Update…. and a mystery!

Life has taken me away from blogging for a while and I am keen to get back into it. What little creative time I have had available has gone into editing the Bandit Country RPG for its next release. I am excited about how it is coming along and I think that it improves the game as it is while conforming to my design goals of simplicity and short prep time.

Now to the Mystery. You have almost definitely found this blog either via a couple of espionage RPG sites or as a link from one of a few blogs I have commented, mostly relating to my dislike of using a game engine to enforce game balance.  , Bandit Country is not currently syndicated or blogrolled or whatever the word is so it doesn’t  get a whole lot of random or flow on traffic. With one massive exception.

To date, my most read post that I am confident has been read by gamers is Laughter and Tears from the Level Playing Field. About 60 reads. 3 comments (not including my reply). Yay. My next most read post has had 5 readers to date. Bandit Country is definitely in the distant wilderness in terms of RPG blogs.

Then there is Direct Action. 270 reads. No comments. Mysterious…. I have no idea why it is attracting 5 to 10 readers per day. It is only 5 lines advertising a link to the BC RPG. My guess is that it is somehow coming up in search engines for folks who are looking for something else. Or search bots are swarming it for… who knows why? kind of bizarre.

If you have any ideas that can contribute to solving this mystery and you are willing to become the fourth poster in the history of the blog, let me know.

Posted in News, Reviews & Culture, Uncategorized

HUMINT: Gerry Bassett

Gerry Bassett is a software technician who until recently worked for the intelligence community developing advanced facial recognition and biometric identification software. He is now the head of a small company called iFIND, using the technologies he developed for the government, for private clients.
iFIND has numerous law enforcement and corporate contracts.
If supplied with an image of a target they can access numerous image and video databases to find the location of that individual.
The more information they are given, the quicker they can find the target.
An exclusive service that is not advertised involves scanning assorted non-public databases. Gerry’s technology is very advanced and can, for example, confirm if a CT scan or X-Ray is of a specified individual. Imagery from an AEV, photographed footprint patterns and even tool marks can be processed for a percentage chance that the target was involved, given sufficient seed data.
iFIND is available to any private individual or any organisation that is willing to pay for the service.

    Using Gerry Bassett and iFIND  

  • The characters have arrived in a major city and need to find a specific individual. They check all of his usual haunts but it seems as though he has gone into hiding. They contact iFIND and 30 minutes later are informed that he has been picked up by traffic management cameras on the ring road.
  • The characters current Patron seems to be able to find them at will. No matter where they go and what they do, a representative of the Patron is there waiting for them. It seems as though they are using iFIND to keep tabs on them. What to do?
  • The characters are called into a job where there is copious biometric information but no culprit. Maybe iFIND can figure out who it is. Time to give Gerry a visit.
Posted in Fluff/Inspiration, Other Systems

HTTP 407: Proxy Authentication Required

This  is a glossary of terms used in Bandit Country.

BANDIT

Bandits are contract operators, the key proponents of Bandit Country. They come from a wide range of backgrounds, similar only in that they have unconventional skill sets. Bandits are hired by Patrons to perform tasks that cannot be done through legal channels.

PATRON

Patrons are the individuals and organisations that hire Bandits. They rarely reveal themselves to the Bandit, using proxy layers to conceal their identities.

JOB

The Job is the action that the Patron has hired the Bandit to complete. Depending on the capabilities of the Patron, the Job may be very well or very poorly defined. Most Jobs outline an Objective or Target. An elementary and initial portion of most Jobs is to determine the Threats (or at least check the Threat list provided). Thereafter the Bandit may determine a course of action and allocate Resources and Assets to execute the plan.

What is the difference between a Job and an Operation? Bandits do Jobs, Governments do Operations. Operations have fancy code names designed to hide their intent or inspire awe and fear in the opposition. Jobs don’t have names because there is no paper trail and they will never enter the historical record. Hopefully.

OBJECTIVE and TARGET

The Objective is the goal of the Job. The thing that the Bandit has been hired to do. Steal the document, destroy the prototype, crack the database. A subset of Objective is the Target. A Target is a human Objective. A Target has an additional range of complications that require specialist skills, attracts more Threats and therefore can demand higher job prices. Targets populate Jobs that include assassination, abduction, specific interrogation and anything else that directly impacts an individual or group of people.

Covertly breaking into a Senators house and uploading child porn images onto his computer is an Objective. Luring the Senator into a situation where he can be photographed in such a way that the images imply pedophilia is a Target job.

THREAT

A Threat is a potential opponent or risk that may be encountered during a job. Threats may be further defined by tiers where Tier 1 Threats are the most capable and Tier 3 Threats the least. A Bandit will often need to define the Threats present before engaging in the risk taking portion of a Job.

RESOURCES

Resources include financial, material and skill set components required to complete a Job. It is a shopping list that can be used to negotiate price with the Patron. It covers all gear used, incidental costs and costs for hiring specialists. It is all about the money.

ASSETS

Assets are people recruited during a job for specific tasks. A Bandit usually recruits assets under a cover name or identity and compartmentalises the Assets role in the Job so as to conceal the intent from them. Assets are used to get access to the Target or Objective and are ultimately disposable.

OPERATOR or AGENT

Operators and Agents are military or government employees. Many Bandits come from these backgrounds and retain contacts within these communities. They are also often part of the Threat list for a Bandit during a job.

Posted in Advice/Tools, Fluff/Inspiration, Other Systems

HUMINT: Jenny Krennin

Jenny Krennin is a political deal maker. She is a dowdy late 40s woman with short hair and expensive pant suits. 

For those of you who don’t know how democracies work, there are three tiers. Firstly you have the elected officials. They come and go based on the electoral schedule and make the decisions. Secondly, you have the bureaucracy. These are the people who work for the divisions of government, enacting the decisions of the elected officials and developing policy on which future decisions are made. They also interact with the third tier. The third tier is the lobby groups. These are interest groups that approach government with agendas related to influencing current or introducing specific future policy. 

Jenny is a born bureaucrat. She is a director of a major government department. She knows all the other directors and all of the current voted heads of the departments. She knows more about them than thay would want her to know. She spends her days in meetings. Meetings  relating to her department, meetings for steering committees and meetings with lobbyist organisations. She knows everyone who matters in government. Governments come and go based on the whims of the populace but the bureaucracy remains. Jenny is one of the most powerful individuals in the government she works for.

When Jenny says ‘I’ll have a word with them about that’ it can be translated as meaning that whatever the issue, it will happen. Jenny will chat with the relevant directors and it will be passed through to the right people so that it happens. As easy as that.

Or is it? Jenny is a patriot. She believes in what she does and she absolutely believes that she is contributing to a better world for the citizens influenced by her actions. Any request that comes to her that does not convince her of this is ignored. If it is illegal she passes it to the relevant authorities. Jenny is a hard nut to crack. But if you can gain access to her and convince her that what you want is best for the people and for the nation as a whole, consider it done. Nothing can stand in her way once she makes a decision.

Using Jenny Krennin

  • The Characters are in the USA and need all the Park Rangers to leave Yellowstone National Park for their own nefarious reasons. Through their contacts they form a lobby group and are able to convince Jennny that the Park needs to be closed over a specific weekend because the Rangers must be trained in a new GPS technology at a conference that they bankroll. 
  • The Characters are in the UK. They are initiating a surveillance operation on a location. By contacting Jenny, a regional security director, they are able to convince her that the local police force should not patrol near the property due to National Security concerns.
  • The Characters are arrested by a Law Enforcement Special Operations team. Maybe they shouldn’t have taken their plan to scuttle a ship in a major harbour to director Jenny Krennin. Apparently she is not receptive to bribery.
Posted in Advice/Tools, Fluff/Inspiration, Other Systems

HUMINT: Jim Clarke

This is the first in a series of articles detailing a character that can be used as an asset or a threat. You choose.

Jim Clarke

Jim is a tall, spare man in his mid 50s. He has fine greying hair cut short and sharp observant eyes. He smiles frequently and laughs rarely. He has an abiding love of John Wayne films and all things Bette Midler. Jim has an uncanny ability to attract sharp sassy women in their 20’s with low education but loads of life experience. He always has a Mary-Lou or Charlette on his arm. After a few months they drift away and are immediately replaced. One thing they all have in common is that they are young and lithe, take no grief from no-one, know how to handle money and learned how to handle a pistol and shotgun before finding their way into Jims life.

Jim owns several prop aircraft located at a small airfield on the fringe of a city. Each plane is named after a Midler song ie: The Rose, Beast of Burden, etc. He operates a small business doing crop spraying, sky writing, short hop freight and  whatever niche trade he can pull. He doesn’t seem to be as busy as some of the other similar businesses working out of the airfield but he never has any problems paying his fees and maintaining his aircraft.

Jim is a very good single and multi-prop pilot and aircraft mechanic. 30 years ago he flew cargo for the air-force and he knows his way around most cargo aircraft. His business is in essence a hobby that mostly pays for itself.

Several times a year Jim gets a call, packs his bags and heads off to some primitive country where he is paid good money to keep a plane on standby ready to go in and collect some guys who have become unpopular for all the usual reasons. He keeps it prepped and fueled, drinks plenty of coffee, listens to some Midler and keeps in contact with his most recent Mary-Lou who is scouting the perimeter with a high powered rifle that she learned how to use stalking deer in the back-country as a child. The call comes, Jim does some final checks and calls in Mary-Lou. Then they get airborne and go collect the team. No matter what. If he has to skim the jungle canopy to stay under the radar or fly next to the power lines to avoid RPGs, he can do that. He lands, collects his passengers and gets out of there. Then he goes home.

Jim has done jobs for several US government agencies, especially the DEA. The key to his success to date is that he is very good at what he does and he never talks about the past.

Using Jim Clarke

  • The PCs need a pilot for a job. They ask around and word is that Jim Clarke is the man for the job. Time to find him and start negotiations.
  • The PCs investigations have lead them to an airfield. The <insert object/person/etc> is arriving tonight. They sneak in and start snooping. A tall, thin man calls out asking what the hell are they doing? Time for some answers because Mary-lou has them in her sights. 
  • The PCs are in some shitty country when all hell breaks loose. A running gun-battle rolls over them and they find themselves pinned down. Suddenly a battered Cessna drops out of the sky and a bunch of guys haul ass onboard before it departs. A posse of angry, well armed locals are left in the dust and the PCs are in for a whole lot of trouble.
Posted in Advice/Tools, Fluff/Inspiration, Other Systems

Bandits and umm… Bragons? Mission 2

Some ideas for converting Mission 2 for use in a fantasy game.

The characters are in a port city. One of those port cities that abound in fantasy settings where suspect cargoes pass the manifest inspector whose attention is taken by the weight of fresh gold in his pocket. 

A shady individual approaches them, perhaps in an inn, and offers them a hefty incentive to sign aboard a ship as crew so as to dispose of a passenger at sea. Perhaps the final manifest or chart of navigation will be lodged with the Port Authorities, a copy of which this individual will need prior to their departure. A chance for some break and enter.

Once aboard they must dispose of this individual on the second night. Perhaps he has unexpected capabilities, perhaps not. It must be kept secret from all others aboard. He must go for a swim.

And then the unexpected happens. If you have read the mission you know what this is. If you are a player, save the fun for the game table, it will be worth it.

Spanners that can be thrown into the works are largely of the magical variety. If the target has special magical abilities, perhaps there is a special item that he must be bound in that will annul them. If you follow the mission closely, it may be that the target must survive in the water until he is collected. How will this be done? A ring of floating? Good choice.

Posted in Advice/Tools, Fluff/Inspiration, Other Systems, Uncategorized

Why no…?

This post addresses all of the “why no..?” issues relating to the Missions.

Why no… Mechanics?

The Missions are completely stat free for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I use the Bandit Country RPG so I don’t need them. If you prefer a different system, add your own. If you are using a published set of rules, you must have access to a range of NPC stats that can fill the gap.  Secondly, they become focal points that imply how a particular scene or event should occur. I prefer to be suprised by what my player does so I want to be focusing on the story, not the mechanics.

Why no…Mission Names?

It seems as though it is a foregone conclusion that an adventure or mission must have a name. Something redolant of danger and unexpected risk. Even Bourne gets his Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum. Bandits get nothing. They don’t go on fancy missions with groovy code names. They get paid to deliver and forget. If they sit around in bars chuckling about that time they nearly got screwed in Zurich, they sure don’t write it in their memoirs or sell the movie rights. So Mission1, Mission2, etc it is.

Of course, you are welcome to do as you wish with them. If you want The Diamond Desperados followed by The Cruise of Chaos, go for it. 

Why no…Pregenerated Characters?

If you want to use any of these mission with new Players or in an open event such as a convention (I would be honoured if you did!), you will need to do this work yourself. On this subjet, in future missions I might add a section covering the sort of specialities that are useful for the mission. Considering that they are all written for Kat’s character Ruby, you can check her details out in this post

The reason that I don’t include pregens is partly due to my first point, I don’t want to assume how you might use the mission. Secondly, If I tried to cater to all of the game systems that might be used…. you know the rest. If you like the material, use it, do the work so that it is useful for your own game.

Posted in Advice/Tools, Fluff/Inspiration, Other Systems