This is a work of fiction created for the Twilight 2000 Role Playing Game. Original material © Dave Ross
“Some drink to remember
Some drink to forget”
Inspired by “Hotel California” by Don Felder, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey
“The first thing I noticed when we went into the bar was the music. We’re in this godforsaken City, no one’s trying to kill us for the first time since I can’t remember when, and this blonde chick is on this little stage singing a Guns n’ Roses son. I guess it was just kinda strange...”
From the journal of Spec 4 Olivia Greene, US Army
The Basement Bar is in a side street several hundred yards from the City’s main square. As the name suggests, it is located in the basement of a building and is relatively anonymous from the street, with only a single sign advertising its presence. To enter you go through a door at street level and down a dozen stone steps to a heavy wooden door that leads into the bar itself. Several bouncers stand at the bottom of stairs, armed with automatic pistols and melee weapons (rubber coshes, knifes, police batons, etc,). In theory all weapons are supposed to be surrendered to the bouncers upon entry; a receipt will be given and they and can be collected when a patron leaves the bar. In practice, the bouncers are not overly vigilant, and getting a concealed pistol past them is relatively straightforward.
Being underground there are obviously no windows; illumination comes from a number of lights which are powered by the bar’s own generator. The lighting leaves a number of dark corners however and visibility is further reduced by the semi permanent fog of cigarette smoke that permeates every part of the bar. The walls are stone – a close look will show a few pock marks that may have been made by bullets.
The Basement will comfortably take around one hundred people. The clientele is a mix of male and female; several of the female customers are likely to be freelance prostitutes looking for a prospective client (any girl wishing to “work” the bar has to first come to an arrangement with the Owner, who will take a cut of any earnings made). The Basement is not a brothel however, and any transactions made within will need to be concluded elsewhere. Any unfamiliar women entering (e.g. with a PC group) can expect to be closely scrutinised and may encounter hostility from the prostitutes, particularly if perceived as a threat (i.e. attractive and likely to distract potential customers).
Random violence is not uncommon, usually in the form of fist fights, which will generally be broken up by the bouncers, who will eject those responsible (often delivering a severe beating in the process). In addition to the weapons carried by the bouncers several additional melee weapons are kept behind the bar (including a baseball bat), as are two loaded shotguns and an assault rifle.
The Bar Area
The actual bar area itself is located in a corner. A range of beers and spirits are available, however although the bottles of Stolichnaya and Johnnie Walker etc are authentic, the contents are often produced locally and are of variable quality. The “good stuff” (i.e. genuine pre war liquor) is kept under the counter in specially marked bottles and is reserved for “VIP” customers, as is a limited stock of more unusual drinks such as absinthe. Prices in the Basement Bar are moderately expensive; payment can be made in either ration chits issued by the City, US Dollars or barter.
A door behind the bar leads to several private rooms, including a staff room and the owner’s office, the door to which is always locked, with the owner having the key. The Owner’s office contains a small safe, the combination of which is known to only the Owner. At any given time the safe will
contain 1D10 x 500 dollars worth of gold, jewellery, etc plus other contraband at the GM’s discretion (e.g. drugs, cartons of cigarettes, automatic pistols and ammunition) as well as various papers. The office also contains a locked cupboard which contains several assault rifles and ammunition.
The Main Seating Area
The Bar has a number of seating areas, including alcoves that provide ample opportunity for those who wish to have a more private conversation.
The VIP Area
Two bouncers stand at the entrance restricting access to the VIP area. Situated across from the stage, this part of the Bar has plusher furnishings and a set of curtains that can be drawn, hiding those within from the view of the rest of the patrons. The Owner can be found here most nights holding court.
The Basement has a small stage where various forms of entertainment take place. Live bands play several nights a week, whilst exotic dancers (aka strippers) also perform regularly. The Bar also has a working juke box that is powered by the generator and has a number of Europop and soft rock hits from the late 1980’s and the first half of the 1990’s (the most played track is Europe’s “The Final Countdown”). When not being used for a performance, the stage becomes an additional seating area.
Most nights the Owner can be found in the VIP area, where he has a good view of what is going on in the Bar. He will generally be sitting with several companions, men of influence within the City, members of the City Council, senior officers in the Militia, wealthy Merchants and such like. Several attractive women will also usually be hanging around the VIP area. Of medium height and build, he will always be smartly dressed, usually in a dark suit and an open necked shirt, and wears an expensive wrist watch.
Meeting him is relatively straight forward. If he sees a group in the Bar that he thinks may have useful talents (e.g. an experienced group of PC's), he will invite them to join him for a chat in the VIP area. Alternatively, PC's may be introduced to him by a contact they have already made in the City, Upon first meeting him, he will come over as a friendly individual,
shaking hands, greeting people as "my friend", and generally trying to put them at ease. He is conversant in several languages besides his own, and will be generous to a fault, with his guests enjoying drinks, cigarettes, and women all on the house. If asked what he did before the War, he will be vague, saying only that he was "a businessman". His own drink of choice is bourbon whiskey, preferably Jack Daniels, although various bottles of liquor will be on his table, all of genuine pre War provenance. A heavy smoker, he possesses a Zippo lighter which he will frequently toy with in his left hand. A close examination of the lighter will reveal that it is engraved with the crest of a military unit on one side and an inscription on the reverse suggesting it was a Christmas gift to a soldier from a woman. If questioned about the lighter's origins the Owner will claim that a soldier used it to pay his bar bill.
Very little that occurs within the Bar escapes the Owner's notice, and anyone wishing
to run any sort of scheme will need to cut him in or risk provoking his fury. Whilst
he may appear to be a genial and friendly individual, under the surface his sole
concerns are looking after himself and making himself as wealthy as he can. He cares
for no one else, including his current bed warmer, the Dancer. As far as he is concerned
his relationship with her is based on what they can do for each other -
He has an extremely short temper and is not a good man to cross. In addition to the
Bar's bouncers he can call on the services of a number of local thugs through his
contacts in the City's Underworld, and has no hesitation in committing acts of violence
himself (in a recent incident a drunken customer groped the Dancer -
What the majority of customers don't know is that the Owner also makes a considerable amount of money organising bare knuckle pit fights. These fights take place at several venues inside the City, generally abandoned warehouses or factories. Whilst these flights are brutal and bloody, they are generally not fatal, and those taking part are willing participants, who are well rewarded (several of the fighters are on the Owner's payroll and work for him as hired muscle when not fighting). Occasionally though he will arrange "death matches" where the participants have been taken against their will and are forced to fight to the death. Both the normal bouts and the death matches are accompanied by large amounts of gambling, and the Owner is always on the lookout for new fighters, both willing and unwilling.
His private residence is a two bedroomed apartment in one of the better parts of the City, which he currently shares with the Dancer. By the standards of the Year 2000, the apartment is relatively luxurious, with its own generator supplying electricity and running water. He keeps some of his personal wealth stashed there, but also has several other stashes hidden at various places throughout the City. The locations of these stashes are known only to him.
The Owner is a Veteran NPC. He speaks his own language fluently. If set in Europe he also has a skill level of 70% in English and 60% in Russian. If set in the US he has a skill level of 50% in Spanish
Motivation: Spade Queen (Ruthless), Diamond Queen (Lustful)
Twenty four years old, the Dancer has worked in the Bar for several nights a week as an exotic dancer (aka stripper) for two years now. It was either that or fifty hours a week of back breaking labour in the factories or fields; for her there was no decision to make, and she is now one of the Bar’s star attractions, making more in a week than she would in a month in the factories. She has been sleeping with the Owner for the last six months and moved into his apartment three months ago. He is very possessive of her. When she is on stage stripping the Bar’s patrons know that they can look but they cannot touch – everyone knows what happened to the guy that drunkenly groped her one night, laid a hand on her ass.
She’s not stupid. She knows he doesn’t love her and she certainly doesn’t love him, but their relationship is one of mutual benefit. He uses her. She uses him. She knows that as long as she keeps him happy she is guaranteed not only food, drink, and shelter, but also those things that people took for granted before the bombs fell but are luxuries now – real coffee, running water, alcohol, cigarettes. So she’s quite comfortable with the arrangement, is not going to do anything to jeopardise it. But she knows that one day she’ll be threatened – one day another girl will catch his eye, someone prettier than her, someone younger than her – it happens, after all, it happened to the woman who kept his bed warm before she came along. So she keeps her eyes open
Open to any potential threats.
Open to any potential opportunities.
Because she is a survivor. She is going to survive this War. If she perceives her position to be threatened she will take whatever action she has to. She feels no remorse. She will do what she needs to make sure that she survives.
From time to time the Owner has used her a lure, a bait to try and capture an unwary victim, a man either on his own or part of a small group (such as a group of PC’s) to take part in the death bouts that he arranges. The Dancer will seek out an unsuspecting individual, a mark, smile, flirt. She will feign attraction, lean in close, whisper in the mark's ear, be persuasive, ask the mark to meet her alone somewhere, claim she is terrified of the Owner, that he beats her, rapes her, say she wants to get away from him, get away from the City. However when the mark shows up for the rendezvous expecting to meet her he will find the Owner and several of his thugs waiting for him instead.
She is five feet seven inches tall, slim, dark haired, and attractive. Her “work” clothes generally consist of lingerie of pre War origin. After she has done a set she will often change into tight jeans and a top and join the Owner in the Bar’s VIP area. She carries a 9mm automatic pistol in her handbag, and is quite proficient in its use.
The Dancer is an Experienced NPC. She speaks her own language fluently. If set in Europe she also has a skill level of 60% in English and 20% in Russian
Motivation: Diamond King (Selfish), Spade King (Deceitful)
The Old Man
In his late seventies, most nights the Old Man will be found nursing a beer at a table near the stage where he has a good view of the strippers. He has lived in the City his entire life, worked in the steel mills outside the City, lived through one World War, has survived a second so far. His wife is dead, his daughter moved to another town with her husband years ago and he hasn't heard from them since the bombs fell, doesn't know whether they are dead or alive. He comes to the bar because he likes to look at the girls. The Dancer is his favourite.
Grey haired, unshaven, and missing several teeth, the old man will talk to anyone that will buy him a drink, talk to them about the City, lean in close, tap the side of his nose, talk to them about the Bar, about the Owner. He'll be careful what he says of course, but when you've been drinking in the Bar as long as he has, you get to know people, get to know things, know who to speak to if you need something, know who not to speak to.
There's not much that happens in the Bar that the Old Man doesn't know about...
The Old Man is an experienced NPC. He only speaks his own language.
Motivation: Diamond Five (Moderately Greedy), Hearts Four (Somewhat Sociable)
The Militia Officer
The Militia Officer joined the Army several years before the War started. Whilst he saw some combat in the early months of the War, he has spent most of it far behind the front lines, carrying out various rear area roles until his commanders declared that his unit was forming the City's Militia and no longer obeying the orders of higher headquarters. He comes to the Bar a couple of nights a week, usually with several of his colleagues, and always in camouflage fatigues, and with a 9mm automatic pistol holstered ostentatiously on his hip (as a Militiaman he is exempt from the Bar's prohibition on carrying weapons). He and his colleagues will spend the evening drinking beer, swapping War stories (which are generally greatly exaggerated) and leering at any attractive woman they see. As the night goes on and they get drunker their behaviour will become increasingly more offensive and he may start openly propositioning any woman who catches his eye, regardless of whether such attention is welcome or not.
Whilst he may be a drunken asshole, the Militia Officer has his uses however. As far as he is concerned, everything is for sale and so long as he receives the appropriate bribe he will happily look the wrong way when required. In exchange for an envelope stuffed with ration chits, dollars, or jewellery he can also supply various papers, including the permits required to stay in the City, as well as weapons, ammunition, and different items of hard to find equipment.
But he is still a drunken asshole...
The Militia Officer is an experienced NPC. He speaks his own language. If set in Europe he also has a skill level of 50% in English and 50% in Russian
Motivation: Spade Jack (Pompous)
The Trader travels from town to town in an elderly 5 ton truck that has been converted to run on alcohol fuels. He makes a living buying and selling different types of barter goods, and is a good source of information and rumour, which he will be happy to share for the price of a drink. He is open to virtually any sort of business deal so long as there is the opportunity for him to turn a profit, and will also sell passage on his truck to a group without transport. His truck is in frequent need of running repairs, so he will be particularly keen to speak to anyone with skills as a mechanic, and will gladly trade goods in exchange for work done on his truck. When he is in the City he spends a fair amount of time in the Bar, particularly if trading has been good. He also likes to gamble, particularly on cards. The Trader is a man of his word, and expects the same of others.
Of medium height and build and in his early forties, the Trader habitually wears a black leather jacket and blue jeans, and carries a 9mm automatic pistol (when travelling outside the City he also has an assault rifle). He is accompanied by a blonde girl who looks to be about eighteen; she says little but is seldom far from his side inside the City and travels with him on his trading trips. The exact nature of their relationship is unclear. She usually wears jeans and an Army issue woodland camouflage jacket that bears the rank insignia of a Lieutenant and fits her reasonably well, suggesting it may have originally belonged to a woman, although it seems unlikely that it was hers.
The Trader is a veteran NPC. He speaks his own language. If set in Europe he also has a skill level of 60% in English and 30% in Russian
Motivation: Heart King (Honourable), Clubs Two (Somewhat Violent)