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Old 01-08-2013, 02:02 PM   #67
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Join Date: Mar 2006
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

Originally Posted by Brett View Post
The problem with most castles include being tourist attractions and in the care of stuffy civil-service trusts (English Heritage, Historic Scotland), with busy-bodying local volunteers taking interests, and are Scheduled Monuments, and are nearly all open to the public. The ones that aren't ruins that would cost a fortune to make habitable (and involve masses of gossipy tradesmen). As for the habitable ones managed by the Royal Household Property Section, it's too easy to see that anything going on there is associate with HM.

You want not a castle but a remote and architecturally un-interesting country house, preferrably owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, or privately. Somewhere in Cumbria or Central Wales etc. is worth considering instead of northern Scotland.
All true, of course.

Fortunately, the setting comes equipped with metaphysical reasons to justify otherwise impractical (but cool) decisions. One of them being that any building constructed with more advanced methods than the classical 'lots of sweaty men with unpowered tools' will trigger TL-based penalties to use of supernatural powers within it, which would not be well-received by the Queen's inner core of trained seers and magicians.

Granted, this would amount to no more than a -1 for houses built after the Industrial Revolution or -2 for anything built after WWII, but a penalty is a penalty. Furthermore, there is an excellent chance that any location favourable to the factors that influence local Mana Level, lying on the right ley lines, with convenient access to places of power, ancient druidic groves and fey standing stones, will already be home to a crumbling castle, not some pedestrian country house.

Then there is Sacred Architecture and the time-based bonus under Ritual Space to consider. We may plausibly claim that a castle built in a period when, in-setting, magic is held to have been a real force in the world*, could have been built with proper attention to the laws of sacred architecture. Without stretching credulity more than we are already doing by supposing that magic worked once and does so again, it could then subsequently have been used for various magical rituals throughout its history, at least up until such things started to become rare (around the time they stopped working reliably even for the most learned magicians). That could justify a further bonus of up to +10 to certain types of magic, with a more plausible number being +2 to +3 for mystically-attuned design and +2 to +3 for acquiring a magical patina over time.

The result is that while a Victorian country house located nowhere in particular might impose a -8 or so to the magical activities of the Queen's loyal Shadow Court; a properly sited, arcanely-designed and folklore-historic castle will allow general ritual use at maybe -5 and be attuned to certain types of ritual enough to allow their casting at +0 or so.

If at all possible, Her Majesty would like to arrange for a proper castle for her Shadow Court. Which castle would be a good fit and could the twin dragons of expense and gossipy tradesmen somehow be overcome?

An expedient that minimises both, of course, would be minimising tradesmen. Any reconstruction in or near the sanctum where rituals were meant to be used would have to be done without powertools and electricity, anyway. On the other hand, much of the rest wouldn't need all that much in the way of strange stuff, so tradesmen wouldn't have much more to gossip about than the fact that someone** is doing up a castle real nice, looking all old school, but having lots of modern conveniences everywhere but in one wing. I'll grant you that shooting ranges and areas suitable for demolition training might be more tricky, but if the grounds are large enough, these could be outside or in other houses on the grounds. And they could be 'explained' by a senior person in the know, but still employed by MI5 (or other security, police or military organisation) at that time, by simply having the tradesmen sign NDAs and murmur stuff about security and bodyguards.

The best thing would be if people loyal to the Queen could potter around doing the most sensitive renovations by themselves. Some of the Poor Knights could be handy with a saw and hammer, surely? They'll have years to do it, maybe even decades. Bring in tradesmen for anything that can be explained, have household servants whose families have centuries of service to the Royal Family do some of the rest and, seriously, pick a few people for the various quaint sinecures within the Queen's influence for their personal loyalty as well as their abilities to carry out various building projects, upkeep and other domestic tasks around a place where no one can be allowed unless absolutely trustworthy.

We'll say that the Queen decided that her secret court of paranormal researchers needed some form of permanent headquarters, independent of her more public haunts in Balmoral and mom's place next door in Birkhall, sometime in the 1990s. In the story as I have imagined it so far, it would have been ready in 2005, but she might not have felt any urgency or realised that the HQ would house paramilitary units at any point until ca 1998-2000. From the mid-90s, though, she'd have needed some place for the rising numbers of people who worked for her as personal esoteric researchers and, most importantly, were learning to become actual magicians.

Edit: Hmm... doing some checking on the magic system and I discover that the senior magicians*** in the service of the Queen could, by the time of 2002 or so****, probably manage to cooperate to 'fix' the memories of someone on a daily basis, changing maybe an hour or so of potentially gossip-worthy stuff into mundane and dull stuff. By 2005, this could be done to more than one person per day, cover multiple hours and be fairly reliable. In 2010-2012, the most powerful magicians could probably replace several years of memories with something else*****, for a whole gang of workmen, assuming they performed the ritual at an auspicious date, had plenty of magical supplies and ritual items available and no one interrupted them for a day or so.

Of course, this is more of an emergency fix in case something goes very wrong than it is a licence to invite tradesmen over and simply rely on editing their memories.

*If always rather subtle and subject to harsh penalties when not done as ceremonal castings in prepared locations.
**Allowing them to know that the castle is owned by the Royal Family or HM herself would give them slightly more fodder for gossip, but would also allow for the selection of tradesmen with whom the Royal Family has a previous relationship and who have proven less gossipy than the rest. Or, if there are not that many tradesmen needed, given that the project can have taken years, they could be taken into the confidence of someone involved in the conspiracy and retained part-time in the upkeep of the castle.
***I'm thinking about having the most powerful and senior of them be the Hon. Margaret Rhodes.
****Doing so as early as 1995 might have been a theoretical possibility, but would not have been reliable in the least and would also have required a very expensive ritual, taking a very long time, and probably a long period of research before it was feasible to start the ritual.
*****Although anything that wasn't sufficiently subtle might drive the subject insane or at least convince him something terrible had happened to his memory.
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Last edited by Icelander; 01-08-2013 at 02:49 PM.
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