As promised, I’m going to provide here the notes I use to run the development games for Direct Action: the Quiet Professionals, an RPG of special operations covert action. The technical aspects of the game should be easy enough to adapt, and the notes themselves should provide some level of inspiration for any spec ops-style game.
In this post, I’ll outline the very first adventure, which for my crew lasted a session. The only map I had was one copied from Google Maps of the desert in the west of Niger. Pick a spot, zoom in, Print Screen, paste in Photoshop or Gimp, and crop to get rid of the Google tools. You can’t get rid of the Google watermark, but hopefully your players will be considerate enough not to deride your efforts. If they complain, have them pay for a commercial satellite account from which you can get pristine maps.
The stats for the opposition will come in the next post. For now, here’s the situating information for OP NOMOS, an adventure in Niger.
This is a hot opening for the campaign. The PCs are part of the Special Reconnaissance Detachment. In the development game, this is part of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, though in your game it can be part of the spec ops command of your country or the country you choose. Canadian operations include a name with the first letter from the country in which they occur. Because this opening takes place in Niger, we’re calling it OP NOMOS.
Please note, this is all fictional. While there is a CANSOFCOM, there is no SRD. The situation is as realistic as possible, however the characters, the situation in Niger, and the specific terrorists are all fake. This is a game that is inspired by the headlines, but has no basis in reality whatshowever.
In OP NOMOS, the SRD is in the west of Niger, hunting Tuareg rebels in support of Task Force 22, a combined Delta – SEAL force. The PCs are in place as overwatch of a weapons smuggling waypoint in advance of a planned night-time incursion. The camp consists of about twenty tents and twelve vehicles. (GM’s note: I had no map to work from, just quickly hand-drew a map centred on an open area with the armed vehicles on the exterior and the unarmed vehicles on the interior)
This camp has been targeted because the cellphone of Ismail Mohammed, an extremist with ties to AQIM, was tracked to this location five days ago. Last night, his voice was confirmed on a Thuraya satphone call by the NSA, tracked to within 5 km of this location. No other camp has been identified in that zone.
There are eight technicals – five land cruisers with Dushkas on the back, two with SPG-9 73mm recoilless rifles, and one with what looks like an adapted B-8V20 helicopter rocket pod loaded with 20 80mm S-8 air to ground rockets – along with four transport trucks that look like version of the GAZ-66 Soviet-era transporter.
(GM note: if you don’t know what these things are, Google them. I had images for technicals with Dushkas and recoilless rifles, though I could not find one with a rocket pod on it. There were stories of Libyan rebels attaching rocket pods to their technicals, which is totally insane, but these things happen. You may have trouble with a Google search of the Dushka. It’s slang for the DShK heavy machine gun, very common in Africa and the Middle East. There’s a Wikipedia page for DShK.)
The PCs have counted about thirty armed smugglers in the camp, mostly Tuareg. More importantly, they made a positive visual ID of Ismail Mohammed in the camp. The SEALs want him alive, and therefore the incursion. The raid is underway by 0000 (midnight), and the SRD will receive launch verification at 0003 local (0003L or 2303 Zulu, meaning Greenwich Mean Time, also known in NATO as Coordinated Universal Time or UTC – acronym from the French) Launch verification means there are five Blackhawks from the 160th SOAR in the air with a platoon of SEALs and airborne sniper cells en route. ETA is two hours (0200L or 0100Z), when hopefully the camp will be quiet and the guards will be drunk or high.
The camp is quiet, as is usual. Let’s say the PCs have been on overwatch for at least 24 hours, and they are aware the camp pretty much dies down by 2200. At 0115 local, the PCs will notice headlights approaching along the track from the East. Three vehicles, moving relatively fast (around 50km), meaning more technicals.
The vehicles arrive in camp 0128 local, and the PCs will see three technicals, all of them sporting ZU-23 anti-aircraft artillery. There are approximately twelve new arrivals, all armed with AKs. They are unloading large crates, from the beds of the technical – each crate about two metres by a metre. The targets unload four. The arrival of the technical has awoken some of the residents and a small crowd forms by 0136. The PCs are likely too far away (safe distance would be about 1500m about 4920 feet or 1640 yards) to hear the opening of the crates, but one of the people in the crowd holds up an FN-6, a Chinese produced man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS).
One of the PCs should be an intel NCO or officer. That character can identify the leader of the new arrivals as Abu Hassan, a Mauritanian who led a cell of MUJAO near Kidal in Mali. He is a target of opportunity, and something the PCs should communicate back to command. It’s 0136/7, and command will reply almost immediately (0139) with an order to the SRD and the incoming SEALs to take Hassan alive.
The SRD is ordered to engage the anti-aircraft weapons before the Blackhawks arrive in range. That gives the SRD about 20 minutes to disable the ZU-23s and the FN-6s. How and when the SRD acts is up to them, but it is hoped that the planning started the moment they saw the ZU-23s on the technicals. If your players are not very conversant with the genre, upon identifying the AAA, it’s important that you tell them those will almost certainly need to be neutralized before the helos arrive.