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Old 03-01-2020, 01:25 PM   #361
Icelander
 
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Default Driving Miss Piggy

If you were three hard-bitten 'Night Riders' (Monster Hunters) with a varied special operations, law enforcement and intelligence background, and you were forced to go on the run from an apocalyptic magic-using cult, with a McGuffin* with you, where would you go?

You'd be driving a 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood and while you have residency, Texas License To Carry firearms, Green Cards and all the right paperwork for employees of a US security company, at least two of your number are not US citizens (one Polish, one Guyanese). I haven't assigned the third 'Night Rider' and he might well be a native US citizen, but in that case, the odds are he'd be Texan or at least from somewhere within a short flight or moderate drive from Houston.

Let's assume no special connections to any part of the US outside the Greater Houston area in Texas, the place you are leaving. By which I mean, they could have visited any number of places, but we can't count on any of the three having lived anywhere else within the continental US.

You'll be travelling with concealed carry handguns** and tactical kits in the trunk, but if any cultists catch up with you, your plan is to call in assistance as soon as you become aware of surveillance and have your allies set up an ambush. The situation will determine whether those allies are federal law enforcement or if you'll prefer to call in a covert team of vigilante 'Night Riders'.

In any case, you're supposed to keep moving and make it hard to find you, even if somebody is using divination magic to narrow down your location. That being said, you also want to be able to spot anyone suspicious around you, so maybe avoid any place where the crowds are so thick that nobody and nothing stands out. Also, you know, you've got a pig in a wig. You'll try to keep 'her' out of sight in the car, but that's a lot easier on a country road than in a crowded city.

Let's start with a plan that has you on the road for 14-20 days, ending up in Las Vegas in time for the SHOT Show in 2019.

*A 115 lbs. young sow with a wig, wearing female clothes and a diaper, as well as imbued with the magical aura of a sorceress the cult greatly desires.
**Your LTC cards are respected in 36 US states, among them the vast majority of those within reasonable driving distance.
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Old 03-01-2020, 03:00 PM   #362
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Default Re: [MH] Caribbean by Night

They could go to Springfield. That should give a penalty to divination, well a bonus to the Springfield part. https://matadornetwork.com/read/road...field-america/
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Old 03-01-2020, 03:51 PM   #363
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Default Driving Miss Piggy... to Springfield?

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They could go to Springfield. That should give a penalty to divination, well a bonus to the Springfield part. https://matadornetwork.com/read/road...field-america/
Quite clever!

Ok, parts of the USA they will on no account agree to cross or enter include: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington (state) and Washington D.C.

They are all states or territories where a Texas License To Carry (LTC) will not be honored and they could thus not legally carry firearms. Even if they plan to summon help in the event that cultists find them, they are aware that help might take some time to reach them. It should be rapid enough to preclude any organized attack preceded by proper surveillance and intelligance gathering, but impetuous cultists might attack before back-up gets there. Which means our three doughty drivers of Miss Piggy are under no circumstances giving up their guns.

Carrying illegally is theoretically possible, but should be avoided if at all possible. US law enforcement are dangerous enemies, as these three 'Night Riders' well understand.

That being said, I can see plenty of Springfields outside of the forbidden zones. I guess to some extent it depends on what a Polack and a Guyanese in their mid- to late 50s want to see in the US over the course of an extended drive. If either one is a Simpsons fan, this might appeal to them. The third operator will be younger and less senior, so his preferences are not as important.
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Old 03-01-2020, 07:44 PM   #364
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Default Re: Driving Miss Piggy

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
A 115 lbs. young sow with a wig, wearing female clothes and a diaper, as well as imbued with the magical aura of a sorceress the cult greatly desires.
Alright, I've got to know who came up with the pig-in-a-wig scheme (in character and out of character). I'm assuming it's "Gwen Delvano" they are concealing with this trick?

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If either one is a Simpsons fan, this might appeal to them.
Sadly, they'll be disappointed - the Springfield in The Simpsons is based on Springfield, Illinois, which they want to avoid at all costs. In addition to not recognizing their LTC, that Springfield is something of a decaying city (particularly compared to its heyday), which would probably make the Path of Loss cultists be able to track them more effectively while they are present.


I can't really say where they'd want to go. They've got a variety of conflicting issues to deal with. Going to a large city makes it easier for them to avoid pursuit (due to divination penalties, and I'd assume their knowledge of offensive and defensive driving, seeing as they were the chosen drivers), but might interfere with the magical disguise on Miss Piggy and means normal people are more likely to notice and think "Why the [expletive] do those men have a pig in a wig?" That's not something easily explained away. Going somewhere rural leaves them more exposed, but also gives them better sight lines and is less likely to cause magical interference with the disguise or cause someone to notice them.
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Old 03-01-2020, 11:53 PM   #365
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Default Re: Driving Miss Piggy

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Sadly, they'll be disappointed - the Springfield in The Simpsons is based on Springfield, Illinois, which they want to avoid at all costs. In addition to not recognizing their LTC, that Springfield is something of a decaying city (particularly compared to its heyday), which would probably make the Path of Loss cultists be able to track them more effectively while they are present.
I thought that the plan was that they wanted the cultists to track them, and follow them into an ambush. They are a cross between a red herring and bait.

Ideally they would like to be somewhere where they are trackable, such as on the old Route 66, but with quick access to an ambush site that is highly hostile to the occult.
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Old 03-02-2020, 01:04 AM   #366
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Default Re: Driving Miss Piggy

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Alright, I've got to know who came up with the pig-in-a-wig scheme (in character and out of character). I'm assuming it's "Gwen Delvano" they are concealing with this trick?
Miss Piggy is indeed supposed to substitute for 'Gwen Delvano' / The Girl with the Kaleidoscope Eyes / Gisella Esther Cortèz Rojas in a magical sense.

It's hard to say whom to credit.

Teddy Smith's player is the one who wanted to conceal Ms. Cortèz's magical aura from divination. I asked him if he wanted to try to scrub all residue from her or if he wanted to move it to something or someone else.

Much discussion of the ethics and practicality of substituting someone else as a ringer followed. The idea of having the ringer be someone with tactical training was discussed, but ultimately rejected, due to the risk of some kind of remote curse.

It was Lacoste's player, I think, who first mentioned a pig. Although, in all fairness, the idea immediately spawned so much raucuous agreement between the two players present that I can't be certain which one of them suggested it and which one backed it instantly.

Both players were firm in their opposition to relatively more mundane substitutions, such as using a live chicken (available on the Penemue already, easier in all ways to handle). It was assumed from the start that the ringer would need to be tattooed to match Ms. Cortèz's older body art, as well as the new ink supposed to conceal her from the cultists. But while Ms. Cortèz would get a broken compass without a needle in a field of poppies, where the shoulder meets the neck, concealed by her hair, the pig would get a functioning compass in a field of forget-me-nots.

In any case, the players absolutely rejected the possibility of tattooing any kind of avian. I was not aware, but apparently there exists a powerful taboo against doing this among all reasonable men and the mere suggestion that they might consider a chicken was regarded as not only out-of-the-question, but also obscene.

Dressing the pig in Ms. Cortèz's clothes (well, specifically, in the clothes Deputy US Marshal Natalie Garza lent her to leave the hospital under the protection of the Marshals Service) was a natural touch, assumed by all as a basic feature of sympathetic magic. A wig also seemed nothing but natural, considering the circumstances, with locks of Ms. Cortèz's hair woven into it for more mystical correspondance.

As for the final touches, i.e. deciding to dispatch 'Night Riders' with the pig in a wig on a drive across America, well, that came from the aimated discussion that ensued. They couldn't keep the ringer pig on the Penemue or they'd introduce exactly the problem that the magical concealment was intended to prevent, i.e. the potential for a terrorist bombing or the magical equivalent.

Granted, making the ringer very easy to find and locating it where all the 'Night Riders' and/or police in the world could ambush any cultists who came calling appealed to the players, so much so that they briefly considered taking custody of Miss Piggy themselves. Waiting in ambush seemed a nobler pursuit, more suitable for PCs, than just waiting around protecting a girl who was really not supposed to be found.

There was some mention that any self-respecting noir detective didn't really go out and find nefarious evildoers by following clues and he certainly did not build a case using forensic accounting, analysis of shipping records, painstaking interviews of hundreds of persons of interests and the other exertions of a 200+ joint task force of federal, state and local law enforcement officers.

All a hardboiled detective needed to do was get it across to the enemy that he was firmly on their trail and then wait for them to send goons to beat him up. At which point he'd disarm the goons expertly and beat out of them the names of anyone responsible. The suggestion was that mutatis mutandis, Lacoste and Smith could imitate the illimitable noir detective in this situation.*

Ultimately, however, the fact that Lacoste could actually contribute quite a lot to a real investigation and manhunt was viewed as significant. Whether the cultists would try again in the next few days was unpredictable, whereas the awful power of investigative technique was inexorable, especially with all the resources of Galveston County, the great state of Texas and the federal government behind the investigation. Whether the cultists tried anything or not, any of them who didn't immediately scatter could be found and arrested eventually, more reliably than in any one ambush, which might not cast the net wide enough.

Influencing the PCs' decision was Teddy Smith's excellent roleplaying, as he utterly refused to contemplate leaving the side of Ms. Cortèz and (in character at least) did not countenance any course of action that might risk the poor, innocent, guileless and defenceless girl. As, indeed, she is, at least at the moment, being Easy to Read, Gullible and whatever other Disadvantages represent having lost most seriously negative memories and retaining only the equivalent of the memories of an incredibly sheltered, happy and trusting teenager.

A bonus is that she didn't think to question that a dangerous cult of magic-users was after her and was easily convinced to subject to ritual tattooing if Teddy thought it quite necessary. Although she did tear up and require him to hold her tight to comfort her pretty much constantly upon discovering that bad people wanted to hurt her, that possiility not having been something her retained memories prepared her for.

*An amusing diversion ensued when Lacoste's player wondered what the technical term was for a plan which involved getting yourself captured in order for the villain to expound to you his wicked schemes. I supplied that it must be well-known in espionage circles as the 'James Bond Gambit'.
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Old 03-02-2020, 03:21 AM   #367
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Default Re: Driving Miss Piggy

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Sadly, they'll be disappointed - the Springfield in The Simpsons is based on Springfield, Illinois, which they want to avoid at all costs.
In all seriousness, I haven't rolled for the chance of Tomasz Mateusz Wojciechowski (b. September 12, 1960; Krakow, Poland) or Zamal Juman (b. February 19, 1963; Georgetown, Guyana) being Simpsons fans, as I don't know how much the show penetrated the cultural consciousness in Poland or Guyana. I'm assuming that it was available in both places, as it certainly was popular in Iceland in the 1990s (and we're hardly more significant worldwide than these markets), but in Poland, at least, it might have been translated and localized (Guyana is English-speaking).

Of course, by the time The Simpsons first appeared, Wojciechowski was a hardened commando in the 1 Samodzielny Batalion Szturmowy of the Polish military (and only one year away from becoming one of the founding members of GROM) and Juman had finished his military service and was a hard-charging member of the Guyana Police Force Tactical Services Unit (TSU).

Both were theoretically still able to have favorite shows on TV, of course, but the animation age ghetto was in full force at the time and neither was anywhere close to the usual age of those who watched cartoons in the 80s. As for picking it up later, that seems possible, but not necessarily probable. What has been established of their characters so far would indicate that Wojciechowski is more likely to watch cartoons, as he has an already-established strong interest in at least one 'nerdy' popular culture phenomenon (more obscure in 2018 than now). Juman has no established traits one way or another that would make him more or less likely to be a Simpsons fan.

I'm ignoring the 28-34 year-old recently-separated-from-active-duty Navy SEAL that will be assigned to their escapade, because that character has not yet been developed. I'm thinking someone who joined the Navy on a DEP out of college (which he didn't finish, for reasons to be determined), spent less than ten years in, and is now attending the University of Texas - Austin while waiting to be assigned to a security job for Sentinel Risk Management Inc. (controlled by Kessler, used as cover for many US-based 'Night Riders'). Being born 1984-1990 probably gives him excellent odds of being a Simpsons fan, but being so junior means that his opinion counts for little among the older two men.

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
In addition to not recognizing their LTC, that Springfield is something of a decaying city (particularly compared to its heyday), which would probably make the Path of Loss cultists be able to track them more effectively while they are present.
Well, theoretically. In practice, anyone who'd use the Path of Nonexistence for ongoing magical tracking is not only an unhinged lunatic, but an unhinged lunatic who will soon render themselves a vegetable or worse through critical failures during a ritual.

I'm assuming that the more sane cultists would prefer magical traditions they had learned in their lives before the cult for something like that. At least, those who had access to any other magical tradition probably would.

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
I can't really say where they'd want to go. They've got a variety of conflicting issues to deal with. Going to a large city makes it easier for them to avoid pursuit (due to divination penalties, and I'd assume their knowledge of offensive and defensive driving, seeing as they were the chosen drivers), but might interfere with the magical disguise on Miss Piggy and means normal people are more likely to notice and think "Why the [expletive] do those men have a pig in a wig?" That's not something easily explained away. Going somewhere rural leaves them more exposed, but also gives them better sight lines and is less likely to cause magical interference with the disguise or cause someone to notice them.
Both Wojciechowski and Juman have defensive and tactical driving training, as well as fairly extensive experience, but that wasn't why they were chosen.* They were chosen because they were available (not entirely insignificant, with half of the 'Night Riders' stuck because of legal complications), but also because they are experienced, cool-headed, cunning and extremely good** at intelligence work, counter-surveillance and covert operations. As they say, old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill every time.

As for explaining away the pig in a wig, well, that might be quite a feat of Fast-Talk...

The PCs haven't made any proviso for magically concealing Miss Piggy from attention, but I'm assuming that by the time they turn over the pig, in the wig, to the 'Driving Miss Piggy' team, they'll have made some sort of charm that at least reduces the odds that anyone will make an issue of the fact that three men will indisputably have a pig, in a wig, in the back of their Caddy. They'll still want to stick to the sort of places where they can stay on the road where tinted windows will conceal 'her' and not have to spend too much time in bumper-to-bumper traffic where people might look into the Cadillac.

*If that was the criterion, some younger guys with stuntman-like reflexes and racing hobbies would have been selected.
**Wojciechowski is a bona fide genius who has elected to apply his prodigious intellect to the art of killing people and breaking things. Juman is bright enough, but absolutely incredibly talented at reading the streets, detecting surveillance, blending in and all the other things required for covert work in built-up areas (as well as being a scary interrogator and counter-intelligence operative in general). Neither of them is going to win any athletic competitions against Olympic athletes, but they are both salty enough so that they won't panic, even when that would be a perfectly ordinary response, and can act with resourcefulness, resolution and decisiveness when when ambushed in the course of an ordinary day.


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I thought that the plan was that they wanted the cultists to track them, and follow them into an ambush. They are a cross between a red herring and bait.

Ideally they would like to be somewhere where they are trackable, such as on the old Route 66, but with quick access to an ambush site that is highly hostile to the occult.
They are much more a red herring than they are bait. Basically, the PCs considered using a bait, but ultimately decided that they didn't want to encourage a situation where the cultists could strike at anyone, even at prepared guards in ambush, with dangerous magic that could curse or kill remotely.

The constant motion is meant to address the fact that Ritual Path Magic, especially in a world of mostly Very Low Mana with some scattered Places of Power or areas of higher Mana, makes it a lot easier to use magic to get a vague idea where someone is, or know where they are know when it will take you at least an hour (or much more) to get there, than it does to have the magic function as GPS tracking.

From the PCs' personal experience, a charm that points toward a tracked person or object is very useful for finding that person or object, but rarely precise enough to dispense entirely with needing to use at least some mundane intelligence gathering and physical surveillance. Especially if the target is mobile, as in that case, it's not enough to just have a fairly precise idea on where they were when you carried out a ritual at midnight in a significant Place of Power, you also need to know where they are six hours later, when you catch up with them.

The 'Driving Miss Piggy' team has a plan for what to do if the cultists catch up with them and actually manage to get into a position for a strike of some kind. That doesn't mean that they'd prefer that outcome to the alternative. Ideally, the PCs would like the cultists to waste a lot of time, effort and magical energy on trying to find a pig in a wig moving across America, never getting closer than narrowing down a town after the Cadillac has driven through, while the vast resources of the special law enforcement joint task force assembled for the purpose hunt down any and all members of the cult still in the US.
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Old 03-02-2020, 03:06 PM   #368
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Default Re: Driving Miss Piggy

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. . . three men will indisputably have a pig, in a wig, in the back of their Caddy.
After some thought, I reckon this is the most entertainingly ludicrous situation I've encountered in forty years of role-playing. Congratulations!
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Old 03-03-2020, 03:09 AM   #369
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After some thought, I reckon this is the most entertainingly ludicrous situation I've encountered in forty years of role-playing. Congratulations!
It is very gratifying to learn that you are amused.

I certainly can't take any credit. I merely provide the situation, with any pigs and potential attendant wigs being emergent properties caused by player interaction with the world.

For me, the humour here works because while OOC, the players were laughing, they were laughing at the fact that IC, this plan was the best plan they could see. There is no intent to clown around and the ludicruous elements arise naturally from cold-eyed tactical analysis, thaumatological tradecraft and the Laws of Magic.

In fact, the more we treat the task of Wojciechowski and Juman with absolute and utter professionalism, planning their route, equipment loadout, emergency protocols and cover stories, the funnier their adventure becomes. Bugs Bunny traveling with a pig is mundane, whereas George Smiley (by John le Carré) or John Clark (by Tom Clancy) doing the same is hilarious.
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Old 03-04-2020, 02:32 AM   #370
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Default Driving Miss Piggy as a Short Story

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Tomasz Wojciechowski was a child prodigy (of almost everything, but perhaps most notably chess) who dropped out of med school just before graduation due to student unrest in his native Poland. He has since spent most of his life as an unconventional, but exceptionally effective, special operator.

Zamal Juman was part of a paramilitary police death squad in a very ugly undeclared war in Guyana and has spent the past twelve years in an intelligence billet in Kessler's 'Night Riders'. He may not have the phenomenal fitness of the younger operators, but ever since he was young, he's lived in a greyscale world of danger, counter-surveillance, murder and betrayal.

Whoever is picked to supplement them will be, at minimum, a Navy SEAL or other similar special operator who is unusual even among his peers in terms of willpower and mental toughness.

When you consider that the 'Driving Miss Piggy' team has a mandate to call in a strike team (federal LEOs or 'Night Riders' depending on situation) to ambush their pursuers if they detect cultists, I'm not sure that anyone who finds them will have much of a chance to rue the fact that their target is more porcine than prophetic.


If there is even one Kermit among Kessler's part-time 'Night Riders', I'm sure Wojciechowski will ask for him by name. I'm not sure, however, that it is particularly likely. I guess someone could be named after President Roosevelt's son.



The funny/tragic thing about it is that this job is assigned to NPCs. The PCs have better things to do than piggysit the ringer.

This scenario is part of my ongoing occult mystery / paranormal technothriller / Monster Hunter campaign, Caribbean by Night. In fact, I've just posted in the campaign thread asking for input on where the three NPCs should drive Miss Piggy.

I'd love suggestions from as many people as possible.

Lucien Lacoste's player asked me if I could write a short story about the adventures of the 'Driving Miss Piggy' team...
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For what it’s worth, I second this request.
Now, I'm not saying that I will, because while I'm a lot healthier than I was, I still have too high blood pressure to be allowed ADD medication*, but I'm not ruling anything out, either. I have little experience with proper creative writing, as opposed to GM-prep, but assuming I can maintain a pace similar to my paid work as a lawyer, I might be able to turn out a short story in a day or two.**

Assuming that I try, the Navy SEAL character is the closest thing to an audience surrogate. This is somewhat at odds for the in-setting requirement that he be someone exceptional (if only for reasons of mental fortitude) even within the highly trained ranks of special operators, but someone might happen to be highly capable at the art of killing people and breaking things while still being mostly a normal person.

The character would have had a supernatural experience during his military service, probably in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and while his superiors did not believe his account and he subsequently retired from the military, someone from Kessler's organization (likely one of the former Navy SEALs) heard about his situation, arranged a meet and eventually recruited him for the 'Night Riders' (after he passed a series of non-obvious tests of character, willpower and trustworthiness, with judgment aided by supernatural means).

I was thinking that he might not have been assigned to an operational team of the 'Night Riders' yet because he wanted to go to college, which Kessler would unreservedly encourage and pay him for being available part-time during his education. Which would be why he was not already doing something important, but was available to respond to an 'all hands' notice sent out a couple of days before this from the Penemue.

Of course, whoever recruited him would have suggested areas of study, universities where they could help him arrange compatible schedules and expertise particularly valuable in understanding the occult, but pretty much any education would be highly regarded. In-setting, dealing with the supernatural is a job for people with the equivalent of multiple advanced degrees in obscure or recondite subjects, whether those are from universities or the school of hard knocks.

Demographically, I'm thinking someone who joined the Navy with some college under their belt already (because I already have too many who joined right out of high school), but either did not finish their degree or found out after finishing it that it wasn't what they wanted to do with their lives. They don't have to be Texan or even Southern, but that is the way to bet with Kessler's people.***

The first thing that came to mind for the most likely kind of character to be available and not already assigned to other duties was someone who attends university and/or has family within a fairly easy traveling distance from Galveston. Not necessarily same day travel, although that would be good, but at least fairly reasonable driving distance or a cheap flight.

That would meant they were spending the holidays somewhere within a distance that made it reasonable that they'd either respond to an optional request for anyone able to work the 27th of December 2018 until past the New Year's or they'd be in a position to respond really quickly once the 'all hands on deck' call stopped being optional, in the early hours of the 30th of December 2018.

While it's not a complete deal-breaker, I think someone based in Houston or anywhere within an hour of Galveston would already have been assigned a job doing something else. So I'm looking for a happy medium of distance, i.e. someone close enough to be there when this job is handed out, but not so close as to have been there the night before and already have another task. Someone at University of Texas - Austin would be typical, for example. Other options include Texas A&M, Sam Houston State, Lamar University, SMU, LSU or similar locations within a 2-5 hour drive.

Of course, our hero being a quick flight away is far from impossible, if it would yield a more relatable and equally plausible character. That would open up a wide range of Southern universities, and even, gasp, some Yankee institutions! I'd really prefer a location in the South****, however, but I'd accept residence in a college town that was very diverse and had students from all over.

Also, what would forumites consider relatable motivations for vigilante monster hunting in a secret occult conspiracy? In terms of motivational lenses, GURPS Disadvantages or just mundane articulation of why someone would do this, what would people consider the most normal kind of recruit?

As for a name, I'm assuming that 'Chris' and 'Bobby' are both orders of magnitude more common in East Texas than 'Kit', but is 'Kit' actively foreign or strange-sounding as a nickname for someone named Christopher Robert as first and middle names in modern Texas?

Can I get any suggestions on what kind of hero, background or other details people would want in such a short story?

Short introductory blurb of the Driving Miss Piggy chronicle is up.

*Without which I can't really commit to focusing on anything beyond whatever random period of time my momentary enthusiasms might last.
**Or a couple of years, in case my enthusiasms will only support a few minutes at a time. I'm not promising anything, as the only things I'm able to force myself to deliver are legal briefs and trial speeches in cases where someone else's future is literally at stake.
***They are more likely to be entirely foreign, e.g. African or South American, than they are to be 'Damnyankees'.
****Prejudice aside, it's easier to be able to report to work part-time in locations such as the Houston area; New Orleans vicinity; Jackson, MS; Mobile, AL; Florida somewhere; or any of dozens of Caribbean locations; if you live in a more southerly location. Each hour of travel further north someone lives or studies adds an hour to their commute when they do report for some 'Night Rider' escapade to supplement one of the existing teams.
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