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Totally Mundane to Secret Magic Campaign

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I'm stumbling over how to transition my Danger International campaign from totally mundane sneaking and running and shooting and dying to my Ravenna setting.  


I want the shock of realization, but not so shocking as encountering an elf or demon. I though about fuzzy security camera footage of a guy killing someone by a lethal finger-gesture. Points, twitches his thumb, and the target drops as if shot with a pistol. The PCs actually find a bullet which doesn't match any ballistics profile. The game takes place in 1985 (the year Danger International is set). I have a print copy of it from back in the day. If the HERO folks read this and want to scan it, I'm down as long as I get it back (or sufficient $$$).


How would you do it? You guys are always good for ideas.  

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Talk it over with your players and figure out if they're actually onboard with this first.  The possible "twist value" isn't worth the possible "this isn't what I signed up for" factor.  And once you've had that conversation you're in a perfect place to transition into mining them for ideas which will be vastly better than anything we can give you since they'll come from the people you're playing with and who best know their own tastes. 

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 A source material that may work for you is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  
 Joss Whedon was quite good at making the secret world of the supernatural fit in well with the modern day.  From ancient societies protecting humanity from behind the scenes to the involvements of black bag Govt. depts. It all fit under the umbrella of the combined shows of BtVS and Angel.

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2 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Would you mind providing a quick primer on your Ravenna setting? Extensive details not required, but basic premise, overall tone, and any significant plot points and power players, would help me imagine what would fit. (I know what I would do and who I'd use, but I want to conform to your vision.) :)

This, right now I have no clue what Ravenna is.

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Here's a bit about the setting. Ravenna Public.pdf


Some hasty editing just now. Might give you a clue. 185 pages of clues.


Public Consumption Edition

This edition of Ravenna has been doped with distilled lies, concentrated falsehoods and Fib Dust. To mundane readers, It will appear as a treatise on the matter of the mating habits of the koala, while those with a talent for magic see it for what it is: an expose of the true nature of the world, magical and wondrous. If you can, get your hands on the pages about the koalas, though, it’s actually quite fascinating.

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Okay, I've had a chance to review the Ravenna background material. (Very impressive, BTW.) :thumbup:  Below is how I would suggest making your transition in campaigns. I'll just mention at the outset that I do agree, qualifiedly, with Gnome BODY (important!) above, in that you would want to be on the same page as your players in making such a significant shift in campaign ground rules. I do understand if you want to make this a surprise for them; but in case you haven't done so yet, you might at minimum mention to them that you're experimenting with taking a different direction, but you won't force them to follow if they don't like it.


Given how you describe your DI-based campaign to date, I'm willing to bet the PCs have encountered an NPC who provides them with information of various sorts. Ideally it should be someone your players like and whose fate matters to them. Bonus if he's into conspiracy theories.


Said NPC disappears. Perhaps the PCs seek her out and find her gone. If their relationship was friendly and trusting, he could have arranged to send a message to them in the event of his death. Either that message or a search of the NPC's property uncovers a set of clues to people, places, or events she was investigating. Depending on how explicit you want to make the change in campaign parameters, the clues could include the assertion that they're all part of something much bigger, going on in secret; and even that they're using methods and resources the PC has never seen before and can't explain.


Following are some suggestions for clues the PCs can follow leading them to suspect the magnitude of what's been hidden from them until now. Should you not wish to use the envelope I suggest above, these encounters can serve as their entry into this new world on their own.


Someone has been supplying street gangs with a new type of firearm ammunition, which pierces conventional armor and riot shields like cloth. Analysis of the recovered rounds has revealed nothing atypical in their materials or configuration; but the few rounds which were not deformed by expansion on impact have borne sigils of power inscribed on their surface, which only an occultist can recognize.


An unusual number of wealthy and powerful men have been succumbing to mysterious illnesses recently. Investigation reveals that they changed their wills before their deaths, signing over their fortunes to parties they had not previously associated with. Their only commonality was having patronized a service for very high-end "escorts." Said escorts are actually succubi, enchanting their clients into surrendering their wealth and secrets, before the succubi finish draining them of their life essence.


A thief, assassin, or serial killer (depending on the tone you want) has been targeting people and sites with high security, yet has been able to get in and out without being detected -- the only thing that might lead someone to suspect those crimes were connected. The perpetrator can be whatever supernatural agency you prefer -- perhaps a whole gang of them, even made up of different creatures, tailoring the challenge level to your PCs.


These events can be under an overall direction, reflecting plays for power by one of your hidden factions, e.g. Roma Ater.

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IIRC back in the '70s there was talk of "ESPionage" programs in the US, USSR and likely other places. The PCs could find threads reaching back to one such ESPionage program. That got weirder than attempts at finding Russian submarines through remote viewing. (If possible, browse through Kenneth Hite's "Suppressed Transmissions" columns for Pyramid magazine. Urban fantasy, alternate history and hidden history are specialties of his.). But leads on investigation keep getting cut off. People involved in the long-ago-project, who for some reason the PCs want to talk to about something apparently mundane, died mysteriously but in ways that could have been faked. Records that should exist, don't. Etc. Eventually the PCs' searhing for information makes someone nervous, who starts pushing back. Eventually they realize there's something genuinely supernatural and otherworldly behid the mysteries and cutouts.


You might also find inspiration from the Delta Green supplements for Call of Cthulhu.


Secrets, deception, hidden dangers -- espionage and the mystical go together like peanut butter and jelly.


Of course the PCs can also find some "Scoobie Doo" scenarios where spies are making a hoax of supernatural events as a way to extract information, manipulate a community, or whatever.


Dean Shomshak

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