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Cockamamie Contraption

Logfile from Winter’s Oasis - August 8, 2013

Players of Note:

Bansi?, Keesha?, Rascal?, Raziel, NPCs by Tora

Location:

A pub in downtown Acre

Summary:

Down on his luck, Raziel is offered some help with advertising his services. However, when his skill is questioned, things get complicated.

Time:

Evening, mid-February, LY325


From a corner of the plaza, a dissonant - yet not entirely unmelodious - clattering arises. The source appears to be a small, yet pointedly intricate device being operated by a rather tall white tiger. The device itself is a roughly waist-height box with open sides, clearly exposing the wooden support structure inside, as well as an array of gears and springs. Various tools and scraps (both wooden and metal) litter the immediate area, seemingly discarded in the ongoing construction process. The tiger turns a crank on the side, causing the internal mechanisms to spin in a visually pleasing way, and causing a levered arm to strike a pronounced cymbal-like disk on the top. The test complete, he picks up a screwdriver and turns his attention to making subtle adjustments to the machinery.

A young fox happens to be walking by through the plaza. His head turns to the sound of the contraption and the tiger running it. He pauses to watch while leaning against the wall of a near by store.

Raziel kneels before the box, adjusting the various gears and springs. The mechanism is running smoothly…but it isn’t wound tight enough to be at the percipice of dramatic failure yet. As he works, he mumbles to himself, “Sure, I can build the thing…no idea how to market it, though…”

Bansi, still nibbling, strolls around the perimeter of the square to get to Raziel. He glances around a bit on the way, but generally proceeds though the time-thinned crowds to get to the noisemaker. “Hello there, Raziel!” Bansi calls. “I see your advertisement has taken shape already.”

Rascal moves closer through the crowd to get a better look.

Raziel looks up from his tinkering to see Bansi approach. “Yes, it is, isn’t it? Not at all what I’m used to building, but certainly more interesting then doing repair work on carts.” He stands up, and cranks the machine through another cycle. “Now…how precisely do I make money off of it? You seemed to have a solid proposal earlier.”

“More a hypothesis than a proposal, admittedly,” Bansi replies, stepping closer and leaning over for a look. “I supposed that a demonstration of engineering skill in one area would make people see your skill in other areas.” Bansi straightens up. “But given that you’re here and not in a gunsmith’s shop, I take it that I supposed too much.”

Rascal is now close enough to be in ear shot of what the two are saying. He stops near a local food vendor and orders himself a quick snack.

Raziel shrugs. “Then raffle it off to the highest bidder. The entire thing only cost me…” He pulls a small notepad from one of his coat pockets and flips through it. “…26 vira to make. The wood was extremely cheap surplus, and the gears came from junk lying in trash heaps around town. The hardest thing to find was a suitable crank. I borrowed the woodworking tools from a shop down the street.”

“Ah. Frugal use of resources,” Bansi comments. “Before you sell it, though, perhaps you could try spelling out your message more explicitly?” He motions to Raziel. “Something to the effect of, ‘If in a day I can turn scraps into this, how well could I have your machines running?’”

Rascal rubs his chin in thought. “How very…interesting.” Finishes his snack in a few quick gulps and walks towards the machine maker.

Raziel chuckles. “Yes. Perhaps I should paint a large sign stating as much. I’m certainly not going to stand here and bark about myself all day. I’m not terribly good at public speaking, and generally not comfortable with that level of self-promotion. I’d sooner take a mercenary or guard job, even with my injured leg, than try my hand as a salesman.” He begins picking up his borrowed tools, and sweeping away some of the mess.

“Then it sounds like I came just in time,” says the fox as he approaches. “Allow me to introduce myself. Rascal, master story teller, part time adventurer and — may I add — not afraid of public speaking. For a few small coins, I will gladly act as a salesmen for your devices.”

Bansi nods toward Rascal on noticing his approach. “Mm. My own skills at self-promotion are rather limited to talk of profits, time, and efficiency. If a creative reshuffling of the numbers can’t present something in a good light…” Bansi looks over uncertainly as Rascal drops in to introduce himself, then glances back to Raziel to see the effect of the spiel.

Raziel looks the shorter fox up and down for a moment, not entirely sure how to respond to suspiciously convenient offers of assistance from complete strangers. He settles for extending a hand in greeting. “Hello, Rascal. I am Raziel, weapon engineer and inventor of this…” he gestures vaguely behind him, “…this device.” He pauses for a moment, uncertain of how to proceed. “I would certainly appreciate your help in the sale of this device, and the advertisement of my technical skills. Excuse me for a moment while I converse with my…associate.” He turns around, and motions for Bansi to step closer, before whispering, “I have no idea what to do in this scenario. Should I pay him a flat fee? Give him a cut of the sale? Is there a customary percentage for these things? I don’t even know this guy.” He’s not precisely flustered, but he is rather confused.

Bansi takes a step to the side at Raziel’s invitation and finishes his neglected dinner while considering a suitable response. “Yes, I would advise caution,” Bansi replies quietly. “Offer him an inexpensive dinner and ask for a free sample of his services. I’ll give you a few vira for that if need be. If he’s looking for a handout, you will have done your good deed and no one will be the worse for it.” Bansi shrugs. “If he remains, insist on a notarized contract for a flat fee, to be held in trust by a bank to some future date. That should prevent any sort of mishaps with larger sums.”

Rascal examines the contraption further while the two discuss his business deal.

Raziel nods. “Alright. That sounds like a fair plan. And I shouldn’t need any additional money; the construction cost less than I expected it to. However…would you be willing to take care of the contract? I’ve…um…never actually utilized a bank before.” He watches Rascal out of the corener of his eye to make sure he does not tamper with the intentionally sensitive machine.

“I don’t claim to be an expert in that area,” Bansi replies quietly, also glancing to Rascal, “but I could certainly offer some assistance. The basic concept is that those engaged in fraud would like to hurry you to action, while those who simply do not give the future much thought would like instant gratification.”

Rascal gestures to the machine. “Interesting contraption here. I won’t claim to be an inventor, but I have come across plenty of machinery to know it is pretty decent for something created so quickly. That and you can probably replace that series of gears here with just two larger gears and it will make it a tad more efficient.” Looking at the two pasu he continues, “Have you come to a conclusion?”

Raziel once again nods in response. “I can’t imagine he would try to swindle me openly,” he inconspicuously taps the stock of his rifle, “…but I’d rather it didn’t come to that.” Raziel turns back to address the fox. “I am aware that the optimization of the mechanism leaves a bit to be desired, but the point was to use the materials on hand to achieve a minimum of cost. I also find that the gear chains are more visually pleasing. As for our conclusion…I think it would be wise if we discussed it further. Over dinner perhaps? You could give us a demonstration of your talents.”

Bansi nods in return and stands by quietly while Raziel explains the offer. Bansi adds, “I just ate myself, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to tag along to listen in on the negotiation.”

Rascal says, “Capital! I find that to be an excellent idea. Where do you want to eat?”

“There’s a fine pub not too far from here, as I recall. Bansi knows the way,” Raziel replies, before looking around briefly. He only now realizes the pitfall of building the noisemaker in the plaza; there is no convenient way to transport it. “Give me one moment.” He braces himself against the side of the box, and with all the gentleness he can muster, shoves it against the side of a nearby building in this particular corner of the plaza. He grabs a tarp (presumably left over from transporting the lumber), and unceremoniously tosses it over the contraption.

Bansi raises a brow at Raziel’s efforts but without comment leaves him to the work. Bansi gestures Rascal toward a nearby street. “What sort of sales work have you done in the past, if I may ask?”

Rascal only smiles, “Do you know of any other sales people willing to help you out at low cost?”

Raziel, confident that no one will pay much mind to the covered device, picks up the nearby tools and moves to catch up to Bansi and Rascal, limping slightly as he does so.

“Mm, yes, I believe funds are a bit limited,” Bansi admits, looking back to Raziel. “However, ‘storytelling’ and advertising a service are not precisely the same thing. And we would like to ascertain something about your past performance.”

Rascal exclaims, “Point. How about we discuss that over dinner. I don’t know about you, but I am famished!”

“I certainly could use something to eat,” Raziel responds, catching up. “I’ve spent most of the day building, and I’m fairly sure I missed a meal in there somewhere…” He readjusts the bundle of borrowed tools as the pub comes into view.

Bansi nods to Rascal, then chuckles at Raziel’s remark. “It sounds as though you may have hit upon a money-saving strategy to carry you though your period of under-employment.” Bansi opens the door to an establishment that appears to be clean and respectable, if somewhat lacking in patrons of ‘colorful’ character. “Have you given any thought,” he asks Raziel, “to a way of making ‘musical’ explosives without the aid of metal containers?”

Rascal looks about the pub. Nice, clean, respectable. He feels a little out of place with his patched clothing but he can make do. He points to the table in the far right hand corner of the room, away from the bar and far from the front door. Rascal says, “Lets sit there.”

Raziel sidetracks to a building a few doors down from the pub entrance, which he enters and quickly exits again, having deposited the tools. He returns in time for Bansi to open the door. “Missing meals is cheap, but not necessarily the most healthy way to save money.” He smiles at Bansi’s second question. “No, I haven’t given it much consideration. The drawbacks would be having to prime the charges each time you wish to operate the instrument - something I doubt the average musician would be comfortable with - and the fact that any ‘music’ you are capable of producing will likely be drowned out by explosions.” He looks at the table Rascal indicates, and nods approvingly.

Bansi nods towards the table indicated by Rascal when Raziel returns. “Ah. I’m certainly not qualified to distinguish between something foolishly impractical and something educationally or entertainingly impractical,” Bansi remarks, moving to place his briefcase under the table. “In any case, one’s best publicity will of course from satisfied customers.”

Rascal rascal takes a seat with his back to the wall. Letting his ‘customers’ take their seats and become settled after ordering their respective meals and drinks the pudgy fox leans over the table and asks, “Tell me about your business, Raziel. What do you call it? What type of weapons do you specialize in?”

Raziel, after ordering a large hunk of meat and a glass of milk, turns his attention to Rascal’s question. “Buisness? I don’t have a buisness. It’s just me. As for my specialty, I work primarily with explosive and modern weaponry; cannons, bombs, muskets…even repeating rifles.” He indicates the firearm slung across his back.

Bansi politely waves off the server rather than order himself, remaining quiet while Raziel describes his work. “A business need not have multiple employees, Raziel,” Bansi observes afterward. “If one is to be engaged in providing goods and services to city-dwellers, it may even be helpful to establish your legitimacy by naming your business.”

Rascal asks, “I see. So what is it you exactly want me to do? Set you up with more customers or get you noticed by a large company?”

Raziel shakes his head, then addresses Bansi. “Naming a buisness that consists solely of me and my various projects seems like excessive self-glorification. “ He then answers Rascal. “I don’t want to be hired by a larger company. I travel too often for that to be practical. I just want to my services to be known among more residents, and in a shorter time frame, for the noisemaking device to be auctioned off.”

“Perhaps so,” Bansi allows with a shrug. “I should point out, though, that you are looking into hiring someone else to do your ‘glorification’. You should consider whether it’s more efficient to do this yourself.” Bansi then looks to Rascal, as if for the counterpoint.

Rascal says, “You have a wise friend there Raz. You should also look into getting a logo, something people can quickly identify with your work, like ‘Hey! there is one of those Raziel Contraptions. He makes guns too doesn’t he?’ Speaking of the noise maker that shouldnt be too hard to market.”

Raziel shakes his head even more vigorously, and his pale eyes widen. “Oh, no. No. I don’t want anyone to do any ‘self-glorification’ for me; I just want a few fair paying jobs while I’m in town, and to sell the device at a reasonable profit. And /no/ logos. I’m not Naraka. I feel no need to leave a garish mark on everything I touch. My work should speak for itself.”

Bansi chuckles at Raziel’s reaction. “Yes, I think you’ve a simple enough request, Raziel.” He looks across the table to Rascal. “Now what remains to be seen, Mister… Rascal,” Bansi still looks a bit skeptical calling someone this during a business meeting, “is what relevant previous experience you can bring to the table.”

Rascal smiles broadly. “I myself don’t like to indulge in self glorification. I like to let my work speak for myself.” Looking around the pub, he notices a small group of people on the opposite side of the room sitting in a booth at the far corner. “Let me show you what I can do for you.” Rascal stands up and boldly walks towards the other patrons.

Two humans at the table are engrossed in a lively discussion between themselves, but a wolf in typical ‘pioneer’ garb turns at the fox’s approach, and studies him closely, saying nothing. After a moment, one of the humans, wearing a suit and shirt and with a top hat placed neatly beneath his chair, notices this, and turns and smiles. “Yes, can we help you, young man?”

Raziel watches as Rascal departs, only slightly distracted by the arrival of his food. He looks to Bansi, then back again. “Well, if nothing else, this should be entertaining,” he says, taking a bite of his meat.

Bansi likewise appears skeptical of Rascal’s announced plan, but doesn’t remark on it until he’s out of earshot. Bansi turns to watch. “Indeed, that’s what he claims his job is- to be entertaining,” Bansi agrees with a note of amusement. “I am *slightly* concerned, though, as to what he’ll make up about you. I’m sure that there are a number of important details about your work that you neglected to mention.”

Rascal says, “Actually I could help you! I represent…” ponders for a moment realizing that a raz doesnt have a name for his business. So he pulls one out of his hat, “…Razilian Enterprises. A small start-up mechanical workshop made and run by your fellow townspeople. We make devices ranging from household inventions to guns and repeating rifles. Tell me, do any of you like to hunt or go target shooting?”

The wolf makes a gruff scoffing sound. “Great. Another crazy-ass gunsmith who thinks their cockamamie Rube-Goldberg contraption is gonna make them the next big thing.”

Rascal says, “Not a fan of guns? Well that is fine. Then you may enjoy our newest product…the noise maker, a device made to musically entertain your friends.”

The human smiles indulgently. “Sounds fascinating. Go on, tell us more!”

Raziel’s amusement immediately fades to horror as Rascal blatantly ignores all elements of the previous conversation. He immediately stands and rushes over to that side of the bar, intent on stopping any further damage to his (nearly nonexistant) reputation. “I’m sorry for this interruption. This man does not represent me in any capacity. He was merely trying to demonstrate his…wait.” His gaze drifts to the wolf at the table. Raziel’s eyes narrow. “What did you say?”

Rascal says, “Why ask me? Go ahead and ask the inventor. The big tiger over there. If hou order one now i am sure he will autograph it so it can become a collectable!”

Keesha rouses from her perch on a second-story overhang to watch the proceedings. “You don’t want a slick talker to sell the stuff. You want to demonstrate it.”

Bansi looks a bit pained as Rascal continues, though evidently not as pained at the object of conversation. He remains seated at the original table, but turned around to watch the action. He rubs the back of his head and studies the humans and wolf.

Rascal says, “Oh good. You are just in time. These fine gentlemen are interested in…” he notices the look Raziel is giving the wolf, “your noisemaker…”

The wolf eyenarrows right back, lips drawing back. “Having problems with your ears?”

The human stands up, stretching out his either arm toward the tiger and the wolf… though not going so far as to stand between the two tetchy carnivorans. “Gentlemen, gentlemen! Let’s not be hasty, I’m sure none of us intended any offense!”

Bansi sits up a bit straighter in his chair as Raziel confronts the pasu. He looks uncertainly between them, then glances to Rascal, and finally back to Raziel. Standing, he lifts a hand and waves slightly in an attempt to catch Raziel’s attention, thereafter pointing to the fellow iwith the top hat.

Rascal sighs. Another job down the drain. He slowly tries to back away from the fight about to start.

Raziel stares directly at the wolf, not blinking or breaking eye contact. “No, my hearing is quite fine. I simply find it amazing how one can be so pigheaded as to openly ridicule the capabilities of a firearm or its designer, having never encountered either.”

The wolf shrugs irritatedly. “Hey, if the boots fit, you go ahead and wear ‘em, stripey.”

Rascal tries to grab Raziels arm before he can react to the ‘stripey’ comment. “Easy friend. easy!”

Keesha chirrips in amusement as the wolf insults himself. “Indayd.”

Bansi frowns as Raziel continues staring. Bansi sets his briefcase on the chair, pushes it in, and starts to edge around the side of the room to where he might be more visible to Raziel.

Raziel unshoulders his rifle in a swift, precise motion, aiming at the wall behind the table. He cycles the action several times, showing its functionality, and as much as he would like to terrify the wolf with a full demonstration, he refrains from doing so. “Do you have any more offhand remarks about my ‘cockamamie contraptions’? Or have you expended your wealth of ill-conceived sarcasm?”

Keesha chirrs at the action. “It does seem to work in dry firing. Perhaps a range demonstration is in order?”

Rascal, putting on a quick yet nervous smile, quickly steps inbetween them. “OK, let’s all take a quick break from crazy-town here and settle this over a nice quiet drink. On me!”

The wolf’s eyes widen a little again. “… well, that seems to work smoother than others I’ve seen, I’ll grant you.”

Bansi stops and blinks as Raziel takes out his gun, looking shocked enough that he likely would not have managed to cover his ears had the gun been fired. After recovering for a few seconds, he again raises a hand and attempts to flag Raziel down, this time more insistently. Afterwards, he pats a nonexistent breast pocket, pantomines plucking something out, and points toward that something with the other hand.

The human looks a little shocked, and takes a step back, mumbling something then turning and stumbling toward the door. The second human grimaces a little, picks up the neglected top hat the first had left behind, and follows him out.

Rascal asks, “Wow, you must have a lot of guns pointed at you, my friend,” he says to the wolf and then to Raziel, “Now that you have proven your machine works let’s say we go back and finish our meal before a copper shows up and wonders why you are pointing guns at bar patrons, OK?”

Keesha spreads her wings and drops to the floor, wandering over to the inventor. “May I…?”

Raziel sighs, and puts his gun away. He looks back towards his table, only now taking notice of Bansi’s attempts to get his attention. He pointedly ignores the fact that every eye in the pub must be on him. It takes him a moment to gather what Bansi is trying to convey, and he isn’t sure that he gets the point completely, but he finds the closest analogy to be ‘buisness card.’ He turns slowly back to the wolf. “If you are interested in having any gunsmithing or repair work done, I’ll be in town for a while. I apologize for the…unfriendliness of the demonstration.” If Raziel is surprised by the unexpected appearance of the bat, his expression is too tired to show it. “You wish to inspect the rifle?”

The wolf nods rather perfunctorally, and takes the proffered card. “‘Scepted, surely. I reckon it might be out of my price range, all the same. If you’ll excuse me…” He rises, and follows the two humans out the door.

The bat nods. “It has a certain ingenuity to it. While our lupine friend has a point about crackpot inventors, -any- advance is going to be unusual at first.”

Rascal can only stare in amazement. Guns were drawn, words were said, and he still has his fur intact. “I…I need a drink,” he says weakly.

Bansi relaxes slightly as Raziel puts the gun away, taking a deep breath. The interpretation of his gesture gets a shrug. Bansi stares at the departing wolf, after which he somewhat shakily walks back to the table and resumes his seat. The he quits his seat again, long enough to get off the briefcase and set it back on the floor. Bansi rubs his brow before returning his attention to Raziel and Keesha.

When the bat seems to have finished her investigation, Raziel thanks her for the (semi-)compliment, and trudges back to his table. He sits back down, covering his eyes with one hand, and resumes eating. “That didn’t go as expected.”

Rascal says, “I should certainly say not.” He plops down in his chair and finely begins eating his meal. “Not a total loss though. We did get you your first customer.”

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