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Masquerade in the age of the Surveillance State
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's aso worth remembering that most real life serial killers operate for a very long time and get huge body counts without being caught. The trick being to pick victims that the police won't bother investigating the disappearance of.

Currently, there's a suspected serial killer operating in Chicago, and the only reason anyone knows about it is that a computer program designed to look for potential serial killers noticed that there were an unusually large number of black prostitutes being strangled to death, throw into dumpsters, and set on fire.

It took a computer program to notice this because no one really cares about a lot of dead black prostitutes in Chicago. Paperwork gets filed, but it's not like there's an actual investigation.

One thing predatory monsters can do is target disenfranchised groups whose deaths the authorities will just ignore.


Last edited by hyzmarca on Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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Cervantes
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't want my players to target marginalized minority communities. I get that it's effective but it isn't a great look to have the PCs say, "Gotta feed, time to go find a poor black person and get 'em."

After Sundown explicitly has more murders as part of the setting so, to me, it would be more a matter of figuring out how many more murders we're talking. 5% more? 20% more? It'd be a function of "density of supernaturals" and "degree to which those supernaturals end up killing people".

e: And then you get to figure out if you need an explanation for that or if it's just "the way that things are".


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Mask_De_H
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Fireballs Down Main Street stuff basically needs a no-Muggle zone generated by supernaturals. In order to prevent supernaturals from taking over the world, supernatural powers need to either only work or only fully work in said no-Muggle zones, or there needs to be customs in place not to fuck with Muggle World.

A more Cosmic Bumfights/Doubt style Masquerade basically already exists with Otherkin and no shit pop Paganists. They put all sorts of crazy on the Internet, truly believe they are supernatural and act like it, and nobody cares except to laugh at them. As long as they're too marginal, too ridiculous, and too insular to affect the "real world", they could be flinging fireballs at each other for all we care.
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cervantes wrote:

After Sundown explicitly has more murders as part of the setting so, to me, it would be more a matter of figuring out how many more murders we're talking. 5% more? 20% more? It'd be a function of "density of supernaturals" and "degree to which those supernaturals end up killing people".


Well, another point of consideration is how much more violent the general population is on top of the purely supernatural violence. Enterprising monsters are going to want cultists and the like and we certainly don't want to retcon every Hannibal Lecter into being secret nazi vampires. Ultimately I don't think you're going to find a great one-size-fits-all number since the game is something of a kitchen sink and thus tends to default to being a bit seriocomic in tone even before you factor in that so many horror classics are already tongue-in-cheek to begin with. I doubt any two readers will have quite the same idea of where to draw the line between "this much extra mortal violence provides extra cover for the Masquerade" and "this much makes the game sound like The Purge even before you add zombies."
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Cervantes
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Oh, or: the population is less violent and the numbers match up because of the extra supernatural violence.
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Stahlseele
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That'd be believeable if they also faked the statistics on what kinds of violence . . remember, many many many gunshot kills in america alone.
Don't think the vampires and werewolves etc. would be in that category somehow.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Keep in mind that for every murder in the US, there are roughly three suicides. It certainly would be plausible that any 'masquerade' counted a supernatural caused death as a suicide because it doesn't require the same level of investigation.
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Stahlseele
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

"Suicide..."
*Yes!*
"He was torn limb from limb"
*He was creative!*
"There are bite marks here . ."
*Carrion-Eaters!*
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Most countries have a suicide rate of 10-20 per 100,000 per year. Which is like a million people a year. Road Traffic Collisions kill about a million and a half every year, world wide. There are certainly violent deaths to go around.

To get a handle on where death by violence falls, go ahead and look at the [url=http://www.who.int/gho/mortality_burden_disease/causes_death/region/en/]WHO Statistics. All forms of violent death are collectively "Injuries," and in the civilized world that's 6 and 10 percent of all deaths (worldwide average is 9 percent). The number of deaths is traditionally one per person, so the fact that 6 to 10 percent of people die by violence means that globally you're looking at like seven hundred million people alive today who will eventually die a violent death. To put it in yearly terms, there are about 56 million deaths every year and 5 million of them are violent in one way or another.

If you're able to effective stage deaths as accidents, then the sorcerous cabal can hide enough bodies to cover a typical RPG campaign - if not very many of those at a time worldwide.

But you still need to be staging these accidents. You can't cover outbursts of violence in populated public areas very well, because there are cell phone cameras fucking everywhere.

I keep coming back to that scene in Jupiter Ascending where the space ships had a dog fight over Chicago. That scene extremely did not work for me, because there were fucking cars and office workers all over the fucking place and no one seemed to be doing anything out of the ordinary. The conspiracy just isn't going to be able to cover crap like that (especially if they can't even be fucked to erase a phone picture of alien kidnapping from earlier in the day).

Things you can totally get away with:
  • Renting a stadium, conference center, or mega church and putting "Vampire Blood Orgy" on the marquee and having hundreds or thousands of attendees watch you perform blood drinking rituals and talk to ghosts.

  • Having the giant fight from the end of Lost Boys, or any other monster or gangster movie where a bunch of people die horrible deaths in a slightly secluded location.

  • Having your evil sorcerous cabal commit individual human sacrifices on a monthly basis.

  • Assassinating would-be monster hunters.

  • Having a web site or radio program where you rant about your sorcerous powers to a niche audience.


Things you can't get away with:
  • Subjecting your magical powers to peer-reviewed university research.

  • Having overtly magical fights in populated public areas.

  • Having people-killing requirements that are in any way significant per supernatural creature.

  • Being in public as something that doesn't look like a human or animal in a cosplay outfit. Like a Dragon, or giant moth.


-Frank
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:

Being in public as something that doesn't look like a human or animal in a cosplay outfit. Like a Dragon, or giant moth.


A giant moth can still pass as cosplay.

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GreatGreyShrike
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Not sure I agree with this one wholly:

- Subjecting your magical powers to peer-reviewed university research.

Have you seen parapsychology 'research'? The credulous have been trying to do 'science' on their purported magical powers for literally decades now, and publishing 'research' that's about as methodical as a lot of the softer sciences; the result of all that effort is that nobody takes this seriously (and nor should they). Even people like Bem basically just make skeptics think "if scientific methods can be used to 'prove' psi exists, this merely proves that our scientific methods are inadequate and could be 'proving' a lot of things that are false" (see: The replication crisis)

The nearest I've ever seen to anyone taking them seriously is things like Wiseman and Schlitz, which is utterly hilarious - a believer and a skeptic got together to run an experiment together, with a shared methodology that they both agreed upon beforehand to be as difficult to cheat or alter as possible; the result was, that using the same methodology, the believer in psi got results when administering the test that 'prove' psi exists, in a way consistent with his other results, and the skeptic's results from trials they administered, proved psi didn't exist, consistent with his other results; they suggest in their discussion section that purports to explain this that maybe the other guy hacked into the computer somehow and altered the results of testing

Admittedly, the sort of magic powers psi proponents purport to have are a lot less... well... obvious / powerful than a lot of White Wolf powers, but if, say, someone claiming to be a telepath came into a science lab demonstrating mindreading abilities and tried to publish papers about it, as far as I can tell our response as a society would be to ignore them, and probably laugh.

None of this is to say that I think psi is anything other than BS, in the real world; I merely think that it's plausible that a lot of the more subtle powers would be difficult to use to blow the Masquerade apart with just the power of Science as it is practiced in the real world.
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kzt
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

GreatGreyShrike wrote:
Not sure I agree with this one wholly:

- Subjecting your magical powers to peer-reviewed university research.

Have you seen parapsychology 'research'? The credulous have been trying to do 'science' on their purported magical powers for literally decades now, and publishing 'research' that's about as methodical as a lot of the softer sciences; the result of all that effort is that nobody takes this seriously (and nor should they). Even people like Bem basically just make skeptics think "if scientific methods can be used to 'prove' psi exists, this merely proves that our scientific methods are inadequate and could be 'proving' a lot of things that are false" (see: The replication crisis)

The guy who eventually won the Nobel prize for showing that stomach ulcers were mostly caused by bacteria spent 12 years fighting the conventional wisdom about spicy foods and stress before NIH formally agreed with him, and ~11 more before the Nobel. So even having replicable results doesn't assure people will believe you if it is in their interest that you be wrong. Like say people who surgically fixed stomach ulcers. Sometimes it's true that "Science advances one funeral at a time".

And when you propose something absurd and/or crazy you sure better have really damn convincing proof, and you dog better not eat it.
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Depends a bit on the power. I'm thinking the part where you turn into a 2.5 meter werewolf bit would be pretty convincing.
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Prak
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Or even just the part where you survive a hail of gunfire, or can be returned from ash with a bit of blood.
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Winnah wrote:
No, No. 'Prak' is actually a Thri Kreen impersonating a human and roleplaying himself as a D&D character. All hail our hidden insect overlords.


FrankTrollman wrote:
In Soviet Russia, cosmic horror is the default state.

You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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Cervantes
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

But how do you scientifically demonstrate and reproduce those crazy things? Video recording? Photographic evidence? Pfft, like those are reliable.

I'm imagining a werewolf going around the scientific community showing off his War Form as reproduction of a test. But that's not really even science at that point, it's the werewolf racking up witnesses who have a certain kind of credibility.
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cervantes wrote:
But how do you scientifically demonstrate and reproduce those crazy things? Video recording? Photographic evidence? Pfft, like those are reliable.


By that logic, how would you demonstrate anything? Anything could be faked, if you can't reproduce it yourself. You need to believe some people, you can't redo everything yourself.

Having said that, werewolves et al start at the position of not being taken seriously at all, so there's that problem most science doesn't have.

(Though, if, say, you have werewolves gaining mass and violating conservation of mass and so on, the scientific community is rather different from real life anyway)
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Prak
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

"Hm, yes, Dr. Fluffykins, you certainly seem to be able to turn into an 8 foot tall slavering beast, but I have some concerns about the reproduceability of your results..."

But, I mean, for quite some time, there was actually a million dollar challenge for people to present testable paranormal abilities (which, of course, no one could do). So, hypothetically, a supernatural who wanted to prove they were could just kick in James Randi's door (or coffin, he's not dead yet, but he is getting up there in years) and say "hey, gimme a test, fucker."

The challenge is no longer an active challenge, but I imagine what that really means is that if the foundation gets wind of something that seems pretty credible, they'll contact the supposed paranormal person, rather than letting supposed paranormals contact them and then completely fail to fill out basic paperwork or understand the idea of objective tests.
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Dean, on Paranoia wrote:
The book is a hardbound liars paradox.


Winnah wrote:
No, No. 'Prak' is actually a Thri Kreen impersonating a human and roleplaying himself as a D&D character. All hail our hidden insect overlords.


FrankTrollman wrote:
In Soviet Russia, cosmic horror is the default state.

You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

A couple things:

First, the standard of evidence is real different in biology and medicine than the social sciences. Discovery of a new organism with properties X, Y, and Z would be a lot more open and shut than whatever psychological papers are claiming today.

Second, the effects Bem is claiming is ludicrously tiny compared to any supernatural powers people would actually put in a game. Bem is suggesting that there are circumstances where a person could guess the outcomes of a fair coin flip 53% of the time instead of 50% of the time. That would be enough to drive Vegas out of business, but it's obviously within a standard deviation of just having two coin flips and asking whether they match. Indeed, if you just did the test where people guessed heads or tails a hundred times, they'd get 53% or more right 30.86% of the time. It would be trivial to run the test a hundred times with varying parameters and then retrospectively circle some subset where the guess rate was 3% in-favor. If you could read minds with even 50% accuracy, you'd be guessing correctly 75% of the time, which would be numbers that would be way out of line with the expected permutations of random coin flipping.

Third, and perhaps most importantly of all: there is in fact a huge amount of money that wants to believe. The military industrial complex. Lockheed has $46 billion dollars in revenue and convincing governments that there are various threats that they need to defend themselves against is literally their entire business. If there are Werewolves, there is a market for anti-Werewolf weapons. And military contractors would not let that market go if they thought it existed.

That's why it's totally OK to go up on a stage and use your powers to delight and extort money from a few hundred or thousand rubes, but it's totally not OK to use your powers to show up the police. The police are getting fucking mine-resistant vehicles bought for them, to fight threats that only technically exist. If the police lost a fight to Werewolves, there's be silver bullet purchase orders around the country within hours. The amount of money swimming around in defense that is just looking for a thing to be spent on is offensively large, and the entire purpose of the masquerade is just to keep it from being spent on things that would actually threaten supernatural creatures.

-Frank
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Cervantes
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Thaluikhain wrote:
By that logic, how would you demonstrate anything? Anything could be faked, if you can't reproduce it yourself. You need to believe some people, you can't redo everything yourself.

The key word there was "scientifically". It's pretty easy to demonstrate things. This sort of discussion isn't that useful though since we quickly end up in "hey what constitutes scientific evidence" and we're doing epistemology of science and wait a second

e: Also loving the "the threat to the Masquerade is the military-industrial complex", really lets you play up the "government is the Big Enemy" metaplot


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kzt
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:

That's why it's totally OK to go up on a stage and use your powers to delight and extort money from a few hundred or thousand rubes, but it's totally not OK to use your powers to show up the police. The police are getting fucking mine-resistant vehicles bought for them, to fight threats that only technically exist. If the police lost a fight to Werewolves, there's be silver bullet purchase orders around the country within hours. The amount of money swimming around in defense that is just looking for a thing to be spent on is offensively large, and the entire purpose of the masquerade is just to keep it from being spent on things that would actually threaten supernatural creatures.

Kind of.

But the LockMart's aren't going to be selling bullets, they are going to be selling horribly complex and expensive "systems". Which will require expensive contractors (who only LockMart can supply) to manage and maintain.

A months worth of F-35 production probably costs about the yearly gross of the entire US firearms industry.

The (main) reason PDs get absurd armored vehicles is that DoD is looking to find something (anything) to do with the vehicles they needed a decade ago but don't want anymore. Very few departments actually buy them (and if they do it's usually with Federal grants), and apparently a lot of the departments with the donated MRAPs can't actually manage to keep 20-30 ton AFVs running.
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