External Containment Bureau is a game of paranormal investigation and bureaucracy using a lightweight, hackable version of the Forged in the Dark design framework. You play as trainedagents of the External Containment Bureau, an organization tasked with the study, identification, and containment of paranormal phenomena. The Bureau authorizes agents to make use of these phenomena to give yourself incredible powers (so long as the proper forms are in order). But take care: using paranormal energies inches you ever closer to joining the ranks of the paranormal yourself. Will you transcend humanity in the line of duty? Play to find out.
If you enjoy media like Control, Fringe, The Magnus Archives, Men in Black, SCP Foundation, or X-Files... you'll love External Containment Bureau!
Written by Eric Brunsell and Michael Elliott
Edited by Lexi Antoku
Art Direction by Justin Ford
Art by Julianne Griepp
Production and Layout by Eli Kurtz
ePub formatting by eskur
Your Purchase Includes
Screen-friendly, hyperlinked PDF
ePub format for e-readers
Fillable and print-friendly character sheet PDFs
REDACTED MATERIALS: Guide to hacking with the ECB license
Mission template for the Affinity design suite
If you want to try out the game before buying, we've got a FREE quickstart keeper document available through Google Sheets. Just click the graphic below:
Included in the Quickstart...
A summary of all the rules you need to play
Character sheet tabs for up to four players
A GM tab with summary info on all player characters and a sample mission
The Quickstart makes use of some of Google Sheets' advanced features to automate your experience in exciting ways. Click around on the various tabs and try it for yourself!
Ten indie designers contributed to the REDACTED MATERIALS Jam in Oct-Nov 2021. Follow the link above for setting hacks, new mechanics, and over a dozen missions ready to play with your game group.
In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the
minimum price of $20 USD. You will get access to the following files:
External Containment Bureau.epub7 MB
External Containment Bureau.azw37 MB
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These copies are paid for by folks who pay full price for ECB. For every copy sold, we add one copy to the community pool.
We finally had an opportunity to get ECB on our table and had a blast! A mix of experienced “Forged in the Dark” vets and someone starting from square one and it was still easy and intuitive to step into for all.
Despite walking in with a mess of clues the Theorize roll tanked which honestly made for a much more exciting experience!
Thanks for all your hard work on this and for keeping the Redacted Materials adaptation guidelines so flexible!
Hey, I’m struggling a little to understand how Clues are supposed to work. I assume they are information that is supposed to be fed to the players as they investigate. Should the GM be saying “this is a capital C clue” for these, for when it comes to the Theory Roll, or should the list of clues be played close to the chest?
I haven't been able to find a link to the "print-friendly character sheet". There's a fillable character sheet (ECB Character_Sheet_Fillable v2.pdf), but that's made for online use, as trying to print it out as is leaves some fields with the word "Select" when they should be blank. Nor is a character sheet included with the files after purchasing. Have I missed a link somewhere?
Hey weavejester, thanks for your patience this past month! We took kind of a long holiday break here at Mythic Gazetteer.
We didn't realize the fillable PDF creates those artifacts when printed. Thanks for pointing it out! I've just uploaded a fresh version of the character sheet that should print just fine. Pretty sure you'll get a product update about it but wanted to let you know personally too.
I really like the idea that the players are part of constructing the phenomenon. It takes a lot of work off of my plate as a GM, and it gives me the freedom to give the players a bit of what they're looking for. I hope that if I run this again, I get a chance to use the NPC's to greater effect.
So glad you had a fun time! The collaboration around the "canon" of the phenomenon is one of my favorite parts as well. And I feel like NPCs are a part of ttrpgs that always benefit from more time at the table. It takes a few sessions to get to know them but when you do? The payoff can be wonderful.
I know it’s been a while since this request was tossed out but wanted to second it. Even just a PDF version of the template to fill by hand/form fillable would be great if that’s not too arduous a thing to assemble.
Hey there, I'm working on a horror-bureaucratic solo ttrpg and I'd like to include something based on your Paperworks and Obfuscate system. Would it be possible with proper credit ? Can we talk about it ? Don't wanna be a thief or a rude prick soooooo ^^
Hi! Love what I'm reading though I am confused about one gameplay element.
On page 39 it talks about paperwork and reprimands, and that when you get your fourth reprimand you're out of the bureau. How can one get to a fourth reprimand though if every time you complete paperwork you're bound to clear up one reprimand (and due to the nature pf the system it's very unlikely you'll have more than one reprimand)
Am I missing something important here? Are loose ends the deciding factor in getting 12 paperwork in one session?
Thanks for the feedback! It is difficult to get multiple reprimands but not impossible. If players leave paperwork hanging about and don't pursue the appropriate downtime actions, all it would take is a few bad die rolls and one bad mission to start racking up paperwork and therefore reprimands (which is also contingent on the preferences of the players, which consequences are dished out, what the genre is, etc). We also didn't want player characters to become unexpectedly unplayable due to office politics. Getting a 4th power is a much showier, dramatic exit from the game. But the threat of reprimands means there are consequences, no matter how rare they may seem.
Also being removed from the Bureau could just be a plot development that makes sense in the story of your game, or the result of a complication during an action roll.
Hi Myhic, the idea is really neat and it seems it will lead to hours of fun. However there are a couple of things missing:
A GM section that most PbtA and FitD games have. If the GM comes from another background they will be clueless on how to run the game (agenda, principles, moves, soft vs hard, etc) and how to organize opponents (fronts, threats, stakes etc).
More playthrough examples that clarify when the agency switches from the player to the GM.
Player aids booklet with concise moves and game structure, e.g. archetypes, departments, character creation checklist (again present in most games in the PbtA and FitD influence zone). Players push back hard against having to wade through 50 odd pages of a rulebook before making a move.
GM aids with agenda, principles and moves plus some sheets for stakes lists and clocks, and the lists of cryptid, names and other occult paraphernalia for tone.
Thanks for the feedback. This was a small project we did for Zine Quest this past year so a lot of what you're describing is outside the scope of our work. We love those kind of tools but our goal was to create something simple enough get by without them. That said, we're still working on a guide to hacking the game, which will include some of what you're looking for.
You should make it clear what is and what it not included / what level of experience is expected from the customer. If you're selling it for $5 and it doesn't have some of the above, it wouldn't bother me too much. But for $20, I'm expecting a complete game. I have BiD and a bunch of FiD hacks, but I haven't played or run any of them yet. This could have been the one I decided to try running as the setting looks really great, but with so much missing, as a new GM I have to start somewhere else. Reluctant pass. :(
Rest assured, argel1200, ECB is a complete game. Our playtesting process showed that it achieved our goals of being lightweight, easy to learn, and easy to run, so it's not the kind of game that requires a lot of supplementary material.
I think this is pretty great! I love how well this boils down a lot of the concepts from FitD and uses only what is truly necessary. It's going to make picking up and playing with a group really fun. I personally can't wait to run a one-shot or two with this soon!