and even if the vigilantes were spotted they were hardly the most strangely-dressed people there. The disk fit easily into the shaky drive, and the video footage started up easily - all sorts of video player programs had been downloaded for less savory purposes. It took a little time to find the previous night and scan through it, but it yielded results. At five in the morning, a white van with tinted windows pulled up outside Rothstein's Jewelers. Five men in ski masks got out, duffel bags slung over their shoulders. They walked to the front door, fitted the key, and entered. Internal cameras showed them walk straight to the counter and reach for a series of buttons beneath it, pressing them in careful sequence. They then used keys to quickly open the cases, cleared the contents into their duffels, and walked calmly back out to pile into the van. It had all been done with ease, as if the men had been there before - or had studied the floor plan and security systems carefully. Only the van's front plate was visible, and it didn't have a number. But the three had been inside the building, and they remembered one other detail: the strong smell of chocolate.
  12. Aaron considered the problem. Ideally he didn't want any alarms triggered at all, but ideally there wouldn't have been any guards to get out of the way, either. He wracked his brain for a place an alarm might feasibly sound as an accident. The building itself was relatively new, and (unlike most of Bedlam) kept in top shape, so it was tricky. But sometimes disgruntled workers from the corporate dorms threw things at the windows, rattling but not breaking them, and it wasn't unreasonable that a really good shake could set off the glass break alarm. Hopefully that was what the guards would assume had happened, at least until they were far away and he could leverage his evidence. "Let's try a second floor window alarm," he whispered back. "South side of the building. It'll be easiest to disguise."
  13. @angrydurf the van is one of the older models with an obvious push-down lock on the door, and Xavier can tell that it is locked. To determine where it's been, let's having him roll Search and Investigate, depending on how much time he wants to spend on it.
  14. GM Most detective work is a grind requiring more patience than investigative skill. As Xavier circled the neighborhood with his photograph, a man with a less perfect mind would have lost count of the number of people who brushed him off with a casual "haven't seen her" or simply refused to speak to him at all. But every so often, even the grind produces a breakthrough. For Xavier, it was an old homeless man on Kirby Avenue, propped up against a filthy brick wall with a battered banjo in his hands. He crooned the blues in a voice that must once have been magnificent, back before the now-empty packs of cigarettes scattered at his feet stole it from him. He rasped, he coughed, and his fingers slipped, but there was a glimmer of beauty beneath it all, like a first edition record that had been played too many years now. "Yeah, I seen her," he said, stopping his playing a moment to pull the photograph closer. He stank of smoke and sour milk, and his helpful smile was missing several rotten teeth, but the smile itself was a first for Xavier that day. "Susie. Nice girl, big problems. Owes the wrong people money, know what I'm sayin?" He shook his head sadly. "She went in an' out of Barney's a buncha times, but after a while she didn't come back out. That big grey van drove away, though. Always does." Xavier had identified half a dozen vantage points in alleys and on fire escapes that overlooked Barney's Place, and he knew which streets anyone leaving might be likely to take by foot, bus, or car. The PI remembered a grey van with tinted windows parked at a back loading dock for Barney's Place. It was still there the last time he'd circled that way, and the junkie kid still hadn't come out.
  15. Looks like we're still working out things between characters, but if you would like me to move the story forward to viewing the security footage somewhere, let me know.
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