The setting of Here There Be Monsters is the world you live in today, as you read
this...plus an undercurrent of Supernatural aspects that exist on the "low down",
out of sight and unknown. Popular media is full of stories and movies of wizards
and fantastical concepts; long beloved "children's stories" brought to life in ultra
realistic CGI, and classic Horror elements replayed for shock and gore thrillers
and dark romantic teenage girl fantasy fullfilments. Yet, practically anyone on
the street would scoff and sneer at a person claiming something Supernatural were
actually real; such things are merely make believe and Hollywood special effects.
Everybody knows there is no such thing as the Supernatural.
This is not an accident. It didn't just work out that way. Mankind didn't go from
thousands of years of superstition, mythology, and belief in inexplicable things
beyond normal comprehension to a blithe assurance that everything is explainable
by sufficiently deft application of the scientific method and rational skepticism
The provenance has become unclear (deliberately so), but like most imperialistic
world powers the British Empire had long been embroiled in a globe spanning war
against many Supernatural groups, creatures, and organizations stumbled upon in
their efforts at hegemony. Many of the wars and colonial doings of that time are
believed by many esotericists to have roots in a bold agenda to finally win the
struggle of Rationality over Superstition that had been waged on many fronts for
decades. This long struggle reached a crescendo in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Many point to the Boer Wars as the beginning of the end for open Supernaturalism.
As the story goes, a powerful coven of vampires and assorted toadies and allies
had entrenched themselves among the Afrikaaners and exerted their seductive control
througout the region. Once discovered the Boer Wars were the result, with the British
ultimately stamping out the nest of vampires and freeing most of the locals from
their control. The others, of course, were killed. One man so freed was Jan Smuts,
who would become both a famous man and world leader in later years, and his personal
experience with monsters bore much fruit.
Similar, though less historically significant, events occured around the world.
The French did their part, as did the Americans. Confrontations between the Rational
based colonial governments bringing the light of order and reason to the dark and
Supernatural accepting corners of the world were almost a commonplace occurance
in every hemisphere. The Entente Cordiale saw the English and French align their
interests, followed by the Anglo-Russian Entente and then the Franco-Russian Alliance...the
Triple Entente. The alliance of the three powers, supplemented by various agreements
with Portugal, Japan, the United States, and Spain, constituted a powerful counterweight
to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy...some of the last
bastions of Supernatural powerbases in Europe.
World War I
The Great War, The War To End All Wars which today we learn in school was all about
beating down Germany the first time because some guy named Ferdinand got killed...or
something like that, was really The Great War against Myth and Mysticism. The final
great assertion of Reason over Faith, Industry over Magic, Science over Psychics.
Of course, it wasn't quite a total victory when all was said and done, but the forces
of Rationality were definitely on the winning side and the surviving Supernaturals
and their puppets and supporters were not in a strong bargaining position.
The League of Nations and the Supernatural Accords
Our old friend Jan Smuts enters the picture again, somehow risen high in the British
military. He became a signatory of the treaty ending the War and the Founding of
the League of Nations...and also, secretly, of the Accords of Secrecy and Abeyance
governing the conduct of Supernaturals in the properties and lands of the signatory
nation-states. Smuts is often credited with key tracts of both the acceptance for
secretive, peaceful Supernaturals who do no harm to normal men and the sections
describing the harsh and final measures authorized against those who violate the
Accords. Smuts's strong views on segregated existences (which didn't work out so
well in the South Africa he went on to become Prime Minister of) is clearly in evidence
in the language of the Accords as it speaks of a "Supernatural World" and a "Mundane
World" as two separate and segregated concepts.
Not all the Supernaturals signed the Accords, and a few including Jan Smuts's hated
former masters, vampires, were excluded out of hand as being too evil to allow to
live or to permit co-existence with. Those who did not sign the Accords are considered
to be permanently Sanctioned for Hunting, with a permanent Bounty on their heads
(or whatever passes for a head on such Supernatural things that lack recognizable
craniums). Per the Accords, members of signatory groups who violate the Accords
are Sanctioned as individuals, but there is specific language regarding scenarios
in which if too many individuals of a particular group break the Accords the entire
group can be moved to the permanent Sanction list.
A few groups, mostly those that were allied with the winning side such as several
orders of Hermetics, a couple of lodges of Alchemists, and a few miscellaneous Occult
circles, were given golden handshake deals allowing them some measure of self-policing.
The other groups are subject to special national organizations of the signatory
powers, such as the pre-existing Mi-13 in Britain and FBI Section M in the US.
World War II
The Accords were the beginning of the end of the good old days for the Supernaturals,
as it represented a systematic definition of the rules of engagement and internationally
(though secretly) recognized laws allowing extreme measures to be taken against
those who violate them. However, the League of Nations had very little in the way
of teeth with which to enforce the Accords, and it was a hit or miss affair for
the various signatory nation-states. Many of the most powerful Supernaturals behind
World War I were not finished off, and left to their own devices they eventually
returned to their old tricks...but on a grander and more daunting scale. This time
they had something to prove, and were not holding back any more. And thus...World
War II was born.
The stakes were higher, the theatres bigger, the previously unaligned threw their
lots in. It all got very ugly. Some in the know say it was a close run thing at
times, but ultimately tanks and planes beat spells and summoned evils. And again
good old Jan Smuts, out of retirement in academia where he defined the concept of
Holism and hobnobbed with Albert Einstein, was involved in the war as no less than
a Field Marshal of the British Army and confidante of Churchill. Yet again Smuts
signed the peace treaty, and yet again he signed an even more stringent ammendment
to the Accords of Secrecy and Abeyance with even stricter language supposedly penned
almost entirely by him.
The United Nations and the Bounty System
The League of Nations a thing of the past, Jan championed the United Nations and
was adamant that this time they'd do it right. After its founding he passed several
motions that have the practical effect, if you are a Monster Hunter, of paying your
bills. The Bounties paid out for collecting the warrants on Sanctioned Supernaturals
are allowed for and definined, along with the special priveleges and exceptions
allowed to Hunters in the pursuit of a Sanctioned target, in UN documents ushered
into existance in part or whole by Smuts. The various nations that support it all
have their own legal constructs translating the applicable concepts into their nationally
applicable laws of course, but for the most part they just echo back the UN's verbiage
plus or minus a few stipulations.
The Bounty system has proven to be inspired, creating a niche industry well incented
to face deadly danger, bringing far more talent and manpower to bear on the "Monster
Problem" than any government agency acting alone could hope to muster.
The practical effect of the serious enforcement of the Accords of Secrecy and Abeyance
has been amazing. Within a few generations, almost all vestiges of belief in the
Supernatural has been eradicated in first world and most second world countries.
People put their trust in technology and science, and actively disbelieve in the
esoteric. They live their lives free of fear of the dark things that hunt the night,
sheltered by the fact that Supernatural denizens that might bring them to harm are
dissuaded by the knowledge of the kind of heat a Sanctioning would bring down on
them from Bounty-seeking Hunters and Feds alike.
Of course, the general populaces' lack of belief doesn't mean that the Supernatural
is any less real. Just because you can't see them doesn't mean they can't see you...or
smell your blood for that matter.