A downloadable game

Buy Now$20.00 USD or more

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 trained agents 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
  • Print-ready PDF
  • ePub format for e-readers
  • Kindle format
  • Fillable and print-friendly character sheet PDF
  • REDACTED MATERIALS: Guide to hacking with the ECB license

Quickstart Materials

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!


Buy Now$20.00 USD or more

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:

ECB_Layout_v5_digital.pdf 15 MB
ECB_Layout_v5_pages02.pdf 20 MB
External Containment Bureau.epub 7 MB
External Containment Bureau.azw3 7 MB
ECB Character_Sheet_Fillable v2.pdf 186 kB
ECB_Hacking_Guide.pdf 1 MB


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(1 edit)

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.

Thank you for the response it cleared things up!

(2 edits)

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.

Let us know if you get a chance to play!


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!

So glad you're digging it! We really tried to make a lightweight game that uses our very favorite parts of the FITD framework.

Let us know how your game goes! Nothing better than hearing about folks playing our games.

The link in the demo is not clickable for me

Do you mean the Quickstart Keeper graphic? If you're having trouble with that you can try this direct link: