Magical Burst Brainstorming: Alternate Settings

I’m going to try hard to avoid spoiling the Madoka Magica finale, but among the revelations was the fact that in the series’ setting there are magical girls/puella magi in every part of the world, and they have existed throughout human history. Before that the series had largely avoided the question of what lay beyond Mitakihara Town, and indeed cultivated a surreal atmosphere to the point where I was beginning to wonder if there wasn’t a Dark City type thing going on. The architecture, which has landmarks from all over the globe, certainly added to that impression.

I didn’t need Madoka Magica’s “permission” by any means, but I do want to explore possible alternate settings and campaign concepts for the game. I’m going to come up with some ideas in this post, and I invite my readers to throw in more. I’ve stuck to ones that I might actually run, and that I think I could do justice, so I’m sure other people could do a lot more, especially when it comes to interesting historical settings.

What do magical girls do when a war breaks out? The power of their magic vastly exceeds the capabilities of any mortal war machines, so magical girls could decimate virtually any military force if they’re careful. Of course, magical girls are not immune to national loyalties, so there will inevitably be magical girls fighting not to end war but to bring victory to their homeland. Chances are the tsukaima don’t actually care about what strife is visited on humanity so long as their mission is fulfilled, so they won’t have any compunctions about providing magical girls to the great villains of human history.

In Space
Mankind expanding into space doesn’t mean that there won’t be any more magical girls. Whether a tiny moon colony, a gargantuan spaceship, a fragile agricultural colony on a distant world, a great galactic empire, or some other configuration that puts people in space, magical girls can still end up fighting youma.

Magical World
The Magical World setting I did way back when was based on the idea that magical girls were not only public, but so common that they’d started to become a nuisance. Anyone who cares will try to talk you out of becoming a magical girl, and there are people who see the destruction magic can cause and seek to eliminate magical girls from the equation.

In The Lab
Hello, and welcome to the Enrichment Center. Suppose someone decided that they needed to learn more about the magical girl phenomenon. The players’ magical girls are trapped in some kind of research facility under the control of a deranged AI, and they must find a way to escape despite all the dangers the “tests” hurl at them. This isn’t brave. It’s murder. What did I ever do to you?

Apocalypse Girls
The world as we know it has come to and end, and humanity struggles to survive in a blasted landscape where might makes right because there’s no other order left. There might be something about a psychic maelstrom too, and a Thunderdome is a distinct possibility. Are the tsukaima somehow responsible? Was the end of the world only the next stage in their plan? Whatever the case, magical girls still exist, and their powers can make all the difference in a world where there are men who would happily kill for a gallon of gas.

Magic Nine
Taking a cue from Alien Nine, youma outbreaks are such an everyday thing that people are almost blase about them. Each school has a tsukaima on the staff, and each class has to elect someone to become a magical girl who fends off whatever youma might come cause trouble at the school. This version would require changing the game a little, so that the relationship between magic and non-magic isn’t drastically one-sided.

5 thoughts on “Magical Burst Brainstorming: Alternate Settings

  1. That “War” entry is really getting the gears turning. I’ve already got this idea of a villainous magical girl working for the Nazis, in a black military-style uniform and the coldest eyes you’ll ever see. A pulp-era Magical Burst campaign would be seriously awesome.

    I haven’t seen much (if any) anime that mixed magical girls with space opera (though I know plenty of mecha shows that eventually take the battle to the stars). Hmmmm…perhaps we can combine the two? Heck, Danbooru already has a badass-looking mechanization of Kyubey on there that would make for an awesome opponent to fight!

    Post-apocalypse stuff in anime puts me in mind of Fist of the North Star, with evil warlords terrorizing and enslaving everyone weaker than they are. Magical girls, with their power, could easily become defenders of communities against youma and evil warlords (a few of whom could be magical girls themselves).

  2. Hi, just found out about this RPG.

    Does Cthulhu get a mention?

    Post-apocalypse makes me think of Voltoms, of course, its also in the mecha genre.

    Btw, I think 13 McGuffins are too easy, make it 108? And wishes are made as part of the contract, but don’t get fulfilled only after the McGuffins are collected, that way, we get more “I need to save my sick friend NOW, gimme that” drama.

    1. Thanks for commenting!

      I hadn’t thought of getting the Cthulhu into the mix, but that’s certainly a possibility. The tsukaima are already getting a little bit into Lovecraftian territory despite their cute exteriors, and of course I can’t help but think of the whole thing with Sailor Shoggoth from Magical Girl Hunters…

      Although everyone is certainly welcome to change it however they want for their campaign, I think having it be 13 Oblivion Seeds is about right. I want it to be possible to get that many over the course of a campaign of scope comparable to a 12-episode anime series.

      1. Ok, I thought that if magical girls are common enough to actually meet each other and clash, just 13 seeds wouldn’t warrant much of a fight against each other in the long run.

        Maybe I’ve been playing too much Rome Total War, too much backstabbery there.

  3. Hm, fun! I’ve been working on a Draft 3 game for my friends, sort of a cross between the regular setting and Aperture Science. I also have a backup plot, for use if they somehow demolish the first one (can never be too careful). It’s an AU, DND type thing, where the people of the Magical girl/boy tribes fight the Youma-empire thing. At least, the Empire’s citizens all get their powers from Youma seeds, and the Magical people contract when they’re 13/15/something. I’m still working on it, but so far, I’ve come up with what I think is a fairly reasonable background culture, with each tribe having a totem Tsukaima who contracts when a child reaches adulthood, and I’m working on a map now.

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