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Old 04-14-2019, 07:45 PM   #151
Icelander
 
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Default Budget of J.R. Kessler's Monster Hunters

The PCs are employed by the centenarian Texan billionaire J.R. Kessler to counter or contain supernatural threats that arise in connection with the 'Bermuda lozenge' Vile Vortex or any related ley lines, confluences, Places of Power or telluric currents.

The yearly budget of Kessler's monster hunting activities are around 250-300 million USD. I thought that national intelligence budgets of nations with interests in the Caribbean would surely dwarf anything that a private citizen, however wealthy, could afford.

I discover, however, that ABIN, the foreign intelligence service of Brazil, the largest and richest regional power where there is any kind of coherent official response to the supernatural (most governments don't even believe in it), is only about the same as Kessler's budget for his personal crusade.

The CIA has a 15 billion dollar yearly budget, but how much of it is spent on anything relevant to the Caribbean, I don't know. I assume it's enough to make it more powerful locally than any Latin American intelligence or security agency, but I must admit that this is just a guess. If the CIA budget was distributed around the world strictly by population (which it isn't), the Caribbean operations of the CIA would have only slightly more than $100 million for their yearly budget.

Taking the budget of the entire US intelligence community, it's about five times that, so unless the US focuses more assets on the Caribbean than is average for the world (which is not unlikely, however), the informal monster hunting organization of the PCs' Patron might actually have a budget of about half that of the US intelligence community when it comes to intelligence and covert operations in the Caribbean.

The difference is, of course, that Kessler and his network are aware of the supernatural, exclusively focused on it and have a coherent strategy, whereas the US as a whole has no unified supernatural policy.

Related to these ruminations, I have some questions.

How much of the total US intelligence budget is likely to be focused on the ca 1/140th of the world population who live in the Caribbean?

How much of their foreign intelligence budget is Brazil likely to focus on the Caribbean?

What other important players are there in the intelligence business in the Caribbean?

That is, how much expense and manpower are the British, Dutch and French, for example, dedicating to intelligence and security for their Caribbean possessions?

Who else has both significant power regionally and strategic or security interests in the Caribbean?
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Old 04-14-2019, 08:08 PM   #152
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

You ask some tough questions so I tend to read more than respond. However though I have no relevant or current inside knowledge I'll take an uneducated guess here.
The CIAs mission is national security so he bulk of its efforts are focused where threats are perceived. I suspect the FBI has more assets focused towards the Caribbean, though both will be on the lookout for unusual expenditures, arms purchases, and anything that looks like money laundering.
Also an eye on governmental stability, especially for Cuba and any heavy oil producer. Sea and air traffic will be monitored by the Coast Guard and NSA but mostly looking for drug traffic. Still there going to notice any warships.

Given your background I would expect no serious competition, but they would be watching him. Once they figure out hes not funding a private army and just seems to be a nut job (since they dont believe in the supernatural) I expect it would mostly be hands off (he is a rich Texan and likely politically connected) but still watching for arms deals and major transactions.
That could limit his sponsorship at inconvenient times.

He should be able to keep hassles to a minimum with some political grease, high profile charity projects, public digs (after things have been cleaned up), etc.
Installing a few museums or such could keep locals from asking too many questions as well. If he is seen as good for the economy locals will likely help cover or even warn him if someone is sniffing around.
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:04 PM   #153
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
You ask some tough questions so I tend to read more than respond. However though I have no relevant or current inside knowledge I'll take an uneducated guess here.
The CIAs mission is national security so he bulk of its efforts are focused where threats are perceived. I suspect the FBI has more assets focused towards the Caribbean, though both will be on the lookout for unusual expenditures, arms purchases, and anything that looks like money laundering.
Also an eye on governmental stability, especially for Cuba and any heavy oil producer. Sea and air traffic will be monitored by the Coast Guard and NSA but mostly looking for drug traffic. Still there going to notice any warships.
Note that the total budget of the US intelligence community includes the parts of such law enforcement agencies as FBI and DEA that relate to collecting and analyzing intelligence, as well as including military surveillance (NSA, Coast Guard intelligence, etc.).

My guess is that the intelligence efforts of the DEA focus on the Caribbean out of all proportion of their percentage of world population, but the CIA might not be able to spare it much attention, comparatively speaking. As for military intelligence, it's probably less concentrated there than in many other places.

Still, the mere proximity of the Caribbean to the continental US probably guarantees that overall, the US intelligence community spends more than 1/140th of its budget there, i.e. that focused US intelligence assets per inhabitant are higher than the worldwide average.

Unfortunately, I have no feeling whether this means double the average or ten times the average.

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
Given your background I would expect no serious competition, but they would be watching him. Once they figure out hes not funding a private army and just seems to be a nut job (since they dont believe in the supernatural) I expect it would mostly be hands off (he is a rich Texan and likely politically connected) but still watching for arms deals and major transactions.
That could limit his sponsorship at inconvenient times.
Oh, I'm not that worried that anyone in the current US administration might be seriously watching J.R. Kessler himself. The man is a hundred years old, for crying out loud, and most people assume that he's been senile for decades.

Not to mention that the financing of a network of intelligence sources, as well as analysts and a few teams of direct-action hunters, is done through a complex web of companies, shell corporations and offshore bank accounts. Most agents and information sources have no idea about the identity of their paymaster or where their intelligence ends up.

Kessler 'owns' multiple Private Security Companies where active hunters are employed, but actually tracking down proof of ownership would take years of investigations with the cooperation of multiple nations. Which, yes, might happen if the PCs ever do something unwise enough, but will not occur without a dramatic criminal act to trigger such a huge investigation.

I'm mostly interested in other players in Caribbean intelligence and security because those are likely allies, contacts, rivals, complications or enemies for PCs on the ground.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
He should be able to keep hassles to a minimum with some political grease, high profile charity projects, public digs (after things have been cleaned up), etc.
Installing a few museums or such could keep locals from asking too many questions as well. If he is seen as good for the economy locals will likely help cover or even warn him if someone is sniffing around.
Kessler (well, through several layers of intermediaries) has many agents and contacts in Caribbean police forces, largely because they often come across evidence of supernatural threats, even if many senior law enforcement figures may not recognize it as such. Detectives and street cops, however, are more likely to have personal experience with the supernatural and some of them are willing to pass on information to Kessler's people (often without knowing exactly who they are, beyond their case officer) if it means that something will be done about the threat.

The direct-action monster hunters will be licensed employees of one or more PSCs authorized to operate locally and to carry weapons. Of course, the exact jurisdiction will determine what weapons are legal.

When it comes to firefights, the PCs and their peers will need to be very careful to avoid drawing too much attention, at least from any police or other authorities who aren't tacitly allowing these mysterious experts to deal with a problem that the government doesn't believe in. Of course, in some Caribbean countries, copious bribery can buy cooperation even in the absence of a modus vivendi.

Kessler himself holds Dominican, French and St. Lucian citizenship in addition to his US one. On Dominicia and St. Lucia, Kessler is both enormously respected and has more effective control over the police than the elected government.
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Old 04-21-2019, 02:05 PM   #154
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Default South American PSC Name

I'm looking for a name for a Private Security Company that will operate in South America, possibly in Central America and the Caribbean as well. It should have been founded at some point between 2003 and 2012, by well-connected Argentinian men with intelligence, military and security experience. By now, it would be a fairly successful PSC, not a global conglomorate, but a respected regional company with maybe 500-2,000 employees, as well as several hundred contractors who sometimes supplement their forces for large jobs.

Helping them attain respectability, the company got several security contracts from the Catholic Church and various Argentine authorities, especially in the years 2012-2014. They still get a lot of security work from the Church, but after 2015, they no longer get as many public contracts from official Argentine institutions (believed to be related to the fact that several of the founders are former SIDE officers).

The name should be a reference to the founders' Catholic faith and/or patriotic Argentine symbology, but as they are licensed to operate in many other countries and employ Spanish-speaking staff from other Latin American nations, it shouldn't be offensive to any neighbouring cultures.

I was thinking something that referenced popular saints in South America or mayve something that translates as 'Southern Cross' or something similar.

Any suggestions?

Thoughts?
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:05 PM   #155
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Default Aquatic Vile Vortices, Ultraterrestials and Deep Ones

I'm reading Sanderson's Invisible Residents: The Reality of Underwater UFOS and can happily report that Sanderson merrily endorses the idea that the Vile Vortices can drift, grow and contract, not to mention that he is not at all certain of the exact location of the twelve existing ones, nor indeed that there are only twelve of them.

It is this sort of open-minded unorthodoxy in eccentric occult theories that I want to see. Allows for easy contortion into any cosmology that fits the campaign, not to mention that it allows for many seemingly knowledgeable NPCs who have radically different views on the fundamental thaumatological mysteries.

Also, there are totally hostile undersea civilizations. Obvious, really. Of course, in my campaign, while they might emerge from our oceans, near the Vile Vortices, their true homes are other oceans, in other worlds.

In my campaign, the Vile Vortex of the 'Bermuda Triangle' (neither a triangle, nor really properly associated with Bermuda) in the Caribbean contains at least some connections to a world of the Nommo, who are more remnisicent of a hybrid humanoids and acquatic mammals like seals than they are ichthyoid or batrachian.

The Vile Vortex outside Rio de Janeiro apparently leads to an even darker and more hostile underwater civilization of aquatic ultraterrestials, very much in the style of the Deep Ones of Lovecraft, and whom I'm still looking for a good Brazilian Portuguese name for.

Any suggestions for other Vile Vortices (either ones of the 'official' twelve or a new one that isn't accounted for in this scheme) where I should note a lot of fish-people, merman or Deep One activity?

Or for local legends of aquatic civilizations anywhere in the world that I should grab?
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:36 PM   #156
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

You have the Bajau Laut from Malaysia that are sea nomads that can free dive twice as long as most people and have spleens double size to support that. They might have some ancestors from the last time the vortices opened.
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:33 AM   #157
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Default Re: [MH] Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats

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You have the Bajau Laut from Malaysia that are sea nomads that can free dive twice as long as most people and have spleens double size to support that. They might have some ancestors from the last time the vortices opened.
Interesting. The areas in Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia where the Sama-Bajau peoples live seem to be more or less between the Vile Vortices of the Devil's Triangle and the Wharton Basin.

And the Bajau certainly have form as the ancient descendants of ocean-dwellers, as Wikipedia confirms:

Quote:
Some of the more nomadic Sama-Bajau, like the Ubian Bajau, are much less adherent to orthodox Islam. They practice a syncretic form of folk Islam, revering local sea spirits, known in Islamic terminology as Jinn. The ancient Sama-Bajau were animistic, and this is retained wholly or partially in some Sama-Bajau groups. The supreme deities in Sama-Bajau mythology are Umboh Tuhan (also known as Umboh Dilaut, the "Lord of the Sea") and his consort, Dayang Dayang Mangilai ("Lady of the Forest"). Umboh Tuhan is regarded as the creator deity who made humans equal with animals and plants. Like other animistic religions, they fundamentally divide the world into the physical and spiritual realms which coexist.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:25 AM   #158
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Default The Russians, Vile Vortices and the Occult

In the Brazilian Secret Monster Hunters thread, dcarson posted this gem of research on pseudoscience.

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Doing some googling finds a expanded version where some Russian "scientists" added the vortices to a planetary grid. Along with classifying them as yin or yang.

https://www.paranormal-encyclopedia....etary_grid.gif

With several points in Russia.
http://missionignition.net/bethe/planetary_grid.php
http://missionignition.net/bethe/pla...p_image047.jpg has the Russian ones.
2. East of Gomel
3. just west of Tobolsk
4. lowlands north of the southern tip of Lake Baykal
5. along the shore of the Sqa of Okhotsk
6. slightly east of Attu
First of all, it's obviously beneficial for my campaign if the basic paradigm of Ivan T. Sanderson's twelve Vile Vortices is not universally accepted. The location of areas of higher Mana, Places of Power, ley line confluences and hot spots should be unpredictable and imperfectly understood, with the possibility of secrets and surprises, even from the leading scholars of thaumatology and tellurgy in the setting.

So, while there are certainly at least twelve areas around the globe where there is a high incidence of paranormal activity and the barriers between worlds may be weaker, those areas might range in size from merely a few hundred square miles to a few million, their specific locations might be disputed and they might simply represent well-known collections of Places or Powers and ley line confluences, not something qualitatively different from hundreds of other spots around the globe.

Second, I want to talk about the Russians. As dcarson points out, Russia is large and full of sites of potential higher Mana. Even absent a Sanderson-approved Vile Vortex, no doubt there are Russian occultists who believe that the planetary grid of paranormal Places of Power actually includes significant spots within Russia. And, to be fair, prior campaigns of mine in this setting have certainly included areas far from any acknowledged Vile Vortex where there were nevertheless some supernatural shenanigans going on.

For example, London and the British isles, in general, seem to have far more than their share of ley lines and Places of Power, despite lacking a Vile Vortex in Sanderson's scheme. The Middle East and the shores of the Mediterraneum in general have more Places of Power than any other part of the world, by some accounts, and there are several occult scholars who maintain that parts of it ought to be classified as one or more Vile Vortices. The Shadow Court's version of a telluric globe has the British isles as the centerpoint for the occult tides they track. And New England, while not as high in Mana as many other parts of the world, is significantly higher than other areas in the US with similar population densities.

All of which is to say that while there is not a Vile Vortex in Russia according to the paranormal planetary grid as mapped by the PCs' Patron, there will most certainly be a different model for the flow of Mana, ley lines, Places of Power and pathways to other world in the work of Russian occultists, focused on Russian concerns. And as likely as not, neither model is correct, but both are useful, in some sense.

Now, I've established that the Russians found SOMETHING below the ice in Antarctica, during their exploration of Lake Vostok. What they found is intertwined with the current adventure, seems to have something to do with a mysterious cult the PCs encountered in the first adventure and is certainly in the running for Mysterious Antagonist extending tendrils of influence through the campaign, even if not every adventure features any reference to it.

What I have not established, at all, is what is going on in Russian occult circles. To what degree are various government agencies in Russia aware of the occult?

In most of the world, the lack of conclusive proof of the existence of the supernatural means that the official stance of governments is denial. Supernatural phenomena are explained as accidents, crime, hysteria, anomie, drug abuse, terrorism and many other things, but because witnesses tend to be unconvincing or even change tneir stories afterwards and there is never any evidence that stands up to independent corroboration in proper laboratories, no politician of any credibility is going to make a public claim that humanity is under attack by spooks and bugaboos.

Frankly, because of the way modern, affluent, well-lit urban areas full of skeptical secular people seem to affect local Mana, most heads of state and their cabinets honestly never come across anything that makes them question their belief that the supernatural is impossible. Nor, really, do most senior government administrators and heads of departments.

While beat cops on the night shift in a bad part of town might have a hard time ignoring the profound changes in the world since the 1980s, police commissioners and intelligence czars who've not been in the field in the last two decades (during which things have been steadily growing more overt) will very rarely accept the idea that the high rates of instability and violence in the world of the setting have unnatural explanations.

So, the rest of the world is more likely to have small occult-aware groups of trusted friends and colleagues, some of whom exist inside various government agencies and departments, than a coherent response to the supernatural. It's rare for the upper echelons of even a whole agency to all be in on the secret, let alone a whole country. The established exceptions, like Brazil, the UK and the Vatican, still don't have the official authorities all aware of the ocfult, but rather feature a powerful faction, conspiracy or informal network of those in the know operating as a Deep State when it comes to matters of the occult.

Frankly, I haven't decided how Russia (and for that matter, any other Eastern European state) has been affected by the subtle (re-)emergence of the supernatural in the 1980s and 1990s and tbe steadily growing (but still behind the scenes) threat of the 2000s and 2010s. Who knows and what are they doing about it?

What significant power groups are there in Russia concerned with the occult?

Which government agencies, if any, are involved in occult matters?

When strange things became apparent at Vostok Station in the 1990s, what Russian group or organization responded and eventually made important (and dangerous) discoveries about the supernatural?

And so forth. To begin with, I'm interested in any and all speculation about how the emerging supernatural could have affected modern Russian history since 1990, especially if things look superficially much the same?
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Old 05-18-2019, 07:03 AM   #159
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Default Russia in the World of the Vile Vortices

I'm very disappointed in the lack of paid Russian social media engineers on these forums. I was hoping I'd get multiple answers detailing how Russia would react much more reasonably, effectively and sensibly than other nations to the emergence of the supernatural. Maybe those just exist on Twitter and don't care what old, less technologically savvy people think.

Or maybe I failed to use the right keywords. I didn't even mention Putin.

In a world with behind-the-scenes supernatural phenomena since the 1980s (mostlly undetectable without inborn supernatural traits like Medium or Oracle until the 2000s), do I propose Vladimir Putin as aware of the supernatural?

What would be his reaction if he found out?

Putin seems fairly close to the Orthodox Church, but is that because of a personal faith or because the Orthodox Church has become something of a unifying force for stability and traditional values in Russia?

Does anyone know what kind of attitude Putin and individuals in his circles have toward Russian traditional beliefs, folklore, mythology, superstitions and legends?
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Old 02-11-2020, 06:38 AM   #160
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Default Vile Vortices and Global Geography - 'Mana Eddys' or Mini-Vortices

A somewhat interesting factor of Sanderson's Vile Vortices and their locations around the world is that none of them are very close to Western Europe or North America. The closest is the 'Bermuda Triangle', near the US Atlantic Coast.

Of course, this fits very well with my setting assumption of technology and the supernatural as opposing forces, with areas with largely secular populations usually having far lower incidences of paranormal phenomena than parts of the world where belief in witchcraft or voodoo, for example, might be widespread.

However, in play, various PCs have also encountered various geographic areas that despite being fairly heavily populated and urban, sometimes with comparatively secular inhabitants, but nevertheless a far greater concentration of odd things than elsewhere in the campaign. Those are not Vile Vortices, in the traditional sense, at least not fitting Ivan T. Sanderson's map of them, but they are nevertheless larger than typical Places of Power. We might call them a 'Mana Eddys', as they are often explained as places where multiple ley lines meet and/or places where historical resonances create circumstances conductive to certain types of magic.

Examples encountered in play include London, Boston, Galveston and such historically significant areas as the Fertile Crescent / Mesopotamia (modern Iraq, mostly), Egypt and the Holy Land (modern Israel and Palestine). And while the PCs have no direct experience of it, they suspect that such areas are fairly common throughout the British Isles, in that the UK and Ireland seem to experience more supernatural phenomena per capita or square mile (whichever you use) than neighboring countries like France, Germany or the Benelux countries.

Occultists theorize that places that in the past were saw heavy use of magic by humans or even inhuman beings before recorded history, might still retain a residue of these events. The British Isles and the Middle East are all places associated with legends of ultraterrestials of some sort living alongside humanity in the ancient past and teaching them miraculous things (e.g. Fair Folk, Tuatha Dé Danann, Anunnaki, Egyptian gods, etc.).

Also, Great Britain and the Middle East may well have been centers of occult studies at various times in human history, if we assume that some recorded historical occultists were practicing an effective form of magic, not just dabbling in superstition. In that case, Alexandria was well known as an ancient center of occult studies, Babylonia was famous for astronomy and sorcery and as for Great Britain; Roger Bacon, John Dee, Isaac Newton, Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland (9th), Sir Francis Bacon and a host of other figures all practiced in the same limited geographic area, i.e. London.

However, this doesn't explain such New World mana hot spots as Boston and Galveston.* One theory might be that both of them might have been the sites of ultraterrestrial settlements before recorded human history there and/or that before the start of recorded history there, they might have been sacred or ritual spaces for one or more local nations.

I was wondering if forumites could think of any other important spots in the world that are very likely to be 'Mana Eddys' or 'Mini-Vortices', even if they are nowhere near one of the Vile Vortices postulated by Ivan T. Sanderson.

*What does explain them is that I've set one campaign exclusively in Boston and my Caribbean at Night campaign started off in Galveston. But we're concerned with in-setting explanations, not explanations on the metalevel.
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