Greetings and welcome to the second edition of the Phenomena Department. I realize now that the initial attempt to run a Phenomena Department game failed for various reasons. The most important was a lack of communication between the Game Master (me) and the Players (you). This document is an attempt to correct that. In it I will try and detail more than just the game mechanics for the setting, but the actual setting itself, including a bit of history and social life. Hopefully the players will feel more comfortable with the campaign and the genre once I am done.

Note, this outline presumes that the reader has already seen the original Phenomena Department article (found online at: This material adds and expands on said article, and for the purposes of the upcoming campaign, what is written here supersedes any points of potential conflict found in the original article.

How to use This Book
The purpose of the Campaign Outline is to give those Players unfamiliar with the world I am presenting (and that's just about everyone) a better feel for the setting and how I hope it will operate. If while reading this you have any questions or comment, please don't hesitate to contact me (at

Designer's Notes The Phenomena Department is my attempt to run a campaign in the anime genre of "modern day occult/supernatural adventure." It strikes me as a fun genre within which to work, as it takes a setting we all know (the here and now) and adds in the darker, hidden elements of magicians and monsters (much like Buffy, Angel, and even Kolchak, the Night Stalker.). Naturally, this being anime, I get a bigger special effects budget than Buffy.

One thing that I ask is that no one hears the word "anime" and instantly think "ick, prepubescent big-eyed lesbian school girls in sailor suits piloting giant robots." This will be nothing like that.


The Phenomena Department campaign will detail the adventures a group of field agents that work for the Phenomena Department itself. The team's goal is to investigate the unknown. The unknown in this case is defined as a variety of paranormal, supernatural, and cryptozoological entities, threats, and occurrences. The aim of the Player Characters is to attempt to document, understand, record, and if needed, combat these events.

The World
The world in which the game is set is the world we (the players) live. It is 2002, George Bush is president, and the Yankees have just lost the World Series (I'm unsure if the events of 9/11 have occurred, in this game, probably not). The major difference is the presence of documentable paranormal and supernatural powers (commonly called magic and/or extrasensory perception).

The History
The history of the game world is identical to that of the "real" world. The Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776, the Wright Brothers first flew in 1903, World War II was from 1939 to 1945, man walked on the moon in 1969, etc. The difference here is that there are many minor events have been moved from the realm of folk tale to that of fact (encounters with ghosts, sightings of strange creatures, accounts of magical occurrences and events, etc.). However, there are certain major historical events that will be mentioned that have no correlation to the real world (the establishment of various magical colleges and the like for example).

The Cultures
Although the world is basically the same, there is a whole new subculture waiting to be discovered and examined. It is the world of the supernatural and the occult. From magicians to monsters, this subculture reaches across international boundaries to encompass the world. Parts of it are well-known and accessible (such as the existence and activities of magicians), while others are highly secretive (the private lives of vampires and ghouls for example).


Tone and Style
My desire is to run a game that captures the pacing of many anime, and concentrate more on the adventure aspect than on the investigative aspect. I am not a good writer of mysteries and hope to be able to jump the plot to flash points and gloss over what happens in-between. Thus, no locked room mysteries or whodunits. However, searching haunted houses for unknown inhabitants or tracking something through the back alleys of a city can and will happen.

Over all, the tone of the game will be one of seriousness. I don't intend to run episodes of comedy or silliness (although as the old Silent Möbius Zeta game shows, the PCs will be more than happy to fill in the humor aspect). This I don't mind, and even encourage. However, I don't want any "Hee-hee Ha-ha Ho-ho" characters as PCs.

The game itself is based on what many may call "horror" anime, and I will admit that it will have horror aspects in it (corpses, blood, some gore, things with tentacles). However, this isn't Call of Cthulhu where the PCs can't hurt most of what they encounter and know that eventually they will loose their mind. In the Phenomena Department you are an agent because you can affect supernatural nightmares and can kill and/or stop them.

Story Types
See above. In general, the stories will focus around the PCs responding to a situation somewhere and dealing with it. In some ways one can liken the game to a superhero campaign. Instead of responding to a crime being committed, the PCs respond to a monster sighting (or are asked to look into a weird event). In addition, if the PCs wish, the game can be more like a soap opera with love, romance, death, betrayal and so on, played out on a canvas of magic, sorcery, ESP, and ghosts.

Campaign Rules
The Campaign will use the standard HERO System rules. I will use the Hit Location Rules, as well as the Impairment and Disabling Rules, but I will not use the rules for Bleeding (yes, th game will be dangerous). Characters will be 150 points base, with totals around 250 to 300 points (I'm hoping for more concept-driven characters, not just point driven characters). Most characters will have (or should have) Normal Characteristic Maxima, although different powers and special effects can get around this (Aid and "Only in Hero Form" for example).

New Campaign 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. Don't worry about what all of this means, I'll explain it if the concept requires it.


The most important aspect of character creation would be one of concepts first. Not fully written up characters, but ideas that can looked at, talked about, and developed.

When creating characters for the campaign, I'd like the players to keep several points in mind.

1) The number of players will be between three and five . Three and five are significant numbers in most Asian philosophies (much like four, seven, and thirteen in the West). Five is of special significance, for example, there are five Asian elements (earth, metal, water, wood, and fire) and five directions (north, south, east, west, center [Keep in mind that China is translates literally to "Chong Gou;" "the Center Country". China is also known as "The Middle Kingdom"]). In Japan five is the number of team members in their "sentai" (live action) shows, best demonstrated by the Americanized Mighty Morphing Power Rangers.

In an effort to capture some of this flavor, and due to the fact that I feel most comfortable with three to five players, I'll be running with that number of players.

2) In order to further capture the flavor of the source material (i.e. modern occult/supernatural anime and manga), players should consider using some of the common conventions of the medium. Specifically, I am referring to hair color and personality. As anime is a visual medium, a character's personality is often obvious from their appearance. Thus, in many group shows, one has the following: the hero of the show will have dark hair (black or blue is common) or dark green hair; the hot-tempered fighter is red-haired (and has dark or tanned skin); the mystic/intellectual has purple/lavender hair (and often wears glasses); the mechanic/sleuths have brown or blond(e) hair. Note, that as far as I can tell, hair color does not always determine nationality, although a lot of Americans are blond-haired (and Japanese characters tend to be black or brown-haired).

For those who are interested, the anime Silent Möbius breaks down the main cast with the following combinations: Katsumi Liqueur (main character/magician) has blue-black hair, Kiddy Phenil (cyborg/fighter/warrior) has dark skin and reddish hair, Lebia Maverlick (cybersleuth/American) has blonde hair, Nami Yamagumo (Shinto priestess/mystic) has purplish hair, and Yuki Saiko (esper) has brown hair.

3) Players should not feel restricted to the conventions listed in item 2, but should feel free to adapt unconventional hair colors and the like for their characters. Note, however, that white hair often signifies a strong supernatural element in a character, and should be reserved for those with unusual parentage or who have been touched by the supernatural in some way. The Hong Kong action film The Bride With White Hair demonstrates this perfectly. When the bride of the title snaps and is pushed over the edge by her enemies, her transformation into an avenging agent is marked by her hair going dead white.

4) The cast should have at least one young/new/naive monster hunter. Conventions state that this is usually a (flighty) girl aged 16-18 and armed with a whacking big-assed sword (or other weapon), but that's not a requirement. However, the cast should have one leader type (impossible to predict though), one hot-tempered/impulsive warrior, one neophyte, and one experienced hand (the voice of reason). Note that players can combine these elements if they wish.

5) I'd like to see a mix of character types. By this I mean a variety of abilities and powers. I don't want all magicians (unless everyone has different styles of magic) or all espers (if that's the case, I'll run Esper High School or something...). There should be no more than one character who's main focus is skill with guns. Everyone else should have some form of paranormal powers.

6) As an addition to Note 5, the Phenomena Department will see a reduction in scale. It will still have all the buildings and the grounds, but there will be no additional Non-Player Characters beyond the ones that I describe in the initial sourcebook. There will be no NPC cooks, researchers, technicians or anyone else. If the Players want someone to look after the artifacts then one of the PCs should take that job. The same goes for gadget-building technicians and the like. These should be Player Characters. I realize now that I ran out of steam after coming up with the initial crew of Phenomena Department NPCs and the ones that came later with uninspired in the extreme.

The Phenomena Department NPCs will be:

Hero Motivations
Heroes in this genre come in all kinds, and (naturally) have all sorts of reasons for doing what they do. A few suggestions:

Destiny: The hero, since birth, has been destined for great things. This is the origin of characters like Katsumi Liqueur (Silent Möbius) or Yohko Manno (Devil Hunter Yohko), who learn the truth about themselves and their parents and discover great things are expected of them. In Katsumi's case, it was her talent for magic (and the fact her parents were way powerful magicians [yes, this is also the origin for Harry Potter]). For Yohko, it was discovering she is the 108th in a long line of "devil" hunters. This is hard to pull off in-game without some pre-game understandings between the GM and the player.

Greed: There is money to be made fighting monsters. This is the motivation behind characters in Ghost Sweeper Mikami, Phantom Quest Corp, or Geobreeders. In Mikami's case she charges outrageous prices because the material components for her magic items cost so much. In Phantom Quest Corp and Geobreeders the characters belong to a for-profit company and are trying to make ends meet. Greedy characters usually never get rich off of their line of business, and often end up getting suckered into a lot of free work.

Trained: The character has been brought up since day one surrounded by the supernatural. Nami Yamagumo (Silent Möbius) is a perfect example of this character. She is a Shinto priestess, and has been trained in various mystical Shinto rituals while growing up. This is also the origin for most martial artist characters. Characters with this motivation tend to be fairly serious and businesslike with a strong sense of tradition.

Unwanted and/or Outcast: The character doesn't fit in normal society. The may be an artificial creation (Rei Ayanami the clone from Neon Genesis Evangelion), or they may be a supernatural creature (Okinu the ghost from Ghost Sweeper Mikami), or they may simply feel unfit to be around "normal" humans (Kiddy Phenil the cyborg from Silent Möbius). Characters like this are usually lonely and isolated. They are part of the team as it is the only place they feel at home, or because they feel they have no other choice.

Hero Templates & Package Deals
The original Phenomena Department article described a number of character types, explained why the Department might contact or recruit each one, and gave some examples of characters of that type, but never actually described how the character should be played or would look in action. Here, I will attempt to correct that.

Espers: The word "esper" is derived from the term "ESP (extrasensory perception). It is a common on in anime, and refers to anyone who has what we normally call mentalists, psychers, psychics, or psionics. In general, most anime espers are psychokinetics, meaning they utilize telekinesis to wreck havoc on the world. And wreck havoc they do. Anime espers can be seen flying, stopping incoming tank shells, toppling buildings, teleporting to the moon, and devastating entire cities. They are one of the big guns of the anime world, and can be quite frightening in their power (Espers are popular as examples of the evolution of man, a theme common in anime due to the influences of Asian philosophy dealing with the constant advancement of the human spirit and consciousness—which is deeply entwined with Buddhist teachings).

Phenomena Department espers won't be quite this powerful. They should be able to fly, lift things with their minds (like a car), stop a bullet, and hurl force bolts that can punch through walls. They will, however, look much like any other anime esper when in action. This means that their psychokinetic powers don't have any direct visual effects. No blue beams of light from their eyes, no bolts of energy from their finger tips, none of that. Indirect visual effects are a different matter. Espers powering up for a fight tend to generate localized windstorms at their feet, crack concrete, blow out windows, and put deep furrows in the ground that follow the trail of their force blasts. Two espers fighting will rearrange the landscape mighty quick.

What this means from a game mechanics point of view depends on when 5th Edition comes out. I may actually use the version of 5th I have to develop Side Effects suitable for the game and not worry about the exact numbers until later. Basically, I want cool visual effects and concepts, not hard numbers.

Esper House Rules—A quick run down of esper-specific game rules are as follows:

  1. All esper powers have Invisible Power Effects: Sight as a +0 Advantage. This is counterbalanced by the obvious visual side effects described above (which can become a full Side Effect Limitation if great enough).
  2. Telekinesis costs 1 point per point of STR. However, it cannot be used to "punch," for that you need Energy Blast.
  3. Recommended Limitations for esper powers include Concentrate, Extra Time, Increased Endurance, and Side Effects (other than what has been described).
Players aren't restricted to the esper character type described here. The esper talents described in the original Phenomena Department world book are acceptable as well (i.e. pyrokinesis, "far-seeing," dowsing, electromagnetic fields, etc.).

Ex-Government Agent/Ex-Law Enforcement/Ex-Military: Depending on the anime, these characters tend to be either bumbling fools, or suave and sophisticated operators. As this is meant to be a serious game, I recommend the latter type of character. As a rule, these characters do not have any paranormal powers, but survive via their wits, quick feet, and skill with their fists and/or guns. The characters can be either or male or female and tend to dress in suits, carry a whopping big gun (which often does them no good), and are masters of hand-to-hand combat. In some cases, the ex-agent does have paranormal powers, but they try not to use them or don't let on that they have them for a while.

The ex-agents role in the campaign would probably be one of contacts and somewhat unusual skills. They might know people that no one else would (or could know), or be knowledgeable about subjects that no one else has been trained in (examples include demolitions, the use of certain firearms, wiretapping, bugging, piloting skills, etc.).

Magicians: Magicians are one of the other big guns of the anime world. They range in power from being barely able to cast a flight spell, to being able to wipe out an entire city. Campaign magicians should fall somewhere in between.

Most anime magicians are of the "hermetic" type described in the original sourcebook. This means that they call upon angels and elemental spirits to lend them the energy needed to cast a spell. Players shouldn't feel confined to just that one archetype however. A anime magician could be a hermetic mage, or a Shinto priestess, or a Buddhist Bukkyo, a Vodun "witchdoctor", a shaman, an alchemist, or even someone who uses an enchanted artifact or weapon. Players are encouraged to look into alternative or differing styles of magic (but try for some attempt at historical documentation, please).

As with espers, anime magicians tends to have obvious side effects to their spells, like blasts of light or wind, or concentrations of summoned energy that build before being released. Almost all magic requires Incantations and Gestures, and backfires are common (at least in comedic shows). As with espers, 5th Edition will allow for great flexibility with how one builds magical characters and spells, and I may use material adapated from my preview copy.

Magician House Rules—A quick run down of magician-specific game rules are as follows:

Laguna Blade
  1. Most anime magicians have cool names and incantations for their spells. Players should try to do the same. You don't have to yell out said names every time you fire off a spell (this isn't that kind of anime), but it's does sound cool to announce your hitting your opponent with "The Door of Heavenly Light" than to just announce "Energy Blast" (and hey, you might get some bonus experience points out of it!).
  2. Many anime magicians are specialists, and concentrate on specific areas of expertise. For example, Dark Schneider, from the series "Bastard!!" states that he's a master of fire and lightning, and uses spells with these sorts of special effects. Lina Inverse, from "Slayers" is a master of "black" magic, which in her case means she's really good at blowing things up. Fireballs, lightning blasts, eruptions of earth and stone, all that sort of thing. Several characters in "3x3 Eyes" specialize in "beast magic," which consists of summoning creatures to perform tasks for you. Players should consider specializing in a specific area of magic, as opposed to the typical D&D master of everything.
  3. When creating spells, Players should think how they look when cast. One of the visually cool bits in the manga "Silent Möbius" is seeing how spells manifest. A water blast that looks like a dragon, a barrier made from an ever-expanding sheet of paper, flying birds and animals that detonate on impact, and so on. Once again, this doesn't exactly have much effect on game play, but it looks and sounds good.
  4. Recommended Limitations for anime magicians include: Concentrate, Extra Time, Incantations, Increased Endurance, Gestures, Requires a Skill Roll, and Side Effects.

Supernatural Monster Hunters: These characters are (usually) a mix of magician and wuxia hero (see below). Although not true spell casters, they often are equipped with a few magical tricks that allow them to fight ghosts, spirits, demons, or vampires. Usually an enchanted monster-killing weapon in added to the mix (swords and spears are common).

A supernatural monster hunter is normally a hand-to-hand fighter, skilled in some form of martial art and armed with some creature-specific magic. As with wuxia heroes they are excellent athletes, and can leap about the landscape with the best of them. Even if they don't carry an enchanted weapon, they usually are armed with something (gun, knife, sword, chain-whip... you get the idea).

A run down of several supernatural monster hunters from various sources is as follows:

Supernatural Monster Hunter House Rules—A quick run down of supernatural monster hunter specific game rules are as follows:

  1. Don't be too specific in what you hunt. Just hunting vampires will result in a character who has little to do most of the time. "Ghosts" or "supernatural creatures" are better, broader definitions that will apply in far more encounters than something like "ghouls" or "vampires."
  2. If you carry a weapon, make sure it has a name and maybe a bit of history. Names like "The Golden Naginata." "The Sword of the White Tiger," "The Dagger of the Kirin," or the "Red Dragon Spirit Capture Star Sword" are just fine. And don't worry if the name doesn't quite sound right in English... this is a translation from Japanese after all.

Supernatural Monsters: This is a catch-all category for those characters who aren't exactly human. Technically Kiddy Phenil, the cyborg from "Silent Möbius" falls into this category as she's 70% mechanical. In my campaign, supernatural monsters will be things like werewolves, ghosts, vampires, and assorted "spirit creatures" (a kitsune, for example). Note that being a supernatural monster doesn't have to be the end-all and be-all of your character. It is quite possible to mix and match character types. For example one could be a vampire (or half-vampire) and hunt other vampires (the supernatural monster/monster hunter), or be an ex-agent/werewolf.

Due to the nature of the game and the genre, it is impossible to pigeonhole the supernatural monster character into any set group of advantages or limitations. Each one will have to be approached on a case-by-case basis. Players should discuss their ideas with the GM in order so that both sides can get an idea for what the other wants. Also, the GM may have specific requirements for certain supernatural monsters.

Note that the supernatural monster character may be expensive, and might be more points than any other character type. Hopefully, this won't prove to be an unbalanced problem as these points will be spent on "effects" powers and not those that directly affect combat and/or game play. In addition, supernatural monsters usually have specific disadvantages relating to their "monster" status and nature.

A run down of several supernatural monsters from various sources is as follows:

Female Samurai

Wuxia Hero: A "wuxia hero" are characters who are masters of the martial arts. This means that they are more than just skilled hand-to-hand combatants or have a "black belt" in their art. Wuxia heroes are those that have been trained in various unusual and obscure martial arts techniques that go far behind merely hitting someone with your hands and feet. These techniques tend to be almost mystical in nature, and are often closely guarded secrets. Typical techniques would allow the practitioner to leap immense distances, climb sheer surfaces, run across the very tips of blades of grass, or balance on extremely thin or narrow objects.

A wuxia hero character can be either male or female, and must know some form of martial arts (and this art must be specified, a "generic" listing of maneuvers won't do). Giving the style the character knows a highly specific name (such as "Falling Rain School of Fencing") is desired, as is assigning poetic and/or descriptive names to each maneuver (see the GM for assistance in this regard). They tend to be at the peak of human perfection (well, physically anyway), and are often very strong, fast, durable, and so on.

Characters like this are the fringe of the magician character type. What they do looks impossible, and is usually the result of intense and long-term training. The wuxia heroes say their abilities come from their mastery of their chi (a.k.a. inner energies), but to everyone else it looks like some sort of mystical or esper power. For the purposes of the campaign, these powers are probably magical in nature, even if no one really realizes it.

Wuxia Hero House Rules—A quick run down of wuxia hero specific game rules are as follows:

  1. There are no specific wuxia hero powers. Players interested in this character type should speak to me and present ideas of what they would like to do and how they'd like to do it, we can go from there.
  2. Please be aware that the typical anime martial artist, who often goes around hurling energy blasts and such, is a product of the video fighting game industry. Phenomena Department characters are more subtle, more like what one sees in a lot of Hong Kong cinema instead. That said, PD martial artists are still capable of plenty of strange stuff.
  3. Don't be afraid to mix and match. One can easily combine the wuxia hero character with other character types, just don't go overboard (no ex-FBI agent-kung fu fighting-telekinetic-magicians, please).

Hero Backgrounds
Characters can come from almost any background they can imagine. However, I will not allow the following backgrounds/origins: aliens, extradimensional travelers, gods, mutants, or time travelers. Characters can have strong supernatural backgrounds (fairy blood, son or daughter of the Dragon King, descendent of a line of lycanthropes, etc...).

Any Player submitting a finalized character should (and I emphasis this request), should submit the following data:
Background/History: Just what it says. The character's origin in brief.
Personality/Motivation: Who you are, what you're like, what drives you.
Quote: Not required.
Powers/Tactics: What do your powers look like, any comments on how the characters uses them in a fight.
Appearance: What you look like and how you dress.
Designer's Notes: Anything else you'd like to tell me.

I intend to supply a page or two of background data to each player, detailing specific information that each person knows about the world around them. Inability or unwillingness to provide the data asked for will hamper my ability to decide how your character fits into the game, and what to do with them.

How Heroes Fit In
The heroes have many options for how they have become part of the Phenomena Department. They could have been recruited (a good choice of espers and magicians), or found a refuge there (good for supernatural monsters), or sent there specifically (popular option for monster hunters and wuxia heroes). The characters will be field agents, and find themselves involved in the world of the supernatural, dealing with evil magicians, monsters, other agencies, and occult conspiracies.


Story Background
As stated, the characters represent the field agents for the Phenomena Department. They go out and face the unknown and either discover it, fight it, destroy it, or catalog it (or some combination thereof). The characters live in a world where magic is an acknowledged fact, and where espers, ghosts, and even fairies are considered to be more than just tabloid fodder and the realm of crackpots.

Of course, the characters will discover during the course of the game that there is a lot more to the world then they originally realized. That the Phenomena Department is (or may be) bigger than they thought, that there are great evils out there laying hidden beneath the surface of humanity, that the world is far stranger than they ever thought possible.

The primary organization in the game is (naturally) the Phenomena Department itself. It is as described in the original sourcebook (see above for the URL), with one large office and many smaller ones around the world. This latter fact may or may not come as a surprise to the PCs depending on their character origin and background.

There are, of course, other groups out there. The PC's biggest concern (and probably "rival") would be the FBPI—the Federal Bureau of Paranormal Investigation—the Fed's answer to the "ghost problem." The FBPI is where the Feds tend to dump everyone and anyone who is too good an agent to simply fire, but too whacko to be allowed to work and play with others. The FBPI meanwhile, takes a bit of pride in their maverick reputation, and tend to play the part of the "Men in Black" to the hilt, just to bug everyone else. Most FBPI agents are good people, and do their best, but the Bureau is known for a high mortality rate among its agents.

Currently, no other groups have been defined, mainly as few of them have any degree of strong organization (or are well-hidden from the public eye). Those that do would be those agencies that operate in other countries, performing the same duties as the Phenomena Department and the FBPI. Naturally, Player created groups can be included into the mix, especially those needed for a character origin.

Magic Circle

The majority of the people in the game are just that, people. They are the people we the Players pass in the "real world" everyday. They behave like we'd expect them to behave. They wake up, go to work or school, come home, eat, watch TV, read, surf the 'net, sleep. They are the people we see everyday, and their life in this alternate world isn't all that different. Magic and espers may exist, but it hasn't impacted their life to that great extent (there are no spells to clean one's room for sale at the local hardware store, for example).

There are, however, a small percentage of people out there who are... different. These are people one normally never sees, and for good reason. They are ghosts, lycanthropes, fairies, ghouls, vampires, and supernatural spirits of all kinds. They haunt the night and the dark, and tend to avoid men... unless they look at man as just another food source. Some look just like you and I, but that is only a mask, a false face they have put up to move around in our world. This doesn't mean they are malevolent to humanity, just... different.

Of course. not all of the "regular" people are all that regular either. Some are magicians, some are espers, and some seem to be a mixture of both. They tend to have the same desires and needs as everyone else, and even the same lifestyles. The difference is usually in their occupations and the social circles they associate with.

Existing side-by-side with the world that everyone is familiar with is a world that is more hidden and harder to find.

Society & Politics




I mention a lot of different anime/manga series in the course of talking about the Phenomena Department. In this section I describe the series in a bit more detail, and how they relate to the campaign I'd like to run.

3x3 Eyes (anime, manga—drama) A present-day supernatural thriller in which high school student Yakumo Fuji is caught up in a struggle between the last of the ancient race of non-human Sanjiyan Unkara. Yakumo is involved after encountering the Sanjiyan Pai, who transforms him into her servant, which means Yakumo is immortal and virtually unkillabe. The series features a lot of bizarre magic and monsters, most of which draw upon Tibetan influences.

Magic in 3x3 Eyes is mostly hidden from the world at large, and the vast majority of the population is unaware of the existence of the supernatural.

Blade of the Immortal (manga—drama) Period samurai drama that occurs in circa 1780's Japan. Manji, the hero of the story, has been infected with the "holy blood worms" which render him nearly (but not totally) impossible to kill (not to mention unaging and immortal). His mission is to kill 1000 evil men to make up for the 100 good men he'd slain previously.

There are a very large number of outlandish and bizarre characters in the series, and most people take it all in stride. It is not our Japan, but a Japan, that has many differences from the real world. There is no magic, but there are very strange martial techniques and tricks.

Blue Sonnet (anime—drama) Apparent very-near-future two volume series in which an evil organization seeks power via the construction of unstoppable cyborg-espers. Espers seem to be recognized as having documentable power, and we see espers smash tanks, teleport, and shatter buildings. The scale is very much in the superheroic range, in that the characters can toss jeeps, stop cannon shells, and run faster than a motorcycle.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series—comedic drama) I'm fairly sure you're all familiar with this show. Certainly more than I am.

Devil Hunter Yohko (anime—comedy) Modern day tale of a young girl who is told she's the next devil (monster) hunter in the family. Although the monsters are serious business, most of the episodes are played for laughs, especially as Yohko is long on chasing dreamy boys and short on planning. Yohko herself undergoes an almost Captain Marvelish transformation from high school student to devil hunter in a slinky tight red dress. She's armed with a "soul sword" which is quite capable of disposing of spirits.

Magic is hidden in the series (at least, few people know about or acknowledge it). Yohko gains a spear-carrying sidekick along the way, and meets her identical (evil) twin, who uses a whip.

Domu (manga—drama) Winner of Japan's top award for science fiction (first comic to do so), Domu describes a conflict in an apartment complex between an old man and a very young girl. The espers clash in a battle of wills that sees an entire building reduced to rubble. Powers exhibited include teleportation, telepathy, mind control, telekinesis, and flight. Esper powers are apparently very rare, and known only to those that actually possess them. This series, and the manga/anime Akira, helped to define the look of espers in my campaign.

Doomed Megalopolis (anime—drama) Taking place circa 1923, this series describes a battle between the sorcerer Kato and a number of people in Tokyo. Kato's desire is to raise an avenging spirit buried below Tokyo and lay the city to waste. He is opposed by a scattering of Shinto priests, priestesses, and everyday citizens. Magic in the series is powerful, and capable of some truly scary effects (Kato looks to cause the great Kanto earthquake of 1923). Magic is also accepted as a fact, although not openly advertised.

Geobreeders (anime, manga—comedy) The employees of Kagura Security versus the phantom cats. Phantom cats are bizarre supernatural beings that can appear as solid cats or semi-substantial humans. In either form they are capable of manipulating electromagnetic fields to cause all sorts of trouble. Although technically a comedy (mainly due to the antics of the heroes, who act like total lunatics one and all) the series also delves into massive violence as the phantom cats slaughter people by the subway car (literally).

The cast consists of five women and one man, which is a switch from the typical five-man team (four-five guys and one girl). They are: the company president, who directs operations and deals with the cats with a crossbow; the gun-nut who carries a scary assortment of firearms (and this is in gun-control conscious Japan); the accountant, who is also an expert in hand-to-hand combat; the computer operator, who is hell-on-rollerblades and handy with a hurled knife (or two... or three); and finally, the driver, who's job it is to maintain the vehicles and drive (oh, and bum smokes from everyone else). The lone guy is the hero (of sorts) of the story. He keeps meaning to quit this crazy job, but never gets around to it.

Interestingly enough, a lot of people seem to know all about the phantom cats, but this knowledge seems restricted mainly to the government and the military.

Ghost Sweeper Mikami (anime, manga, TV series—comedy) Series set in modern Tokyo. Mikami is a "ghost sweeper," which means she banishes spirits for a fee. As Japan is just loaded with such things, she gets lots of business. Spirits are pretty much accepted as fact in the series, and Mikami is not alone in her work, she has competition. Magic is also accepted without question, and Mikami buys a lot of her gear from suppliers (who charge outrageous prices).

The cast consists of: Mikami, who uses a variety of magic weapons and artifacts (and a few spells); a female ghost, who can fly, become insubstantial, and hurl what looks like fire; and Mikami's totally useless (and lecherous) sidekick. Later she acquires a Catholic priest, who is adept at... uhm... well, I'm not sure, he opens the Bible, starts chanting in latin and blasts ghosts, and a vampire who lives off of vegetable juice.

Magician's Club (anime, TV series—comedy) A modern day or near-future series (can't tell) in which Earth has been "invaded" by mysterious aliens. The magician's club of a Japanese high school decides to investigate, leading to all sorts of hi-jinks. Apparently, magic is an accepted fact, as there is a high school activity club devoted to it. However, no one seems to think much of the club's members.

The cast is three girls and two guys. Everyone wears color-coded uniforms, ponchos, and tall pointed hats. They also ride brooms while flying and cast spells with goofy-looking wands. The captain of the club is a geeky-looking boy with glasses, who pines after several girl students, while dealing with the unwanted attentions of the other guy in the club—who is tall, handsome, with long hair and a slim physique... and also happens to be gay.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (anime, manga, TV series—drama) In the year 2014 the Earth is invaded by alien invaders code-named Angels. Opposing them is the worldwide organization NERV (a division of sorts of the UN). The Angels are fought with the aid of gigantic (140-160 meter tall) robots code-named Evangelions. These "EVAs" are piloted by a group of 14 year-old children.

The focal point of the series is about people and how they interact with each other under stress. It also examines how people develop emotionally and why, and how they try to hide their feelings to avoid rejection and heartache.

Oh, My Goddess! (anime, manga—comedy) Modern day series in which a boy dials the wrong number and ends up with a goddess for a girlfriend. Whacky hi-jinks ensue. Magic is unknown to the populace at large, and the series reads very much like the TV series Bewitched or I Dream of Jeanie.

Phantom Quest Corp. (anime—comedy) Series set in modern day Tokyo in which the employees of Yuugen Kaisha (a.k.a. The Phantom Quest Corp.) deal with supernatural threats of all kinds (vampires, ghosts, evil spirits, etc.). It is hard to say how the world at large views magic and the like, as we usually see only the employees and the monsters they fight. However, one of the cast members is a young pyrokinetic apparently "on-loan" from a local research center.

The cast consists of: the company president, who uses an enchanted sword, spirit wards, and the occasional exploding earring; a teen-aged pyrokinetic capable of incinerating a good-sized room in a single shot; a Shinto priest; a rumpled cop, and a seer who can predict the future (somewhat).

Planetary (comic—drama) This American comic takes place in the Stormwatch superhero universe, and the field agents of the Planetary Corporation are superhumans themselves. Their job is to investigate the hidden history of the 20th Century. To find out everything the hidden masters want kept secret. To make the world a better place by opposing those that oppress us in do it in such a way that we don't even realize it. Heavy on the conspiracy and black ops, with a dash of mass destruction from time to time. At times very dark, although the more our heroes uncover, the better the world becomes.

The cast has three main characters, and a number of secondary ones (many of who are pastiches of popular superheroes of other companies). The main three are: the leader of the team, who can control and create snow, ice, and frost; the female "brick" who is super-strong, invulnerable, fast, and can see objects clearly at great distances; and a man who can manipulate information and electronics (it's a little hard to explain...).

Sepharic Feather (manga—drama) Futuristic series in which various factions fight over the possession of an alien "Emblem Seed" (which I presume is a nano-factory). The series features the usual mix of robots, high-technology, enhanced and augmented humans, and powerful espers. The latter are apparently recognized and accepted as a fact of life, with no specialstatus or attention.

Silent Möbius (anime, manga, TV series—drama) The Attacked Mystification Police versus Lovecraftian monsters from the extra-dimensional world of Nemesis. Personally I love this series, and it was a huge influence on my desire to run a game within this genre. Silent Möbius has everything—life, death, love, hate, personal sacrifice, fighting, magic, monsters...

In the series, magic is apparently widely known and acknowledged, and prominent magicians are found the world over (at least based on information given in the prequel). Magic is popular enough to warrant a televised conference in 1992, and magic and technology are combined to create new devices (such as massive cyclotron used to open a dimensional gate). Magic is truly devastating in the series, and several buildings and airports suffer when magicians start slinging spells. The public, however, can't be allowed to know about the weird monsters and all, the the police do their best to keep them in the dark.

The cast consists of the following: Rally Cheyenne, a (half-) supernatural creature (her father was from Nemesis); Mana Isozaki, former cop and Buddhist sorceress; Katsumi Liqueur, mega-powerful magician; Kiddy Phenil, former cop and cyborg; Nami Yamagumo, Shinto priestess and wielder of an enchanted dagger; Yuki Saiko, esper; Lum Cheng, Chinese magician who commands earth, water, fire (and I presume wind) magic. Katsumi also bears a massive enchanted sword, while Lum has an enchanted spear. The power level hits the really high-end as well, considering that one of the villains destroys a 60+ story building in one shot.

Striker (anime, manga—drama) Modern day adventure series in which corporations race to recover ancient artifacts of incredible power. It has a superheroic power level, and mixes magic, psychic powers, and chi energy together with high technology. Sort of like James Bond meets Big Trouble in Little China.

The cast of heroes includes a young man in a armored suit (that increases his strength by a factor of 30), a werewolf, a witch of unknown age and origins, and a necromancer (which means she speaks to the dead). Other characters include a wuxia hero master of his chi, more guys in powered armor, and characters who use chemicals and cybernetics to gain their powers.

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