And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 8:32

Purpose and Mission Statement

Purpose and Mission Statement
The Phenomena Department is a private organization dedicated to investigating, dealing with, and fighting the supernatural. Its primary mission is to provide a first line of defense between humanity and malignant phenomena traditionally categorized as the &quotsupernatural." To that end, operatives are as well-trained and well-informed as possible, and are responsible for the investigation and neutralization of supernatural threats, as recognized by the Phenomena Department charter.

The origins of the Phenomena Department are obscure, but it is known that the organization is at least twenty years old, dating back—in part—to the early 1980's. Other evidence indicates that a precursor to the Phenomena Department may have existed in the mid-1960's. This group was called the Hermetica Society. The origins of that group, in turn, can be traced to the early 1920's, and Miskatonic University's Paranormal Studies Department, which sponsored several field teams, and did much to lay the ground work for modern understanding of supernatural and magical concepts and theories.

Originally, the Phenomena Department was fairly small and limited in scope. They investigated strange and bizarre happenings in and around Massachusetts and New England. As time passed, they expanded their range to cover most of the continental United States (as well as parts of Canada). Currently, the Phenomena Department is primarily based and operates in the United States, although it has small offices scattered all over the globe.

It is unknown who exactly funds the Phenomena Department, and questions to that regard are usually ignored. Some of the funding does come from &quotcivilian sources," such as ex-agents, magicians sympathetic to the cause, and those willing to fund certain forms of research. Attempts to track the Department's paper trail usually results in the researcher going in circles.

The Phenomena Department (actually, just this specific office) is located in southwestern Maryland, between the town of Potomac and the Potomac River. It sits on a fairly large lot, with scattered woods, a stream and a lot of open spaces. A sturdy chain link fence (lined with sensors, cameras and electric wire) surrounds the property. The front gate is remote controlled, with video cameras and intercom. As this is the Potomac area of Maryland, the neighboring lots are equally as large, with equally remote residences.

There are three main buildings on the grounds. The biggest is a full-scale mansion, which is where field agents (that's you) may live if they so desire. Three floors in height, with a basement (and possible sub-basement), the mansion has multiple bedrooms and baths, a kitchen, a dining room, several libraries, studies, and offices, a gym (which combines a dojo with a weight-training room), a variety of laboratories, a computer and communications room, and (behind a carefully sealed door) a vault full of relics and the like. No one really goes in this last room, unless they have a pressing need, or are engaged in research.

The more &quotnormal" rooms are above ground. This includes the bedrooms, most baths, the dining room, the kitchen, library, a few offices, and so on. The rest of the facilities are located below ground, in a more secure basement setting.

The other two buildings are smaller residences. One houses Capt. Tsinnie (see below), the other is for the various non-field agents employed by the Phenomena Department (this includes Dr. Christine Akagi and Trent Dasteel).

Other structures include a pool, a large deck, several sheds, and a tennis court. More utilitarian features include the large helipad located between the two smaller residences, and a firearms range. The landscaping is more utilitarian than ornamental, with an emphasis on wide, open areas that provide little cover. Any and all clumps of trees are carefully pruned, and underbrush is kept to a bare minimum.

Phenomena Department Operations
The primary purpose of the Phenomena Department is to protect humanity from the actions of hostile supernatural threats. To accomplish this aim, it is of the utmost importance that the Department's field operatives and missions remain as covert as possible. The Department operates without the official sanction of the United States Government (or anyone else for that matter), and continued secrecy (or, at least, deniability) is an asset. As a final objective, operatives are required to attempt to document all phenomena they encounter, so that later agents will better understand the foes they face.

For ease of reference, the Phenomena Department's Operating Guidelines can be summarized as follows:

  1. The purpose of the Phenomena Department is to defend humanity from hostile supernatural forces. The protection is defined as destroying, driving off, or containing the hostile force. Note that the Phenomena Department is not a law-enforcement organization in any way, shape, or form. Criminal activity needs to be reported to local law-enforcment agencies.
  2. The Phenomena Department deals with supernatural as well as magical occurrences. It does not involve itself in common criminal activity, unless that activity can be traced to possible magical involvement (for example, the theft of a coffin, or magical book or artifact).
  3. All Phenomena Department agents are on duty 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. It is recommended that all agents go armed at all times, even while on-base.
  4. As the Phenomena Department is not a law-enforcement entity, it is of the utmost importance that agents do not draw the ire of any law-enforcement organization. Agents should try to complete all missions in as covert a manner as possible.

Note that the various offices of the Phenomena Department keep in fairly close contact with each other. The Maryland database is kept on-line and can be accessed by any other office. All the other offices submit new data as it is acquired, and most of the researchers at each office (if there are any), communicate regularly via e-mail, fax, and regular mail (specifically express mail services). Naturally, the Department is always interested in new and better ways to keep in touch, and is often willing to try cutting-edge devices in order to ease (or speed up) communication.

The Phenomena Department divides its personnel into two broad groups: field agents and in-house operatives. A Phenomena Department campaign is presumed to center around the adventures of a field agent unit, as life in-house is far less exciting.

The Phenomena Department recruits new agents in a variety of ways. They usually approach a prospective field agent first, asking questions designed to gauge the potential recruit's attitude, opinions concerning the supernatural, and his (or her) desire to uncover "the truth."

A prospective field agent can be nearly anyone, although the Phenomena Department prefers former members of the military and ex-law enforcement officers (for obvious reasons). The Phenomena Department also tries to recruit espers and magicians (with mixed results), as they have proven to be highly effective in fighting supernatural threats.

If an agent wasn't recruited directly by the Department, then usually that agent came to the Department on their own. Agents gained in this manner are usually magicians or "wuxia heroes" who have some idea of what the Phenomena Department is really about.

Additional agents are those people whom the Department encounters in the course of a mission, and for one reason or another, end up working closely with that individual, usually to the point where the Department asks the person if they'd like to join (or, on some cases, the person asks first).

In all cases, the Department tires to hire those people who have proven themselves to be self-sufficent, and can get things done on their own and while acting independently.

Additional Personnel
Aside from field agents, the Phenomena Department has a number of people who provide back-up and other services when needed.

Captain A. Keegan Tsinnie - Captain Tsinnie is an ex-Los Angeles police officer who serves as the team's director and commander. Although her background is sketchy, she is apparently a former Police Captain who worked her way up the ranks. She's short, about 5'1", with long, glossy black hair, and green eyes. Her heritage is uncertain, but one guesses some Asian influence, although her skin is more brown than one would expect. She is very fit, and keeps herself in shape through fitness training and daily kenpo (a form of kung fu) practice.

Captain Tsinnie retains most of her exacting guidelines that she developed in her previous occupation. She always wears business attire, and even when "off-duty" tends towards a more formal mode of dress than one would expect. Interestingly enough, she is never without her pendant, which is a strange five-pointed star with a flame in the middle. Made from silver, she wears this everywhere, even into the shower or the pool.

The Captain is fairly strict about her agents following certain procedures, and takes a dim view of "noisy" operations. The less attention the Phenomena Department attracts the better. On the other hand, she is also very supportive of her agents, and will do her best to obtain any equipment asked for (within reason).

She is the highest ranking individual in the Department the Player Characters will encounter, and the final authority on Department matters. However, she doesn't make all the decisions on her own, and does report to an unknown superior(s). Disciplinary actions include confinment to quarters, leave without pay, and outright firings.

As her last name (Tsinnie - pronounced Sin-ni) gives people so much trouble, she will allow one to use her middle name (Keegan). Of course, being told one is going to meet a Captain Keegan Tsinnie, most people expect a man, which is a mistake she despises. No one knows what the A. in Tsinnie's name stands for, and while she isn't telling, other members of the department have set up a betting pool. As a side note, the Captain seems to live off of a diet of coffee and cigarettes, and keeps long hours. She also has a small gray cat ("Neko"), who follows her about nearly everywhere.

Dr. Christine Akagi - Middle-aged, Dr. Akagi is in excellent physical shape (she swims for an hour each day), with short blonde hair, and pretty blue eyes she hides behind glasses. Dr. Akagi usually wears a white labcoat over a simple blouse and skirt.

Dr. Akagi's job with the Phenomena Department is very simple - patch up anyone who has been injured during a mission. She also handles medical research and spends a great deal of her time testing and examining any biological samples the field agents bring her. These tests usually result in new and better ways to eliminate preternatural threats, so most agents are only too happy to bring her fresh samples.

Personality wise, Dr. Akagi tends to either mother patients in the infirmary, or chew them out for getting injured (it depends on the severity of the wounds, and how fast the agent thinks he can get back in the field). When in her lab, she tends to be committed, and oblivious to such things as the passage of time, eating, and sleeping.

Trent Dasteel - The Phenomena Department's "groundskeeper," Trent's real job (aside from gardening) is maintaining the perimeter fence, which includes assorted cameras, motion sensors, and electrical capacitors. In addition, he works as a part-time research assistant, usually in the field of preternatural phenomena (specifically fairies and the like). An ex-field agent, Trent was removed from active service after a mission which nearly resulted in the loss of his leg (and his life).

Trent is tall and slender, with long black hair that falls well past his shoulders. He is beautiful more than handsome, with dark eyes and fine features. Seen from the side or back (or in dim light), he can easily be mistaken for a woman. Trent usually retains several days of stubble to counteract this effect.

Due to his past injuries, Trent walks with a limp and the help of a cane. Rumor has it that the cane conceals a swordblade.

Michael Erica de Normandy - Of all the agents employed by the Phenomena Department, there are probably none odder than Ms. Normandy. She is an albino, with pale skin, fairly long and straight silver-white hair, reddish-pink eyes, and a slender figure. She stands a mere 5'5", weighs about 115 lbs, and probably has the smallest waist anyone has ever seen. To top it off, she is apparently an esper talent, and uses her abilities to act as the Phenomena Department's secretary and head of data entry and analysis.

Due to Michael's small size and difficulty with strong light (as an albino, she sunburns easily, and must wear sunglasses virtually everywhere), field agent activities are out of the question. Instead, she uses her incredible information processing capabilities where they are most useful—in the office. Michael apparently never gets lost, always knows what time it is, can do complex mathematics in her head, can read volumes of information at high speed, and can retain anything she has read with almost perfect recall. To top it off, she has perfect ambidexterity, allowing her to perform tasks (such as writing) with either her right or left hand with ease.

Michael is quiet, with a sly sense of humor. She tends to keep to herself, mostly due to her research and physical limitations rather than any dislike for her fellow agents.

Natasha Weischlange - Natasha is a licensed magician, complete with a degree from Berkley. She lives in Ellicott City, where she runs an occult book store and curio shop. She also has a side business as a stage magician. Natasha is 25 years old, and stands a well-endowed 5'10", with long legs, slim hips and a narrow waist. She has bright blue eyes, very pale skin, and her raven-black hair falls in a great wave down her back, ending somewhere near her knees.

Normally, Natasha dresses in business attire, such as dress shirt, tie, suit jacket and skirt. When actively engaged in spell casting or other rituals, she tends to dress in more archaic dress, usually quasi-medieval clothing. As a stage magician, Natasha wears a woman's tuxedo, with a long-tailed coat, and fishnet stockings.

Although not a field agent, Natasha does extensive consulting work for the department, and has been called in to provide sorcerous fire support on certain missions.

Jay and Kei - Agents Jay and Kei are with the Federal Bureau of Paranormal Investigation. Although they normally work the American Southwest, they have been encountered by agents of the Phenomenda Department in and around Washington D.C.

The pair are very capable, and the Department tries to maintain neutral, if not cordial relations with them (and any other FBPI) agents. The rationial for this is two fold. The first is that the FBPI does the same work as the Department, and that work can be very dangerous. The second is that the Department would rather not antogonzie a Government agency, especially one that takes such a deep and abiding interest in exactly what it is the Department does.

Jay stands close to six feet in height, with broad shoulders and a fairly muscular build. Although visually he is starting to look his age (which is close to 40), Jay wears his black hair in a highly unregulation ponytail, and smokes almost constantly.

Kei is only a bit shorter than her partner, with the lithe sort of figure one normally assigns to fitness and swimsuit models. Her skin is deeply tanned, and is in sharp contrast to her thick red hair. She is in her mid-twenties, and dresses in well-tailored suits.

For dress, the duo wear entirely black attire. Boots, pants, shirts, jackets, tie, gloves, sunglasses; everything is in basic black. The only spot of color is Kei's dark red ties.

As Of Yet Undeveloped Characters

Cook/Internal Security - The image I have for the Phenomena Department's cook is a tall, well-muscled and broad-shouldered black man. He's an older individual, in his forties, who shaves his head to hide the bald spot, but keeps a neat goatee. He's ex-military (SEAL probably), and also provides security for the complex (and teaches unarmed combat to employees).

Several Unnamed Researchers—Naturally, the Phenomena Department needs some researchers. I was thinking to develop at least three, but have yet to get beyond anything more that how many there would be. Of course, Player Characters may want to play field agents who are also researchers on the side, which will certainly make the Game Master's life easier. Still, there should be at least one NPC researcher who's sole purpose is to feed the PCs information from the GM.

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