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Old 05-07-2019, 04:25 PM   #101
Icelander
 
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Default Brazilian Monster Hunters in the Context of My Ongoing Campaign

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Boy oh boy! Wish I saw this thread earlier, but I was away from the forum for so long! It was posted on my birthday as well, which is a nice plus.

I will try to answer all your questions, but due to time constraints I might have to continue on later posts
That would be great.

I can always use more details.

Since 2009, all my modern Urban Fantasy / Monster Hunting -esque campaigns have been set in the real world with emerging magic. Eventually, it became clear that all the campaigns are set in different parts of the world, but part of the same continuity, which more or less makes it a setting, especially as the world my campaigns are set in diverges more from the real world. I don't have a name for the setting yet, but each new campaign fills in more of the ways the setting differs from the real world.

So even if the PCs in the current campaign never actually visit Brazil* and only run into a few occult intelligence operatives / covert monster hunters from ABIN (in an upcoming adventure having something to do with an illegal underground fighting ring at a Caribbean resort), I'm glad to get as much detail about the Brazilian occult underground and the secret semi-official counter-supernatural response. It will always be good background, either for future adventures in this campaign or for the ones to come in the future.

*They might, of course, but the intended campaign area is the Caribbean and the Gulf Coast of the US, responding to threats emerging from the 'Bermuda triangle' (neither a triangle nor properly associated with Bermuda) Vile Vortex.
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Old 05-07-2019, 11:15 PM   #102
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Default Re: [MH] Brazilian Secret Monster Hunters

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Given that the Vile Vortex near Rio de Janeiro is located at sea, it would make sense for ultraterrestial encounters to involve aquatic monsters and perhaps insidious underwater humanoids in the style of Lovecraft's Deep Ones.

Is anyone aware of Brazilian myths or legends about threats from the sea, underwater civilizations, aquatic monsters and batrachian, ichthyoid horrors?

Might possible humanoid hybrids or Changelings from below the sea be called 'encantado' in Brazil, even though they are associated with the ocean rather than the Amazon?
Some ocean related lore that might give you some material

There is an entitity that is widely revered in coastal cities called Yemanja with dozens of thousands making offering to her by laying flowers and baskets of goodies on the ocean at new years eve

however stories about mermaids and whatnots have been relegated to river dwelling drunk fisherman, specially in the amazon as you mentioned. I think this could be in part due to the aggressive exploration of the oil basin on brazil's coast with oilrigs. too much tech on the sea, too many educated individuals that will claim an unusual incident or sighting is better explained by occams razor

There was one weird incident regarding sea things that fit your timeline tho that maybe you could use, the P-36 incident , it could have been a coverup of something much bigger.

Also, there have been many sightings of UFOs around the western beaches of rio de janeiro, disproportionate to other regions, one theory is that there is an underwater UFO base somewhere off the coast of rio on the western side, and the sightings are the UFOs coming and going from their underwater base. I have no data to back this up, just my personal experience and several anecdotes.
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Old 05-08-2019, 08:27 AM   #103
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Default Re: Brazilian Monster Hunters in the Context of My Ongoing Campaign

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Since 2009, all my modern Urban Fantasy / Monster Hunting -esque campaigns have been set in the real world with emerging magic.
I'm a big fan of emerging magic, because I don't like the idea that the modern world is so much the only possible way things can be that it can work out exactly the same way with no magic at all (after all, most people believe that history makes sense) and with ancient but hidden magic.

Either that, or the hidden magic was so insignificant that it made no difference.

I realise one can construct special cases to make this work; it's more a visceral problem that makes it hard to me to get the hang of the setting.
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Old 05-08-2019, 05:51 PM   #104
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Default Re: Brazilian Monster Hunters in the Context of My Ongoing Campaign

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I'm a big fan of emerging magic, because I don't like the idea that the modern world is so much the only possible way things can be that it can work out exactly the same way with no magic at all (after all, most people believe that history makes sense) and with ancient but hidden magic.

Either that, or the hidden magic was so insignificant that it made no difference.

I realise one can construct special cases to make this work; it's more a visceral problem that makes it hard to me to get the hang of the setting.
Just so.

I want to be able to use sources on the real world for campaign preparation, but that doesn't work if the supernatural has always existed. For one thing, given how many people have powerful motives to prove it, if blatantly supernatural phenomena were around for long, there would be evidence.

And ancient conspiracies that still remain inexplicably secret are obviously a non-starter in any setting with even a passing resemblence to our world. Humans just aren't that great at secrecy or at batting a thousand at anything.

Claims of vampires, werewolves and ghosts wouldn't be considered crazy superstition in secular Western society if that society had evolved along with actual vampires, werewolves and ghosts, who are all enough like humans so they'd mess up and leave credible witneses and evidence that can't be explained with ordinary science.

In the first campaign or two (Boston Mystic and Nightmare by a Rocking Cradle), set in 2009-2011, the supernatural had been emerging foralmost thirty years, but in the 1980s and 1990s, nothing overt happened except in a few isolated and unpopulated areas on Earth, any evidence was undetectable by anyone who didn't have supernatural traits themselves and pretty much no one could perform anything worth the term 'magic', even if they knew about the supernatural. Those few who could, could not replicate anything in front of skeptics, let alone in scientific laboratories full of high-tech gear that ensured No Mana.

The world of 2000 in the setting was subtly different from the real world, but mostly in terms of higher homicide, suicide and missing person rates. No one without paranormal abilities of their own could have found evidence that the causes were supernatural, however, as most incidents were simply spiritual influence that exaggerated emotional responses, impulsive acts of violence and anomie in populations near Places of Power, ley line confluences and several large geographic areas on Earth that some later thaumaturgical researchers* have dubbed 'Vile Vortices'.

The oldest secret societies in my setting date to the late 1980s and early 1990s, in most cases consisting of a close knit group of trusted friends and colleagues who became aware of the supernatural due to one or more of them having a supernatural gift like Medium, Oracle or something similar. No known group did anything dramatic at that early date, as no one would have had any power to do much anyway. Mostly, the few people in the world who knew started gathering data, studying and experimenting.

Important factors in the later development of the occult powers of the world were that Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom has prophetic dreams and several key insiders in the Vatican in the 1980s became aware of the supernatural. As a result, an informal conspiracy dubbed the 'Shadow Court' grew up in the UK and Commonwealth and the Vatican formally (if secretly) started to research the supernatural in 1989. In both cases, the eventual goal seemed to be to prepare the legal authorities and society at large for the response against a supernatural threat, once it inevitably became public.

The early 2000s saw some inexplicable events that were harder to hide than subtle psychic influence. However, actual scientific evidence remained elusive, with skeptics able to explain any events in a variety of ways that did not involve reevaluating physics and the nature of reality. The fact that even competent ritual magicians could not replicate what they could do in a properly mystical setting when surrounded by lights, measuring devices, recorders and skeptics meant that convincing anyone required him to accept eyewitness testimony without scientific proof.

There was, however, an ever increasing amount of rumours, witnesses and puzzling data. Strange crime scenes and truly horrific numbers of disappearences mounted all through the 2000s and it seemed pretty inevitable that conclusive evidence would be accepted by scientists and governments around the world at some time before 2012, 2013 by the latest.

This, however, has not happened. Somehow, most people accept any rationalization over the simple, but weird truth. Even witnesses to blatant manifestations of supernatural forces seem to forget what they saw, editing their memories into something more mundane and acceptable. Only those predisposed to believe in the supernatural or a very few pragmatic, strong-willed and/or iconoclastic people come to accept its existence, either through personal experience or analysis of anomalous data.

Everyone in the fields of intelligence, national security, public safety and social studies knows that something is very wrong with the world and has been since the 1990s or so. And most people who live close to the Vile Vortices and/or have frequent contact with the criminal underbelly of society are aware that there are terrifying, inexplicable forces stalking the vulnerable.

Among beat cops, homicide detectives, EMTs, aid workers, social workers, clergy, medical examiners and many other groups, there are many who acknowledge that science can't explain a lot of what is happening. In many deceloping countries, even in the real world, the majority of people believe in spirits, curses, withces and such things. In this setting, even more people believe, more strongly, and those near the Vile Vortices are terrified.

But in Western secular media, politics and the scientific mainstream, the prevailing orthodoxy is still that magic and monsters don't exist and that the rise in superstition and the increased fervour of many religions is simply a response to the unprecedented rise in violence and instability in the world.

From a logical point of view, this makes no sense. By 2012-2013, the rational view would have been that humanity was under attack by a threat more dangerous than organized crime, terrorism and rogue states combined. There was and is no absolute scientific proof, but at a certain point, this very lack of useful data begins to seem like enemy action.

Certainly, by the end of 2018, it seems impossible for there to have been no ultraterrestial or cryptid autopsies that neutral scientists can accept as incontroversible evidence. Not to mention that somebody among the occult underground of magicians should be powerful enough to overcome the penalties for recording devices, high-tech surroundings and skeptics, so that he could prove to anyone he chose that magic existed. To win the Randi prize, if nothing else.

But somehow, most of the modern West (and, to all appearances, quite a lot of Asia, Eurasia and other assorted rich, urban and modern areas full of secular people) manages to continue in what seems increasingly like willful disbelief. This should, perhaps, worry the PCs.

*Among them J.R. Kessler, the PCs' eccentric billionaire Patron in the current campaign. Of course, whether the Vile Vortices match Sanderson's twelve areas, whether there are perhaps more of them and where the exact boundaries of the vortices are located are all questions that the small group of occult scholars in the world who have any kind of insight into the true state of the world continue to debate.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:42 AM   #105
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Default The Hungry Sea

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Some ocean related lore that might give you some material
Thank you, again. This sort of thing is always useful.

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There is an entitity that is widely revered in coastal cities called Yemanja with dozens of thousands making offering to her by laying flowers and baskets of goodies on the ocean at new years eve
Ah, indeed!

I had read about this goddess (as Mami Wata) during prior reseach of Afro-Caribbean mythology, but neglected to incorporate any mention of her into notes on Brazil

In real life, are those who make offerings to Yemenjá likely to practice a version of Catholicism, Candomblé or Umbanda that incorporates rituals believed to have magical powers?

Do you imagine that if there were real supernatural threats associated with the ocean in the 2000s and 2010s, and that occasional gifted people could accomplish subtle effects using some rituals with roots in the 19th century and earlier, that an organized religion / order of ritual magicians could arise under the name of Yemenjá in Rio and elsewhere in Brazil?

If so, any thoughts on how such a thing might develop (in secret from the authorities, most likely)?

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however stories about mermaids and whatnots have been relegated to river dwelling drunk fisherman, specially in the amazon as you mentioned. I think this could be in part due to the aggressive exploration of the oil basin on brazil's coast with oilrigs. too much tech on the sea, too many educated individuals that will claim an unusual incident or sighting is better explained by occams razor
Interesting. And, of course, in my campaign, most people do indeed somehow manage to explain away anything inexplicable they hear about or even experience.

On the other hand, my setting and the real world have begun diverging ever more widely and in the world of the setting, ships and oil rigs anywhere within a few hundred miles of a point 120 miles SE of Rio de Janeiro have suffered many more 'accidents' in the last couple of decades than in real life and by 2018, working on the sea around Rio is probably regarded as even more dangerous than joining BOPE or Comando Vermelho.

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There was one weird incident regarding sea things that fit your timeline tho that maybe you could use, the P-36 incident , it could have been a coverup of something much bigger.
Well, that was obviously the first strike by the hostile underwater entities. Likely enough, some brave roughnecks responded to ichtyoid horrors invading the oil platform, in search of a filling meal of human entrails, by fighting back, in true PC fashion. Also, like PCs, they saved most of the people on board, but ended up causing explosions, astonishong property damage and truly incalculable environmental harm.

It is from the aftermath of this event, and the many unanswered questions that remained, that the formal beginning of the Brazilian Navy's secret research of the undersea threat dates.

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Also, there have been many sightings of UFOs around the western beaches of rio de janeiro, disproportionate to other regions, one theory is that there is an underwater UFO base somewhere off the coast of rio on the western side, and the sightings are the UFOs coming and going from their underwater base. I have no data to back this up, just my personal experience and several anecdotes.
Indeed, the Vile Vortex that lies outside Rio de Janeiro is plucked from the pages of Ivan T. Sanderson's theories on pseudoscientific subjects. The same Sanderson who wrote Invisible Residents: The Reality of Underwater UFOs, where he popularized theories of underwater UFOs and an undersea civilization unknown to us.
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Old 05-09-2019, 12:30 PM   #106
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Default Re: The Hungry Sea

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Thank you, again. This sort of thing is always useful.


Ah, indeed!

I had read about this goddess (as Mami Wata) during prior reseach of Afro-Caribbean mythology, but neglected to incorporate any mention of her into notes on Brazil

In real life, are those who make offerings to Yemenjá likely to practice a version of Catholicism, Candomblé or Umbanda that incorporates rituals believed to have magical powers?
I think so. Umbanda, candomble are full of actual magical rituals while spiritism and catholicism have more similar rituals.

For instance, in umbanda if you want someone to forget about something you write their name on a paper crush it on your hand thinking of what you want and throw it into a freezer. Tons of rituals like that exist but catholics and spiritists will only use them if they are very open minded multi religious individuals (of which there a good number).

Also dont forget the strong jesuit presence in brazil in general and in rio in particular, they even run the best private college in brazil i believe (PUC-rio)

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Do you imagine that if there were real supernatural threats associated with the ocean in the 2000s and 2010s, and that occasional gifted people could accomplish subtle effects using some rituals with roots in the 19th century and earlier, that an organized religion / order of ritual magicians could arise under the name of Yemenjá in Rio and elsewhere in Brazil?

If so, any thoughts on how such a thing might develop (in secret from the authorities, most likely)?
Ironically, I think many such organizations already exist (some probably have the right flavor others dont), and I think it would be easy for the best and brightest to realize theres something actually going on and consolidate into an actual magician grp


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On the other hand, my setting and the real world have begun diverging ever more widely and in the world of the setting, ships and oil rigs anywhere within a few hundred miles of a point 120 miles SE of Rio de Janeiro have suffered many more 'accidents' in the last couple of decades than in real life and by 2018, working on the sea around Rio is probably regarded as even more dangerous than joining BOPE or Comando Vermelho.
Interesting, i guess GRUMEC is going to have a lot of work
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Old 05-09-2019, 05:38 PM   #107
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Default Further on Religions in Brazil and Magic

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Yes, these data I have divulged are the NATIONAL AVERAGE, the result of the last census. These numbers change according to the region, as you said. Still, it does not matter much the state, most of the population is Catholic / evangelical - in Rio de Janeiro, which will be the scene of the Icelander campaign, this is even more real.

[...]

IMO, it follows the national average. In Rio, specifically, evangelicals would be the majority.

Here, it depends on what you want to use in your setting. Our zeitgeist of the moment, post-election 2018, is exactly this: evangelicals rising in political power.
Hmmm... the newest demographic data in English I can find is a decade old, but there slightly over half of Rio's inhabitants identify as Catholic and 23.4% as some variety of Protestant (including some Lutherans and other older denominations, mostly brought by European immigration, before the newer Evangelical/Charismatic churches).

Have Evangelicals really overtaken Catholics in the intervening decade?

Or do you mean more that policemen and other public servants in Rio are more likely to be Evangelical than Catholic, even if Catholics still nominally outnumber Evangelical Christians in Rio?

Upon consideration, it looks like faster-growing Evangelical Christian churches appeal most strongly to lower middle class people, with both the very poor and very rich much more likely to remain Catholic. Unless I am wrong, the Policia Militar seems likely to recruit most heavily from middle class people without the wealth for good universities or connections for higher paid careers, so perhaps Evangelical Christians are statistically overrepresented in BOPE?

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In our government, there is a pun on the "BBB bench", from 'bible, bullet and oxen", which signifies the ascension of the powers of agribusiness (oxen = "boi"), religion, especially evangelical (bible = bíblia), and armament/firearms and its powerful lobby (bullet = bala).
Neat, colourful slang to use.

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One curious thing about brazilian religious culture is how much it gets mixed on an individual level. There are catholics who subscribe to spiritist and umbanda beliefs, for instance. There are evangelicals who believe in reencarnation, etc.
Yes, I'll try to convey some of that in the six 'Comando da Santa Cruz' operatives and any Brazilian suspects or persons of interest featured in the upcoming adventure, set in the Caribbean.

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I remember an anecdote in a book about a former BOPE officer (which incidentally was the book that inspired the Elite Squad movie duology) where the author claims inside his unit there was a soldier who had a medium grandma, and she consistently gave them impossible insight on how to conduct their operations days in advance, claiming it came to her on dreams or that spirits were telling her stuff.

The author claims initially he was not impressed, but then one day she gave her grandson a knife with a small skull on the pummel and told him to take it to the operation, and the guy was shot exacly there, with the skull stopping the knife.

So although I agree they probably wont associate with outright magicians and etc, I could see them actively trying to figure out which of these genuine gifted religious individuals could contribute to their fight.
That's excellent. That anecdote shall be my justification for BOPE and CORE including some members willing to discreetly accept help from 'good' magicians, even as they carry out a campaign of annihilation against anyone in the favelas even remotely suspected of 'sorcery' or 'the taint of the devil'.

In the state police forces, this sort of thing will happen on an informal basis. In the Marine COMANF / Tonelero battalion, I'll have some foresighted officers be cooperating with some occult-savvy individuals viewed as trustworthy, on a quasi-organized basis. Unless it seems implausible, perhaps the cult of Yemanjá (probably as Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes) has become influential among the Marine commandos as they fight their shadowy war against the mysterious undersea threat.

And then, of course, the 1º Batalhão de Operações de Apoio à Informação, under the Comando de Operações Especiais, will be carrying out an experimental program of fielding units of carefully watched and greatly distrusted occultist-commandos, trained to fight fire with fire, i.e. use approved magical rituals to fight supernatural threats.

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In sum, every spiritist and candomble centers, as well as umbanda terreiros have some people claiming to have the medium and oracle advantages, and many people outside these religions frequent and believe in this.

However, spiritism and etc only really prepare a person to accept the existance of ghosts, reencarnation and psychic powers, not really monsters.
Ah, but if the people who claim to have Medium and/or Oracle (and whom you believe, because they know stuff they shouldn't know) keep telling you that the spirits say that Jorge was killed by a werewolf, Lupita is a werewolf but not a bad sort, Teo, Neto and Jaime didn't flee because of drug debts but were taken by the Deep Ones and you're feeling sick because that girl Gabriela is a vampire and you should stop seeing her and go back to your wife before she kills you like she did Tito, you might find it easier to believe in monsters.

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Inside this there could be subfactions within all major religions in brazil. You could have a hardline Opus Dei-esque kind of catholic subfaction behind the new administration.
I prefer to keep all conspiracies as far away from elected officials as possible. Realistically, unelected bureaucrats and career officers have more practical day-to-day power and a much better chance of avoiding discovery by headline-hunting reporters.

Bolsonaro and some in his administration are aware that there have been factions inside the military, intelligence and security services and the state police forces who for a decade or so have been waging some kind of secret war against enemies of the state. He is also personally aware that very strange things happen in Rio and probably believes that this is due to something unnatural. Finally, Bolsonaro and his administration have a lot more sympathy for militaristic, secret, authoritarian solutions by generals, colonels, police militia leaders and intelligence chiefs than the three administrations before.

None of which means that Bolsonaro or any of the political figures around him are any kind of prime movers in the secret counsels of the network of powerful men who fight the supernatural in Brazil or that anyone in the administration even has accurate information on what is done, in secret, to defend Brazil from the Devil and his minions (as many of the generals, admirals, colonels, captains and chiefs believe they are doing).

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Spiritists despite their crazy beliefs tend to be very secular and to believe eventually science and religion will merge, perhaps theres a faction that has access to truly gifted personel (medium/oracle/esp) and great insight, even with tons of noise.
Given that spirits are sometimes able to grant magical power and teach those who can speak with them working rituals, that would be a good guess.

Unfortunately, spirits can lie, deceive, trick, influence and even possess those who rely on them and for every marginally sane occultist with non-threatening spirit mentors, there are nine or more whose dabbling has made them slaves to dark forces (or worse, willing accomplices who are every bit as dark as the spirits they call on).

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Finally, militarily wise brazil does not have that much to be proud off, but soldiers ocasionally brag about "the secrets of the jungle", without never actually explaining if what they mean. Is it survival techniques? Hidden lore obtained from amazon ruins? I dont know, but they seem very proud of it.
Given that Places of Power can exist even outside the Vile Vortices proper and the Amazon is certainly not full of modern buildings, technology and skeptical, secular people, I should imagine such secrets might be esoteric indeed.

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I can already see the vice documentary title "Meet the priests that accompany brazil's deathsquads" but honestly, I dont think they would care that much other than trying to probe the vatican into explanations, which could expose them to the secret and in turn cause them not to make much fuss about it.

But I dont see any public outcome, only between-agency shenanigans at most.
The Catholic Church is very sensitive to such negative publicity and the help those priests who are in the know provide to Brazilian monster hunters (or anyone else) is mostly of the kind that is hard to criticise (or prove). They advise, guide, educate and consult, as well as comfort and heal those who have been touched by dark forces.

Less than a hundred priests in the whole world are expected to actually go anywhere with armed men who hunt monsters and then only if the oracles and diviners at the top of the Vatican's occult faction consider it important enough to risk such fallout.

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Also dont forget the strong jesuit presence in brazil in general and in rio in particular, they even run the best private college in brazil i believe (PUC-rio)
Yes, the Jesuits are very important to the Catholic Church's response to the supernatural threat. They don't hunt monsters with blade and spell, but they pay attention, observe, listen, analyse and report. Always, they report.
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Old 05-09-2019, 08:00 PM   #108
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Default Re: [MH] Brazilian Secret Monster Hunters

I believe evangelicals are over 30% already, nearing 40%

But I think your sentiment is overall correct regarding their distribution in the social strata. Families with a longer tradition, regardless of social class, tend to be catholics. While neue rich and overall emerging lower class (from total abject poverty) tend to be evangelicals.

One factor that contributed to the rise of evangelicals is the synergy between families being extremelly poor having higher birthrates than more traditional families, I believe this contributed to a demographic advantage to the evangelical movement that has really kicked in over the last twenty* years. If this has hit a plateau or not is YTBD.

In practice this means that while there will be a consistent cadre of evangelicals in all branches of goverment, but traditionally catholics occupy more positions of power being more entrenched due to a long tradition of catholic families occupying those positions and successfully grooming youngsters to occupy similar positions in the future.


I would say, despite their rising status, catholics are still very strong, specially now after bolsonaro won.

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That's excellent. That anecdote shall be my justification for BOPE and CORE including some members willing to discreetly accept help from 'good' magicians, even as they carry out a campaign of annihilation against anyone in the favelas even remotely suspected of 'sorcery' or 'the taint of the devil'.
Fantastic, I feel it is very apropriate.

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None of which means that Bolsonaro or any of the political figures around him are any kind of prime movers in the secret counsels of the network of powerful men who fight the supernatural in Brazil or that anyone in the administration even has accurate information on what is done, in secret, to defend Brazil from the Devil and his minions (as many of the generals, admirals, colonels, captains and chiefs believe they are doing).
I agree, was just bouncing ideas.

more later

edit* twenty not two
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Old 05-10-2019, 11:36 AM   #109
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Default Intelligence, Foreign Policy and the Occult

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Yes. Abin it's basically our civilian intelligence service.
https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ag%C3%...elig%C3%AAncia


I dont think so, but I'm not sure.


This seems to be the standard, for me.


I believe that such cases are not the norm. There are tender notices for Abin's vacancies, as I said above.
Ok, so real ABIN personnel, whether analysts, administrative staff or the rare case officers, are college graduates hired through competive examinations.

The way I imagine 'Comando da Santa Cruz' operatives is that teams are composed of six people. Four will be trained commandos of some sort, drawn from the Special Operation Forces of Brazil's armed forces and the special tactical teams of the various police forces. These will be men who already have knowledge of the supernatural and experience fighting it when they are recruited.

These former commandos or tactical team members will technically not be federal employees or officially associated with ABIN in any way, they'll be employed by some private security company for cover and act as contractors. In fact, however, they will serve as full-time members of the paramilitary 'Comando da Santa Cruz' and spend their time when not on operations in training at secret facilities in remote locations.

The fifth member of each team will be an educated officer with in-depth knowledge of the supernatural. They might be former investigators from the Policia Federal, transfers from military intelligence or ABIN personnel, but in preparation for their new role, they will have received extensive instruction from Vatican experts in the occult. All will be college educated and a significant majority will have a graduate degree in a subject useful for occultists.

One member of each team will be an expert in tradecraft and have knowledge of the languages, cultures and local situation in the operational area. This position is the one most likely to be filled with a career ABIN officer and it is possible that there might be more than one local expert working with each team, so that they might deploy every time with someone specialized in the local area and with access to local intelligence sources.

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In terms of training, all that it seems would be different would be area knowledge. Perhaps theres one specialized training unit for each theater that brings relevant MH units up to speed, this way you can have less teams but more flexibility in where they will be placed

Also, I think the divisions of operational areas might go along language lines.
I'm imagining 10-12 six men teams, each of which has one slot for a local expert and the assignment of a local expert might rotate by deployment, so that ideally, the CSC teams might deploy with an expert in the local language and culture.

Note that in intelligence work, local knowledge needs to be a lot more in-depth than just knowing 'Spanish' in a Latin American posting. If possible, the case officer should speak the local dialect, be able to pass for a native and have a local cover ID. They should also have useful social networks in the area and know the ground like a local.

In GURPS terms, the local expert doesn't just need a macroscope Cultural Familiarity and Language, they also need Accent Perks, smaller scale cultural familiarity to be able to use Acting to impersonate a local, Area Knowledge and Allies, Contacts or Friends in the area to represent a network of agents.

Given only ten teams, that means that each will cover multiple nations, let alone multiple cities or areas. That means that the ideal situation will rarely pertain. Still, I want to allocate the operational areas by dialect and cultural zones in the Caribbean and Latin America, so that case officers will be as at home as possible in their area of responsibility as possible.

I don't think that speaking Rioplatense Spanish and having lived in Argentina is all that much help to a case officer assigned to a team with responsibility for the Spanish-speaking areas of the Caribbean. Not to mention that in occult intelligence, the local myths, legends and superstitions are vital operational intelligence.

So, how should I divide Latin America and the Caribbean into ten zones of responsibility on the grounds of geographic convenience, languages, cultural zones, similarity in religion and folklore and any other factors that might matter?

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Up until very recently, anti americanism was widespread in Brazil. The view of argentina as rival was shattered in the falklands war, when we realized that it is much more likely that conflict with 1st world nations would be a cause for concern than conflict with our neighboors.

In this sense, chile was a rival due to its perceived american subservience. Due to the very widespread belief that many of our problems are caused by american interference.
As an outsider, that seems really odd to me. I just... don't notice the United States being all that preoccupied with Brazil. I'd wager that a pretty overwhelming majority of Americans had no specific opinions on Brazil in a foreign policy context and most people associated it simply with tourism, beaches, carnival, beautiful people and beautiful football. Maybe, after City of God and Tropa de Elite, more people were aware there was also a problem with violent crime, at least in Rio.

But as far as I can tell, few Americans that aren't actually diplomats assigned to the US Embassy in Brazil have much in the way of opinions on Brazil's foreign policy.

Is the perception of active American interference in Brazil based on something real?

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Stereotypes apart, I honestly think it is more likely for there to be cooperation than rivalry at present, but if you really want to push for a rivalry, I think argentina would be the best candidate.
Well, given that the network of men in Brazil who coordinate the response to the supernatural are technically breaking the law by acting as a Deep State within Brazil and keeping the true state of affairs secret from their elected government, I believe it would take a great deal of trust in their counterparts in other nations to foster any kind of cooperation.

From the perspective of a coterie of Brazilian generals, colonels, police chiefs and intelligence professionals around 2009-2012 (when the various Brazilian efforts were becoming aware of one another and forming a somewhat cohesive network of cooperation), if they don't trust their own governments to respond appropriately to the threat, how can they trust Argentina's SIDE or Venezuela's SEBIN?

After all, the occult-savvy Brazilians know that the forces of evil can influence and manipulate men, all the more easily if they dabble in the occult. And they'd be mindful that there exist monsters able to infiltrate human society wearing the guise of men, encantado hybrids from beneath the sea, vampires and werewolves. They must fear that anyone not closely monitored and vetted might be influenced by dark spirits or even not human at all. So, trusting outsiders is extremely difficult, especially if they, like some operatives of SIDE and SEBIN seem to have been, are all too willing to use the supernatural in their own favour.

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I think the biggest rift inside our intel community right now is, should we move closer to the US (bolsonaro camp) or keep trying to oppose it and get closer to Russia and China (basically our policy from 2000 to 2015ish)
In the setting, among those who know what is going on, no issue is more important than the threat of the supernatural. China, Russia and the US, however, seem to be governed by those who do not know.

Of course, the nightmare scenario that keeps occult-savvy intelligence analysts up at night is the infiltration of dark forces into the political elites of the world's powerful countries. How many US politicians, Russian oligarches or Chinese apparatchiks are secretly influenced by dark spirits or may actually be something other than human?

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The current foreign minister, ernesto araujo is very anti globalist and pro christianity and hes been suffering a lot of pushback from the more anti american and secular factions due to him wanting to get closer to the trump administration and openly praising christianity.
Huh.

I wouldn't have thought Brazil was so very secular that praising the majority religion openly led to major pushback. I understand it, in that Icelandic politicians who publicly mention their religion, if any, would be considered slightly weird*, but from what I've seen in the news, the Americas in general seem to have a lot more tolerance for politicians who speak about religion.

And from a fairness point of view, it doesn't seem that objectionable that someone praises a religion, whatever it is, as long as they don't denigrate other religions or speak out against those who do not practice any.

*In the same way as someone in politics who spoke about their sexual relations with their significant other in public would be, i.e. it's not weird to have private lives, it's weird to bring them up at work in front of everyone.
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Old 05-10-2019, 12:00 PM   #110
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Default Foreign Intelligence Services in the Caribbean and Latin America

In many ways, I imagine that Brazil is the preeminent national power in occult intelligence in the Caribbean and Latin America. This is largely because Brazil is the most populous and wealthy nation anywhere nearby that has any kind of even quasi-coherent policy in occult matters.

While the United States is much more powerful on the global stage, the fact that there is no coordinated response to the supernatural in the US, and most decisions about intelligence matters there are made by people who have not the slightest idea about the existence of anything paranormal, means that the US intelligence community is not terribly significant in occult circles in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Individual DEA agents or CIA case officers who have discovered the existence of the supernatural might be locally important, but given that most of them can't call on national resources while their bosses don't believe in magic, their influence is rarely far-reaching.

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Well, the usual favorites all have some reason or another to be around the settings location. FSB, MI6 and CIA all have local havens and local interests
Well, can you elaborate on that?

British intelligence has an obvious stake in the Caribbean, given that there are UK possessions, Commonwealth countries and traditional allies there. On the other hand, the UK is no longer a great power and from a realism point of view, when the Falkland War started, the state of UK intelligence in that part of the world was so poor that there weren't even any good maps of the important areas anywhere in Whitehall.

Military planners had to start with buying civilian maps of the Falklands and areas where various Argentine bases were. And then ask the Americans to route satellites there.

The US is a superpower, rich and powerful enough so that even parts of the globe that barely register as existing to the average voter might still receive more US intelligence resources than any other nation can bring to bear. That being said, the CIA is still not a very large organization and realistically cannot cover much of the world with actual case officers and agents. The world, after all, is very big.

Facebook and Google both have much higher operations budgets than the CIA and no one would expect employees of these companies to actually spend significant time in all of the countries where they provide services. CIA only employs about 1% of the numbers of personnel Walmart does and while ca 20,000-30,000 people sounds like a lot, the vast majority of them work in office buildings around Washington D.C. and much of the rest work in embassies.

About 5,000 people work for the NCS, that part of the CIA which actually does anything close to espionage, up from the 2,500 personnel in the this department in 2001. Again, most of these people still work in offices in DC and embassies, as espionage involves a lot more paperwork and reading open sources than movies would have you believe, but let's ignore that. Let's focus on the fact that most of the 2,500 officers added to the NCS after 9/11 were added to combat terrorism and Islamic extremism. And the fact that very many of the jobs before 9/11 were focused on the old enemy of the Cold War and that China, Russia and Eastern Europe received and still received a significant focus.

I'm prepared to believe that a few hundred CIA officers are concerned with Latin America, but how many officers are actually assigned to anything to do with the Caribbean, aside maybe for an aging Cuba desk and an overworked Venezuelan* one?

One or two people in every embassy in the Caribbean, sure, but actual covert operations anywhere nearby?

I imagine that the DEA, for example, has a lot more personnel and resources devoted to Latin America and the Caribbean than the CIA. Even the FBI, through legal attachés, law enforcement cooperation, organized crime and forensic accounting investigations and its counterterrorism brief probably has a more significant intelligence presence in the Caribbean and Latin America than the CIA. Frankly, in the real world, not much that happens in that part of the world is a matter of national security for the US. It is primarily significant to law enforcement, counter-drug and organized crime investigations.

As for the FSB, I know that Russia wants to be viewed as a Great Power, but in actual fact, they control similar resources as Mexico and Sweden (and less than Brazil). Sure, Russia probably spends disproportinate amounts of their limited resources on their military and intelligence services, but is that really enough to have any significant presence this far away from their regional intelligence and security concerns?

I don't expect Sweden to have covert operatives or networks of agents in Italy or Greece, let alone Jamaica or Venezuela. And I don't expect that Mexico has any significant intelligence assets in Bulgaria, Moldova or Serbia, at least outside of their embassies, if any.

Does Russia really have any significant intelligence assets in the Caribbean any longer?

*That most people in authority don't really listen to, because, honestly, how much do you need to know about an ongoing dumpster fire when you clearly don't have any means to put it out?
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