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Old 01-09-2019, 12:31 PM   #61
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Default Re: A Couple of More Typical Write-ups; On Board over Christmas Break

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I'm not sure you could call Gulf waters "brisk" even in December. According to this website it's around 59F/15C.
Water below ca 70° F is generally defined as 'cold' by dermatologists, for the purposes of what counts as a 'cold shower', though some prefer a slightly lower number around 60° F. Anything below 50° F is distinct from the debatable cut-off point for 'cold' water and may be defined as 'very cold'. While there are exceptions, water that cold is generally not used for baths, showers or swimming, but used to prevent swelling by athletes, for example.

'Brisk' is a non-medical term for the upper bounds of temperature for 'cold' water, not cold enough to be painful, but noticeably colder than water in heated swimming pool and baths. You'll notice a definite briskness when jumping into 60° F water, though you'll get used to it as you exercise.

It certainly woke Bo up, even after his extremely limited rest and, frankly, rather too much beer the night before, as well as mixing it with wine later on. And shots, bourbon and all too many drinks that came in strange colours.
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:03 PM   #62
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Default Roll of Honour

It's been established in play that mercenaries fighting for Kessler first engaged something paranormal in combat in the year 1986. At that point, they were acting as bodyguards for Kessler in Mali, not actually serving as 'Monster Hunters', but we'll start our history there.

Kessler spent the next several years setting up a team of mercenaries he knew and scholars he recruited to investigate reports of the paranormal. The mercenaries and security personnel were most necessary when the scholars investigated something in the Vile Vortices.
  • The first death of someone who went out as a Monster Hunter occurred in 1994, on Haiti. Two Hunters who were there also retired in the aftermath.
  • In 1995, a very large field team of scholars and their security personnel was lost in the Bermuda Triangle. Sixteen people went out and did not come back.* It took a very long time for Kessler and his people to recover from that disaster and there were few expeditions for years after it.
  • A hunter was killed in Gyuana in 1999 and another died on the US Virgin Islands in the same year.
  • In 2002, two hunters died and three were injured enough to retire, on a mission in Puerto Rico.
  • 2004 saw a lot of injuries and trauma among hunters, though no one died in the field. Four hunters who were injured or burned out in 2004 retired from active duty, two of them hunters who had been arrested in Cuba and severely beaten in prison there.
  • Three hunters were killed and five wounded badly enough to retire from active duty in the year 2005, in several separate incidents, in the Caribbean, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
  • In 2006, a hunter died in Jamaica. One of his team retired after the mission.
  • Two hunters died in Galveston in 2008. Also in 2008, over twenty people who were contractors, consultants and informants for Kessler died or disappeared in Honduras and Nicaragua. Hunters who investigated found evidence that some had been killed by magic and others by various supernatural creatures. A four man team of hunters disappeared in the jungles of Nicaragua over New Year's 2008-2009, presumed slain by the 'snake-like vampires' they were hunting.
  • A team of four hunters disappeared without trace in Haiti during the earthquake of 2010. Two others, among those sent in to look for them, later retired.
  • A hunter died in the Florida Everglades in 2011.
  • Another hunter was murdered the year 2013 in Freeport, Grand Bahama, in what appears to have been a random shooting.
  • In 2014, a hunter team on St. Kitts and Nevis suffered two deaths and four severe injuries, with two of the four later retiring.
  • In Belize, in 2017, a well-to-do Canadian woman who apparently retired before she was fifty and her 36-year-old, 6'6", USMC veteran boyfriend were killed in Belize. With them was a former sheriff's deputy from Georgia and a 'few other friends', not named. I can't help but feel that this sounds like they were either Monster Hunters or at the very least occult informants and investigative contractors, complete with security, investigating something in Belize.
  • Hurricane Maria hit Domincia in 2017 and during the storm, three senior hunters were killed, including the team leader of the Penemue team. Three others retired, with one of them being institutionalized at Rebecca Sealy Hospital, where he remains.

Questions?

Comments?

Suggestions for names on the Roll of Honour?

Or tales on how these hunters met their deaths?

Aside from the hunters who've met their deaths in teams, going against preternatural threats prepared and aware, many, many more of the consultants and informants Kessler employs have also died. I imagine that some of these are honoured in the same manner as hunters, but for others, secrecy over their connection to Kessler continues after their death.

*Actually, in 2018, it seems that four of them have come back after all. One is catatonic, one is a raving lunatic who shouts and screams in a gibberish language and one has serious psychological issues, including paranoid delusions. The fourth is Edward Alvin Smith (PC), who seems mostly functional.
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:14 PM   #63
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Default Do the Monter Hunters Need a Name?

Kessler hasn't formally named his organisation, as the people who are ultimately funded by him actually work for many different companies and PSCs.

Should the hunters have named their organisation something unofficial?

If so, does anyone have suggestions?
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:29 PM   #64
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Default Re: Do the Monter Hunters Need a Name?

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Kessler hasn't formally named his organisation, as the people who are ultimately funded by him actually work for many different companies and PSCs.

Should the hunters have named their organisation something unofficial?

If so, does anyone have suggestions?
Almost certainly, though it might just be something like "the group." I think they wouldn't go for The Company or "this thing of ours", though.

How tight knit is this organization? Do members think of themselves as part of the monster hunters first, and their nominal employer second, or vice versa? (If it's the second, I suggest "Other Duties", as very often employment contracts in the US will include a breakdown of expected workload (e.g. 20% customer service, 10% inventory maintenance...) and a small portion of that workload will be "Other duties as required".
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:54 PM   #65
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Default Re: Do the Monter Hunters Need a Name?

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Almost certainly, though it might just be something like "the group." I think they wouldn't go for The Company or "this thing of ours", though.

How tight knit is this organization? Do members think of themselves as part of the monster hunters first, and their nominal employer second, or vice versa? (If it's the second, I suggest "Other Duties", as very often employment contracts in the US will include a breakdown of expected workload (e.g. 20% customer service, 10% inventory maintenance...) and a small portion of that workload will be "Other duties as required".
Well, Kessler employs a lot of people, but only about forty of them are part of Penemue's crew, with maybe another 20-30 who'd rate as crew on vacation, other assignments or otherwise engaged. I expect that there are some hundred people who've been Penemue crew before, but aren't now, mostly people who've married and had a family, which makes living on a yacht impractical, but also those who have retired due to age or health concerns. Maybe a third of those might only be partly retired, if pressed.

These people, however, are mostly actual crew, not professional monster hunters. They include security personnel, who carry guns and defend the yacht, and support staff, some of whom have military bakgrounds and perform essentially the same support functions now, but most of them would never gear up and head off the yacht to hunt down something horrible.

The ones who do number between eight to sixteen full time hunters, with about the same number of part-time hunters, either contractors or or people who are only able to to live on Penemue part of the year. There might be around 20-30 retired hunters who might retain some operational capabilities in an emergency. Added to those would be subject matter experts, various scholars, academics, investigators or other experts who actually go into the field. These potentially number a lot of people, but only a few of them are likely to be regular parts of a team.

I'm still wondering whether I should include 2-4 smaller teams that are not based on the Penemue. Probably so. This would double the numbers for the hunters, making them number somewhere between 16 to 32. Call it one eight man team on the Penemue, three four men teams with other responsibilities. Total of 20 full-time hunters, 20 part-time, a last-ditch reserve of 20-30 retirees and then a rotating pool of subject matter experts.

Kessler also employs some full-time analysts, but these don't go into the field. They staff one of several secret libraries slash data centers he keeps, with anyone with magical talent kept far away from computers or hard drives. Other functionally full-time support personnel not on the Penemue include medical staff at UTMB, mental health specialists there and elsewhere, scientists and academics.

The majority of his intelligence, at least that which isn't open source, comes from a network of consultants, stringers and paid informants. These include police officers, bureaucrats, reporters, bail bondsmen, private investigators, criminals, EMT workers, clergy, academics, conspiracy theorists and members of the 'occult underground'. No one really knows how many there are, as Kessler knows a lot of people and has extended tendrils of influence into a vast number places around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
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Old 01-09-2019, 03:04 PM   #66
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Default Re: Do the Monter Hunters Need a Name?

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Kessler also employs analysts, but these don't go into the field. They staff one of several secret libraries slash data centers he keeps, with anyone with magical talent kept far away from computers or hard drives. Other support personnel not on the Penemue include medical staff at UTMB, mental health specialists there and elsewhere, scientists and academics.
One thing he might have which you haven't mentioned are field observation teams. Even with Kessler's vast resources, he probably can't be everywhere. So I suspect he'd keep a set of small (1-3 people) teams that are familiar with certain areas and are set up to keep an ear to the ground. In MH terms, they'd be Sidekicks, maybe. They'd be more than informants, but definitely not equipped to take on a Vile Vortex by themselves. Very likely, they have day jobs that help them stay in touch with the region they monitor - cop, journalist, PI, religious leader, etc. - but their first loyalty is to Kessler's monster hunting teams. They'd have handlers among Kessler's analysts who interpret the data they send back and who tell them what else to look for. And very often, the disappearance of such a team is going to be the signal that something is seriously wrong in an area. Thus, they might informally call themselves the Tripwires... These folks should definitely be aware of the nature of the supernatural threat but be unable to fight it directly.
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Old 01-09-2019, 03:15 PM   #67
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Default Re: Do the Monter Hunters Need a Name?

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One thing he might have which you haven't mentioned are field observation teams. Even with Kessler's vast resources, he probably can't be everywhere. So I suspect he'd keep a set of small (1-3 people) teams that are familiar with certain areas and are set up to keep an ear to the ground. In MH terms, they'd be Sidekicks, maybe. They'd be more than informants, but definitely not equipped to take on a Vile Vortex by themselves. Very likely, they have day jobs that help them stay in touch with the region they monitor - cop, journalist, PI, religious leader, etc. - but their first loyalty is to Kessler's monster hunting teams. They'd have handlers among Kessler's analysts who interpret the data they send back and who tell them what else to look for. And very often, the disappearance of such a team is going to be the signal that something is seriously wrong in an area. Thus, they might informally call themselves the Tripwires... These folks should definitely be aware of the nature of the supernatural threat but be unable to fight it directly.
Yes, this would describe a lot of his consultants and contractor personnel. Granted, some of his information-gathering employees would make use of agents of their own, who wouldn't even know by whom they were ultimately paid, but many of the academics, in particular, are long-time recipients of grants and scholarships Kessler uses to encourage research in appropriate fields. And as the academics cannot do their jobs without information, they'll know about the supernatural.

And yes, Kessler tries to have local 'factors' in every likely hot spot, often arranging for them to have a decent day job there if they aren't already employed in some useful post. Texas sheriffs, St. Lucia police chiefs, Jamaican military officers, Port-au-Prince crime bosses, Cayman bankers, etc.

For that matter, Kessler owns, through intermediaries, at least two PSCs, Sentinel Risk Managment Inc. (registered in Texas) and ISHIM Ltd. (registered in St. Lucia). Both companies employ numerous personnel who work full-time for Kessler, but are simply fairly competent former police or military, not former SEALs or the like.

He also owns IYR Inc., which employs yacht crew, hospitality professionals, cleaning crews, mechanics, helicopter pilots, engineers and all sorts of other personnel that provide logistics and support. There are also many other, as yet unnamed, businesses which Kessler owns in part or whole and can provide support, even if the employees do not know why they are moving crates, ships or people from A to B.

The full-time Monster Hunters are mostly paid through a complex structure of interlacing empoyment contracts, where they are formally employed part-time by IYR Inc. as well as one or more PSC. They might also receive consulting fees from other Kessler companies and a variety of incentives, stock options and other renumeration other than monthly salary. There is defininately an option to structure this compensation in a way that minimises tax burdens, for example by paying the vast majority of it through offshore companies.

Those who qualify as Reserve Deputy Sheriffs in Jefferson County are also paid a comparatively miniscule rate for the roughly 25-30 days a year they spend working as law enforcement officers, but it's not like they are doing that for money, it is obviously done for the benefits of having badge and official status. Kessler suggests that anyone who has the appropriate background do this, but doesn't insist on it. Those who agree to be Reserve Deputies do not suffer for it financially, however, as they are clearly more useful employees within the US.

The two PCs who formally belong to the Monster Hunting team on Penemue both chose to pay the lowest taxes they could. As a result, they now have dual citizenship (well, Edward Alvin Smith now has triple citizenship, having previously been a citizen of France), being citizens in good standing of the small Caribbean nation of St. Lucia, where both of them now own real estate. This allows them to pay tax in the US of what salaries they declare there, but not declare the vast majority of their assets and income in the US, instead paying the lower St. Lucian tax rates. This is legal by St. Lucian and international law, illegal by US law, but practically unenforcable if they have good lawyers, accountants and bankers. As as result of their Patron, they have the best.

Lucien Lacoste is a fairly recent recruit and only rates Wealthy. Edwin Alvin Smith started working for Kessler in 1986, but disappeared in 1995. He only returned a short while ago, some six months. He had not been declared dead and Kessler had kept up ptoperty taxes on his bungalow as well as paying his salary into his mutual funds. A lot of his assets were in long term investments, however. This is modeled with Very Wealthy and a note that the player plans to upgrade to Filthy Rich in play, in narrative terms, when the legal tangles and accounting stuff has been taken care of.

As for the status of the 'Monster Hunters' as a close-knit group separate from other employees, that's absolutely the case. Belonging to the eight man team aboard Penemue removes you from the chain-of-command of the on board security team and affords you privileges like living in a stateroom (shared, but still), as opposed to crew quarters. It also means at least double the salary and, for valuable veterans, remuneration that can make them really rich, as in clearing north of $300,000 per year after all taxes and receiving stock options and all sorts of bonuses as well, which translate into an ever growing fund.

The Monster Hunters are, in terms of social status and salary, closer to officers on board the yacht than they are crew. They're paid somewhere in the neighborhood of what the doctor on board or the First Mate are receiving and the long-service Monster Hunters might approach the Chief Engineer. Granted, the Captain is without a doubt the most respected and highest paid man on board, but Captain Gus Starr is effectively the CO of the Monster Hunters as well as the officer commanding the Penemue.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:48 AM   #68
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Default Name for the Monster Hunters

Even if Kessler hasn't named his network of monster hunters and the network of companies and contractors that support them, it's not unlikely that the hunters themselves would eventually settle on a semi-official moniker. I'm wondering what the active hunters on the away team on Penemue, as well as the other three teams, refer to themselves as, in a collective sense.

To be sure, there is something to be said for calling the Monster Hunters... 'Monster Hunters'. They hunt monsters. It's what they do.

Granted, that has been done, notably in 'Monster Hunters International', but unlike more exotic terms, 'Monster Hunters' is such a descriptive term for what monster hunters do that no fictional work can really establish ownership, even just in moral terms.

Other options include:

Stewards. Despite the potential for confusion, the connotations of responsible management and caretaking are very much what I want to convey. The men who go into the Vile Vortex and prevent Things from Beyond from sundering the veil between worlds, they are clearly Stewards, of the Caribbean, of the Gulf Coast and the entire US, of Humanity and the world.

Wardens. For much the same reasons, as well as the connection with Fish and Game Wardens. They're Creepy Critter Wardens and they're there to ensure that everyone bags the limit. A negative factor is that the Dresden Files feature paramilitary wizards with an analogous task that were called the Wardens, which makes it unfortunately unoriginal.

Roughnecks. From the beginning, Kessler has employed people he knows and their families, friends and trusted comrades. At the start, that meant basically two things. Former French Foreign Legion (and/or mercenaries with African experience) and Texans. And to Texans, working for Kessler and carrying a gun has many similarities with working oil rigs and the same sort of man might be drawn to the work.

Filibusters. Probably too obscure, but private warriors working for an anti-authoritarian Southern gentleman with limited respect for legality and engaging in adventurous violent endeavors abroad in defiance of official US policy?

Wild Bunch. Because fictional characters also consume media and are aware of tropes.

Legion of the Lost. Kessler wouldn't sing the Whiffenpoof song, but he was a Legionnaire, as were many of the mercenaries he had a working relationship with when he started this. Maybe even have the real Old Guard refer to it with the French version, 'Légion des perdus'. After all, Kipling could be a sentimental favorite with pretty much anyone, right?

Cohort of the Damned. Alternative to above, same original source (Kipling's 'Gentleman-Rankers').

Les Boudins. If we really want to lean into the origins, though I'm skeptical that influence from the older mercenaries and former Legionnaires would be enough to retain a name that only makes sense to French-speakers and only resonates with former Legionnaires, at least once US citizens start making up the majority of the teams.

Chasseurs de monstres. Or just Chasseurs, as it's a lot more plausibld retaining a one-word name in a foreign language than a clumsier title, especially if all conversation is in English. And as every character created so who speaks French also having good English, but some of the Anglophones being monolingual, it's probably going to be the case that English is the language everyone speaks together.*

Opinions?

Preferences?

Other suggestions?

*Granted, all PCs speak French, though in one case it's a bastard Cajun dialect almost unintelligible to any civilized Frenchman and in another, it's decent academic Metropolitan French combined with the ability to read a variety of historical French (or Proto-French) primary sources, but the fluency wouldn't be much good, as she's not actually used it much outside of a library.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:13 PM   #69
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Default Re: [MH] Caribbean by Night

Having a more generic name allows references to the group in situations that may raise more issues than not. Particularly with any paper work on weapons, cars, etc. Given the various connections to PMCs, Stewards or Wardens should be a good fit. Official they are company MPs making sure the other groups the over all company controls are well behaved. Having a real group labeled Wardens would increase that cover, while they are a subgroup directly working with their boss, and referred to as Stewards works very well.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:15 PM   #70
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Default Re: [MH] Caribbean by Night

Personally, I'd call them the Cleaners. Might be a bit too spy movie-like, though.
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