The Exchange – a scenario for Mercenaries, Spies, & Private Eyes

They Came to Rob Las Vegas poster art Elke Sommer Frank McCarthyThis is a scenario for Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes, for up to 8 players. It’s an espionage adventure inspired by old episodes of Mission Impossible and similar shows.

It takes place sometime during the Cold War, around 1967-1972, though it could be easily used in other eras.

The players will be agents of TAROT, a western intelligence agency. It’s presumed each player is an intelligence agent or someone with special abilities recruited into TAROT.

It was designed to be used with the pregens in a previous post, though it should work with any characters. It would be easier if they had a intelligence background and skills.

Here’s the main scenario:

MSPE_TheExchange

I’ve also included a map of the island where the scenario takes place. It includes some clip art from Filippo Vanzo, who makes maps at https://lastmapmaker.com/. This map comes from the Mini-Pack #01: Islands pack

MSPE_TheExchange_CostaLunaMap

Here are handouts with photos and salient facts for each of the important NPCs. There are two NPCs per page (so you can cut them in half):

MSPE-TheExchange_Handouts

I’ve also made a combat sheet to track ammo and CON for all likely combatants.

MSPE_TheExchange_CombatSheet

This is a printable list of cards with weapon info for some the weapons the players might pick up during the adventure.

MSPE_TheExchange_GunCards

The data on the cards came from https://www.modus-operandi.co.uk/mercenaries-spies-private-eyes/monsters-foes-and-equipment-cards/.

Modus Operandi is a site with all kinds of great espionage RPG stuff, including for MSPE.

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Star Trek: Bad Captain – The Negotiator

This is the basic adventure I ran for Bad Captain, a comic version of Star Trek written by Jeff Call using Black Hack rules. It’s available for free here: Star Trek: Bad Captain.

Overview

The U.S.S. Calamity has been kirk_eating_applecalled to space station N23 in the Neutronia system on the borders of Federation space. Captain Decker has been ordered to serve as a mediator at a conference between two warring species, the Korollians and the G’Larcks. The Orion syndicate has dispatched an undercover agent to disrupt the conference. The agent is disguised as a bartender.

Scrambling for information:

Federation diplomats have been corresponding with Captain Decker for months to prepare him for the conference, but he has been essentially ignoring them. In fact, Decker will not remember to mention the conference to the players until they are under way to N23. Players will have to make multiple INT rolls to get the most basic information about the system, and the warring parties.

Basic Information

Neutronians: Neutronians are the native inhabitants of the Neutronian system. They have worked to end the current conflict between the neighboring races, and are hosting the peace conference aboard the space station N23, in orbit around their star.

Neutronians are plasma based energy creatures that actually live on the surface of the red giant star at the center of their system. They cannot survive away from the fiery surface, so they can only interact with other beings through robot avatars. They have very little experience talking to other creatures directly, so they’ve requested that the Federation run the actual negotiations.

Hydrogen 213: The chief (and only) Neutronian diplomat. He is the only inhabitant of this station. He appears as a small black disk on wheels (imagine a Roomba). To make himself more presentable to aliens, he has added a smiling face attached to his chassis by a metal spring. Hydrogen will be friendly and helpful, but completely ignorant of almost all basic social norms. GMs can play him as obsequious, but mostly useless.

Korollians – A martial, Samurai-like humanoid cat species. They a have a strict honor based society. A delegation of Korollians equal to the number of players is expected. The leader of the delegation is a old soldier named Chats-With-Prey.

Marrow swords: Enormous curved swords that each Korollian wears in an elaborate scabbard across their back. If they feel threatened or insulted, they will start to draw the weapon. If the sword clears the scabbard, they are honor-bound to not sheathe it again until the blade has tasted the bone-marrow (or species equivalent) of an enemy (blood-swords are for children, according to the Korollians). Each sword does 2d12 of damage

G’Larck-<clicking noise>-HAH!: The natural state of the G’Larck-<clicking noise>-HAH! species in it’s natural state is a 2-meter ball of purple gelatinous goo. In an attempt to make humanoids feel more at ease, they awkwardly squeeze into humanoid clothing. They will insist that the players use their full, difficult to say species name – G’Larck-<clicking noise>-HAH!, instead of shortening it to G’Larck or Glarks.

Scenes

Open Bar

The players & Captain Decker will be first to arrive. Hydrogen 213 will welcome them with glee, and show them to the diplomacy hall. It’s a large sparsely-decorated meeting hall with a view of the red giant, and an elaborate open bar.

Decker will make a beeline to the open bar. Nothing can stop him from getting drunk, but either CHA or INT rolls can be used to keep him conscious. Decker will awkwardly try to flirt with the bartender (and secret assassin), who will storm off to the kitchen if the players allow this to continue.

Hey Kitty, Kitty

The Korollians will arrive second. Once they arrive, Decker will drunkenly yell “Kitties!”, and will lunge at them in an attempt to pet and cuddle them. This will offend the warrior race and at least two of them will start to draw their marrow blades (see above).

Someone will have to make  a CHA roll at disadvantage to calm them. Once a sword is drawn, they will have to be used at least once.

Decker will continue to try to cuddle the Korollians again, unless the players intervene (CHA or INT tests)

If violence occurs, this will not necessarily end the conference. Korollians relish a good fight.

Song of Joy and Friendship

When the four G’Larck ambassadors arrive, they will be stuffed into human tuxedos. The tuxes are a little tight, and purple bulges of goo will be poking out all over. Each one has a top hat jauntily perched on the protuberance where a head should be.

The G’Lark leader will announce that it is time for the Song of Joy and Friendship, an exchange of mutual musicianship and respect between the G’Larcks and the Federation. They will begin a 10-minute vocal “song”. Their voices will be atonal, screechy, and incredibly difficult to listen to. Describe the music to the players in the most unpleasant way you can imagine (it sounds like a whale screaming, imagine a cat has been set on fire, etc.)

Once finished, they will turn expectantly to Captain Decker. Decker will look around awkwardly, trying to avoid their gaze.

If pressed, he’ll drunkenly recall he was supposed have a song prepared in response. He forgot about it.

The G’Larck will leave unless they get a answer, so someone will have to try to sing something in response. This will require a CHA roll.

The G’Larck musical sense, however, is so alien that they will best respond to a failed roll. If the player rolls a 20, the G’Larck will consider it a masterpiece, and will request a recording.

During this scene, anyone who checks, will notice the bartender is missing. She left as soon as the G’Larcks arrived.

The Assassin

Suddenly, without warning, the Korollian leader Chats-with-Prey, will explode! Everyone in the room will be coated in gore and cat hair.  A successful INT roll by a science or medical officer can determine it was a microwave based attack.

All of the Korollians will start to draw their blades. CHA rolls at a disadvantage can be made to stop them. Once drawn, they will attack random targets.

If the players delay any significant amount of time, a G’Larck diplomat will also explode, coating the room and players in purple goo.

The assassin is in the kitchen, adjacent to the hall, behind a pile of microwave ovens. She is wearing Meson goggles, that allow her to see through the walls to select a target. She has modified a pile of several kitchen microwave ovens to make a crude microwave death-ray which can be fired through walls. She will keep killing members of both factions until she is stopped. She will fight to the death.

Wrapping Up

If the assassin is stopped, and any of the diplomats are left alive, the conference will be considered a success (sort of). Captain Decker will be awarded a commendation for his diplomatic service.

If the conference fails, the war will continue, and the Calamity will retreat under fire from both warring parties. Captain Decker will be awarded a Starfleet Medal of Valor.

Hydrogen 213
HD 4
HP: 28
Attacks: None
If “killed” will re-appear in new robot body in a few minutes. The Station has 100 extra bodies for Hydrogen’s use.

Korollians
HD 2
HP: 10
Attacks: Claws 1d6, Marrow Swords 2d12

G’Larck-<clicking noise>-HAH!
HD 3
HP: 15
Attacks: Acid Spray 1d8

Orion Assassin
HD 4
HP: 20
Attacks: Kitchen knife 1d6, Kitchen disruptor 1d8, Microwave Death-Ray 4d20+20
She has several Orion syndicate tattoos on her body covered up with heavy makeup.

 

Bureau Seven – a scenario for FATE

bureau7This is a old FATE Core setting I ran for my home group, and at a few conventions. It has a very specific comedic tone.

It’s a silly take on the whole MIB, Delta Green, secret-government-agency-investigating-the-occult style organization. The players are all agents of Bureau Seven, a secret U.S. government agency chartered to deal with supernatural threats..

The “joke” is that the agency is underfunded, disorganized mess. All of the characters are either useless or severely dysfunctional in some way.

Think of it as a more frivolous, less competent version of the Laundry.

To emphasize the characters incompetence, some of the skills are negative. They will actually decrease the characters rolls when used.

There really isn’t much of a plot – making the scenario work relies on the players wanting to role-play the provided characters.

Here’s the scenario:

Bureau Seven Scenario

Here are the pregen character sheets, along with a character summary sheet for the GM:

BureauSeven_Characters

Romance of the Perilous Land – The Old Man of the Woods (and Character Sheets)

I’ve recently run a session of Romance of the Perilous Land, a fantasy OSR game. It’s basically a revised version David Black’s the Black Hack. There are a few small mechanical differences, the main one being the game’s magic users (called Cunning Folk) use spell points instead of the tradition method of memorizing spells.

What interested me about the game is more of the milieu than the the mechanics. It’s set in a world based entirely on British folklore. It’s going for more of King Arthur, Mythic Britain tone than most fantasy games. It’s intended that magic be a little mysterious and rare.

I couldn’t find any character sheets, so I threw together these.

Romance of the Perilous Land Character Sheet

Romance of the Perilous Land Character Sheet-Form Fillable

Romance of the Perilous Land Spell Sheet

Here’s the outline of the scenario I ran:

The Old Man of the Woods
The village of Loamwich, on the borders of Wishborne Wood has been the source of ill news and rumour. scarecrow

Queen Eleanor, the Pearl Rose, has called upon her knights, and other loyal subjects to investigate.
Basic Plot
A Bogie, disguised as an old man, has arrived in the village. He is using dark witchcraft to slowly drain the life out of the village. He stole this magic from Matilda Greyteeth, an old witch who lives deep in Wishborne Wood. Once he’s drained enough to heal himself, he plans to summon an army of Mock-Men and destroy the village.
The Village
When the players arrive in Loamwich, they will find the village in near-ruin. The crops are barely growing, and the livestock are slowly dying, and the people have nearly lost all hope.
The ‘ill luck’, as the villagers have been calling it, has been going on for a few weeks. Soon after it started, an old hermit, commonly known as the Old Man of the Woods was found hurt and bleeding at the edge of the wood.
The Old Man
The old man, who claims not to have a name, is staying with the village priest. He says that he is a simple hermit who lived peacefully in the wood for many years.
According to his tale, the witch Matilda Greyteeth drove him from his hovel with the help of some giant beast. He claims not to remember any details.
Anyone choosing making a Mind roll at a disadvantage will be able to detect that he’s not being entirely honest. If pressed, he’ll feign weariness and demand to be let alone.
The villagers are aware of the existence of, and are frightened by, Matilda Greyteeth, but they’ve never had any trouble with her in living memory. None of the villagers have ever met or heard of the hermit before.
The villages were loath to enter the wood before this trouble started, but they will absolutely refuse to go now. They will give the players directions to get the common game trails.
The Old Man’s Hut
The trail from the edge of the wood leads to this small clearing. The remains of a hut are scattered around. It was clearly smashed into pieces from above.
A trail of very large footprints leads from the ruined hut to much deeper in the wood.
The Witch’s Clearing
The trail opens up into a wide clearing, full of wildflowers. A small brook winds through the middle of the clearing. On the other side of the brook, an old woman can be seen hunched over, mumbling to herself as she collects flowers and herbs. This is the witch (ROTPL pg 45) Matilda Greyteeth.
Matilda isn’t actively hostile, but she is quick to anger. Any conversation with her, by any player, will require making a Charisma check at a disadvantage. On a failure, or if attacked first, she will call on her Red Ettin (ROTPL pg 44) who lurks just outside of the clearing. She will assist it with her spells, while it does battle with the players.
If the Red Etin is defeated, she will surrender rather than continue to fight.
If the players can talk to Matilda, before or after the combat, she will tell them she’s unaware of any curse on the village. She is aware of the Bogie that was rooting through her home snooping around her old spell-books. She sent her creature to destroy it in its hut, but it managed to flee the Red Etin. She thinks it might have stolen one of her old life draining spells, but she’s not sure what else he’s capable of.
Attack of the Mock Men
On returning to the village, the players will find it in chaos. A band of Mock-Men (number of players + 3) are running rampant through the village – destroying property, and attacking the villagers.
The Bogie discovered an ancient spell that Matilda had long forgotten about, that allows him to summon them. He is here as well, disguised as one of the Mock Men. He will actively avoid direct combat. If he is slain, the Mock-Men will be destroyed.
Mock-Men
HD3[13]
Attack: Weapon, Teeth
Special: Mock-Men take an extra 1d6 from fire damage.
Mock-Men are magical constructs made from sticks and straw. They often have pumpkins for heads, with horrific expressions and jagged wooden fangs. They are under the complete control of the being who summoned them and will fall to pieces if their creator is killed. They can use crude tools and weapons.
Aftermath
Once the Mock-Men and the Bogie are defeated, the village will slowly return to it’s former peaceful and happy existence.
NOTE: I’m aware medieval or mythic Britain wouldn’t have pumpkins, but I had these Scarecrows and Jack-O-Lanterns paper miniatures from Mayhem in Paper that I really wanted to use.

Phoenix Command – Complicated Gun Nonsense – 1980’s style

In the late 1980’s the now-defunct game company Leading Edge Games produced a role-playing game called Phoenix Command. It’s no longer in print, but is remembered as one of the most absurdly complex systems ever.phoenixcommand

Pretty much as a dare, I just ran a one-shot for my regular group this week.

I’m not going into the details of the system (there’s a good review here), but it more than lives up to its reputation. Every action requires looking up something on a voluminous series of charts. Every gun has a ludicrous series of stats. The characters only have one skill – Gun Combat. Everything is based around that.

The Scenario

It’s Christmas – 1988 (the year when the game was originally released) in the fictional Venture City, Florida. I was going for a Miami-Vice-style, B-Movie flavor with this one.

The setting is the Venture City Galleria, a classic 1980’s neon and pastel colored shopping mall.

The players play the Venture City Police Vice Squad. They are set to apprehend Antonio Mendoza, a feared drug lord, as he is finishing up his Christmas shopping. He only has his two body guards with him.

Suddenly, a shot rings out, and a gang of “punks” open fire on Mendoza with Glocks blazing.

This is where the scenario starts. We only had about 2.5 hours to play, and were able to get through about 2 seconds of game play, in which many, many people were shot.

Here are the pregenerated characters I used, with weapon stats, in PDF format. (If any of the names seem familiar, I got them from here)

Angelo Provolone
Joe Bomowski
Deke DaSilva
“Machine Gun” Joe Viturbo
Kit Latura
Lincoln Hawk
Marian Cobretti
Ray Quick

Here’s a sheet with the bad guys and their weapons. “Goons” are Mendoza’s men. “Punks” are the assassins. I also added a possible wild card sniper character (I call him “Snipey”), just in case.

Pheonix_Command_BadGuys

Here’s a blank version of the character sheet I created. It doesn’t have space for weapons, as I just copied those from the book on separate sheets.

Phoenix Command Character Sheet

I’m a little conflicted about this game. On the one hand – I’m impressed that someone was inspired enough to try and model gunplay to such mind-numbing detail. Is this what the GNS Theory people would call Simulationism?

However, running this beast is just a slog. To make it even slightly workable, I had to print out pages of tables for the players, and attach them to each pregen character sheet.

I wouldn’t actually recommend running this game. But its very existence is just fascinating. If you’re interested in game design at all, it’s definitely worth reading.