Next up in our return to Burn Notice as an RPG campaign, I’ve got something modern for you. Given that SEP started publishing special operations-type supplements and adventures for d20 Modern, one would hope I might have a grip on this one.
You be the judge.
Originally presented on 17 Sep 2008.
So, I’ve written up mini-settings for Burn Notice campaigns in both a fantasy and Victorian horror genres. Let’s look at the modern genre now. Granted, Burn Notice is a modern action-adventure, so rather than a spy character, let’s cook up a Burn Notice special ops military campaign.
For Spec Ops Burn, I’m going to have the characters all as part of one team. I envision them as an extraction team, similar to Drift in the Mundus Novit setting. They get sent into Albenistan to extract an intelligence asset from Khorforjan, only to receive a note at the front desk that they have been disavowed. The note indicates that the team is under suspicion of criminal actions, though no specifics are given. The note also indicates a restriction to Khorforjan and its environs. Should the team leave Khorforjan, they will be considered rogue and a wanted notice would be circulated to all nations. The team knows that they have made lots of enemies, and should their identities be compromised, they and their families would be in extreme danger. It is hoped that the GM would get player buy-in before attempting to restrict the characters in this fashion, as without buy-in the players are likely to concoct some elaborate plan to get out of Khorforjan–likely just because that’s where the GM wants them to stay.
The team gets co-opted into small jobs by the local private military contractors and then later through the local law enforcement. It will likely become known pretty quickly that there is a “rogue” unit in town, but that they are “white hats.” This could actually increase the team’s pull with the local authorities.
The jobs the team would encounter could be very similar to what is seen on the series. Khorforjan is not completely lawless, and there is an attempt to lead normal productive lives by most of the population. People are running businesses, taking the bus to work, trying to get by. But there is a strong lawless element in Khorforjan, that could become a kind of regular nemesis, requiring the characters to keep a low profile, and also providing easily identifiable bad guys.
One of the PMCs is a CIA plant, and through him the team should begin to learn that their burn was based on a mission they completed in Pakistan–very black book. Turns out, the guy who tasked them to the mission was actually acting without orders. He had gone rogue. Rather than admit to this, the agency for whom he worked implicated the team. At some point, that rogue agent must travel to Khorforjan for a drug deal. This gives the characters a chance to capture him and clear their names. He is, though, aware the team are present in the city, and will be taking exceptional precautions.
For the characters, I can see them as a more serious version of the A-Team. Michael is the leader and tactical planner. Fiona is the combat expert, possibly with stealth skills. Sam is the fixer, though I think his connections and the information fed to him should be narrative. More on that later. Sam can be combat-capable as well, but with lots of social skills and some stealth skills. The last character, let’s call her Natasha, nick-named Nate, is the tech-head, with all sorts of engineering and technical skills, including break-and-enter skills.
I say that Sam’s connections should be narrative due to their importance to the plot. In the series, the information Sam gets is required to move the plot forward. If this is the same in the game, you do not want Sam to fail or the game is stalled. Therefore, I would give Sam information to move the plot forward when required, otherwise his contacts come up empty.
For these characters, I would make Michael would likely be a warrior with a Spy occupation. Fiona would be a warrior with a Special Operator occupation. Sam would be an expert with a Con Man occupation. Nate would be an expert with the Technician occupation.
This game would likely be relatively violent. Unlike the show, force and the regular use of firearms would likely be common. Whether it was done in an action cinema fashion or something grittier would really be up to the players.