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-   -   Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast (http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=161066)

Icelander 12-14-2018 05:49 AM

Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
For a campaign set in the modern day in a secret magic world of Monster Hunters, I'm considering what universities, research institutes and other sources of support and funding would investigate subjects relevant to PC Monster Hunters. Some PCs and NPC allies will be academics or have connections with academic institutes and I want to determine the most respected, influential and powerful Patrons, Claims to Hospitality or Contacts in that field.

The area of focus for the campaign is the Gulf Coast of the US, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The PCs will have several bases, but will probably be at least part-time residents of Galveston, TX, or the vicinity. They'll also travel around in a yacht owned by their eccentric patron, with frequent ports of call being New Orleans, LA, Gulfport-Biloxi, MS, Mobile, AL, and several ports in Florida and the Caribbean.

What I want to know is which universities and institutions in that area are most involved in field anthropology, ethnography, comparative religion, folklore and similar research.

Which universities offer respected graduate programs studying subjects which in a secret magic Monster Hunter game might relate to Ritual Path Magic and/or monsters?

Where is the most research being done on Afro-American religions and folklore?

What are the most likely institutions to sponsor anthropology fieldwork in the Caribbean or Latin America?

Where in the Gulf Coast area would one find the best libraries where manuscripts of occult significance might be found?

What universities in the area have the best history departments? The best linguistic departments? Best anthropology departments? And so on?

And for characters who are able to visit Galveston at least weekly without major hassle (bonus points if it's within a daily commute), what university would be most appropriate for them to be attending as a graduate student of anthropology and/or to have connections with as a faculty member or visiting lecturer?

Rice University?

University of Houston?

University of St. Thomas?

Lamar University?

Sam Houston State University?

Texas Southern University?

Baylor University?

Texas A&M University?

University of Texas at Austin?

naloth 12-14-2018 07:15 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
A&M at Corpus Christi. Beautiful campus and regarded as one of the best coastal universities.

Icelander 12-14-2018 07:47 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by naloth (Post 2228484)
A&M at Corpus Christi. Beautiful campus and regarded as one of the best coastal universities.

Thanks.

That's a suggestion would never have occurred to me. Somehow, I was imagining Galveston as the westernmost port of call they'd frequent and didn't think about the rest of the Gulf Coast. There's absolutely nothing preventing their eccentric billionaire* Patron from owning property and a berth for his yacht there, as well as in many other Gulf Coast ports.

Reading about Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, it also occurs to me that field anthropologist is far from the only useful academic cover for paranormal investigators in the Caribbean. The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies and similar institutions could also provide a cover for some oddly secretive people with scientific equipment poking around in out-of-the-way places, not to mention that there might be aspects of the supernatural in the setting that can be studied using ecological research methods.

The PCs represent the 'A-Team' of elite supernatural troubleshooters that their Patron funds, with an extensive network of contacts and support personnel spread through the Gulf Coast and Caribbean, and to the lesser extent the world.

That means that their Patron will have academics, reporters, private security contractors, intelligence analysts and a lot of other people on his payroll just to collect, collate and analyse data about possible paranormal activity. So it's plausible that there would be contract employees connected with several universities and research institutions, so I'd welcome more suggestions for such places in the campaign area.

One character will be a graduate student of anthropology** who has spent the last two years studying in Texas, having transferring from somewhere else after being rescued from a supernatural occurrence. The background demands that she has been able to spend a lot of time with J.R. Kessler and his inner circle, which means that she would have to be able to make weekend trips to Galveston easily, and it would probably be best if she could live within driving distance for more frequent visits.

Of course, you can drive up for the weekend from Corpus Christi to Galveston and it's a very short flight, but it's obviously not as convenient for daily contact with her Patron as studying in Houston, Galveston or Beaumont. At minimum, it would mean that she would have spent less time in her background being personally instructed about the occult by her Patron.

*According to the 2018 Forbes list, though J.R. Kessler, the Galveston-born centenarian Patron in question, is quick to point out that the estimated number is probably wildly inaccurate, though it would take a multi-national summit of tax lawyers and accountants to say in which direction, and then only if he were dumb enough to let all of them collectively in on some half-century of labyrinthine and Byzantine financial dealings, not to mention some decidedly odd purchases, assets and 'consultant' expenses creatively spread through his holdings.
**Specific field of study undetermined as yet, but will amount to a skill set that allows the 'forensic' investigation and interpretation of scenes of supernatural attacks, paranormal activity and meddling with Things Man was Not Meant to Know. That means a working knowledge of magical scripts, glyphs, symbols and suchlike, as well as occult lore. Whether the character will specialize in some particular tradition is unclear, though it is more likely than not that the character will have a broad knowledge of comparative occult traditions than just a focus on one specific one.

thrash 12-14-2018 09:32 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
US News ranks UT Austin in their top 20 or so graduate programs for history, sociology, and political science; the rankings don't address anthropology, etc.

You might consider Tulane University in New Orleans for the old and creepy factor.

naloth 12-14-2018 10:39 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thrash (Post 2228522)
US News ranks UT Austin in their top 20 or so graduate programs for history, sociology, and political science; the rankings don't address anthropology, etc.

You might consider Tulane University in New Orleans for the old and creepy factor.

I'd also put UT forward for engineering within the southwest.

Rice is much further north but good for wealthy alumni and math.

Brown is good for biochemistry and around Houston.

A&M ranks high for veterinary services and has a strong core/military component. People take prize horses and other animals there for specialized treatment.

For Corpus, I'd play up the the fact that the university is on an island and there's nothing else. It's a good barrier for forcing the PCs to handle things without a lot of outside help.

Black Leviathan 12-14-2018 11:27 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
For flavor alone, unless you want a major university feel for your campaign. I'd go with the tiny almost discreditable universities. Crazytown like TexArcana University of the Sociological Arts, or College of the Daughters of the Confederacy. Dauterive College of Southern Louisiana. Names that conjour brick manors from the turn of the century swarmed with kudzu and festooned with creepy statuary. The sort of university that has a statue in the drive circle of a man bearing a sword and a crucifix and a plaque that reads "Col. Hestus Mayweather. They wanted Hell. He did not disappoint."

Apollonian 12-14-2018 12:32 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
The other thing I'd look at in terms of at least cover identities is the oil industry. Whole lot of scientists stuck into that, and it's practically a byword for dirty money. What else do they find when they're prospecting in the deep waters, and what have they riled up that monster hunters might want to put down? Even if the PCs and patron aren't involved, they have plenty of reason to have contacts within the industry.

Plus, refineries and oil rigs make for great fight scene set dressing.

Anaraxes 12-14-2018 02:02 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

For Corpus, I'd play up the the fact that the university is on an island
Is it? Google Maps puts it on the coast, true. It might technically be one of those "islands" that has a creek or something separating it from the mainland, particularly at high tide. But it's near major highways, only a couple of miles from an Interstate, and directly across the bay, maybe 2000 feet away from a Naval Air Station. It's not exactly an isolated Miskatonic U. The PCs will be dealing with problems because they're PCs, and because in an urban fantasy typically mundanes don't understand and can't help, not because they're distant from aid or fortified on defensible terrain.

Quote:

Originally Posted by thrash (Post 2228522)
UT Austin

Isn't that dangerously close to Illuminati headquarters for the PCs? (Why, they're in secure enough control of the town even to obviously mark their territory, mundanes or no.)

thrash 12-14-2018 02:17 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Anaraxes (Post 2228586)
Isn't [UT Austin] dangerously close to Illuminati headquarters for the PCs?

It's always darkest at the base of the lighthouse.

naloth 12-14-2018 03:35 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Anaraxes (Post 2228586)
Is it? Google Maps puts it on the coast, true. It might technically be one of those "islands" that has a creek or something separating it from the mainland, particularly at high tide.

The times I've been there, there was a bridge on either side, but you'd be swimming to get there. Perhaps it's changed, that was 5ish years ago?

Quote:

But it's near major highways, only a couple of miles from an Interstate, and directly across the bay, maybe 2000 feet away from a Naval Air Station. It's not exactly an isolated Miskatonic U. The PCs will be dealing with problems because they're PCs, and because in an urban fantasy typically mundanes don't understand and can't help, not because they're distant from aid or fortified on defensible terrain.
True, but having been there during a storm, you wouldn't want to be out on a bridge when it's windy and wet. The Gulf or the bay would be rather hazardous as well.

It feels more isolated when you are there and evacuating would be nightmare in an emergency.

Perhaps this is a better view of what it would be like on a clear day.
https://www.bestvalueschools.com/wp-...N-Programs.jpg

Icelander 12-14-2018 07:46 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Apollonian (Post 2228560)
The other thing I'd look at in terms of at least cover identities is the oil industry. Whole lot of scientists stuck into that, and it's practically a byword for dirty money. What else do they find when they're prospecting in the deep waters, and what have they riled up that monster hunters might want to put down? Even if the PCs and patron aren't involved, they have plenty of reason to have contacts within the industry.

Plus, refineries and oil rigs make for great fight scene set dressing.

The Patron has extensive assets in mining, oil and natural gas. In fact, he's a stereotypical 'robber baron' capitalist who now, in the twilight of a long lifetime of shady dealings and organized crime, seems to want to make amends for the way he made his money through funding altruistic protectors from supernatural evil.

mehrkat 12-14-2018 10:28 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
I recently went to Galveston and though there is a bridge and it is close to the mainland it's not like a creek runs through it. It's more like the Gulf runs around it and you could just keep boating past through the gulf to open ocean.

Icelander 12-15-2018 05:04 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by mehrkat (Post 2228679)
I recently went to Galveston and though there is a bridge and it is close to the mainland it's not like a creek runs through it. It's more like the Gulf runs around it and you could just keep boating past through the gulf to open ocean.

Did anything in Galveston strike you as inspirational for an introductuionary adventure?

I'd want to start with some investigative aspects, move on to thriller and psychological horror before ending with Monster Hunter action.

Still haven't decided what the threat is, just that in this case, instead of the PCs arriving as high-powered troubleshooters in a situation where NPCs have already found evidence of a supernatural problem, something odd, maybe on the news, maybe which they personally witness, spurs them to investigation in their home town (at least home base, it doesn't look like any PC so far suggested would be a native-born Texan).

Were there any areas of Galveston that struck you as good sets for scenes of psychologically taut games of hide and seek? Or for scenes of furious axtion against the unnatural?

Anaraxes 12-15-2018 05:53 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by naloth (Post 2228616)
Perhaps this is a better view of what {the A&M island) would be like on a clear day.

Good picture; thanks. Google Maps has the northwestern approach as land. (Maybe tidal muck, which still isn't something you want to mount an assault across. Unless you're already a swamp thing, I suppose.) This pic looks much more like water (high tide, maybe).

Icelander 12-15-2018 07:56 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thrash (Post 2228522)
UT Austin

Quote:

Originally Posted by Anaraxes (Post 2228586)
Isn't that dangerously close to Illuminati headquarters for the PCs? (Why, they're in secure enough control of the town even to obviously mark their territory, mundanes or no.)

I admit that I find the idea of a character at UT Austin who is pop-culture-savvy sci-fi & fantasy fan and avid roleplayer a pretty amusing idea. It's good to have a character who can make pop-culture quips in character, it encouraged good in-character dialogue around the game table, not just OOC joking around.

AlexanderHowl 12-15-2018 08:05 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
An alternative patron would be a young billionaire who made his or her fortune in renewable energy investments. Such an individual would sponsor occult oriented research due to new age beliefs (or perhaps darker reasons). As for anthropology, there really is not a top school that far south that is west of Gainsville, FL.

Icelander 12-15-2018 11:52 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl (Post 2228765)
An alternative patron would be a young billionaire who made his or her fortune in renewable energy investments. Such an individual would sponsor occult oriented research due to new age beliefs (or perhaps darker reasons).

I'm quite wedded to the current Patron, J.R. Kessler of Galveston, TX.

Quote:

Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl (Post 2228765)
As for anthropology, there really is not a top school that far south that is west of Gainsville, FL.

That's disappointing.

What about universities with good graduate or post-graduate programs connected to other applicable fields of study; e.g. Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Oriental Studies, Egyptology, Assyriology, Mesoamerican Studies, Indigenous American Studies, Caribbean Studies, African-American Studies, Art History, Near Eastern Archaeology, Mesoamerican Archaeology, History of Religions, Comparative Religion, Sociology of Religion, Philology, Historical Linguistics, Semiotic Studies, Ethnopharmacology and Ethnomedicine?

a humble lich 12-15-2018 02:02 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2228818)
What about universities with good graduate or post-graduate programs connected to other applicable fields of study; e.g. Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Oriental Studies, Egyptology, Assyriology, Mesoamerican Studies, Indigenous American Studies, Caribbean Studies, African-American Studies, Art History, Near Eastern Archaeology, Mesoamerican Archaeology, History of Religions, Comparative Religion, Sociology of Religion, Philology, Historical Linguistics, Semiotic Studies, Ethnopharmacology and Ethnomedicine?

It is a little outside the region you are talking about, but the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque has a good archeology department with respects to Southwestern Native American archeology. (Disclaimer: I am not in the field and am from New Mexico, so I might have just fallen for their advertising)

AlexanderHowl 12-15-2018 02:17 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Tempe, Arizona is better if you are going into the southwest. Anyway, when you are talking about the humanities, the further you go from the Gulf Coast the better generally. Austin is #16 in history, Rice is #34, and the rest are below #50 if they rank at all. As for the more detailed programs, start emailing your local professors because they would know.

namada 12-15-2018 03:24 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Nice sounding campaign.

I'm from south Louisiana so I may be able to help you out with stuff you need to know from this part of The Gulf, though I'm not sure regarding your university questions. I'm a bit out of touch with that these days.

Regarding Galveston, check out a book by Joe R. Lansdale named 'The Big Blow' - it might help kickstart your east Texas mojo. I've never been to Galveston, but the book is set there, in the past though, and I liked that book. In fact, many of his short stories would make great source material for this sort of campaign.

Back to south La., you'll almost certainly want to run adventures in the Atchafalaya Basin. Some Loup Garou, or Rougarou, sightings in the area would seem a good thing to investigate for such a crew. There are lots of oil & gas pipelines crisscrossing the swamp, but folks live, fish, and catch crawfish there, plus gators, of course.

Edit:
I had to cut my post short earlier.

I wanted to add that I *think* Tulane University has a good Anthropology program on Native Americans, but I'd have to web search it to verify - same thing you could do. Also that you may want to Web search The Old Spanish Trail which stretches over much of the Gulf Coast - there's probably some history & locations along it's length you could use as adventure sites. The Shadows on the Teche is one such in my home town.

Icelander 12-16-2018 08:26 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by namada (Post 2228861)
Nice sounding campaign.

I'm from south Louisiana so I may be able to help you out with stuff you need to know from this part of The Gulf, though I'm not sure regarding your university questions. I'm a bit out of touch with that these days.

Well, thanks. I'll be sure to make use of that kind offer.

Lucien Lacoste, the one PC already fully made was born in New Orleans, attended Jesuit High School and Loyola University and then worked in the NOPD for some fourteen years, the majority of that time as a homicide detective.

Lacoste has a spirit Ally whose form is that of his deceased partner* in the homicide department, LaDarius Fournette, who was born in rural Louisiana somewhere, where the accent is closer to other Southern accents than Cajun, Creole or the Yat dialect.

Where would the closest area to New Orleans where the accent sounds more 'normal' Southern be located?

*Due to the propensity for spirits to take on appearances and habits from the beliefs and expectations of people around them, it's unclear whether this is the genuine ghost of his partner or merely an opportunistic spirit.

Quote:

Originally Posted by namada (Post 2228861)
Regarding Galveston, check out a book by Joe R. Lansdale named 'The Big Blow' - it might help kickstart your east Texas mojo. I've never been to Galveston, but the book is set there, in the past though, and I liked that book. In fact, many of his short stories would make great source material for this sort of campaign.

I love Joe R. Lansdale!

His novels and short stories, as well as Nic Pizzolatto's* Galveston novel (now the movie Galveston) were major influences on my decision to set the campaign partially around Galveston, near the Big Thicket of East Texas, instead of having the home base be in the Caribbean itself.

It's very likely that New Orleans and southern Louisiana will also feature as a common adventure location, with inspiration drawn from True Detective, True Blood, James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels, Angel Heart (movie and book), The Originals and the old point-and-click adventure game Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers.

*Creator, writer and show-runner of HBO's True Detective.

Quote:

Originally Posted by namada (Post 2228861)
Back to south La., you'll almost certainly want to run adventures in the Atchafalaya Basin. Some Loup Garou, or Rougarou, sightings in the area would seem a good thing to investigate for such a crew. There are lots of oil & gas pipelines crisscrossing the swamp, but folks live, fish, and catch crawfish there, plus gators, of course.

Sounds good. Rougarou are a good idea.

Quote:

Originally Posted by namada (Post 2228861)
I wanted to add that I *think* Tulane University has a good Anthropology program on Native Americans, but I'd have to web search it to verify - same thing you could do. Also that you may want to Web search The Old Spanish Trail which stretches over much of the Gulf Coast - there's probably some history & locations along it's length you could use as adventure sites. The Shadows on the Teche is one such in my home town.

I imagine that Lucien Lacoste will have an old Jesuit professor friend at Loyola, someone who knows about the supernatural from a Catholic perspective and provides a back-channel contact with the inevitable Catholic Church conspiracy (which hopefully has no more sinister goal than to protect humanity in secret from the supernatural).

Icelander 12-17-2018 11:34 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl (Post 2228841)
Tempe, Arizona is better if you are going into the southwest. Anyway, when you are talking about the humanities, the further you go from the Gulf Coast the better generally. Austin is #16 in history, Rice is #34, and the rest are below #50 if they rank at all. As for the more detailed programs, start emailing your local professors because they would know.

I expect that the PCs area of operations will of necessity be limited. In setting terms, the PCs will patrol ley lines and hot spots of supernatural activity connected to the most famous of the twelve 'Vile Vortices'. Their Patron believes that it is at these locations and along the ley lines connecting them that other worlds are most likely to seep into ours and bring with them higher mana, supernatural beings and paranormal happenings.

At some of the other Vile Vortices, other powers or organisations stand guard. I haven't defined them exactly, but I expect that the Japanese have a secret government operation and/or a secret society dedicated to combating the supernatural activity connected to the 'Dragon's Triangle'. The Vatican has a well organised and professional secret arm devoted to combating the supernatural and they do good work in Brazil, among many other places, including, with considerable circumspection, Easter Island.

No doubt, clued-in individuals in the Pakistani government and UNESCO do their best in the Indus Valley, assisted by advice and support from the Shadow Court of Elizabeth II, the long-standing (dating back to the 1980s) conspiracy of British people who've become aware of the recent incursions of the supernatural, whereas the megaliths near Timbuktu are, as far as can be determined, rather frighteningly without protectors due to the political instability and violence around them. More remote locations, without much in the way of local inhabitants, may or may not have protectors.

There are many more supernatural hot spots than these twelve Vile Vortices, speculated to exist along ley lines or near ancient Places of Power, which are often places of historical and religious significance. Certainly, some areas in the United Kingdom, Middle East, Central Asia, Indochina and the Indian subcontinent seem to experience much more activity than their size and population would seem to warrant.

The United States government officially denies the existence of the supernatural, but unofficially, most likely has several competing desks concerned with monitoring it buried inside its vast intelligence and security network.

From what J.R. Kessler, the PCs' Patron, can determine, the Department of Homeland Security seems to be most active in containing outbreaks of violent paranormal activity in the continental USA, as well as in covering up such activity. Of necessity, NSA must also have some idea of what has been happening the last few years, regardless of official cover-ups in various countries, and the military must surely be aware that darker forces than merely terrorism are at play in Iraq after the coalition forces left.

Kessler has sympathetic relationships with some individuals working for the federal government, with useful information sometimes flowing in both directions, but he deeply distrusts the official response of DHS and wonders whether some malign supernatural influences might have infiltrated the inner workings of one or more government agencies.

Kessler spends at least $10 million annually on funding academic research of the supernatural, largely to ensure that he get good information to help plan actions that prevent any massive incursions. Recognizing that even with his personal wealth, he can only affect a limited area, he'll focus on universities that yield good data on the area around the Bermuda Triangle and ley lines that concentrate around Louisiana and East Texas.

Sciencezam 12-17-2018 02:26 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
I have to admit I'm kind of lacking in knowledge of the universities of the gulf coast, despite living in Texas. It's a big state!

Some quirks of geography/history you may find notable are the texas barrier islands, a long chain of narrow islands that help shield the coast from the full force of any hurricanes - Galveston is one, and Padre Island is a popular tourist location.

There's also the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, when the sea reclaimed the island in what remains the deadliest hurricane in US history; the Gulf of Mexico has a general habit of taking storms and amping their strength up, to the extent that pacific storms can cross mexico, reach the gulf, and regenerate into atlantic storms (Tropical Storm Trudy, 2014). Sure, the bermuda triangle is spooky, but the Gulf throws a city-leveling disaster at us every century or so.

Icelander 12-18-2018 02:29 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sciencezam (Post 2229257)
I have to admit I'm kind of lacking in knowledge of the universities of the gulf coast, despite living in Texas. It's a big state!

Some quirks of geography/history you may find notable are the texas barrier islands, a long chain of narrow islands that help shield the coast from the full force of any hurricanes - Galveston is one, and Padre Island is a popular tourist location.

There's also the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, when the sea reclaimed the island in what remains the deadliest hurricane in US history; the Gulf of Mexico has a general habit of taking storms and amping their strength up, to the extent that pacific storms can cross mexico, reach the gulf, and regenerate into atlantic storms (Tropical Storm Trudy, 2014). Sure, the bermuda triangle is spooky, but the Gulf throws a city-leveling disaster at us every century or so.

In a way, the intended task of the PCs is to function as supernatural storm breakers, shielding the inhabitants of the Gulf Coast (as well as the Caribbean and in a general sense, the Americas) from the projected ill effects of other worlds intruding on this one.

J.R. Kessler, their Patron, has a theory that supernatural beings can only sustain themselves in this world within close proximity to dimensional vortices to their home realities. As a result, nearly all of them, whether instinctively or with malice aforethought, attempt to keep open such connections, widen them and anchor so that they will remain open and release whatever preternatural energies required by ultra-terrestial entities. Left unchecked, therefore, any intrusion of unearthly forces could result in a crack between realities becoming a wide-open gateway that grew with every being that came through.

For different, but apparently fathomable worlds, like the ones humans have dubbed the Spirit World*, Guinee, Sheol, Faerie, Alfheim, Tír na nÓg, Isles of the Blessed or Hy Brasil, this would be bad enough. For truly outlandish realms of madness and vast, cool, unsympathetic intelligences, it would mean the end of human existence as we know it.

J.R. Kessler funds the PCs and others like them to prevent the Bermuda Triangle (and the other Vile Vortices) from giving rise to not only city-leveling disasters, but world-altering ones. At least, that is what he proclaims to believe.

*In many ways, the Spirit World seems to have been the first of the other worlds to impinge upon our mundane world, with confirmed evidence of interaction with it dating back to the early 1980s (knowledgeable occultists like Kessler can find no evidence of true paranormal activity earlier in the 20th century and sources from the 19th century and earlier mostly cannot be authenticated). Whether spirits are the souls of the dead or simply incorporeal beings who, like many supernatural creatures, take forms dictated by local belief and expectation, remains controversial. As does the connection of the Spirit World to other, similar worlds, like Sheol or Guinee.

namada 12-18-2018 09:25 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2229000)
Well, thanks. I'll be sure to make use of that kind offer.

You're welcome.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2229000)
Where would the closest area to New Orleans where the accent sounds more 'normal' Southern be located?

Well, first I'd have to ask, which Southern accent? ;)

Most Americans, even, lump all Southern accents together, but there are two distinct types: The Drawl & The Antebellum. The Drawl spans Texas, North Louisiana (above the flat horizontal line of the "boot"), Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, and (for some reason I can't figure) Florida. The Antebellum spans Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and both North and South Carolina. That's been my general experience anyhow.

In south Louisiana, we've got two main accents Cajun (from the eastern edge of the Atchafalaya Basin, westward) & Creole (East of the Atchafalaya Basin). Baton Rouge and the surrounding area have a good mix both those and The Drawl from relocated individuals from the north of the state. Then, surrounding the cities of Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, you can also find a large portion of the population (maybe 50%), has what most Americans would say is "no accent." The closer you get to the borders of other states (and northern Louisiana), the more likely you are to encounter those other accents.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2229000)
I love Joe R. Lansdale!

Sweet. Me too!
It's always nice to encounter a fellow Landsdale Lover...
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2229000)
His novels and short stories, as well as Nic Pizzolatto's* Galveston novel (now the movie Galveston) were major influences on my decision to set the campaign partially around Galveston, near the Big Thicket of East Texas, instead of having the home base be in the Caribbean itself.

Landsdale mostly centers his stories around his hometown of Nacogdoches, which is in Northeast Texas - home of the Thicket (you can see the area is surrounded by national forests on Google Maps).

Icelander 12-18-2018 04:15 PM

Gulf Coast Folklore about Faeries, Little People or Nature Spirits
 
On the subject of folklore studies in East Texas, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, are there any local myths that might relate to creatures that could come from an alternate world of Faerie, Álfheim or the equivalent?

Any stories about local sprites, fairies, gnomes, little people, elves, fey, changelings, Fair Folk, goblins, gremlings, bugaboos, hobs, ogres or other ultraterrestial fauna?

namada 12-19-2018 08:14 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Feu Follet: Basically the same as Will O' the Wisp. I've actually only heard mention of this once in my entire life (that I recall), so I wouldn't call it common.

These two are commonly known:

Cauchemar: Sleep paralysis is believed to be behind this, but it's generally described as an attack by an evil spirit or a witch. You could have it be an invisible creature from another realm instead.

Rougarou: Technically, this is more or less your classic "cursed" man that turns into a wolf (though variations do exist), but there's no reason in your setting it couldn't be from another realm instead.

Interesting article & comments here...

Also, note that Louisiana is the only state in the US that still uses "Parish" as a governmental division, rather than "County." This is because the state has a long history of being Catholic, so all the usual superstitions and beliefs found in any Catholic area are also here. Folk Healers are a part of life here, and incorporate Catholic & Voodoo traditions. My grandmother actually took me to one when I was a child, and I still recall my grandmother lining all her doors and windows with salt to keep the evil spirits away...

If you can get your hands on a copy of Louisiana: A Guide to the State, published back in the 40's, I've read it's got a good section on La. Folklore. Of course, it's old, and a huge book, so much of it is going to be out of date, but the folklore section probably has more info than any modern Cajun or Creole person knows about, IDK for sure. Most of what gets bandied about nowadays is talk of ghosts and hauntings. Every old house or building is rumored to be haunted around here. Old, abandoned cemeteries too, always found out in the middle of nowhere, and wouldn't you know it, they're said to be haunted.

Speaking of cemeteries, a note on geography - almost all of South La., if you dig down 3', you'll hit the watertable. This is why burials are mostly above ground in mausoleums here. An airtight coffin will float back to the surface if you bury it. When Hurricane Rita hit and flooded areas with cemeteries that were long thought "high & dry," a lot of coffins came floating to the surface. This happened at the cemetery across the street from my dad's house. There were 6' deep concrete boxes lowered into the ground, with the coffin inside, then a concrete lid placed on top. That worked fine until the box filled with water, the coffin floated the lids off (cracked many), and they just popped up like corks...

You'll find no cellars, or storm shelters, built underground in south Louisiana, and most homes are built on piers or, near waterways where it's known to flood regularly, taller stilts.

adm 12-19-2018 08:34 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by namada (Post 2229741)
...Also, note that Louisiana is the only state in the US that still uses "Parish" as a governmental division, rather than "County." This is because the state has a long history of being Catholic, ...

Actually, Louisiana uses Parishes because their legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code, instead of the English Common Law system the rest of the U.S.A law is based on.

LokRobster 12-19-2018 09:38 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
I ran an IW campaign that was based on Nacogdoches as the center of a trans-dimensional highway ring linking 9 different parallel worlds.

There is evidence of 10,000 years of human habitation there they say... Oldest city in Texas. Seems likely to have some Magic there.

My campaign featured a gate room hidden underneath the “Old Stone Fort” house built in 1790ish by an early Spanish merchant/Lt Governor... the structure fell into ruin in the early 20th century and got moved to local college in the 1920s where it is a museum now, so in some timelines the PCs had to get into the bank that is now on the site where the house used to be.

There’s an RPG i was eyeing a while back about a fictional college of Weirdness, East Texas University. (Savage Worlds, set in ‘Pinebox, TX’) Might have some mineable ideas since it was all kinds of Supernatural, tied as much as possible into the Big Thicket motif.

Icelander 12-20-2018 04:09 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by LokRobster (Post 2229750)
I ran an IW campaign that was based on Nacogdoches as the center of a trans-dimensional highway ring linking 9 different parallel worlds.

There is evidence of 10,000 years of human habitation there they say... Oldest city in Texas. Seems likely to have some Magic there.

My campaign featured a gate room hidden underneath the “Old Stone Fort” house built in 1790ish by an early Spanish merchant/Lt Governor... the structure fell into ruin in the early 20th century and got moved to local college in the 1920s where it is a museum now, so in some timelines the PCs had to get into the bank that is now on the site where the house used to be.

There’s an RPG i was eyeing a while back about a fictional college of Weirdness, East Texas University. (Savage Worlds, set in ‘Pinebox, TX’) Might have some mineable ideas since it was all kinds of Supernatural, tied as much as possible into the Big Thicket motif.

Nice!

Thanks for these suggestions, I'll be sure to work the ancient habitation of Nagadoches, at least, into the campaign somehow.

Icelander 12-20-2018 04:13 AM

Bad Places in Galveston
 
Are there any places in Galveston that would naturally have lower Threshold (Pyramid #3/58 'Safe as Houses') and Facade (Pyramid #3/97 'Mask of Humanity') than others, even to the point of being Places of Power (GURPS Thaumatology) with nasty-bad flavour and/or Bad Places (GURPS Horror)?

Sites of massacres, notable suicides, serial killer residences, etc.?

Haunted houses?

SionEwig 12-20-2018 08:36 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Not on the coast, but there are the well known Marfa Lights. Usually seen along US 67 (on Mitchell Flat) east of the town of Marfa. You might be able to make some use of them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marfa_lights

LokRobster 12-20-2018 09:22 PM

Re: Gulf Coast Folklore about Faeries, Little People or Nature Spirits
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2229497)
On the subject of folklore studies in East Texas, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, are there any local myths that might relate to creatures that could come from an alternate world of Faerie, Álfheim or the equivalent?

Any stories about local sprites, fairies, gnomes, little people, elves, fey, changelings, Fair Folk, goblins, gremlings, bugaboos, hobs, ogres or other ultraterrestial fauna?

Some 20th century-based stories are sure to have come from some dark prehistoric time that we are just now discovering: Skunk Ape (aka Louisiana Big Foot), the Houston Bat-Man (the clickbait-ad-laden Texas Hill Country.com has a cool story about it), and the Chupacabra from Mexico may often wander up the coast.

The Wampus Cat of Cherokee folklore has been spotted in a East Texas as well....

LokRobster 12-20-2018 09:30 PM

Re: Bad Places in Galveston
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2229801)
Are there any places in Galveston that would naturally have lower Threshold (Pyramid #3/58 'Safe as Houses') and Facade (Pyramid #3/97 'Mask of Humanity') than others, even to the point of being Places of Power (GURPS Thaumatology) with nasty-bad flavour and/or Bad Places (GURPS Horror)?

Sites of massacres, notable suicides, serial killer residences, etc.?

Haunted houses?

Reminded me of La Salle’s lost French Colony. Matagorda Bay ain’t too far from Galveston:)

The Colonel 12-21-2018 07:19 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by adm (Post 2229742)
Actually, Louisiana uses Parishes because their legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code, instead of the English Common Law system the rest of the U.S.A law is based on.

Which is weird, because the basic unit of rural local government here on Homeworld is the Civil Parish.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_...gland#Parishes

Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2229801)
Are there any places in Galveston that would naturally have lower Threshold (Pyramid #3/58 'Safe as Houses') and Facade (Pyramid #3/97 'Mask of Humanity') than others, even to the point of being Places of Power (GURPS Thaumatology) with nasty-bad flavour and/or Bad Places (GURPS Horror)?

Sites of massacres, notable suicides, serial killer residences, etc.?

Haunted houses?

Dunno about Galveston, but besides the more famous fountain of youth in Florida, there's the one from the song located in Mineral Wells TX.

adm 12-21-2018 10:38 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by The Colonel (Post 2230087)
Which is weird, because the basic unit of rural local government here on Homeworld is the Civil Parish.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_...gland#Parishes

...

Interesting, now I wonder where else in the US parishes may be used.

A quick internet search later, no one else for government subdivisions.

Icelander 12-21-2018 10:49 AM

Re: Bad Places in Galveston
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by LokRobster (Post 2230018)
Reminded me of La Salle’s lost French Colony. Matagorda Bay ain’t too far from Galveston:)

It's indeed a short distance, especially by fast yacht, which is likely to be the PCs' transportation of choice.

Thanks. I'll be sure to schedule an adventure hook in connection to this. I'll just have to find out where in the East Texas wilds LaSalle was murdered in the Tarantino-scripted side-story of the rescue party.

Icelander 12-21-2018 08:54 PM

Remote Swamp in Florida for Florida Swamp People
 
Where in Florida would I find the most remote, inaccessible isolated communities of clannish Duck Dynasty/Swamp People -esque people?

I'm aware that these are both set in Louisiana, yes. The character for whose backstory this is actually comes from Louisiana, originally, with all his Cajun kin, but they've spread all over the Gulf Coast, at least to places sufficiently hospitable to their lifestyle*, and his branch lives somewhere in Florida.

Culturally, I'd prefer the Panhandle, but climatically and ecologically, it might be that it's necessary to have it be in southern Florida, like the Everglades. The PC requires a mangrove tree near his home, for example.

It's absolutely imperative that there is no convenient way to reach the place. Ideally, no road, just fanboats. But if possible, there should also be trees and thick, impassable greenery in places. Basically, the local terrain would, in a perfect world, offer some combination of bayou, swamp, jungle and forest.

Any suggestions?

Edit: If placing a family of a few hundred Cajuns in Florida living a lifestyle iconic of Cajuns in the wetlands of Louisiana stretches credibility or just feels wrong, I expect the player might be convinced to simply have his character live in southern Louisiana. In that case, I expect that Atchafalaya Basin might be the best location. Are there any parts of it that are incredibly inaccessible and inconvenient to visit, with small communities that rarely, if ever, receive outside visitors?

*Which seems to involve a laissez-faire attitude toward responsibility, a strict policy of live-and-let-live toward the 'gubmint', especially as regards taxation, which they regard as one of those things you can take or leave and they'd rather leave it, a complex favor economy within the family and little actual currency changing hands, an aversion to formal education and working 9-5, and a fondness for hunting and fishing, making everything that won't crawl out of a pot into gumbo or grilling it and having a fais-do-do at every opportunity.

Icelander 12-22-2018 08:18 AM

Folkloric Association of Various Fruits, Nuts and Seeds
 
For the purposes of Herb Lore (and maybe Alchemy), can anyone tell me what fruit, nuts and seeds one would find along the Gulf Coast and where one might expect to find them (i.e. in Louisiana wetlands, Texas coastal prairie, Florida orchards or somewhere else)?

Also, any information that people can recall about the folkloric associations of flora in the Gulf Coast states would be great. By that, I mean what kind of Herb Lore or Alchemical Elixirs such fruits, nuts or seeds could be used in, what decan, sephirah or zodiac sign they might correspond to and the like.

SionEwig 12-22-2018 07:02 PM

Re: Folkloric Association of Various Fruits, Nuts and Seeds
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2230320)
For the purposes of Herb Lore (and maybe Alchemy), can anyone tell me what fruit, nuts and seeds one would find along the Gulf Coast and where one might expect to find them (i.e. in Louisiana wetlands, Texas coastal prairie, Florida orchards or somewhere else)?

For this you're looking at something possibly approaching book length. Especially considering both the commercially grown items and those not but still out there. Also a lot of imports including some that have gone wild so to speak and are well acclimatized. Give me some time to look in some of my tree books and I'll give you some with information.


Quote:

Also, any information that people can recall about the folkloric associations of flora in the Gulf Coast states would be great. By that, I mean what kind of Herb Lore or Alchemical Elixirs such fruits, nuts or seeds could be used in, what decan, sephirah or zodiac sign they might correspond to and the like.
Tougher for me to find, but I'll look around. Hopefully someone else will be able to help more with this.

Icelander 12-22-2018 07:19 PM

Re: Folkloric Association of Various Fruits, Nuts and Seeds
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SionEwig (Post 2230419)
For this you're looking at something possibly approaching book length. Especially considering both the commercially grown items and those not but still out there. Also a lot of imports including some that have gone wild so to speak and are well acclimatized. Give me some time to look in some of my tree books and I'll give you some with information.

I'm mostly thinking wild or home grown. Commercially grown fruit, herbs and other flora are available from all over the world with the wonders of modern transportation, but I'm trying to figure out what a backwoods conjure man or bayou wise woman might collect near their homes or have growing in their gardens.

Especially interested in what grows in East Texas, near the Gulf Coast and Galveston, as well as the traditionally Cajun parts of Louisiana.

'Nonc' Morel, the Cajun swamp druid, wants to carry his helpful Herb Lore potions as sweet-tasting fruit grown and harvested with Herb Lore incredients, deliver hostile grenade elixirs by chucking less apetizing sour, bitter or rotten fruit infused with Herb Lore concoctions, as well as making various Charms and enchanted items from seeds, acorns, nuts, branches and wooden carvings and any other naturally grown materials.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SionEwig (Post 2230419)
Tougher for me to find, but I'll loofk around. Hopefully someone else will be able to help more with this.

Any help and suggestions greatly appreciated.

Tom H. 12-23-2018 03:18 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Although maybe not directly relevant to some of your requests, Galveston has several features that can be incorporated into your theme.

Over a decade ago, I worked for American National Insurance Company in their headquarters on the island. The office building is very tall, prominent, and hurricane resistant.

The company was founded in 1905 by the Moody family. The headquarters features (at least at the time I was there) a sort of museum on the top 20th floor that affords a wide view of the entire island.

University of Texas Medical Branch is an important school headquartered on the island as well. While not particularly relevant to your request for hidden lore, it could serve as a secret facility to conduct physiological and other experiments upon the "monsters." In fact, Galveston has a large homeless population that is served by care from the school. We already used to joke that this assistance may have come with ulterior motives. ;-)

Another interesting location on the island is the Moody Gardens theme and education park. It features three large, modern pyramids. They are designated: Discovery Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, and Aquarium Pyramid. Of course, the true purpose of such primal structures hasn't been disclosed. ;-)

There is other historical lore associated with Galveston. Regarding ghosts, I found this site on the web. Although not mentioned there, I had heard rumors of an apparition that I never got to explore. Some had claimed there was a building or warehouse on the island that would present upon one side a large, ghostly, historical face in the light of sunset.

Anyway, it sounds like you have a lot of fun narratives to explore with your new campaign.

Icelander 12-23-2018 04:45 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom H. (Post 2230569)
Although maybe not directly relevant to some of your requests, Galveston has several features that can be incorporated into your theme.

Over a decade ago, I worked for American National Insurance Company in their headquarters on the island. The office building is very tall, prominent, and hurricane resistant.

The company was founded in 1905 by the Moody family. The headquarters features (at least at the time I was there) a sort of museum on the top 20th floor that affords a wide view of the entire island.

What is it a museum of? The Moody family history?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom H. (Post 2230569)
University of Texas Medical Branch is an important school headquartered on the island as well. While not particularly relevant to your request for hidden lore, it could serve as a secret facility to conduct physiological and other experiments upon the "monsters." In fact, Galveston has a large homeless population that is served by care from the school. We already used to joke that this assistance may have come with ulterior motives. ;-)

Done. Stolen wholesale.

J.R. Kessler, the Patron funding the PCs, spends at least $10 million a year on endowments and donations to universities in the Gulf Coast area to ensure that he has all the academic support and cooperation he needs for his secret network of monster hunting professionals.

I expect that his hometown of Galveston receives a disproportionate share of that and he absolutely needs a 'no-questions-asked' medical facilities and biological research labs.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom H. (Post 2230569)
Another interesting location on the island is the Moody Gardens theme and education park. It features three large, modern pyramids. They are designated: Discovery Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, and Aquarium Pyramid. Of course, the true purpose of such primal structures hasn't been disclosed. ;-)

I wonder if I should posit a connection between J.R. Kessler (the PCs eccentric billionaire Patron, born and raised in Galveston) and the Moody family.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom H. (Post 2230569)
There is other historical lore associated with Galveston. Regarding ghosts, I found this site on the web. Although not mentioned there, I had heard rumors of an apparition that I never got to explore. Some had claimed there was a building or warehouse on the island that would present upon one side a large, ghostly, historical face in the light of sunset.

Heh.

The first encounter of the campaign is set in the Walmart Galveston Supercenter on 6702 Seawall Boulevard. It is, obviously, haunted as all heck, being located at the site of the former St. Mary's Orphan Asylum, where ten nuns and ninety children drowned in the Great Storm of 1900.

And I have to thank you for the wonderful gift of Dash Beardsley, who will now be an NPC in my campaign. Completely without any discernible magical talent or ability, but knowing just enough to manage to turn up at sites of supernatural activity in time to get into the kind of trouble that wearing sunglasses at night is just going to make worse.

Beardsley will regard the PCs as his professional colleagues and fellow believers, full of admiration and envy for Lucien Lacoste, the gifted medium with Weirdness Magnet with a spirit theme.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom H. (Post 2230569)
Anyway, it sounds like you have a lot of fun narratives to explore with your new campaign.

Not as much as you'd think.

Most of my time has gone on working with players on developing their characters from concepts to fully detailed GURPS characters, using Ritual Path Magic rules that none of us have much experience with.

I haven't really mapped out any adventures or, indeed, any of the setting detail that will be needed for a healthy campaign. I just have an initial encounter set in a Walmart stockroom, a basic concept for an NPC in an antagonistic role and a few associates for him, a McGuffin and... well, then it's a blank. I've not even named the antagonist yet, and the PCs might meet him next session.

Working on this post, though, I've already thought of a couple of other NPCs, another potential location for an encounter and some additional background on the PCs' Patron. So that was nice, thanks.

Tom H. 12-23-2018 10:18 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2230582)
What is it a museum of? The Moody family history?

You know, I don't actually remember everything, but it was a bit eclectic. I used to go up there to walk a track along the circumference with great views for a break. Sure, there was some of the family and company history, but there were other just general historical pictures and patriotic artifacts too I believe.

I do remember a handwritten note of advice on display that was passed down from an elder Moody to his sons. There was also probably an exhibit about the major Texas City disaster in which a ship of fertilizer blew up in the port in 1947. (Reviewing, it is indicated as one of the worst industrial accidents in U.S. history.)

Texas City is close by in the Galveston Bay. In fact, the BP refinery there was notorious for having accidents. We actually witnessed the aftermath of an explosion there from the American National tower in Galveston one day at work. We all felt the shock and got to observe the lingering black clouds of smoke during the day.

Going back to 1947, that year keeps resurfacing: the Roswell crash, Kenneth Arnold's flying saucer sightings at Mount Rainier, and now the Texas City disaster.

~~~

Also, I had forgotten to tip you off to some other campaign tie-ins.

Just 30 miles inland up Interstate 45 from Galveston in the Clear Lake area of Houston is NASA's Johnson Space Center. Who can pass up some paranormal or conspiratorial connections with such an advanced institution?

And if you're looking for more college locations, there is the nearby, albeit smaller, University of Houston Clear Lake campus. (I even participated in a gaming club there for a time.)

Anyway, I hope all goes well with your gaming.

Icelander 12-24-2018 10:26 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom H. (Post 2230636)
You know, I don't actually remember everything, but it was a bit eclectic. I used to go up there to walk a track along the circumference with great views for a break. Sure, there was some of the family and company history, but there were other just general historical pictures and patriotic artifacts too I believe.

Ah, excellent.

The museum with strong family connections with one of Galveston's most influential and well-known families, at a no doubt significant location in karmic and ley line terms, not to mention the odd McGuffin or two, seems like a place where one of the Moody heirs, were s/he aware of the supernatural phenomena that started to emerge in the 1980s, might allow magicians connected to an old family friend to practice, when it is necessary to, for example, scry Galveston as a whole.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom H. (Post 2230636)
I do remember a handwritten note of advice on display that was passed down from an elder Moody to his sons. There was also probably an exhibit about the major Texas City disaster in which a ship of fertilizer blew up in the port in 1947. (Reviewing, it is indicated as one of the worst industrial accidents in U.S. history.)

Texas City is close by in the Galveston Bay. In fact, the BP refinery there was notorious for having accidents. We actually witnessed the aftermath of an explosion there from the American National tower in Galveston one day at work. We all felt the shock and got to observe the lingering black clouds of smoke during the day.

Going back to 1947, that year keeps resurfacing: the Roswell crash, Kenneth Arnold's flying saucer sightings at Mount Rainier, and now the Texas City disaster.

In my setting history, the years 1890-1980 or so are identical to real history. No known supernatural phenomena were observed between the beginning of the First World War and the end of the Vietnam War, with a continuum of scholastic views as to the cut-off points, with most occultists believing that there were no significant supernatural events between 1890 and 1985 and none at all between 1900 and 1979.

As far as anyone knows, no interstellar travelers have ever visited Earth. There are aliens, of course, but like what humans have dubbed faeries and the like, they are ultraterrestials, not extraterrestials, i.e. they come from other worlds outside of this reality, not other planets within it.

~~~

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom H. (Post 2230636)
Also, I had forgotten to tip you off to some other campaign tie-ins.

Just 30 miles inland up Interstate 45 from Galveston in the Clear Lake area of Houston is NASA's Johnson Space Center. Who can pass up some paranormal or conspiratorial connections with such an advanced institution?

Certainly. The PCs will be overjoyed to visit a place of advanced scientific study, considering that technology has an effect on local mana level and their powers will be much less in such locations. Of course, the same should apply to anything that goes Bump in the Night, unless it's other humans with nefarious goals.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom H. (Post 2230636)
And if you're looking for more college locations, there is the nearby, albeit smaller, University of Houston Clear Lake campus. (I even participated in a gaming club there for a time.)

Cool.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom H. (Post 2230636)
Anyway, I hope all goes well with your gaming.

Thanks and merry Christmas!

Icelander 12-30-2018 07:37 AM

Anthropology, Caribbean Studies and Comparative Folklore, What Languages?
 
Alice Talbot, a part-time research assistant on the Penemue, is a graduate student at Rice University. She's an anthropology student, specifically working in cultural and religious anthropology as it concerns the interaction of African. European and Indigenous folklore, mythology and religion in the Caribbean during the Atlantic Slave Trade and after it. She's very close to a PhD on some suitably esoteric subject in the field, likely the survival and evolution of Caribbean folklore and religion with immigrant groups in the US (so she doesn't have to travel anywhere really far for her 'field' research).

In her undergraduate studies, she likely had some courses in Latin American and Native American cultures, especially folklore and mythology. She might even have ambitions to produce a scholarly analysis of the totality of 'American' folklore as her post-graduate research project, i.e. investigate all the different ethnic and religious ingredients that went into American folk beliefs, how they spread and how they developed in the New World.

Oh, and there was a time when she thought she'd be writing her Masters dissertation on the comparative study of the concept of demons in different cultures, when she spent quite a lot of time researching demonology, which necessarily required the study of medieval theology in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, as well as more superficial study of other religions, history and literature of the medieval era. A touch of classical and ancient studies too, as demons weren't invented by medievals.

The question is, what languages is Ms. Talbot likely to speak or at least to be somewhat familiar with?

Apollonian 12-30-2018 08:41 AM

Re: Anthropology, Caribbean Studies and Comparative Folklore, What Languages?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2231961)
The question is, what languages is Ms. Talbot likely to speak or at least to be somewhat familiar with?

English natively, and French and Spanish for getting around the Caribbean and the Gulf. These should probably be her most fluent languages, as they'll get the most use.

She'll probably know bits and bobs of various Native American languages, but not enough to speak or translate without a dictionary handy. If there are exceptions, they're probably going to be Yucatec Maya and Cariban. She might also be pretty good at Haitian Creole, and may know a smattering of Dutch.

She might also have a smattering of West African languages - enough to recognize key terms, but certainly not enough to speak it - based on the languages brought over by the slave trade. I probably wouldn't charge points for that, just fold it into her general knowledge.

It might also be fun to have her be completely fluent in one or two very obscure Caribbean/native languages just because she's taken a special interest in the folklore of the speakers. Given the state of said languages, she may be one of the last fifty-odd fluent speakers of such a tongue...

As for the demonological studies, she can probably do medieval/renaissance Latin, Arabic, Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, and old German, but I'd put those mostly at Accented or (more likely) Broken, and one step less for spoken versions.

johndallman 12-30-2018 09:25 AM

Re: Anthropology, Caribbean Studies and Comparative Folklore, What Languages?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Apollonian (Post 2231966)
English natively, and French and Spanish for getting around the Caribbean and the Gulf.

She'll also be familiar with some of the West Indian English dialects, possibly surprisingly so for an American.

adm 12-30-2018 12:33 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Depending on how much interaction with Brazilian sources, she may know some level of Portuguese as well.

malloyd 12-30-2018 01:41 PM

Re: Anthropology, Caribbean Studies and Comparative Folklore, What Languages?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2231961)
Alice Talbot, a part-time research assistant on the Penemue, is a graduate student at Rice University. She's an anthropology student, specifically working in cultural and religious anthropology as it concerns the interaction of African.

I think all you really need for history and anthropology in the Caribbean would be English and Spanish. But Rice calls it's relevant department "Spanish Portuguese and Latin American Studies" so Portuguese seems likely. For the demons, you probably really need the Latin. They teach Arabic, but not with a lot of depth (it looks like you can take 3 years worth). Rice does have a serious Jewish studies program, so a student there with these sorts of interests might well pick up some Biblical Hebrew. For the current crop of Anthropology professors Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Swahili (the field archaeology project this last decade seems to have been Pemba Island, Tanzania) and Icelandic. For an odd option, there looks to be a lot of depth in the catalog the last few years for Tibetan.

Edit: Hey, there's an actual Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism program over in the Religion department that apparently offers Koine Greek, Coptic and Syriac.

Icelander 12-30-2018 02:03 PM

Re: Anthropology, Caribbean Studies and Comparative Folklore, What Languages?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by malloyd (Post 2232006)
I think all you really need for history and anthropology in the Caribbean would be English and Spanish. But Rice calls it's relevant department "Spanish Portuguese and Latin American Studies" so Portuguese seems likely. For the demons, you probably really need the Latin. They teach Arabic, but not with a lot of depth (it looks like you can take 3 years worth). Rice does have a serious Jewish studies program, so a student there with these sorts of interests might well pick up some Biblical Hebrew. For the current crop of Anthropology professors Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Swahili (the field archaeology project this last decade seems to have been Pemba Island, Tanzania) and Icelandic. For an odd option, there looks to be a lot of depth in the catalog the last few years for Tibetan.

Gave her Spanish, Portuguese, French and Latin, as well as a touch of the Aramaic and Biblical Hebrew.

Her strange reluctance to fly will preclude her from going to Pemba Island. She'll sail to Caribbean islands, if necessary, but no flying.

Still have to decide if she warrants Broken to Accented levels of any Caribbean Creoles or Patois, as well was whether she's picked up any Native American languages.

Quote:

Originally Posted by malloyd (Post 2232006)
Edit: Hey, there's an actual Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism program over in the Religion department that apparently offers Koine Greek, Coptic and Syriac.

And snagged!

Being a genius, I guess she can work on her Anthropology PhD while also taking courses in the Religion department.

Icelander 12-30-2018 07:53 PM

Re: Anthropology, Caribbean Studies and Comparative Folklore, What Languages?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by johndallman (Post 2231976)
She'll also be familiar with some of the West Indian English dialects, possibly surprisingly so for an American.

Indeed.

In GURPS terms, which dialects are familiarities and which are languages that default at -1 to other Caribbean Creoles/Patoises/languages?

What does, for example, Haitian Creole default to and at what penalty?

What about Jamaican Patois?

Or Patwa (Saint Lucian Creole French)? If you have Haitian Creole, what is the default, if any?

dcarson 12-31-2018 04:27 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Given her research into demonology you might give a Perk, Can recognize the words for demon in umpteen languages.

Icelander 12-31-2018 05:34 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dcarson (Post 2232180)
Given her research into demonology you might give a Perk, Can recognize the words for demon in umpteen languages.

Is that worth 1 point?

Just recognising it, not being able to translate anything around it?

I mean, wouldn't a successful skill roll against Expert Skill (Demonology) already allow you to recognise signs, symbols, sigils and the letters of words for demons or obviously connected to them, even if you didn't know the specific language well enough to speak it or write it at Broken level?

Icelander 01-01-2019 10:18 PM

Very Specific Historical UT Austin Question
 
I'm looking for suggestions for courses of study for a student who was at the University of Texas at Austin between 1984 to 1988, graduating, I expect, with a double major in English and History.

The graduate should emerge with a new-found interest in Shakespearean dramaturgy, John Dee and the interplay between politics, espionage and the occult in Elizabethan and Jacobean London, not to mention the involvement of 16th and 17th century theatre people in such shenanigans and the specific influence of various languages, dialects, criminal cant or other form of communication known to members of various London subcultures on the apparently constructed language of Enochian.

He should also emerge with a lively interest in and knowledge about a variety of esoteric subjects, occult theories, secret cabals, alternate history, the history of Western Hermetic thought and, in general, anything that is likely to find its way into a Suppressed Transmission article by Kenneth Hite. In short, our hypothetical graduate should have received a solid start on a career as an academic of the Hite-ean School of Forteana, as well as being uniquely suited to embark upon a course of higher education in actual Hermetic magic.

After receiving his degrees, our UT Austin graduate should immediately proceed to study Marlowe, Shakespeare and John Dee further, from the perspective of gaining a PhD in some unbelievably esoteric interdisciplinary field of research covering occult and Hermetic themes in the works of Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights. He'd spend time in London, Cambridge and/or Oxford as needed, but whether his PhD would ultimately come from UT Austin, some other US university or an English one depends on what forumites find most plausible.

Also, during his time in Austin, our graduate should be involved in university or community theatre, strange and nerdy clubs, debate societies and organisations, and, most importantly, he should be an avid and enterprising roleplayer and gamer. I'd really welcome suggestions on not only what games he'd have played, but on clubs he might have belonged to and people he might have befriended.

Oh, and the character is foreign-born, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, though his secondary education was in Belgium. His name is Alfred L. Lapointe and he remained a Congolese citizen, not a Belgian one, when he emigrated to the US at the beginning of 1984.

Lapointe would have become a US-citizen while living in Austin, most likely. His graduate and post-graduation education would have extended all the way to 1995, so he'd have been associated with universities between the start of the school year at UT Austin in 1984 (what day or at least time of year would that have been?) and until finally forced by circumstance to abandon what might be that time have become a cushy Fellowship or other academic post which allows him the freedom to bury himself in recondite research, in the year 1995.

Should Lapointe take his PhD at UT Austin or is there another option that could allow him to live within weekend visiting distance from Galveston that would be a better university for studying Elizabethan dramaturgy and occult history?

Might it be more plausible to have him take a PhD from Oxford, Cambridge or one of the better London universities and then come back to UT Austin as a post-graduate student, Research Fellow or maybe some other kind of academic with mainly research duties?

Or have him do the same at another US university, not in Texas?

I know, this is oddly specific, even for me, even for the SJ Games forums. It doesn't help that this isn't even for a PC or a main cast NPC, it's for an advisor, consultant type NPC who'll be one of a reoccuring supporting cast of about three dozen.

However, considering the fact that SJ Games is located in Austin, Texas and that many employees, freelancers, fans and other stakeholders are nerds, geeks, grognards and enthusiasts, not to mention the fact that Pyramid magazine was the home of the Suppressed Transmission (to say nothing of the original pop culture mention of the Suppressed Transmission in film by the archetypal Austin-ite, of a certain type at least, Richard Linklater), I thought this might be a good place to ask.

safisher 01-01-2019 11:04 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2228818)
What about universities with good graduate or post-graduate programs connected to other applicable fields of study; e.g. Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Oriental Studies, Egyptology, Assyriology, Mesoamerican Studies, Indigenous American Studies, Caribbean Studies, African-American Studies, Art History, Near Eastern Archaeology, Mesoamerican Archaeology, History of Religions, Comparative Religion, Sociology of Religion, Philology, Historical Linguistics, Semiotic Studies, Ethnopharmacology and Ethnomedicine?

The University of Memphis has an Egyptology, African-American Studies, and Art History program. As for prominent US southern universities, you need to look at Ole Miss, The University of Mississippi, in Oxford, MS, or LSU in Baton Rouge (Ph.D. Program in Anthropology).

Icelander 01-02-2019 12:14 AM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by safisher (Post 2232750)
The University of Memphis has an Egyptology, African-American Studies, and Art History program. As for prominent US southern universities, you need to look at Ole Miss, The University of Mississippi, in Oxford, MS, or LSU in Baton Rouge (Ph.D. Program in Anthropology).

Some of the PCs and their allies will have considerable reluctance to fly. They'll be willing to drive, sail or perhaps even travel by train, even in quite advanced super-yachts*, but they won't get on a plane or helicopter.

This is because, in a very 'Dresden Files'-esque way, preternatural energies and advanced technology do not play nice with each other.

This effect is not actually dramatic enough to instantly brick any electronics close to a person with supernatural abilities, let alone knock out diesel or gasoline engines, but it is certainly a fact that few magical practitioners have much luck with late TL8 electronics or machinery containing such and even if they have older model TL8 designs of cars or other machinery without electronics, they'll require near constant maintenance. Even tried and true engine designs of TL7 are much more prone to minor malfunctions when around magical talents or supernatural events.

On the other hand, even if a car or boat experiences an engine malfunction or any number of minor technological foibles, it generally doesn't start plummeting toward the ground, which usually means that a malfunction can be survived and then repaired.

What that means is that driving distance to Galveston from an institution is usually significant and the ability to cruise there in a yacht that travels between Caribbean ports and ports on the Gulf Coast is always a plus. It allows easier visitations to wherever the Patron of these academics is at any giving moment

Granted, some NPC academics will be able to fly in to visit Galveston, New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola, Key West, Port Everglades or whatever Caribbean island where the PCs and their Patron need consultations, because they either lack all magical talent or simply don't worry about the risks of their relatively minor supernatural gifts causing a plane crash. But it's looking like all PCs and a number of their most important NPC allies will be among the few people in the world who are magically powerful enough to really need to worry about the risks of flying.

One PC is from New Orleans and still has family there he visits frequently, even though he now lives on his Patron's yacht. He also visits the family of his deceased partner** who now live in a small town between Baton Rouge and Lafayette. In fact, when we started the first session, he was driving back to Galveston from Christmas with his father and grandmother in New Orleans, with a stopover near Baton Rouge on Boxing Day, for a second Christmas dinner with his godchildren and their mother.

A second PC has a cabin in the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana. He doesn't visit many people who live in cities, as his kinsfolk all seem to live in rural East Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama or Florida, almost exclusively in wild, swampy areas where wildlife and seafood to stew, gumbo, jambalaya, grill or boil are easily picked, shot, trapped or fished.

I guess what I am saying is that LSU in Baton Rouge is more convenient for Galveston than some universities that actually are in Texas and for the other Gulf Coast ports it's either better or at least no worse. Ole Miss and the University of Memphis are slightly less accessible driving or sailing to or from Gulf Coast port cities, but not insurmountably so. In any case, the PCs' Patron needs a network of academics and 'tame' university departments, enough so that he can use their cover, support or at least ensure a friendly consultation no matter where on the Gulf Coast or the Caribbean his operatives find themselves.

Not to mention that academics, along with reporters and police officers, are important sources of information on potential issues of supernatural significance. Ideally, a loose network of well-connected people in all of these professions should cover the entire US Gulf Coast, as well as the entire coastline of Florida, all of the Caribbean and perhaps the odd coastal area in Latin America relevant to Caribbean concerns.

Which universities are the most likely to mount any kind of Caribbean research initiatives and/or have the best contacts in different parts of the Caribbean?

*With a billionaire Patron who lives on a yacht, access to fancy boats is surprisingly easy.
**Detective partner, in the NOPD, not in the sense of life-mate, heterosexual or otherwise. Though, considering that the PC still visits his partner's family regularly, after both parties have moved, not to mention that the PC claims to carry the ghost of his partner around in a crucifix around his neck and regularly has involved conversations with the spirit (the spirit is agnostic on the subjects and insist he could simply be a free-willed spirit, ultimate origin unknown, given the semblence of a deceased person's form and personality by the PC's refusal to let go) , I suppose you could say they were life partners. More, really, if there's not even a "till death do us part" clause.

Icelander 01-02-2019 12:44 PM

Fields of Expertise
 
It looks like three PCs will be men of action, more than academia, though each of them is also very intelligent. They all have high Occultism skill (from skill 14 to skill 20), but have learned their practical monster hunting and magic-contering through other means than post-graduate education.

One has been an active Guardian for a wilderness area for decades and has a pact with a wise genius loci, one was an amateur Ancient Astronaut enthusiast before being recruited as a mercenary bodyguard for occult investigators and monster hunters (and then found himself trapped in the Land of the Nommo after disappearing in the Bermuda Triangle with an expedition of square-jawed experts) and the third is a former detective who gradually came to realise how many murders in the setting seem inexplicable with conventional criminology.

All three PCs have also had access to friendly experts who are formally trained academics and experts in various fields of study useful for analysing the preternatural, for a period of time ranging from years down to six months, i.e. the time they've been associated with their Patron, J.R. Kessler. Kessler himself never attended college, but is a whip-smart autodidact centenarian whose occult interests allegedly date back to a youthful friendship with Jack Parsons and initiation into various occult and esoteric social clubs between the 1930s and 1950s, even if, at that time in my setting history, such pursuits were no more successful in producing any measurable effects than they are in our real world.

Other important NPCs who will provide expert exposition include Alfred L. Lapointe, the UT Austin graduate who went on to become a formidably learned expert on Elizabethan occult practises, Western Hermetic thought, Shakespearean (and Marlowean) dramaturgy and other such Kenneth Hite-ean subjects. Lapointe won't be a Caribbean expert in an academic anthropological sense, but he'll have spent the last twenty years as the resident ritual magician and occultist in a household where J.R. Kessler has been investigating the twelve Vile Vortices around the world and focusing primarily, if only due to proximity, on the Bermuda Triangle.

The fourth PC is a part-time PC, with inbuilt excuses for the player being unavailable, designed so the character only goes on some mjssions and even if present on the yachr Penemue, will easily fade into the background if temporarily rendered an NPC by player absence. This is Alice Talbot, graduate student in anthropology at Rice University and Lapointe's part-time assistant. It's been established that she is very good at Latin, being able to read the pure Classical Latin of Caesar and Cicero for fun and to puzzle even the most error-filled Vulgate manuscript. She's also developed quite a facility with Koine Greek and has tried mightily to study various original sources in Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and both the Coptic and Demotic Egyptian. Furthermore, she displays a natural gift for Enochian, which she started learning once she apprenticed with Lapointe.

I'm currently trying to work out how wide her field of anthropological, linguistic and occult expertise ought to be, in relation to the Caribbean as a whole, and where she ought to be weaker and require expert NPC assistance, translation and advice. She should speak at least one Caribbean English Creole (or perhaps Jamaican Patois, which I understand is technically a Creole language, not a patois) at Accented level, from her past two years of working with immigrants and trying to study their folklore and culture, but I haven't decided on the Caribbean immigrant community that would be most appropriate and accessible for someone studying in Houston.

After I define this, in consultation with the player, I would welcome further assistance in coming up with the NPC experts whom the PCs might interact with most frequently in connection with Gulf Coast and Caribbean studies of the supernatural and their general monster hunting activities.

Icelander 01-02-2019 02:24 PM

Division of French into Mutually Inter-defaulting Languages
 
Related to the individual fields of expertise above, how would forumites suggest that I divide the French language in GURPS terms into dialects (require familiarities to learn) and languages (require point expenditure to learn, even if they might default to each other)?

I don't want anyone who spends points on 'French' to be equally capable at reading a dusty 9th century Norman manuscript in l’ancien français, interpreting the text of a 13th century Provençal troubaour's song, decrypting linguistic clues hidden in the 16th century journal of a Parisian mystic witten in le moyen français and communicating with modern Parisians, Louisiana Cajuns, modern Quebecois or speakers of Haitian French.

Unfortunately, I don't really know French and I certainly have no idea about where to draw the line on which languages are dialects (familiarity), which default at one step (very close relationship, fairly mutually intelligible with patience) and which default at two steps (not comfortably mutually intelligible, but knowing one well makes it significantly easier to learn the other). And how to default medieval Occitan dialects to medieval 'French' dialects is entirely beyond me.

Are the following close enough for gaming purposes or should I radically rework one or more of them?
  • Old French (l’ancien français); defaults at -1 to Middle French and to several other langues d'oïl of its period; at -2 to many lenga d'òc and Arpitan languages of the period and somewhat later. Might default to modern French dialects, at least mainstream ones, at -2.
  • Middle French (le moyen français); defaults at -1 to Old French and to several other langues d'oïl of its period; at -2 to many lenga d'òc and Arpitan languages of the period, as well as many modern dialects of French.
  • Classical French (le français classique); from the French codified by the Académie française in the 17th century to the modern Metropolitan/Standard French (le français standard), the distance should, by design, not even amount to a dialect. In addition, any number of dialects will be close enough to fall under this in GURPS terms. Might default to Louisiana French and Quebecois French at -1, defaults at -1 to Middle French and probably Haitian French and some other French varieties in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

I don't know if I should grant any kind of default to Old French for a character who reads Vulgate Latin at Native.

dcarson 01-02-2019 02:27 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
University of Georgia’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute, http://www.lacsiuga.org/initiatives/ was a early hit when I googled Caribbean research initiatives.

Icelander 01-02-2019 08:35 PM

Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dcarson (Post 2232924)
University of Georgia’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute, http://www.lacsiuga.org/initiatives/ was a early hit when I googled Caribbean research initiatives.

Cool.

Good football team, though I'd prefer they not give the Tide such trouble all the time.

If anyone has suggestions for NPC academics who come from any of the universities mentioned and might be called in to consult during cases the PCs have, by all means post them. I don't necessarily need stats or a lot of detail, just names and a quick descriptive sketch in a few sentences, as well as as much (or little) background people feel like. These NPCs can be fictionalised real people, based on or inspired by real people whose actual location, biography or skills might not be suitable without a tweaks or just be original creations that the subject made you think of.

Icelander 02-02-2020 08:07 AM

Kessler's Occult Research Budget
 
I posted this in another thread and it occurred to me that this was suitable for this thread, to give some idea about the scale of Kessler's influence with academic and scientific institutions that might be useful to occult investigators.

Short version of Occult Research Budget

Average Budget per Year (1985-2018): $40 million
Budget in 1985: $3 million
Budget in 1990: $20 million
Budget in 1995: $30 million
Budget in 2000: $50 million
Budget in 2005: $55 million
Budget in 2010: $56 million
Budget in 2015: $44 million
Budget in 2018: $50 million

There have been some ebbs and flows in the academic and scientific research budget, largely caused by a shift in allocations to intelligence, security and paramilitary activities, such as surveillance and monster hunting, as the threat of the supernatural became more active from 2010 onwards.

While it's impossible to get accurate budget numbers, as Kessler funds his occult and monster hunting activities through a compex web of shell companies and corporate ownership ties, diverting all sorts of otherwise ordinary business assets to non-profitable occult activities, a good guess might be that his total yearly budget for all occult-related activities is $240 million.

Est. Total Yearly Budget (2018): $240 million
---

Kessler's Occult Research Funding - Wordier Version

Just to get some idea of the scale of Kessler's investigation into the occult, since the mid-1980s, he's been spending millions of dollars a year on funding research, hiring consultants, endowing chairs, commissioning surveys and otherwise buying influence and expertise in academic and scientific circles.

By 1995, Kessler had probably spent around $200 million (adjusted for inflation, in 2018 dollars) on research that had to do with investigating the occult. By the end of 2018, when the campaign is currently set, Kessler has spent well over a billion dollars over the last three decades ($1,400,000,000). This is only for the research part of Kessler's activities, excluding security, monster hunting and other paramilitary activities.

The vast majority of this money is in tax-deductible donations to universities or institutions, either from Kessler personally, or, more likely, from one of the companies he controls. Very often, the recipients may not know why the grant is made or how their research benefits Kessler's occult investigations. Only a comparatively small part of the academics or scientists who have consulted with one of Kessler's companies or had research funded by them are even aware of the supernatural, although, obviously, in the course of their research many came to suspect or even understand all kinds of things about the occult.

Most of Kessler's money has been spent on academics/scientists that have some connection with places he lives, works or operates, so while there are connections with French academia and various African experts, the bulk of the money is spent in Texas, then the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean.

Icelander 02-06-2020 06:50 AM

University of Florida and Connections to Kessler's People
 
I decided to reply to Fred Brackin in this thread, rather than the one where he posted this, Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics, as this thread is more appropriate for discussion of Kessler's network of influence among universities, research institutions and other academic or scientific entities.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Brackin (Post 2307841)
At least the way the campus map was oriented when I attended the Engineering stuff would have been up in the north-east quadrant across from the bookstore but not all the way to the athletic dorms or the law school. The later things would probably have been under the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and clustered in the south-east quadrant where 13th Street and University Avenue crossed.

That intersection pretty much marked the heart of G'ville with UF filling one quadrant and the heart of old downtown going down those 2 streets. The later the development was the farther out from there it was.

There were only about 7000 beds worth of dormitories in the late 70s so most of the student body had to live off-campus with a significant amount of off-campus housing just across from those 2 streets mixed in msotly with places to eat but newer apartments complexes a good bit farther out.

One of those 2 streets and I think it was 13th was just the local re-naming of State Road 441. That's mentioned in the Tom Petty song "American Girl" where "you could hear the cars roll by on 441 like waves crashing on the beach". That's one of the things that would tell you he was from G'ville.

Oh dear, I'm afraid i could go like this for a while but my info is 40 years old now and probably quite dated.

Aside from Gerardo 'Lalo' Calderon, who attended the University of Florida between 2005-2017 (distance learning while on active duty at first), I have several other NPCs with a connection to the University of Florida.

First of all, Gerardo's brother, Lazaro Calderon Jr., was an anthropology student there 1993-2002, did post-graduate studies there as well, and is now a member of the faculty. I'm not sure what his exact academic rank should be, but I'm leaning toward a full professor, if necessary because Kessler endowed a chair specifically for him.

Second, Danny Daniels lived in Florida from 2011-2015 and belonged to the 'Night Rider' team there, which makes it practical for him to live in Gainesville or nearby. Danny was either the commander of the team or the second in command (haven't decided, as I haven't worked out who the other two initial members were), but as they started out as only four people in 2011, that's maybe not as demanding a position as it sounds.

Danny was also part of the National Guard 20th SFG, but as neither that nor 'Night Riding' is really a full-time job (hunting monsters is quite demanding, but hunters are encouraged to have something to keep them occupied while they await reports to act on and/or rest up and recover mentally or physically), I thought Danny might have taken some classes with his GI Bill grant.

UF is supposedly quite accommodating for veterans and prepared to accept credits from various military educational programs or online courses people did while in the service.

Danny was in his late forties (moved away from Florida at age 50) at the time and a 25-year veteran of the US Army, an E-8 at the time he transferred into the National Guard and made E-9 in the National Guard before his retirement. He was a communications guy in the Army and has always been an enthusiastic ham radio operator, so I thought he might have taken something to do with radio operation or repair, if that's offered at UF (or, for that matter, a community college in Gainesville).

Danny doesn't really care about getting a fancy degree*, but would really like to continue learning about radios, the physics behind it, the history of the technology, etc. Also, of course, improve his skills with repairing and even rebuilding all kinds of radio rigs, especially interesting historical ones.

Aside from that, as Kessler was investigating the occult and paranormal from 1987 to the current year in play (2018), he consulted with a lot of academics and scientists. Initially, most of those were from the oil business, Texas universities and other places where he had good contacts anyway, but using networks of personal and professional relationships, Kessler slowly grew his influence in the academic world in the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean.

Kessler might have consulted with an expert at any academic and scientific discipline that could have major utility when investigating the occult and researching reports of paranormal phenomena. If there are fields of research where the University of Florida is especially strong, such as (I am assured) anthropology, it's very plausible that Kessler or someone connected to him could develop a relationship with experts in that field based at UF.

So, what other fields of research could Kessler be supporting at UF? What are fields that UF is does a lot of research in and could be vital for investigating the occult?

I had a vague idea that even if Kessler didn't have much of a connection to the University of Florida before 1993 or so, once Lazaro began studying there (Kessler knows his father), it was plausible that the boy (well, Lazaro is born in 1973) could act as an informal recruiting agent. By 2018, I expect Kessler to have some kind of relationships (mostly through intermediaries) with several UF academics or scientists in various fields.

What fields should those be?

Also, the other 2-4 members of the Florida 'Night Rider' team should probably all be military veterans (technically, police tactical unit experience might be an alternative) and some of them will no doubt be willing or even eager to pursue an education once their time in uniform is over. It is strongly encouraged that those who plan to hunt monsters learn as much as they can about them, either informally from other hunters and libraries, or by taking college courses in some field that is useful for investigating the occult and hunting monsters.

So, any suggestions for more team members in 2011, their background and their current studies, if any?

*As a 'Night Rider', he's collecting a high salary ($150,000+ a year, with plenty of stock options and bonuses aside from that if he has to go on operations) as a security consultant from a cover company, anyway, so he's not worried about having to use a degree to find a job. Though I suppose that Danny could be thinking about what he'll do once he retires from all military and security work in a few years and wouldn't mind having some certificates or even degrees to set up as a restorer of classic radio equipment. Maybe even work in a museum of technology or something like that.

Fred Brackin 02-06-2020 08:16 AM

Re: University of Florida and Connections to Kessler's People
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2307899)

, what other fields of research could Kessler be supporting at UF? What are fields that UF is does a lot of research in and could be vital for investigating the occult?

Essentially anything you want. UF currently appears to have 54,000 students. That's probably both undergrads and graduate students.

It's always been a very serious Engineering school and one of my college room-mate's father had just retired from the military and become a professor in Engineering. So there's some of your military friendliness.

It was also (at least in my time) very friendly to foreign students. I spent a semester with a room-mate from Surinam. So you could have occult connections come in from almost anywhere.

The Physics Department might be more robust than you'd expect and has ties to the LHC.

Anything medically related would be fair game. UF is the site of the Shands Teaching hospital and for rare and/or unusual conditions in Florida it's about 50/50 for Shands in G'ville of Jackson Memorial in Miami.

The College of Agriculture is/was huge (5000 cows in my day). Besides commercial agriculture in the US ecological research from other places would probably end up there.

Big on sports too. Football and basketball particularly with national championships in both within recent memory.

Really, it's a big school by anyone's standards and geographically concentrated with all of those 50k+ students on one not terribly big campus. Anybody from anywhere could bump into anyone else at random any day.

Icelander 02-06-2020 10:41 AM

Re: University of Florida and Connections to Kessler's People
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Brackin (Post 2307915)
Essentially anything you want. UF currently appears to have 54,000 students. That's probably both undergrads and graduate students.

That's a lot.

There will be plenty of consultants and experts on fields of study relevant to the paranormal that the PCs meet and hear about during the course of their adventures and I'd like to feature a good mix of backgrounds for these academic and scientific types.

I imagine that almost half of them should come from the numerous Texas universities that Kessler contributes to, but the rest should be a good mix from other Gulf Coast or Caribbean institutions that there is some background reason for Kessler to have dealings with.

Subverting expectations can be fun, but given that most of my players don't have expectations of any US universities beyond a few they've had friends or family go to and/or are well-known in worldwide pop-culture, I'd better focus on presenting the stereotypes before I can subvert them.

So, if you were presenting a few academics or scientists from the University of Florida that were involved in the study of the supernatural, what academic departments would have have them be associated with?

Areas of research that the University of Florida is leading in among all Gulf Coast institutions, ideally. Something that a proud Texan might accept that is done better there than in one of the Texan universities (even if only because the research there is at a more convenient geographic location for some reason).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Brackin (Post 2307915)
It's always been a very serious Engineering school and one of my college room-mate's father had just retired from the military and become a professor in Engineering. So there's some of your military friendliness.

Hunting monsters can require some exotic armaments and other equipment, especially as off-the-shelf electronics and other late TL8 gear can be unreliable around powerful paranormal phenomena.

As a result, several people around the 'Night Riders' (Monster Hunters) have pursued technical or engineering education to enable them to design or build technological devices that they need for their professions.

Probably most of the technically-educated people are part of the crew of the Penemue or other watercraft owned by Kessler, often former USCG or Navy, and several have been established as graduates of Texas A&M, especially TAMUG, i.e. the Galveston campus.

That being said, it would feel implausible if everyone with a technical education came from the same university.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Brackin (Post 2307915)
It was also (at least in my time) very friendly to foreign students. I spent a semester with a room-mate from Surinam. So you could have occult connections come in from almost anywhere.

Ah, that's a nice idea.

I'm always looking to feature a diverse array of Caribbean nationals among the NPCs, so academics from the islands who've studied at American universities are always welcome.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Brackin (Post 2307915)
The Physics Department might be more robust than you'd expect and has ties to the LHC.

Interesting.

Would you say that the University of Florida has the best Physics Department in the region of the Caribbean and the Gulf Coast?

If not, is it among the top five and what are some other stand-outs?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Brackin (Post 2307915)
Anything medically related would be fair game. UF is the site of the Shands Teaching hospital and for rare and/or unusual conditions in Florida it's about 50/50 for Shands in G'ville of Jackson Memorial in Miami.

Ah, good idea.

Given that most supernatural phenomena manifests as physic influences and often leads to bizarre crimes, research into occult events often requires psychiatric and forensic expertise. Also, there are 'monsters' that might simply be humans with undiscovered medical conditions.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Brackin (Post 2307915)
The College of Agriculture is/was huge (5000 cows in my day). Besides commercial agriculture in the US ecological research from other places would probably end up there.

Kessler has well-established connections with Texas A&M that date back about half a century. Any reason for him to look toward University of Florida instead for agricultural or ecological expertise?

I get the feeling that scientists connected to one university will tend to have academic relationships with faculty or researchers at other universities, so maybe it's perfectly reasonable that in the three decades that Kessler has been researching the occult, some of the Texas A&M people he consulted with have introduced trusted colleagues at other universities to interesting conundrums they are grappling with, eventually leading to them being employed by Kessler.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Brackin (Post 2307915)
Big on sports too. Football and basketball particularly with national championships in both within recent memory.

Really, it's a big school by anyone's standards and geographically concentrated with all of those 50k+ students on one not terribly big campus. Anybody from anywhere could bump into anyone else at random any day.

True.

There are actually two members of the Penemue 'Night Rider' team who are born in Florida and they are both very athletic men (former special operations personnel tend to be in pretty good shape), but as both of them joined the military right out of high school, neither went to UF.

Neither of them are living in Florida right now and, in any case, I don't think they are planning to get a college degree, but in the future, who knows? Both are still young, at any rate, in their thirties.


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