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Old 01-28-2019, 02:27 PM   #141
tshiggins
 
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Default Re: [MH] Caribbean by Night

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Thanks a lot.

It is certainly true that the stories of homeless children in Miami was especially inspiring. I wonder if Alice Talbot, the PC anthropologist who is supposed to be working on her PhD on the evolution of Jamaican folklore among immigrant communities, might actually be getting sidetracked into investigating folklore among homeless children in Houston.

She's not Charitable (which would pretty much clinch it), but she is Curious and if she notes that children from other ethnic backgrounds are telling stories similar to ones that at-risk Jamaican children are, she might want to investigate more closely. Especially if she recognizes anything that sounds like it might be true, in a world with magic.

Then again, with Shyness and no real social skills to speak of, Alice isn't the best field interviewer. I guess Pitiable would help her gain the trust of children, though. For best results, though, she should be paired with someone with impressive social skills, who can handle getting people to open up, while Alice memorizes everything they say and collates it with her reference-file mind.

Mental note, make sure to detail an outgoing NPC who is partnered with Alice on her research. For best results, make her every bit as Curious as Alice, but pushy and disturbingly good at getting people to talk about things they weren't planning on disclosing, which will no doubt play very nice with Alice's extreme reluctance to disclose anything of her own past.


I tried to get the players interested in creating active practitioners of Afro-Caribbean religions, but none did.

There is one obeah woman aboard the yacht they live and one PC, 'Nonc' Morel, is a rootworker with a background in Southern 'hoodoo', which is not a religion, but simply a magical tradition. He's actually a 'druid', now, but before developing his own magical style of druidism, his magical study was in the field of hoodoo/rootwork.

Lucien Lacoste has the talents to be a truly impressive shaman, being a natural medium and very good at any magic having to do with spirits, but he's simply a devoted Catholic and not interested in voodoo, vodoun or any other Afro-Caribbean religion. Well, 'not interested' might be understating things, as Lacoste came across a lot of criminals who used voodoo rituals for nasty things in his work as a detective and Lacoste feels that the idea of allowing spirits, who might as well be demons, to possess one is not only dangerous, but actively against God's word.

Lacoste does suspect that his grandmother, Nana Lacoste, might be less orthodox in her Catholic religion than he is, given that she has a reputation among the occult underground in New Orleans.

I intend for practitioners of various Afro-Caribbean religions to be potential allies, rivals, foes and villains in the campaign, so any detail is useful. From Kessler's history, an allegiance with elderly Cuban santeros (or even more likely, santeras) is quite probable, whereas my setting background makes it almost inevitable that many Dominican Drug-Trade Organisations (DTOs) will be strongly influenced or even dominated by people (or beings) with supernatural powers.
The fact that those seem to be real emergent folk tales makes them fascinating, while at the same time the horror of them is heart-wrenching.

Myths and fairytales project human experiences into frameworks that allow the creators to try to deal with those experiences, psychologically and emotionally. That means those children have lives so grim that they create stories in which even Holy Mary, Mother of God, lacked the strength to resist corruption by evil.

That news feature is 20 years old, now, and I'd hope that things have gotten better for the poor children of Miami. Unfortunately, I sort of doubt it.

From a campaign standpoint, the stories are great sources. Having worked with kids in the past, I know they can provide really good information, as long as the question is asked carefully.

They're really easily led, are taught to obey adults, and usually want please the grown-ups around them. If the questioner takes care to make sure the child knows that accurate descriptions of what actually happened is the way to please, then the bald-faced facts are exactly what they give -- like it or not. :)

Moreover, kids see and hear everything, but frequently escape notice, themselves. For an investigation campaign such as yours, they could be a great asset for the PCs, and allow you to create a sense of existential despair -- or deliver some humor, or even both.

As for the approach you've chosen for spirits, that works well on your setting, as it's considerably darker than mine. While I include evil spirits, most of those in my campaign are nature spirits.

That doesn't mean they're nice -- nature is red in tooth and claw, and cat spirits like to play with their food -- but that's not evil. It's just cats being cats.

For a horror campaign, it would make perfect sense for demons and creatures of darkness to pretend to be benign, so they could more easily prey on those who contact them. Under those circumstances, Voudou and Santeria become much more hazardous.

What about the shamanism of indigenous people, though?
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Old 01-28-2019, 02:56 PM   #142
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Default Re: [MH] Caribbean by Night

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The fact that those seem to be real emergent folk tales makes them fascinating, while at the same time the horror of them is heart-wrenching.

Myths and fairytales project human experiences into frameworks that allow the creators to try to deal with those experiences, psychologically and emotionally. That means those children have lives so grim that they create stories in which even Holy Mary, Mother of God, lacked the strength to resist corruption by evil.

That news feature is 20 years old, now, and I'd hope that things have gotten better for the poor children of Miami. Unfortunately, I sort of doubt it.

From a campaign standpoint, the stories are great sources. Having worked with kids in the past, I know they can provide really good information, as long as the question is asked carefully.

They're really easily led, are taught to obey adults, and usually want please the grown-ups around them. If the questioner takes care to make sure the child knows that accurate descriptions of what actually happened is the way to please, then the bald-faced facts are exactly what they give -- like it or not. :)

Moreover, kids see and hear everything, but frequently escape notice, themselves. For an investigation campaign such as yours, they could be a great asset for the PCs, and allow you to create a sense of existential despair -- or deliver some humor, or even both.
Children should probably have significant modifiers on rolls against the Facade, if only because they will not have the same iron certainties as adults of what "can't" happen.

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As for the approach you've chosen for spirits, that works well on your setting, as it's considerably darker than mine. While I include evil spirits, most of those in my campaign are nature spirits.

That doesn't mean they're nice -- nature is red in tooth and claw, and cat spirits like to play with their food -- but that's not evil. It's just cats being cats.
Well, so far, I've mostly mentioned the nastiest spirits, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any more benevolent ones. To all appearances, the genius loci 'Papa Mangrove' is a benevolent nature spirit, wise and helpful. It's Pact-bonded to 'Nonc' Morel (PC) and it gives him a lot of magical assistance and demands nothing in return except his services as the guardian of a certain natural area, as well as the world in general.

And while it is unclear whether the spirit that answers to 'LaDarius Fournette' is truly the restless ghost of Lucien Lacoste's (PC) former partner in the NOPD or whether it is merely some kind of free spirit that takes his form and personality because of Lacoste's refusal to let go, no one seriously doubts that 'Dee' is extremely attached to Lacoste and he has already risked his 'life' for him on several occasions.

It isn't as if orishas/loas/other spirits are all going to be evil, just that the most powerful and notable spirits all tend to be very far from anything that human morality would consider acceptable. There are plenty of spirits that can be described as inhuman, rather than evil, but from a human perspective, that makes little difference.

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For a horror campaign, it would make perfect sense for demons and creatures of darkness to pretend to be benign, so they could more easily prey on those who contact them. Under those circumstances, Voudou and Santeria become much more hazardous.
Exactly right.

All forms of magic are hazardous in the campaign. The PCs all make use of it, but they are very much fighting fire with fire.

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What about the shamanism of indigenous people, though?
Well, in this world, any successful magical tradition will make a point of purifying, cleansing and warding around rituals, to prevent spirits that aren't invited from interfering.

A lot of real world traditions already make a point of the dangers of hostile spirits and the need to be wary of the claims of spirits.
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Old 01-28-2019, 04:13 PM   #143
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... someone who'll accept the fact that the Penemue's engines break down at roughly ten times the rate of a ship without all those magical energies around and still manage to keep them sweet, well, that's a pearl beyond price.
Penemue's engineers may have a reputation problem, given the amount of spare parts they go through. Given their salaries, they are unlikely to worry much about this, but they will be keen on whoever does Kessler's life-extension magic.
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Old 01-28-2019, 04:32 PM   #144
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Penemue's engineers may have a reputation problem, given the amount of spare parts they go through. Given their salaries, they are unlikely to worry much about this, but they will be keen on whoever does Kessler's life-extension magic.
That's a very good point. Hadn't even considered that.

Despite Kessler's eccentricity and his sometimes unreasonable demands, he has a considerable knack in acquiring the loyalty of people. Not only is Kessler a bit of a character and strongly appeals to those of adventurous bent*, but he also has a way of getting people who should by all rights condemn him and all he stands for of becoming fond of him despite themselves.**

As for life-extending magics, Kessler's doctor, Dr. Dao Van Sang, believes that using occult medicine is extremely dangerous. There exists essentially no body of reliable research on the long-term effects of magic on the human body and the files of the monster hunters Kessler sends out are full of animals and humans twisted into horrible things by the influence of magic.

That being said, Aunty Genie, the chef aboard Penemue, is almost certainly feeding Kessler a diet of healthy Esoteric Medicine supplements, but whether that rises to the level of actual magical elixirs is unknown.

*Because of Talents.
**When young, Kessler was rakishly handsome and extremely secuctive. At age 100, his Sex Appeal is not what it used to be, but he's still got boat-loads of Charisma.
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Old 01-28-2019, 06:38 PM   #145
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Default Re: [MH] Caribbean by Night

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This picture of Gary Sobers is about right. Sobers is much older now.
Excellent.

Then I have gotten most of the authority figures aboard. Happily, there is an interesting mix of ethnicities and cultures, with the four important NPCs who've interacted the most of with the PCs so far (other than Kessler himself) being a black Haitian-born major-domo, black Congo-born librarian and graduate of UT-Austin, black Dominiquais chef and a Houston-born doctor of Vietnamese descent.

The two temporarily leaders of the security aboard are another Houston-born man of Vietnamese descent (doctor Dao Van Sang's brother) and Zamal Juman, former secret policeman from Guyana. That's only because the team leader of the monster hunter team and the chief of security aboard the Penemue were both away for a Christmas vacation, however, so Dao and Juman were the two people with leadership positions in the shooting teams who were able to respond quickly to an emergency. Dao is actually a serving US Army Special Forces officer, which is why he is not a full-time member of the monster hunting team, but he's Kessler's godson and is aware of everything.

Once the full crew comes aboard, the PCs will interact more with the Houston-born Captain Gus Starr and a few other leaders who are likely to be Americans of European descent, so the leadership isn't entirely 'ethnic', but there is definitely a strong exotic vibe, which is a good thing. I expect the PCs will probably interact less with Ms. Marchant than the other senior NPCs, if only because she is more concerned with Kessler's mundane business empire than the hunting of monsters, but given how fond PCs are of trying to short-circuit chains-of-command and speaking directly with The Boss, they might draw her ire on a semi-regular basis.

What I'm missing now are the First Mate, who'll definitely be a former Coast Guard warrant officer, in his sixties, and more than competent enough to command the Penemue on his own, and the commander of the monster hunting away team.

Wait, and the chief of security aboard, whom I've just decided to make a full-time position separate from the monster hunting team or the ship's officers. Where might someone have learned close protection, counterintelligence and counter-terrorism to a high-pitch of perfection, before becoming a high-priced security consultant? Somewhere like the Secret Service, but ideally somewhere else, for variety and interest. Maybe a French citizen or someone from the Caribbean...

I'm thinking the current chief of security has been there less than ten years.
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Old 01-29-2019, 08:56 AM   #146
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Default British Surname of Norman Origin, Never too High, Never too Low

I'm looking for a surname for an Englishman. His ancestor came across in the train of William the Conqueror, but it was not as a Norman knight or baron, but rather as a grizzled serjeant in the service of a nobleman. In the almost millenia since, that's mostly been the lot of this family. Military service, honoured retainers to gentry and nobility, but no titles or land grants of their own. In essence, hereditary sergeants, game keepers, bailiffs and policemen, with a smattering of stout yeoman farmers and the occasional drunkard.

The name can suggest a tradition of military service, but should not sound too much like an officer's name. Which, I'll grant, is tough to do with old, established Norman names, as the tracing of descent to the Norman Conquest is generally a very posh past-time. Let's assume that the average modern bearer of the name has no more idea of his ancestors than most ordinary people, when going back further than grandparents remember, but that looking them up on genealogy websites reveals, at least, a Norman origin for the name and possibly that original Norman serjeant owing some tax or other in the Domesday Book (or more likely his descendant in some church roll or something).

Ideally, I'd like the name to sound fairly warlike or at least appropriate for a tough-as-nails NPC who used to be a sniper in the 22 SAS and who currently maintains and customizes the armament of the monster hunters aboard Penemue.*

*As well as making the security of J.R. Kessler his personal priority, entirely aside from any formal job title. As far as this NPC is concerned, he is a man at arms, as was his father before him (and his father before that, etc.) and he has found a feudal lord he is proud to serve as long as he draws breath.
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Old 01-29-2019, 09:10 AM   #147
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How about Sargent, or is that too on-the-nose?
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Old 01-29-2019, 09:12 AM   #148
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How about Sargent, or is that too on-the-nose?
No, it is one of the names I'm considering, along with Hardy, Norman and Parker. Oh, and Warner.
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Old 01-29-2019, 11:08 AM   #149
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Default Re: [MH] Caribbean by Night

I'd give thought to the more martial of the trade-names: Ballister, Fletcher, Bannerman, Faulkner.
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Old 01-29-2019, 11:27 AM   #150
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I'd give thought to the more martial of the trade-names: Ballister, Fletcher, Bannerman, Faulkner.
'Bannerman' is not only exactly what the men of this family have been through the ages, but also sounds pretty good. Players might complain, of course, in that A Song of Ice and Fire has made the feudal meaning of 'bannerman' as 'warrior sworn to the service of a noble' pretty recognizable in pop culture, but it is a real English surname of Normal origin.

Kessler employed the senior Bannerman (1924-2002) as a mercenary on numerous occasions in the 1960s and 1970s, before offering him a position in his household on a more permanent basis. The 'current' Bannerman is born in 1962 and became a part of Kessler's orbit as a teenager. He could have gone to any college he wanted and gotten considerable help in establishing himself as a business executive, but for reasons that his father understood perfectly, elected to follow rather than lead.

Young Bannerman joined the British Army in 1980, as his father had before him in WWII, but he did so with the explicit intention of serving in the SAS and acquiring the skills he'd need to enter Kessler's household as a valued man-at-arms. The younger Bannerman has been an active member of the monster hunting teams since 1992 and has only recently accepted a less active position, as the Penemue's armourer.

What first names should I give the father and son? Something simple, no doubt. Charles, George, Harry, Jack, John or Thomas?
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