Pitch-a-Week, Part 17: Rag and Bone

High Concept: Expiration Date meets Ronin… or maybe just a less-thinky Expiration Date
Genre: Gritty, high-contrast noir ectopunk

Overview: Candyman works the Nursery, trading jawbreakers and gummi bears for poltergeist service Above. Jailbait’s got her racket down cold… Rohypnol and incriminating photos sent to the right place open doors that need to be opened, close doors that need to be shut and, on occasion, send desperate people scrambling Below on a handful of pills or a sweet stream of car exhaust. For the right price, Misericord provides a perch from which riders can sit and watch the world go by.

First rule in the rag-and-bone game: No names, no faces.

Everybody needs something. The Quick need resolution, sure, and a last chance to tell Grandma or Daddy or Little Jack or Jill Sticky-Fingers that they love them or that they hate them or that the Orioles lost by five. They also need safety-deposit box locations, passwords, convenient accidents or souls in bottles to torment on those long, cold nights when familiar sobbing is the only thing that keeps the cold at bay.

The Dead need resolution, too. Last things said, last deeds done, certain items moved from here to there, certain people dragged through the Gate and left for the Screamers and the Hounds.

That’s where you come in.

Second rule: Your work comes home with you. Never go home.

Medium, spirit-caller, ghost-breaker or cheval, it all comes down to the same eight words.

They come to you, you can go to them.

Simple as that.

The Quick (well, the clued-in Quick who can’t or won’t do for themselves) know you by a handle and a mail drop. The Dead know your Caul, whether it’s a PVC hood, a bloodied bandana, a black lace veil or a Bedazzled gas mask.

You know them both as claws digging into reality, fumbling hands hoping to use you to tear the wall between life and death and keys just waiting to open the big door to the main chance.

You like to call them Marks.

Third rule: Never get caught.

If you can keep it straight, being Quick among the Dead can open more than a few doors. Secrets are power, after all, and power is its own reward.

It’s hard to keep it straight, though. Let your poker face down when a Dead girl stumbles past you at the supermarket and you’ll get mobbed by ghosts looking for an agent in the Quick world. Let slip that you’re the one who bound that Dead girl in a silver box until she let you know where the robbers who killed her left their loot and favors will be the last thing on her mind. And that’s without stepping on the wrong side of the Hounds, the Neverborn or any of the other things that make the Dead run and hide.

Still, it’s better than a day job.

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3 Responses to Pitch-a-Week, Part 17: Rag and Bone

  1. Ymptree says:

    Two words: Unknown Armies.

    For spice (smoke?), file the serial numbers off Wraith and drop it in. The Arcana in that game would work pretty well as UA-style magical paths — and it’s a bit creepilating to imagine what disciplines and taboos the Dead might use to charge up their magic.

    • pitchaweek says:

      I’d thought about UA, actually, as the general seediness and give-and-take of the magic system works well with the setting. The Dead feel like UA Demons in a big, big way.

  2. Pingback: Fragments and signposts | Pitch-a-Week

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