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Old 01-07-2013, 10:34 AM   #31
Polydamas
 
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

John's point is good. Most people who teach combative martial arts to rich-world civilians do it on a shoestring with few students, because those arts don't have much place in the rich world. Even hiring them to come down to Oxford or Cambridge one day a week, and training two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon, could work.

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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.
The only one I know is Bill Wolfe in Vancouver. His story is that he met two of Fairburn and Sykes' students in the Canadian Army in the 1960s and 1970s, studied with them, and started teaching an adapted version called Modern Defendo to various interested people after he retired.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:34 AM   #32
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You don't want undergraduates for this, at least not in time-hungry subjects like mathematics or sciences. Two Cambridge degrees that can take remarkably little time:

Land Economy is the art of running large estates, and is a Cambridge degree for historical and social reasons. It is traditionally studied by upper-class types who spend their time on social pursuits or sport, but it might be suitable for people involved with this job.

English is most unusual. You are not expected to go to the lectures. The core work is to read a set book - which is usually a major work of literature - and write an original and insightful review of it. Each week. If you are talented at this, at speed-reading speed, it can be done in two days per week.
The entire point of recruiting people at prestigious universities is that some of senior people in the know will be professors of classics, anthropology (esp. religious anthropology), theology, history, archeology, linguistics (esp. the study of extinct languages) or other subjects with applications connected to the study of magic, which has a very important elements of historical and archeological research. Knowledge of a 'dead' language like at least Latin and Greek is also a prerequisite, with knowledge of even more obscure ones, especially if there is a tradition of magic attached to it, being prefered.

So, not only will the academic recruiters be most likely to come into contact with students of certain very specific subjects and mostly at the most prestigious schools*, the highest proportion of people who accidentally discover that the supernatural is returning will be students and researchers connected to those subjects, especially people researching beliefs in the supernatural among prior cultures.

Simply put, in the setting, normal people who believe in magic and are trying to use 'spells' but doing so in modern languages and without the kind of accurate recreation that only serious scholars bring to the subject, will fail just like everyone who believes in magic does in our world. Only someone who spoke perfect Vulgate Latin (or Koine Greek or whatever) and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the period in question would have a chance of using an ancient or medieval spellbook.

That means that the people who have realised what is going on and have a chance of doing something about it are mostly post-graduate students or professors of very esoteric subjects. While others might have seen incredible things or even encountered the supernatural, they have no chance of replicating what they saw in any way.

Since the Queen's Conspiracy started as a way to study the paranomal and discover what the rules were, the first people recruited specifically for their skills (as opposed to purely because they were close to someone who already knew) were academics and scholars who could read ancient tomes of magic and have a chance of precisely duplicating the rituals and words as they would have been performed in the past.

A typical 'rank-and-file' member will be a graduate student who is not aware that he belongs to a conspiracy ultimately controlled by the Queen, but who is aware that the supernatural is somehow real and is working informally with a trusted professor at his school in order to help him study it. Some will be undergraduates who have parents or older siblings who have already been recruited and/or are approached because they have inborn gifts that the professor or his assistants can somehow spot.

The more helpful and trustworthy a newly recruited student is, the more information he will learn about the real situation. At some point, the new recruits will realise that they are part of a much larger organisation than the professor at that college and any other graduate students he may have working with him. They'll also have contact with a security specialist from the central branch (as much as an informal organisation can be said to have one), who'll ensure that they are reliably discreet, have appropriate cover stories for any otherwise suspicious activity and that they take minimal precautions for their personal safety. Included in the last will be briefings about the paranormal, a short security seminar, complete with a new home security system, and regular self-defence training.

Of course, some recruits will instead be former police, security services, military or intelligence services. If possible, however, they will be asked to take up a new career which leaves them enough free time to enroll at least part-time at a university where they can study some or all of ancient languages, myths, folklore and certain specifics of history, because in this world, these are vital survival skills.

*When I say 'recruiters', I'm talking about maybe ten or twenty very sharp academics at the top of their respective (very esoteric) fields, who have been initiated into the secret, some of them recently. So far, most of them are Oxford and Cambridge people, but there is no reason this has to stay that way. Ideally, every British university with good classics departments and other applicable academic disciplines would have a local contact who could keep an eye out for people who need to be recruited or discouraged from what they are doing. There are also people in the know who are not involved with academia, of course, and these may recruit people as well, but there aren't very many people involved who are just there because they can kill people and break things. That is changing, however, with the paramilitary branch becoming a real organisation, as opposed to the old boys' network of Secret-aware people that exists within academia.

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In that case, you can solve the problem with money. Set up an invitation-only martial arts club in each town, rent space in each town, and have the trainer travel between Oxford and Cambridge.
I imagine that this will eventually have emerged, at the very latest in 2008 or so. That means that the first 'generation' of quick-response Ranger teams will not have studied at such a private gym, but attended a public one in addition to what they were able to train each other in.

There are benefits to having multiple such clubs, not aware of each other, because most of the recruits are only semi-aware of the scope of the Secret and do not have contact with the fully-aware senior people, let alone know of the Queen's personal involvement.*

*That it's done in the name of Queen and Country is an open secret. That it's done for the Queen personally is something only told to very valuable people who are likely to do things for the Queen they wouldn't do for their former colleagues or superiors in the service.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:13 AM   #33
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Looking it up the following is the Army Oath of Alleigiance and there's in fact no direct reference to HM Government:

"I... swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and of the generals and officers set over me. So help me God."

The Air Force oath is the same except it says 'air officers' instead of generals. The Navy don't swear at all for reasons that look insanely British even to me.

I would rather worry about how the whole thing is explained to those not in the know. What's the 'cover' for this whole shebang? Where are all those specially recruited members of the armed forces supposed to be detached to?
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:29 AM   #34
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I would rather worry about how the whole thing is explained to those not in the know.
As a rule, and it is a very strict rule, generally, it is not explained at all, to anyone who is not currently in the process of being recruited.

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What's the 'cover' for this whole shebang?
Mostly, individuals have the cover of their own lives. University students and post-graduate students are working with their clued-in professors on certain research projects and also provide valuable analysis service. They still have to do enough academic work that can be shown to university authorities and possibly the public so that they don't appear too eccentric. In the case of respected older professors, of course, the level of eccentricity that is acceptable is quite high, thanks to tenure, social connections and so forth.

In general, the Queen and the senior members of the conspiracy, many of whom have high social status in the UK, try extend patronage to junior members in many subtle ways that rarely come into the public eye. That includes getting universities, companies and individuals to fund academic projects that they believe will increase their understanding of the paranormal (or provide useful cover for actual research that will).

Also, through contacts and personal relationships, the higher-ups in the organisation try to arrange for grants or privately funded research projects that enable field researchers and the new Ranger teams to travel freely, funnel some of the money into facilities and provide explanations for strange stuff they get up to.

Also, in the setting, the Queen has a cordial relationship with several ex-military officers who now run private security companies, which enables the Rangers to have legitimate jobs with those companies. I'll probably have at least one and possibly more PMC/PSC established by fully clued-in ex-military officers that are senior members of the conspiracy and that function mostly as cover for the paramilitary activities that the conspiracy has started to get involved in.

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Where are all those specially recruited members of the armed forces supposed to be detached to?
A total of ca 40-50 active-duty age people who are current or former members of the British armed forces, police, security or intelligence services have been clued into the situation. Of those, somewhere between 8-12 are able to devote their time to the Rangers full time. This small inner core forms the quick-reaction teams and are currently in the process of expansion, though hopefully not at the cost of being revealed prematurely to the world. The full-time Rangers are retired from their former jobs. Most of the first 'generation' Rangers were recruited because they were bodyguards to Her Majesty or well-born soldiers with a familial connection to the Royal Household, or happened to be close friends of such people. They now have some form of cover job, either collecting a paycheck from a friendly PMC/PSC that doesn't involve any work for it or they may be on the books as actual gamekeepers or have some other job in the Royal Household.

Those who are still members of the armed forces are not detailed anywhere they wouldn't be otherwise*. Their role for the conspiracy mostly involves them functioning as sleeper agents, information-gatherers, contacts and talent spotters. If they go out with the Rangers at all, they do so either during vacation time or during periods where they are detailed to service that a senior clued-in officer or member of the Royal Household can fiddle with their official whereabouts at certain times. ADC to a general in on the Secret, for example, or some ceremonial position connected to the Royal Household.

*With the possible exception from the norm that they now have highly placed patrons who will exert suble influence where possible, so that they are more useful agents and in order to enable them to take time-off when they are needed by the co-conspirators.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:45 AM   #35
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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.
Why would they assume Glasgow Rangers, rather than the London based football team Queens Park Rangers F.C.?
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:51 AM   #36
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Why would they assume Glasgow Rangers, rather than the London based football team Queens Park Rangers F.C.?
The QPR is mentioned as being a convenient code to speak about the organisation (it stands for "Queen's Paranormal Rangers", of course), but depending on where the conversation is happening, the Glasgow Rangers might be what people are most likely to think is being discussed if the conversation is about just 'Rangers'. Queen's Park Rangers F.C. are refered to as 'QPR' or 'the Hoops', usually not as just the 'Rangers'. That's reserved for the Glasgow team, at least among most people I know.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:00 PM   #37
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The QPR is mentioned as being a convenient code to speak about the organisation (it stands for "Queen's Paranormal Rangers", of course), but depending on where the conversation is happening, the Glasgow Rangers might be what people are most likely to think is being discussed if the conversation is about just 'Rangers'. Queen's Park Rangers F.C. are refered to as 'QPR' or 'the Hoops', usually not as just the 'Rangers'. That's reserved for the Glasgow team, at least among most people I know.
However the Glasgow ones recently went through some financial troubles, the end result of that is that the Glasgow Rangers had to start again at the lowest rung of professional football in Scotland. QPR on the other hand are in the Premier League, which is one of the biggest leagues around, and might be more in the news.

I'll try to stop with the football angle.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:26 PM   #38
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Two novels - fairly dark in tone, but recommemded - about an occult secret service working for the Crown, rather than the government: Hunter's Moon, and Eagle Rising.
Looks interesting. I might even buy the Kindle versions, assuming money is not too tight this month. I guess I could reduce spending on SJ Game content... ;)
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:43 PM   #39
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John's point is good. Most people who teach combative martial arts to rich-world civilians do it on a shoestring with few students, because those arts don't have much place in the rich world. Even hiring them to come down to Oxford or Cambridge one day a week, and training two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon, could work.
Indeed. And such a job could be a good cover for an ex-military, security service or police member of the conspiracy, who would also function as a contact for new recruits, to teach them about security, discretion and safety. Of course, at some point in their initiation, all new recruits would meet with a severe man in a conservative suit, who'd make them sign formidable NDAs before being allowed to see certain material, but the self-defence instructor could be a more regular contact with the central branch for many of the peripheral members.

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The only one I know is Bill Wolfe in Vancouver. His story is that he met two of Fairburn and Sykes' students in the Canadian Army in the 1960s and 1970s, studied with them, and started teaching an adapted version called Modern Defendo to various interested people after he retired.
There's also CODA, in the UK. Frankly, though, it's not a priority for me that the name of Fairbairn/FCCT be used. I'm more interested in knowing whether now very old, but potentially still spry, veterans of SAS/SBS service and/or Royal Marine Commandos or the Paras who might have served in Malaysia, Aden or Borneo would have what amounts to the same style in GURPS terms. Or if even younger veterans of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, various peacekeeping missions or even Iraq and Afghanistan might be learning something that is mostly the same in game terms, even if not called by the name.
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Old 01-07-2013, 01:11 PM   #40
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I like the fighting style, but when facing supernaturals, you might want to add joint strikes and manipulation. It will allow them to cripple attackers more quickly, and ST 30 matters less when you can't move your legs.

Against strong supernaturals, a two man team (one to grapple, one to stabby-stab) might be the way to go. I know it's more efficient to do one-on-one man defense against monsters, but it's much more useful to win.
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