The Elevator Pitch
Audrey Parker is an FBI special agent sent to a small Maine town after a fugitive, but the simple assignment is much less straightforward than it seemed. Immediately, the manhunt is complicated by the insular community reticent to give up one of their own, even a criminal, and veiled allusions to “the Troubles” from a generation ago. She quickly begins to realize that this is a community covering up a history of strange supernatural events, which are now beginning to recur with life-threatening consequences.
Perhaps more importantly to Audrey, a poorly-explained newspaper picture from the last troubling time displays a woman that looks just like her, who was apparently instrumental in saving the town. Could this be the mother that gave her up for adoption, or something even stranger? Regardless of the cause, it’s clear that she’s been maneuvered into this town for reasons other than a fugitive, and she has a vital role to play in its unfolding supernatural drama.
This becomes all too clear when more and more powers break out and she appears to be largely immune to their most destructive effects: is she, herself, troubled in a way that makes her the perfect foil for other citizens of Haven that are unable to control their powers?
(This show is currently available for streaming on Netflix.)
The nature of the setting can vary from a straight lift of the Stephen King-style small town supernatural mystery, to any kind of urban or traditional fantasy, to straight up sci-fi (nanotech gone wrong?). What’s important is that there are dangerous powers in play that need to be controlled, and what the PCs have going for them is that they’re more or less immune (probably due to some mysterious past).
This immunity is selectively total, but not a guarantee, as it only protects the body and mind of the PC, not the environment or allies. A pyrokinetic can’t set the PC on fire, but he can burn down the house she’s in. A kid that causes everyone to see their worst nightmares looks perfectly normal to the PC, but that won’t help her control the panicking bystanders. A Groundhog Day-esque encounter with a time rewinder leaves the PC able to try to end this unending day, but good luck trying to convince everyone else that she’s stuck in a time loop and not just insane.
In a setting full of things that break all the rules of the mundane world, the PCs’ advantage is that they can generally assume that these rules will at least keep applying to them. It’s an edge against powered threats, but they’ll often find themselves wishing for powers of their very own; powers that are fundamentally denied them by their own gift.
There are few things more empowering to players than explaining that everything is awful, all the NPCs are afflicted and terrified, but their PCs are so awesome that they’re perfectly fine and can act unimpeded by the crisis. This premise takes the standard intention of players to have their characters stay in control and unhindered by the unfolding chaos and makes it into their core PC benefit.
You don’t have to meet in a tavern, you don’t have to be gathered by a mysterious elderly person, and you don’t have to figure out how you’re friends from childhood. Unexplained and dangerous things are happening and you’re the only ones that seem to be mostly unaffected; everyone’s counting on you to save them. Go be heroes.