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Old 03-27-2019, 02:27 AM   #51
johndallman
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
What I need, however, is not so much just suggestions on what is actually going on, but what high Occultism* on the part of the PCs and the analysts, scholars and research staff that Kessler employs will yield in terms of possible supernatural explanations.
At least for me, the second part is much easier if I have some idea about the first part.

Psychic vampirism is another possibility, and the theft of people's feelings about deaths could explain how the business has stayed secret for some time: nobody feels it matters.
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Old 03-27-2019, 02:33 AM   #52
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

You could probably work in the pirates and buccaneers who drank, whored, and feasted themselves into bankruptcy between expeditions. Maybe a curse upon the rich after a failed slave revolt, or an unhappy missionary who cursed the planters' extravagance and lack of the Christian virtues? The 17th/18th century is old enough for some magic to work.
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Old 03-27-2019, 08:34 AM   #53
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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At least for me, the second part is much easier if I have some idea about the first part.
Well, I have some definite ideas, but the specifics are still flexible, according to what emerges from discussion.

The fights are not actually the only thing going on at the resort, but the disappearance of many promising contenders and skilled journeymen fighters is something that analysts looking for odd things eventually noticed. Quite frankly, if other groups of people are also disappearing from economically depressed areas of the Caribbean, it might well be that nobody has considered it unusual.

After all, human trafficking for sexual and economic exploitation isn't uncommon in the world. So it might well be that teen runaways, sex workers, refugees and migrant laborers are also going missing in the same areas as the proprietors of the resort are recruiting fighters, but that those disappearances do not rise above the background noise of 'standard' missing persons.

Let us imagine the island resort as a version of Pleasure Island from Pinocchio. There are equivalents of the Coachman in the form of legal employment agencies and less legal recruiters in numerous urban centers within trafficking distance. Of course, not being in a PG cartoon, there are more adult amusements than merely smoking, drinking, cursing, playing pool and enjoying rollercoasters; e.g. any imaginable recreational chemical, exotic and possibly illegal cuisines, high-stakes gambling on a wide variety of bizarre activities, elaborate burlesque shows, choreographed orgies, enactment of any conceivable sexual fantasy, and, of course, bloody gladiatorial spectacles.

The island the resort is on needs to be part of a nation with a weak enough institutions and police for it to be plausible that the proprietors could have purchased, with both legal taxes and economic importance as well as massive bribes, what amounts to effective autonomy (as long as no evidence impossible to ignore turns up), but with enough ship traffic to make it possible to smuggle in cargoes of various people and all kinds of less-than-legal party favors per week. The local police would be aware that gambling, prostitution and drug use goes on there, but should not enquire closely enough to realize that some of the people who arrive without paperwork never leave.

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Psychic vampirism is another possibility, and the theft of people's feelings about deaths could explain how the business has stayed secret for some time: nobody feels it matters.
Indeed. At least one hypothesis should be that something, either something about the island itself or some being located there, is draining empathy, morality or some equivalent from people, causing them to focus exclusively on their own hedonistic pleasure, on greed, desire for novelty, thrills or the feeling of victory (regardless of accomlishment).

As the evidence that the analysts first noticed was related to fighters disappearing, it's likely that the Occultism theories that the PCs start the adventure with will focus on supernatural beings associated with combat, rage, death, blood and warriors, but when they learn more, it might be that those are only part of the answer, if not entirely red herrings.
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Old 03-27-2019, 08:53 AM   #54
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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A twisted version of any god of death or combat. The deity in question may have had good PR when stories were told about them. The Incan, Mayan and Aztec pantheons would be a good place to start looking due to proximity and (pop culture) relations to bloodshed. Or maybe someone like Ares has moved their location.

Baron Samedi could be considered a culprit as well from the Loa, or at the very least one of the first to be looked into due to him being (probably) the most well known Loa. But looking just a bit more at the various Loa, Baron Kriminel seems more apropriate (more violent and potentially murderous). Or Bosou Koblamin who represents strength, ferocity and violence, which points towards brutal combat and potential death matches.

If you want something from Native American mythology near the region, I found this tidbit.


Many variations of vampires could work as well, especially if blood spilled was drained into reservoirs. Some types also feed directly upon the flesh of corpses, so deathmatches could be a source of fresh food for them. Of course, blood being spilled is far less likely if the combat is unarmed.

Demons in general would be a consideration because Greed, Lust and Wrath/Anger would be plentiful in such a venue. That is if they feed upon these, or maybe they need them to open a portal or otherwise influence the world at large.
YES!

This is exactly the kind of speculation that I want, because before the PCs leave, they'll discuss the information they have so far with multiple NPCs who have high scholarly skills and I'll need to be able to speculate on a wide variety of supernatural causes.

There will be NPCs who suggest possible Carib or other indigenous mythological causes, several who give briefings on a range of Afro-Caribbean possibilities and others who note that as they do not yet have reliable information on who is ultimately behind the complex web of shell corporation ownership of the resort, the culprit could be some kind of supernatural being from anywhere who chose the Caribbean because of the combination of relatively small countries with weak institutions and high numbers of affluent tourists allowed for the creation of something that appealed to it.

After all, the true owners of the resort could be drug cartels from Central or South America, Russian or other East European oligarchs, a mysterious American tech billionaires, a consortium of secretive European bankers or something even more exotic.
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Old 03-27-2019, 01:50 PM   #55
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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You could probably work in the pirates and buccaneers who drank, whored, and feasted themselves into bankruptcy between expeditions. Maybe a curse upon the rich after a failed slave revolt, or an unhappy missionary who cursed the planters' extravagance and lack of the Christian virtues? The 17th/18th century is old enough for some magic to work.
That's certainly a good idea and as not only I, but two out of four players, are big Black Sails fans, any kind of pirate ghosts, spirits, lares or genii loci of Ye Olde Pirate ports would probably be very popular.
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Old 03-27-2019, 07:26 PM   #56
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Default Re: Occultism Theories for a Supernatural Party Responsible?

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Since no one's addressed this one...

The Incarnate Champion is looking for a new avatar, and these fights are the audition process. Sure, fighters might initially be lured in by the idea of money or been abducted, but after their first fight they receive a vision, or a dream, or an unshakeable feeling: They must fight to the finish, no matter what the cost. They must become... the Champion.

It started out small, but as the fights have continued, the Champion's influence has spread. The passions of combat have attracted minor spirits that feed on and encourage extreme emotions, so the attendees (and even the staff) are roused to higher and higher pitches of excitement. It's becoming something of an addiction problem for them... The surrounding area is also seeing a rise in violence, as brawls and fights escalate more often and more quickly, and heightened passions give more reasons for conflict. (Not so much in predatory violence, property damage, or theft, which ought to stand out to canny investigators.) The Champion's visions are starting to spread beyond the resort, too. Fighters are beginning to arrive on the island, drawn by some urge they can't put their finger on...

The fight organizers are unaware of the Incarnate Champion's influence, or that of the other spirits. They just know that their little blood sport and sex trafficking operation has become extremely successful, and they're riding the high. They don't even have to kidnap fighters anymore, and the punters keep laying bigger bets and going for more exotic (and expensive) debauchery. The more sensitive among them might be getting a bit nervous, but feel they're riding the tiger.

Basically, if you're familiar with Warhammer lore, imagine if Khorne and Slaanesh threw a house party. That's what's developing here. If it matures, it's going to be really unpleasant.

This gives you a couple red herrings, or onion layers, to throw at the PCs. After being drawn in to investigate missing comrades, they find a typical den of vice, and while the blood sport appears to be central, most of the interesting stuff to occult investigators appears to be on the periphery, where they more easily detect the spirits. The Incarnate Champion's influence works on them, too, so you can play up intra-party quarreling, hot tempers, impulsiveness, etc. The second act reveal, of course, is when they're watching a deathmatch and realize one of the fighters is an agent, and appears to be willing.

Unfortunately I can't point you to any actual mythological figures that might fit off the top of my head. Personally, I'm fond of the idea of modern spirits of some sort getting in on the act, but YMMV.
Thanks, I need a lot more like these.

One player immediately leapt to the suggestion of an Enter the Dragon type scenario at the suggestion that boxers and MMA fighters were going missing. I reminded him that with no other information than that, he couldn't rule out alternative explanations like:
  • Predators from space (or a supernatural equivalent) kidnapping human warriors in order to hunt them for sport
  • A vampire or other monster who can only feed on victorious warriors
  • Ancient warrior spirit seeking a perfect vessel
  • Necromancer creating an army of strong, fast and skilled zombies hardened by a lifetime of fighting
  • Amazon queen seeking a mate, who must obviously be an unbeatable warrior
  • Court of sadistic Fair Folk seeking to outdo each other in bloody spectacles with human victims
  • An elaborate game of strategy and skill where humans are the playing pieces, like chess where the rook curb-stomps pawns to death
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Old 03-28-2019, 05:08 PM   #57
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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Another possibility would be having it as a form of addictive immortality ritual facilitated by the occult design of the arena. When fighters die, the remainder of their youth is divided equally between the spectators in an ecstatic surge (youth being defined as the 50-Age). In the case of 20 year old fighters, they would give up 30 years of youth if they died, meaning that 360 spectators would gain an average of 1 month of youth each. With the spectators gaining vitality after watching a death, the wealthy of the world would flock to the island, allowing the owner(s) to spend more money on fighters and to hold more fights.

In that case, the deathmatch might be a nightly event. Spectators would pay $10,000 each for a ticket, and it would be capped at 360 spectators. In the case of a kill, the winner would receive $1 million and the loser's heirs would receive $500,000. You would have a lot of people competing because of the prize.
If the deaths were a sacrifice, there needs to be an explanation for why it isn't performed in a more usual ritual, cultic, secretive fashion. Also, if it were just about youth, why wouldn't teenage runaways, child refugees and other victims easier to disappear without notice sufffice?

The PCs and the analysts, occultists, researchers and scholars who brief them will form their theories about whatever supernatural events are going on from the clues they have, which are whatever trends that their organization has spotted out of the ordinary.

First and foremost is the identity of the apparent victims; who seem to be chosen among strong, hardy males in the prime of life, with combat skills as high as anyone is likely to find in modern society. It's clear, at least, that someone is interested in people with good physical Attributes and high unarmed skills, but the PCs don't really know if other types of 'warriors' are also going missing.

MMA fighters and boxing contenders are by their nature better known than gang members or criminals who may be skilled in Brawling, Knife or Shortsword skills. It's theoretically possible that skilled machete fighters or literal sicarios have also gone missing, but because of the nature of their lifestyles, it's much less likely that it would register as unusual to any analyst looking for anomalous data points around the 'Bermudan Vile Vortex'.

So, it's likely that the theories that the PCs start out with are somewhat skewed, due to their data being incomplete. They don't actually know about everything that might be going on, they just know about the most obvious sign, i.e. victims that due to their potentially profitable skills were known to managers, trainers and fight organizers.
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Old 03-28-2019, 06:56 PM   #58
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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If the deaths were a sacrifice, there needs to be an explanation for why it isn't performed in a more usual ritual, cultic, secretive fashion. Also, if it were just about youth, why wouldn't teenage runaways, child refugees and other victims easier to disappear without notice suffice?
Because it's a sacrifice to something, not just a ritual engine. That something has particular tastes. Gods are picky.
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Old 03-28-2019, 07:46 PM   #59
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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Because it's a sacrifice to something, not just a ritual engine. That something has particular tastes. Gods are picky.
Indeed.

And I'm looking for as many suggestions for a being, entitiy or spirit that might want this sort of safrifice as I can find.

Spirits or loas from Afro-Caribbean religions will loom large as a possibility, not only because of the location, but also because in my campaign, supernatural beings and users of magic are very often involved in the criminal underworld.

Magic is secret and apparently only fairly recently started to work, with 19th century and older traditions, especially ones with rituals performed in languages other than those in common use in modern society, working better than anything else. Traditional magic-users from Afro-Caribbean religions are by far the most common users of supernatural power near the 'Bermuda triangle' (actually more like a lozenge) and in the 2010s, most organized crime has someone with unusual powers involved at the highest levels.

This means that whoever might ultimately be responsible for the Pleasure Island resort where MMA fighters fight each other to the death, the PCs are going to come across Dominican, Haitian, Jamaican and other Caribbean gangs and organized crime networks providing drugs and human trafficking to the resort, with bokors, houngans, brujos or similar figures in leadership roles.

Granted, this would be true for any major enterprise with illegal trade contacts in this part of the world, in my campaign, as most people who find that they suddenly have supernatural powers tend to use them for selfish reasons, ultimately ending up involved in criminal underworlds. And gangs and organized crime are milieus where people with supernatural powers beyond that of mere mortals can quickly rise to the top.

Chango is one loa or orisha who might favour warriors fighting each other to death. What are other possibilities, both Afro-Caribbean and from other mythologies?
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Old 03-28-2019, 10:26 PM   #60
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
If the deaths were a sacrifice, there needs to be an explanation for why it isn't performed in a more usual ritual, cultic, secretive fashion. Also, if it were just about youth, why wouldn't teenage runaways, child refugees and other victims easier to disappear without notice sufffice?

The PCs and the analysts, occultists, researchers and scholars who brief them will form their theories about whatever supernatural events are going on from the clues they have, which are whatever trends that their organization has spotted out of the ordinary.

First and foremost is the identity of the apparent victims; who seem to be chosen among strong, hardy males in the prime of life, with combat skills as high as anyone is likely to find in modern society. It's clear, at least, that someone is interested in people with good physical Attributes and high unarmed skills, but the PCs don't really know if other types of 'warriors' are also going missing.

MMA fighters and boxing contenders are by their nature better known than gang members or criminals who may be skilled in Brawling, Knife or Shortsword skills. It's theoretically possible that skilled machete fighters or literal sicarios have also gone missing, but because of the nature of their lifestyles, it's much less likely that it would register as unusual to any analyst looking for anomalous data points around the 'Bermudan Vile Vortex'.

So, it's likely that the theories that the PCs start out with are somewhat skewed, due to their data being incomplete. They don't actually know about everything that might be going on, they just know about the most obvious sign, i.e. victims that due to their potentially profitable skills were known to managers, trainers and fight organizers.
You are escorted through a hedge maze by two stern looking individuals. They are dressed in unusual livery, an amalgamation of styles and influences, almost robe like with Asian inspired embroidery and Celtic looking know work. Sashes hang about them with letters from a language you don't recognize.

They lead you down a set of stairs carved into the rock and you hear murmurs ahead of the others who arrived before you. The hall is low lit and rather bare, in stark contrast to you two escorts, somehow giving them the impression of being...bigger, or just 'more there', an eerie observation to say the least.

You are pulled from your musings of your escorts by the eruption of noise as they open a set of very ornate double doors in front of you. The room beyond is large and cavernous and at one time, natural. The walls still have the roughness of nature but the floor and some of the ceiling has been stripped away for modern amenities. The noise comes from almost hundred people talking among themselves in anticipation of tonight's festivities.

Along the walls are bleacher seating, many carved from the rock with several private booths spaced at equal intervals around the room. Across the room is a raised area where several individuals sit in similarly ornate but different livery to your escorts. The center of the room is an elevated platform, once white but now stained from many exhibitions. As honored guests tonight, you are shown to a booth near to the elevated platform, guaranteeing a good view.

Several minutes pass and the crown quiets as a quiet drum beat starts and slowly rises in both volume and tempo. A man in ornate robes and a mask comes out and begins a speech to the crown in a language you can't quite understand. After a few minutes he says a greeting in several languages you do recognize and finally settling into English.

" Ladies and Gentlemen! Society...a strange word that actually means Conformity. Conformity and imprisonment, imprisonment of our true selves, imprisonment for the coddling of those that do not have the will or audacity to embrace our true natures.

Tonight I give you freedom."

He turns and returns to the raised area to observer the platform. Performers enter the platform area, making undulating movements in colorful outfits, singing and chanting in a low, melodic drone. The air feels absolutely alive in anticipation, almost electric.

.........


Just a quick off the top of my head. The Ritual is being performed openly in front of everyone under the guise of entertainment. The participants are all willing members of the audience , feeding it with their greed, lust and bloodthirstiness. The fighters are also brought into the ring, willingly, and at the beginning of the fight a little "ceremonial" display or phrase (part of the ritual).

Under the ring is actually the center is a ritual circle, the rest of it extending out into the bleachers and private booths.

As for the entities just a couple come to mind: Mammon a demon associated with greed. Glasya-Labolas a demon associated with manslaughter and bloodshed and Asmodeus big bad demon most commonly associated with lust.

Another possibility could be (mentioning Asmodeus) could be no particularly named entities may be involved, just concepts. The seven deadly sins. All could be easily represented here. Wrath=the fighters and those reveling in the blood, Lust=those actively indulging in the prostitution, Envy=all of those that covet what those that are better have, Gluttony=drugs, food, everything offered just about, Pride=the winning fighter(s), Greed=all those gambling and the fighters as well, Sloth=the bloated rich heads of the organization and/or the local populace/police/politicians.

Anyway, I've put the wife asleep with all of my typing. Hope some of this helps.

Also, here is one resource I grabbed from my bookmarks A Compendium of Demons
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