Designing a Mission

The mission is the meat and potatoes of a Scenario. The choices of what to create are limitless, but this article will give you a place to start.

Designing for various Contractor Statuses

Certain Power effects are restricted to Seasoned or Veteran Contractors because they grant abilities that change the way Games must be designed.

Designing for Newbies and Novices

Scenarios designed for Newbies and Novices should have some sort of solutions built-in. The perfect set of mundane humans should be able to succeed any Novice game. The Powers that Novices bring to the table make up the gap between "the perfect set of mundane humans" and "the group of superpowered weirdos we happened to bring".

Occasionally a Novice will have a Power that directly solves a primary challenge of a Scenario. In such cases, allow the Contractor to circumvent the challenge with their Power. It is damaging to contrive a situation that specifically renders the rewards of the Games useless.

Designing for Seasoned Contractors

Seasoned Contractors have access to more game-breaking Powers such as teleportation, powerful mind control, revealing investigative Powers, and flight.

You do not need to plan solutions for every challenge posed in a Seasoned Game. There is no expectation that the "right" group of humans could succeed.

Designing for Veteran Contractors

Veteran Contractors should be able to handle an abstract problem from A to Z. Veteran Games do not generally have a script, and GMs must be prepared to improvise almost 100% of the Game's content.

For example, a fair Veteran Solo Game may be "Fetch me 30 vampire fangs in one week." The Veteran is in charge of finding the vampires and removing their teeth (without killing them, as vampires turn to dust when killed, including any teeth that have been removed).

Mission Archetypes

Bug Hunt

Just what it sounds like: Find and neutralize the monster. This sort of Scenario strongly favors fighter types, but can be cast in numerous layers of subtlety. Investigation and preparation are often important parts of a Bug Hunt, and so, in a lot of ways, they often play like a Heist.

Heist

"Getting the gang back together. You in?"

A Heist is just what it sounds like. The Contractors are tasked with breaking into a secure location to achieve an objective, often stealing or destroying something. These Scenarios have a danger of running long, as Players will tend to over-prepare and over-research before they start the Heist. It's often a good idea to set a time limit of an hour or so for the stakeout/planning phase.

When in doubt about time, aim for the "Oceans 11 Ratio": 25% introductions and briefing, 25% preparing for the heist, 50% executing the heist.

Escort Mission

The Contractors are required to protect an individual, location, or group for a specified period of time.

The reasons these types of missions suck in video games are the same reasons they're excellent in tabletop RPGs. Preparation and outside-the-box problem solving makes these missions pop.

Puzzles

These Scenarios involve a variety of riddles and complex problem solving, and are not for everyone. Investigative rolls and skills should generally provide clues, not answers. It's best to pair the failure of puzzles with something easier to get a grip on like a fight (statues come to life if you fail), an interesting setting (a sinking ship), or a secondary objective (prepare for an attack that will happen when the nerds solve the puzzle).

Obstacle Course

Simple and often brutal, these Scenarios send the Contractors through a series of traps, tests, and challenges with the objective of surviving to reach the goal. They are best used sparingly, as a series of death traps and little in the way of flexibility can wear on players when used too often. On the other hand, they can be refreshingly straightforward after several more cerebral Games.

Try not to make these an Athletics-fest; let Players get creative with how they circumvent obstacles, let them use their Powers to skip some, and sprinkle some NPCs in there. It's best to think of Obstacle Courses as a complication to an objective rather than the objective itself.

Abstract Goal

Many Scenarios present the Contractors with an abstract goal that involves approaching, assessing, and gaining control over a situation. These Scenarios punish simplistic one-solution-fits-all Contractors, and give more flexible Contractors a time to shine.

Examples could include: stopping a riot, saving a group of people, penetrating a small conspiracy, convincing an aristocrat to sell the business he just inherited, etc.

Evolving Situation

Imagine a story without Contractors in it, then add Contractors to it. Essentially, an Evolving Situation is a Scenario where something is going on already, events will occur, and the situation will play out in an interesting way with or without the Contractor's involvement. They are a complication rather than the driving conflict.

These Scenarios are surprisingly easy to write and lead to some of the most dynamic and exciting Games. If the Players stall out, there are easy ways to move the story toward a conclusion or re-up the energy.

An example: The Contract are tasked with helping a high-profile Princess escape the castle on the same night that her Father happens to be planning to pull a Red Wedding on the guests at dinner. Another example: Contractors are asked to kidnap a werewolf who is a student at a local high school, and a group of students happen to be planning to kill the werewolf that evening, and will do anything to make it happen. A third: The Contractors are asked to solve a "Night at the Museum" situation where the exhibits come to life, but a group of elite criminals happen to have planned an elaborate heist for that evening.

Organized Event

A tournament, a convention of wizards, or daily life at a mental institution for the criminally insane. These Scenarios place Contractors into highly-structured events and situations with clearly defined goals. It's best to set up these scenarios so that they will fail unless the Contractors do something devious and break the rules. The puzzles often involve Contractors hiding their capabilities, cheating, and subverting the organization.

Common Complications

You can stir up a generic Scenario by adding other elements such as the following.

  • Time Limit: Contractors only have a set time to achieve specific goals.
  • Hostages: An NPC must be safely retrieved or brought along.
  • Open Door: The Game takes place in a public setting; local Institutions may help or hinder.
  • Rivalry: Individual characters have different, or even opposing goals. Alternately, a rival team may be after the same goal.
  • Highlander: Only one Contractor can win.
  • Inventory Denial: The Contractors do not have access to their normal suite of tools and weapons
  • Capture: An NPC must be captured but not killed or, in some cases, harmed.
  • Betrayal: A friendly NPC is set to betray the Contractors, and if they do not anticipate it, they are caught in a deadly situation.
  • Traps: There are a series of improvised, ancient, or otherworldly traps between the Contractors and their objective. Traps are most rewarding when they reveal something about the person who set them, and when springing them leads to a deadly situation instead of directly causing death.
  • Dramatic Set Piece: You should consider including an interesting set piece in your Scenario. This can raise the stakes and provide narrative assistance when running the game. Who doesn't like the idea of a chase that takes place on The Golden Gate Bridge?