OSFI Player's Handbook Chapter 1: General Mission Types
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WRITING GROUPS: Star Fleet: PRIME (SD- 2427) | Star Fleet: ORIGINS (SD- 2261)- DEFUNCT | Star Fleet: BEYOND (SD- 2771)- DEFUNCT
General Mission Types
The OSFI operative will almost always undertake one of several types of missions. However, several well-known mission types, such as assassination, sabotage, and fomenting insurrection, cannot be found below. That is because such activities are forbidden to OSFI; OSFI follows a strict code of moral behavior, and such activities fly straight in the face of such a code (see the Overview for further elaboration on this Code of Ethics). Therefore, under no circumstances (unless approved PRIOR TO THE MISSION'S COMMENCEMENT by the DSFI and, most likely, the CINCSF), should such missions be undertaken.
Also, some missions may have multiple mission characteristics, such as "surveillance/analysis"; these missions require either an agent of broad training or multiple agents working as a unit in order to achieve the desired goal.
The standard mission classifications are as follows:
- Deep Cover
- Military Analysis
- Civilian Analysis
Cryptanalysis, simply put, is the art of breaking and encrypting codes and ciphers. Now, at this time, codes and ciphers are generally broken and encrypted by computers- but someone needs to program the computers to, for instance, run the proper algorithms needed to break codes and ciphers, or program the computer to use the proper encryption when sending a message. In either instance, someone trained in the underlying principles of cryptanalysis is needed. This knowledge would extend beyond coding and code-breaking; it would include an intimate knowledge of the methods of delivering messages as well as unparalleled expertise in programming and "hacking."
An ASR character would likely have a science and/or communications background, heavy in computer theory and programming. He or she would NOT likely be a "field" (spy) agent; he or she instead would likely hold some sort of administrative post. OSFI Headquarters- as well as each threat desk and starbase- would employ several such agents. There would NOT be much need for such an agent in the field (i.e. on a starship) unless assigned for a specific, short-term purpose, or if part of a mission group in need of such services.
Being a deep cover agent in OSFI, despite its romantic myths, is not the easiest of lives; such agents infiltrate a society (often dramatically different than his or her own) or organization and wait. This agent would immerse him or herself into the society or organization in question and become one of "them." His or her task would be to place him or herself into a position where he or she would have access to sensitive information and acquire it. This could be done through building a friendship with a person with sensitive information, or hacking into a corporate database, etc. This agent is expected to take all precautions to insure the integrity of his or her cover- generally, such missions are designed to bring in a steady flow of valuable information over a long period of time, so compromising one's cover is not a desired consequence of one's actions. Such precautions also include not simply creating a fake identity and background for oneself, but perhaps even actually planting oneself into a society or organization several years in advance in order to actually live one's background.
As can be seen, such an agent's tasks are often general and nebulous, such as "find anything you can dealing with Romulan ship deployment and movements," or "find out what you can about Vanguard Weapons' clientele- they are rumored to be smuggling weapons to the Gorn Hegemony." These missions are more concerned with far-reaching, long-term goals rather than short-term gains.
Given the care with which such agents operate, a firm time table is not often given on such missions- they are assigned their job with the understanding that it could take months or even years for his or her mission to bear fruit. However, aside from a contact agent or case officer, the deep cover agent almost always works alone, making new contacts along the way. No support other than what the agent creates for him or herself can be given because of the secretive nature of such an assignment. Such agents literally are "on their own."
As with all "field" agents, this character does have a contact agent and would be expected to report in regularly; however, as with everything this character does, great care is taken to insure the integrity of his or her cover.
An ASR character in a deep cover assignment would likely be posing as an average, every-day department head on a starship. However, there would have to be a reason for OSFI to risk ruffling Star Fleet proper's feathers- such as the starship in questions is on a long-term border patrol mission which takes the agent past a foreign power of interest. Please remember that an OSFI agent would NOT be spying on members of the crew- that is a matter of internal affairs, and is not part of OSFI's mandate. Such a character would probably have more broad training, as one never knows what may come in handy on such long assignments. Such a character would likely be an infiltration specialist ("master of disguise"), and have polished social skills as well as some communications knowledge and, of course, at least an expertise in the customs and the language of the culture he or she is to infiltrate, complete with any appropriate dialect training.
This would be "the cream of the crop" of field assignments- the dream of many operatives. As such, only truly gifted agents would ever be assigned this task. Given the nature of ASR, this would be another possible mission type to RP; however, given the long duration of this mission, it would be difficult to cultivate in terms of actual game play and character development. More than likely, such an agent would be an NPC the characters would come across during a non-intelligence mission- unless, of course, this character has been part of the actual crew all along.
This is very much like a deep-cover mission, but with a smaller time frame; on such missions, the agents are given specific tasks to perform, and are ordered to perform these tasks and then leave immediately. The goals of this type of mission are small, short-term goals; this does not mean that they are unimportant (they would never be undertaken if they weren't important in some way), but are simply nowhere near the grander, more romantic scale of the deep cover mission.
An agent on an undercover/infiltration mission would not be looking to blend in to a society for the long haul; as such, he or she wouldn't be expected to "live" the role as opposed to "act" the role- he or she would be trained in acting techniques, local customs and languages, etc.
In ASR, this would be a likely RP assignment for an OSFI operative as opposed to an administrative one (the mission parameters lend itself better to role play by a character). He or she would be assigned to a starship or starbase with a specific goal, and once that goal is accomplished, he or she would transfer off the ship or base, hopefully without anyone being any the wiser.
An agent assigned to military analysis is, like his cryptanalysis brethren, more than likely a "behind-the-scenes" agent, reading and interpreting data from various sources in order to gain a clearer picture of the military might or the Federation's enemies. Such a character is an expert in military fleet operations, strategy and tactics, weapons and defensive systems, etc.; as such, this character is often one of the rare agents who cross over into Intel from Command-track.
As noted, this character is generally not a field operative, so, in ASR, one would most likely find this character in an administrative spot attached to the Bureau of Alien Technology Analysis (BATA) or TACFLEET's Emerging Threat Assessment Bureau (ETAB), where he or she would write up situation reports on the major threat species or write up specifications of foreign power warships. Thus, this type of mission is not generally RP'd, but is usually something that the branch head and his or her assistants have already done for the players.
Another of the "behind-the-scenes" support agents, this agent would take any non-military data and analyze them, looking for economic trends, pouring through demographic and political information in an effort to spot trouble before it occurs. Such a character is a political or sociological expert, often with specific expertise in one threat species or another.
In ASR, such a character would likely find him or herself working with military analysts in ETAB to paint a more full picture of the current state of affairs with the threat species. As such, this character is usually an administrative one as well- that means this type of mission is rarely RP'd except when such analysis is necessary on the part of an individual agent as a means to other ends.
Extraction usually is, simply put, the rescue mission. Things go wrong sometimes, requiring an agent to get out quickly. An extraction agent is trained at lending a hand to an agent in need of assistance- they can get in, get the agent, and get out again extremely quickly and, most importantly, quietly.
However, once in a while, OSFI finds the need to remove a hostile target from a situation for questioning or debriefing. An extraction expert would also perform this task, for all the same reasons as were listed above.
As a result of the nature of the missions these agents undertake, an extraction agent often finds him or herself working hand-in-hand with the elite units of the Star Fleet Marine Corps.
In the world of ASR, such an agent would likely be assigned to a unit for a very short time, with a very specific purpose, such as rescuing an Ambassador from his or her kidnappers. Once the target is extracted, usually the agent would turn the target over to other agents in a safe environment for questioning or debriefing. At that time, the agent would probably move on to another assignment.
Recruitment may be the most hazardous job of any in OSFI. The agent on a recruitment mission would essentially be trying to "turn" another agent or civilian against his or her own government- he or she would be creating a double agent working for us. the dangers of such an assignment are obvious; only after careful screening and analysis are such missions generally undertaken. However, it has been known for these opportunities to come up unexpectedly; in such cases, agents are encouraged to pursue this avenue along with their other mission goals.
Recruitment missions are NOT always exciting- they are not always about seducing someone into working for OSFI, though this is still certainly an acceptable technique. Often, turning a file clerk is just as effective. Regardless, recruiters go wherever disenchantment can be found.
Such a character in ASR would likely be found where many different cultures mix and blend together, such as frontier star bases and deep space stations. He or she might have a specific target in mind, or he or she might have a more long-term, nebulous goal of keeping an eye out for any potential double agents. Either way, he or she would be well-versed in the political and economic situations of the species in question, and would be adept at befriending such a person. A trust needs to be built up between the agent and the potential double-agent in order for this type of mission to succeed.
Counterintelligence is exactly what the name implies: a mission in which our agent or agents works against the actions or goals of those working for a threat species. This can cover many different types of action- spreading disinformation about current Star Fleet ship deployment in order to fool enemy agents, extracting known double agents working against Federation interests, etc. Any action that works counter to those of a foreign power is considered counterintelligence. Often, as seen in the example above, counterintelligence is employed along with other mission types.
The agent working a counterintelligence mission can either be a field agent or an administrative agent, depending on the nature of the mission. Working in the field, counterintelligence agents would engage in the time-honored game of "spy vs. spy," trying to physically combat the interests of enemy agents in a sort of "shadow war." As an administrator (the more common type), a counterintelligence agent would usually engage in a program of disinformation designed either to thwart or expose enemy agents.
An agent working a counterintelligence mission would likely have similar qualities of either the undercover agent (for field agents) or the analyst (for administrative agents), with added emphasis on the art of deception- after all, the goal of counterintel is to fool the enemy. The agent would not have to be skilled in simply "blending in" or analyzing reports; he or she would have to know how to create and distribute erroneous reports, how to spread rumors- essentially, know all the different ways of planting phony information.
Such missions can potentially be found in ASR, either in the field or at a desk. In RP terms, an agent whose task is to stop a certain known undercover enemy agent, he or she could devise a ruse based around disinformation to draw the enemy agent out into the open, for example. The administrative side would probably never be RP'd in ASR.
Surveillance and reconnaissance both involve the same concept: listening and watching. An agent on a surveillance or reconnaissance mission would be asked to observe a target- this target can be a person, place or thing- and report his or her findings to a case officer. Whether it is for surveillance (when watching known subjects in a known environment) or for reconnaissance ("scouting out' an unknown quantity), the basic approach is the same.
An agent performing a surveillance or reconnaissance mission would be adept in all forms of electronic and sentient surveillance (essentially "eavesdropping")- this includes the use of audio and video bugs and other listening devices. He or she would monitor communication into and out of the target's area for anything unusual; the agent would also be practiced at "tailing" a target inconspicuously and may even befriend an associate of the target or someone working inside of a target organization in order to procure information.
These missions would also be possible fodder for RP in ASR. Listening posts, patrol routes and starbase/deep space station life provide ample opportunity for a player to engage in this type of mission. Such a player, however, must always keep in mind the mandate of OSFI: any actions- even something as benign as surveillance- taken against a Federation citizen or performed inside Federation space is forbidden. Those operations are handled by SECIS only. Therefore, an OSFI agent would not be watching anyone on a starbase or a deep space station, since it is in Federation territory; however, an agent CAN use a starbase or deep space station as a meeting place with a contact agent or case officer, a port of call for his or her cover identity, or as a place to dwell between missions or operations.
The transportation mission is as straightforward as any mission in OSFI gets: the agent (often employed in pairs or groups of 4) would be responsible for transporting an OSFI interest safely to a particular destination. This could involve several scenarios, such as transporting a defector/double agent back to the regional headquarters for debriefing, or transporting an Ambassador to his or her new assignment, or even moving sensitive material from one locale to another.
Sometimes, as with other mission types, such a mission evolves into something further, such as, upon successful transportation of an Ambassador to his or her new posting as Ambassador to Romulus, staying on as part of the Ambassador's entourage in order to perform surveillance/deep cover tasks.
The depth of the mission's parameters determines the number of agents employed in this type of mission. If the mission is strictly one of transportation with no eye towards evolving into something larger, then generally only one or two agents, specializing in security procedures, would be dispatched. However, if the mission were to transform into something larger, such as an undercover surveillance assignment, then several agents with complimentary appropriate expertise would be assigned.
In RP terms, a character would act as one of the members of the transportation team, with the others likely being NPC's of his or her own creation. He or she could then remain on board ship or station as an operative engaged in other mission types. Usually, this mission type, in RP, would simply be a way of creating a believable cover so as to get an agent somewhere important.