Wednesday, December 16, 2015

You All Meet In An Artisinal Taco Bar

From ChicagoMag's article on Chicago Taco joints.
The much-maligned trope of a party meeting in a bar often gets addressed by suggesting other ways that the party (regardless of genre) is pulled into the action. However, there are benefits to meeting up to get briefings in public places:
  1. Unless the person briefing you has their own facilities, there is often a need to find a place to talk business. 
  2. Even if the person briefing you has their own place, if the proposed activity is shady (or needs to be deniable), then it makes sense to meet elsewhere -- someplace where nobody knows your name.
  3. If, however, the person briefing you has little reason to stick their neck out, he/she/it may opt to have a meeting on neutral ground (probably with some backup) in order to stay safe.
What other options are there to the classic bar meet-up? One only has to think of the many places that freelancer briefings (or Multi-Level Marketing meet-ups) are held, why they are held there, and how these might be able to add to your adventure or campaign.

Favorite Cuisine

It could be a traditional Japanese restaurant, a run-down but consistently delicious hotdog bar, or a trendy Filipino-Asian diner. The benefits for this kind of venue are:

  • little world details: you can talk about how this kind of cuisine is prepared in your setting -- how popular it is, how difficult it is to get ingredients, how the ethnic mix is handled in the city you're in, and how well-known it is in the local community;
  • varied clientele: it could have a more working-class slant to its patrons, or perhaps a strong tourist segment that shows up on the weekends, or even a crowd of regulars who can advise the PCs about the person they're meeting with, and give warnings
  • interesting interruptions: perhaps the next course arrives just at a point of much needed suspense, or maybe you can establish a mini-subplot of a wrong order that pays off later in your adventure (misheard order, reversed numbers), or even introduce those sometimes annoying birthday songs for another nearby table just as the client you're meeting with is getting to the good part.
Generic Coffee Shop

A counterpoint to the sometimes seedy, sometimes oh-so-cool bar meetup is the relaxed and painfully crafted atmosphere of a leading coffeehouse chain. The benefits for this venue are:
  • contrast: relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the baristas and patrons vs. the subtle menace and mystery of your client and her mission;
  • fauxnanimity: don't they always ask your name after you order your drink? It may catch some players off-guard and force them to either reveal their true names or give obviously false ones;
  • strange mix of patrons: in the modern world, there are people who are just hanging out, others who are getting ready for their full day of work, others who are dealing with angst and breakups, others on dates, others who are working at the coffee shop, and others -- who are there to keep an eye on the PCs and are painfully bad at it.

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That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.

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