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Seeking Advice About How Magical Billionaires Can Save the World

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
#1
The fairly eccentric freeform game I'm in is about magic gradually returning in the modern day. The PCs' are working to make certain that increasing amounts of magic doesn't massively screw up the world. One of the PCs major tools is time travel - they have a magical device that allows them to go back and forward a few years by switching minds with their past or future selves. Using time travel, the PCs are also about to become billionaires and I'm looking for ideas for what game-useful things they can do with their money.

The campaign is set (almost) in the modern day (late 2011), and magic is gradually returning to the world. The PCs are connected to a magical location that allows them to travel a few years backward and forward in time. While magic is increasing on its own, it does so slowly, over the course of several decades. However, the PCs can also cause the amount of magic to suddenly increase, which also changes the past, since this increase in magic means that magic started returning to the world a few years earlier, resulting in a variety of small changes to the past (time is fairly elastic, so mostly the new past looks like the old one except for ways that people from the future deliberately change it).

Increasing the amount of magic also allows the PCs to travel further back in time. The PCs just became able to go back to 2007, which is what will allow them to become billionaires (via stock market investment). The PCs are already all millionaires due to previous time travel investments, but their next trip to the past is going to involve a jump from being millionaires to being billionaires, and I'm looking for ideas for what the PCs can do with that much money to help make magic return safely.

The PCs are dealing with two specific problems.

  1. Haunted Areas: Haunted areas typically feel a bit lonely or creepy when the level of magic is low, but they both grow larger and become dangerous or even actively murderous when magic increases. The PCs have dehaunted areas using everything from a Wiccan ritual (my PC was Wiccan in college and was seriously bemused that her ritual worked), a series of block parties and some personal mentoring (that haunting was caused by an increasingly problematic poltergeist from an angry and isolated teen), or simply buying an creepy bookstore that no one wanted to be in and fixing it up to make it someplace people actually wanted to spend time in and around, while also appeasing the ghost that seems to have been responsible for the problem. The PCs have learned that dehaunting a location become it becomes magically powerful is both much safer and considerably easier than attempting this after it becomes magical. Also, different haunted spots become magically powerful (and thus dangerous) at different times.
  2. Magical Beings: This problem is just starting – as magic increases, people other than the PCs are beginning to get magical abilities, and in the near future (which the PCs have seen via time travel) some magical beings will return to the world and some people will transform into magical beings. The PCs are trying to set things up so that this goes well, since w/o out assistance, the default state looks fairly balkanized, hostile, and isolated, with different groups carving out pieces of territory and using magic to keep others out.
In any case, I'm looking for ideas about what the PCs can do with five or six billion dollars to help all of this along. The ideas we've already come up with are:

  • The PCs have a map of many of the haunted locations, they'll hire a couple dozen statisticians and social scientists to study these locations and find commonalities, so instead of calling them haunted places and getting odd locks from people in power, they can come up with some distinctive features for all or groupings of these locations (assuming such commonalities exist) and then do fund raising and lobby for government efforts to deal with these locations as mundane problems. Obviously, this tactic is best used on those locations that are not yet particularly magical since when these locations aren't very magical they can't harm people. If this tactic works, it might also allow the PCs to find haunted locations in places not covered by their map.
  • Funding one or more TV shows on small networks like SyFy. The PCs' first idea is a show where a motley group of magicians and supernatural creatures dehaunt houses and deal with supernatural problems. One of the advantages of time travel is that they can then use travel into the future and looking at ratings to tweak the show in different ways until it's at least moderately popular. Hopefully, the show will shape public opinion of the soon to be arriving magical beings a bit.
  • Fund discussion forums and support groups for people who will transform or are starting to transform into supernatural creatures (the PCs have heard from their future selves that some people end up as werewolves and vampires, and the PCs definitely don't want to end up living in the WoD).
  • Buy up a bunch of the haunted locations before they become magically powerful and renovate them or otherwise rework them so they are less likely to become malevolent Also, the PCs have already learned that the few powerful dangerous haunted locations can at least be contained by putting wards on the area around them.
  • Create a social networking smartphone App/Game, where people earn points by performing various activities at non-dangerous (yet) haunted spots that can help dehaunt them. Activities include street magicians playing to attract people to a lonely location, small-scale beautification efforts or various sorts of religious blessings on hostile areas… In addition to competition, people who earn enough points get cash rewards – this plan is already in place and works pretty darn well, if also fairly slowly. However, the PCs can't use it on haunted locations that are already magically powerful, since they fight back.
So, what other ideas do people have?
 

thompsja

Registered User
Validated User
#2
Magical multi-billionaires? I'm not sure, but I believe that there is less than 1,000 billionaires on the planet. They are going to be of interest. Bill Gates will want to visit them and have them pledge to give away most of their wealth to benefit humanity. They are going to be invited to parties. Certainly some are going to investigate how they got their money. People who are the right side of every trade are going to meet inquiring minds. Depending on how dark you want to take this, Goldman Sachs may already be controlled by a rival group.

As for acquiring places of power, they could easily afford hiring a real estate firm to locate locations in the United States that meet their criteria. They work with Habitat for Humanity and fix/cleanse homes. They could treat it as a way to deal with issues of homelessness and historical restoration. The players recruit heavily from SCA and fan communities for workers. They could have hundreds of people working for him in short order.

It's a question of how open they can be. If they can clearly communicate their information, they could certainly hire a number of graduate students and work on detectors or other equipment that would allow them to speed up their efforts. The first thing would be able to have some sort of measure for a magical place as to its threat level.

They hire conflict mediators and compensation specialists to create some sort of deal where everyone will have a stake in joining the big union (rather than being king of the balkanized kingdom). Necessarily, the players will have to give up some power and autonomy in doing that. If they want the union, what will they give up?
 

Kraus

Diligent Procrastinator
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#3
Lawyers. Lots of lawyers. If the supernatural started to work then a lot of case law would established in the early stages as courts start having to deal with new and tricky situations.
 

Chris Tavares

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#4
Are they trying to keep magic secret? If not, a billion dollars could do a lot to help demystify magic for the populace and prevent panic.

Create a university or a research group or something. Hire people to explain "yes, magic's coming back, here's how it works." Can anyone learn, or is it limited to bloodlines or whatever?

Basically, a massive PR campaign so that the populace doesn't panic.
 

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
#5
Are they trying to keep magic secret?
No, there's no hope of doing so, after a point (which seems to be after the next time magic increases in a jump), there will be the occasional person turning into a wolf and similar oddness that's too obvious to ignore.

If not, a billion dollars could do a lot to help demystify magic for the populace and prevent panic. Create a university or a research group or something. Hire people to explain "yes, magic's coming back, here's how it works." Can anyone learn, or is it limited to bloodlines or whatever?

Basically, a massive PR campaign so that the populace doesn't panic.
That's an excellent idea, and also might be directly useful to the PCs, since none of them have a clue about how magic works. Like researching the haunted places, more data could be very useful indeed.
 

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
#6
Lawyers. Lots of lawyers. If the supernatural started to work then a lot of case law would established in the early stages as courts start having to deal with new and tricky situations.
That's a truly excellent point, and reminded me of the first case in need of a precedent - currently, one member of a magical mostly human-appearing fae-like species has returned from the magical stasis in some weird otherspace that he was in (made necessary by the fact that the level of magic in the past had gone too low for these creatures to survive) - he's currently confined to a highly magical bookstore, because the overall magic level isn't quite high enough for him to survive in most places. However, the PCs know that soon he'll be joined by four or five others of his kind, and as soon as the level of magic is high enough to support these fae (which due to some things the PCs are up to, should be in a couple weeks), they'll work together to bring close to 10,000 of their kind out of stasis. At that point, if not before, some sort of refugee status for them would be awesome. They have enough magic to hide themselves fairly well, but getting them legal status soon would definitely help with peaceful integration.
 

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
#7
Are they trying to keep magic secret? If not, a billion dollars could do a lot to help demystify magic for the populace and prevent panic.

Create a university or a research group or something. Hire people to explain "yes, magic's coming back, here's how it works." Can anyone learn, or is it limited to bloodlines or whatever?

Basically, a massive PR campaign so that the populace doesn't panic.
In thinking a bit more about this. The research group idea is excellent and will likely be directly useful to the PCs. I am curious about how someone would go about doing a positive PR campaign about magic - my first thought is interviews with people using magic in helpful and cool ways. Any thoughts of what else might be good for this.
 

Chris Tavares

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#8
In thinking a bit more about this. The research group idea is excellent and will likely be directly useful to the PCs. I am curious about how someone would go about doing a positive PR campaign about magic - my first thought is interviews with people using magic in helpful and cool ways. Any thoughts of what else might be good for this.
The first thing you do is win James Randi's challenge prize. That should get some attention. Second, hire him to be your spokesman. The interviews are a good idea. But you should also try to explain what we know, what we don't know, and more importantly how you're going to figure it out. And do the research. The scientific method works, even if the thing you're studying is magic. Do both scientific journal papers and get Randi (or heck, Brian Green or Neil Degrasse Tyson) to do some pop-sci books or even a TV series - "The new frontier" or something like that.

Play up the useful bits of magic, and the defensive stuff everyone can use. The scary bit about magic is that anyone secret can be using it for bad juju you don't see and can't control. So let people know how they can see it and how they can control or at least protect themselves.

Just a couple ideas.
 

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
#9
Re: Seeking Advice About How Magical Billionaires Can Save the World (now with campaign summary)

This campaign recently finished, so I thought it might interest some people to read my rather long summary, since the campaign have a distinct and planned ending and went excellently (if also very oddly). Here's a link to the 8,000 word summary. Enjoy!
 
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