Today I’ll cover Agent Points, which allows the players to buy missions, equipment and connections.
When watching shows like X-files or Fringe or even Supernatural I am not worried whether or not the protagonists can finance their equipment, nor do we see them worry too much about it, even shows where the protagonists or chronic poor, they always manage to the necessary equipment.
That’s why I like abstract mechanics for equipment such as the Circles-mechanic in Burning Wheel/Burning Empire/Mouse Guard. The bookkeeping in D&D is a boring chore, even though the collecting of treasures is the source of much fun.
For the very same reason I had no interest in wasting time managing the economies of the characters in the Delta Green-campaign.
- One point is earned after each mission
- Acquire equipment: 1+ point
- Buy connection: 1+ point
- Buy mission: 2 points
When equipment is not trivial, it must be acquired through the expenditure of agent points. Trivial equipment is any common equipment for a federal agent or the equivalent – laptops, firearms, basic surveyllance-equipment, first aid-kit, blackberry or some other cell phone.
The specific piece of equipment is not important to the mission, and so only unique, rare or cutting edge-equipment costs points, equipment such as false ID-papers, cutting edge surveyllance-equipment, unusual or illegal types of firearms.
Most equipment costs one point, extreme costs two or more at the GM’s disgression, and otherwise a mission is required to pick up the equipment, such as a magical artifacts and mythos books.
During missions the agents can employ their connections to relevant people. The player pays an agent point and suggests a relevant PC, who can give the agents access to certain kinds of information, produce permits and contact to witnesses and other plot-relevant NPCs. Most connections costs one point and are directly connected to the PCs. For more points the connections can be connected to other persons (a chain of connections) and these other persons can be more powerful.
So far connections has been employed in mission four ‘The Subterraneans’ to introduce a contact, who happened to work among the witnessess (a caretaker of a soupkitchen for homeless), and in mission eight ‘So Green and Big the Forest is’ an extra-loyal and very strong parkranger, who didn’t mind keeping the lid on certain witnesses to avoid CDC taking over the case. Futhermore it was used to buy a connection to the District Attorney in LA in mission nine ‘Dolphin Birth’ in order to allow the DG-agents to infiltrate a case giving them a clear way into the mission.
I was inspired by Covert Generation-rpg for the idea of buying connections or constructing chains of connections.
The campaign is episodic in it’s nature, and each mission lasts 1-3 sessions. The missions are designed by the GM, but the players can spend Agent Points to buy a mission. After each mission I ask if any of the players wants to buy a mission and if so, then the player and I meets or corresponds about the mission.
When buying missions the players get the opportunity to follow up on leads, they want to explore, to expand on their backstory (each agent is recruited after a mysterious encounter, which is normally unresolved) or simply to introduce certain themes or elements, they want explored.
The player chooses whether DG assigns the mission, or if the character suggests the mission to DG and is given a green light, or if the mission is on the agents own initiative without DG’s sanction.
The player suggests elements, that the player wants included in the episode, such as place, theme, relation to backstory etc.
From that material the GM creates an episode, so even though the player knows about the mission, it remains a mystery and there is plenty for the player to explore.
So far two episodes has been bought: Episode five and episode nine.
Episode Five: The Red Tears of the Black Madonna
The player wanted a mission in South America. The idea was that he earlier had been involved in clandestine missions in South America against drug lords. and that he recently had come across some new and mythos-related material. He tricks his fellow agents along. In part he wanted the mission to take place in a South American city and he liked the idea of a jungle mission.
I planned that the mission would be in two stages. First a city part, where they spend their time waiting for a contact and they pick up intel and clues. During their time the encounter The Cult of The Black Madonna with the Red Tears, which is a strange and weird fertility cult honoring ancient deities disguised as a local Catholic cult. In the second part they were supposed to go into the jungle further exploring the plot, but the mission was called off, as the agents panicked due to the pervasive presence of the Cthulhu Mythos, and they discovered that they had been manipulated on to the mission, and that they were working without the sanction of DG.
Episode Eight: ‘So Green and Big the Forest is’
After episode seven Dirty Jobs the agents of Cell S were in a bad standing with DG. One agent decided to follow a series of leads in order to find a scientist, who had dabbled into the Mythos-mysteries, and placate DG by resolving the case (this scientist was first mentioned in episode one and then again in episode three).
The player wanted a mission about the scientist, and that the mission took place in the backyard of one of the other characters (this part was cleared with that player). The episode gave the players the opportunity to catch the scientist turned sorcerer, and to stop a Lloigor-invasion. The last part was accomplished, but the scientist hidden behind a fold in time got away (folds in time is another theme in the campaign, which we will revisit later).