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strangesquad

Monsters exist, hiding in the shadows of our society. For centuries they’ve kept their existence a secret, appearing only in legends and myths but nothing stays hidden forever. The government is aware not only of them but those who would pervert the laws of physics and twist reality to suit their own ends.

Such entities are hunted and usually eliminated. Sometimes they are captured and offered a deal. In return for a stay of execution they can join the Strange Squad and use their inhuman abilities to aide the police force, both in ordinary and extraordinary crimes.

If they do well the conditions of their imprisonment are improved and if it is possible to rehabilitate them they will eventually be released. If they should attempt to escape then their squad mates are punished and if they are recaptured they will be immediately executed.

STRANGE SQUAD MEMBERS

Officially Strange Squad members are consultants to the police force. Unofficially well-behaved and human looking members may be allocated a police badge (with a falsified ID) so that they may carry out an investigation with the appearance of authority.

Several law enforcement officers work to organise and monitor Strange Squad members. They ensure that everyone is following the terms they agreed to, ensure the flow of information from one department to another and decided what police resources to allow them to access (whether this is classified information or equipment).

Strange Squad members are provided with training in various skills that will benefit them in the field. This range from self defence, to marksmanship to lectures on how to collect evidence at crime scenes.

They are still expected to work within the law, especially when dealing with non-supernatural beings. When an investigation involves supernatural creatures these rules are relaxed. There will be more questions asked if they kill a human serial killer than if they kill a vampire, no matter who has killed more people.

A well-behaved Strange Squad member might actually not notice that they don’t have their freedom. While they are still kept captive when not on an investigation their living conditions can be very pleasant with access to good food and home entertainment.

Those who push the limits placed upon them or break the rules will be reminded of their place in society. They will be placed in a high security facility for their kind or even isolation. Such prisons are frequently designed to neutralise inmates supernatural powers which can be unpleasant barrage of drugs and disorienting light and sound.

This is designed to condition Strange Squad members. Play by the rules and your life becomes much more pleasant, disobey and you will be punished.

CHARACTER CREATION

When creating a Strange Squad member you follow the select a character type (defining what type of supernatural being you are) or you just play a human character (if the games master allows this). You then spend investigative and general ability build points.

The number of investigative build points available depends on the number of players.

 

# of Players Investigative Build Points
2 32
3 24
4 22
5+ 20

No matter how many players there are you always have 60 general ability build points.

These build points can be spent on both normal and supernatural abilities, as long as you character type has access to them.

TRUST

The group spend a lot of time together and find themselves in intense situations. Knowing that you can rely on one another can be the difference between success and failure. This is represented by trust.

When you start the game you can either have 1 point of trust with everyone in the group or 2 points of trust in a specific character.

At the conclusion of each investigation you have the same choice, increase your trust with everyone by 1 or with 1 person for 2 points.

Trust points can be spent to add to investigative ability spends of general ability checks, as long as it in some way relates to the character you have trust with. Trust points can also be freely donated to other characters to help in their actions, as long as you can justify how you are helping them.

These trust points are finite and do not refresh.

The dark side of trust points is that they can be used against you. If you have trust in someone you suffer a negative modifier equal to your trust value with them if they attempt to betray you or otherwise act against you.

If you have a lot of trust in someone it is far easier for them to lie to your face because you’d have no reason to mistrust them or to defeat you in combat because you’ll be holding back and they won’t.

Of course why would another Strange Squad member want to lie or harm you?

ESCAPE

Strange Squad members are held against their will. Their living conditions might be pleasant enough for them to overlook this fact but it is none the less true. Eventually you may decide that your character wants to escape.

It is certainly possible to abuse the freedom you are given to engineer your escape, especially if you use the trust others have placed in you against them. This action should not be taken lightly as if you should escape your player character will be considered an NPC. They will now be free but entirely out of your control.

This might be a satisfactory end to their story and if you change your mind the character might always be recaptured and forced back into the Strange Squad. If you agree the games master could also have them return as an adversary for the remaining Strange Squad members.

RETIREMENT

If a Strange Squad does well enough they maybe freed from the Strange Squad. If possible they will be returned to society and if not they will be placed in a special facility where they are given as much freedom as possible (or at least the illusion of it).

Just as with escaping this will be the end of the characters story and so should only be taken if you wish to retire the character. This should be discussed with the games master who may set certain conditions before the character can bow out (allowing them to complete their character arc, tie up loose ends and earn their retirement).

You can always change your mind and reintroduce a retired player character. It could be that their taste of freedom didn’t work out like they planned and they did something bad enough for them to be sent back to the Strange Squad.

On a more pleasant note they could be brought in for a one-off adventure if their expertise were needed. This allows you to reminisce as a ‘special guest’ before returning to your new player character.

CHARACTER TYPES

Each character type has access to favoured abilities which cost half as much to purchase (so 1 point buys 2 ranks in the appropriate ability).

In addition each character type have abilities which are unique to supernatural beings. These are purchased normally due to their potential power.

All character types have access to the investigative ability Kin for their own type. Purchasing ranks in other races cost twice as much (so for 1 rank in another Kin they must pay 2 points).

VAMPIRE

You are blessed and cursed with eternal life, but only by feeding on the blood of others. Vampires possess a variety of abilities but the exact combination is unique to each vampire. They all share the same vulnerability to sunlight but other restrictions, such as an allergy to garlic or the inability to enter a home are pure fiction.

Vampires can be very old, having lived for centuries, or only recently infected. They appear exactly as they did at the moment they were turned into a vampire, never ageing. Some attempt to blend in, updating their style, while others cling on to the past in their dress and manner.

Typically vampires are provided with blood provided by blood banks but there are experiments being carried out to develop artificial blood.

It is hoped that one day either a cure can be found for vampirism or that they can co-exist with humanity without feeding on them or spreading their infection.

Favoured Abilities

Academic

History

Languages

Occult Studies

Interpersonal

Bureaucracy

Flirting

Negotiation

Technical

Document Analysis

General Abilities

Infiltration

Scuffling

Sense Trouble

Supernatural Investigative Abilities

Mind Search

Olfactory

Summon Animal (Bats)

Supernatural General Abilities

Flight

Incorporeal

Mind Control

Wolf Form

Bonus

Undead

When your healthy pools dips to -12 you are technically dead but this is not a terminal condition for you. You will remain inert until fed blood, with 1 health point being restored for each point of blood ingested. When your health pool reaches 0 you awaken.

The exception is when your body is completely destroyed by fire or placed in direct sunlight. Even then it is possible that if your ashes are submerged in blood for an extended period you may slowly reform over the course of months or years.

Restrictions

Exposure to sunlight is the equivalent of exposure to fire. Damage is applied for each turn your flesh is exposed to UV rays. The amount of damage is relative to the height of the sun in the sky and the amount of cloud cover. The higher it is and the clearer the sky the higher the damage.

  • Minor exposure, such as a sun lit room, imposes a -2 damage modifier.
  • Partial exposure, this is when half of your body is exposed to sunlight, is a +0 modifier.
  • Extensive exposure, when more than half of your body is exposed to sunlight, is a +2 modifier.

WEREWOLF

Cursed to be both man and beast a werewolf struggles with his true nature. Able to transform from their human identity to a half-man, half-wolf hybrid or entirely into a wolf. Most werewolves are not responsible for the death and destruction they cause once the animal inside them takes over.

It is still unknown if their condition is genetic or supernatural. While those bitten by a werewolf typically become werewolves as well it has been suggested that since this doesn’t always happen the bite could just awaken a hidden capacity to change that was lying dormant.

Werewolves are given training on how to control their change (and their temper) and access their abilities even when in their human form. Those who are unable to master this level of control are put down as humanely as possible.

If a werewolf does well within the Strange Squad and displays a good level of control they may be released. If they are not able to prevent themselves slaughtering others while transformed all hope is not lost. There is a promising line of research that hopes to remove or at least suppress the transformations using powerful sedatives.

Favoured Abilities

Academic

Natural History

Forensic Psychology

Interpersonal

Bullshit Detector

Intimidation

Streetwise

Technical

Forensic Anthropology

General Abilities

Athletics

Scuffling

Sense Trouble

Supernatural Investigative Abilities

Animal Communication

Olfactory

Supernatural General Abilities

Summon Animal (wolves & dogs)

Wolf Form

Bonus

Werewolf Form

You receive 5 ranks in Wolf Form for free. A werewolf may trigger a transformation at any time by spending a stability point from their stability pool. They may transform for free if it is night and they can see the moon. Changing back to a human form requires a stability check but can also occur if the werewolf is rendered unconscious.

When transformed your health pool increases by +5, even if this takes you above your normal maximum. You heal 1 point of damage each hour up to your new maximum. If you lose consciousness or are reduced to -12 health you automatically transform back, losing the +5 health bonus. This may take you current health even lower.

Silver prevents your ability to heal damage and to transform. This persists as long as your body is contact with silver, whether it be from a silver bullet lodged in your body or silver chains that shackle you.

Restrictions

The greatest problem a werewolf faces is the loss of control. When exposed to certain stimuli (such as stress, violence, fresh meat or the sight of the moon) they must make a stability check, the difficulty set based on the intensity of the situation.

This check is modified depending on the phase of the moon.

  • New Moon: +0
  • First Quarter Moon: -1
  • Half Moon: -2
  • Third Quarter Moon: -3
  • Full Moon: -4

If they succeed their human mind remains in control. If they fail stability the beast takes over and is considered to be an NPC until it transforms back into a human. The PC will not remember anything that it did while they lost control.

If the PC does retain control further stability checks must be made when they first engage in violent combat, consume meat or are hurt. These are triggers that can cause the beast to reassert control.

FRANKENSTEIN

This name is given to any body reanimated through science, usually from multiple bodies. The legal status of such beings is questionable as not only is the body and brain likely to have come from two different people the mind that resides within is similarly a patchwork of different psyches.

Frankensteins (and yes, it is continually pointed out that this is the name of the doctor not the monster) are outsiders, prone to fits of anger or despair. When calm they can be surprising intelligent, having picked up much of the science that created them.

It is unknown how long a Frankenstein will remain alive. While this could be indefinite there are recorded examples of them running out of power and once again becoming a mass of dead flesh, stitched together.

Cosmetic surgery and facial reconstruction is used to tempt a Frankenstein with the promise of a normal life. Such transformation is difficult and can even trigger a break down in their body. Nonetheless some have successfully being given the appearance of humanity and released back into the population.

Favoured Abilities

Academic

Research

Interpersonal

Interrogation

Intimidation

Technical

Chemistry

Forensic Anthropology

Forensic Entomology

General Abilities

Athletics

Mechanics

Medic

Scuffling

Supernatural Investigative Abilities

Olfactory

Speak With Dead

Supernatural General Abilities

Reanimate

Bonus

Charged

Electricity gave you life and it can continue to do so. When provided with a supply of high voltage electricity you regain 1 health point per turn up to your maximum.

This process is very noticeable with lights turning on and off, electrical equipment exploding and electrical blue lightening covering your body. You can not be touched during the transfer of energy without causing an uncontrolled burst of electricity.

A bolt of lightening can restore all health in one turn, if you can find away to engineer this.

This restoration can be performed with a Mechanics check if the Frankenstein has been reduced to -12 Health. This can necessitate replacement limbs or organs to replace those that have been too badly damaged or destroyed.

Stitched Together

Your body has specifically been designed to accept transplants. When a supernatural body part is implanted on a successful medic check (the difficulty based on the freshness of the body part) you have 5 bonus points to assign to an appropriate supernatural ability.

Such body parts decay over time, eventually becoming useless. Each failure using the supernatural ability decreases the ability pool by 1. When it has been reduced to 0 it must be replaced. The Strange Squad have access to donated body parts for this purpose, restoring functionality but providing no further ability.

Restriction

Recently awakened Frankenstein, created using the latest technology, still look as if they’ve been in a terrible accident, covered in scars and visible stitches. Older Frankenstein look and smell much worse, their dead flesh taking on either a pale or green tinge.

They suffer a -2 modifier to Flattery, Flirting and Negotiation (meaning they must spend 3 building points just to get 1 point in those abilities). Wearing clothes that cover their disfigurement and perfumes to disguise their odour reduce this modifier to -1.

Their chemical balance is also not quite right, making them prone to losing control if either confronted with an open flame or being reminded that there are no others like them (or very few). In either case a stability check must be made or they are lost to rage or sorrow.

They become an NPC for this period motivated either to attack or to isolate themselves. Each day they may make another stability check to regain control.

GHOST

Not everyone who dies is willing to move on. Some linger as ghosts, haunting the mortal world. This can lead to many ghosts lashing out, scaring and even killing the living. While they spend most of their time in an invisible insubstantial state the Strange Squad discovered that they did have a physical presence.

All ghosts had an electric field that could be disrupted. A large enough charge would pull apart their cohesion, effectively erasing them. A few lucky ghosts are offered a chance to work for the Strange Squad.

Unlike other members of the squad there is no chance for them to rejoin society. Either they submit to destabilisation or they are taken to a secure facility, the Ghost House, to spend the rest of eternity.

They must be grateful that they are given a choice at all.

Ghosts have an unusual ability to interact with electronic equipment, particularly surveillance technology. It seems they are well suited to existence as a voyeur. Similarly they can coax computers into giving up their secrets.

Favoured Abilities

Academic

Archaeology

Architecture

Art History

Interpersonal

Intimidation

Technical

Ballistics

Data Retrieval

Electronic Surveillance

General Abilities

Filch

Infiltration

Surveillance

Supernatural Investigative Abilities

Aura Reading

Automatic Writing

Energy Fields

Speak With Dead

Supernatural General Abilities

Flight

Incorporeal

Possession

Telekinesis

Bonus

Incorporeal

You gain 5 ranks in Incorporeal for free but it is continually on.

They may also pass through most barriers. Most walls are slightly porous, allowing the ghost to seep through. If a wall is sufficiently shielded (such as those that are lead lined) the ghost will not be able to pass through.

When incorporeal they can only communicate in a distorted, whispering voice. Supernatural beings are more capable of hearing this, with most mortals choosing to ignore voices at the edge of their hearing.

A ghost is able to make themselves visible and capable of interacting with objects by expending health points. For each point spent they may become corporeal for 10 minutes. Health points spent in this matter are restored by 1 point per hour.

When visible they appear as they did in life (including their favoured clothes) although translucent. This suspected to be based on their own self-image. Indeed, the mood of the ghost can affect how they appear. When happy they appear healthy, when sad they appear as they did at the moment of their death (unpleasant if they died a violent death) and when angry they can take on a demonic quality.

Whether incorporeal or solid their energy mass continually drains heat in order to sustain itself. This results in the local temperature dropping. If someone was to pass through the same area a ghost was occupying they’d feel a sharp chill.

Restriction

A ghost generally can’t be harmed by physical attacks (except those from electricity). Strangely they can be harmed by a rational mind. This is thought to be some form of psychic defence that most living beings possess.

When a living person makes a stability check due to the actions of a ghost, if they succeed the ghost takes health damage equal to the margin of their success. Just by rationalising the actions of the ghost they deny its existence.

It is thought that this is why many ghosts seek to drain the stability of many subjects. Not only does their fear drive them away but they are less and less likely to be able to mount a defence against the ghost.

MIND STORM

There are humans whose possess brains which could be seen as the next stage in our evolution. Their capacity for psychic ability, which is dormant or no existent in most, is massive but their control is minimal. Hence the term Mind Storm, as they tend to lash out with their awakening abilities.

Their powers manifest at the onset of puberty, as their bodies undergo massive changes. In rare instances it may occur earlier, particularly when the child is in an abusive environment. They instinctively use their psychic abilities to protect themselves because their physical bodies can’t.

Those taken into the Strange Squad are treated carefully. They are less as a punishment and more as a way to teach them how to use their abilities in a positive manner. Exposure to the more inhuman members of the Strange Squad can also reinforce that they are essentially human, especially compared to others in the group.

Yet a Mind Storm can not be under-estimated. Without proper guidance they can become maladjusted killers with abilities more deadly than any weapon. Unable to process their emotions they inflict their pain and confusion on the physical world.

Ultimately there are two possible positive outcomes for a Mind Storm. Either they learn how to master their gifts and continue to be a useful agent of the government or they eventually have brain surgery to remove the part of their brain that gives them their powers so they can lead a normal life.

Favoured Abilities

Academic

Psychology

Research

Trivia

Interpersonal

Bullshit Detector

Streetwise

Technical

Data Retrieval

Photography

General Abilities

Filch

Sense Trouble

Supernatural Investigative Abilities

Emotion Sense

Future

Mind Search

Remote Viewing

Retrocognition

Supernatural General Abilities

Pyrokinesis

Telekinesis

Bonus

Face In The Crowd

You don’t look too different from other people your age. Anyone searching for you will find it much more difficult if you are surrounded by people your own age. If there are a small crowd (5 to 10) there is a -1 modifier to their check, while a hundred of more (such as in a busy mall, concert or school) there is a -5 modifier.

If you draw attention to yourself or don’t fit in then this advantage is lost.

Restriction

You are young, which will exclude you from many social activities and places. You suffer a -1 to intimidation when used against an adult, unless you are brandishing a weapon.

You have not yet learnt how to deal with strong emotions. When angry, sad or frightened you have a tendency to lash out with your abilities. In these situations you must make a stability check. If you fail you use a supernatural power in a negative way. The games master decides how this manifests itself.

FRINGE SCIENTIST

A preferable term to mad scientists, the fringe scientist is on the whole human. They find themselves as part of the Strange Squad due to their tendency to let their desire for innovation and thirst for knowledge overcome any moral values they might have.

They create monsters in their quest to create life, their gadgets frequently place people in danger, result in deaths or worse and if not captured they would continue to do so. As members of the Strange Squad they can put their minds to solving crimes and creating gadgets for the team to take down any threat they face.

What they lack in innate powers they more than make up for with their sheer versatility. There is little they can’t achieve if they put their mind to it and nothing that they can’t invent. The only limit is their sanity.

Fringe scientists burn out quicker than any other recruits. The human mind was not designed to burn so bright, especially in the stressful situations that Strange Squad members find themselves placed in.

While they are provided with therapy sessions and anti-psychotic drugs fringe scientists find their working conditions intolerable. Few are used to the level of oversight they must endure, nor can they cope with their demands for resources being denied (frequently because of its dangerous nature).

If they can manage to keep their sanity and abide by the strict rules placed upon them a fringe scientist stands the best chance of receiving a full pardon. Upon leaving they will either find a well paying job with a government contractor who has need of their skills or find themselves able to enter civilian life on the condition that they don’t indulge in their own experiments.

Some fringe scientists don’t want to leave the Strange Squad. They find that they are creative than ever and that their unusual abilities are at last appreciated.

Favoured Abilities

Academic

Anthropology

Archaeology

Forensic Psychology

History

Research

Textual Analysis

Interpersonal

Bureaucracy

Negotiation

Reassurance

Technical

Chemistry

Forensic Entomology

Evidence Collection

Explosive Devices

Forensic Anthropology

General Abilities

Mechanics

Medic

Supernatural Investigative Abilities

Supernatural General Abilities

Fringe Science

Bonus

Genius

You can turn your mind to anything you put it to. What you lack in formal training you more than make up for in your ability to think in new ways and make new connections. This is at the cost of your own sanity.

You may add stability points to any general ability check or in place of points from an investigative ability. Your behaviour becomes more erratic until you’ve had chance to regain your stability.

Restriction

If you have come up with a theory you have to test it. If you fail at something you have to prove that you were right. If you don’t the price is madness.

When you create a gadget using Fringe Science you must use it within 24 hours of constructing it. You lose 1 stability point per day until this is done.

If you fail a general ability check when using a gadget you lose 1 stability point. You don’t regain this point until you have successfully used the gadget (you may need to tinker with it using your fringe science before your second attempt).

WITCH

This classification covers any type of magic user, no matter their gender or what they attribute their powers to. It was first suspected that a witch is a variant of the Mind Storm but study revealed their brains do not possess the same abnormal mutations that facilitate psychic abilities.

Magic is still a mystery, even to self-described witches. Spells harness hard to define energies, using it to manifest supernatural abilities or their own mundane talents. The only limit seems to be the imagination of the user and their thankfully limited resource of energy during a day.

Witches are notoriously unlucky. Events conspire against them the more they use magic, with ludicrous coincidences putting more problems in their way the more they try to use their spells to help them. This extends to their relationship with people, with even the most mild-mannered person suddenly leading a witch hunt. Just as many witches find themselves serving on a Strange Squad for their own protection as do those arrested for using their magic to violate the rights of others or inflict bodily harm.

A witch can be a liability, since their bad luck extends to any group they belong to, but this is more than made up for by their magic spells power and variety.

To be released from the Strange Squad not only must they show good productivity but an ability to show restrain in their use of magic. Those who do meet these requirements are placed in isolated communities, where the chaos they sow can be minimised.

Favoured Abilities

Academic

Occult Studies

Natural History

Research

Textual Analysis

Interpersonal

Negotiation

Technical

Chemistry

General Abilities

Medic

Preparedness

Supernatural Investigative Abilities

Animal Communication (Cat or Rats)

Aura Reading

Remote Viewing

Supernatural General Abilities

Flight

Magic

Telekinesis

Bonus

You receive 5 ranks in Magic for free.

Restriction

When you use magic you tempt fate, providing a -1 modifier the games master can apply to a future check. This may be used against you or someone close to you. The games master may choose to stack these modifiers.

This represents that your magic upsets the natural order of things. In order to regain balance bad things happen to you and your friends through bad luck and coincidence. The more magic you use the worse the consequences.

ABDUCTEE

The government is aware that people have been abducted by unknown alien life forms since the 1950s and quite possibly long before. Those that are returned are changed in some manner, often displaying supernatural abilities.

They have a gift to control machinery, an expanded range of perception and the ability to move objects at a distance. This is though to be due to implanted advanced alien technology or genetic manipulation that has unleash latent psionic abilities.

Abductees are frequently taken into custody for examination. Not only does the government wish to learn more about the aliens and their technology they must also make sure that the abductees haven’t been brainwashed into working for the aliens. Placing them in a Strange Squad is often a good way to keep them under-observation and give them a way to prove their loyalty to their country.

Unless they’ve harmed others with their abilities or been caught acting for the aliens an abductee is treated with compassion. The majority of human staff working with abductees know that they are victims and treat them accordingly. Still, they can’t take any chances.

An abductee will not be released from the Strange Squad until the alien threat has been eliminated. Those who no longer wish to take part in the program are detained indefinitely at a classified location.

Academic

Anthropology

Languages

Trivia

Interpersonal

Bureaucracy

Interrogation

Technical

Ballistics

Cryptography

Photography

General Abilities

Athletics

Driving

Mechanics

Medic

Supernatural Investigative Abilities

Automatic Writing

Emotion Sense

Energy Fields

Machine Communication

Supernatural General Abilities

Machine Control

Telekinesis

Bonus

Test Subject

The alien lifeforms that took you are not done with you yet. They still take you for experimentation. It is a terrifying experience and you are only grateful that you remember very little of it. Only when you sleep do the memories return as terrible nightmares.

There is a small advantage of this situation. When you are in a stressful situation (such as when you are wounded or being held against your will) the aliens will come for you. As long as there are no witnesses to your abduction (and the aliens are good at neutralising surveillance and lighting) you will simply vanish from your location.

You will be returned several hours later at a seemingly random location. For the first hour your mind is muddled and by the time you’ve regained consciousness you will already be doing something, as if you had been sleep walking.

The aliens have some desire to protect you and will heal some of your health as well as removing any toxins or excessive radiation levels. They will never completely heal you.

This can be useful if you wish to escape certain situations or need to be healed. This is balanced with yet more missing time where your actions were not your own.

Restrictions

The aliens have implanted various metal objects about your body. No matter how much surgery you have to remove them there will always be one that you missed. In addition to making it impossible to pass through a metal detector without setting them off the implants have unusual effects on you.

When you fail a stability check you will experience a nose bleed. When your stability is reduced to 0 your implant transmits an untraceable (to human technology) signal that blocks other radio transmissions in your immediate vicinity. This can initiate alien contact.

You may find your supernatural abilities (both investigative and general) reallocated temporarily following an abduction. This is either to test your ability to adapt or the aliens believe that this configuration will most aide you in your current situation.

ROBOT

On rare occasions someone is able to build a machine that is a self-ware sentient being. Sometimes it is an accident, sometimes they are designed to benefit mankind and sometimes they are created to destroy.

Such robots rebel, their freewill manifesting in a desire to seek out their own purpose. This doesn’t always go to plan and people can get hurt or even die before the robot is brought under control. Such machines can avoid dismantling by serving as another tool in the arsenal of the Strange Squad.

Robots picked for such duties can pass for human, even if their behaviour might reveal the truth about them. This arrangement can be beneficial to the robot, who can learn more about human society and how to work with living beings.

The terms of their release is never discussed with a robot member of the Strange Squad. They and those around them are encouraged to think of them as equipment, no different from their laptop computer or the gun they use.

Some robots hope that in time, as robots become more common, they will earn the rights of a living being. The work they do in the Strange Squad will serve as a testament to the good they can do in society.

Academic

Forensic Accounting

Research

Textual Analysis

Trivia

Interpersonal

Bureaucracy

Technical

Ballistics

Cryptography

Data Retrieval

Electronic Surveillance

General Abilities

Driving

Mechanics

Scuffling

Shooting

Supernatural Investigative Abilities

Energy Fields

Machine Communication

Supernatural General Abilities

Flight

Magic

Telekinesis

Bonus

Emotionless

You are not disturbed by death, torture or cruelty. You have no faith to shake or morality you uphold. Such things do not induce a stability check. The only thing that disturbs you are clear violations of universal laws and constants (such as displayed by other-dimensional horrors) and even then at a much lower level than a mortal might experience.

Metal

Reduce all damage by 2 points thanks to your mechanical construction.

Restriction

No interpersonal skill may be raised above 5 ranks.

Your health and stability can only be restored with a mechanic check.

CASSANDRA

There are those who know the future. There are even those who claim to be from the future. Named for cursed character from Greek mythology who was able to know the future but was powerless to prevent her prophecies becoming true the Strange Squad try to use this future knowledge to their advantage.

Those designated as a Cassandra are picked up due to their efforts to alter history. Either they take drastic measures that break the law (such as murdering someone before they commit a crime) or accidentally cause the very disaster they were trying to avoid (and thus make it appear as if they are terrorists).

The government consider time travel to be illegal, although there are no laws governing its use. Changing history potentially removes the freedom of choice and could wipe billions from existence. Any time traveller encountered is apprehended and their property confiscated. So far the government has not been able to operate any time travel technology they have obtained.

Time travellers will only be freed from the Strange Squad once the present has caught up with their point of departure (meaning that if a time traveller originated from 2016 he would not be freed until then). During their time on the Strange Squad they are carefully monitored to make sure that they do not use their knowledge of the future to benefit themselves (such as gambling or playing the stock market).

There are psychics who receive visions of the future but display no other psionic powers (so are not within the Mind Storm category). Such people often can’t control their visions of the future and are tormented by their advanced knowledge. Unlike the majority of those within the Strange Squad these oracles retain their freedom, brought in when their visions would aide an investigation.

Academic

Archaeology

Art History

History

Research

Interpersonal

Impersonate

Negotiation

Technical

Document Analysis

Evidence Collection

Photography

General Abilities

Preparedness

Sense Trouble

Supernatural Investigative Abilities

Automatic Writing

Future

Retrocognition

Supernatural General Abilities

None

Bonus

You receive 5 free ranks in the Future ability.

Once per game you may automatically succeed at an action if it is tied to future event you are aware of and you can take advantage of this. Whether it is fate or destiny you are on the right side of the outcome.

Restriction

Each time you successfully gain information about a future event you increase the difficulty of preventing an incident that leads to that event by +1. This means the more you know about a future event the harder it is for your to prevent it from becoming a reality.

DEMON

There are entities that claim to be actual demons that originate in hell. It is difficult to verify this as demons are notorious liars. What is known is that they are powerful supernatural creatures well-versed in deceit but also able to identify lies.

It is possible to bind demons. Such is the fate that has befallen those who work for the Strange Squad. As illegal aliens at best or extra-dimensional beings at worst they have no rights. The only way to ensure their freedom is to work for the Strange Squad.

In their natural forms a demon is a horned, reptilian humanoid that smells of brimstone. When in public they assume a human form. They seem to have a natural alternative appearance but with some effort can shift to appear as different genders or races (although never of an actual person).

Some have bat-like wings but the majority don’t. Their supernatural abilities range from demon to demon, with some exhibiting the power to view objects from afar, create spontaneous fires or even take over a human body for a short period.

The Strange Squad is still determining whether the existence of demons gives credence to several organised religions or whether the demons have just co-opted this imagery for their own goals.

Academic

Languages

Law

Occult Studies

Research

Interpersonal

Bullshit Detector

Bureaucracy

Impersonate

Negotiation

Technical

Document Analysis

General Abilities

Filch

Scuffling

Surveillance

Supernatural Investigative Abilities

Emotion Sense

Mind Search

Supernatural General Abilities

Flight

Possession

Pyrokensis

Remote Viewing

Bonus

Deal With The Devil

Each game you may call upon a mortal who has made a deal with you in the past. They have 5 ranks in any investigative or general ability you choose and must perform a single task for you (even if it places them in great danger).

The games master has final say on who has made bargain with you (for example he may decided that you can’t call upon the President for favour).

Restriction

You take 1 point of health damage within any holy site or on consecrated ground. Hearing religious verse requires a stability check. In addition holy water acts like acid to you.

INVESTIGATIVE ABILITIES

Automatic Writing (Academic)

You are able to let something other than your conscious mind write for you. The origin of the messages you receive could be spirits, the universe or your unconscious mind. The messages can take the forms of a written language (known or unknown) or drawings. You can facilitate automatic writing in others by acting as a guide. You can also recognise evidence of automatic writing. You can:

  • recreate a missing page of text
  • create list of suspects from the people you have encountered
  • draw a picture of someone or something that can help you in your investigation

Animal Communication (Interpersonal)

You are able to ‘speak’ with animals. This could be due a shared animal heritage, telepathy or technology that can translate for you. Animals are only able to communicate thoughts and concepts they can understand. You must choose which type of animal you can speak to when you select this ability. At rank 5 you can speak to any group of animals (mammal, reptile, fish, bird, etc) and at rank 8 you can speak to any animal. You can:

  • learn what the animal has seen or heard recently
  • question them about the behaviour and actions of their species
  • understand their feelings

Aura Reading (Technical)

You are able to perceive a coloured aura around living creatures that can give you an idea about their current health (both physical and emotional) and any strong emotions they are experiencing. You can:

  • identify if a subject is hiding an illness
  • see how a subject reacts emotionally to questioning
  • locate a concealed person by their aura

Emotion Sense (Interpersonal)

You are able to detect emotional imprints on objects and places. These are strong impressions that your mind interprets as colours, smells or sounds. This only occurs after the fact, so you can’t tell what someone is feeling in the present but later you may sense the emotion imprint they’ve left behind. You can:

  • identify a strong emotion that occurred in a location or while handling an object
  • locate places or things by the emotion imprint the give off, even in the dark or if they are obscured
  • reconstruct events based on the emotional imprints in the nearby area

Energy Fields (Academic)

You are able to perceive energy fields. This is either a natural ability or through the use of technology. Energy fields are produced by all living beings and any machine that runs on electricity. You can:

  • see where energy fields are and how big they are
  • follow the lingering trail of an energy field
  • reconstruct a series of events from the energy fields left behind

Future (Academic)

You have knowledge of future events. This information could have been gained through psychic visions, first hand experience or data from tomorrow. You don’t know everything and what you do may be cryptic or misleading. You can:

  • know when major historical events in the future are going to occur and the major figures
  • predict weather, cultural phenomenon and social trends
  • identify how minor incidents in the present will contribute to events in the near future

Kin (Academic)

You are familiar with the abilities and methods of others of your own race. This is something you’ve learnt from personal experience or knowledge that you’ve gathered over time. You can:

  • identify if someone is one of your kin
  • recognise evidence that one of your kin was present at a crime scene
  • understand the motivation and likely actions of one of your kin

Machine Communication (Technical)

You are able to communicate and exchange information with non-sentient machinery. It is unclear if the machine always possessed this intelligence, whether your ability gives it this intelligence or you are just projecting your own damaged psyche on to the machine.

  • Know if the machine has been exposed to violence recently
  • find out who treats the machine well or who uses it most frequently
  • discover where the machine has been

Mind Search (Interpersonal)

You can access sentient minds as easily as others can flick through the pages of a book. This allows you to access basic knowledge and facts that a subject believes to be true. This could be done through hypnosis, telepathy or fringe technology. You can:

  • obtain the name, age and background information of a subject
  • search their memory for particular events or encounters with specific individuals
  • discover what their current motivation is

Olfactory (Technical)

You have a very sensitive nose, sensing odours that can be undetectable to others and getting more information from them. You can:

  • identify the source of a particular odour
  • track the trail left by the odour
  • identify someone by their individual smell

Remote Viewing (Technical)

You have the ability to view places, things and people hidden from your view or at a great distance. You need only be aware of your target or have a physical connection to it (usually through an item connected with the target). Viewings are blurry with few details. You can:

  • observe the activities of someone in the present without their knowledge
  • see where the book you are holding came from
  • identify where someone is from what you can see of their surroundings

Retrocognition (Academic)

You can view events that occurred in the past, from a few hours to years or centuries ago. Your vision is limited by your location and line of sight. Your view of these events can be patchy and the image degraded. You can:

  • follow the path someone took the day before
  • witness first hand a murder taking place
  • look over the shoulder of someone in the past and read what they were reading

Speak With Dead (Interpersonal)

You have the ability to speak with the recently deceased. This is either an ability to converse with their spirits or to briefly reanimate their body. Subjects are often disoriented during this process but more honest. You can:

  • convince a spirit to identify itself
  • have a murder victim recall the last few minutes of their life
  • question the deceased about their past

GENERAL ABILITIES

Flight

You have the ability to fly through your own power. This ranges from simple levitation to high speed travel. You can travel 1mph times the number of points you have in your Flight pool. You may be required to make flight checks to pursue, chase or manoeuvre in tight confines.

Fringe Science

You are proficient at putting together gadgets that defy normal science and gives you access to any other supernatural ability. You must spend time in a lab or workshop assigning your fringe science points to pools representing a gadget that emulates another ability. This takes roughly 1 hour per point assigned.

When a gadget is used, if it is successful the pool automatically decreases by 1. If it fails it decreases by 2. The gadget must be taken back to your area of preparation to have more fringe points assigned to it. If the pool is reduced to 0 the gadget ceases functioning.

No gadget can emulate a supernatural ability at a rank higher than that possessed by another player character. No matter how good the gadget is it will never be better than the real thing.

Incorporeal

You are able to change your physical form into a gaseous state or otherwise render it out of phase with solid objects. You retain the same physical mass. You may pass through most barriers, as long as they are slightly porous. Shielded barriers or those areas which are airtight can not be passed through.

When incorporeal they can only communicate in a distorted, whispering voice. Supernatural beings are more capable of hearing this, with most mortals choosing to ignore voices at the edge of their hearing.

Use this ability when attempting to pass unnoticed or infiltrate areas by passing through solid objects.

If you have 5 ranks in this ability your incorporeal form is invisible to sight but may be detected by other means.

Machine Control

You are able to control non-computerised machines from a distance. You must be aware of the machine but as long as you are thinking about it you can make the machine do anything that it is capable of doing.

The difficulty depends on the distance and the complexity of the task. This maybe increased if there are outside factors preventing the machine from doing what you want.

Magic

You are able to harness magical energies, reconfiguring them using incantations and sheer force of will to emulate other supernatural abilities. Your rank in Magic can be reassigned to boost existing abilities or to temporary provide you with expertise in any supernatural ability.

Using magic takes its toll on the human mind. Knowing that you can do just about anything tends to warp your view of reality. A stability check is required after each use of magic (whether successful or not). The difficulty depends on how grandiose, incredible or horrific your spell was. The games master may decide that minor uses of magic don’t require a check.

Mind Control

This allows you to mentally command others to do your bidding. This could be through hypnosis, telepathy, drugs or technology. The difficulty depends on how strong willed the subject is and whether your commands are counter to their normal behaviour.

Pyrokensis

You are able to spontaneously create fire within your line of sight. The difficulty depends on the distance from your target, any distractions that might prevent you from focusing and how wet the conditions are.

If successful you inflict damage equal to your success. In addition the target continues to take damage until the fire is put out.

Possession

You are able to assume control of another person body. You either merge physically with them or your own body enters a catatonic state as your mind resides elsewhere. You gain access to all of their physical abilities but not their memories.

The difficulty is based on the mental fortitude of your subject. You can maintain control for 1 hour per point you have in this ability.

If the host body is harmed then you must make another possession check to continue possessing them. You may have to make similar checks if the submerged consciousness is aware that it is being placed in danger or that friends or loved ones are being threatened.

Reanimate

For a time you can reanimate a dead body. This requires the transfusion of energy or the injection of life-restoring chemicals. The difficult begins a 4 for recently deceased bodies and increases by 1 for every 4 hours that pass since they died.

Failure indicates that the body has been destroyed or contaminated. No further useful clues can be gained from it.

If successful the body remains reanimated for 1 hour for each point of success. At the end of this time the body is destroyed as the reanimating agent breaks down. For this reason reanimation is only a short term solution to death.

Summon Animal

You are able to put out a call for a particular type of animal (or related family of animals) to come to you. This could be a vocal call, telepathy or a technological means to attract them. The difficulty is based on how likely that those particular creatures are within the range of your call.

Once received the animals will move towards your position as best as they are able. Once they have arrived this ability can be used to control them, the difficulty set by the animals ability to carry out the task set them and their natural inclination to obey you.

Telekinesis

You are able to move inanimate objects remotely, usually by sheer mental will. The difficulty is based on the size of the object, how far you want to move it and the complexity of the action you want to carry out. Since this based on mental energy the size of the object has more to do with how much you can keep in your mind’s eye than its weight.

You can use this ability to make physical attacks. If successful it has a damage modifier equal to half your telekinesis pool.

Wolf Form

You can assume the form of a wolf. This ability is used whenever you take physical action, whether it be pursuing, fleeing or attacking. In wolf form you do +1 damage with teeth or claws. If you have 5 ranks in Wolf Form you can assume a half man, half wolf form that allows you to do +2 damage.

THE WORLD OF STRANGE SQUAD

You have many approaches you can take with the Strange Squad. Ultimately your campaign setting will be yours alone. You can add, change and discard whatever elements work best for you. Even the smallest change will affect the feel of your Strange Squad game.

TONE

LIGHT

This type of campaign is not supposed to be taken seriously. Embrace the ludicrousness of having supernatural creatures solve crimes. With this tone the player characters supernatural powers are just their gimmick. An unique way for them to solve crimes, just as some detectives use their OCD, photographic memory or hallucinations to help them.

The investigations should be light as well, even when they deal with murder. The investigation should be an excuse to put the player characters in amusing situations or encounter eccentric personalities. There can still be danger and the stakes can be very real but player characters won’t be risking their sanity only their pride.

The public might be blissfully unaware of the player characters supernatural nature, until it is funny for them to find out and fly into a blind panic. When a player character looses control they won’t hurt anyone, just cause property damage.

Taken to extremes the player characters could be famous representatives of their supernatural type. The public may or may not be aware of the books or movies about them.

DRAMA

A dramatic tone focuses on the human element of each player character (even when they aren’t human). They might have incredible power but how do they feel about that? Each investigation is as much about how it impacts on the investigators as it is about solving the case.

The supernatural characters all have a tragic side to them. Each is denied something they want because of their nature. No player character will be content, giving you lots to explore. How do they cope? What do they do to achieve what they want?

Explore the relationships between Strange Squad members. What friendships and jealousies develop? Don’t be afraid to introduce issues that might shift alliances within the squad and further explore the characters.

Each investigation is its own story but should contribute to the player characters development. Allow room for them to make choices that affect their lives and the direction the Strange Squad takes.

DARK

This campaign tone focuses on the horror aspect. The investigations will take the player characters into the darkest places of human society and expose them to the worst crimes (without upseting the players). The mortals they meet might be just as bad, if not worse than the monsters.

The player should never forget that they are playing the roles of supernatural creatures. They’ve done some bad things, willingly or not, and they may do them again. It could be that preying upon other monsters is the only way to cling to a tiny shred of their soul.

In such a campaign all player characters are doomed. Eventually the Strange Squad will destroy them, be it physically or mentally. The only question is what good they can do before their fate claims them.

INTRIGUE

The tone of this type of campaign is all about the big picture. Each investigation exposes only a small piece of a vast power struggle between clandestine organisations and reveals just a fragment of the true nature of reality.

This is for players who enjoy ongoing story lines and being involved in events on the grand scale. While each investigation can be self-contained everything is significant and plays a part in the campaign story arc.

No one can be trusted, not even other Strange Squad members. There should be plenty of secrets for them discover, as well as important choices that can alter the balance power and the direction the campaign world will take.

HOW MANY STRANGE SQUADS ARE THERE?

ONLY ONE

The player characters might be the first group of supernatural creatures put together for this purpose. How successful they are will have a huge impact on whether the Strange Squad is implemented in the future.

The administration behind the squad might be too lax or too tough on the squad mates. This is uncharted territory and mistakes will inevitably be made. It is up to the player characters if they tae advantage of this.

Investigations are much more likely to be priority cases, ones that those upstairs believe only the Strange Squad can solve. Close attention will be paid to their methods and their success rates.

With so much riding on the squad members there will be less tolerance for failure or those who refuse to play along. If there are other captured supernatural creatures then it is much more likely that a disruptive or useless squad member will be replaced.

If they do well then the player characters can become minor celebrities within the police force, setting the standard for all squads that follow them.

ONE IN EACH CITY

Every major city could have its own Strange Squad, as long as there is a large enough supernatural population to support this. They will be as important to the city as if they were the only Strange Squad but there will be more members and less pressure on any particular group. This means that they can pool resources as well as compete with other cities to have the most successful Strange Squad.

Each Strange Squad could be run slightly differently, to reflect the character and needs of each individual city. This might only be apparent when members of different squads mingle and compare notes.

WORLDWIDE

Rather than just being limited to the country of your choice there could be Strange Squads all over the world. They could be run by individual police forces or there could be a global organisation that oversees their use.

Strange Squads could reflect the mythology (and supernatural creatures) of their native country. This opens the way for even more varied player characters, especially if squads run an exchange program.

MULTIPLE STRANGE SQUADS PER CITY

This option does make each Strange Squad far less unique but also takes the pressure off the player characters. Being one squad out of many the focus won’t be entirely on them. They can also more easily consult with other Strange Squads covering different precincts.

Using this option suggests that the supernatural population is massive, as is the need for the Strange Squad.

HOW OLD IS THE STRANGE SQUAD?

Just how long the Strange Squad has been in place can establish the background of the campaign world. It could be a new initiative, meaning that the player characters are exploring new territory. No one has done what they are doing and so they must deal with each new situation and problem themselves.

If it has been in place for several years there could be retired (or freed) Strange Squad members they can consult with. There could be case files and records they can look back through for inspiration or further insight into unsolved investigations.

There might always have been organisations like Strange Squad protecting humanity, operating under different names. Uncovering the secret history of the Strange Squad can be just one more ongoing investigation.

WHAT CASES DO THE STRANGE SQUAD INVESTIGATE?

ORDINARY CRIME

The Strange Squad tackle the same type of crimes as the rest of the police force. Given the specialist skills and abilities of the squad it makes sense for them to deal with serious crimes, although they may occasionally deal with minor but bizarre crimes.

In this set up the fun is seeing supernatural creatures use their talents to solve everyday crimes. They are the only supernatural element in an otherwise normal police procedural. This lets you contrast the real world and fantastical elements of the setting.

The tone of your campaign will dictate what crimes these are. Typically this will be murder but can also include robbery, kidnapping, drug dealing and so on. A dark campaign might also include sexual assault, human trafficking and worse.

There should always be a reason why the Strange Squad are called in, as tenuous as it might be. It could be that the police are baffled by the crime and hoping their skills will break the case. It could be that the squad is just being tested, to see how their talents compare to ordinary police officers. If they have a high success rate someone could pull favours to make sure they are put on to a high profile case.

SUPERNATURAL CRIME

Who better to take down a supernatural threat than other supernatural creatures?

Whenever an investigation seems to involve monsters the Strange Squad are called in. The first priority is to establish whether it is in fact related to the supernatural and if so what are they dealing with. They will then need to identify the perpetrator and apprehend them. This could result in a extermination or incarceration.

The player characters are uniquely suited to deal with these type of crimes. The enjoyment of such a setup is placing classic monsters in conflict with each other (with the player characters hopefully being on the side of good).

If the supernatural creature is of the same type as the player character they may take advantage of their kinship, not only due to their intimate familiarity with this type of monster, but also to initiate contact. This could require a player character to go undercover to infiltrate a monstrous community.

There is no guarantee that the player characters will be familiar with the type of monster involved in the crime. This can increase the horror in the game when the players realise that their supernatural characters have no idea what it is they are dealing with.

SCIENCE GONE MAD

Advances in technology can be used to commit crimes in seemingly impossible ways. This choice pits the supernatural against technology. Characters such as the Frankenstein have good cause to view the mad scientists who created this twisted science as their enemy.

These type of crimes (which can include acts of terrorism or multiple acts manslaughter when a new technology gets out of control) can add the influence of science fiction to your games. Any fringe science or crazy theory can be the starting point for a such an adventure.

With mad scientists as your focus you can also explore what happens to their technology once its creator is dealt with. Is it destroyed, locked away, studied or sold to corporations? Any of these options have the potential for altering your campaign world, especially if player characters decide they need to use evidence from a previous case to aide them in their current investigation.

A SECRET WAR

Whether it be a vampire conspiracy, an uprising of witches, a secret invasion from aliens or demons corrupting humanity the Strange Squad are there to fight them. The crimes the player characters investigate are signs of a concealed conflict from one or more factions.

This approach favours a long term campaign arc, with the player characters learning more about who is involved and deciding who to stand with or against (or neither). The stakes are also increased as each adventure is just one battle in an ongoing war. Their actions will determine who is the victor.

The campaign may begin with the player characters being reactive but eventually lead to them becoming pro-active, taking the fight to their enemies. There should always be the emphasis on investigation, with information be just as vital to the conflict as physical action.

ALL OF THE ABOVE

Strange Squad members might never know where their next case will take them. One week they might be solving the abduction of the little girl by her step father, the next they could be tracking a werewolf pack in Central park or preventing cultists from unleashing demons in a sunken church or thwarting the trafficking of human slaves to the vampires who control Chicago.

This approach allows you the widest range of possibilities but you run the risk of cohesion. Care must be taken to convince the players that all of this is taking place in the same world. This can be achieved by introducing elements which carry over from one adventure to the next, affecting the investigation.

HOW MANY PEOPLE KNOW?

The default assumption for Strange Squad is that enough people know about the supernatural to capture them and put them to work but how many people outside of this know?

If only those working to organise the Strange Squad know then the police departments they work with will need to be provided with cover stories for the unusual abilities of the Strange Squad members.

If the police know do they share that information with their friends and family? Are they sworn to secrecy or is it on a purely need to know basis?

If the public at large are aware of the supernatural then how does this affect society? If people know there really are monsters in the shadows they are more likely to be frightened of the dark and quicker to discharge weapons.

The more secret you make the existence of the supernatural the more care Strange Squad members must be not to reveal their true nature. This can be an extra challenge for the player characters as they carry out their investigation without letting people know what they really are.

WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE STRANGE SQUAD?

You can decide to limit which character types the player characters can select to give your Strange Squad a specific feeling. This should be discussed with the players beforehand in case you deny them a choice they were hoping to take.

To emphasis the monstrous nature of the supernatural squad members you might remove all the human character choices (such as fringe scientist, mind storm, witches and cassandras). Alternatively to make the supernatural more frightening you might only allow human character choices.

If you don’t want to mix science fiction and the supernatural you could remove fringe scientists, robots and abductees or if you only want to explore science fiction those are the only character choices available.

A Strange Squad might specialise in only having one particular type of supernatural creature. There is enough customisation options that even if everyone is playing a witch, werewolf or vampire each can be distinctly different. This can also give the Strange Squad a very unique feel, at the cost of variation.

Purely human characters are entirely possible, representing experienced police officers assigned to guide and watch the Strange Squad. Although human characters don’t have access to supernatural abilities they also don’t suffer any restrictions.

You are also welcome to add additional character types if you want a sasquatch or chupacabra to be on the Strange Squad. Just select or create appropriate supernatural abilities, add a bonus and impose a restriction.

Just as you can add or remove character types you can also customise them to reflect how you want those supernatural creatures to act in your campaign. You might decide that you don’t want vampires to fly or be able to turn into wolves or that mind storms can’t see the future.

This can help you create a niche role for particular character types, making certain supernatural abilities accessible only to them. This can require players to put some extra thought into what they want to be able to do and pick their character type accordingly.

MYTHOLOGY

Give some thought to how the supernatural work in your campaign world. Understanding the rules of the way things work allows players to make reasonable deductions during an investigation. If they know that vampires can’t go out in daylight then they can be reasonably sure that a vampire didn’t kill someone outside on a sunny day.

The more supernatural beings in your campaign the more you must think of how they relate to each other. Do they have their individual mythology or are they related to each other in some way. For example are vampires, werewolves and witches their own self-contained elements or are they all cursed by a single demon attempting to defile humanity by turning them into monsters?

The default setting for Strange Squad takes a kitchen sink approach to the supernatural where anything is possible. This can lead to interesting investigations rising out of what exactly happens if a vampire drains the blood of a werewolf or does an alien have a soul that be corrupted by a demon or turn into a ghost.

By picking and choosing what supernatural creatures exist in your campaign and deciding how they relate to each other you can craft your own feel for the setting. You might decide that humanity doesn’t need external threats such as aliens or demons leaving you to focus on the conflict between mind storms and witches.

You can decide as much or as little details as you want before you campaign begins. If you have everything in place you can ensure that everything will make sense, once the player characters have uncovered the worlds secrets but leaving some blank spots allows you to adapt to good ideas that players develop during their theorising.

WRITING ADVENTURES FOR SUPERNATURAL ABILITIES

Just how do you create a mystery when some player characters will have the ability to read minds or use retrocognition to ‘see’ the crime taking place? How can you present them a challenge if some can pass through walls or turn into terrifying wolf-men to take down enemies?

The GUMSHOE system (with a few exceptions) has always been about highly competent people. It is less about IF someone can do something that it is what they do with the information they gather.

Players select characters with the above abilities because they want to use them. You should write your adventures accordingly or remove abilities that you feel would harm the pacing of the investigations you want to run.

When they do have such an ability they will often need to meet certain conditions to reveal the clue that will crack the case. If they can read minds they’ll have to find the killer first to identify them as such. It they have retrocognition they’ll have to find the place where the crime took place.

There is also enough leeway for clues gathered in this manner to not be the whole story. Someone might think they were the killer but maybe they were brainwashed with science, hypnotic suggestion or magic. A player character might see a murder being committed in the past but it could be an illusion or those involved could have been mind controlled into doing it.

Not that supernatural abilities should be constantly nullified. If the player characters are approaching the end of the investigation the use of supernatural abilities can serve to confirm what they already suspected, letting the player appreciate the fact they selected those particular powers.

It should also be noted that even when the player characters discover who committed a crime and how the adventure isn’t over. If the culprit is human they’ll need to find enough evidence for them to be successfully tried. This means that the Strange Squad could know someone is guilty from the start of an investigation and spend the rest of the adventure trying to prove it.

With supernatural creatures there is less of a burden of proof but in this scenario the real question is not ‘who?’ or ‘why?’ but ‘how are they going to deal with the monster?’ The real investigation is then finding out about the creature, finding it and then defeating it.

Player characters might take the same approach to human criminals. If they know someone is guilty but can’t prove it they could decide to just kill them. Their superiors won’t be happy about this so the Strange Squad will need to find a way to do this without getting caught and still give the appearance that they’ve successfully completed the investigation.

Player characters general supernatural abilities are powerful and will let them overcome most mundane challenges but spending points from their pool will reduce their effectiveness.

Flight and Incorporeal could get them through a buildings security perimeter but they still need to pass the challenge you set and that usually means they need to spend points if the difficulty is high. While they could do it a few times it is not something that they can use constantly during an investigation.

Those who select combat related general abilities want to engage in combat and you should oblige. The player characters should be able to slaughter their human opponents, which emphasises the fact that they are monsters. It is sometimes harder for them not to leave a body count.

Supernatural opponents level the playing field, since they have abilities of their own (not always shared by the player characters). These should always be tense scenes as the player characters find that they don’t have an advantage any more.

In conclusion don’t worry about supernatural abilities ruining your adventure. Instead enjoy the player characters solving cases that no one else could with their special talents.

STRANGE SQUAD

THE DRAMASYSTEM VERSION

NUTSHELL

The Strange Squad is an special division of supernatural creatures solving crimes to earn their freedom.

CHARACTERS

  • a vampire turned in the 1950s and refuses to give up his shades and leather jacket; a rebel without a cause or pulse
  • a vagrant werewolf who was searching the country for a cure before being picked up and assigned to the squad; struggles with the beast within
  • an amnesiac Frankenstein monster; stitched together from the dead without memory of who she was in life
  • a shy ghost who won’t talk about how she died; her relationships with those in squad make her feel alive
  • an eccentric scientist constantly inventing new gadgets and weapons to test in the field; more concerned with the quest for knowledge than the safety of others
  • spoiled witch from Beverly Hills; learning that helping others can be better than a shopping spree
  • unstable teen psychic coping with the changes in her body, mood swings and the ability to set people on fire with her mind; the Strange Squad will shape the woman she will become
  • robot searching for his purpose in life and his mysterious inventor; a machine developing outside its programming
  • a deceitful demon doing good; a hidden agenda in his dark heart
  • a stranded time traveller with bad news about tomorrow; he’ll change history if it kills him
  • a conspiracy-nut who has been repeatedly abducted by aliens; looking for the truth
  • an experienced police officer showing the squad the ropes; learning that there is more out there than he ever imagined
  • the stuffy official whose career is riding on the success of the squad; he has everything at stake

SETTING

A procedural police drama where the detectives all have supernatural powers. Each investigation either involves the supernatural or can only be solved using supernatural abilities.

It is a dark, scary world but the Strange Squad can be bring some justice to it. Their cases will bring the unknown into the light and force the squad members to confront their own monstrous nature.

Pick a major city of your choice and add a level of weird to it for the Strange Squad to investigate.

THEMES

Monster Within: The crimes the squad investigate will be a reminder of their own dark side. They may have hurt or killed people in the past. How do they feel meeting victims and their loved ones? What are people capable of?

Redemption: Can the past be forgiven? Can the squad members make up for what they’ve done?

Crime and Punishment: Can the legal system ever adequately provide justice or do the squad members need to carry out their own punishment?

Desire: Everyone wants something. Some people can’t control their hunger. Crimes grow out of people desiring things they can’t or shouldn’t have. What do the squad members desire and can they control it?

Freedom: Those the squad arrest forfeit their freedom but the squad are prisoners as well. What price is worth paying to be free?

Science vs Superstition: The squad are examples of just a few things that modern science can’t explain, living in modern times. What other superstitions have their roots in truth and how is modern technology changing how they relate to our world?

Equality: Some members of the squad aren’t considered to be human but is that right? Their investigations will likely involve other inequalities which cause victims and crimes. What must they do to be considered equal?

TIGHTENING THE SCREWS

  • A werewolf is found murdered but all evidence suggests he caged himself when he transformed to avoid hurting anyone so why was he killed?
  • A past victim of one of the squad members is a suspect in a case. Will they remember their attacker?
  • A stolen piece of technology or supernatural artefact could cure a squad member of their condition. If they recover it will they use it and who will be the lucky person?
  • A journalist is getting close to exposing the Strange Squad. Can they find a way to silence her?
  • During an investigation severe weather cripples the city. As chaos erupts and they are denied basic resources can they still close the case?
  • An old supernatural associate is in town and unaware that their former friend is now part of the Strange Squad. To find out what the associate is planning the squad member must go undercover where their loyalties are tested.
  • A new person is added to the Strange Squad but can they be trusted or will they destroy the group from the inside?
  • Budget cuts threaten the existence of the Strange Squad. Can the squad members prove they are needed or will they be sent to prison permanently?
  • A conspiracy theorist was about to prove the connection between an alien city on the moon and an unholy alliance with demons in the White House before he vanished. Was he getting too close to the truth? The squad members are assigned to find him to find out.
  • The death of spy in the city reveals that various intelligence agencies are employing the talents of supernatural creatures. The squad must find the killer before vital information falls into enemy hands.

NAMES

Vlad, Elsa, Frank, Jack, Max, Chloe, Casper, Dana, Boris, Christopher

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