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Editor’s Note: Starting with this week’s exciting episode, new Archetypes of the Week will go up on Thursday instead of Wednesday.
The fixer is a person who solves problems, often using methods that are not entirely legal. While most fixers deal in material goods (especially illegal or hard to get ones) to some extent, the fixer’s main trade is in favors. He cultivates a large network of contacts, contractors, and underlings who he can call upon to provide services and information to him and his clients. If you need an untraceable gun, an introduction to the local crime boss, or a date for Friday night, the fixer can probably set you up (for the right price, of course).
Fixers are primarily found in modern crime and cyberpunk stories, but any ficton with a criminal underworld will include characters who fill this role. Variations on the archetype can be found in many stories dealing with espionage and politics, as well as in some war stories. Finally, a (usually) less vicious version of the fixer can also be found in most schools, dealing in term papers, fake IDs, and other contraband.
The Name Game
Like many other criminal types, fixers often have colorful or intimidating nicknames. Otherwise, any name appropriate to the genre will work fine.
The fixer makes his living by knowing the right person to handle a particular job and providing the motivation necessary to get them on board. The combination of intimidation, flattery, and negotiation needed to cultivate and motivate these contacts requires a high Nerve Number. A high Brain Number will allow the fixer to optimize his resources, put the information he collects into context, and conceal his activities from the proper authorities. Since most fixers have ready access to hired muscle, Body is the least important Word for this type of character.
Suggested Jobs: Arms Dealer, Bail Bondsman, Bookie, Campaign Manager, Consigliere, Crime Boss, Dirty Cop, Drug Dealer, Extortionist, Fence, Gangster, Handler, Lawyer, Loan Shark, Pawnbroker, Pimp, Prison Guard, Prisoner, Private Detective, Procurement Officer, Revolutionary, Wiseguy
Gimmicks: Can Get You Anything You Need, Citizen of the World, Contacts, Cool Under Pressure, Danger Sense, Deep Pockets, Friends in High Places, Friends in Low Places, Good Lawyers, Hard to Kill, Has Dirt On Everybody, Knows a Guy, Local Hero, Made Guy, Minions, Smooth Talker
Weaknesses: Bad Reputation, Before I Kill You Mr. Bond, Dames, Drug Addict, Egomaniac, Enemies, OCD, Physically Challenged, Psychological Problems, Under Investigation, Victim of the Past
Skills: Appraise, Blackmail, Black Market Connection, Chess, Computers, Counterfeiting, Creative Accounting, Dirty Tricks, Driving, Drug Lore, Fast Talk, Firearms, Forgery, Gambling, Hears Things, Intimidation, Negotiation, Pop Culture Trivia, Seduction, Self Defense, Streetwise
WWPHITM? Gary Busey, David Carradine, George Clooney, Willem Dafoe, Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp, Danny DeVito, Angie Dickenson, Morgan Freeman, James Gandolfini, Gina Gershawn, Lance Henrikson, Dennis Hopper, Delroy Lindo, Lucy Liu, Ian McShane, Jack Nicholson, Gary Oldman, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Jeremy Piven, Ving Rhames, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Stephanie Romanov, Martin Sheen, Christian Slater, Michael Stackpole, Snoop Dogg, Kathleen Turner, Steve Van Zandt, Christopher Waulken, Keone Young, Chow Yun-Fat
Tag Line: “Here’s my counter-offer to your counter-offer: go fuck yourself.”—Al Swearengen, Deadwood
Tools of the Trade: While some fixers trade almost entirely in favors, most find it convenient to keep a large supply of cash on hand at all times.
Where You’ll Find Him: Most fixers have a set location from which they do business, though the form the office will take varies wildly depending on the nature of the fixer’s specialty or front operation and clientele. Low-level fixers might work from a car or street corner, while those who specialize in solving problems for politicians, celebrities, and crime bosses will likely have posh offices. Fixers between these two extremes often operate out of pawn shops, bars, and other businesses.
Social Circle: The fixer spends a lot of time assisting criminals or people engaged in criminal activity, but can benefit greatly from cultivating contacts and clients outside of the criminal underworld. Respectable citizens with influence or access to hard-to-get goods or information (politicians, construction contractors, and military officers, for example) can be especially useful to know, especially if the fixer has dirt on them.
Job: Problem Solver (16)
Gimmick: Deep Pockets (12)
Weakness: Arrogance (12)
Skills: Quick Thinking +3; Contacts +2; Drives Fast +1
WWPHITM?: Harvey Keitel
Dumb Fact: Likes his coffee with lots of cream and lots of sugar.
Tag Line: “My name is Winston Wolfe. I solve problems.”
When appropriate, I’m going to start noting specific characters from each book/movie/whatever that fits the archetype especially well.
Books & Comics
The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare (Antonio, Shylock)
Movies & TV
Deadwood (Al Swearengen)
Domino (Claremont Williams III)
Heist (Mickey Bergman)
The Italian Job (Skinny Pete)
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (Harry the Hatchet)
Men In Black (Jack Jeebs)
The Shawshank Redemption (Red)
Smallville (Lex Luthor)
War, Inc. (Brand Hauser)