1. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    civic government office?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by ManOrAstroMan, Aug 12, 2013.

    I'm about 80% percent sure this is the correct forum.
    I'm putting together a subplot for my urban fantasy mystery, which takes place in a version of modern day Seattle where magic was recently outed as real.
    I've decided that my MC occasionally does jobs for the city, helping deal with unpleasant beasties: warding off a nest of kelpies who've moved into the waterfront, relocating a goblin trying to set up shop in Pike Place Market, exterminating redcaps preying on homeless in the park, etc.
    Now, in this world, the existence of magic has been made common knowledge, but the world at large only knows about magic-wielding humans. Only the magically gifted know about the existence of magical creatures. So, I was looking for a mundane city department who would be involved in the incognito handling of harmful mythicritters in public places.
    Power and Water? Animal Control? Parks and Recreations?
    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    With the bit about relocating a goblin trying to set up shop in Pike Place Market I immediately thought of social work. Could the job be disguised within the Department of Family Services? Lots of access to personal data of the citizenry that might be of help as plot tools. :)
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it is to be kept secret, it could be almost any department. Public Safety/Public Health come to mind, or as Wrey suggested, some division of Social Services.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Your story sounds great! I got a kick out of your descriptions.

    I work with the cities of Bellevue, Renton, Kirkland, Bothell, and Tukwila, all suburbs of Seattle.

    Parks departments would respond to something in the parks but they have no police powers. They do have foresters who take care of the trees and lifeguards for the pools. They would call animal control for a dangerous or nuisance animal call.

    Animal Control is contracted and King County provides the service. They are understaffed and you could use that real life fact in your story, or make them however you want, but I think that's who you are looking for.

    Utilities would respond if the critters damaged the infrastructure, they'd make the repairs, or call in the proper subcontractors, but they wouldn't address critters themselves.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i agree the most logical choice would be animal control...
     
  6. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    I don't know about Family Services. Goblins aren't recognized as real, let alone as citizens of any kind. In this story, they're just one of the few mythical creatures able to take on a form capable of interacting with Norms (nonmagical humans). Most myth-folk can't even be seen by Norms, and many of the rest can only interact with them through their particular element (water, wood, air, etc).

    Public Safety might be a good one. They would also have the authority to cordon off areas where my MC is duking it out with monsters.

    Well, the reason I thought maybe Parks and Rec. was because the guy who contracts my MC is a low-level Talent who can really only perceive and communicate with magical creatures. If he became aware of a monster setting up residence in the park or the waterfront or some public area, he might contact my MC to remove the magical hazard, filing it under something mundanely miscellaneous.
    Animal control seemed fairly obvious, but is their main office in Seattle? I want to keep this guy local.
    My thoughts behind Utilities were that they could claim some type of dangerous gas leak or electrical hazard or something, thus sealing off the area so the mythicritter could be dealt with.
    I'll definitely do some research on these departments. Thanks!
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    animal control usually has branch offices/sites in local areas, not only the major city...
     
  8. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    I did some looking around on the city's website, and it *looked* like the main offices of the county departments are located within Seattle proper, so I *think* I'm okay there. (The web design wasn't terribly straightforward, but if it was, it wouldn't be government.)
    Given that one scene involves exterminating homicidal Redcaps in the park, I'm leaning towards someone in charge of the city's utilities. Someone in that office seems the most able to order a section of the park cordoned off so the public wouldn't be able to see my MC and other hired mages fighting monsters most humans couldn't even see.
    It seems unlikely that Animal Control would have *that* much authority, and if the Dept. of Health ordered an area blocked off, it would be *too* visible, wouldn't it? I would think news media, especially, would be more interested in something that posed a threat to public health than the would a power line or gas line being repaired.
    If it seems like I've got it wrong, please tell me.
     
  9. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it's to be kept secret, and presumably someone within the city government (or even, possibly, the state or Federal government) is aware of these creatures, and facilitating the secrecy, you can put it in any department (as long as you acknowledge this to the reader). You could also create any new department you wish, since your story is in a "version" of Seattle. You could even make the area of the park cordoned off as somehow connected with some department of the University of Washington -- some sort of ecological or environmental assessment or experiment taken in connection with "research."

    You're the author of a work of fiction -- you can do almost anything you want.
     
  10. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Kelpies settling at the waterfront; redcaps hunting the homless; a goblin setting up shop - how will such things befound out and who would report them? The city's utilities might have the authority to block of places so that your MC can deal with the problem, but will everything be reported to them? If the homless are being preyed on, they be getting attacked, right? If these redcaps leave nothing off the homeless behind, then few, if any, will notice (unfortunatly) and if no-one notices, there will be no knowledge of a problem to deal with. If a body or body part is lefted behind, or the homless person servives with wunds, then the police will be contacted, afterwhich Animal Control maybe contacted if it looks like an animal attack. Additionally, I'd think the Kelpies would also be reported to Animal Control, but what about the goblin? If their not doing anthing illigel, then they would be nothing to report so how would they be found out? Oh and who would stop the media from finding out, because if you have unknow attacks or unusual creatures settling in, they'll undoubtedly come to cover it.

    It might be an idea to create your own organisation (connected or not to the government) that have people inside various organisations watching out for anything unusual that maybe the work of these creatures and keeping an eye on the media making sure they don't print anything invovling these creatures, whether the creatures are mentioned or not. Those insides could inform the organisation and after their own investigation, use the city's utilities to corden of the area and send in people like your MC to deal with it. Additional, they could have agents looking for any goblins setting up shops where they shouldn't and send your MC in to relocated them.

    You will need people to report these cases and if it's the non-magical doing the reporting, they aren't going to report everything to the city's utilities, now are they? And if it the mages are reporting the cases, how do they know that the person the contact knows about the creatures?
     
  11. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    I suppose I could have been more clear on a few points--my bad.
    The head of department-to-be-named-later is a low-level Talent whose only real magical ability to communicate with any elemental (and all the magical critters in my story are elemental spirits of one stripe or another). He keeps on good terms with a flock of sylphs who keep him abreast of things he might need to know. Anytime unexplained deaths or attacks occur, his sylphs nose around and report back.
    Kelpies are predators, redcaps are irredeemably homicidal, and as for goblins--ever read the Rossetti poem? You don't want them opening a fruit stall. These are things, as a public official, he doesn't want going on in his city. Sure, it's largely because of the effect on revenue (he's a politician, after all) but, he doesn't like it.
    I'm hesitant to create an organization for dealing with nasty elementals, because the magically gifted don't want it known yet that elementals exist. People can just about handle the notion of humans who can conjure fire, make pants grow and levitate rocks, but if you were to tell them that the world is full of invisible, potentially dangerous creatures, that's just too much. And with less than 10% of the population having any sort of magic whatsoever, there wouldn't be many who could see them.
    I had originally considered Parks & Rec, because of the attacks occurring in parks, beaches, etc. Wanting the monsters removed from an area under his purview, this dept head would send out sylphs looking for a mage who could handle it. Word reaches my MC, and it goes from there.
    And word really wouldn't get around of strange creatures, because unless someone had magic, they wouldn't see the creature attacking them. Most elementals only have physical presence when interacting with their particular element, and only the more powerful can create a body that looks like flesh and blood and not stone or snow, etc.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    Sorry not to get back to this sooner.

    Gas leaks and other utilities hazards get the fire department first to secure the hazard and then utilities come to shut lines down and make repairs.

    Animal Control offices are linked to shelters. I think the main one is in Kent but there is a Seattle Animal Shelter and you could just have your animal control officers work out of there.

    The problem is anything to do with policing gets a police response, not a parks response. Other departments don't want all the worker's comp and worker safety issues if they have their employees confront anyone about anything.

    But if you are creating a new world, you can create new departments to deal with them. If there is danger, think police. If there is nuisance, you could delegate to the parks departments. Utilities would deal with repairs but animal control would address the animals. Again, one issue is limiting occupational risks to the appropriate departments.
     
  13. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    No worries! I understand that strange urge to deal with real life first.
    Thanks for the info. I'll definitely file it away for future reference.
    I do have plans on creating a story involving the creation of departmenrs dealing with problematic elementals, but right now, i'd rather keep them a secret.
    It's looking like Parks is the way to go. I can easily see this guy being the head of P&R and hiring my MC to clean out unpleasant elementals in a site under his jurisdiction, but not doing much to help if someone were to be eaten by harpies in an alley.
     
  14. Porcupine
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    I also like going with Parks & Recreation because:
    a) It's plausible (attacks happening in parks etc.).
    b) The name is so wonderfully harmless. Give it perfect cover. Who would expect a goblin-hunter under the label "Parks & Recreation". Think James Bond, whose cover (in the books) usually was "Universal Exports".
     
  15. Taillin
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    I think your character should say they work for "The Social Welfare Organization (SWO). It sounds like a legitimate organization within the public sector and the title is related to the work done on the job itself :)
     

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