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Carella and published in He is also the creator of the Unisystem roleplaying game system, having penned its first iteration for his roleplaying game WitchCraft and worked on later Unisystem titles such as All Flesh Must be Eaten, Terra Primate, and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Roleplaying Game.
A few reasons. GURPS Voodoo is probably one of the more fair-handed looks at Voudou and Santeria in roleplaying games though this is admittedly not a terribly hard feat.
Most important of all is that it has the same odd uniqueness that drew me to cover GURPS Technomancer, and there are some really fun ideas in here about incorporating Caribbean syncretic religions into an urban fantasy environment without losing the distinctive flavor of voudoun and company. On the flip side Over a thousand of these murderers plague North America alone, and many more are scattered around the world. Only a handful are caught every year. The fact that most of the perpetrators were unaware of what they were doing did not help in the slightest.
The sacrifice acted as a titanic summoning ritual, and evil entities answered the summons by the thousands. Oh, and there will be cat people. But in the world portrayed in these pages, those crimes, wars and natural disasters are all pieces of a puzzle — moves in a planetwide game with the souls of humankind at stake. Moving on. After the death of his wife and child due to an unstated supernatural fate, Deveraux delved into the supernatural truth of the world, learning of the tremendous threats to humanity therein courtesy of the ravings of a straight-jacketed Haitian woman in an insane asylum.
After the introductory fiction, we get a few disclaimers. They are not meant to describe actual institutions or organizations, and any resemblances are purely FNORD. Behind the Facade Moving into introducing the setting in more detail than the introduction, we are told that GURPS Voodoo is a world wherein spirits are very real and very much a part of everyday life. Knowledge of these spirits has been intentionally suppressed in Europe and "Western" cultures, keeping the power of magic in those regions held in the hands of a select few secret societies known as the Lodges.
The powers that be allow science to grow, but keep religion and metaphysics stagnant, and also take time to discredit non-Western magicians as being primitive superstitious folk. Fear not, however! We are told that "the old ways" are thankfully not dead, as Voodoo used here to collectively refer to various Caribbean and Latin American rites with a syncretic mix of European and west African religious traditions stands firm in the Americas.
The ability to deal with the spirits is increasingly becoming a very big deal, as the world is spiritually sick. The spirit world itself is the invisible realm dominated by ghosts, angels, demons, and gods.
These include both Voodoo patron spirits and the aforementioned Corruptors. Corruptors are created by the psychic resonance of intense negative emotions and gather around similarly negative-charged areas such as wargrounds, concentration camps, prisons, and serial killer hunting grounds.
Anyone who can connect with the spirit world is known as an Initiate. Most are Initiated through intense ritual performance and ordeals of the body and soul, but some individuals can be Initiated naturally through certain less than pleasant circumstances.
Quoth the book: quote: The consciousness of any human being who is exposed to a severe trauma is altered to such a degree that he may accidentally see a world that remains invisible to most of us. Therefore, one can find Initiates in the membership of secret societies or Voodoo temples — and also in insane asylums, concentration camps and other hellholes.
Properly trained Initiates are your magical priests and wizards, capable of performing supernatural feats and manipulating spirits. The two largest producers of Initiates are the Voodoo traditions and the Lodges of "the Western world" which includes traditional Middle Eastern Judaism and Islam in this case. Voodoo The Voodoo traditions are considered at the center of the Shadow War due to being syncretic practices made up of beliefs from across Europe, Africa, and the Americas, thus giving them a wide breadth of experience The loas, or orishas, are the spiritual beings that are at the center of all the different Voodoo groups.
Loas are divided into two categories, the first being old gods from central African traditions that came over with the slave trade or their New World counterparts and the second being lesser loas made manifest from spirits of dead humans. Just what the loas are is contentious among the Initiated: some claim they are merely the psychic effects of the collective unconscious made manifest, others believe they are genuine gods and demigods, and still others claim that they are spirits that intercede between humanity and the one true God such as in the Catholicism-based world of Louisiana Voodoo.
These are a relatively small number amidst the millions of believers in the Voodoo religions, most of whom know little or nothing about the Shadow War, the Lodges and their machinations, and the looming threat of the Corruptors. Voodoo Cults It turns out that different religions in different parts of a diverse cultural region are, in fact, different!
While they may all be gathered under the Voodoo brand, the disparate Voodoo traditions all have their own beliefs, certain unique loas, and often disagree with one another on various matters both material and spiritual. Two of these are real world religious sects, while the other six are both traditionalist and modern secret societies. Voudoun was birthed on the island of Haiti, and has since spread to other portions of the French Caribbean, French Guyana, and Haitian enclaves in the United States.
The rough economic history of Haiti, combined with the rule of tyrants such as Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, have made many Initiates of other Voodoo traditions suspicious of Voudoun practitioners on site, believing that the whole Haitian people have been influenced by the Corruptors ever since they won independence from France.
This is definitely the case with almost all priests that have been in positions of power in the country, but most local village houngans and mambos male and female Voudoun priests, respectively care deeply about their communities.
Santeria has more white and Hispanic representation than the mostly black Voudoun due to its differing regional origins, but has also had to deal with more shit from the Lodges than the Voodoo Initiates in Haiti. A Santeria priest is referred to as a santero, with high priests in particular being known as babalawos.
A babalawo has aspects of both teacher and godparent in the role they take concerning lower their santero pupils. Balawos are even forbidden from romance with those they teach, as it would be seen as spiritual incest and offend the orishas.
The Lucumi: Certain very private Voodoo fraternities, known as bizongues in French-speakings areas and cabildos in Spanish-speaking ones, gather together to take direct action in the Shadow War on one of the two sides. Three particular bizongues are detailed here, the largest being these guys. The Lucumi can match a European Lodge in size, and were born out of Initiates conducting meetings and in the dream world and finding that the future could unfold in two paths: quote: The Voodoo priests saw two different possible futures: one in which children of all races worked in harmony, mixing their blood until no one race dominated — and another where white slaughtered black and vice versa, where genocidal wars shattered civilization and humankind was lost in a sea of hatred and self-destruction.
To this end, the Lucumi supported the Haitian Revolution only to pull out when they found out that both the French and the Haitian rebels were under the influence of Corruptors , aided the Underground Railroad, gave backing to the Freedom Riders and other aspects of the American civil rights movement, and continue to finance certain black-owned corporations.
Their biggest beef is with the Lodges due to most Lodges being filled with racist assholes, though this meant they "lost sight of the true enemy, the Mayombe spirits".
The Dahomets: Members of this bizongue are descendants of soldiers of the Dahomey Kingdom that were brought to Haiti by King Henry Christophe in the s. They worship either an unnamed and particularly assholish loa or straight up serve a Corruptor. The Leopard Society: The bizongue known as the Leopard Society was originally created by descendants of the Egbo, a west African secret society with the leopard as its symbol.
While they are masters of the typically bokor-oriented arts of poisoning and zombie creation, they use these and their other talents only against Corruptors, Lodges, and In-Betweeners. A less savory splinter faction was created by Papa Doc Duvalier for supernatural terror tactics during his rule, however; these Leopard separatists have now deified Papa Doc as their own patron loa and continue their atrocities in Cuba at the behest of Fidel Castro.
They combine Voudoun religious beliefs with "a Western education and world view", which pisses off traditionalist Caribbean Initiates. Protectors always have their eyes on the Shadow War, engaging in both political activism and supernatural warfare against the Corruptors.
As a group, they are willing to work with the Lodges and other non-Vooodoo Initiate societies, as they feel the goal of stopping the Corruptors is far more important than any centuries-old bad blood.
Protectors can be from pretty much any background, as the group is "less concerned with racial heritage than with political correctness". The Electronic Crossroads: Wizard hackers that are probably the most 90s thing in this very 90s book. Members of the Electronic Crossroads have created new magic rituals to crash systems, go into computers as a virtual reality pocket space, and allow spirits to travel through electronic pathways.
They use these talents for goals of freeing information, uncovering secrets, helping the weak, and felling the strong. A bunch of inner city kids from black and Hispanic communities, the Loa Lords have suffered from poverty and violence long enough that they want to take down the Corruptors just as bad as the Protectors. Instead, Loa Lords Initiates are on the streets, using either brute force or subtle maneuverings to take down drug pushers, cartels, street gangs, and the like.
While Loa Lords and Protectors will work together, the two groups are on the opposite scales of pragmatism vs. They were the force behind the Inquisition, the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution and most major conflicts and events since before the fall of the Roman Empire.
They sabotaged the Ghost Dance, the Boxer Rebellion, and every mystical attempt of magical cultures to fight off European invaders. They have been the secret protectors of Western civilization for 1, years, and the secret masters of the world for longer than that. Assuming their history is correct, the first Lodge was founded during the Roman Empire by Simon Magus, a Samaritan Initiate in the First Century, and spread outward through the adherents of the Gnostic Gospels.
The oldest extant Lodge, the Roman Lodge, came about during this period and quickly gained strength by becoming the puppet master of the early Roman Catholic Church. The Lodges outside of the Holy City inevitably fell into line as supporters of various polities in Europe such as the Kingdom of France, Kingdom of England, and the Byzantine Empire, as well as the inexplicable Jewish and Muslim Lodges in the Middle East that seem to defy all the logic of the demographics of the Lodges.
On the specifically post-colonial American and Caribbean front, the Lodges influenced the Atlantic slave trade, witch hunts, demonization of Voodoo as Satanic, police brutality, militarism, and animal rights activism it interferes with animal sacrifice to the loas, you see. Individual members have a rank in the hierarchy that goes from one to ten, typically known as degrees.
Heading up a council is an elected tenth degree Initiate known as a bishop, whose power is held in check by the fact that a unanimous vote by all sixth degree or higher members of the council can strip him of his title if he pushes into territory they disagree with. Outside of the actual membership, councils also have puppets in local government, law enforcement, and business unions, as well as groups of hired assassins and legbreakers pulled from ex-military and ex-police if they need to use violence rather than magic to get what they want.
The rulers of all the Lodges are the Secret Masters, the longest-lived and most powerful Initiates of all time. Who are they? Major Lodges and Other Lodge Orders As with the Voodoo sects, notes on the three most influential Lodges and a smattering of smaller groups is given.
They also happen to control most other fundamentalist Christian sects these days, "including many whose members would froth at the mouth at the suggestion that they have anything to do with Catholics". Roman Lodge members can be split up into three categories. Second are some Gnostics who are just using the un-Initiated faithful of the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations as a sledgehammer for their own purposes. Finally, of course, there are the "corrupt Initiates", the evil guys who secretly serve the demiurges and other Corruptors.
These disparate individuals came together during the time spanning the English Civil War and French Revolutions, as the members of the Lodge realized their firmly held belief in the divine right of kings was being threatened by revolutionary movements across the continent.
Once monarchies began to fall out of the style outright, the Lodge went from elitism based on class to elitism based on race. Unconfirmed rumors suggest they also used magic rituals to create AIDS and spread sickle cell anemia. And, as the book tells us: quote: They have finally consigned one of their experiments — communism — to the trash heap of history.
Now if only the Powers controlling China would relent. You could think of them as the group going "all lives matter" while they apply their magical knowledge to white men first and foremost. This gave the other Lodges an excuse to brand Servants of Hecate as heretics corrupted by the demiurges, and a non-small number of its Lodge members were tortured and murdered over the course of the Inquisitions. Ever since then, the Servants of Hecate have been mistrustful of the classical Lodges, and have found more common ground with the Voodoo Initiates and other native magical groups than their supposed brethren.
The group is even behind the rise of Wicca, neopaganism, and feminism, spitting right in the face of the Roman Lodge. These guys are basically another flavor of the Enlightened, even having fingers in the same Freemason and fraternity pies, and are big fans of white British people.
Members are the Golden Dawn are typically selected for being rich and intelligent on top of having magical talent. The typical jobs Golden Dawn Initiates get up to are either investigating Corruptor activity or keeping mundane society in the dark about the supernatural by funding professional debunkers and skeptic organizations. They see both this serpent and other snake deities the world over as evidence of the spritual path of knowledge and asceticism that has been set forth for humanity.
Why these particular Snake People are both nonviolent and open to Initiation is a mystery to everyone besides the Ophites. They were originally almost entirely concerned with the spiritual world rather than material one and kept to themselves, but other Lodges jealous of their talents kept instigating antisemitism and spreading conspiracies about Jewish overlords in order to keep the Kabbalists down. Ever since then, the Kabbalists have distanced themselves with the European Lodges and ramped up their fight against the Corruptors.
A new magic system replicates the way Voodoo priests and the shamans of many ancients cultures think it works. The Shadow War is a conflict fought on many fronts. Voodoo Initiates contend with the Lodges, which consist of European magicians who have kept their occult power hidden and consider themselves the secret masters of the Western world. Beneath that struggle, some Initiates have begun to realize, lies a battle between Humankind and beings that have no use for power or wealth — only destruction. Unlike many "dark" RPGs, Voodoo is not about enduring horror, but fighting it. Human Spirit Warriors, monstrous In-Betweener renegades, and even ghosts can join forces and stop the manipulators and deceivers. The world of the Shadow War needs heroes, however frail or flawed they may be.
GURPS Voodoo: The Shadow War