Although a young Recursion, The Red Lantern has been the beginning point for some of the most tremendous events in The Strange. Not that one would suspect as much upon entering the small izakaya (sake house). Created by Lord Tanstaafl, a recursion miner, the Recursion serves as a comfortable drinking spot for the movers and shakers in the Strange. It serves as neutral ground for its visitors, offering complete anonymity in the most peculiar way. On any given night, members of the Estate, the Quiet Cabal, the Chaos Templars, and the Beak Mafia could be sitting across from one another, discussing business, politics, or hiring mercenaries, recursions miners, or undercover operatives.
Recursors arriving at the Red Lantern discover themselves on a small island, floating upon an island above the swirling chaos of the Strange. The island itself is a lush and immaculate Japanese garden, featuring trees, ponds teeming with fish, and miniature waterfalls. A stone path leads to the tea house structure at the island’s heart. Two Lion Dogs flank the building’s only entrance, and will demand an entry fee from all visitors – new or old. Generally, this fee is a small Cypher or something of equal value. Anyone trying to enter without paying will be forced off the property (Lion Dogs are equivalent to Golems, p. 270 of The Strange corebook); attacks being meant to push the offenders off the island and into the Strange, rather than inflict true injuries. They will also prohibit any and all weaponry from being allowed inside The Red Lantern.
The center of the Japanese style pub is dominated by a sushi bar, overseen by the boisterous – and culinarily talented – Lord Tanstaafl. Comfortable stools line the square bar, which is an elegant construction of marble and cherry-wood. Considered the common area, patrons are offered a rich variety of sakana – foods meant to accompany alcohol – such as sushi, yakitori (chicken skewers), kimchi (spicy pickles), and bowls of steaming ramen noodles. They are also given an excellent selection of alcoholic beverages, such as sake, plum wine, and liquors from distant Recursions.
The remainder of the lounge area consists of semi-private booths and tables, serviced by the establishment’s many Hostesses. Through some magical fashion, the exteriors windows offer a perfect view of the Strange (rather than the gardens outside the building). Each booth generates a short-ranged, dampening field, which prevents voices from carrying more than a few feet. As such, People can speak with moderate freedom and privacy.
For an additional price, private dining rooms are available off of the main room. Through some bizarre physics, there are ~always~ enough private rooms of any size available in The Red Lantern – despite the building’s apparently small physical size. These rooms are warded against magical and psionic intrusions, in addition to the sound dampening fields. Once a room’s door is closed, the occupants can be assured of total privacy.
It is rumored that there are hidden galleries, bedrooms, libraries, and other chambers within The Red Lantern, but only the most trusted guests are allowed behind the scenes – and they’re not about to let on, lest their invitation is revoked.
Finally, anonymity at The Red Lantern is assured through an odd – and somewhat comical – characteristic of the Recursion. Any and all Recursors arriving at The Red Lantern are transformed into large anthropomorphic raccoon dogs – also known as Tanuki. Also, all arrivals will be ~male~ tanuki, adding further ambiguousness to the guest’s appearance. Exactly why Lord Tanstaafl chose this particular creature out of Japanese myth remains to be seen – although may speak to his own trickster spirit.
The official ‘master’ of The Red Lantern is Lord Tanstaafl. A rather chubby tanuki in a chef’s kimono, he is a generous and boisterous fellow, always ready with a new drink or cuisine for his patrons. A retired recursion miner, his knowledge of the Strange is extensive, and will talk endlessly about his adventures – some of which are even true. Despite his gregarious nature, Tanstaafl remains completely neutral to all factional politics, and will not reveal any secrets he learns in the course of his duties. Indeed, any patron making inquiries about other patrons will likely be barred from the establishment. Stat-wise, he is on par with Colin Stokes (p. 154, The Strange Bestiary) with access to alcohol-based Cyphers (usually explosive or transformative, in nature).
The Hostesses appear as beautiful kitsunes (fox-woman), dressed in exquisite kimonos. They are courteous, attentive, and offer unexcelled service to their patrons. Like their employer, they are the epitome of discretion, and will not gossip and/or discuss anything they may have overheard during the course of their duties. They will report any and all infractions to their employer, immediately. If pressed, they will fight as Werewolves in Half-lupine form (p. 141, The Strange Bestiary). Any conflict will also summon additional Lion Dogs (see above).
The Players need to meet with a potential patron/source. To assure that their meeting is private, the contact arranges a table at The Red Lantern.