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Old 09-16-2014, 02:06 PM   #31
sir_pudding
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Default Re: [MH,TS] Nightmare by a Rocking Cradle - Iraq 2011

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Old 09-16-2014, 02:08 PM   #32
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Default Re: The Desert of Desolation?

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People (bedouin mostly, I think) drive trucks all over that desert all the time. I doubt you'd attract much attention if you used old beat-up vehicles. Avoiding checkpoints on the roads is impossible though.
Yeah, that's why I was checking how possible it was to drive off-road in the desert. Navigate through the sandy, rocky emptiness that surrounds the roads on the maps I have.

Of course, someone clearly avoiding the roads and check-points sends up orders of magnitude more red flags, I should assume. But perhaps a dust storm that made detection unlikely could be arranged...
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:09 PM   #33
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Default Re: The Desert of Desolation?

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Avoiding checkpoints on the roads is impossible though.
If these are the same people who are responsible for witnesses killing themselves, dying of heart attacks, getting run over by vehicles, as well as causing soldiers to hallucinate and shoot up innocents, it doesn't seem to me that it would be too terribly difficult for them to disguise their cargo as something inoffensive to the eyes of those working the checkpoints. Those with sufficient Will to resist the glamour or whatever may be paid off and/or discover a few too many deadly scorpions in their boots come morning.
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:16 PM   #34
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Default Re: The Desert of Desolation?

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Yeah, that's why I was checking how possible it was to drive off-road in the desert. Navigate through the sandy, rocky emptiness that surrounds the roads on the maps I have.

Of course, someone clearly avoiding the roads and check-points sends up orders of magnitude more red flags, I should assume. But perhaps a dust storm that made detection unlikely could be arranged...
If they look like bedu, I don't think there will be any red flags. We were driving a convoy across empty desert, but on tracks used by coalition forces, so we were alert to IEDs and ambush. Some old bedouin dude with a station wagon full of chickens drove right toward us, and we just stopped him and then let him on his way once the convoy was past.
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:27 PM   #35
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Default Re: The Desert of Desolation?

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If these are the same people who are responsible for witnesses killing themselves, dying of heart attacks, getting run over by vehicles, as well as causing soldiers to hallucinate and shoot up innocents, it doesn't seem to me that it would be too terribly difficult for them to disguise their cargo as something inoffensive to the eyes of those working the checkpoints. Those with sufficient Will to resist the glamour or whatever may be paid off and/or discover a few too many deadly scorpions in their boots come morning.
Indeed so.

But that will always be Plan B. They do prefer not to have to kill anyone and, especially, not to have to react to any unforeseen events with spur-of-the-moment sorcery.

Ritual magic in the world is extremely hard to perform and even though ancient Mesopotamia is higher mana than a lot of the rest of the world, we're still talking Very Low to Low Mana, i.e. -9 to -5 to skill, in most of it.

That being said, the 1-2 ton cargo is actually not illegal. It might raise a few eyebrows, but it isn't technically something that check-points ought to worry about. The fact that it looks like something that might be restricted under rules from the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage is something to consider, however. On the other hand, papers showing that this is a replica and/or that the people transporting it have all the proper licences could be obtained by those who haven't come to the attention of any authorities.

No, a more serious worry is that a number of the personnel working on this project are technically wanted in connection with various criminal acts in other countries and therefore could not enter Iraq legally or get all the right papers.*

Also, most check-points are going to be super uncool about kidnap victims and it's surprisingly hard to hide those.

But a supernatural solution is far from impossible. It's just so damn risky when you don't have any chance to prepare the people you are trying to affect beforehand, don't know about the local mana in advance and might encounter someone very skeptical.

I mean, yeah, they could fairly easily get a +4 or so to Smuggling using magic, but that is hardly enough to ensure that all the check-points from Nasiriyah to Syria overlook a bunch of kidnap victims in your truck.

*Yes, the not-at-all-villains can cause suicides, but don't have any means of making credible forgeries or getting passports in false names. Turns out that neither obsessive study of archaic and dead cultures or interactions with angry ghosts carries with it any education in espionage or a range of contacts among state intelligence services.
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:33 PM   #36
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Default Re: The Desert of Desolation?

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If they look like bedu, I don't think there will be any red flags. We were driving a convoy across empty desert, but on tracks used by coalition forces, so we were alert to IEDs and ambush. Some old bedouin dude with a station wagon full of chickens drove right toward us, and we just stopped him and then let him on his way once the convoy was past.
Awesome.

Transport 1-2 ton technically legal cargo with all the right licences and no one but reputable and unknown members of not-a-dark-conspiracy along.

Then move your less reputable members and unwilling-but-unfortunately-necessary participants of any rituals you may or may not be planning in beat-up old bedu vehicles over the desert. Also, bonus chickens, which are always useful. If you don't sacrifice them in any ritual, you can at least eat them.
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Old 09-16-2014, 03:17 PM   #37
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Ritual magic in the world is extremely hard to perform and even though ancient Mesopotamia is higher mana than a lot of the rest of the world, we're still talking Very Low to Low Mana, i.e. -9 to -5 to skill, in most of it.
Fair enough. I had assumed with the sheer number of successful apparently-supernatural killings the not-at-all-villains had apparently benefited from indicated magic wasn't extremely difficult, at least not with sufficient planning (and "We'll need to get through these 3 checkpoints, so prepare some Charms* to glamour the guards into thinking we're transporting chickens and not human sacrifices" struck me as sufficient planning). Looks like you've got some mundane options to work with, however.

*I'm mostly familiar with RPM, no idea if Path/Book has anything similar to the Charms from there.
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Old 09-16-2014, 10:34 PM   #38
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Default Supernatural murders

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Fair enough. I had assumed with the sheer number of successful apparently-supernatural killings the not-at-all-villains had apparently benefited from indicated magic wasn't extremely difficult, at least not with sufficient planning (and "We'll need to get through these 3 checkpoints, so prepare some Charms* to glamour the guards into thinking we're transporting chickens and not human sacrifices" struck me as sufficient planning). Looks like you've got some mundane options to work with, however.

*I'm mostly familiar with RPM, no idea if Path/Book has anything similar to the Charms from there.
Well, without getting into anything more than generalities based on prior campaigns in the same setting, simple, reliable and quick combat-time-scale Charms in the style of RPM are mostly not possible.

In a previous season of the game, another group of PCs witnessed several combat-scale uses of the supernatural. For the most part, however, that occured within a selected area that had greater than average mana, had been carefully prepared as a ritual space and the ritual that turned out to be effective was prepared beforehand and used extremely hard-to-obtain ritual components.

And it also relied on calling spirits that the magician was familiar with and with whom he had a preexisting relationship, in order to get them to perform tasks that they were particularly suited for and which they had strong motivations to want to do.

Incidentally, it appeared that any supernatural murders that the characters investigated were mostly not committed by a human ritual magician directly, in that he manipulated forces to cause the death of another, but rather that a particularly powerful spirit was convinced to take on the job. Spirits that could influence emotions and encourage behaviour that was already likely were much more common than spirits that actually possessed anyone, it appeared.

One murder was caused by a spirit capable of possessing a person directly, but that person had been suffering nightmares before and his skepticism about the supernatural and Will had been reduced by a long campaign of mental torture. Also, he was drunk and had taken sleeping pills.

In game terms, even the most powerful demonologist that the characters have heard about has only proven capable of commanding one demon who can full-on possess people, as opposed to influence their emotions, and he was only able to do it to someone who in game terms would have had Will below 10 (at that time) and was already poised to believe in the supernatural.

Of course, this might be different in the fertile mana of ancient Mesopotamia, as opposed to the fairly non-magical USA. And skeptics are rarer, in that even in our world, over 50% of Iraqis believe in sorcery and over 70% that people exist who can curse you with the Evil Eye. So fewer people will have the Skeptic Perk and/or get a bonus to resistance for lacking belief in the spirits.

All the same, using magic on a combat time scale is not the safest of options. When the PCs in a previous campaign rushed in on a ritual magician in his sanctified space and his previously ensorcelled protections were insufficient and he attempted to go beyond them, he ended up summoning a spirit over which he had no control and which tore his body to shreds, feasting on his soul and spirit.

This does, of course, raise the question of how the murders are being committed. It certainly suggests that whoever is doing it has access to a lot of mojo and some seriously bad spirits.

On the other hand, for so many murders to be necessary, either those people are really bad at planning or don't really have any skill at more subtle magic. That... or there is something going on of such a monstrous scale that even a couple of hundred murders are just the tip of the iceberg.
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Old 09-16-2014, 11:13 PM   #39
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Default Re: Supernatural murders

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On the other hand, for so many murders to be necessary, either those people are really bad at planning or don't really have any skill at more subtle magic. That... or there is something going on of such a monstrous scale that even a couple of hundred murders are just the tip of the iceberg.
Heh! One day your players will invent "D" codes.
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Old 09-17-2014, 12:05 AM   #40
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Default Re: Supernatural murders

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Heh! One day your players will invent "D" codes.
It is becoming more likely. I caught them Mind-Mapping out the results of their investigation and they are discussing theories between sessions. Usually, there's not much organised thought involved, but now they appear poised to set up a big board with pictures of suspects.

The PCs are all deeply committed to the cause of Good, Light and the American Way. Well, at least either Good or the American Way.

The two cops have Pacifism (Cannot Harm Innocents) and a -10 point Code of Honour as honest cops. Col. Irmintraut has an Officer's Code of Honour and SSG Akeem Nassir has a -10 Code of Honour that covers what a good enlisted soldier ought to be, patriotism and general honesty.

All four also have a Sense of Duty. Nassir's is the most broad, extending toward all of humanity, though he prioritises family, friends, comrades-in-arms and country over humans he doesn't know. Lt. Book has Sense of Duty (Innocents), Taz has Sense of Duty toward all good people (though he'll put family and friends ahead of strangers) and Col. Irmintraut has a Sense of Duty (Friends, Army, Country). Not that Col. Irmintraut has actual friends, but maybe the player is planning on making some.

Finally, Taz is Charitable and Broad-Minded.

All of which means that they'll have a hard time ignoring any bona fide risk to hundreds or thousands of people. And they'll risk their lives in a heart-beat to prevent mass human sacrifice (or worse).

Technically, Col. Irmintraut won't actually care about people dying, as long as it doesn't affect US interests. Being Callous and Chauvinistic, he is probably inclined to view any Iraqi-on-Iraqi sorcerous violence as being irrelevant to him and his country. On the other hand, if it threathens to destabilise the al-Maliki regime, that becomes his concern, particularly if it seems likely to escalate into some kind of supernatural cataclysm that destabilises the whole region. Also, since he's Curious, I don't imagine that he'll be content to ignore a series of inexplicable murders connected to clumsily hidden embezzlement, amidst a climate of intimidation and superstition.
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