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Good guy organizations/ Anti-Mythos groups


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#1 EihortBroodling

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 08:31 PM

Do you guys use Anti-Mythos/investigator support groups in your games? Theron Marks Society, Order of the Sword of Saint Jerome, Delta Green, etc.?

 

Or are the investigator PCs pretty much on their own?

 

Has anybody here created his own homebrew organizations that are helpful to investigators?




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#2 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 09:02 PM

I've only used a good-guy organization once, but I see no reason not to use it more often - it seems like a fast and easy way to boot-strap a scenario into action.

 

The organization I used was P.I.G.S. ("Paranormal Investigation/Ghost-hunting Society"), a college amateur ghost-hunter club (and parody of T.A.P.S.) that I figured worked as a good excuse for a group of college students who didn't otherwise know each other to go poking around a haunted house together, and it seemed to work well for that purpose.


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#3 Gaffer

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 09:14 PM

I have a great dislike for any good-guy organization that lessens the investigators' sense of isolation. I like them on their own, if not on the run.


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#4 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 09:35 PM

I think that's fair enough:  an organization that acts as a security blanket and deus ex-machina to help the investigators out of trouble will undermine the horror a bit, and could be a long-term problem, especially in a campaign.

 

On the other hand, if all it serves as is a quick-and-dirty plot hook in the form of an organization that doesn't have much money, power, or influence, I'm sure it would be fine.

 

And then, on the gripping hand, there's the Carnacki Institute from the film Judas Ghost (2013), which serves as a sort of investigator organization in that film, but reveals itself to be a very remote and mysterious organization that seems to be playing a long game against Eldritch Horrors in which its investigators are mere pawns that can be sacrificed when needed.  It occurs to me in combination with the related discussion on Bad-Guy Organizations that investigator organizations - good, evil, indifferent - can serve a useful purpose in enhancing the sense of isolation, horror, and alienation in the game by being amoral, aloof, faceless, nearly eldritch horrors in their own right, anonymous entities that do not actually have the investigators' best interests at heart, nor even a heart at all - they organize, direct, and sometimes even help the investigators when it suits them, but the organization ultimately walks alone, and the investigators and other human life are no more than disposable assets and collateral damage in the way of the organizations ambiguous and mysterious goals.


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 02 December 2017 - 09:38 PM.

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#5 Travern

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 09:35 PM

No to friendly anti-Mythos NPC groups for the players to interact with.  Isolation and paranoia are part and parcel of the Call of Cthulhu experience.  (And if players haven't begun to distrust A-Cell soon into their Delta Green tenure, then they're missing out on part of the fun.) 

 

On the other hand, I've seen some nice mechanics in Trail of Cthulhu for letting players pool their resources into creating a supporting group of their own, which could definitely help introduce new characters when campaigns start racking up the body count.  They would also provide nice targets of opportunity for Keepers to infiltrate and turn against them.



#6 WinstonP

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 09:51 PM

Investigator groups I think are quite useful for campaign play and can help add a unique flavor to the campaign. Mythos-aware Investigator groups, however, should be careful constructed. If used at all, so as to not undermine the horror. Delta Green is a good example of an investigator group can actually augment the horror; Chill’s SAVE I think shows how jr can undermine that.
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#7 ElijahWhateley

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 11:21 PM

I have a great dislike for any good-guy organization that lessens the investigators' sense of isolation.

 

This is the strength of the organizations set up in the original Delta Green. Every possible organization that the protagonists can belong to, whether it's DG, Saucerwatch, GRU-SV8, PISCES, Phenomen-X, or whatever the Canadian one was called, has a central flaw. They provide an easy way to bring new PCs into a campaign, but add a sense of organizational paranoia.


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#8 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 12:22 AM

I use Delta Green, but I wouldn't call them a 'good guy' organization.
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#9 tjgreenway

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 03:13 AM

I use the Daedelus and Icarus Club's from C7's London boxed set - essentially a regular gentlemans club with a much smaller mythos fighting group within. By the time the PC's joined, there is one member of the Icarus Club left (and now them), an 83 year old war vet. They seem to trust him so far, but my plans for the campaign certainly have him as a flawed character, probably corrupted by his exposure to the mythos.

It works for me as a device to introduce some friendly NPC's (although they're making just as many powerful enemies as they are friends!) and as a campaign framework to work adventures into. Most friendly NPC's are deeply flawed themselves and have limited knowledge, so I can't imagine they're going to be overpowering the group. My players tend to be quite paranoid anyway, so it shouldn't be too hard to make them distrust their new friends!

#10 Celebrim

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 03:23 AM

The very act of learning about the Mythos eventually precludes sanity.   As such, any potential good guy organization - no matter how good intentioned - eventually will be suborned and become the thing it started out fighting against.

 

There is only one successful strategy - phagocytize the knowledge of the mythos, and destroy it and yourself with it.   The investigators are the immune system of the human race.   And if they ever really understood that, they could no longer do their jobs.

 

Ignorance is bliss.



#11 carpocratian

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 04:39 AM

I don't tend to use organizations, outside of cultist groups.  That includes things like Delta Green.  I prefer everything to be mostly unknown.



#12 EihortBroodling

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 05:06 AM

There is also La Santa Hermandad, from The New Orleans Guidebook.

This secret society seems rather nastier than the Order of the Sword of Saint Jerome.

I see room for both in one setting/era/campaign. I'd play up their differences in philosophy, methods, and organization. Each is aware of the other, but is suspicious, keeping its distance.

The Brothers are as likely to assassinate or kidnap investigators as to help them. Very paranoid about anyone else knowing of the Mythos.

The Order are basically good guys, if often a bit cracked. More helpful, but they won't balk at imprisoning or executing investigators whom they believe have become dangerously corrupted by the Mythos.

Possibility:

Specialized Occult/Demonology skill allows these guys to place Mythos horrors into a proper religious framework. I suppose that would reduce SAN loss for monsters. But if they miss their rolls, then I'd add SAN losses or maximize the losses, as they encounter something that they can't convince themselves fits their worldview.

#13 Gaffer

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 02:19 PM

The one use of a 'good-guy' organization for me is to bring disparate characters together at the outset. However, I would make the group not a Mythos-fighting organization, but an occult investigation society, sending the investigators into a perilous situation that the sponsors don't really comprehend. I would give them an NPC 'minder' or mentor who provides a great deal of mistaken reassurance and information and is, of course, the first victim. There might even be a second organization member sent along to assist the first who (naturally) turns out to be a member --or even the leader-- of the cult.

 

I have to admit, I kind of like the idea of one of the religious orders sending in the investigators to get some tome or artefact, but then explaining that they have been corrupted by the contact and will have to be eliminated.


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#14 numtini

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 09:20 PM

I like the idea of some kind of a group that provides a reason for the investigators to get together in the first place and to continue on investigating, particularly if it's not a grand campaign, but more episodic. However, I find most of the investigator groups to be a little on "light" side for such a dark game. Gentlemen's clubs and the like just seem not quite up to the threat and esoteric orders devoted to fighting the mythos seem a little too pulpy for my tastes.

 

I've kicked around the idea of someone in a position to have a more than vague idea of the stakes gathering people together for the purpose of doing something about things they have discovered, but without an established central organization. Professor Armitage would be the obvious from the fiction, but the industrialist in Time to Harvest would work equally. A private little conspiracy.



#15 Gaffer

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 11:46 PM

numtini: It might be especially interesting if the patron has been crippled in mind or body. He cannot continue the fight himself, so he gathers these useful tools together.
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#16 EihortBroodling

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 02:40 AM

The one use of a 'good-guy' organization for me is to bring disparate characters together at the outset. However, I would make the group not a Mythos-fighting organization, but an occult investigation society, sending the investigators into a perilous situation that the sponsors don't really comprehend. I would give them an NPC 'minder' or mentor who provides a great deal of mistaken reassurance and information and is, of course, the first victim. There might even be a second organization member sent along to assist the first who (naturally) turns out to be a member --or even the leader-- of the cult.

 

I have to admit, I kind of like the idea of one of the religious orders sending in the investigators to get some tome or artefact, but then explaining that they have been corrupted by the contact and will have to be eliminated.

 

Yeah, I am leery of giving any organization too much Mythos knowledge, unless it is a crazy Mythos cult--and thus the enemy.

 

I think that La Santa Hermandad and The Order of the Sword of Saint Jerome work just fine as written in the sourcebooks. Both organizations see the Mythos as satanic, in effect mashing up their Occult and Cthulhu Mythos skills. 

 

 For me, those two groups are NPC 'cults' that can be a help or a hindrance to the investigator PCs

 

I can see why Keepers might like an anti-Mythos society with multiple safe-houses distributed across several continents, deep pockets, local branches, all that. It fits a certain style of play. But that's not what I'd use.

 

(Is that what the Wilmarth Foundation is like? I have never read any of the Titus Crow stuff by Lumley).

 

The Carnacki Institute, mentioned up-thread, seems like a fun possible addition to a game.

 

There are, and were, some real-world parapsychological/psychic research groups that might serve as a patron or means of gathering a party.



#17 tjgreenway

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 06:48 AM

numtini: It might be especially interesting if the patron has been crippled in mind or body. He cannot continue the fight himself, so he gathers these useful tools together.


This is how The Icarus Club works in my Cthulhu Brittannica game, the patron is an 83 year old stroke victim, unable to do much physically. He can provide useful allies, mostly of the academic type, but although they may know a little, they only know snippets.

I've also downplayed the history of the club - they've only dealt with one major mythos incident and that was when most of the group were wiped out. The patron has continued researching since then, but as a result of his age and high mythos knowledge (about 25), the PC's will soon realise he can be unreliable at best. I'm keeping careful track of what the investigators have him do - another ancient book read translated in the name of duty may seem him pushed over the edge.

I think organisations like this can work, as long as care is taken not to give any NPC members unrealistic knowledge without serious repercussions that can become apparent to the PC's at a later point. It wouldn't surprise me at all if my PC's cut their losses and leave this crazy old fool behind once our current story arc is over (if they survive, of course!).

#18 numtini

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 06:15 PM

Thinking more about this, one of the big things I have against organizations is I don't want a Q-Section. I want it to be informal enough to still have that feeling of people out on their own against something really awful. There's nothing that takes me out of a classic Cthulhu scenario more than being fully outfitted by someone for the job. I like Delta Green and I like Pulp scenarios too, but they're not the same.



#19 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 08:15 PM

It seems like most such fictional organizations in horror and weird fiction in the decades since Lovecraft's time have the same idea, and perhaps might provide some models to go to for some ideas.  For example -

  • The "hunters" in Supernatural are only barely organized cells of outlaw/vigilante family members working tightly together within the cell, while the various cells all reach their own conclusions about the threats they face based on experience, luck, and guesswork while working in the dark on their own - the individual hunters don't seem to see eye-to-eye with each other on most of the details, and different cells of hunters often find themselves staring down the barrels of each others' guns....
  • The F.B.I. in The X-Files is caught in between serving as a law enforcement agency responsible for maintaining law and order, and the manipulation of a more powerful conspiracy.
  • The Millennium Group from Millennium is a very secretive secret society fractured into violently opposed and equally secretive factions with virtually incompatible theories about the nature of the threat they are facing, and how to respond to it; it's not always clear how much of the trouble its investigators face is caused by the Group's enemies, and how much is caused by the meddling of Group itself.
  • In Doctor Who, U.N.I.T. is rigid, hopelessly conventional, and ill-suited to fight alone against alien invasions, The Torchwood Institute operates as an untrusted conspiracy within the government and typically works at odds with the government, and the Time Lords are inflexible and often dangerous alien fanatics in their own right, with The Doctor being one of the few representatives of their species that seems to care about humans though even he can be ambivalent or even hostile at times when his "pet" humans are clearly in the wrong - not to mention that The Doctor has left a long trail of death and destruction of his own.....
  • The INS (Independent News Service) in Kolchak: The Night Stalker is little more than a small-time tabloid paper, and the editorial staff are constantly threatening to fire Kolchak for causing trouble with his weird investigations.
  • The aformentioned Carnacki Institute in at least Judas Ghost (I've not read any of the novels the movie was based on, but assume they are the same) treats its investigators like pawns, and has an impenetrable agenda.
  • Hogwarts in the Harry Potter universe has a rather dystopic and sometimes irresponsible streak running through it, and houses at least one house that explicitly embraces black magic under its wide umbrella.
  • The website and investigating team in Creepy Links is privately-run by one of the investigators, and wields virtually no power, influence, authority, or funding at all.
  • The British Experimental Rocket Group in the Quatermass movies constantly struggles with the government for funding and autonomy.

 

...and that's just a few examples. 

 

Meanwhile, I have trouble thinking of any examples of more benevolent AND powerful organizations supporting characters in the Supernatural Detective and similar genres - rather, when such organizations are present, they are either impotent, or nearly as malevolent or malignant as the threats they are claimed to oppose....


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 04 December 2017 - 08:24 PM.

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#20 EihortBroodling

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 08:43 PM

I prefer benevolent groups to be relatively weak and local.

 

As for the Order of the Sword of Saint Jerome, I don't see it as vastly powerful.

It's cut off from official Church support. Just an obscure little disestablished order that has squirreled away certain resources and properties under fronts and personal titles/deeds. Its operatives  are, after all, described as often being mendicants. Budget issues as well as a religious ideal of poverty, methinks.

And I wouldn't say there are local chapterhouses all over the world, so the Order isn't truly global. Rather, its assets are mostly concentrated in one region, but it has members who travel far and wide on missions , living as they do in the age of transoceanic liners and transcontinental railways. 


Edited by EihortBroodling, 04 December 2017 - 08:52 PM.