Unofficial translations of names here are tagged with an asterisk (*).
- Försvarsdepartementet (Department of Defense). Home of:
- Militära underrättelse- och säkerhetstjänsten (MUST; Military Intelligence and Security Service). The military intelligence service, with a number of sections:
- Underrättelsekontoret (UNDK; Office of Intelligence*). General military intelligence. Briefs the government and supports troops.
- Säkerhetskontoret (SÄKK; Office of Security*). Information/signal security and investigation of individuals.
- Kontoret för Särskild Inhämtning (KSI; Office for Special Assignments). Deals with the recruitment and operations of spies and secret agents (HUMINT). The most clandestine part of MUST.
- Försvarets radioanstalt (FRA; National Defence Radio Establishment). Signal intelligence (SIGINT) from radio transmissions and wiretapping. In 2008, this wiretapping was revealed to be very extensive already, and following a parliamentary vote in June of that year, plans were put into effect to legitimize it and expand the mandate of the FRA. From January of 2009, the FRA will be responsible for keeping tabs on all cable-borne traffic (phones and Internet) crossing Sweden's borders, storing much of the information for up to three years. No suspicion of crimes having been committed is required for a citizen to be monitored; everyone is treated as a suspect. The stated purpose is to monitor external threats and prevent terrorism, but the majority of the population seems to find this claim preposterous. There have been large demonstrations against the FRA's invasion of privacy, the most aggressive anywhere in Europe.
- Potentially compounding this development, another agency, called Registernämnden (Registry Commission*) was disbanded earlier in 2008. According to Dennis Töllborg, a professor of jurisprudence, Registernämnden had a world-class system for preventing abuse of the kind the new FRA will be capable of. It is replaced by Säkerhets- och integritetsskyddsnämnden (SÄKINT; Commission on Security and Integrity Protection), an inferior agency.
- Special forces:
- Särskilda inhämtningsgruppen (SIG; Special Intelligence Group*). Gathers intel in the field. Created in 2006, formerly a part of the central paratrooper training facility.
- Särskilda skyddsgruppen (SSG; Special Protection Group). Has been active in Afghanistan and Congo. Since 2006 it can be used in cooperation with Swedish police to counter domestic terrorism. Probably comprises about 80 people. More active in the field.
- Militära underrättelse- och säkerhetstjänsten (MUST; Military Intelligence and Security Service). The military intelligence service, with a number of sections:
- Tullverket (Tullen; Customs). Tries to prevent illegal trafficking in weapons, narcotics, endangered species etc.
- Polisen (Police Service). General law enforcement. The federal part is called Rikspolisstyrelsen (National Police Board) but the 21 provincial Polismyndigheter (County Police Departments) are not strictly subordinate to that organization.
- Statens kriminaltekniska laboratorium (SKL; National Laboratory of Forensic Science). Central forensics lab with four sections: biological, drugs, chemical/technical and documentation.
- Säkerhetspolisen (SÄPO; Security Service, literally the Security Police). Formerly Rikspolisstyrelsens säkerhetsavdelning (National Police Board's Department of Security*) and still a federal organisation, described in Delta Green: Countdown. SÄPO deals with crimes against national security, leading regular police in cases of antiterrorism, security for members of the government and foreign dignitaries.
- Informationsbyrån (IB; Office of Information*). A disbanded intelligence organization under the armed forces. Wikipedia article. What's not in the article is how they kept tabs on suspected Swedish communists. They cooperated with the largest party in Sweden (Social Democrats, then enemies of the communists, now they govern with them if they can) and used the members of this party as an extensive information-gathering network, in addition to some international escapades. Reporters revealing this were imprisoned. There's a good case to be made that the IB served as the Social Democratic party's own secret police.
Sweden is one of the most secular countries in the world. The following traditions are no longer considered meaningful or scary. Many were shared within the pagan "Norse" regional culture (Norway, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and Sweden) and are associated with vikings. Source for much of this: Swedish Wikipedia.
Religiously Rooted Holidays
- Midsommar (Midsummer). Ritual dancing around a giant phallos. Lots of alcohol and folk music. Probably the most inebriated day in Sweden.
- Lucia. December 13th. The prettiest, most long-haired girl around wears a crown of candles while other, relatively plain girls wear a sparkly ribbon in their hair. Boys wear a pointy hat (really a long white paper cone). They all have sweeping white nightgowns, in the girls' case with another ribbon (usually red) around their waists. They come to your bed in the early morning, sing traditional hymns of the arrival of Christmas and the glory of St. Lucia, and then offer you coffee, ginger snaps and queerly shaped saffron buns. Note that Sweden is traditionally Protestant, and has been for 500 years. No other saint is celebrated in a comparable fashion.
- Bortbytingar. The main activity of many Swedish mythical creatures is child-swapping, sneaking up on the newborn in the crib and exchanging the child with one of their own. Such non-human children are called bortbytingar (roughly "those who have been traded away"). Typically, after several years, the human parents realize something is amiss and go out in the forest to visit the trolls (or whatever) and demand their child back. The kidnapped child has in the meantime been mistreated, forced to work and so on.
- Bergtagning ("being taken to/by the mountains"). People could be magically lured away to the dens of some mythical creatures, most commonly trolls, and would return quite changed, if at all. Young women were prone to this fate. The myth was probably a way to rationalize the consequences of SAN loss.
Some of these would make fine additions to a Swedish Dreamlands. For Keepers interested in incorporating such creatures into their campaigns, a book called Jorges Bestiarium (published by Riotminds for the traditional national RPG Drakar och demoner) would be a good source of illustrations and ideas.
- Asar (æsir). Gods. The members of the Norse pantheon, according to unreliable old research. More recent scholarship shows that there was no coherent pantheon in Scandinavia during the viking ages. Pre-æsir gods were called vaner (vanir) and were probably not the same as giants, more like a separate race of gods that waged war on the æsir in old myths. The war ended, hostages were exchanged and the vanir pretty much disappear from history.
- Tomtar. A type of dwarf or goblin. Small, bearded, dressed in gray, living somewhere on your farm. You had better maintain the peace with him or things will go bad for you. Rarely if ever does he help you with the animals. The same term somehow came to be applied to Santa Claus with the popularization of Christianity.
- Troll (trolls, also vittra, huldra etc., there's a phylum of similar creatures). Big, hideous, stupid, cruel and strong. The only Swedish mythological creature who lived in groups. The main cause of bortbytingar and bergtagning. In Romantic literature they have a certain sympathetic sadness about them. They could vary a great deal in size and appearance, take different shapes or become invisible. Sometimes you could hear them calling for their cattle without hearing from where the sound came, or smell them (they smelled like food and tobacco). Trolls were rich, with lots of gold, lived underground, were afraid of churchbells, the god Thor and his hammer, and steel. Some trolls were apparently turned to stone by sunlight.
- Jättar (giants, also called resar (risar), bergsresar (bergrisar), tursar (þursar) and rimtursar (hrímþursar)). Trolls in Norwegian myth were big enough to be gonsidered giants. Females were called gyger (gýgr). The earliest ones were hideous, chaotic forces of nature, many-headed, black-skinned, fearsome, able to throw huge rocks for miles, and hostile to intensive agriculture. They come from beyond this world, from Jotunheim (Jotunheimar), one of the nine worlds of Yggdrasil (believed to be outside, mostly to the north of Midgård (Middle-Earth), our world). In Jotunheim they have a large fortress called Utgård. Born of the blood of the dead god Ymer, whose corpse is their world, they are now more or less gone; the time of giants was considered to be past long before people stopped believing in them. Younger gods pushed them away. Thor constantly fought them in legends, but on some occasions the gods came to the giants for their precosmic knowledge. Some giants married æsir, or visited on friendly terms. A few gods were born from these mixed marriages, and one of the gods (Loki) was actually a purebred giant. Besides being strong, angry and dangerous, giants are described as simple, innocent, naive, stupid, yet knowledgeable about things from before the gods. The stories of giants are often about how a giant gets tricked into building something (a church in Lund, the Midgård fortress and so on) under promises of some terrible payment, but they are tricked or killed by Thor before the payment can be collected.
- Mylingar. The ghosts of dead, unbaptized children murdered by their mothers. They scream, weep, sing and ask for a name. You could save a myling by saying "You can take mine. I am <insert your name>."
- Ghosts in general were common, often under different names. There was a fairly well-developed typology of them.
- Skogsrå ("mistress of the forest"). Lured hunters away but could also help them by blowing into the rifle, causing it to never miss. Very beautiful seen from the front, but their back is either hollow (lika a dead, hollow tree), has a fox's tail or a surface like a tree trunk. Commands animals.
Among several types of fish fetishized by the Swedish people, surströmming (soured herring) in particular is suspected of a high correlation with infestation by Deep Ones. It is a northern Swedish delicacy consisting of fermented Baltic herring. Surströmming is sold in cans which, when opened, release a strong smell. Because of the smell, the dish is usually eaten outdoors. However, opening the can under water somewhat lessens the smell, as well as keeping the person opening it from getting soaked in brine, as the fermentation often builds up a considerable pressure inside the can.
The herring is caught in spring, when it is in prime condition and just about to spawn. The herring are fermented in barrels for one to two months, then tinned where the fermentation continues. Half a year to a year later, gases have built up sufficiently for the once cylindrical tins to bulge into a more rounded shape. These unusual containers of surströmming can be found in supermarkets all over Sweden. However, certain airlines have banned the tins on their flights, considering the pressurized containers to be potentially dangerous. Species of Haloanaerobium bacteria are responsible for the in-can ripening. These bacteria produce carbon dioxide and a number of compounds that account for the unique odor: pungent propionic acid, rotten-egg hydrogen sulfide, rancid-butter butyric acid, and vinegary acetic acid.
One proposed explanation of the origins of this method of preservation is that it began long ago, when brining food was quite expensive due to the cost of salt. When fermentation was used, just enough salt was required to keep the fish from rotting. The salt raises the osmotic pressure of the brine above the zone where bacteria responsible for rotting (decomposition of proteins) can prosper and prevents decomposition of fish proteins into oligopeptides and amino acids. Instead the osmotic conditions enable the Haloanaerobium bacteria to prosper and decompose the fish glycogen into organic acids, giving it the sour (acidic) properties. Historically also other fatty fish, like salmon and whitefish, have been fermented not unlike surströmming, and the original gravlax has resembled surströmming.
- The Sami (formerly, pejoratively, known as Lapplanders). Nomadic reindeer-herders in the north of Sweden. Originally shamanistic, but now Christian or indifferent. They have some remarkably extensive rights to use traditional grazing lands irrespective of ownership, following failed attempts to destroy or assimilate them.
For civilians, in brief:
- Hunting Rifles and Shotguns - purchase and possession require a gun permit. A permit is given after a passed Hunters Examina course, or after minimum 6 months of membership in a target shooting organisation and some passed tests in marksmanship, gun safety and gun law.
- Handguns - purchase and possession require a permit. A permit is given after minimum 6 months (1 year for handguns with a caliber greater than .22) of membership in a target shooting organisation and some passed tests in marksmanship, gun safety and gun law.
- Fully automatic weapons are not allowed, unless you're a member of the Home Guard.
- Purchase and possession of all ammunition also require a permit for the guns they are meant for.
- All guns must be kept in something equivalent to an armored safe when not being transported to and from training/hunting. The end piece must not be stored with the gun.
- Taking weapons into Sweden requires, beside a regular gun permit, a special gun import permit which is given by the police in the city where the guns will enter the country, that is, if they deem the import reason valid (hunting, competition etc.).
Some state Nazi collaboration and pro-German political activism. A possible home for a few postwar Karotechia members in hiding.
A Swedish Necronomicon?
From the Ice Cave. See Minotauren, no 8, December 2000, for more information.
A translation into German from the Latin text of Olaus was made by Thephrastus Paracelsus and published in Basel shortly before Paracelsus's death in 1541. One copy was part of the loot taken in Prague in 1648 by Swedish troops; it was brought to Stockholm by Axel Oxenstierna. According to contemporary book catalogues, the book was incorporated with the library at the Castle of Stockholm, where it, however, was destroyed in the fire of 1697.
It is possible that the only known Swedish translation of the Necronomicon, printed in Finland in 1723 by an unknown publisher, was made from the Prague copy. [One copy] … was owned by Ulrik Philipson Lundwall, assistant vicar of the parish of Roslagsbro, who along with his older brother Johan was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment in 1818. Their crime is unknown, but it was related to the book or its use. According to the family legend, Ulrik died in 1828 [sic], the day before he was to be released after having served his sentence. Of the fate of Johan Philipson Lundwall, nothing is known. According to the same family legend, this copy of the book was originally owned by Gabriel Oxenstierna; from his collection of books at the manor of WÃ¤rnberg it came into the possession of Johan Philipson Lundwall. This Swedish edition is a small, slim volume, size 93x148 millimetres, bound in curiously smooth, brown leather without text on the spine. The body consists of 92 pages printed with a beautiful black-letter typeface, with the title page printed in red and black. Large portions of the text are unreadable due to dark brown stains and scratch marks, as well as some water damage. The final chapters are missing. The book lay for some hundred years in a shed in Röksta, Roslagen, before it was found by Johan Philipson Lundwall's relative, the farmer Hjalmar Wilhelm Lundwall.
Source: Lovecraft, H. P. Necronomicon: De döda namnens bok. Ed. & trans. Sam J. Lundwall. Stockholm: Sam J. Lundwall Fakta & Fantasi, 1995, p. 12-13.
- Paracelsus: Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1493-1541), known as Paracelsus; Swiss alchemist, physician, and philosopher. Probably a very likely translator for the Blasphemous Bestseller.
- Prague 1648: Swedish troops commanded by Count Hans Christoffer von Königsmarck attacked the city (or a part of it) on July 16, 1648, and looted it. There was another famous book in the loot: the Devil's Bible (famous enough to get its own entry in most Swedish encyclopedias anyway).
- Axel Oxenstierna: Count Axel Oxenstierna (1583-1654) was Chancellor of Sweden from 1612 onwards.
- Fire of 1697: The Castle of Stockholm burned to the ground on May 7, 1697. The royal archives where destroyed in the fire, which is one of the reasons why the medieval history of Sweden is rather sketchy. A summoning of Cthugha that went wrong?
- 1828: Obviously a misprint for 1838.
- Gabriel Oxenstierna: Must be the same as Count Johan Gabriel Oxenstierna (1750-1818), great-great-grandson of Axel's first cousin.
- 93x148 millimetres, 92 pages: A very small book, compared to the Latin edition in Miskatonic's library (folio-size, 802 pages, if I remember correctly). But according to something I read (possibly "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward"?), the Big N is actually divided into several parts or "books". Presumably these books were published in separate volumes in the Swedish edition; this theory is supported by the "title page" reproduced in the cited anthology, where it says "Part One".
A Swedish Delta Green?
One could trace the possibility of a Swedish DG through a number of historical events. The shady, disbanded IB (see the Agencies, above) is a natural feature. Among the large quantities of anti-communist intel coming into the bureau, there were some pieces of stranger information. A small group inside the organization intercepted the info and acted on it, continuing after the IB was revealed to the public in 1973.
At the end of that year, an ambitious and extremely well-connected young journalist named Ebbe Carlsson officially started his career in politics. For years he worked to keep various unpleasant truths hidden, including the extent of IB surveillance. When Olof Palme, the Prime Minister of Sweden, was murdered in 1986, Carlsson (then a book publisher, having left politics in disgrace after attempting to take command of a police squad in a terrorist incident) inexplicably gained a position in the investigation. At the height of his involvement he operated out of a ten-room office complex with several police officers following his orders, a personal bodyguard (also a policeman), a civilian cop car at his disposal, a letter of authorization from the Minister of Justice to obtain information from foreign intelligence services, and so on.
Viewed today as having had some sort of personality disorder, Carlsson was also an early victim of AIDS (according to generally accepted history), and basically felt he had nothing to lose by using his illegal investigation unit to pursue a far-fetched international conspiracy theory; or was that theory just a cover-up? It all unraveled when Carlsson's bodyguard was arrested for attempting to smuggle a truckload of banned surveillance equipment into Sweden, something the bodyguard knew perfectly well was a crime; a crime he thought was sanctioned from higher up. Three high officials lost their jobs as a result, including the head of SÄPO. Carlsson was demonized as deeply corrupt in gay-bashing media until 1991, and died the following year, looking skeletal. Many saw him as redeemed when he became virtually the only famous victim of AIDS in Sweden willing to talk about the illness.
If an element of the IB had Mythos knowledge, Carlsson was obviously a part or pawn of that element in its underground form. Using resources siphoned from the Palme murder investigation, he was investigating some supernatural threat, possibly one he'd come across working for the Bonnier family (publishers of fine books for 200 consecutive years). Fragments of the same enlightened group may have coalesced into, or is now hunted by, the FRA.