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Old 03-29-2019, 09:10 AM   #61
Icelander
 
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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" 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."
That's perceptive, in that the common denominator of everything that happens on the island resort can be said to be a rejection of conventional morality, social pressure to conform and the strictures that society imposes.

The entity behind it might be someone or something who believes that by partaking in modern civilization, humans are denying their true natures, as hedonistic, violent beasts whose superior intelligence ought to be used to imagine more intense experiences, not to stifle every natural impulse for fear of what others might think.

Civilization is a prison we build for ourselves and we've grown to love its gilded cage so much that freedom terrifies us. We call it sinful, chaos, anarchy or evil. It's ironic, isn't it, that as fewer and fewer people believe in virtue or goodness, almost everyone believes in sin and evil. God is dead and we're still choking on His rotten corpse.

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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.
In the modern world, what cultures or subcultures actually believe in demons from medieval or Early Modern goetia?

I'm genuinely wondering. Despite frequent moral panics in the US since the 1960s, it seems actual Satanists are both rare and more likely to be harmless rebellious teens than any kind of adventure fodder. Not to mention that calling on actual supernatural forces in my campaign generally demands knowledge of languages and traditions that are older than a century, at least, with fluency in the languages and Cultural Familiarity being necessary.

Modern teens trying to use modern English or badly mangled Latin from an AP course to summon demons with incantations they can find in popular books are just going to get the same results as they do in our real world, i.e. people thinking they are lame drama queens.

Most of the actual supernatural power in the setting is with those who have studied some living tradition of magic where the ritual language is less well known than English and where there are still surviving 19th century or earlier incantations. Granted, there are a few who've learned from old grimoires, but given the PhD-levels of linguistic and historical knowledge required to effectively learn anything from such sources, there are more than an order of magnitude more users of supernatural powers who learned in a tradition like one of the Afro-Caribbean religions.

On the other hand, of course, there are always people who stumble across a spirit, ghost, lares or genius loci and either learn ritual magic from them or simply gain some form of power from a pact with them.

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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.
The campaign is agnostic in a religious sense. That is, while the supernatural has recently (since the 1980s, but not really very significantly until the 2000s and 2010s) started to emerge into our world, no evidence about specific religions is conclusive one way or another. Spirits and other supernatural entities often claim divine or demonic power, but just having supernatural powers doesn't make something a real god, angel or demon.

There are, as far as any occultists can tell, no true Holy or Unholy powers. There are certainly powers that believers can choose to view as miraculous, divine or infernal, but ultimately, that's down to faith, not evidence. No diviniation, scrying or thaumatological measuring can reveal a qualitative difference between the magical rituals of completely secular sorcerers and priests or others who believe they are channeling the power of a deity of any sort.

All of which is to say, even if whatever happened was somehow connected to the seven deadly sins, there would still need to be a being, entity or person of some sort behind it. Maybe a spirit that genuinely believes it is a god or demon, maybe a cult, maybe something else, but it will not be anything which objectively proves any form of Judeo-Christian cosmology (nor indeed that of any other religion) as true.

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Anyway, I've put the wife asleep with all of my typing. Hope some of this helps.
Yes, indeed. Thank you. Given how many possibilities the PCs should realistically be able to enumerate with their skills, I can use as much speculation as possible. The PCs should go in with a list of Occultism theories as long as an arm and a clear agenda of looking for clues that prove or disprove them.

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Also, here is one resource I grabbed from my bookmarks A Compendium of Demons
One PC is an anthropologist who, among other scholarly skills, has Expert Skill (Demonology) and has made a study of demonic entities in most major religions (as well as being exceptionally well-informed about medieval Christian demonology).

She alone should be good for scores of hypotheses.
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Old 03-29-2019, 09:56 AM   #62
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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All of which is to say, even if whatever happened was somehow connected to the seven deadly sins, there would still need to be a being, entity or person of some sort behind it. Maybe a spirit that genuinely believes it is a god or demon, maybe a cult, maybe something else, but it will not be anything which objectively proves any form of Judeo-Christian cosmology (nor indeed that of any other religion) as true.
If the PCs or whatever scholars they collaborate with are aware of this (to any degree) they should still consider the possibility of an entity with the ability to draw power from these emotions and acts.

Or there could be rituals that don't rely on supernatural entities to draw upon this type of power.

The next question for the PCs and their collaborators would then be "What rituals and actions did people use to counter these things in the past?" Followed by "What are the common factors for these rituals and actions in different cultures?"
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Old 03-29-2019, 10:10 AM   #63
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

Satanism is an oddity in the modern world. It seems to mostly be practiced by rather unsuccessful individuals who turn to it because they have nothing else. Of course, an argument could be made that Christian Satanism (demonic worship within the Christian framework) could be completely ineffective and that successful demon-worshipers work through more ancient and effective methods that are kept secret by the elite classes. In that case, anyone who is successful beyond a certain point most likely possesses a demonic patron, who uses them to further their long term goals. It would explain a lot of the nature of the world...
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Old 03-29-2019, 04:51 PM   #64
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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If the PCs or whatever scholars they collaborate with are aware of this (to any degree)
They are aware. Only a tiny minority in the world are aware that magic and the supernatural appears to have emerged (more likely re-emerged) into the world in the 1980s.

Among them are many sincere believers who practise ritual magic as part of the numerous modern religions which incorporate old rituals, spells and incantations in less well-known languages. They often consider any supernatural manifestations proof of their particular religion.

Anyone who studies thaumatology with a rational mindset, however, is forced to admit that nothing any occultist has discovered in the generation since then serves as conclusive evidence for or against any religion. While spirits or other entities often claim godhood or some association with the divine, having supernatural powers doesn't make someone automatically truthful.

Many spirits have been proven to lie and just as many even seem to deceive themselves, adopting personas and guises that fit with local beliefs, even to the point of losing earlier memories. Occultists are not even certain that spirits that appear to be ghosts of the departed actually represent some part of the dead that lives on or if these are merely incorporeal or dimensionally shifted lifeforms who take on superficial characteristics from the memories, prayers or preoccupations of the living. Spirits seem to hunger for attention from mortals and it may be that ghosts are merely one adaptation they can use to ensure it.

It's entirely possible to be a professional occultist and devoted Christian (or any other religion), but with full intellectual honesty, such a one must admit that thaumatology doesn't seem to hold the answers to questions of faith any more than science in the real world. So far, at least, even the most powerful magicians know just as much as the average person in the street about such weighty questions as the Prime Mover, the immortality of the soul, the afterlife or the existence of objective Good and Evil.

There are other worlds and other intelligent beings, but what that means for humans and this world is still unclear. Given that many of the occultists who'll be assisting the PCs are intellectually curious scholars, the search for answers to these mysteries has been on the forefront of their minds ever since they discovered the supernatural and the answers remain elusive.
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they should still consider the possibility of an entity with the ability to draw power from these emotions and acts.
Indeed so. This is how most spirits gain power, whether they call themselves angels, demons, gods, loas, orishas or something else.
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Or there could be rituals that don't rely on supernatural entities to draw upon this type of power.
Well, sure, but this would still require one or more mortals with supernatural abilities, as without Magery, no one is going to be using any kind of powerful Ritual Path Magic effects. In fact, with most of the world at Very Low Mana, performing any kind of noticable magical ritual requires either a lot of power, a lot of preparation or both.

Ley lines, Places of Power and the 'Vile Vortices' and places connected to them can have Low Mana and particularly powerful Places of Power within the Vile Vortices particularly Aspected ones, can rise to Normal Mana. That means that rituals that would simply not work anywhere else might be practical at a place located in the 'Bermuda Triangle' (more like a lozenge) with a strong association with a particular type of magic.
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The next question for the PCs and their collaborators would then be "What rituals and actions did people use to counter these things in the past?" Followed by "What are the common factors for these rituals and actions in different cultures?"
That's pretty much how the Thaumatology skill works, with other skills like Anthropology, History, Literature, Occultism, Research and Theology, as well as various specialities of Ritual Magic and Symbol Drawing, as supporting skills.

On the other hand, there may be countermeasures which differ significantly depending on what the nature of the entity behind this might be. Mortal spellcasters, no matter their power, will be vulnerable to anything that would kill a human. Fey creatures, however, might require iron to injure. Some spirits are repelled or countered with ash, salt or specific kinds of salt. There are also creatures that are vulnerable to gold, silver or rarer, alchemical materials.

By giving the PCs lots of possible culprits, they can't simply turn up with the right materials to defeat whatever is behind this. They have to gather more data and investigate in order to know what action, if any, is approrpiate.
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Old 03-29-2019, 10:44 PM   #65
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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Ley lines, Places of Power and the 'Vile Vortices' and places connected to them can have Low Mana and particularly powerful Places of Power within the Vile Vortices particularly Aspected ones, can rise to Normal Mana. That means that rituals that would simply not work anywhere else might be practical at a place located in the 'Bermuda Triangle' (more like a lozenge) with a strong association with a particular type of magic.
So you want the PCs to also consider the situation to be someone without an inherent supernatural connection trying to utilize the naturally occuring power in the region and potentially enhance it?
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Old 03-30-2019, 04:09 AM   #66
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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So you want the PCs to also consider the situation to be someone without an inherent supernatural connection trying to utilize the naturally occuring power in the region and potentially enhance it?
Well, not really.

The idea of someone without Magery performing any kind of rituals that matter is far-fetched enough so that none of the NPC analysts will even suggest it. When even highly intelligent casters with Magery struggle to reach effective skill 12 even in Places of Power, someone with an extra -5 for lack of Magery just isn't going to manage any rituals no matter where he is.

Remember, the world is on average -8 to -10 to spellcasting for Very Low Mana. A confluence of ley lines on a Place of Power inside a Vile Vortex might reach -3 to 0, which would make it one of the most magical places on Earth. Even in such a place, someone without Magery would be at effective skill 4 to 7 at the very best. That just isn't enough for a realistic chance at performing rituals.

People born without Magery can get supernatural abilities through pacts with spirits or other entities, by learning to use certain artifacts (including grimoires) or through other, more exotic methods. But no matter how ritual-friendly a certain location may be, they are not going to be casting spells that the PCs Patron worries about unless they have Magery by birth or through the agency of some supernatural device.
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Old 03-30-2019, 10:59 AM   #67
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

Stepping back a bit, the island could just be the home of a Mayombe Corruptor, or even Devourer (G:Voodoo, p. 102). It's nested in a lava bubble a few hundred yards below the surface, and it's feeding on the fear and pain and lust and cruelty.

Destroy the entity, and the island gets cleaned up. Fail to do so and focus only on the surface activities, and the problem just arises again in a few years.

Alternatively, if a particular god is needed, I'd go with the Aztec's Huitzilopochtli, as he was the one who benefited from the human sacrifices made at the end of the ōllamalitzli ballgames. In return for the sacrifices, he supposedly guaranteed health and fertility.

If you go that way, you can make the situation more complex. The island's farms consistently and reliably return greater yields than usual. Hurricanes always seem to barely miss, causing limited damage but ensuring the lakes and streams remain full. Pets and livestock are larger and healthier, and even the chickens produce bigger eggs.

The infant mortality rate is half that of the surrounding islands. The women and children have a deserved reputation for health and beauty. The men tend to be strong, handsome and less prone to the violence that permeates many poor nations -- which is why the resort has to pull in fighters from elsewhere.

Additionally, many of those who visit the resort regularly tend to be just a little bit luckier in their investments and business affairs.

So, the resort takes in the hopeless, violent and morally decadent from the surrounding areas and consumes them, in exchange for blessings.

That moral ambiguity might not suit your campaign, though, which seems a bit more oriented toward dark horror. But it's the way I'd play it. :)
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Old 03-30-2019, 08:11 PM   #68
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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Stepping back a bit, the island could just be the home of a Mayombe Corruptor, or even Devourer (G:Voodoo, p. 102). It's nested in a lava bubble a few hundred yards below the surface, and it's feeding on the fear and pain and lust and cruelty.

Destroy the entity, and the island gets cleaned up. Fail to do so and focus only on the surface activities, and the problem just arises again in a few years.

Alternatively, if a particular god is needed, I'd go with the Aztec's Huitzilopochtli, as he was the one who benefited from the human sacrifices made at the end of the ōllamalitzli ballgames. In return for the sacrifices, he supposedly guaranteed health and fertility.

If you go that way, you can make the situation more complex. The island's farms consistently and reliably return greater yields than usual. Hurricanes always seem to barely miss, causing limited damage but ensuring the lakes and streams remain full. Pets and livestock are larger and healthier, and even the chickens produce bigger eggs.

The infant mortality rate is half that of the surrounding islands. The women and children have a deserved reputation for health and beauty. The men tend to be strong, handsome and less prone to the violence that permeates many poor nations -- which is why the resort has to pull in fighters from elsewhere.

Additionally, many of those who visit the resort regularly tend to be just a little bit luckier in their investments and business affairs.

So, the resort takes in the hopeless, violent and morally decadent from the surrounding areas and consumes them, in exchange for blessings.

That moral ambiguity might not suit your campaign, though, which seems a bit more oriented toward dark horror. But it's the way I'd play it. :)
I think GURPS Voodoo deliberately avoided real folklore, but indigenous or Afro-Caribbean spirits that resemble those are absolutely possible.

I don't know enough about cultural influences in the Caribbean to have an idea how Aztec religious concepts would make it to the Antilles island chain or somewhere similar. Are there any Central American people there or have there been historically?

Granted, Mexican millionaires/billionaires with odd interests might buy a Caribbean island for the purposes of deliberately reawakening an ancient religion, just as British bankers or Russian oligarchs might. But I don't know enough about the direction of pre-Hispanic religious influences (or underground transmission of religious influences under the Spanish) in the Caribbean to know if religious figures from the continental Americas would be known at all on the islands.

Note that as far as moral ambiguity goes, the PCs all use magic and their Patron commands awesome forces with subtle manipulations of ley lines and Places of Power, even as they believe that any use of magic potentially moves the world closer to the apocalypse. They are very much fighting fire with fire.

And while all the PCs believe absolutely that J.R. Kessler is sincere about working to avoid the end of the world as they know it, some of them also suspect that Kessler doesn't have much respect for laws and traditional morality. After all, Kessler will apparently work with smugglers and probably drug cartels, and he might be willing to overlook mass murder and crimes against humanity. Historically, at least, Kessler has worked with quite a number of African warlords, the CIA, anti-Castro Cuban organizations, organized crime and most likely several more or less fascist Latin American regimes .
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Old 03-31-2019, 12:20 AM   #69
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

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I think GURPS Voodoo deliberately avoided real folklore, but indigenous or Afro-Caribbean spirits that resemble those are absolutely possible.

I don't know enough about cultural influences in the Caribbean to have an idea how Aztec religious concepts would make it to the Antilles island chain or somewhere similar. Are there any Central American people there or have there been historically?

Granted, Mexican millionaires/billionaires with odd interests might buy a Caribbean island for the purposes of deliberately reawakening an ancient religion, just as British bankers or Russian oligarchs might.

(SNIP)
As far as I know, the Aztecs were land-locked, and any coastal "shipping" in Pre-Columbian times consisted of dudes with rafts and dugout canoes.

Most of the indigenous people of the Caribbean died out, a long time ago. All that's left there are ideas (and faiths and gods) brought from somewhere else, really.

That would leave it wide open for GM's choice, I'd think, and if somebody got hold of an old altar used to make the sacrifices from some sub-sub basement underneath Mexico City, took it home, and started to use it in the Bermuda Lozenge?

Might get the attention of something -- maybe even an old god willing to cut the same deal with these new worshippers as it did with the Aztecs.
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Old 03-31-2019, 09:30 AM   #70
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Default Re: [MH] Underground Fights in a Tourist Resort in the Caribbean?

I have met Caribs, so they are not all gone, and their beliefs influenced the beliefs of the maroon communities how they traded and intermarried with. A lot of the folk beliefs of the Caribbean have Native American elements that are different than European or African folk beliefs (though similar to North American and South American folk beliefs because they formed from similar roots).
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