That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.

Abd al-Azred, Necronomicon

General Description

The Phenomena Department is a modern day campaign combining elements of the conspiracy theory genre with that of "urban horror." The Player Characters are field agents of the Phenomena Department charged with investigating (and combating ) the unknown.

Importance of the Player Character's
Depends on how you look at it. The PC's have a dual importance in the game world. While the Phenomena Department will not have an effect on the game world as a whole, they will be required to deal with Things that can affect the fate of the world. So, in some ways they are some of the most important people in the campaign world, even if no one knows it.

Campaign Tone

Morality 1/2/3/4/5
(3) Some cross-over between Good and Evil

Realism 1/2/3/4/5
(2) Romantic

Outlook 1/2/3/4/5
(3) Success balanced by failures

Seriousness 1/2/3/4/5
(3) Seriousness balanced by light-heartedness

Continuity 1/2/3/4/5
(3) Some long stories and some episodic ones


Physical World
It is the here and now, and the world is pretty much as we (the players) know it, with a few minor differences. For example, magic works but isn't such an all-encompassing force as to overwhelm society. There are publicly known magicians, and one can learn magic in college, but it is a very unusual profession, and not one commonly encountered.

Initially, the campaign will focus on a city, maybe a region. Eventually I hope to have the campaign deal with the country, then the world at large.

Technology Level
Modern day. There is little or no "future tech" that you (the players) know of.

Character Building Guidelines
1) Starting Points for PCs: 100
2) Maximum Disadvantage Points for PCs: 100
3) Max points from any one Disadvantage Category: 50
4) Characters automatically have Normal Characteristic Maxima disadvantage at no point value: NO
5) Character can carry normal technology (weapons, etc.) at no point cost: YES

Power Levels        Beginning   Maximum
OCV/DCV (levels)    5-7     8-9
Speed           3-4     5
DEF         6-8     ~12
Skill Rolls     11- to 13-  15-
Magic Power Level   Average     Maximum
Normal Attack       45 pts      60 pts
Killing Attack      30 pts      45 pts
Defenses        10-15 DEF   20 DEF
Other           30 pts      60 pts

Campaign Rules
1) Combat Uses Hit Locations Chart: YES
2) Knockback or Knockdown Rules Used: Knockback
3) Are Characters Allowed to Push?: YES

House Rules
This game will use the magic rules based on material first generated in the Silent Möbius Zeta campaign. It will also use the Kazei 5 psychokinetic rules. Finally, certain chi powers, as described in Wuxia Hero, are acceptable.

For info on Silent Möbius Zeta go to:

To order the Kazei 5 sourcebook, go to:

Wuxia Hero is coming soon from Gold Rush Games.

Character Types

An esper is defined as any person with some degree of psychic power. These psychic (or psi) powers can range from such simple talents as always knowing the correct time, to the ability to physically move objects purely by force of will. Espers are are more common than most people realize, although far less powerful than the media suggests.

Espers are highly sought after by the Phenomena Department. Part of the Department's research is centered around psychic powers, and how they work. The Department has recruited several espers, (most of whom have fairly low-level talents) but is always on the lookout for a reliable (and sufficiently powerful) esper who is willing to work as a field agent.

Examples of espers suitable for use in a Phenomena Department campaign would be:

Observant readers will notice that many of the sample characters are female (specifically young girls in their mid-teens). This is a character type common to many manga, but not an all-exclusive one. Players should feel free to develop characters of any age or sex for the Phenomena Department campaign. Due to the nature of the setting, characters in their mid-teens are unlikely, but not impossible. It also should be noted that many genre espers greatly exceed the power level of the campaign. Player Character espers are not expected to be able to operate on the same scale as those seen in many anime and manga.

Ex-Government Agent
The character used to belong to any one of a number of government agencies. The most popular option is (of course) the Central Intelligence Agency, but a number of other organizations are equally suitable. It is presumed that any character using this origin has encountered some sort of paranormal phenomena which has led to their questioning the actions of their superiors, their organization, and the government. This question has led to their quitting the agency, and their eventual hiring by the Phenomena Department. How much of their background and intelligence knowledge they share with the other Players is up to them.

The Phenomena Department is more than willing to hire ex-government agents, mainly for the wealth of knowledge many such people can offer. Naturally, this desire is tempered by the fact that high-ranking government agents may be under observation by their former employers (once can never really &quotleave" the agency), and that any information they do give is not necessarily correct (the Department is constantly worried about the threat of spies and misinformation).

Recommended Agencies:

Note that this origin overlaps a great deal with the Ex-Law Enforcement and Ex-Military origins. In all cases, the basic rational for the character's joining the Phenomena Department should remain the same.

Ex-Law Enforcement
The character is a former member of any one of a number of law enforcement agencies. This can range from the local police (either county of township), to such occupations as being a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The reasons behind the character's joining the Phenomena Department are pretty much the same as with the Ex-Government Agent origin, except that in this case, it is more likely that the character was told to drop any form of inquiry or investigation by &quotsomeone from the government" (i.e. the infamous &quotMen in Black").

The Phenomena Department prefers to recruit field agents from the ranks of former law-enforcement personnel. Their police training, combined with a drive to uncover the &quottruth" makes for an excellent field operative.

Recommended Agencies:

The perfect example of this character type would be Scully and Mulder from The X-Files.

The character is a former member of the Armed Forces. Odds are, they are a former special forces operative, and may have personally witnessed or been on a paranormal operation. Their leaving the military may be the result of personal choice (retirement) or a forced removal from service (dishonorable discharge). The Phenomena Department is quite willing to accept ex-servicemen into their ranks, especially those with combat training and experience into its ranks, as the department considers their training invaluable for field operations.

Recommended Agencies:


If there is one thing the Department can't get enough of it is magicians. Competent magicians are uncommon and those willing to work for the Department are quite rare. On the other hand, the Department has a bit more luck with those who use magical artifacts and has managed to recruit a few such people into its ranks.

Within the bounds of the campaign, a &quotmagician" is anyone who can actually use magic, or uses a magical artifact (in most cases a weapon of some sort). The exact style of magic can vary. For more information see the Magic section of the Paranormal Powers chapter.

Examples of magicians suitable for use in a Phenomena Department campaign would be:

Note that this is only a small selection of genre magicians. Although the listing above is more slanted to female characters, magicians in anime and manga tend to be of either sex. As with espers, the power level of genre magicians can rapidly reach absurd proportions (for example, devastating such targets as an airport or an entire city with a single spell). Player Character magicians will not be expected to perform such stunts (or oppose anyone who can).

Supernatural Monster Hunters
This character has been trained (usually from birth) to fight the supernatural. Normally, they are part of a clan which has been waging this fight for centuries, and have extensive experience with such things. Naturally, the Phenomena Department would love to have such a person join their organization, as they would make the perfect field operative (provided they don't kill everything). Note that many supernatural monster hunters are also Magicians.

Examples of supernatural monster hunters are legion in anime, manga, and Hong Kong cinema (I won't even try to list them all). A few examples:

As with espers, there is a preponderance of female characters in this category (Scantily-clad, well-endowed young women armed with various weapons fighting horrific monsters... what's not to like? Besides, it's not like Image comics doesn't do stuff like this.). As stated before, Player Characters can ignore this convention if they so wish.

As a side note, genre conventions state that the supernatural monster hunter most likely to be recruited by the Department is a novice, fresh out of training, with little to no practical experience.

Supernatural Monsters
This category refers to characters such as ghosts, lycanthropes, and vampires. The Phenomena Department would be willing to recruit such a person, especially as it would allow them to study certain forms of paranormal phenomena first hand. Naturally, any such &quotmonster" so recruited by the Department would need to be able to prove a certain degree of self-control over their supernatural nature.

Due to the limited power level of the campaign, it might not be possible to play certain forms of supernatural monsters. Players should discuss all such concepts with the Game Master.

Examples of supernatural monsters that might be suitable for use in a Phenomena Department campaign would be:

Wuxia Hero
The character is a master of kung fu. More importantly, the character is also a master of their chi. This allows them to perform various feats that border on the superhuman. Leaping great distances, throwing a blinding series of punches, demonstrations of great strength, running up walls... The examples are too numerous to mention. The Phenomena Department would recruit any such character for the same reasons they would recruit a magician or supernatural monster hunter (and some wuxia heroes are, in fact, monster hunters).

Examples of &quotwuxia hero" characters are almost too numerous to mention. In this case, it is easier to simply list appropriate films as opposed to individual characters.

Note that such anime as Dragonball Z, and video games such as Street Fighter II are not suitable as source material. The chi powers expressed in such sources goes beyond the more subtle effects desired for the campaign.

Other Characters
It is possible to play other character concepts other than what is listed here. For example, consider the Academic/Occultist character (a popular option in the game Call of Cthulhu). This character would be a researcher specializing in field work, examining paranormal phenomena first hand. Their combat skills may not be the best, but their knowledge of the occult (and possible minor magical skills) would prove to be invaluable.

Final Comments
All the government organizations listed above (with the exception of the Federal Bureau of Paranormal Investigation) are real. More information about each agency can be found in the Delta Green sourcebook from Pagan Publishing. Skill packages suitable for developing former members of such agencies can be found in the An Eye For An Eye sourcebook from Hero Games. The Game Master also has an excellent reference (originally published in the pages of Haymaker!) for developing ex-military characters if needed.

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