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Old 12-14-2018, 06:49 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default 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?
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Old 12-14-2018, 08:15 AM   #2
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Default 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.
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Old 12-14-2018, 08:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast

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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.
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Old 12-14-2018, 10:32 AM   #4
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Default 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.
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:39 AM   #5
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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.
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Old 12-14-2018, 12:27 PM   #6
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Default 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."
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Old 12-14-2018, 01:32 PM   #7
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Default 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.
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Old 12-14-2018, 03:02 PM   #8
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Default Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast

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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.

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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.)
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Old 12-14-2018, 03:17 PM   #9
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Default Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast

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Isn't [UT Austin] dangerously close to Illuminati headquarters for the PCs?
It's always darkest at the base of the lighthouse.
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Old 12-14-2018, 04:35 PM   #10
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Default Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast

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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
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