London by Moonlight

“Supernatural Secret Agents” is the elevator pitch for my London by Moonlight setting. I’ve been treating the game as though I were creating a TV series from the UK. Naturally, I have been seeking inspiration from existing TV series for the “feel” of the program.
I started researching the spy programs of the 60’s first. This was the period of the big James Bond craze, so spy shows were everywhere. However, the spies in these shows are treated as though they are in law enforcement, but they bust rogue countries and super criminals. However, the feel of these shows are too happy for the horrific stuff I would like our agents to deal with.
Do you know of any shows that would go well with a Spy/Urban Fantasy/Horror mashup?

Comments

  • edited July 2016
    All the Urban Fantasy/Horror stuff I know is pretty darn far from Spy. But a random idea just came to mind. Noah Bennet (aka horn-rimmed glasses guy) from Heroes is a sometimes-relatable, sometimes-coldblooded agent for a Company who might or might not be govt or pro-supers or anti-supers (we do find out, but I'm avoiding spoilers), who goes around inflicting his agency's will on various supernormal beings. He has no powers, but is highly effective against those who do. His shtick works best for people rather than pure monsters, but I think it'd fit with many versions of vampires and werewolves and the like.

    Heroes eventually turned into garbage, but Season 1 is mostly pretty good, and Bennet has a nice arc in it as a supporting character. His big episode is Company Man (S01E17) if you'd rather invest one hour than twenty.
  • Well, The Prisoner sounds perfect for this — '60s spy TV gone totally off the rails into paranoid / existentialist mindfuck territory. It's not strictly-speaking supernatural, but there is a lot of _very_ weird stuff in it that's never explained and might as well be magic.
  • Oh, also, do you know of Charles Stross's "The Laundry" series (The Atrocity Archives, etc.)? Its roots are a mashup of spy fiction, Lovecraftian horror, and bureaucratic satire. Great stuff. Cubicle 17 made an RPG out of it several years ago.


  • Heroes eventually turned into garbage, but Season 1 is mostly pretty good, and Bennet has a nice arc in it as a supporting character. His big episode is Company Man (S01E17) if you'd rather invest one hour than twenty.
    I hadn't considered Heroes for inspiration, but I was a fan of the first series and it does fit the feel that I am looking for. An Noah Bennet would indeed fit right into London by Moonlight.

  • Well, The Prisoner sounds perfect for this — '60s spy TV gone totally off the rails into paranoid / existentialist mindfuck territory. It's not strictly-speaking supernatural, but there is a lot of _very_ weird stuff in it that's never explained and might as well be magic.
    I have the Blu-rays of the Prisoner series. Big fan of it when I saw it as a kid in the 60's. In the past superhero games I've run, I've had the pleasure of throwing the characters into the Village. Definitely a good vibe for this kind of setting.

  • Oh, also, do you know of Charles Stross's "The Laundry" series (The Atrocity Archives, etc.)? Its roots are a mashup of spy fiction, Lovecraftian horror, and bureaucratic satire. Great stuff. Cubicle 17 made an RPG out of it several years ago.
    I've seen the game in the store, but blew it off. I think I'll need to read some of the fiction. Excellent suggestion!

  • Sappire and Steal should be perfect :)
    I've watched several of the episodes on YouTube. Interesting stuff. It has an oddly cold vibe to it that makes it makes it difficult to take in somehow. I'm fairly certain that is what the creator intended, though.

  • Just finished reading Equoid in The Laundry series. Wonderful stuff! I had originally ignored the game that is based on this series simply because it had mentioned Cthuloid horror. The fiction puts a new spin on it and even makes fun of the creator of the subgenre.
  • Thanks for the link. Never heard of the series or game.
    The reviews and yours look promising. Cheap on kindle to :)

  • Thanks for the link. Never heard of the series or game.
    The reviews and yours look promising. Cheap on kindle to :)
    Yes, lots of entertainment for $1.99. Very interesting blend of horror and satire. One thing I have noticed is that I prefer his style over Lovecraft's. Part of this is because the setting and characters are so painfully and wonderfully British. I actually felt for the victims in the story because the protagonist did, despite his attempts to cover it with cynicism.

  • edited August 2016
    Ultraviolet is a supergrim horror/undercover police work mash-up with an excellent cast.

    There was a short lived, not very good series called Demons which explored the 'secretive fight against monsters' angle, while more recently Jekyll & Hyde was a retro take on roughly the same idea.

    Back in the 60s, The Champions were secret agents with superpowers, while Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) brought their otherworldly partnership to bear on some rather odd crimes.
  • Thank you! I've tried watching Ultraviolet on Hulu, but simply couldn't get into it. The series sat in my queue for months. I might need to give it another try.

    I haven't heard of Demons, but did Jekyll & Hyde. I found the Champions on YouTube. It's an interesting premise, but the adventures are fairly low budget and typical for the time.
  • It's not strictly spy fiction, but if you want dark or "realistic" urban superhero-type stuff, Worm is amazing. It's an online serial novel, and it would have tons of ideas for you to mine.
  • Worm is amazing.
    Worm sure is an interesting read, very original. Though half-way, I've stopped reading because it became too dark, explicit and morbid for my (supernatural) taste.

  • I found Worm. I'll try it out.

    I've been thinking about the different "atmospheres" to mix together for this mashup. Let me know what you think:

    "Real-Life" Conspiracy - Black Helicopters, MK Ultra, the Royal Family are actually Reptilians... the whole ball of paranoid delusional wax. Why bother with making stuff up when there are entire modern mythologies freely shared on the internet?

    James Bond - The Daniel Craig version. I grew up with Sean Connery, but the Craig version is much more down to earth. Besides, you can't have "Spy" without "Bond." Even though the underlying optimistic atmosphere clashes with the dark and depressing stories of the supernatural, I can't help but feel that there needs to be something that balances out that dark world.

    Harry Potter - Without the whimsy. Watching the movies, the Wizarding World pulls much of its building's architecture from the previous century or two. London is a mix of new and ancient buildings, and I can imagine immortal beings preferring the older places.

    Kingsman: The Secret Service - Nothing to do with the supernatural, but a marvelous fusion of high-tech gadgets and British style.
  • "Worm" does get into some rather tragic/grim territory (nothing ever turns out to "just go right" for the characters you're cheering for), but it's got some really unique worldbuilding, and there's always something more uplifting around the corner.

    If you're going for more of a "spirit world"/"secret magic society" kind of deal, the same author's next work is "Pact" and deals with that in detail.

    The thing that struck me about Worm is that the genius characters in it... are actually smart! That's very unlike every other superhero story out there. The superheroes and villains who win are not the strongest ones, but the smartest ones.
  • edited August 2016
    Buffy and Supernatural comes into mind, as well as Constantine and Penny Dreadful.

    Hellboy could fit too, X-files, Millennium, Fringe, Torchwood, and possibly The Chronicle.

    Just giving some obvious sources.
  • If you're going for more of a "spirit world"/"secret magic society" kind of deal, the same author's next work is "Pact" and deals with that in detail.

    The thing that struck me about Worm is that the genius characters in it... are actually smart! That's very unlike every other superhero story out there. The superheroes and villains who win are not the strongest ones, but the smartest ones.
    I'll need to check Pact out.

    I've always preferred smart characters. I think that is what attracts me to British TV over American. Many Americans have developed into anti-intellectuals. They have an aversion to anything that makes them think. The Brits don't have a problem with it.

  • Buffy and Supernatural comes into mind, as well as Constantine and Penny Dreadful.

    Hellboy could fit too, X-files, Millennium, Fringe, Torchwood, and possibly The Chronicle.

    Just giving some obvious sources.
    Yep. Seen most of them. Have some on DVD. The one thing I've found interesting about them is that the heroes are almost always depicted as loners. Fox Mulder may have been an FBI agent, but he was still a wild card in the agency. Torchwood in the series was also a rag-tag band of misfits. In Dr. Who, it was first introduced as an organization where everyone worked together, but it was "evil" and arrogant. It co-opted alien technology, sometimes by force, and seemed convinced they would also somehow bring back the British Empire.

    So this is one of the major conflicts in fiction: The Individual vs The Organization. Agents work for an organization, but in fiction they are still highly individualistic and refuse to conform to someone else's expectations. John Drake could have problems with someone that was higher up in the agency. James Bond would also have problems with MI6, even something so minor as breaking one of Q's toys.

    An interesting example is in the movie Men In Black. The tests that J was initially put through was to test how much of an Individual he and the others were. Are you willing to risk looking silly moving your chair so that you can fill out a form? Or will you conform? Are you willing to ignore the obvious targets in the shooting gallery and see what is really going on?

    The irony of all this is that you have individuals fighting to preserve the status quo. So the people that conform don't need to be bothered with it.
  • Folks have offered up a lot of great inspirations on the supernatural side. If I might offer up something on the UK spy side:

    "MI-5", a spy show from the UK.

    It's a bit over the top, but in an thriller-y, often grim way, not a campy one. It's got high-action high-stakes spies running around acting a bit Bond-ish, some individual vs. organizational allegiance issues, etc. It's worth watching a season or three.
  • Oh, here's a link to Pact, if you still wanted to check it out. It's also got some very interesting worldbuilding as far as the "hidden supernatural" thing goes, very original and self-coherent.
  • Thank you. I'll look over Pact and Hulu is streaming the entire MI-5 series. I've personally tended to concentrate on the supernatural end of it, and the agents end up being investigators. However, wouldn't it make sense for various spy organizations to have their own supernatural agents? Preferably on some kind of leash so they could keep them under control.
  • Seems to me whether having their own supernatural agents makes sense depends a lot on the setting and the power levels of the supernaturals. I think it makes sense for such agencies to want to have their own, but... if your super is a low-power vampire, sure, leash 'em. If they're a 1980s Superman, your relationship is going to be all about aligning interests.

    I think the most interesting outcome is something in the middle, rather the way it presumably is with human spies: get them to join up because they're on board with the mission, or the incentives, and let them keep themselves in line when they see what you do to people that get out of control (first story could be about the ghost who thought he was beyond touching, whose entire set of descendants was systematically imprisoned in gulags for his misbehavior.)
  • I think the most interesting outcome is something in the middle, rather the way it presumably is with human spies: get them to join up because they're on board with the mission, or the incentives, and let them keep themselves in line when they see what you do to people that get out of control (first story could be about the ghost who thought he was beyond touching, whose entire set of descendants was systematically imprisoned in gulags for his misbehavior.)
    Oooh! I like that idea!

  • "Worm" has a neat, and slightly different take on this. In that setting "superheroes" are the ones who have the official "stamp of approval" from the government, and the "supervillains" are the ones who don't. Actual "good" or "bad" behaviours, however, are equally present on both sides...

    There is no official drawback to "quitting" from the government organization (the "Protectorate"), but it exposes you to legal action from using your powers (otherwise you get some protection), and you know that you will now be up against all your former friends and/or allies.

    Those are just the broad strokes, of course. There's a lot to draw on there for inspiration.
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