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Old 01-04-2013, 06:27 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

In a world that starts out very, very much like our own, but has started to diverge because of the emergence of secret magic*, one of the power groups that are starting to arise in response to knowledge of the new rules is connected to the British Crown.

Publicly, magic doesn't exist and any political figure stating that it does would lose his job in short order. Privately, a well-connected network with the Queen at its head has been convinced and have started to gather information and even take action in order to safeguard the interests of Queen and Country. They can't call upon official resources, but if anyone in the world has the potential to muster enough unofficial influence, wealth and favours for a secret organisation, it's the Queen**.

Edit: A Name

I need some term to refer to the organisation. The senior figures have so far avoided giving it a formal name, believing that the more informal it is, the less any enterprising reporter who heard strange rumours could confirm or ever dare print. I have an idea for an informal name, though, which might have emerged as a joke between early members.

Obviously, the first few conspirators, primarily members of the Royal Household, might have used terms like 'The Queen's Secret' or just 'The Other Household'. As soon as the dangers from the supernatural became more real, the royal bodyguards (current and former) who learned about it would have started to prepare to face such threats. Even before the establishment of what became the first quick-reaction team in 2005, there were those who saw their role as not just scholars and investigators, but defenders of the Crown, their country and the people who still didn't know about the threats. As soon as they first took an active role to kill a dangerous supernatural predator or capture one for research, I imagine that with dark humour, some of them started to speak of themselves as Her Majesty's Supernatural Game Wardens or something similar to that.

Given that junior members are not necessarily formally told that the Queen is aware of all of what they do (though all of them understand that they are serving the Crown in some way), such a term was ill-advised. Also, anything that could not be used in front of others was somewhat risky and the best term would be something that sounded innucous if someone should overhear a partial conversation. On the other hand, what little weapon and combat training that the early members did would have been on the grounds of royal residences, particularly the larger ones in Scotland, alongside the gamekeepers of the household there. Hunting is hunting and no one would bat an eye when well-born former military men with connections to the royal household were invinted for many hunts. So, Royal Gamekeepers might not be so far out. Another word for gamekeepers, of course, is Rangers. And that word has strong connotations, at least for Tolkien readers, of risking life and limb to protect an oblivious populace from dire threats.

If we postulate that one or more of the early senior people were not only Tolkien fans, but also football fans, it becomes plausible to call the quick-reaction teams, at least, Rangers. With a degree of humour (and if we imagine that one of the influential people who started the QRTs was a West London man), their full 'name' could even be Queen's Park Rangers and that name could be used in casual conversation without anyone becoming suspicious. Even if shortened to Rangers, people would simply assume that the Glasgow Rangers were what was meant.

So, 'Rangers', 'QPR' and 'Queen's Rangers' are all viable terms for the organisation.

---

The recruits are mostly high Status British subjects, with the senior recruits being people with a personal connection to the Queen. Informally, the Queen has been quietly gathering information and allies since the 80s, but with recent events, the informal organisation is becoming something else. Starting in 2000 or so, plans started to be made for a formal group of secret operatives, spies, researchers and magicians. In 2005, that group became operational.

The operatives are recruited among patriots loyal to the Royal Family in the British armed forces (overwhelmingly Old Etonians or from 'the Other Place'), Metropolitan Police officers from the Queen's security element and the intelligence services. In nearly all cases, they are brought in by personal friends already within the group, but recently, some have been approached after surviving a strange experience. It's not as covert and eventually, it will lead to the secret becoming public after a failed recruitment, but this is seen as the lesser of evils.

It is becoming clear to the senior members that the supernatural not only exists, but has existed for a long time, with waxing and waning of the impact on the mortal world. While it has remained dormant or at least irrelevant to the world almost since the Industrial Revolution***, it is now returning and is doing so at an ever increasing pace.

The Queen and her advisors now see it as likely to become a threat to human society greater than human-on-human violent crime within a single generation. They differ on how to approach that problem, but many feel that secrecy cannot possibly last and the only question is how and when the secret will come out, not if it will.

All of which was a long preamble to a rather simple question.

Given that many recruits are ex-servicemen or ex-police from the UK and that those who are not are often affiliated with elite universities (the researchers and magicians), what kind of martial arts training, armed and unarmed, is it likely that they will adopt?

If possible, they'll like to have their recruits continue civilian life for as much as they can, living cover lives as graduate students in Oxford or Cambridge, with exceptions being made only for those few who are members of their quick-response units. So they'd like to be able to enroll people in public training programs, with only those aspects specifically related to the supernatural being taught at whatever remote castle in Scotland I decide is adopted as their headquarters.

What practical martial arts are popular with British soldiers and cops? Knowing that their quick-response people might have to fight supernaturally tough creatures who cannot be killed except with melee weapon exotica like silver-bladed knives or hawthorne stakes, what real-world blade combative art would they want to encourage people to learn?

Would any current or former British intelligence, security or military people retain a useful knowledge of Defendu or FCCT? Would it be worthwhile to learn instead of simply adopting a more commercially popular martial art that incorporates knifework?

*Which is, however, extremely limited in its effects, scope and verifiability, due to most of Earth being a Very Low Mana Zone, with -8 to -10 to magic use being the most common. Magic use also generally requires knowledge of ancient rituals, languages or scripts; with such knowledge alone not being enough, but some degree of inborn talent being required as well. In addition, the expectations of any observers have an effect, with sceptical people causing an extra penalty. As a result, only a few people in the setting could perform magical feats while around sceptics, in an area they hadn't previously prepared. Doing so reliably enough to constitute proof for said sceptics would make it even harder. So far, no one powerful enough has been interested in coming out to the world at large.
**And the Pope, yes. And, indeed, there is an Equal (if not quite 'and Opposite') Conspiracy in the Vatican.
***With, possibly, a few localised or short-term intrusions of supernatural phenomena at certain time periods.
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:15 AM   #2
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

No thoughts at all?

For a generic self-defence and confidence-boosting style, I had considered jujutsu. It forms the basis for many composite modern styles effective in real world conditions and fairly advanced training in it and descendant styles is widely available to civilians.

On the other hand, it does not have a particularly advanced body of knifework and given that supernatural creatures may be vulnerable to being cut or stabbed by certain materials, knifework is very important.

Right now, the most popular basis for military knife styles are probably the various FMA styles and variations thereof. I am concerned, however, that the assumptions traditionally made by escrimadors* won't hold true for supernatural foes much stronger than humans, who might throw themselves at a man with a knife confident that wounds that might cripple or endanger the lives of humans will only be a temporary inconvenience to them.

Ideally, any knife style practised by mortals who might face supernatural foes should focus on meeting rushes with deadly stabs to the heart or other high-value targets. Cuts to the limbs are worthwhile only if they can dismember and decapitation might turn out to necessary.

Where would one learn that?

*That the enemy is also a trained duellist and will tend to be careful not to overextend, and that cutting his limbs will cripple them.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:30 AM   #3
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

Well, one of the Silat styles in MA includes Targeted Attack (Knife Thrust/Vitals), IIRC.

But why not invent your own style, custom made for the purposes of your secret society?

It seems perfectly plausible that the Queen might hire a team of renowned martial artists with Spec Ops experience to design a combat system for those who have to face supernatural foes.

I'm pretty sure that the SAS have their own hand to hand training regimine that is probably similar (but not identical to) MCMAP, Krav Maga, and other military hand to hand styles. This book is probably a good place to start if you want to create an accurate version of it.

Personally, if someone wanted to play former SAS, I'd just give them MCMAP with the serial numbers filed off. But Jujutsu works too, it is a popular starting point for practical martial arts.

Then I'd custom build a martial art tailored to monster slaying/ghost busting/witch hunting to be taught to the PCs by a grizzled old veteran of the SAS or a Gurkha regiment of Her Majesties Army.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:24 PM   #4
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

Most martial arts training focuses on unarmed fighting, which doesn't sound very useful if various exotic melee weapons are required to fight the supernaturals.

Are you very keen on the idea that only knives are effective? There are certainly other melee options.

European fencing is a decent basis for actual sword-fighting, and a sword lets you keep your distance in a way that knives really don't. Kendo might work too, depending on whether you need to cut rather than thrusting.

If you want more distance than that, Naginata would be useful.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naginata

Is armor useful against the supernaturals? Have the Crown discreetly encourage training in hoplomachia, with schools springing up in 2006 in the wake of the film "300". (Surely a coincidence, hmm?)

Or the Crown could give this guy a call:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...erhampton.html
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
... given that supernatural creatures may be vulnerable to being cut or stabbed by certain materials, knifework is very important.
FCCT has a fair amount of knife work, and was widely known; there are probably still practitioners.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aesir23 View Post
... taught to the PCs by a grizzled old veteran of the SAS or a Gurkha regiment of Her Majesties Army.
Does anyone know anything about Gurkha martial arts? There's nothing in GURPS Martial Arts, and while Stealth + Knife is clearly the core, there must be more.

A minor point, but it's the British Army, not the Royal Army, Her Majesty's Army, or anything like that. Its roots as an organisation are in the Parliamentary Army of the English Civil War.

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Old 01-06-2013, 04:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

It's tricky. In all honesty there's pretty much no martial art that will prepare you to go up against someone significantly stronger who can ignore most injury. I think FMA is pretty close, as at least it strongly emphasizes weapons and "trapping" of limbs by moving to areas where the opponent has difficulty applying his full strength. However, there's still the assumptions on how joints work that may or may not apply to various supernatural entities.

In my opinion, FMA is the closest you're going to get because it's the most heavily weapon-based art I know of that's still fairly close to it's roots as actual pre-firearm combat training.

Any modern military style is going to focus less on hand-to-hand fighting than something that existed before guns, with greater concentration on sentry removal stuff. And the whole "defanging the snake" bit with FMA is not really that heavily emphasized. It's in there, but it also includes a lot of quick closing and close-in knife work to vital bits in the body's core. And various supernatural critters MAY still be susceptible to pain from the touch of whatever can kill them, even if they don't take injury unless they're stabbed somewhere specific. If that's the case, a focus on weapons will pay off well, IMO. So that'd be my recommendation.
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

Your mention of people loyal to the Royal Family can be expanded upon.

When I joined the Royal Air Force (not the Army), I swore an oath, to (IIRC) 'Her majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, and the government she chooses to place under her'.

The exact wording escapes me, but most people who make such an oath mean it, and will stand by it.
It did not permit me to obey orders given against the Queen, or her heirs and successors. The rest of the Royal Family is specifically not included.
There's a division right there.
You might have lesser Royals in conflict with the immediate Family of her son Charles, his son Harry, etc. Leading to probems in who obeys.

Theoretically, if someone murdered his way up the succession until he was King, I might have had a problem...

On martial arts styles; 'unarmed combat' exists, the Fairbairn book exists, but I feel most regiments do not train in this stuff, preferring skill at arms.
Elite or specialist units do train in this, so I'd expect SAS and other elites, the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines to be the ones that do this.
Individual soldiers study when they have access to schools and have the time. Not very likely in my mind, as deployments to war-zones come first.

All this is based upon my limited knowledge of the army, and my experience of the RAF in the late 1970's to mid 1980's.

Hope this is useful.
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:35 AM   #8
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
FCCT has a fair amount of knife work, and was widely known; there are probably still practitioners.
Could I make a case for any practisioners that are still spry enough in 2005 to work full-time as instructors to healthy young people, many with a background in military or police work? As far as I know, organised training in the style mostly ended with WWII, i.e. sixty years before the first quick-reaction team started to form.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Does anyone know anything about Gurkha martial arts? There's nothing in GURPS Martial Arts, and while Stealth + Knife is clearly the core, there must be more.
Bando teaches kukri forms as part of its advanced curriculum, at least in the US (ABA Bando). It also seems very practical for overpowering possessed people and a fine basis for a general self-defence style. All in all, I would like it if I could justify Gurkha instructors teaching Bando to recruits, complete with instructions in how to use the kukri to decapitate.

On the other hand, I can't find any evidence that Gurkhas are any more likely to know Bando than any other soldier. In fact, I'm not sure that someone living near Oxford or Cambridge could find any instruction in Bando and it could be hard even for someone in London to find high quality training.

Basically, most Gurkhas seem to know a very basic form of military hand-to-hand, with a somewhat greater focus on knifework, specifically kukris. In GURPS terms, if such a style was defined, it would consist of Brawling, Knife, Spear and Stealth; with Judo and Staff as optional skills.

Edit: Combat Bando in East London looks intriguing. This could actually be it. I especially like that Lord Mountbatten is quoted on the page, because it provides a connection to the Queen. It wouldn't be all that implausible to postulate that some Gurkhas, interested in formalising their already formiddable mastery of their kukris, would study bando and other thaing.
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:19 AM   #9
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan Larson View Post
Most martial arts training focuses on unarmed fighting, which doesn't sound very useful if various exotic melee weapons are required to fight the supernaturals.
True and the reason why I'm looking for a style that isn't just 'karate or judo' (possibly with a different name). I do think that teaching unarmed combat is useful, even to recruits that are not likely to use it much, in that it instills confidence and is a good way to maintain a reasonable standard of physical health within the organisation. Encouraging even the young academics that they recruit to go to a dojo several times a week in case they ever need to defend themselves against a hostile magic-user or people possessed by evil spirits seems fair enough.

The most common supernatural threat is probably a normal person without any training or super-powers, but influenced or controlled by a malignant spirit. As the spirit doesn't care about the fleshy shell, the body may operate at levels of exertion that would be near-certain to lead to injury for a normal person and severe pain, shock and even soft-tissue injury that would be crippling to a normal human may not stop them in the short term. In the long term, they cripple and die like any other human, but that doesn't help someone they managed to finish strangling before they died.

The ideal solution to such a possession is to secure the person with restraints that prevent the spirit from struggling in a way that permanently damages the victim*. For that purpose, it's very useful for the quick-response teams to be in good physical condition and to have training in police arrest techniques. The ex-cops among them already know how, but to maintain proficiency, as well as teaching those who come without such experience to arrest people, it's probably useful to train in some form of martial art which includes grappling.

*Sprains, torn muscles and damage to joint ligaments is unfortunately almost unescapable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan Larson View Post
Are you very keen on the idea that only knives are effective? There are certainly other melee options.

European fencing is a decent basis for actual sword-fighting, and a sword lets you keep your distance in a way that knives really don't. Kendo might work too, depending on whether you need to cut rather than thrusting.

If you want more distance than that, Naginata would be useful.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naginata
The major reason for a focus on knifework is that it's possible to conceal knives. Swords and polearms might be useful in certain cases, but while still a secret organisation, members of the conspiracy are often forced to walk around with maybe a pistol and a knife, not a machine gun and a polearm.

As a matter of fact, except for the quick-reaction teams*, most conspiracy members go unarmed. Even the former military people only carry weapons if they are still licensed to do so and then, usually only a pistol and only on dangerous asssignments.

The quick-reaction people have access to military hardware, but are usually constrained by the need to remain covert. Suppressed pistols and SMGs, the occasional military carbine and a knife or two.

The current method accepted for dealing with a true supernatural threat, i.e. not just a possessed victim, is to shoot it until it is down and then move on to metaphysical stuff, specific to different kinds. If the weakness of the creature is known, then that substance is introduced into its body somehow. If the creature is clearly supernatural, but it's not clear what type, the usual SOP is to cut off its head (sometimes with a silver- or gold-coated knife) and stab it in the heart (sometimes with a knife, sometimes a hawthorne stake). Then the body is restrained, ash and salt is spread over it, and it is bagged for research.

*Which in 2010 had less than ten full-time members, with maybe thirty available some of the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan Larson View Post
Is armor useful against the supernaturals? Have the Crown discreetly encourage training in hoplomachia, with schools springing up in 2006 in the wake of the film "300". (Surely a coincidence, hmm?)
Armour is useful, but in general, modern ballistics weave and stab vests are far more concealable and easier to explain than reproductions of ancient or historical armour. Some recruits are still members of the police, security services, intelligence or military, acting as sort of sleeper agents, and when out on call, the operatives are generally covered as consultants for some governmental agency, on a training exercise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan Larson View Post
Or the Crown could give this guy a call:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...erhampton.html
I read that just last week. On the other hand, there is no reason to believe that this style is any more useful than other weapon-based styles in the modern world (most of which teach Art versions of skills). Not to mention that the Queen is not encouraged to try to recruit anyone if there is the slightest possibility that they'll go the press (or even tell someone else who then goes to the press). She mostly approached people she had known for decades, her personal bodyguards, her physician and other people in her household on whose loyalties she could rely upon absolutely and whom she knew well enough to judge that they would believe her fantastical claims. These then recruited a few people each, if they happened to know people who could contribute something in terms of skills and would not be too sceptical to believe at all.*

*At the beginning, recruits had to take the existence of the supernatural on faith. The Queen, in setting, is a natural medium who also has prophetic dreams. But other evidence of the supernatural was thin on the ground in the 80s and even during the early 90s, there still weren't any actual monsters or magic users, just spirits that could be sensed by very rare people.
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

I am not sure how effective it would be against supernatural nasties, but the one former SAS member Ive met boxed and said that boxing was an exceptionally popular activity back when he served, so I would think it would be quite reasonable for people to know boxing
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