Fantastic Recruitment Drive
A classic Fantasy and Science Fiction trope. A group with extraordinary powers of some sort goes recruiting among the general population, searching for others like themselves. They may be from The Order, or a school for wizards, witches or gifted youngsters. Key to this trope is the fact that they come looking for you. Those extra-normal folk leave their ivory tower or basement lab and go out among the rest of us. The scene may subtly juxtapose the mundane with the fantastic (e.g. Prof X sitting in your living room, drinking Mom's tea like a college recruiter), or it may be as grandiose and dazzling as a WWII recruitment drive. Note this rarely happens in a world where the supernatural stays hidden, and the Search is usually open and above-board. Generally being chosen is a prestigious thing; the only ones who would interfere either have a inherent distrust of all things outside the mundane, or nefarious plans of some sort. Regardless, everyone accepts. Most characters accept immediately, recognizing that riding a dragon while incinerating your enemies with telekinesis is a lot cooler than moisture-farming on Tatooine or whatever. If not, no matter. Just don't make plans to settle down. Contrast with Mutant Draft Board, where acceptance is mandatory. If you want to know what the recruiters are looking for, check out Magic and Powers. Compare The Call Knows Where You Live.
- Marvel Universe X-Men. Professor X used the Cerebro computer to locate mutants so he could recruit them into his school.
- In Mystery Men, the Blue Raja, Mr. Furious and the Shoveler realize that their superpowers are too weak to rescue Captain Amazing on their own, so they go on a drive to recruit other superheroes. A Terrible Interviewees Montage ensues, though they do manage to find a few.
- Dragonriders of Pern: When the dragonriders go on "Search," they seek young men and women with latent telepathic abilities, able to bond with dragons.
- The Sharing Knife: It's known that Lakewalkers are descended from the sorcerer-lords of ancient times. Dag theorizes that they became a separate caste through selective breeding—singling out those who had groundsense, and adding them to the gene pool.
- In the Dark Visions trilogy by LJ Smith, the Zetes Institute runs tests across the nation to find people with psychic powers.
- In The Obernewtyn Chronicles, the antagonists and the protagonists both at some point seek out children with special powers, referred to as Misfits, to attend the titular Obernewtyn.
- The Alfred Bester novel The Demolished Man contains a great scene where the Espers (telepathic people) are trying to find undiscovered Espers. There is a line of people moving through an area, and an Esper is broadcasting something along the lines of, "If you can hear this, please go through the door on your left." IIRC, only one or two people per day actually go through the door.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Luke does a lot of this, trying to find hidden Jedi, their descendents, and those with raw talent.
- In Harry Potter, the boarding school Hogwarts selects students at birth. A magic quill takes down the names of wizard children the moment they are born.
- This is how the "mutant corps" of early Perry Rhodan came to be — basically by means of a few dedicated recruiters going around with portable mutant detection devices and asking potential candidates if they'd like to leave their mundane lives behind and join the guys working to break the then still ongoing cold war stalemate and help Earth get ready to face the larger universe full of alien civilizations on its own terms. Most of the people asked Jumped at the Call.
- In Hero, the League (a group of superheroes) holds tryouts for those who would like to join them.
- In Iar Elterrus' Gray Sword novels people are born Randomly Gifted with magic. The boons both in money and in reputation, granted by magic schools for new pupils, make it worth combing slave markets for potential mages and even buying whole families wholesale, as the mage in question would like to keep the slavers in the dark about his motivations.
- In I. Dravin's Xenos series, noble-born children are commonly scanned for magic potential during early childhood. The interest in finding mages is mutual for the magic schools and families in this case.
- In the Discworld novels:
- Some witches in Lancre will periodically line up the local girls and choose one with talent to be an apprentice. (Or so we're told; of the main character witches, Granny doesn't have the patience, Nanny doesn't have the interest, and Magrat doesn't have the confidence.) In the Tiffany Aching subseries, Miss Tick has the job of doing this by stealth in areas where Burn the Witch! is in effect.
- The wizards in Unseen University are also on the look-out for boys with innate magical talent, so they can be provided with training in their abilities (or in the words of the UU founder Alberto Malich "We'd better keep the bright buggers where we can see 'em"). Simon in Equal Rites has just been discovered by such a recruiter when we first meet him.
- In the Wheel of Time the Seanchan have both a Mutant Draft Board and a Fantastic Recruitment Drive at the same time. Girls who can instinctively channel are forcibly collared and become Damane while those who can learn to channel are recruited as Sul'dam (a highly respected position).
- In V. Zykov's Way Home the people are born Randomly Gifted with magic. In the countries of Nold and Tlantos, both magocracies to some extent, children are routinely checked for magic potential.
- In Babylon 5, Sheridan's alliance is looking for telepaths to deal with the Shadows. Unlike Psi-Corps, where acceptance is mandatory, B5 is looking for volunteers, and not just human ones.
- Shadowrun. People with the ability to use magic are extremely rare. Schools, corporations and magical groups regularly test citizens (particularly children) for magical talent.
- Traveller. The Zhodani Consulate extensively uses psionic abilities in its government and military. They test children for psionic aptitude and train those with a significant level of power.
- This ad from StarCraft II.
"What goes bump in the night? It might be your GIFTED child. Register your child with Psi Ops today. It's the law. It's your duty!"
- Whateley Academy sometimes engages in this when a newly-emerged mutant makes the headlines and they can get people there quickly enough, while others get pointed at the school by former alumni or simply people who have heard of it. It's strongly implied that at least some "mutant schools" in other parts of the world are more straightforward examples of the Mutant Draft Board trope instead, but attendance at Whateley is technically entirely voluntary — simply usually presented as a very good idea considering the likely alternatives.
- The protagonists of Legend Of Korra are in the middle of one as of season 3. After the Harmonic Convergence, random people around the world have been developing Airbending, and so Team Avatar is going around to find them and take them to the Northern Air Temple to rebuild the Air Nomad culture. Deconstructed since the people they're going after all have lives and homes of their own and don't want to join - it took arranging a jailbreak for conscripted airbenders and pissing off the Earth Queen to increase their numbers beyond a Republic City civilian called Daw, Bumi (who was already half Air Nomad anyway) and Kai, who joined to escape arrest.
- Toph went on a similar recruitment drive for metalbenders in the sequel comics, much more successfully.