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Old 01-15-2019, 05:25 PM   #81
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

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The book The Morning of the Magicians was written by a Frenchman and he was a leftist. Occult and mystical ideas, within certain limits, are respected in France. There are occult groups in France that talk about forms of spiritual democracy. A type of Freemasonry that could be described as political, progressive, and spiritual/occultist, is part of French culture and is strong among scholars and professionals.

So France as a nation aware of the occult and dealing with it intelligently is a sound choice.
It seems Freemasonry in France is a field of study appropriately as broad and dense as Catholic dogmatic theology or English literature. The more I research, the more research I discover is needed.

Very briefly and simply, which type of Freemasonry is it that you consider particularily suitable for me to use as a factor in the secret French response to the emergence of real occult threats?

Of course, I do not intend for 'France as a nation' to be aware of the occult. As in every other country, most people are either completely unaware of the existence of anything supernatural or actively in denial, due to the mental block of the Facade. By France having an unusually unified policy in occult matter I simply mean that a fair part of those few people who are aware of the true state of affairs have managed to coordinate themselves in some way and have some degree of behind-the-scenes influence over French policy.

So, a number of intelligence and security officials are aware of some of the truth and along with occult-aware military officers, they shape the policy of mundane politicians in order to better safeguard French interests from uncanny threats. In legal terms, the French response to the emergence of occult threats is an illegal conspiracy, a state within the state of unelected intelligence, security and military officials conspiring to collect secret data, make policy and even arrange the use of force while deliberately keeping elected officials in the dark.

In my setting, any number of small-scale military interventions France has undertaken in Africa since the 1990s (significantly more numerous in my setting than reality, but often secret) have had supernatural implications, but the politicians who ordered them mostly believed in 'more sensible' explanations of terrorism, ethnic or sectarian violence, political rioting, etc. Some key officers of the Legion and the SDECE or other relevant intelligence or security service responsible for writing official reports on the situation may be aware of much more than makes it into the official record, but make a conscious choice to preserve the illusions of the ignorant and instead act in secret to protect La Patrie.

I'm actually rather struck by the neatness of having the informal network of those in the know spread through mundane social clubs, such as various Masonic lodges. Especially as the PCs' Patron spent 1939-1954 in the French Foreign Legion and in my mental, unwritten background, he specifically joined several fraternal organisations at that point in his life. Some because they provided social benefits and useful contacts, others because he was genuinely hoping for mystical revelations or access to secret knowledge.

The Patron, J.R. Kessler, was interested in occult and esoteric matters, which at the time were merely curiosities, as magic didn't actually exist, any more than in our real world, and befriended a number of the kind of people who believed in Theosophy, Grail mythology or other popular ideas in WWII and post-WWII Francophone society, especially among those who supported the Free French and/or were interested in French colonies in North Africa.

Kessler would have known a lot of people whose occult fancies touched on Egypt, Morocco or other areas where his Legion service or occasional periods of leave took him. In fact, Kessler supplemented his military pay with a thriving smuggling and black market business, with one of his specialties being acquiring and smuggling art or objects with historical or archeological value, for example in wartime Italy, North Africa and France, but also from Egypt. I imagine that his customers were quite often believers in the occult qualities of the artifacts they sought, even if none of these objects had any magical value, magic, at that time in my setting's history, being exactly as real as it is in our world.

Furthermore, Kessler kept in touch not only with fellow enlisted Legionnaires after he left the Legion, he also had friends, customers and acquintances who had been French officers, intelligence or security people, civil servants or perhaps merely rich collectors in the colonies. In the 60s, 70s and 80s, Kessler had good access to privileged information from France and its former and current colonies, as well as surprising influence when it came to acquiring mining concessions, getting political favours in dealing with Francophone governments in post-colonial Africa and even getting what looked suspiciously like favourable treatment when it came to deploying French troops to ensure the safety of citizens in areas where civil wwars or sectarian violence threatened them.*

In the modern day, most of his old friends and acquintances from his WWII and Indochina days are dead or at least long retired. Nevertheless, Kessler might retain some connections, through the children of old friends or their professional protegés, into the murkier aspects of French intelligence, security and military matters. He certainly had some confidants who were close enough, in the early 1990s, for Kessler to tell them about his discoveries about the supernatural.

So, might any Masonic organisation plausibly be the vehicle through which early knowledge of the supernatural spread among influential Frenchmen and perhaps even the cover for their cooperation in guding French policy against this threat that most people would not believe in even if they encountered it personally?

*Kessler received French citizenship through service in the FFL and owns companies headquartered in France and various former or current French possessions, as well as ones registered in the US and independent Caribbean nations.
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Old 01-15-2019, 05:48 PM   #82
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

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Y'know, George Gurdjieff was allegedly dead by 1949, but his alleged mystic powers should have been sufficient to survive death. If not, his followers of the Fourth Way would be running around with possible mystic abilities.
To all appearances, the years 1901-1979 in the setting did not differ in any way from real Earth history.

Anyone claiming supernatural powers, contact with ultraterrestial beings or other paranormal phenomena occurred during that period seems to be either lying or deluded. There is zero evidence for even the most subtle occult influences in that period and, for that matter, only the most credulous occult scholars can find much evidence of truly significant preternatural phenomena between 1890-1985.

Of course, establishing conclusive evidence of events that may or may not have occurred more than a century ago is extremely difficult, especially as reliable data on the paranormal is problematic even in the modern age. Most honest historians who are aware of the occult in the modern day accept that it is possible to rule out magical explanations for many claimed paranormal occurences in the 20th century and that there is no reason to believe magic existed in the same sense it does now for much of that period, but nailing down a firm date on which no magic functioned any longer and a firm date for when the first accspted supernatural phenomena in the modern era occurred, that remains controversial, as standards of proof differ widely.

As a result, individual occult-aware historians may hold views that range from no historical evidence of the supernatural being conclusive and the possibility that what many people call magic simply never existing until the first subtle effects started to be noticed by a select few in the 1980s, to a view of the past having been falsified to erase a history where ultraterrestial beings and the magic they shared with humanity having been intimately involved in humanity's ancient past, but the connections with the home worlds of these ultraterrestials and the influence of their magic, having waned slowly over all of recorded history, until some point at or after the Industrial Revolution, magic had faded away entirely.

In any case, if any modern group of occultists has a history dating back longer than the 1980s or more likely the 1990s, whatever they may have believed, claimed or thought they were doing, they were not practising magic or any supernatural abilities before then.

Of course, this doesn't prevent a fringe group of frauds or delusional people, or alternatively enthusiasts of occult and esoteric, but at the time utterly meaningless and useless, studies, from discovering real magic at some point after 1980 and starting to study it.

Just that unless their magical rituals, chants and symbols dated back well before the end of the 19th century, they had very little chance of interacting with the supernatural in any way, even after magic had theoretically started working, as anything 'magical' developed in the 20th century, without antedecents in some kind of older tradition that had actually worked at some point, basically had the same chance of producing a functioning ritual as monkeys hitting typewriters had of recreating King Lear's tempest scene.
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Old 01-15-2019, 05:56 PM   #83
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

The Dali Lama is from Tibet, and has a lot of connections around the world, perhaps he functions as an information broker?

Saudi Arabia's Wahbaism sect has it's fingers in a lot of pies, sponsoring madrassas around the world, and has important connections to the House of Saud.

Judaism tends have a fairly extensive communication networks between rabbis as well.

Mormons and American Evangelical movements spend a lot of time in odd corners of the world helping the poor.

Large NGOs like the Red Cross and OxFam spend a lot of time in odd areas as well.
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Old 01-15-2019, 06:44 PM   #84
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

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The Dali Lama is from Tibet, and has a lot of connections around the world, perhaps he functions as an information broker?
I suppose it's possible. In any case, he has some role, but I haven't decided what.

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Saudi Arabia's Wahbaism sect has it's fingers in a lot of pies, sponsoring madrassas around the world, and has important connections to the House of Saud.
From what I can tell, Wahhabi clerics or idealogues would be very unlikely to consider magic or the supernatural compatible with Islam.

I've actually introduced several groups or organisations with a predominately Sunni membership and occult interests in an earlier campaign set in the same world, but none of them were Wahhabi and, in fact, those hard-line Wahhabi Muslims I featured tended to consider the occultists apostates or heretics.

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Judaism tends have a fairly extensive communication networks between rabbis as well.
And Israel is new enough as a state to have less institutional inertia and entrenched resistance to paradigm-altering information, like the existence of other realities and preternatural powers, with an intelligence and security community famous for mental flexibility that rarely distinguishes any group of bureaucrats.

I've cast Israel as a regional power in occult terms, far more willing to accept evidence of anomalies and take action based on inherently hard-to-believe data, but I'm not sure whether Israel is large and powerful enough for any occult programs they found to be on the same scale as the British and Vatican occult conspiracies.

All the same, one PC from a former campaign, David Reynard, was/is a former Shin Bet officer from Israel who became a professor of religious anthropology at Harvard. And once he discovered the existence of the supernatural, one of the most widely known and powerful magi in the world, even if he was only known among those few insiders who believe in the supernatural. And Reynard eventually agreed to rejoin the fold and became what amounted to Israel's occult Chief of Station in Iraq and then briefly the most senior occult case officer for special operations in the Middle East.

In this new campaign, the PCs have heard of him and are aware that Israeli intelligence both investigates the occult and runs operations against supernatural threats, but Reynard is missing, believed dead. Still have to work out exactly when and where he disppeared, but probably some time 2015-2017, last seen either in northern Iraq or Syria or somewhere over the neighbouring Turkish border.

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Mormons and American Evangelical movements spend a lot of time in odd corners of the world helping the poor.
How might devout Mormons or members of American Protestant Evangelical movements react to the supernatural?

Most of the groups that have made the greatest strides toward occult knowledge, due to having started serious study the earliest, at some point in the 1980s or early 1990s, are composed of people who were willing to accept the existence of the supernatural on the testimony of trusted friends or colleagues, as personal experience might not have occurred until years later. In general, scientific evidemce is simply unavailable. Data and analysis can reveal that something profoundly odd is happening in the world, but incontroversible evidence seems almost unbelievably elusive.

So, how ready would Mormons and various other religious organisations from the US have been to establish some internal organisations or networks to investigate unprovable (but perhaps credible) reports of the supernatural?

And for those influential within the churches, what would they decide needs to be done if they are convinced?

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Large NGOs like the Red Cross and OxFam spend a lot of time in odd areas as well.
They do indeed.

Would people who learn about the supernatural through their charitable work form some kind of network or conspiracy within the Red Cross or other NGOs to investigate or counter it?
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Old 01-15-2019, 06:54 PM   #85
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

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It seems Freemasonry in France is a field of study appropriately as broad and dense as Catholic dogmatic theology or English literature. The more I research, the more research I discover is needed.

Very briefly and simply, which type of Freemasonry is it that you consider particularly suitable for me to use as a factor in the secret French response to the emergence of real occult threats?
Freemasonry is complex, massively so. But those that study it generally make two divisions. Political/Apolitical, with most, but not all, political masonry being center-left in European terms. The other main split is Occult/Non-Occult. Most English speaking masonry is Apolitical and Non-Occult (with a few wild exceptions). French Masonry is generally, but not always Political and Occult. Most French Masonry is more secretive and more leftist than the European norm. So hard to research. Mind you, my information comes mainly from books written in the 1970s and the late 1990s, so pinch of salt time.

I'd research French Masonry. I'd also look up left-wing occultism and political occultism.
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Old 01-15-2019, 07:14 PM   #86
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

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Freemasonry is complex, massively so. But those that study it generally make two divisions. Political/Apolitical, with most, but not all, political masonry being center-left in European terms. The other main split is Occult/Non-Occult. Most English speaking masonry is Apolitical and Non-Occult (with a few wild exceptions). French Masonry is generally, but not always Political and Occult. Most French Masonry is more secretive and more leftist than the European norm. So hard to research. Mind you, my information comes mainly from books written in the 1970s and the late 1990s, so pinch of salt time.

I'd research French Masonry. I'd also look up left-wing occultism and political occultism.
Indeed. Thanks.

Ah, reality.

Quote:
During the first decade of the 21st century, the Grand Orient de France was concerned about a 'silent revolution' of a return of religion in society.*It advocated government action against (according to its own terms) an 'offensive of cults in Europe'.*In April 2008, when the legitimacy of the anti-cult ministerial group (MIVILUDES) was questioned, the Grand Master of the Order, Jean-Michel Quillardet, intervened personally with the President of the French parliament in order to maintain its activity.
From Wikipedia, on the GODF.

Like the real Centre contre les manipulations mentales, the head of which went on to chair the predeccesor to MIVILUDES, an actual, bona fide French government agency that studies and combats cults.

It should not need to be specified, but obviously Alain Vivien is a Freemason of the Grand Orient de France. And when he chaired the Centre Against Mind Control, he wasn't some kind of fringe kook, he was the former Secretary of State who had investigated cults and sects for the French government in an official capacity for years before holding high office in municipal and national politics.

Looks like I have my secret influence on French policy to combat occult forces. And, uh, it's just an actual, real thing.
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Old 01-15-2019, 08:24 PM   #87
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

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Originally Posted by adm View Post
The Dali Lama is from Tibet, and has a lot of connections around the world, perhaps he functions as an information broker?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
I suppose it's possible. In any case, he has some role, but I haven't decided what.
Sounds like the right basic tone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adm View Post
Saudi Arabia's Wahbaism sect has it's fingers in a lot of pies, sponsoring madrassas around the world, and has important connections to the House of Saud.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
From what I can tell, Wahhabi clerics or idealogues would be very unlikely to consider magic or the supernatural compatible with Islam.

I've actually introduced several groups or organisations with a predominately Sunni membership and occult interests in an earlier campaign set in the same world, but none of them were Wahhabi and, in fact, those hard-line Wahhabi Muslims I featured tended to consider the occultists apostates or heretics.
I think that Wahabists would be out looking for signs of sin and heresy* too denounce and oppose, but I think they would be more likely to notice such things than many.

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Originally Posted by adm View Post
Judaism tends have a fairly extensive communication networks between rabbis as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
And Israel is new enough as a state to have less institutional inertia and entrenched resistance to paradigm-altering information, like the existence of other realities and preternatural powers, with an intelligence and security community famous for mental flexibility that rarely distinguishes any group of bureaucrats.

I've cast Israel as a regional power in occult terms, far more willing to accept evidence of anomalies and take action based on inherently hard-to-believe data, but I'm not sure whether Israel is large and powerful enough for any occult programs they found to be on the same scale as the British and Vatican occult conspiracies...
I think you have a good handle on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adm View Post
Mormons and American Evangelical movements spend a lot of time in odd corners of the world helping the poor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
How might devout Mormons or members of American Protestant Evangelical movements react to the supernatural?

...

And for those influential within the churches, what would they decide needs to be done if they are convinced?
Oddly.
Evangelicals first, the two are not equivalent.
Most Evangelicals would be like the Wahabists above, but some may also be on the look out for more signs that God is signaling the beginning of The End Times. Then there are odd sects like snake handling Pentecostals that may run with an obscure Bible interpretation and wind up who knows where.

Mormons have some odd basis for their form of Christianity, like the Golden Plates that Joseph Smith used a crystal to read. They would be more likely than most to be looking for new Revelations from God. They are also doing things like trying to baptize** everyone who has ever lived, faith appropriate or not. Something that, in your setting, may have a basis in magic returning.

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Originally Posted by adm View Post
Large NGOs like the Red Cross and OxFam spend a lot of time in odd areas as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
They do indeed.

Would people who learn about the supernatural through their charitable work form some kind of network or conspiracy within the Red Cross or other NGOs to investigate or counter it?
More of a case for passing information on to others, I'm reasonably sure that the CIA/FSB/MI6 etc. keep tabs on these groups. Anything that rates as "chatter" will be noticed, and at least tagged as a potential bio-terroism concerns. A lot of odd behavior can be traced to drugs, disease, fungus, etc. and patterns of similar occurrences will be noted.

EDIT: I would add that NGOs and PMCs work together, or at least are in the same areas, often enough that they may be an information source for your leader. He may even have one or two as some sort of an asset.

* My apologies for the use of Christian terms, I don't want use terms I am unfamiliar with and misstate my intent.

** Holocaust Baptisms. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/03/u...s-beliefs.html
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Old 01-15-2019, 10:56 PM   #88
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

It would be ironic if one of the strong sources of occult fighters was The Peace Corps.
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Old 01-16-2019, 04:55 AM   #89
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

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To all appearances, the years 1901-1979 in the setting did not differ in any way from real Earth history.

Anyone claiming supernatural powers, contact with ultraterrestial beings or other paranormal phenomena occurred during that period seems to be either lying or deluded.
Aha!

So the Ineffable Powers of Magic got ready to give magic back to the world, saw the young Crowley, and said "hmm… let's wait until we're sure he's dead."
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Old 01-16-2019, 05:44 AM   #90
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Aha!

So the Ineffable Powers of Magic got ready to give magic back to the world, saw the young Crowley, and said "hmm… let's wait until we're sure he's dead."
The way I'm treating Crowley is that he was born in the last days when occultists believe some magic may still have remained in the world, that he had immense magical talent and that he spent his lifetime chasing magic that no longer responded to even the most potent Hermetic invocations.

Oddly, much of his work is quite useful to modern occultists, even though evidence that it worked while Crowley was trying it cannot be found. The theory is that Crowley performed solid thaumatological research and synthesized much that had worked in the past in an attempt to reach forces that were no longer there. Sure, the lack of feedback led him to some errors and unworkable rituals, but his fundamentals were often remarkably sound.

His published work cannot be used as Grimoires, but both it and unpublished notes were used by academic occultists in the 1980s and 1990s, along with, of course, many older sources, to develop the basis of reconstructed Thaumatology skill.
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