Welcome to Fat Charlie's!

By Douglas Muir (douglas.muir@yale.edu)


The old, familiar smell of the bar hit me as I walked through the door: beer, sweat, floor wax, a whiff of fried food from the kitchen, the sour reek of garbage.

No, wait, that last wasn't right. The garbage smell was from the alley behind the bar, where my cat vessel was keeping watch. I shook my head, smiling. I love animal vessels, but sometimes their senses can be overwhelming. Useful, though! The cat would keep watch on the back of the bar, the pigeon on the wire across the street would do the same for the front door, and my human host --

"Hi, Charlie." I slid onto a stool, hands on the bar. "It's me, Jammie." Of course he wouldn't know this vessel. I cleared my throat, pointed to a whiskey bottle, and whispered.

"Inspiring bold John Barleycorn! What dangers thou canst make us scorn! Wi' tippeny, we'll fear nae evil; Wi' usquebae, we'll face the devil!"

The fat man grunted in noncommital response, but he turned and poured a jigger's worth (I knew he knew me; I've been quoting Robby Burns at him for fifty years now). Four hundred pounds of bald, sweating bartender, it was hard to believe that he could turn around in the tiny space behind the bar. He could, though, and then some. Anyone who thought that Fat Charlie was slow and clumsy was making a big, big mistake; I'd seen him come over the top of the bar like an avalanche in an apron.

I raised my drink in salute (the cat stalked the shadows behind a dumpster, the pigeon hunched its shoulders and cooed softly). "Is my, ah, special friend here?"

That got me a flat stare and several moments of silence. Then, with the jerk of a head. "Your sorcerous... acquaintance is at the table next to the juke."

That was a major speech, for Charlie. I glanced across the room. Martine changes her appearance more often than most mortals change their socks (it can't be a Song, where would she get the Essence, some sort of artifact?) but I recognized her in the blonde woman nursing a pineapple daiquiri. It's very hard to hide such things from us Dominations, you know; we're used to picking up on each other, after all. The body language gives a lot away, and then of course her taste in drinks and... "Ah, hah. Charlie buddy, who's that sitting next to her?"

Another long silence, Charlie seemingly engrossed in the glass he was cleaning (and it needed it... this was really a pretty grubby place; my host for the evening, a tax attorney with a nice house in the suburbs, would never come here under his own power). Then, with another jerk of the head: "Cuffs."

Cuffs? I turned to look again. The man next to my sorceress had... yes, French cuffs. On a shirt, that was under a suit, that was much, much too nice for a place like this. And a neatly trimmed little pencil-thin mustache...

I turned back to Charlie. "Ras Razash! That's our little Impudite friend from the Derg! I'd know that mustache anywhere!"

That got another grunt. Clearly Charlie wasn't sharing my excitement.

"But we heard that he went renegade last year, after the Doctors Without Borders thing!" I kept my voice low (but outside the cat snarled softly, the pigeon fluttered on its wire). "What's he doing here? And snuggled up to our turncoat sorceress?"

No grunt, but Charlie's fat rippled in what might have been a shrug.

Well... this assignment had just gotten a lot more interesting. "Okay, well. I guess we'll find out." I slapped a bill down on the bar (and reminded myself to do something nice for my host, since he was buying. "Keep the drinks coming, Charlie, and watch my back." I strolled over to the table by the juke, drink in hand, humming softly to myself and myself and myself. Did Burns have a line for this? Maybe. "As Father Adam first was fool'd, a case that's still too common -- here lies a man a woman ruled, the Devil ruled the woman..."

Behind the bar, Charlie went on polishing his glasses.

* * * * *

In a less-then-wonderful neighborhood of a major city, there's a bar. It's small, not particularly clean, and illuminated by the usual cluster of beer ads plus a buzzing neon sign that reads "Fat Charlie's II".

It's in no way remarkable, except for this: it's an angel bar. It's not a Tether, but it is a place where some of the local angels come to hang out, swap stories, and let their hair down a bit without the security and formality concerns of a Tether.

The local demons know about Fat Charlie's. but they're not likely to try anything, largely because of

Fat Charlie

Carola, Seraph of David

4 Corporeal
Strength 10
Agility 6 (4)

3 Ethereal

Intelligence 7
Precision 5

4 Celestial

Perception 7
Will 9

Role (Bartender) - 2

Status - 2

Vessel - 5

Charisma - minus 2


Fighting - 6
Large weapon - 5
Small weapon (sap) - 5

Area Knowledge (home city) - 2
Knowledge (bartending) - 5
Knowledge (steel work) - 5
Knowledge (mining) - 4


Celestial Attraction - 3
Celestial Charm - 4
Celestial Form - 2

Corporeal Charm - 3
Corporeal Form - 3
Corporeal Healing - 2
Song of Thunder - 5


Seraph of Stone
Vassal of Stone
Mercurian of Stone
Rock Hard


Obese - 2
Bound - 2

A long time ago, there was a Seraph of Stone, one Carola by name, who worked with humans... with miners and steelworkers, to be precise.

The Truth of their lives was that their work was dirty, dangerous, and utterly vital. Also that they were overworked, underpaid and exploited by predatory employers. The Seraph showed them this, and helped organize them into guilds, unions and other self-help organizations. His work went well, the Archangel of Stone approved, and Carola was granted the Vassal distinction.

But Carola was unable to overcome a certain arrogance. Humans were so grubby, so flimsy and silly, and such *liars*. Over time he slowly moved from helping them to pushing them, from patient assistance behind the scenes to stern commands delivered from above. And when it occasionally became necessary to bend the Truth, well, it was for their own good and to serve a higher purpose...

By the time David came to investigate (alerted by the Inquisition), his servant had taken on the Role of a wealthy union boss. The union was prospering, its humans were united as never before... and the Seraph, living a life of mortal wealth and power and intrigue, was severely dissonant and on the verge of Falling.

"Look at me, Carola," the Archangel commanded him, and then slowly began to recite his transgressions. Trembling with fear and rage and shame, the dissonant angel teetered on the verge of Falling... and saw the Truth in his master's eyes and fell sobbing to the ground, begging forgiveness.

The union leader disappeared that night, never to be seen again.

The repentant angel was set a harsh penance: his dissonance converted to an ugly and hampering Discord, he was Bound to a sturdy but unattractive Vessel, and then set down on a street corner in a poor working-class neighborhood.

"Stay here, build, and learn," said the Archangel, and left him alone.

The fat, ugly man walked into the building on the corner and found that it was a bar. There was an opening for someone to sweep the place up and throw out the drunks at the end of the day...

That was many years ago. Today Carola -- Fat Charlie -- owns the bar and the building it's in. The neighborhood hasn't gotten any nicer to look at, but the bar is relatively clean and reasonably safe; the local bad boys have learned that it's really not wise to mess with Charlie's place.

Carola appears as a grossly overweight human male in his mid-'40s. His vessel is _big_ -- about 6'4", and something over 400 pounds. He's bald and typically wears a rather soiled apron over jeans and a bowling shirt. He has a Role as the owner and full-time bartender of a small bar in an urban, ethnic, working-class neighborhood of a major city (the GM can fill in details to fit his campaign).

Carola's work is to build up the neighborhood, one human soul at a time. A variety of neighborhood groups have the bar as their meeting place, and he quietly encourages them to hold together, work, and grow. He also serves as an impromptu therapist... an unusual job for a Seraph, but he's gotten rather good at it. Humans tend to talk to bartenders, after all, and Carola knows the Truth of what they're saying. Over the years, he's found that sometimes a few words -- carefully chosen, _true_ words -- can make a huge difference in a mortal life.

Of course, Charlie the bartender is usually quiet to the point of surliness. Often an entire evening will go by without him saying more than an occasional grunt to acknowledge an order. This is, naturally, Seraphic reluctance to speak; if Carola can't say Truth, he isn't going to say anything. However, the local humans have learned that beneath his ugliness, obesity and silence is one solid, stand-up guy who'll always tell it like it really is... and they love him for it, more than he knows.

The local celestial community knows that Charlie is an angel, and may or may not know that he is a servant of Stone, but they aren't aware that he's a Seraph (a fat man in a dirty apron, tending bar... one of the Most High? Right.) Most of them think he's a Cherub, or perhaps an unusually sloppy Mercurian. This bit of confusion is fine with Charlie, who has carefully cultivated his reputation for surliness and silence. By now almost everyone thinks it's either a deeply ingrained quirk or some strange sort of Discord; nobody suspects the Truth.

-- Although a very smart, very perceptive observer might notice that while the bar has the usual complement of ads and posters, they're all the sort that have pictures or just single words ("Budweiser" won't bother a Seraph, but "Coke adds life!" or "The Champagne of Beers" would tend to grate after a while).

If anyone ever asks him, Charlie will just stare at them and not reply. Of course, he does that a lot of the time anyway...

Oddly enough, although Fat Charlie's II is an angel bar, it's also occasionally frequented by demons and other members of the supernatural community. After all, Carola is an angel of Stone; he can glower at a demon, undead, or Hellsworn soldier, but if they behave themselves he can't throw a punch or toss them out.

(It would be unwise for a demon to presume too far on this, though; if one got too far out of hand, either with violence directed against other patrons or with mockery, Charlie might well be willing to eat a point of Dissonance in order to send the Hellspawn into Trauma.)

Fat Charlie's is thus a place where angels, demons, outcasts, renegades,sorcerors, soldiers, undead and what-have-you can sit down across a table and talk... and as long as they keep it civil, no one will bother them. Those on Hell's side would be wise to mind their manners, as this location is firmly associated with Heaven, but an unspoken truce usually prevails.

Of course, there's always some wise guy... Picking a fight with Charlie is probably a bad idea. True, his Obese discord cuts his Agility to the point where he can't Dodge much, but then, with 90 Body hits, who cares? Against mortals and lesser celestials, Charlie will simply use his strength and Fighting skill, perhaps augmented with a baseball bat from under the bar. Against more powerful opponents, he has a considerable arsenal of Songs. And, of course, any humans in the bar will be inclined to help him unless the foe is obviously supernatural; Charlie is a neighborhood fixture, and well beloved by those who live here.

If seriously threatened, he can literally bring down the house. Thanks to his Mercurian attunement, Charlie knows a place on the wall where a punch, delivered by a Rock Hard fist with a Strength of 10 or more, will cause the entire three-story building to collapse. It's a brick building, so Charlie won't even be scratched (his Vassal attunement), but anyone else in the bar will take 30 Body hits, be stunned as by a Song of Thunder, and be pinned beneath the rubble for 10 minutes x (12 minus their Strength). Carola has had to use this tactic once, against an aggressive young Calabite who was trying to earn his horns... hence "Charlie's II". The incident was explained away as a gas explosion, the building was rebuilt within a couple of months, and the demon is still shovelling brimstone and trying to figure out what happened.

This tactic doesn't discriminate between friend and foe, of course, but hey, he's an angel of Stone.

Fat Charlie is actually one of David's success stories (that tough love thing has to work _sometimes_). He has learned humility, patience, and even a certain measure of compassion for the human condition. He's also made the neighborhood a much nicer place to live, built local institutions that look good to last for many years, saved any number of human souls, and recruited several Soldiers. Carola doesn't know it, but the end of his penance is very near at hand. He'll miss the place terribly, but there'll be some more challenging assignment waiting for him somewhere else. And when David strips his Discords away, he'll be one tough customer; it's possible that the Archangel has a Word in mind for him, a bit down the line.

Meanwhile, Fat Charlie's can be popped into most campaigns as a meeting-place for almost any sort of character, and also as a flophouse and way station for angelic ones.


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