Monday, May 2, 2016

Monster of the Week: Down in the Delta

Left to right: Damballah, Erzulie, Khalfu, Legba, Ogun,  Baron Samedi, Chango
The American South is a broad region that paradoxically epitomizes the American conceptual melting pot while clinging to traditional social stratification.  New Orleans embodies this contradiction more than any other metropolis in the region.  In the popular conciousness the city is also the cradle of voodoo the most American religion.  Popularly associated with African American folk magic, voodoo comes in a wide variety of flavors depending on the European Colonial powers and can find a place for anything.  Regional varieties include santeria, hoodoo, vodoun, and candomble.

Commonly associated with the now ubiquitous zombie, vodoun's versatile cast of characters and monsters are often overlooked.  Drawing from at least three different belief traditions and rich seams of lore, any two voodoo bestiaries wouldn't look alike.  Some of the staples are:

Tonton Macoute (Uncle Gunnysack) is the Haitian version of the Coco, or the boogeyman. A big, lumbering menace with black nailed fingers and a voluminous sack, probably magical.
Monster: Collector (children)
Immense Strength, Incredibly Stealthy
Harm: Strangling grip deals 2 harm, ignores armor Armor: Thick skin provides 1 armor Health: 11 health
Unique Move
Chickity Chack Get In My Sack - When Tonton Macoutes orders you into his bag, roll +Cool. On a 10+ you can choose, if you do mark experience and gain +1 forward. On a 7-9 you can choose, if you do mark experience.  On a 6- you clamber in and separate from everyone and everything that ever kept you warm.

The loas (gods) do not manifest physically, instead ride/possess the flesh of humans known as chevals (horses.)  Any person in the crowd could play host to inimical spiritual will.  Use Bystanders in a scene as channels of the Invisible Ones and a conduit for some unique moves. The common loa and some suggestions are:
Damballah - Serpent of Wisdom - "gift" someone with the curse of babble, rendering them unintelligible to others.
Erzulie - Life's Lover - Slip someone Love Potion #9, you decide how self-destructive that gets.
Khalfu - Master of the Left Hand - A character's ordered thoughts scatter into chaotic noise, focusing on a basic task becomes next to impossible. 
Legba - Guardian of the Crossroads- A character crossing an intersection may find themselves hit by a car, or teleported onto the wrong side of the tracks.
Ogun - Master of Iron and War - Bullets just can't seem to miss you.  Mark unstable and take 1 harm everytime you're shot at.
Baron Samedi - Custodian of the Dead - Paralyze a hunter with a case of rigor mortis, frozen until the next dawn.
Chango - King of Fire, Sky, and Smoke - Unsubtle, someone cursed by Chango gets a tag along thunderstorm.  Maybe it's small or maybe it's large.

And of course there's dolls, creating sympathetic links and allowing magical rootworking at a distance.  Maybe they animate and attack as a horde with bloody pins and needles.