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Old 01-02-2019, 08:35 PM   #61
Icelander
 
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Default Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast

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Originally Posted by dcarson View Post
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.
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Old 02-02-2020, 08:07 AM   #62
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Default 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.
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Old 02-06-2020, 06:50 AM   #63
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Default 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 View Post
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.
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Old 02-06-2020, 08:16 AM   #64
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Default Re: University of Florida and Connections to Kessler's People

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post

, 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.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:41 AM   #65
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Default Re: University of Florida and Connections to Kessler's People

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
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 View Post
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 View Post
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 View Post
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 View Post
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 View Post
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 View Post
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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