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Old 02-20-2020, 10:59 AM   #321
johndallman
 
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Default Re: Sister María Teresa

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Her strong sense of compassion, which while calloused and chafed by her experiences, still exists . . .
Oh, dear. Does she want to end the world to end human stupidity?

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I'm just not sure how stupid should be my benchmark here.
I'd recommend, now I understand a bit better:

Give her an IQ roll to appreciate that the plan is, realistically, unworkable. On a failure she carries on; on a critical failure she doubles down. On a critical success, she makes a decent plan for getting the whole group away and covering their tracks; on lesser successes, she tries covering things up by sending part of the group to fail, and getting the rest away. That risks more exposure, but has the advantage that if it works, the US is less likely to come after her.

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Old 02-20-2020, 11:14 AM   #322
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Default Re: Sister María Teresa

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Oh, dear. Does she wan to end the world to end human stupidity?
And cruelty, callousness, well-meaning harm, unthinking injury and all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. But really, it isn't human foibles that bother her that much. She might be a bit short-tempered with fools, but she doesn't hate them or want to murder them. Indeed, she managed to retain a measure of tolerance for sinners, the unwise, the ignorant and the weak through her entire career, despite it all.

No, it's that Sister María Teresa doesn't think that humanity deserves to suffer like it does; from its own stupidity, from structural forces of poverty and injustice, from weakness, from greed and from every other thing that has been destroying lives around her since she became a nun. Whether with malice aforethought, out of divine incompetence or simply due to uncaring cosmic accident, she views the world as being so weighed against happiness, hope, benevolence or any enduring worth that can be placed against the relentless horror and despair she sees, that the only humane choice is to end it.

While she could believe that there was no God, she could endure the cosmic injustice, as at least being no one's fault. But having discovered that there are devils, she's terribly afraid that there is a God. And He still allows all this.

So she wants to end the world to end what she views as either divine stupidity or divine sadism of the highest order.


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I'd recommend, now I understand a bit better:

Give her an IQ roll to appreciate that the plan is, realistically, unworkable. On a failure she carries on; on a critical failure she doubles down. On a critical success, she makes a decent plan for getting the whole group away and covering their tracks; on lesser successes, she tries covering things up by sending part of the group to fail, and getting the rest away. That risks more exposure, but has the advantage that if it works, the US is less likely to come after her.
Unmodified IQ roll?
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Old 02-20-2020, 12:53 PM   #323
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Default Re: Sister María Teresa

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Unmodified IQ roll?
Yes, IMHO.
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Old 02-20-2020, 01:31 PM   #324
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Default And the Cult Goes Waltzing Matilda!

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Yes, IMHO.
Well, sounds fair enough me.

She rolled a 10, success by 2.

As it turned out, when she broached the subject with her fellow cult leaders, two of them were already on board but had been hesitant to seem less than committed, one took the news of the seizure of the Aqueronte as a divine revelation that this plan was wrong and the leader of the California faction started to panic (concealed from her followers, but evident to Sister María Teresa) at the unraveling of all their preparations. Only Lopéz, the serial killer pishtaco, is unwavering. And while everyone fears him and his murdering monstrous compatriots, they can't carry out the ritual by themselves.

Without any overt words, Sister María Teresa and the two cult leaders with organized crime backgrounds decide that Lopéz and his six pishtaco won't be coming with them back. Too difficult to move them without drawing attention.

The Peruvian priest is aware that they must also be considering the difficulty of getting him out of the country, unwilling to fly and not speaking a word of English. But his magic is powerful and valuable to the cult, so it might be worth trying.

The native Californian contingent will go back home, not having done anything illegal and realizing that disassociating themselves from the others as soon as possible if safest.

What should the other leaders; i.e. Sister María Teresa with her friends, the Chinese 'Red Dragon' cultists and Nando Acevedo with his men do before they try to leave the US?

That is, what kind of ritual, if any, do they carry out at Indianola (which is a few miles away as they discuss this at a rest stop)?

And what do they dispatch the pishtaco to do, fully aware that they will be manipulating them into going to their destruction, one way or another?
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Old 02-20-2020, 02:25 PM   #325
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Default Re: And the Cult Goes Waltzing Matilda!

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Without any overt words, Sister María Teresa and the two cult leaders with organized crime backgrounds decide that Lopéz and his six pishtaco won't be coming with them back. Too difficult to move them without drawing attention.

And what do they dispatch the pishtaco to do, fully aware that they will be manipulating them into going to their destruction, one way or another?
Tell them that getting them out of the country is hard. Stealing a ship that can make the journey is the easiest route, and there's this nice one called Penemue in Galveston, apparently belonging to whoever has been messing all this up. They should be able to take the ship. but being followed by the USCG would be a problem, so the rest of us will move on to Indianola and do a ritual to make Penemue hard to track or follow. Then we'll split up and get out in smaller groups that aren't so miss-matched.

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The native Californian contingent will go back home, not having done anything illegal and realizing that disassociating themselves from the others as soon as possible is safest.
That's the best bet for them.

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What should the other leaders; i.e. Sister María Teresa with her friends, the Chinese 'Red Dragon' cultists and Nando Acevedo with his men do before they try to leave the US?

That is, what kind of ritual, if any, do they carry out at Indianola (which is a few miles away as they discuss this at a rest stop)?
Well, they don't put much effort into making Penemue hard to find. Does their school of magic allow for changing appearance, boosting Acting skill, and similar routine RPM workings, or are they limited to "loss" and/or "destruction" effects? If the latter, they should try to change themselves to be as un-noticeable as possible.
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The Peruvian priest is aware that they must also be considering the difficulty of getting him out of the country, unwilling to fly and not speaking a word of English. But his magic is powerful and valuable to the cult, so it might be worth trying.
Especially him.
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Old 02-20-2020, 03:40 PM   #326
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Default Re: And the Cult Goes Waltzing Matilda!

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Tell them that getting them out of the country is hard. Stealing a ship that can make the journey is the easiest route, and there's this nice one called Penemue in Galveston, apparently belonging to whoever has been messing all this up. They should be able to take the ship. but being followed by the USCG would be a problem, so the rest of us will move on to Indianola and do a ritual to make Penemue hard to track or follow. Then we'll split up and get out in smaller groups that aren't so miss-matched.
Sure, they might try to tell them that, but if they do, the pishtaco would figure out it wouldn't work before it came to a fight. Given the strength of the Threshold around the Penemue, the pishtaco wouldn't even try to come aboard uninvited.

Sister María Teresa and her fellow cult leaders don't explicitly know about the Threshold (commonplace for family homes, unusual for a 'vehicle'), but they know that something aboard Penemue blocks divinations, psychic spying and remote spiritual influence. At least one of them would correctly guess that she's protected by a Threshold and the pishtaco would instinctively shy away, especially in the absence of a cult leader magician to help.

If they want the PCs dead, an ambush somewhere else they are likely to be has a better chance. Like maybe hang around the hospital where 'Gwen Delvano' is, if the cultists can find out about that, now that it's gotten dark.

Or, of course, they could ignore the PCs and try to rescue (ideal), disable (if reversible later, might be viable) or kill Ms. Delvano (for reasons yet to be revealed, none of the senior cult leaders is prepared to order this). Getting her off Galveston island is implausible, but rendering her unable to speak sense for a few months might be practical, especially if the magicians can prepare a powerful Charm for the pishtaco to carry into her presence. Maybe even put her in a coma that requires powerful magic to reverse.

That sound like anything?

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Well, they don't put much effort into making Penemue hard to find. Does their school of magic allow for changing appearance, boosting Acting skill, and similar routine RPM workings, or are they limited to "loss" and/or "destruction" effects? If the latter, they should try to change themselves to be as un-noticeable as possible.
Well, they are already carrying a goodly supply of an alchemical creation that meataphysically drains 'attention'. Grayish dust that when sprinkled over someone makes them unremarkable, unmemorable and tend to fade into the background.

In general, though, their Optional Specialization of the Path of Nonexistance (Loss) is only IQ/H, but at -2 for any effects that are metaphysically about creation, improvement, renewal and the like, instead of being expressable in terms of taking something away. So, no bonus to Acting or a new appearance using that Path, but penalties for others to notice them are fine.

Note that Sister María Teresa, Nando Acevedo and 'Heilong Tou' ('Black Dragon Head') were all accomplished ritual magicians before being initiated into the cult. And some of their people are also learned in another tradition as well. Acevedo is good at the Path of Body and the Path of Chance. Sister María Teresa is a master of the Path of Undead, as well as Path of Spirit, and to a lesser extent, Path of Mind (her friend, Mrs. Teodoro, is even better at Path of Mind and is also extremely good at Path of Body).

The Gong Tau witchcraft of Heilong Tou is more specialized by tradition than Paths (he has a +3 bonus for rituals that fall under his tradition), but he can perform various Path of Body, Chance and Mind rituals that would be useful for disguise and passing unnoticed.
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Especially him.
As for the Quechua-speaking Peruvian who believes he is a reincarnated high priest of the Inca Empire, he's got the useful sort of delusion, i.e. he functions as the vessel for a powerful spirit that actually practised a sacrifice-based form of ritual magic that sure seems Incan, at least to the average observer.

All Path skills at 15+, making him the best all-around magician. That still isn't as high as it seems in a world where -8 ambient Mana is a pretty fair place for rituals and a powerful nexus of magic is Low Mana (-5). Still, he's got the skills and traits to amass a fair number of bonuses in a slow ritual and carries pre-made Charms for quicker work.

He can Shroud himself in the Facade, becoming unnoticable to those with Mundane Background unless the situation is such there is no plausible way to overlook him. It cn even work on people aware of the supernatural, but without the -5 penalty for Mundane Background, he can't win every QC.
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Old 02-20-2020, 04:31 PM   #327
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Default Re: And the Cult Goes Waltzing Matilda!

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Or, of course, they could ignore the PCs and try to rescue (ideal), disable (if reversible later, might be viable) or kill Ms. Delvano (for reasons yet to be revealed, none of the senior cult leaders is prepared to order this). Getting her off Galveston island is implausible, but rendering her unable to speak sense for a few months might be practical, especially if the magicians can prepare a powerful Charm for the pishtaco to carry into her presence. Maybe even put her in a coma that requires powerful magic to reverse.

That sound like anything?
Much better. Their tradition might well be good at rendering someone unable to speak, or better yet, remember anything for some magically-significant period.

Doing a charm for that, and then preparations for dispersal, seems like the best bet.
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Old 02-20-2020, 04:59 PM   #328
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An option might be to do a ritual that causes Horrible Things (tm) to occur in Indianola, convincing the pishtaco this is the beginning of the end, and leave the pishtaco to secure the site from outside meddlers, while they go elsewhere to support the ritual. The event will undoubtedly draw in whoever has been interfering, who will engage and (given their performance thus far) likely dispatch the pishtaco. Meanwhile, the rest of the cult (or at least those with the relevant skills) can scry on and watch the scene, getting valuable intel on who the OpFor is and how they operate. If they’re lucky, the pishtaco (or whatever horrors they have unleashed) will manage to maim or kill some of the OpFor, making things easier going forward.

If having it happen in Indianola won’t work, while it would be harder to pull off (due to performing the ritual from Indianola) I imagine much the same could be done at the Galveston Killing Fields. This runs the risk of the LEO’s already in the area resolving the situation before the OpFor gets involved, however.

An alternative (or perhaps an addition) would be to make use of the strong association with Loss in Indianola to cover whatever tracks they left in their rush to arrive (such as Theresa’s murder of the young clerk).

If they opt for a memory wipe of Ms Delvano, the classic twist is for her to become an ally for the PC’s as she tries to uncover her own past, and being forced to make a climactic choice between the friendships she’s made as a Hollywood amnesiac and the loyalties she held pre-wipe once she discovers the truth (and/or finds her memories restored).
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Old 02-20-2020, 07:29 PM   #329
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Default Re: And the Cult Goes Waltzing Matilda!

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Or, of course, they could ignore the PCs and try to rescue (ideal), disable (if reversible later, might be viable) or kill Ms. Delvano (for reasons yet to be revealed, none of the senior cult leaders is prepared to order this). Getting her off Galveston island is implausible, but rendering her unable to speak sense for a few months might be practical, especially if the magicians can prepare a powerful Charm for the pishtaco to carry into her presence. Maybe even put her in a coma that requires powerful magic to reverse.
Could they make her lose her memory?
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Old 02-21-2020, 02:09 AM   #330
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Much better. Their tradition might well be good at rendering someone unable to speak, or better yet, remember anything for some magically-significant period.

Doing a charm for that, and then preparations for dispersal, seems like the best bet.
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If they opt for a memory wipe of Ms Delvano, the classic twist is for her to become an ally for the PC’s as she tries to uncover her own past, and being forced to make a climactic choice between the friendships she’s made as a Hollywood amnesiac and the loyalties she held pre-wipe once she discovers the truth (and/or finds her memories restored).
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Could they make her lose her memory?
Ah, indeed.

The loss of Ms. Delvona's memories would neatly assuage the fears of the cult leaders that she might say anything she shouldn't about them, the cult or their secrets.

And it would have a dramatically interesting result, in that the players are already somewhat invested in Ms. Delvona's well-being and, specifically, her memories, having spent a whole adventure inside the Dreamlands interpreted through her dreams, encountering figures from her memory, albeit alongside some things they profoundly hope were the result of consuming too much fantastic fiction and an overactive imagination.

Of course, the magic of the Keepers of the Last Hearth is ideally suited to cause a loss of memory. However, the delicacy, precision and comprehensiveness of the memory loss probably requires skilled control. Creating a Charm to be activated by a crude, dumb and insensitive serial killer turned magical creature (URL="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_L%C3%B3pez_(serial_killer)"]Pedro Alonso López[/URL], the Colombian serial killer whom Wikipedia puts second as the worst serial killer of all time, has been changed into a pishtaco by a dark ritual) doesn't seem like an ideal way for careful psychic surgery.

Under controlled circumstances, a subtle magician with a good understanding of how memories work would be able to sift through Ms. Delvona's memories, carefully causing her to lose access to those that might be harmful to the cult, but limiting the scope enough so that it would be hard to even notice. These will not be controlled circumstances.

Pedro Alonso Lopéz is magically potent, as he attracts dark spirits in droves and has no compunctions about dedicating his murders to any force that will allow him the power to remain uncaught and deliver him more victims. But he's well-below average intelligence in real-world terms (in GURPS terms, this is represented through an array of Disadvantages and IQ 9), he has no education and is functionally illiterate.

Lopéz doesn't understand the first thing about the human mind. He doesn't even comprehend his own motivations. Granted, he'll be 'advised' by a choir of dark spirits, but the vast majority of the spirits are sub-sapient, some are barely sapient and those who are truly smarter than Lopéz might or might not hold his attention at any given time. There will be one or two among the spirits who are subtle and effective at psychic infiltration of the human mind, but as they can't physically trigger the Charm, they'll be confined to filtering their esoteric insights through the small mind of the murderer.

This means that the loss of memory, if it succeeds, will likely be a slip-shod, hasty, unsubtle and ugly piece of work. There will be an overabundance of raw magical power, but little control of it. The results should be interesting and the PCs in a unique place to appreciate them, having spent a lot of time inside Ms. Delvona's mind.

As for 'restoring' the memories, should that even be possible?

Metaphysically and conceptually, it would seem that the simplest available ritual to work would simply cause a loss of the memories. They'd be gone, Elsewhere, even possibly eaten by otherworldly forces. I don't see the ritual having a duration, it's an instantaneous effect that removes something that does not then exist anymore.

That being said, from a dramatic point of view, I'd welcome Ms. Delvona retaining her personality to a great extent, which requires retaining much of the memories that shaped her, I should think. And if it can be justified, a reversal of this memory loss later would be great.* It would please the cult and the PCs. But note that if the memory loss is a temporary block to access the memories, with a duration, the risk for the cult is that any magician with time and access to Ms. Delvona will be able to reverse it easily, as such a quick job would necessarily be fragile. Which is why they pretty much must compensate for lack of control by destructive power, making reversal a matter of Path of Nonexistence (normal version of the Path, not the cult's specialization of loss) to create the memories anew.

*There are figures higher up in the cult who value Ms. Delvona, her memories, her personality and even, for some of them, her happiness. The cult leaders in Indianola don't care for her, but they know that harming her might result in very powerful beings resenting it.
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