MIBs or Men In Black are anonymous and intimidating men in black suits. In person, they fit the tropes Dressed To Kill, Sinister Shades, Smug Snake, and Spy Speak. They often arrive in big black automobiles, usually older-model cars in "like new" condition. Names tend to be very generic, like Agent Smith, Mr. Jones, Brown, M, etc. They frequently are reported as visiting UFO witnesses. They tend to be menacing, and not-so-subtly suggest that you'd best keep quiet about whatever it is you saw.
The simplest explanation for MIBs is that they work for some Government Agency. However, that doesn't mean it's the only possible explanation, nor that it's the truth. They may well work for the Air Force Special Activities Center (AFSAC), based out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and tasked with protecting not just National Security, but also the secret truth behind UFOs. Other government agencies may have since borrowed the meme, modus operandi, or costume of the MiBs.
If the government is behind them, it's doing a very good job of muddying the waters. In other reports, MiBs have appeared at houses claiming to be social workers, and tried to take children away. More than twenty different police agencies were coordinating investigations into the MIB Phantom Social Workers in the 1990s. In the 1950s, the CIA launched an investigation into MIBs who'd claimed to be Air Force officers and "debriefed" (threatened) US citizens who'd seen UFOs. None of these investigations ever lead to any arrests (and the CIA report is still classified).
In some accounts, the MiBs are not quite human, experiencing some sort of glamour failure several minutes into the encounter, or just generally seeming to fit into the Uncanny Valley. Given their interest in covering up UFO sightings, the MiBs may be aliens or androids. All oddities in their appearance and behavior are explained by the Men in Black's extraterrestrial origin and their unfamiliarity with norms of the human society. Man-sized homonculi are also a possibility.
There's some potential that the MiBs may be Demons, The Devil, The Good Folk or Old Scratch. In witchcraft and folklore there's an old European tradition about a black-skinned (but not African in features), black dressed, man who gave witches their power, stole souls, and generally just raised the hairs on the back of your neck. There's some similarity between the MIBs and The Devil in Washington Irving's The Devil and Tom Walker, or between the MIBs and Nyarlathotep in H.P. Lovecraft's The Dreams In The Witch-House. MiBs may be evil personified, or some sort of psychic phenomenon.
Other Explanations and Origins
They may be Time Travelers, especially if some percentage of UFOs are actually Time Machines. The strangeness of their appearance and mannerisms may be the result of inadequate research into the past. If you were dumped into the Dark Ages, you'd find it hard to fit in, too.
Lastly, one should not overlook the possibility that at least some MiB sightings are hoaxes or practical jokes that got out of hand.
Game and Story Use
- They enforce the Masquerade and clean up or fix a Broken Masquerade.
- Of course, they act so strangely in some reports and sightings, that you wonder if they aren't actually intending just the opposite.
- While the MiBs goal may be to scare people off of UFOs (or whatever), you can bet the reaction from PCs confronted by them will be quite the opposite.
- They'll lean heavily on tropes such as An Offer You Can't Refuse, Laser Guided Amnesia, and Conspiracy Redemption.
- Often they have a Film Noir or McCarthy Era mystique to them, like they just stepped out of the 1940s or 1950s.
- PC MiBs may fall anywhere on the scale from Agent Mulder to Agent Scully, depending on their background and temperment.
Building This Character
- Probably a high-level character. Even more bufoonish versions should at least have lots of resources to draw on.
- Defined by their extremely low Social Traits. The rest is pretty open.
- Intimidation and Interrogation are their only real social skills, but they tend to be quite good at them.
- Blackmail or Bureaucracy or Investigation to get the dirt
- Stealth and Security skills could easily fit the template. When they don't arrive in a big black car, they tend to show up out of nowhere.
- Driving is probably a must, so you can keep that big ol' black sedan on the road and running well.
- Repair or other tech skills may be important as well.
- Exactly what version of the Men In Black phenomenon you're dealing with will determine most of the actual stats. Depictions vary immensely, depending on whether they are Mooks, Villains in their own right, or even Heroes.
- If the PCs are MiBs, they'll be Bad Ass and Cool, instead of being so socially inept.
- Alien, Android, Demonic, or Time Traveling MiBs may have bizarre powers and technology.
- Given they almost always wear sunglasses, even at night, it's easy to assume some sort of special vision properties.