New Game Pitch: Paranormal Investigations

Elevator Pitch: Wizarding World of Harry Potter meets Delta Green.

Before I begin, Knight Models (who make the Batman Miniatures Game) have been quietly putting out some really amazing Harry Potter miniatures for their Harry Potter Miniatures Adventure game. These guys all look amazing. You can find more here:

Just looking at these guys and you can feel yourself getting inspired. They look amazing. It got me to thinking about how I’d love to run a game where you’re a character like an Auror. So here’s how I’d do it:

Inspiration

First, I’d start by collecting source material.

  • Harry Potter is an obvious choice. Though I’d focus more on the adult themes and the world outside of Hogwarts.
  • Dresden Files is another great source. This series presents a world with not just wizards, but also vampires, werewolves, and fey.
  • The Magicians is one of my Wife and I’s favorite shows on TV. This series presents us with dragons, gods, and worlds between worlds.
  • Finally, Delta Green is an amazingly flavorful RPG. You’re agents who are trying to protect the world from Eldritch Horrors

Setting

Here’s a problem: Magical Creatures and Cellphones. If the goal is to have the normal world blissfully unaware of the magical world then cellphones are a huge problem. Vampires fight this by being impossible or difficult to photograph. Dresden combats that by adversely affecting technology that comes near him because of his magical nature. I’d rather deal with it by setting our game earlier than the modern day.

I really enjoyed the setting of Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them. I felt like the roaring 20s was a good fit. Everything was a little grimy, a little shiny, and the costumes were on point. Thus I’d set my campaign in the 1920s with Jet Setting between London and New York/Chicago. There’s a lot of fun flavor you can add to a campaign in the 1920s like jazz music, old roadsters, and tommy guns.

What are Wizards?

The wizards in Harry Potter have a major flaw. They live in England but they are confused by modern contraptions? Mr. Weasely was obsessed with muggle inventions and found them to be fascinating. In a way these people are aliens. They don’t know what a phone is. I feel this is a bit silly.

I prefer the idea that you’re a person from this planet, who’s been living here, and is now realizing they have magical powers. You went to wizard school, went to wizard college. Now what? Magical talent is natural born. You either have it or you don’t. However, talent can only take you so far. That’s why you need training.

Wizards are rare. They only 1% of the population. In the US that means a million people in 1920. There is the Magician’s Law which demands that wizards keep magic out of sight of mortals. Natural Disasters and other horrible calamities are caused by rogue magicians.

The FBI

The FBI is founded in 1908. J. Edgar Hoover takes lead of the FBI in 1924. He creates the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory. He’s also a magician and creates a secret division of wizard FBI agents called Paranormal Investigative Division. The PID operates in the shadows and is made up of 200 field agents. Their office is located in a hidden sub-level of the FBI headquarters. Everyone thinks these guys are just normal agents. They carry badges, guns, and wands.

Investigations

The Magicians of the FBI are investigating crimes committed with magic. There isn’t a subset of laws for magic. Stealing money, fraud, and murder are still illegal even if you use magic to do it. The difference is that local law enforcement and FBI agents aren’t equipped to handle these problems.

The investigators are dealing with more than just murderous mages. There’s all manner of magical creatures that leak out into our world and need to be handled.

Mythology not Mythos

The one thing I would do with this is keep the Cthulhu mythos out of it. Instead I’d turn to mythology and folklore, with the idea being that they all have a kernel of truth in them. Summoning a dragon to burn Chicago down is just as scary as a great old one.

Ruleset

I’d want something that has some lethality to it. You’re meddling with forces you do not understand. I also want to create really interesting quirky characters. Something where you have a handful of spells that you are very familiar with and are slinging around left and right. I’d probably base it on Delta Green or Gumshoe. It would be different than DnD.

Other Time Periods

There’s a lot you can do with this idea. Halfway through writing this article I almost deleted half of it to change it to CIA magicians vs. KGB magicians during the Cold War. A World War II pulp adventure game would be really fun too. Sort of like the opening sequence of the original Hellboy film.

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