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Fantastic Recruitment Drive

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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.


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     Comic Books  

  • X-Men. Professor X used the Cerebro computer to locate mutants so he could recruit them into his school.
  • Judge Dredd: Cadets are taken not only from clone stock, but also from orphans, volunteers or children who show promise. Since the events of Day Of Chaos, in order to replace the large number of lost judges foreign judges are now allowed to apply to transfer to Mega City One as retrainees.
  • Spider-Man 2099: In the Civil War II tie-in, Miguel winds up in an alternate 2099 where most superheroes are outlaws, but the X-Men work for the government. After questioning this, it's pointed out by Daredevil 2099 that the government offered them protection and a steady paycheck rather than, say, trying to exterminate them all. So most of them took the offer.

     Fan Works  

  • After surviving The Monolith in AWE Arcadia Bay (Rogue_Demon), Jesse and Emily get the idea of remaking the Prime Candidate Program into a less "invasive" version of the original program, finding and recruiting parautilitarians voluntarily.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Ami initially travels to underworld cities looking for minions (finding Tserk, Brugli, and many of her warlocks that way). Later, on the lightworlder side of things it is revealed the Fairies' have their children tested for Oracle potential.

     Films — Live-Action  

  • 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.
  • X-Men: First Class: Under CIA sponsorship, Xavier searches for mutants with his Psychic Powers and an Amplifier Artifact, then visits them with Erik to try to hire them into a new "Division X". Knowing that a Nazi operative is also recruiting mutants — and much more forcefully than they — adds a certain urgency to their efforts.


  • Dragonriders of Pern: When the dragonriders go on "Search," they seek young women with latent telepathic abilities, able to bond with dragons. This is conventionally only done when a queen egg is laid; normal dragonriders are taken almost exclusively from Weyrborn men.
  • 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."
  • In Star Wars Legends, 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 magical children the moment they are born. Muggleborn kids don't learn about this until they are eleven, though.
  • 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.) It's also mentioned that Granny was never officially recruited, she just decided she was going to be a witch as a young girl and camped outside the local witches' cottage until she agreed to teach her. 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.
  • The Aeon Legion in Aeon Legion: Labyrinth usually recruit MIAs from various wars in history since it will not mess up time. Those who take them up on their offer have to endure a harsh training program at the Aveum Academy, but if they make it through they get a device that gives them time powers and immortality.
  • Circle of Magic: Academic mages give magic tests to children, after they reach a certain age.
  • Whateley Universe 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.
    • At the school itself, some organizations such as intelligence and law enforcement agencies, various national militaries (via the school's UN-sponsored JROTC program), corporations (primarily technology companies looking for talented Gadgeteer Geniuses), The Syndicate, and even superhero teams do their best to recruit graduating students. While active recruiting on campus outside of organized school events is frowned upon, this doesn't stop recruiters from the CIA and other agencies sneaking onto school grounds looking to accost prospective recruits with their pitch, with some frequent fliers being well-known to Campus Security. Keep in mind that this is a high school.
    • Also, several students come to Whateley having already been recruited by such groups, who act as the students' sponsors; this includes Mimeo (sponsored by the Syndicate, as one of the first students to attend, in part to test the enforcement of The Accords), Sahar (who had signed on with the CIA as a way out of her hellish circumstances in Beirut), Tether (who agreed to be sponsored with the expectation she would learn enough that she could pay off her debt to a supervillain), and Lodestone (who made a similar deal with the same (now retired) supervillain as a way to prepare for her planned revenge for her father's death).

  • In The Witcher, this happened during the backstory. Because witchers are sterile and can't just breed more, the only way to create more witchers was to recruit young boys, many of whom were orphans, abandoned, or given as payment under the Law Of Surprise, and then subject them to Training from Hell and mutations.

     Live Action Television  

  • 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.

     Tabletop RPG  

  • 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.

     Video Games  

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a side quest in Markarth where the player is sent to a small village to find a girl who is to become the new Sybil of Dibella. The father immediately relinquishes her future (knowing that the Sybil is given a life of luxury), even though she is currently held captive in a fortress filled with bandits at the moment.

  • AG-I, the superhuman agency in Skin Horse do this. Apparently it goes better with kids with laser vision than with teen precogs who always see the "right" course of action, and who tell you in no uncertain terms they really aren't interested.
  • Sleepless Domain: Girls who become Magical Girls are headhunted by the Board of Magical Girls, a government organization that monitors and tracks its members on a day-to-day (or night-to-night) basis. Registration is voluntary but heavily promoted to the populace.

     Western Animation  

  • 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; occasionally, her "space earth" armband would sometimes shiver the tiniest bit even if she wasn't bending it, and eventually she realized it was in response to certain people in her vicinity getting "super-emotional". She was able to persuade three such people to come to her "metalbending academy"... but she ran into a slight snag because the only ones who'd get "super-emotional" in public were, well, "crazy people."