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Good guy organizations/ Anti-Mythos groups

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Gaffer

...also charged with destroying any books with strange, pornographic or blasphemous messages.

 

I wonder how they defined "strange?"

 

The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice was a similar institution dedicated to supervising the morality of the public, founded in 1873 to monitor compliance with state laws and work with the courts and district attorneys in bringing offenders to justice. It and its members also pushed for additional laws against perceived immoral conduct. In addition to banning literary works and art, it also closely monitored the news-stands, commonly found on city sidewalks and in transportation terminals, which sold the popular magazines of the day.

 

The NYSSV was founded by Anthony Comstock and his supporters in the Young Men's Christian Association. It was chartered by the New York state legislature, which granted its agents powers of search, seizure and arrest, and awarded the society 50% of all fines levied in resulting cases. After his death in 1915, Comstock was succeeded by John S. Sumner. In 1947, the organization's name was changed to the Society to Maintain Public Decency. After Sumner's retirement in 1950, the organization was dissolved.

from Wikipedia

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Taavi

The NYSSV (or rather their descendants the Postal Inspectors) also get a guest appearance in the latest Laundry Files novel, The Delirium Brief, as "the Comstock people", a minor anti-mythos agency that gets shut down hard by the Black Chamber.

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JeffErwin

Re: Comstock... One of the ironies of the Elizabethan game I run on and off is that the Puritans are probably more accurate in their approach to the mythos then the rowdy, intellectual group of thespians and hangers on that make up most of the PCs.

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vonkeitz

I have inserted the Order of the Sword of Saint Jerome for one character who was roleplayed consistently (by my brother) for a long time as a very devout Catholic. The insertion pretty much just added another level of mystery and really did not do more than help move the campaign along from time to time. And the player/character kept it totally secret. It worked. So, not a go-to powerful benefactor, which would be trite if not lame.

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Mannimark

This may get me shunned by all the hardcore horror lovers, but I do use good guy organizations. Sparingly.

 

Not deus ex-machina, but to help advance the plot and give my players a sense of purpose and some modest power. I find it unrealistic for investigators to always be isolated, weak, and gimped. Frustration falls over the game and leads to player apathy because it gives the sense that the storyteller is out to get them no matter what they do. They just let themselves be led around by the nose with plot hooks and wait in tense boredom for the next 'boo' moment. 

 

In my experience there is only so much 'darkness' you can toss in before the game loses its charm. Good organizations provide a reprieve and allow the horror elements some contrast. People don't play investigators to be bullied by an omnipotent malevolent storyteller and then killed off or driven mad by ridiculous alien nonsense.

 

Here are some examples of what I've done in the past: 

 

Spy in the region who provides info or who has already been doing some light investigation to get the group started.

Agent shows up in town to lurk and provide help with a scoped rifle and/or by committing arson on select buildings. 

Criminal drives into town with a trunk full of small arms after the team makes a phone call reporting persecution by cultists.

Creepy dude in a manor who lets the team consult his library of esoteric books with a referral from a mutual 'friend'. 

Crazy conspiracy theorist who makes pipe bombs in his cellar, supplies explosives, and lurks about taking photos. 

Priest or psychiatrist who offers counsel and helps the team recover sanity with philosophical or theological teachings. 

Benefactors who anonymously put out a bounty or hit on a villain, forcing that person to flee or go underground. 

Invisible allies in a remote city who put in a few calls, plus threats, plus graft to get the team released from prison. 

 

These things support the investigators without doing their jobs for them. They advance the plot, while also providing NPC's who can die horribly later, or be kidnapped, or turn out to be traitors, or go nuts, or mysteriously vanish, or whatever. 

 

What I am opposed to:

 

A squad of dudes in black body armor and gasmasks armed with flamethrowers, grenades, and assault rifles. Hopped up on some crazy drug that helps them cope with sanity damaging things.

 

Hope this helps.

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ElijahWhateley

What I am opposed to:

 

A squad of dudes in black body armor and gasmasks armed with flamethrowers, grenades, and assault rifles. Hopped up on some crazy drug that helps them cope with sanity damaging things.

 

Hope this helps.

 

I like these guys. As the villains. Who turn out to have worn no mask. No mask? No mask.

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The_Tatterdemalion_King

Not deus ex-machina, but to help advance the plot and give my players a sense of purpose and some modest power. I find it unrealistic for investigators to always be isolated, weak, and gimped. Frustration falls over the game and leads to player apathy because it gives the sense that the storyteller is out to get them no matter what they do. They just let themselves be led around by the nose with plot hooks and wait in tense boredom for the next 'boo' moment. 

 

In my experience there is only so much 'darkness' you can toss in before the game loses its charm. Good organizations provide a reprieve and allow the horror elements some contrast. People don't play investigators to be bullied by an omnipotent malevolent storyteller and then killed off or driven mad by ridiculous alien nonsense.

 

That sounds more like a problem with scenario construction than setting details per se. 

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Gaffer

I think you're right T_K, or unfortunate Keeper choices.

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neorxnawang

And Stygian Fox's Hudson & Brand, Inquiry Agents of the Obscure offers investigators a Gaslight-era benefactor organization/safe house.

Since it's the end of the day....There is a framing organization (I prefer to use this term, since organizations are rarely all good or all bad, especially in a nihilistic game like this one) in the backers-only pdf add-on for The Things We Leave Behind. That one was an independent news organization that specializes in doing "dirty work" for mainstream media outlets. There is another one in the backers-only pdf add-on for Fear's Sharp Little Needles (there's a little teaser for those who are waiting). This one is a charity that is devoted to rounding up and wiping out magic of all sorts. The whys are where the fun lies for both of them. At SF (unless it's a safe house book like H&B) we try to give those things out in backers-only add-ons. Win win; if you like them or can get something out of them, there they are; if you don't, its segregated.

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rylehNC

And Stygian Fox's Hudson & Brand, Inquiry Agents of the Obscure offers investigators a Gaslight-era benefactor organization/safe house.

 

I like the way the covert group (within the pages of that product) might use investigators to dabble in the Mythos so they don't have to.

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sdfrank

I recognize it's an uncommon stance, but I agree with Mannimark.  I'll say "uncommon" rather than "unpopular" because I think it's purely a matter of the type of campaign you and your players are running and want to run.  Like MiM, my players don't enjoy a standard Call of Cthulhu game grinding beatdown; they're already largely alone against crappy odds in their actual lives, so they prefer a more escapist, Pulp-y type of game.

 

For that, we're using the Pulp Cthulhu rules, and I find that in that setting, a helpful organization works very well for us; it's actually become more of a part of the game than I had planned on, but that'd GMing for you, amiright?  I'd put the Vanguard Club from the Pulp Chtulhu book in, and ended up giving them a sort of X-files-y branch.  My take on Pulp games is that my job is to make stuff happen for the investigators, rather than get them bogged down in planning where to buy a firearm or how to get messages to each other, so I use the Vanguard Club as a sort of way of easing things along; the Pulp rulebook calls it "redlining" for travel, and in my game the Club serves that for a number of purposes for the group.  They can't depend on it for backup, but it makes things simpler and easier for them to do stuff that could otherwise be a pain or them to figure out, and burn a bunch of our precious game time on.  They found a creepy bust of the Black Pharaoh, and want to make sure it's stuck out of the way?  The Vanguard Club will stick it in a hidden box in the basement for them.

 

I'm acutely aware that this is not a standard horror CoC game, but for our purposes - it works great. 

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yronimoswhateley

I don't think that's wrong, sdfrank - I think that, in the end, the "good guy organizations" can serve any of a number of constructive purposes in a game, limited only by the imagination and insight of you and your group for what works best for the kind of story you want to tell.

 

I'd say that such organizations are just too useful in too many different ways not to at least consider using in a game.

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notsogreatoldone

I think there's a lot of potential for 'gray hats': groups or individual that might be helpful in  the short term, but have long terms goals that are inimical. For  instance, in a Mi-Go  driven scenario, the 'Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign'  might  might make a temporary alliance with the PCs; but when the Mi-Go threat is  done with,  they could possibly turn on the PCs.

 

Or a cult with two sorcerers competing to lead the cult, one of the rivals could betray the other to the PCs.

 

Or, for scenarios set during WWII, rather than the trope of Nazi wizards,  drawing upon the Mythos,  suppose a  party of OSS operatives  have to work with the German occupiers in  the occupied territories to put  down some Mythos threat.

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notsogreatoldone

'Purist' campaigns  will most likely not use 'patron' groups, or have such groups  that are largely ineffective, indifferent to the fate of their agents, or have  murky long-game goals.  Such groups though are pretty useful, if as nothing more than framing devices, for 'Pulp' games.

 

Hmmm. Suppose you have  have a game set in say the 'Gaslight' period, where at the conclusion of the game the PCs  establish  some kind of group or society, and then 'forward'  to the 'Jazz Age' where a new set  of PCs  take up the reins from their predecessors?

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sdfrank

Hmmm. Suppose you have  have a game set in say the 'Gaslight' period, where at the conclusion of the game the PCs  establish  some kind of group or society, and then 'forward'  to the 'Jazz Age' where a new set  of PCs  take up the reins from their predecessors?

 

I super, super like that idea.  Even make take it farther down the line - a Delta Green-era group is the modern inheritors.  Maybe some of the original knowledge of the group has been lost (or the original group could even have left some hidden items or tomes), that the modern group uncovers, an entire adventure in and of itself.  Cool.

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yronimoswhateley

Great ideas there!

 

I the idea of "grey hat" organizations:  I feel certain that any longer-term campaign could benefit from the inclusion of one or two such organizations and a handful of such NPCs, with goals that sometimes parallel those of the investigators, but are not always 100% in step.  When used fairly and thoughtfully, NPCs - singly and in organizations - that can be useful and helpful but don't always see eye-to-eye with the investigators are always a great and healthy opportunity for role-playing and problem-solving that doesn't involve dynamiting police stations and machine-gunning cult compounds.

 

And, that's a neat idea about the establishment of Gaslight organizations for use in classic/Jazz-Age campaigns.  What happens if a fresh group of Jazz-Age investigators inherit a Gaslight-era organization founded in an earlier game that has been through a few hands since then, has had its white hat turned a bit greyer in the intervening years, and has accumulated a long list of battle scars and Pyrrhic victories through the usual sort of vigilante activity that investigators typically get themselves into, and, in addition to facing Mythos threats in a new era, also have to deal with the old skeletons in the closet accumulated by the organization in a previous one?  It might be a great opportunity to think of things from a different point of view for a group with shoot-first-ask-questions-later tendencies to have to clean up after an organization that has been run that way for decades....

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blackstone

I haven't posted here in a LONG time, but I thought I could give an example of a PC aligned with an anti-Mythos organization:

 

"Father Anthony Black" (AKA "Father Black"): Catholic priest in the Boston Archdiocese. He is part of the Knights of the Order of St Jerome, one of several field operatives ("pilgrims") who investigate paranormal/Satanic/Mythos events. His name is a code name and not his given one. the Order has operative names for each of the "pilgrims", based upon a color: black, green, white, grey, brown. Each region can have up to 5 pilgrims (N. America, S. America, Europe, Asia, Africa), but no more (based upon the threat/potential threat). Each "pilgrim's" knowledge of the number of other pilgrims is on a "need to know" basis: he never really knows how many there are, let alone who they are. He may worked with "Father Green" in one investigation, and a year down the road, a different "Father Green" shows up to help. This is to protect the "pilgrims" in case one gets "compromised" to root out another.

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