Due in part to my movie consumption, I’ve been thinking a bit about how to quickly lay down the foundations of an action story for the gaming table. You can find the result below. It’s just one mission generator among many, of course, but I hope its simplicity will give you cornerstones that leave you enough room for further inspiration.
The mission generator
That’s what it’s about!
The most important element to even get started is, of course, the mission that the characters (have to?) get involved with.
A person or possibly small group has been kidnapped and held. It is the SC’s job to rescue these people from their situation and get them to the safety.
Movie: Tyler Rake – Extraction, Bad Boys II
Also a form of extraction, but these targets have no intention of coming along voluntarily. Time to pull the criminals out of their private fortresses full of bodyguards.
Movie: Gangster Squad
Whether it’s a ship transporting weapons to crisis zones or a death laser made of artificial diamonds, this rogue technology shouldn’t be used as intended.
Movie: The perceived half of all James Bond films
Sinister figures should not possess nuclear warheads or material to blackmail the Minister of Defense. But tons of money are also a nice target.
Movie: The Italian Job
Politicians, whistleblowers and scientists – all these and more are in danger of being kidnapped by shady forces and it takes the best to protect them.
Movie: 16 Blocks, SWAT
Often enough, the question is straightforward: what’s going on there? Why are the old military trucks going into the woods? Who in the underworld is responsible for the current series of heists.
Movie: The Fast and the Furious
Where does it take place?
Cool locations are an improvement for every scenario and elementary for the opportunities. Of course, this is just as true for action-packed missions.
The downtowns and business districts of modern metropolises are dominated by behemoths of glass, steel and concrete. The multi-lane streets resemble canyons and are packed with cars, just as the sidewalks overflow with pedestrians. And each building a world unto itself.
Elements: High police presence, anonymity due to crowds, luxury and money.
The opposite are neighborhoods created by the sheer necessity of housing space. Here, masses of impoverished people live in often illegally constructed buildings. The streets are often just wide enough for a car and, despite dirt, a place of public life.
Elements: maze-like structure, gang crime, chases over rooftops, squalor
Wide open spaces that you cross on lonely roads. The worst possible place to hide. Einheinmische are often a stubborn and dismissive people, who know about everything unusual. Good as a lookout, bad as a wanted person.
Elements: sparse human contact, few hiding places, long distances
Deep forest, mountains, desert – earth has more than enough landscapes that make any kind of task difficult to people. Unless you want to hide…. Nevertheless, weather and, if the occasion arises, flora and fauna are real dangers that must be additionally reckoned with.
Elements: fight against the natural elements, hide and seek in the landscape
Dozens of small islands that often don’t even have a name and are hardly mapped. A fast boat is essential to experience action here. Just don’t set it on the nearest sandbar or in the mangroves.
Elements: Water as a connection and obstacle, confusion due to small islands.
Truly isolated places are hard to find. Research stations in Antarctica are among such, and most often it is probably the ocean, where a single oil rig or ship can be very lonely. But extreme weather can also isolate a police station….
Elements: on your own, no escape possible, only reachable under extreme conditions
Why all the trouble? Of course, because there is always the danger that a sinister figure will interfere from the background … or from the front!
This person can never get enough, although he actually has plenty. The object of desire can be money, land, or power. However, she does not get her own hands dirty to achieve her goal and gives the appearance of legality to her actions as often as possible.
Examples: traders, real estate sharks
This someone also takes what they would like to have. But there is often no bigger plan beyond getting the thing. Basically, he is not afraid to do what is necessary himself and certainly not afraid of violence.
Examples: pirates, bank robber
An injustice was done to him. Maybe it was unknowingly. Maybe he is just imagining it. But it doesn’t matter now, because now it’s all about revenge. The methods are beyond what is considered fair.
Examples: betrayed (business) partner
Someone rules here, but this rule is anything but just. Whether it is the corrupt offspring of the established ruling family or someone who has seized power, the population must suffer under the rod and is brutally exploited.
Most people have a reason for doing bad things, even if it can rarely be justified. But what if a person’s only reason for leaving a trail of horror behind them is because they never give another thought to the aftermath? How do you come to terms with someone like that?
Examples: mercenaries, street gangsters
Some people simply have nothing left to lose, which often makes these individuals very dangerous. They try to hold together the last remnants of their existence and have meanwhile lost sight of what are acceptable risks for themselves and others.
Examples: overthrown rulers, bankrupt