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Old 02-21-2020, 07:25 PM   #341
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Default I ____ing Hate ____ing Nazis!

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Regardless of what is the tactically best option, this is something that Must Be Done, particularly if you foresee the PC’s getting involved in the fight. Bonus points if the inhabiting spirits think they are the ghosts of WWII-era SS or similar.
There were indeed Nazi Lowriders and lo, their bodies did indeed move awkwardly and strangely, while bullets did not seem to affect them, because they didn't bleed much and didn't seem to care about their organs.

Oh, and a Greater Sense Spirit with a duration, designed to tell Lacoste about the souls of the four dead bodies outside the UTMB - TDCJH, indicated that four Nazi spirits had been destroyed there.

Lacoste's Player: "You mean, like white supremacist Neo-Nazi skinheads?"
GM: "Nope. Bona fide. In the way that there is no good faith at all."
Lacoste's Player: "Well, [excrement]. We've been over this. I ____ing Hate ____ing Nazis!"

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Also, the political fallout would be darkly humorous to watch, with much of the right regarding it as violence from “illegal immigrants” (the pishtaco) much of the left regarding it as violence from “Trump supporters” (the Nazis), and everyone extremely confused as to why the two groups were working together.
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Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
The veil-out and general confusion might result in many people rejecting the dissonant truth that they were, and firmly concluding that they were fighting each other.
Technically, no one actually saw the Nazi Lowriders and the odd-looking, ragged Latin fellows wearing raggedy long coats and hats together. Of course, the fact that one group was shooting up Correctional Officers outside the hospital at the same time that the others were suddenly inside it, cutting people up, means that only an idiot would deny a connection. Plenty of idiots in the world, though.
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Old 02-21-2020, 09:16 PM   #342
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Default Re: I ____ing Hate ____ing Nazis!

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Plenty of idiots in the world, though.
Besides which, the obvious truth knows well by now that it has to change in time for the morning editions.
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Old 02-21-2020, 09:53 PM   #343
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Default Re: I ____ing Hate ____ing Nazis!

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Besides which, the obvious truth knows well by now that it has to change in time for the morning editions.
Joking aside, no Texas law enforcement officer is going to be surprised at Nazi Lowriders working with people of Hispanic origins.

From the start, NLR have been allied with La Eme inside the prison system where both groups originate, the main suppliers for NLR drug retail business are Mexican cartels, evidence suggests that NLR carries out acts of intimidation and violence on behalf of their cartel paymasters, NLR allows Hispanic members and a majority of NLR senior leadership was Hispanic a few years back (prison gang leadership is fluid enough so that I don't have any current data, but I have no reason to expect a fundamental change).

Racial identity and relations inside the US prison system can be surprising. 'White supremacist prison gang' really means 'hate their traditional enemies in black prison gangs' in practical terms inside typical US prisons. And depending on time period, geography, specific prison and the wide variation in ethnic and political identity among Hispanics, the relations between white supremacist gangs and Hispanic prison gangs vary a lot.

For the longest time, however, the white and Hispanic gangs were more or less always allied against the black gangs, and while the monolithic blocs have fragmented a bit, that's still the way to bet.

Most white supremacist prison gangs will feature Swastika-tattooed, hard-core racists who nevertheless quite unironically have Hispanic friends and mostly embrace the same fashion and values as their friends from south of the border.
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Old 02-22-2020, 06:29 AM   #344
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Default Sweet Child of Mine

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Originally Posted by dcarson View Post
I can think of two possibilities.

The PCs can restore her memories either from the ones they have from being in her mind that they can't consciously access using Path of Mind or use Path of Crossroads to get them from before she lost them since time is a Crossroads thing.

Both have lots of prep required like knowing yourself to access the memories or tracing her old life to find a suitable spot and props for the ritual.
Both are also extremely difficult, in the setting. Well, the Time Travel one much more so than the Path of Mind one. That one might be the best bet for the PCs, assuming they want Gisella Esther Cortéz Rojas (the apparent real name of 'Gwen Delvano') to recover her memories of being a cold-eyed sorceress of an apocalyptic cult.

She seems quite sweet as an amnesiac. Childlike, innocent, trusting. And it's not as if people with powerful natural gifts for Magery, as she seems to have, are common enough to want to waste the talents of any of them. Especially those rare talents who actually manage to study magic without developing crippling mental problems.

Which, mind you, she might have had before her memory loss, but for now, her mind is mint condition. And while she doesn't seem to have a lot of conscious memories, she's not entirely a blank slate. She still speaks Spanish with a Chilean accent, a good vocabulary and correct grammar. She didn't know what year it was, but was aware it should be 2010-something. And when asked a question out of the blue about the relative merits of H.P. Lovecraft and George MacDonald Fraser, she immediately launched into an astonished monologue about how impossible it was to compare two such utterly dissimilar authors.

If she can perform Connoisseur (Literature) skill checks without knowing exactly how she learned it, it's not impossible she could perform Thaumatology or even Path skill checks to perform rituals. Certainly, she should pick up magical instruction faster than someone who had never been an accomplished ritual magician.

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Might it be possible for the cult to steal her memories, sealing them away in something until the time is right to restore her? I’m thinking a Charm that throws her memories Elsewhere, and a ritual - probably Path of Crossroads + Path of Mind - from Indianola to reach out to Elsewhere to snatch them up and seal them away before Something can devour them.
It's possible, but it wouldn't be cast using the Path of Nonexistence (Loss) tradition the the cultists all share and thus couldn't use as much of their stored energy or accumulated bonuses from various sources.

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Ms Delvano might feel a “pull” toward where her memories are stored, guiding the PCs to the cult, provided they can get her away from police custody. They’ll have to maintain the fiction she is a victim - perhaps get Raul to claim there were comments by the hit men implying they wanted to murder Ms Delvano rather than rescue her (the fact she caught a bullet in all the confusion will help here) - so she doesn’t spend the rest of her life behind bars, then make the case she’d be safest aboard the Penemue. That’s a bit of a tall order, but potentially doable.
This dominated the players' planning at the end of the session. The various state and federal law enforcement agencies involved with the new task force are going to regard 'Gwen Delvano' as the link between all the incidents, somehow, and be incredibly unwilling to allow her to escape their custody.

Local police would need to charge her with something on Monday the 31st of December if they don't want to release her, (and while she had used a false name, there is no evidence of fraud) but the FBI could hold her under various terrorism statues if this last outrage is enough to get these incidents legally classifed as acts of terror. Even if this remains'just' an organized crime, human trafficking and mass murder investigation, ICE could hold her as an undocumented immigrant, given that she has no valid ID and there is no evidence that she is a US citizen.

In practical terms, the law enforcement task force will mobilize all the legal authority and influence of the federal government to ensure that Ms. 'Delvano' / Gisella Cortéz (the PCs might not share her real name with feds) is moved to an undisclosed, secure location with massive amounts of security.

There have now been two attempts to rescue, kill or kidnap her by parties unknown, with cops or correctional officers killed each time, and the last attempt was made on a hospital that is part of the prison system, has 200 correctional officers as guards and had about a dozen cops present as well. And the attackers still got to her room, through six locked doors, three security posts with manned posts and lockdown coverage and past literally dozens of people on duty.

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As for what is erased, again I suggest Hollywood amnesia - Ms Delvano has the same personality, mannerisms, etc as before, and the same skills, but has no conscious memory prior to waking up in the hospital. She may be able to recall snippets of her past, but it should be a confusing, chaotic jumble. Maintaining her old personality and the like can be explained by her still having a link to all her memories, but not having full conscious access due to them being Sealed Evil in a Can.
Well, she's definitely got full-blown Hollywood Amnesia, but not because her memories are sealed off, but gone.

Specifically, her memories of the Keepers of the Last Hearth are gone. Due to some as yet unrevealed facts about her past, this caused her to forget her own name and quite a lot of her life, as the destruction of memories was not particularly precisely targeted and she was raised by a mother deeply involved in the cult. But given time, she might reconstruct some things about her personal life, at least those aspects unrelated to the cult.

One apparent side effect is that pretty much every negative memory in Gisella's life has been thoroughly destroyed. She has jumbled memories of reading, school, friends and all sorts of unrelated facts which she can't yet associate with any logical progression of time, but the only memories left undestroyed are those where her mother is not concerned in any way. That means mostly memories of reading fantasy stories, playing with childhood friends, falling in love (but not the messy reality of love affairs as her domineering, insane mother prevented her from forming any real attachments) and any of the other stolen hours of a child trying to escape a fate she doesn't want.

So, Gisella seems to lack any self-consciousness, calculated deceit or jaded defence mechanisms. All the jumbled memories that remain to shape her personality are simple, happy and mostly dating back to her childhood and teen years. So she's basically an unbeliably naive, sheltered and happy teen in personality, but with quite a lot of knowledge of language, literature, movies and other escapism hobbies. And somehow, her jumbled memories didn't affect her intelligence, making her a lot smarter than most teens, albeit much less cynical.
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Old 02-22-2020, 07:02 AM   #345
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Default Re: Some Thoughts on Tonight's Session

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Instead of the PCs, two NPCs named Enoch Young and Wyatt Jackson saved the day, stopping the pishtaco from reaching 'Gwen Delvano', armed only with pistols taken from the bodies of correctional officers. Their reward was being arrested for impersonating police officers, as they had somehow given the impression that they were detectives from the Galveston County Sheriff's Office, in the process of infiltrating the University of Texas Medical Branch - Texas Department of Criminal Justice Hospital.
I assume these were some of Kessler's Night Riders? Depending on how it gets spun, they may be able to get away with no or minimal consequences, seeing as they risked their lives to save the others in the hospital. That's likely to count for something (particularly in the media).

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Despite their heroics, the last pishtaco to die managed to break an ivory statue of a skeletal ouroboros that was carried inside a bottle of water, while his companion broke two crystal figurines of ravens. Enough mystical energy was released to short out every single electrical device in the room.
Very nice symbolism, but I'm curious as to what exactly was done here. I'd assume the skeletal ouroboros helped aspect the area to Path of Loss, while the ravens were for wiping her memory (and was it two because they used two charms in case the first failed, or two so the one representing Mugin wiped her memory while the one representing Hugin addled her mind?), but that seems to fly in the face of the rule against magic enhancing magic...

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
PC heroics in this session were confined to policing crime scenes, talking with investigators and playing different law enforcement agencies against one another. Oh, and Lucien Lacoste attended an autopsy where he performed a necromantic ritual.
Anything interesting pop up?

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Teddy Smith is odd-looking, somewhat creepy and socially awkward. However, he has now twice carried distressed young females away from danger and in both cases, they've fallen head over heels for him. In the first session, because of a 6-6-6 on a random Reaction Roll, in this session because Teddy Smith used Diplomacy to calm Ms. 'Delvona' when she awoke and to convince her that she was in no danger, she could trust him and he would take care of her, before he had to carry her out of the crime scene (which was still dark, covered in broken glass and full of dead bodies). And rolled a critical success, which we interpreted, obviously, as the innocent-as-a-newborn-babe amnesiac imprinting like a baby duck on the first person to show her kindness and affection.
Outstanding, glad to see such a tropey result (seriously, "amnesiac villain falls in love with a hero" plots are pretty much the bulk of "amnesiac villain" plots) occurring more-or-less naturally in play.

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Joking aside, no Texas law enforcement officer is going to be surprised at Nazi Lowriders working with people of Hispanic origins.
I did not expect that (I assumed they were making an exception in exchange for untold power), and I'd imagine a good many people - particularly some of the more reactionary in the media - won't either, so there is going to be some degree of confusion about this case, particularly for those who try to put the perpetrators in an easily-defined camp other than "criminal." Again, I suspect it would be darkly entertaining to watch how this plays out in the media (although the death of four correctional officers certainly reduces the entertainment value).

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Which, mind you, she might have had before her memory loss, but for now, her mind is mint condition.
(...)
One apparent side effect is that pretty much every negative memory in Gisella's life has been thoroughly destroyed.
Wait, the Path of Loss actually improved someone's life? Did the PC's fail after all, and the apocalypse is imminent?

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It's possible, but it wouldn't be cast using the Path of Nonexistence (Loss) tradition the the cultists all share and thus couldn't use as much of their stored energy or accumulated bonuses from various sources.
Unfortunate, particularly as it means the cult will have to try to convince her she used to work with them (and probably without a handy Total Recall-style video recording), rather than her suddenly regaining her memories and having to make a Very Important Choice. On the bright side, it means so long as the PC's treat her decently (and from what I can tell, they'll be rather inclined to do exactly that), she's very unlikely to turn on them.

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
So, Gisella seems to lack any self-consciousness, calculated deceit or jaded defence mechanisms. All the jumbled memories that remain to shape her personality are simple, happy and mostly dating back to her childhood and teen years. So she's basically an unbeliably naive, sheltered and happy teen in personality, but with quite a lot of knowledge of language, literature, movies and other escapism hobbies. And somehow, her jumbled memories didn't affect her intelligence, making her a lot smarter than most teens, albeit much less cynical.
With this in mind, the PC's are likely going to want to be more-or-less upfront with her if they want her to tag along as an ally, but will probably want to couch things under the assumption she was being controlled by the cult (which, to be fair, may well be the case - not magically controlled, but controlled nonetheless in more mundane ways). She has the intelligence and skills to potentially uncover the truth, particularly from the clues she'll pick up going with the PC's to monster hunt in the Caribbean (assuming they can convince the authorities that she a) isn't useful in their investigation and b) will be safer and happier protected aboard the Penemue than with whatever they have in mind), and she may well feel betrayed - betrayed for the first time in her memory, which will hit her even harder - if she discovers the PC's have been lying to her. That's a quick way to turn her against the party. Of course, there's also the risk she'll try to get them to restore her memory once she is informed of (a sanitized version of) the truth.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:18 AM   #346
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Default Re: Some Thoughts on Tonight's Session

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I assume these were some of Kessler's Night Riders? Depending on how it gets spun, they may be able to get away with no or minimal consequences, seeing as they risked their lives to save the others in the hospital. That's likely to count for something (particularly in the media).
Wyatt Jackson is a Good Ole Boy in his thirties who lives on a houseboat on Alabama's Gulf Coast. He's available part-time as a 'Night Rider' to supplement teams that need help, but isn't assigned to a team full-time yet, because he still has a service commitment to the 20th Special Forces Group of the National Guard and for the last few years, has alternated training courses, drills and the occasional deployment with life as an idle beach bum. His laid-back, detached, carefree demeanor might be concealing some pretty bad mental scars from unspecified events in his life that renders him unable to live a more conventional life.

Enoch Young is in his mid-40s, a former rodeo rider and roughneck who spent six years in prison for manslaughter (conviction was vaccated later after legal assistance financed by Kessler and he's not legally a felon). One of very few 'Night Riders' who did not have previous experience in elite military or at least police units before being trained by Kessler's men, Young was a full-time 'Night Rider' of the elite Penemue team until September 19, 2017.

Since then, Young has spent over a year in hospitals and physical therapy, after having broken entirely too many bones in his body in whatever mysterious incident saw almost the entire Penemue team killed, crippled or at least sidelined with physical or psychological trauma. Young recovered much more fully than any doctor expected a year ago, but he's still not back to his pre-injury best. Nevertheless, Young insists that he is coming back to active 'Night Rider' status and is merely on extended sick leave. So far, Kessler has agreed and is paying him a full salary through one of his energy companies, as well as all medical expenses.

What will help Jackson and Young is that Sheriff Trochesset will confirm that they are working with GCSO and the correctional officers and orderlies must have misunderstood them when they assumed that they were detectives.

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Very nice symbolism, but I'm curious as to what exactly was done here. I'd assume the skeletal ouroboros helped aspect the area to Path of Loss, while the ravens were for wiping her memory (and was it two because they used two charms in case the first failed, or two so the one representing Mugin wiped her memory while the one representing Hugin addled her mind?), but that seems to fly in the face of the rule against magic enhancing magic...
The skeletal ouroboros transported in metaphysical 'waters of Lethe' (made from the tears of hopeless heroin addicts who've lost all connection with their former lives) was the Charm containing the spell. The figurines of Huginn and Muninn were Charms for Path of Mind forgetfulness rituals used in this case as very expensive traditional trappings that also happened to have a symbolic connection to Gisella's strongest attachment to the Keepers of the Last Hearth.*

*Sister María Teresa was aware that Gisella was deeply in love with her mentor within the cult, a man who somewhat resembles Ian McShane and that Gisella had always thought of as an Odin-like figure. A few months ago, Gisella idly mentioned to Dulcita, Sister María Teresa's young protegé, how much her mentor resembled Mr. Wednesday from American Gods.


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Anything interesting pop up?
Lacoste determined that when the physical body of a pishtaco dies, the supernatural symbiont that makes it into a magical creature capable of metaphysically feeding on human fat dies with it. This means that the symbiont is not a spirit, which could possess another body after physical destruction, but rather either a magical mutation of the person made into a pishtaco or a creature from Elsewhere bound to them.

This is vital information to enter into the 'Monster Manual' which the PCs and their allies keep. It also reassured the PCs that the threat had truly passed, as they could then account for the remains of all supernatural creatures that Jimmy McBride and his retired and part-time 'Night Riders' had reported.

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Outstanding, glad to see such a tropey result (seriously, "amnesiac villain falls in love with a hero" plots are pretty much the bulk of "amnesiac villain" plots) occurring more-or-less naturally in play.
There is an even more trope-y twist. The girl from the first session seemed to have magical talent as well and the PCs arranged to have Dr. Lapointe make discreet inquiries about her at her school, with a view to perhaps recruiting her as a student of the occult.

So the two girls who have crushes on Teddy Smith (who is 61, but looks 'only' about forty) are possibly going to be taught magic together aboard the Penemue, if Kessler and the PCs can somehow contrive to (legally) free Gisella Cortéz in a few weeks.

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Wait, the Path of Loss actually improved someone's life? Did the PC's fail after all, and the apocalypse is imminent?
It's a worrying development, to be sure.

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Unfortunate, particularly as it means the cult will have to try to convince her she used to work with them (and probably without a handy Total Recall-style video recording), rather than her suddenly regaining her memories and having to make a Very Important Choice. On the bright side, it means so long as the PC's treat her decently (and from what I can tell, they'll be rather inclined to do exactly that), she's very unlikely to turn on them.

With this in mind, the PC's are likely going to want to be more-or-less upfront with her if they want her to tag along as an ally, but will probably want to couch things under the assumption she was being controlled by the cult (which, to be fair, may well be the case - not magically controlled, but controlled nonetheless in more mundane ways).
Exactly right.

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She has the intelligence and skills to potentially uncover the truth, particularly from the clues she'll pick up going with the PC's to monster hunt in the Caribbean (assuming they can convince the authorities that she a) isn't useful in their investigation and b) will be safer and happier protected aboard the Penemue than with whatever they have in mind), and she may well feel betrayed - betrayed for the first time in her memory, which will hit her even harder - if she discovers the PC's have been lying to her. That's a quick way to turn her against the party. Of course, there's also the risk she'll try to get them to restore her memory once she is informed of (a sanitized version of) the truth.
Good points.
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Old 02-23-2020, 05:19 PM   #347
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Default Nazi Lowrider

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I did not expect that (I assumed they were making an exception in exchange for untold power), and I'd imagine a good many people - particularly some of the more reactionary in the media - won't either, so there is going to be some degree of confusion about this case, particularly for those who try to put the perpetrators in an easily-defined camp other than "criminal." Again, I suspect it would be darkly entertaining to watch how this plays out in the media (although the death of four correctional officers certainly reduces the entertainment value).
When I did some quick due diligence on recent underworld trends in Texas and California, I was surprised to note how much ground the Aryan Brotherhood has lost and how many former fringe white supremacist gangs have become widespread. Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (no relation), Aryan Nations, Public Enemy No. 1 (PENI), various Peckerwoods gangs and the marvellously monikered Nazi Lowriders.

One of the alternative terms for the NLR is even 'Locos'; that's how strong the Hispanic affiliation is among them.

The four Nazi Lowriders who died outside UTMB-TDCJH actually don't have any real connections with the Consortium or the Keepers of the Last Hearth. They belong to a Texas gang with NLR affiliations and were simply contacted by a fellow NLR member from California and offered a job ferrying some cars and passengers from one place in Texas to another. Not even technically illegal. And they balked at the idea they should drive the pishtaco to Galveston, not wanting to risk being arrested.

So they were killed and their bodies animated under the control of simple-minded spirits. Their bodies were moved, awkwardly, by the spirits, and didn't actually require organs, nerves, circulation or muscles, so when they were drawn into a firefight with police and correctional officers, they took scores, even hundreds of bullets before their ruined skeletons could not longer support their weight.

So when you think about it, and say it with me; the Nazis were not the villains here!

Not often when you get the chance to say that.

However, in a sense, there were Nazi villains. Minor ones, it is true, but the simple-minded, obedient spirits obtained through a mystical connection with the Lords of the Last Waste were, in fact, Nazis. A result which greatly surprised Lacoste, when his Greater Sense Spirit divination yielded that fact about the four destroyed spirits in the aftermath.
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Old 02-23-2020, 06:41 PM   #348
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So when you think about it, and say it with me; the Nazis were not the villains here!
Then they ought to be more careful about the company they keep.
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Old 02-24-2020, 03:14 AM   #349
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Then they ought to be more careful about the company they keep.
If that refers to the cultists, rest assured that these four Nazi Lowriders immediately wanted to get away from their passengers, once they met them for the first time. Ultimately, they stayed because they were Intimidated into doing the job they had agreed to do.*

If the company they keep refers to their fellow gang members and gang affiliates from another state, fair enough, but note that the Nazi Lowriders are a prison gang that has branched out into being a street gang, now present in multiple states. Most members join in prison and while some are no doubt ecstatic to discovery an outlet for previously held racist beliefs, the average recruit is looking for solidarity, belonging and protection from being attacked, raped and/or murdered.** It's no accidents that the prison gangs that grow the fastest are those within the most violent prisons and generally where there are strong racial or ethnic gangs already present, which prey on unattached prisoners.

Granted, only a minority of prison recruits continue active association with the gang after serving their time. It's not a tiny minority, though, and as far as I can determine, racist ideology or a desire to carry out criminal acts are not the only reasons for such continued assciation. Gratitude, having made real friends, a sense of belonging and acceptance and the lack of any other emotional support network are also cited as common factors for continued gang association.

Note that this means that joining a white supramacist gang is something many people with no strong previously held views on race find themselves doing. If they continue their association with the gang after prison, they almost certainly hold racialist views by then. Not only because the assumed values of our peers weigh much more heavily than ethical consideration in forming our value system***, but also because most of the American prisons where gangs begin and breed are violent, stressful places of constant low-grade warfare for the respect or fear-based submission of others. And these prisons are places where 'team-affiliation' is determined for the inmates by the colour of their skins, regardless of their own views. That sort of atmosphere is fertile breeding ground for ethnic hatred.

If you mean that the four Nazi Lowriders should have been more careful about the company they kept in their youth, I suppose that's true. Getting in trouble with the law is often due to falling in with bad company. One stole a car with his friends and ended up crashing it, causing several injuries among them, which saw him sent up for grand theft auto and felony assault. Two were imprisoned for drug offences, where being friends with people who did drugs was certainly a contributing factor.

The fourth, Anthony Robinson, was convicted for the possession of child pornography and statutory rape. After a no-knock warrant was served at his and his parents' home as part of a larger investigation, no drugs, weapons or other evidence of illegal activity was found, and it looked like law enforcement would have to admit to a mistake (no one at that house had anytbing to do with criminal activity) and even pay out a large settlement for the damages, his injuries and the violation of his privacy. Until an innovative prosecutor discovered they could use pictures on his phone that his 16-year-old high school girlfriend had sent him, as he was 17 and they could be seen engaging in sexual activity in the pictures.

The District Attorney was coming up for election and admitting error would have risked losing. So Robinson was tried as an adult, convicted of statutory rape and possession of child pornography and registered as a sex offender. After three months of beatings, rape and cruel mistreatment as a 'pedophile' in prison, he sought protection from the only guy interested in letting him explain what his conviction was actually for. A shot-caller for the Nazi Lowriders who had a thing for vulnerable young boys.

Life as the kept boy of an important gang member was somewhat more tolerable than being anyone's meat and eventually, Tony found a measure of acceptance in affiliation with the gang. After a couple of years, he was made a full member, with the support of his 'boyfriend', who by this time had been transferred to a different prison. As a Nazi Lowrider, he got extensive tattoos to make himself seem scarier, tried to keep a low profile and mostly succeded in staying out of trouble.

When Tony was released on parole after doing three and a half years of a five year sentence, he tried getting a job and starting a new life. That's hard for a felon, harder for a registered sex offender and probably a lot harder if he's got visible white supremacist tattoos in prison ink. So he tried to live off his mother and father, who had little enough to spare after being bankrupted by his legal expenses. Finally, the boy resorted to reconnecting with some of the friendlier members of the Nazi Lowriders he knew in prison. Tony wouldn't do anything violent or that might send him back to prison, but was available for favors and various odd jobs. Like ferrying a car from one part of Texas to another.

*A basic ethical principle and/or a commonly assumed value of nearly any subculture, of having already agreed to something and backing out would thus be dishonest, might have applied for some of them. A promise of higher pay for ferrying a car with passengers, one day of not-obviously-illegal work, might also have helped, but the pishtaco preferred to use Intimidation rather than try to negotiate.
**Few prisons are bad enough for the chances of a severe physical assault to approach 100% and joining a gang is certainly not the only possible survival mechanism, but for the purposes of motivation, it only matters how much new, unaffiliated prisoners fear beatings, rape and murder. Not entirely unreasonably, that tends to be a lot.
***Though, obviously, they do.
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Old 02-25-2020, 03:16 PM   #350
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Default Power-Ups for PCs

There have been 21 sessions of Caribbean by Night and in that time the PCs have accomplished a number of things. I would probably call it three or four separate adventures, though with how things are connected, a case might be made for one adventure broken up into distinct chapters. Or one could argue that I've presented only one initial scenario and that PC choices and traits have provided all the needed drama and adventure.

In any case, a lot of opportunities for earning story-award character points, bonuses for extra involvement in the world and the like, as well as the per session awards (which tend to range between 3-5 for me, only going below that for lack of engagement or roleplaying contrary to established characterization).

With the result that most PCs now have lots and lots of points. Some players have made some minor expenditures, but most of them have saved up their points until there was a long enough break in the constant action to provide a plausible period of learning new things.

All the PCs are likely to continue the formal study of Thaumatology and ritual magic under Dr. Lapointe, the Penemue's libriarian. Well, except 'Nonc' Morel, who is probably a lot more powerful as a magician than Dr. Lapointe, for all that he calls himself a 'druid'. Every other PC has gifts for some area of supernatural where they are awesomely powerful, but they don't necessarily have an extensive background in comparative ritual traditions.

In addition, Alice Talbot and Teddy Smith tend to cast their spells (or invoke forces) in different traditions than Dr. Lapointe's preferred syncretic Western Hermetic ritual magic. For cooperative rituals, they need to learn enough to understand the basics for their fellow ritual magicians, and, in fact, it might be good for them to add Hermetic magic to their arsenal. For instance, Teddy's Nommo-based alchemical elixirs have unpredictable effects on people with baseline human physiology and he needs to make his curative elixirs from Grimoires of Earthly alchemy if he wants to avoid that.

Some of the players have fairly mundane plans for how to spend many of their points. Teddy Smith started play with Very Wealthy and a note to the effect that when he could afford the points, he was going to upgrade to Filthy Rich, represented in setting terms by the legal tangles of his long absence being settled and Smith being able to access the long-term investments made in his name while he was gone.

No doubt the player will want a level of Independent Income to go with the Filthy Rich trait, representing maturing stock options in various energy companies that Teddy acquired in the early 90s, now very successful. J.R. Kessler might be a rakish old buccaneer robberz-baron, but no one accused him of not taking care of his people. Teddy Smith really doesn't need to work, but, of course, salary is not his motivation. He can find uses for any and all funds he can get his hands on, as Nommo alchemy and thaumatological craftsmanship aren't cheap.

Alice Talbot is presumably going to be spending some points on improving her odds in Contests of Will, Mental Strength and reducing Mental Disadvantages or at least applying Mitigators. That being said, she already has very close to the setting maximum in Will and related traits and faces sharply diminishing returns there (she can buy more Will, but with a 5 point Unusual Background per extra level, making it effectively double cost as she approaches godlike levels). She might also spend some actual points in the practical use magic, as she has been operating off sky-high academic skills in it combined with massive bonuses from spiritual sources when she allows her Passenger to take the wheel.

'Nonc' Morel's player asked me if he could spend his entire 50+ points on a squirrel (intended as an animal companion) and a racoon (intended as a mystical familiar-type) that he captured during his adventures. Which leads me to ponder what restrictions I need to put on the abilities of a familiar-type critter in the setting, to maintain the feel that even powerful magicians mostly use effects that can be interpreted as coincidence by skeptics.

How do I need to modify the traits of Dungeon Fantasy esque familiars so that they are not walking, (talking?) proof of the paranormal to even firm skeptics?

I'm thinking that I'd lean heavily on empathetic understanding between master and familiar, replacing magical speech or infinite range mind-to-mind Telepathy. But how best to do that in GURPS so as to retain maximum adventuring utility while minimizing possibilities to use the ongoing effect to actually prove the existence of magic?

Then there is Lucien Lacoste. He'll spend a number of points reducing the worst of his PTSD and survivor's guilt complexes to hopefully more functional levels. In game terms, increase Self-Control for On the Edge and Impulsive to 15-. He also has many ideas about new powers, most of which are straightforward (partial possession like a voudon cheval granting physical gifts or increases sensory perception, etc.), but some of which are more involved.

One is an ability to Detect spirits, which the player would also like to work on minds currently in control of bodies, even if they are just living people. After all, Lacoste views spirits as disembodied souls. As the setting is agnostic about whether human minds and spirits are related or identical things, I don't want to give him a power that can confirm or refute it. However, Detect spirits is fine and allowing it to apply to human minds with a much reduced range, precision or analysis should pass muster. Is there any Power like this written up in a supplement already to use as a basis or would anyone care to assay a try at the first level?

Second is an ability to project his mind like a spirit, in the Spirit World, which touches this world during the night, but may also extend into areas which humans don't sense, even with Medium or similar traits. Is this renamed Astral Projection from Psionic Powers, Jumper (Spirit World) or something else?
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