Men in Black

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Men in Black, also known as M.I.B. or MIBs.

Origin: The modern era of Men in Black sightings have been a staple of UFO conspiracy theories since the 1950s, but similar reports describing "demons" and other supernatural beings date back into ancient history.

Introduction

The men in black; "Don't report this."

The Men in Black as they are known today are largely a product of the modern UFO flap, appearing to people who have seen UFOs or other paranormal experiences to threaten them into silence. The waters of UFO lore are muddy on whether the Men in Black work for the government, or are aliens, or are a completely separate phenomenon with an unexplained interest in UFOs. Descriptions of visits from the Men in Black tend to veer into dreamlike territory, with these agents of the unknown behaving or speaking in very strange ways, communicating through telepathy, appearing or disappearing suddenly, or having a tenuous presence in reality that suggests that their image is being projected from somewhere else, perhaps beyond space and time, or through post-hypnotic suggestion.

For the Cthulhu Mythos, their role as a sort of "cult" seems perfectly natural: a group of at least vaguely human people in unusual costumes behaving strangely and delivering vague threats to investigators and otherwise acting as distractions, obstacles, and targets for investigators' gunfire. Their most obvious use would be in Delta Green scenarios and Call of Cthulhu scenarios set during the Cold War era through to today, however Keepers should not hesitate to put the Men in Black to other uses, such as interfering with Miskatonic University expeditions in the 1920s, or delivering ominous warnings from out of the fog of the Gaslight era, or even masquerading as black-robed members of the Inquisition in Cthulhu Dark Ages to question witnesses and threaten them into silence.


Description

Adele answered the door. It was a tall man, in a black suit and tie. An insurance agent? Maybe, but he looked more like an undertaker. His complexion was strange... his eyes were stranger. He stood motionless, staring as if into a great depth or distance.... "Hello?", prompted Adele. The man jerked into action. "Do you have insurance?" He asked; there was something wrong with his voice, too: a strange monotone, each word carefully measured and broken off emotionlessly, without inflection. "Do you have insurance, and is it... now?"

Adele bit her lip, and suggested, "Maybe you should come back later, when my parents are home." The man jerked again, as if shot, and suddenly began to sweat heavily; he removed his hat - the top of his head was extremely pale. He was wearing makeup, Adele realized; makeup, to make his face seem darker. He also had no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, and Adele realized she couldn't quite place the strange features of his face... the longer she looked at them, the less normal they seemed... he was, perhaps, a very pale Asian, or something equally exotic, and his makeup-covered skin, now damp with sweat, was smooth, like porcelain. "Can I see," gasped the sweating man weakly as he mopped at his face, "a glass of water?" His handkerchief was stained with his makeup.

Alarmed, Adele invited him inside, sat him in a chair, and brought him a glass of water. The man stared at the water a while, holding it up carefully to the light, and, after he had seen it, set it aside. He turned to look at Adele, cocked his head curiously, then looked past her, to the clock on the mantlepiece. Adele glanced back at the clock, and then to the man. "That's father's," she told him, "he got it for his retirement." The man seemed puzzled. "Is it?" He said, "Is it your father's time?" He continued to stare at the clock, as if he'd never seen one before. "Is it... here? And now?" Adele stared back at the man, what else could she do? "Your father. His time?" Said the man, and Adele finally replied, "What?"

"Your father. His time?" She didn't know what he meant, and told him so, but he only repeated, "Your father - his time?" And then the man jerked again, and stood, and moved stiffly towards the door, standing open as Adele had left it. Something was wrong with the way he moved, as if he'd forgotten how to walk. He used his hands to help move his legs. "Good bye," said Adele, hoping she would not see him again.

At the threshold, he stopped, turned, and told Adele, "Watch the lights!" And then he was gone, vanished somewhere down the street - no man could have moved so quickly, especially not in his condition. Watch the lights - the import of those words became clear a short time later: Adele was amazed to see many strange, bright lights, like faeries, fill the room from its darkest corners, dancing over everything... the spectacle lasted a few minutes, and then one by one the lights floated out the window, until they were all gone.
— Anonymous account of an encounter with a Man in Black

Men in Black (or M.I.B.s) are sinister, humanoid beings, typically dressed in black, who appear to witnesses of strange, unnatural events, and make vague (or sometimes direct but remarkably strange) threats to coerce the witnesses into silence. Men in Black typically dress in black suits, ties, and hats, and are often described as having strange, glowing or otherwise unnatural eyes or wearing dark sunglasses even at night (presumably to hide their eyes). Witnesses sometimes describe their appearance as "exotic", with features that might be described as vaguely "Asian" or "American Indian". Their movements tend to be stiff or otherwise unnatural, "robotic" or as if they are unused to moving in this form, and their speech is often strange, mechanical, and unnatural as if they are unused to speaking in English and perhaps any other spoken language. Witnesses sometimes also report seeing wires, tubes, and other devices embedded in the skin of Men in Black, and these beings have been known to appear and vanish suddenly.

By some accounts, M.I.B.s seem to be capable of shape-shifting from the form of amorphous monsters into humanoid shape, sometimes choosing to look like specific, recognizable people and celebrities; their presence is often marked by sense of dreamlike surrealism, as if the witness is "watching a film" about the events they are experiencing, or as if seeing something projected from a great distance in time and space, and some theorists speculate that the Men in Black do not exist in "consensus reality", but instead as a projection from a higher reality.

Men in Black frequently claim to be members of government organizations, sometimes organizations with unrecognizable logos, badges, and even lettering and symbols on vehicles and identification, and these beings are typically associated with UFO and alien encounters, as if they are helping to cover the experience up. However, real government agencies have been known to warn civilians not to speak to Men in Black and to report sightings to authorities, and Men in Black have been known to become involved with witnesses to far more than just UFO sightings: they've also been known to question and threaten witnesses to sightings of strange creatures ("cryptids" like the Loch Ness Monster or Sasquatch), hauntings and demonic possessions, and occasionally for no obvious reason the witnesses can identify.

The modern version of the M.I.B. legend dates back only to the 1950s and the modern era of UFO sightings, but similar accounts can be traced back into the dawn of history, with "Men in Black" appearing in the forms of demons and devils, angels, vampires, witches and wizards, phantoms and spectres, faeries, Elves, and other such supernatural beings.


Heresies and Controversies

Keeper Notes

"Men in Black" can make wonderful humanoid enemies for investigators to fight against and perhaps win. They can be introduced to add a layer of conspiracy to a scenario, muddying the waters of a seemingly straight-forward investigation to imply that there is more happening than meets the eye, pointing the investigators in the direction of a new line of inquiry, helping to point the investigators toward a clue they have been missing, adding drama and a sinister mystery to a story that might otherwise be going too easily for the investigators, introducing the next layer of a bigger plot, etc.

The obvious use for Men in Black would be in a Delta Green campaign involving UFOs. However, there is no reason that a Keeper could not introduce Men in Black into a standard 1920s or Gaslight adventure to question and threaten investigators about any Mythos element the investigators might have gotten involved in, and no reason that some form of Men in Black (perhaps dressed in black, hooded robes and claiming to be from the Inquisition) could not appear in a Cthulhu Dark Ages, Invictus, or any other setting. Though ominous, threatening, and mysterious, there's also no reason that Men in Black could not occasionally help the investigators for mysterious reasons of their own... perhaps interfering with and threatening the investigators in one meeting, and offering vital clues in the next - whatever the case, the Men in Black know more about the situation than the investigators do, and they're not sharing any more detail than the investigators absolutely need to know.

Suggested Man-in-Black

Description: The ranks of the Men In Black consist of government agents, conspiracy theorists, and Investigators who have dug too deep and attracted the attention of Mythos beings; consequently, these lost souls have been taken away, and... treated. Now, pale-skinned from long decades spent in unearthly places without sunlight, the Man in Black serves the Mythos, typically dressing in a dark suit and hat or black cloak and hood. He obeys messages and visions from his new masters without question, but has a 50% chance of cutting and running when casualties reach 50% or if an allied monster is destroyed/driven away; otherwise, he fights to the death if attacked; still, Men in Black usually prefer to avoid combat, preferring intimidation and mind-games to direct conflict.

Man in Black, Human Cultist:

  • 5th Ed. Stats: STR 13 CON 11 SIZ 11 INT 8 POW 10 DEX 10 APP 8 EDU 7 SAN 0 HP 11
  • 7th Ed. Stats: STR 65 CON 55 SIZ 55 INT 40 POW 50 DEX 50 APP 40 EDU 25 SAN 0 HP 11
  • Damage Bonus: none.
  • 5th Ed. Weapons: 1911A .45 pistol 47%, damage 1D10+2
  • 7th Ed. Weapons: 1911A .45 pistol 47% (23/9), damage 1D10+2
  • Skills: Coverup Evidence 33%, Cthulhu Mythos 4%, Dodge 37%, Fast Talk 35%, Hide 62%, Intimidate 40%, Listen 45%, Manipulate Internet Content 30%, Occult 23%, Stealth 57%, Speak/Write Bizarre Manifesto 18%, Spot Hidden 40%.
  • Spells:, Cloud Memory, Contact Alien (e.g. Mi-Gos, Grey Aliens, Reptilian Aliens, Deros, etc.), Contact Deity (e.g. Nyarlathotep, Mothman, or Shadowman), Implant Fear, Mental Suggestion


Associated Mythos Elements

Men in Black might be representatives of any of a number of Mythos and supernatural races, including:

Tomes:

  • Men in Black are often the topic of bizarre manifestos, articles, e-mail chains, and books written by paranoid conspiracy theorists; these tracts can occasionally contain enough Mythos content to count as Tomes.

References