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WaterAndWindSpirit 01-27-2018 03:53 AM

Mission Control
Have you ever had the experience of a "Mission Control" character in tabletop games, that is an NPC who provides intel and support to the PCs from far away?

For instance, a hacker that provides the PCs with useful intel, say warning them of incoming reinforcements through their use of a hacked government spy satellite, and gives them useful information through a HUD link?

How did it go for you? Have your characters taken a liking to the character? Hated the character from the beginning? How to make it work? Is the fact that the characters doing the field work and getting medals are the PCs enough to make them feel like the heroes of the story? What kind of compromises are needed to keep the Mission Control useful but still have the PCs as the heroes?

Icelander 01-27-2018 10:24 AM

Re: Mission Control
For an ongoing game set just inside Chihuahua, Mexico, on the US-Mexico border, the PCs have Mission Control located in the US (El Paso, TX), two elements of pre-inserted intelligence support in-country with direct communications access to them* and a security/exfiltration element comprised of DEVGRU operators, who might or might not be set up on the Mexican side.

So far, there hasn't been much opportunity to discover whether or not the players like the NPCs in question. Well, they've encountered about 70% of those who might be on the other side of the comm link in play before and, off-screen, at least one PC knows them all, but there hasn't been significant interaction with them exclusively over the comm link in play yet.

*Though SOP is for all communications to go through Mission Control except in cases where the PC team lead or someone else with the authority to override SOP activates an emergency plan which requires direct communication.

ericthered 01-27-2018 11:38 AM

Re: Mission Control
I've actually had a few games where a PC played the part of mission control, whether it be the hacker back at the office or the communications expert with his drone playing "eye in the sky". Which is not quite what you asked, but the PC's themselves didn't feel left out of the loop playing that role at all. So I'd consider a mission control character to be something that a PC or an NPC could do.

Icelander 01-27-2018 11:52 AM

Re: Mission Control
Come to think of it, I've run at least one game where the White House Situation Room was monitoring an operation that the PCs were on. Their actual Mission Control was presumably CIA headquarters or, at least, the person at the other end was their usual boss, John Brown, an Associate Director in the CIA Directorade of Operations (now the National Clandestine Service), along with a staff of operations officers, analysts and communications specialists.

It was 2004 and the target was Osama bin Laden. President George W. Bush was in the White House Situation Room.

Ultimately, the mission was a failure.

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