Weirdness Magnet is one of those traits that no GM really wants to see on a player character’s sheet. It offloads so much onto the GM who needs to make sure the character with it pays in game for the points it has given. Worse, it can steal spotlight time from other player characters. All that aside, gamemastering Weirdness Magnet is a whole other post. This post is about variations of the trait that a GM might use.
Things just happen to you that most people might not have happen to them in their lifetimes. These are particularly non-violent in most cases, but can be frightening and disturbing. Examples include being outside when lightning strikes nearby, getting mugged in an otherwise low crime setting, and so on. The events should be exciting and disturbing in equal measure. The reaction bonus apply to people who want to be around you all the time because you’re interesting and “fun” or people who prefer to lead normal, not boring lives, for the penalty. This is subtle even for non-cinematic games – there really are people who lead “interesting lives” – even if they don’t want to. See Trouble Magnet (below) for the cinematic version of this.
Your character is always in the middle of whatever plot the GM is cooking up. This type of character just happens to have a long lost sister show up who is in the villain’s employ or accidently finds the forward base of the enemy while taking a hike or going on patrol. Whatever the situation, this allows the GM to toss out exsisting story in whatever fashion they wish without the PCs giving any lip. This isn’t exactly railroading or tossing down a quantum encounter, but it’s close enough that those things should be pointed out before taking this trait. The reaction penalty never applies to those who like to be in the thick of it, while the penalty applies to those who just want to lead their lives without dues ex machina interfering.
This trait is often possessed by the protagonists of Agatha Christie or Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote. You often get involved with legal troubles, robberies, murders, and similar situations which happen around you with alarming frequency. This typically makes you a person of interest or even a suspect on occasions where this occurs. Keeping with the trope you often have to solve the crimes you’re suspecting off to clear your name. The reaction penalty never applies to crime buffs, gung ho law enforcement, and similar types, while the penalty applies to pretty much all non-gung ho law enforcement who view as a menace to be ignored at best or hauled in handcuffs otherwise.
Trouble knows your name and your exact GPS coordinates. You are always getting in car chases, shootouts, etc. This happens often enough that your life might become endangered by the situation, but should mostly become harmful only on occasion. Trouble magnets are the types who want to get coffee from a convenience store and get in the middle of a robbery or have their car stolen by a drug mule trying to get over the border. Trouble does not mean lethal in this context! It does mean taxing, annoying, or straight up dangerous situations finding the character regardless of what they want. The reaction penalty never applies to characters who find your brand of trouble interesting, while the penalty is for those who want to stay the hell away from such a crazy life that you’re living.
Supernatural forces find you and like to make your acquaintance./ This can be the town mage coming to have tea with you or the local vampire nest bringing you gifts to put you in debt to them. This also applies to non-sentient things like magic. In such cases, these paranormal powers tend to be used around you in a way that results in other non-supernatural forces wanting to stay far away. For those who are ambivalent toward you this can be a nuisance at best, while those who have cause to dislike or hate you will go out of their way to make your life hellish in the best way they can. Such effects stack with any enemies disadvantage you might have. In that case, the GM can raise the frequency of appearance of that trait by a single level once every session. Neutral or friendly supernatural beings receive the reaction bonus in most situations, while hostile forces receive the reaction penalty.
Picking Over the Bones
Weirdness Magnet is often taken by PCs who think of it as “free points”. The above variants might look like that too at first glance, but if properly executed and used as they were meant to be – a hindrance not hogging spotlight time – can prove interesting and useful. I’m particularly fond of Exposition Magnet because it takes something most GMs do often enough and puts it in a rules-friendly box to be used as needed. What other variations of Weirdness Magnet has made it into your games.