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Old 01-08-2013, 10:34 AM   #61
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Does anyone know about a castle owned by the Royal Family that is located on a very lonely moor in Scotland somewhere? Preferably with a cool name?
Balmoral Castle (There are other privately-owned houses on this property known as Craigowan Lodge and Delnadamph Lodge.)
Holyrood Great name, but pretty official and conspicuous.
Birkhall Not very castlely-looking.

There's a couple of choices in Wales if you're flexible on the location in Scotland.

And speaking of Wales, fandom insists I add the Craig-Y-Nos Castle, currently a hotel in real life and not owned by the Royal Family. Though I'm sure they could afford it if you like the reference.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:14 AM   #62
borithan
 
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

I think the Balmoral link would make it too obviously linked to the monarchy. The lodges sound more suitable... Delnadamph Lodge would be my suggestion, as it looks suspicously like the pronunciation wouldn't really match the way it is written, adding a further barrier to people making connections based on snatches of overheard conversation.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:16 AM   #63
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

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Balmoral Castle (There are other privately-owned houses on this property known as Craigowan Lodge and Delnadamph Lodge.)
Holyrood Great name, but pretty official and conspicuous.
I'm pretty sure that a lot of the early activity during the establishment of the Shadow Court took place on the grounds of Balmoral Castle, but after the expansion of the society it is too much in the public eye. Not really practical to have the headquarters of a secret society, complete with paramilitary units, anywhere near it. The same for Holyrood.

The lodges look too small, in addition to the issue of proximity to Balmoral. I'm fairly certain the Queen doesn't want Charles all up in her business about this, as I think he'd disapprove (assuming she got him past disbelieving, obviously).

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Birkhall Not very castlely-looking.
Possible, I suppose. Though, it is true, it lacks a certain imposing something. I wonder if it shares any access roads with Balmoral (it's no more than ca 30 km away, I think). That would be a point against it.

Ideally, I want nothing else connected to the Royal Family close enough so that relatives might pop over to visit the Queen while she's there. Also, I don't want neighbours within 10-20 km, preferably not within 50 km. Not unless such neighbours are few enough so that they could conceivably all be at least semi-clued-in and fiercely loyal to the Royal Family. And absolutely no traffic anywhere within visual range or potential hearing range of flashbangs, grenades, live-fire automatic weapon exercises or demolition training.

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There's a couple of choices in Wales if you're flexible on the location in Scotland.
I'm very flexible on the location, as long as it has the elements for which I'm looking in a secret headquarters. These include primarily a complete absence of close neighbours and a scarcity of neighbours at all. Also, it has to come with huge grounds that can be fenced off, or at least have the roads closed, and patrolled at certain times, in order to prevent anyone from being close enough to notice odd things.

The Queen wouldn't even have to use people who were fully clued-in to the secret for the perimeter defence. Just saying that she wanted to use the place as a private retreat, along with selected friends, would be enough to get police assigned to prevent press (and other unwelcome guests) from going there. Only the innermost perimeter would be done by society members, in that case the top instructors for the Queen's Paranormal Rangers, as well as the headquarter element of the Rangers and, at least when the Queen is in residence, a reserve Ranger team not sent out on missions. I imagine that since 2000 or so, the most trusted members of the Queen's personal security element have been fully clued-in, by her personally no less, for one thing because she knows well that in this new world, threats to public figures may be supernatural as well as stemming from regular crazies or even 'regular' terrorists. These will train alongside the quick-reaction team Rangers, but instead of going out on missions, they'll make sure that everywhere the Queen goes, she'll be safe from paranormal threats as well as physical ones.

I mentioned Scotland because I felt it was most likely to have an isolated castle on a moor.

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And speaking of Wales, fandom insists I add the Craig-Y-Nos Castle, currently a hotel in real life and not owned by the Royal Family. Though I'm sure they could afford it if you like the reference.
I'm not familiar with Doctor Who and don't think I'd get it even if I tried.

On the other hand, if the Queen could obtain a suitable castle without it becoming a major media event, she'd certainly have considered doing so in the years between 2000-2005, i.e. somewhere during the period when the informal conspiracy of close friends and associated started to become more of an unofficial intelligence service of the supernatural, at the latest before it first started to operate as Her Majesty's Supernatural Scotland Yard and the Sweenie rolled in one.

I'm certainly comfortable with stating that one of the divergences from our world is a real estate purchase made discreetly by trusted agents of the Queen in the name of the Royal Family, preferably from a loyal subject who could be relied upon not to speculate about the transaction anywhere in public.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:57 AM   #64
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I'm not familiar with Doctor Who
Ah. Well, the explanation: the linked location was used as the set for a lonely manor in Scotland which was the site of an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria by a werewolf (foiled by The Doctor, of course). The Queen acquired the property (what with its owner having been killed defending her) and used it to found the "Torchwood Institute", which was a secret organization for investigating and combatting all the alien weirdness that The Doctor generally gets involved with. This should sound familiar.

The Doctor himself was considered one such suspect alien. There was a whole spinoff show called "Torchwood" set in the modern day, and the organization makes a number of other appearances in the original series as well.

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I'm certainly comfortable with stating that one of the divergences from our world is a real estate purchase made discreetly by trusted agents of the Queen
I think this is a better bet than any of the official royal residences, all of which are too well-connected to the royals to be really covert. But it's not at all a stretch to imagine they own property indirectly.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:19 PM   #65
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

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Ah. Well, the explanation: the linked location was used as the set for a lonely manor in Scotland which was the site of an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria by a werewolf (foiled by The Doctor, of course). The Queen acquired the property (what with its owner having been killed defending her) and used it to found the "Torchwood Institute", which was a secret organization for investigating and combatting all the alien weirdness that The Doctor generally gets involved with. This should sound familiar.

The Doctor himself was considered one such suspect alien. There was a whole spinoff show called "Torchwood" set in the modern day, and the organization makes a number of other appearances in the original series as well.
Well, damn. I guess nothing is original any more. ;)

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I think this is a better bet than any of the official royal residences, all of which are too well-connected to the royals to be really covert. But it's not at all a stretch to imagine they own property indirectly.
As long as it happens before the Sovereign Grant Act of 2011 took effect last year, the Queen would be able to discreetly dispose of fairly large sums assuming that she had good relationships with Sir Alan Reid and/or some of his underlings. Of course, a top-notch financial operator (which Sir Alan certainly is) working within a system which cannot legally be audited by anyone outside it (as the royal finances were before April 2012) can probably find ways to finangle a lot more money than what the Queen is assumed to own personally, if she really had a use for it and he was convinced it was in the best interests of Queen and Country.

The Sovereign Grant Act will have caused some agitation among the Shadow Court, but as long as Sir Alan was by then firmly on board with the program and the conspiracy had sensibly arranged to convince someone within the National Audit Office of the indelicacy of prying too much into the Queen's private affairs, I see no reason why it should prevent them from having free use of some staggeringly expensive real estate, as well as receiving a couple of million quid a year in indirect subsidies which come ultimately from the Queen's private purse.

Of course, this leaves most of the actual costs to be borne by other members of the conspiracy, one of the reasons why the Queen had to recruit primarily independently wealthy people. On the other hand, the Queen can make strategic use of the many charities and non-profit organisations that look to her as a patron to finance many of the costs. And by using her subtle social influence and the influence of all her many contacts to nudge things helpfully for certain corporations and individuals, she can ensure that they feel no hardship even when they provide substantial financial assistance to the project.

After all, there are many people in the City and elsewhere in the Commonwealth countries who have plenty of money and are prepared to sacrifice a lot of it merely to increase the chances of being invited to tea at Buckingham Palace, let alone for the chance at frequent personal invitations for receptions, dinners and hunting trips, consideration in the Birthday Honours and other similar honours.

For more practical businessmen and corporations, introductions to the right people or a word in the ear of a senior civil servant or general officer might be worth millions, some of which bounty would duly be remitted, through complex and opaque channels, into the voracious maw of the Shadow Court. Running an unearthly combination of private intelligence service, a paranormal university and academic society, secret police and black ops strike force is not cheap by any means.

Edit: Other possible castles that it is not outside of the realm of possibility to imagine that the Queen could arrange for include the ruined Dunstaffnage Castle* and Dunconnel Castle.

Does anyone know anything about them?

*I'm concerned about the proximity to Oban, but a supposedly ruined castle that actually conceals a thriving secret headquarters has a certain charm.
**Picturesque ruins on a small island with no inhabitants. I wonder if it would be big enough, assuming that it's possible to conceal much of the modern activity below-ground.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:43 PM   #66
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

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.

Wikipedia has category pages like this of useful listings: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor...ses_in_Cumbria. You can always suppose that the private owners listed are front men or pseudonyms, and that "used for corporate entertainment" involves a lot of military and police types arriving in cheap suits.

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Old 01-08-2013, 03:02 PM   #67
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

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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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Old 01-08-2013, 04:56 PM   #68
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

One thing that merits some thought is how these paranormal discoveries interact with the common religion of the UK. The country is still predominantly Christian, and has what amounts to a national church, though people aren't forced to join. And the queen is at least on paper the head of that church.

I suspect that when she was first discovering her powers, the queen would have turned (perhaps discreetly) to the practitioners of the only supernatural tradition she was familiar with, namely Anglican clergymen. What did they tell her? Did she delve deeper into Christian mysticism? Did anyone assist her?

Also, how does common religious practice fit in with magic? Are churches and mosques actually magically potent places or not? Do religious rituals actually work? (And if not the new stuff, then what about the deeper traditions?)
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:09 PM   #69
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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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Old 01-08-2013, 05:57 PM   #70
johndallman
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

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The country is still predominantly Christian,
Only notionally. The last census had about 50% claiming to be Christian, but most of those don't attend church even once a year (actual regular church attendees are about 6% of the population).
Quote:
and has what amounts to a national church, though people aren't forced to join. And the queen is at least on paper the head of that church.
She is in fact personally religious, so your point about what she might have done in relation to the church is a good one.
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