It is the end of the Twentieth Century and the dawn of the Twenty First. The Industrial Revolution has given way to the Age of Electronics, the Atomic Age, the Space Age, and now, the Age of Computers. The future, as they say, is now. Superstition and myth have been replaced by hard scientific belief. We understand the world, and it is ours. Right?
If there is one thing man has learned, it is that the more he learns about the universe, the more he discovers he doesn't know. And no one understands this better than the Phenomena Department. Their motto is quite simple: "The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine."
In a world where the computer age flourishes on an unprecedented scale, someone still has to be willing to brave the shadowy corners of the world, investigating those things that the rest of the world pretends no longer exist. For you see, magic is real. So are vampires, ghosts, werewolves and the "Thing Under the Bed." Even worse, are those "Things Man Was Not Meant to Know."
It is the job of the Phenomena Department to deal with such things. They brave the shadows and the dark to face down threats that most people don't even believe are real. It's a dangerous job, but that's why the benefits are so good.
Are you ready?
The world of the Phenomena Department is exactly like the modern world that is around us at this very moment. There is only one major difference, the supernatural is no mere myth, but a proven fact. Magic is not the providence of starry-eyed New Age crystal worshipers, and sky-clad Wicca, but something that can be studied and examined, and in certain select universities, learned.
Along with the existence of magic and all that it entails, there is also the existence of magical and supernatural beings to deal with. As with magic itself, these creatures are not figments of myth and imagination, but, at times, all too real. The night, as the saying goes, is filled with "...ghoulies and ghosties. and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night..."
There are stranger things out there as well. The Phenomena Department concerns itself with more than just unearthly monsters—it investigates all forms of paranormal occurrences. Crop circles, fairies, hairy bipeds, lake monsters, little green men, toads falling from the sky, and unidentified flying objects are only a few of the things the Phenomena Department tracks and catalogs. Some phenomena, such as crop circles, are known to usually be the work of human agents (often simply as a form of artistic expression), while others, such as cattle mutilations, still puzzle researchers.
One thing is known: occurrences of strange and inexplicable phenomena are on the rise. Outbreaks of paranormal events are more and more frequent, and more and more dangerous. Something is happening, but exactly what, no one seems to know. All that is known is that some mystics, when pressed, state only that "the stars are right." What exactly the stars are right for is the question on everyone's lips. The Phenomena Department hopes to find out before it is too late.
The Major Theme in the Phenomena Department setting is the idea that the world is stranger (and more wonderful) than we know. There are many weird things out there happening all the time, but most people don't see them, or don't want to see them. Some of these events are benign, some are harmless, and some are dangerous, but it is better to know about them and witness them then it is to remain ignorant. As it is described in Wildstorm Comic's Planetary, there is a secret history of the 20th Century just waiting to be discovered.
A variety of Secondary Themes are possible depending on the desires of the players and the Game Master. A common Theme is the idea that the Phenomena Department, and especially its field agents, are fighting a "battle" against impossible odds. In addition, they seem to be the only people that care about protecting, as opposed to exploiting, the ignorant.
Another secondary theme would be one of friendship, and the need for understanding between team members. This may be too melodramatic for some settings and players, and can be ignored if the Game Master wishes. A Phenomena Department campaign does not have to be the soap opera that is Silent Möbius, and can concentrate more on action and adventure if that is what players prefer.
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