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Old 12-30-2018, 02:03 PM   #51
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Default Re: Anthropology, Caribbean Studies and Comparative Folklore, What Languages?

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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.

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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.
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Old 12-30-2018, 07:53 PM   #52
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Default Re: Anthropology, Caribbean Studies and Comparative Folklore, What Languages?

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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?
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Old 12-31-2018, 04:27 AM   #53
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Default 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.
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Old 12-31-2018, 05:34 AM   #54
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Default Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast

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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?
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:18 PM   #55
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Default 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.
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Old 01-01-2019, 11:04 PM   #56
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Default Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast

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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).
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Old 01-02-2019, 12:14 AM   #57
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Default Re: Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast

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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.
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Old 01-02-2019, 12:44 PM   #58
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Default 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.
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Old 01-02-2019, 02:24 PM   #59
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Default 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.
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Old 01-02-2019, 02:27 PM   #60
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Default 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.
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