On a Generator of Missions

I've run many, many games. No matter the game, the party gains access to a commerce hub and immediately begins asking about work. Here is a tool to help you generate missions and their complications. Links to the enhanced/illustrated downloadable version of this are at the bottom of the post. 

  1. Assault/Raid
    1. Fortress
    2. Town
    3. Ship
    4. Ambush
    5. Skirmish
  2. Extraction (Voluntary/Involuntary)
    1. Jail
    2. Prison camp
    3. Private prison
    4. Prisoner of war
    5. From employment (corporation/crown)
    6. Natural Disaster
    7. From hostile forces
      1. Tower
      2. Dungeon
      3. Jail
      4. Camp
      5. Building
  3. Theft
    1. Caravan
    2. Individual
    3. Building
    4. Hijacking
    5. Kidnapping
    6. Piracy (Tranfer of goods between vehicles)
    7. Salvage
  4. Bounty
    1. Monster
    2. Individual
    3. Posse
    4. Pest-Control
    5. Hunting (Safari-style)
    6. Hunting (Commercial gain)
      1. Any of the above may be Dead or Alive
  5. Escort
    1. Caravan
      1. Commercial
      2. Pilgrimage
    2. Animal (Cattle)
    3. Object/Transport
    4. Message/Parcel
    5. Personnel
    6. Smuggling
      1. Goods
      2. Weapons
      3. People/Items
  6. Coup d'etat
  7. Duel/Contest
    1. Sport
    2. Weapons
    3. One vs. One
    4. Team vs. Team
    5. Tournament+
    6. Brawl
  8. Assassination
  9. Sabotage
    1. Arson
    2. Destruction
    3. Planting evidence
    4. Forgery
  10. Exploration
    1. Area
      1. Mapping
      2. Trailblazing
    2. Spying
      1. Armies
      2. Governments
      3. Populations
  11. Mysteries
    1. Murder
    2. Disappearance
    3. Riddle/Puzzle
  12. Skill (Cooking/Leatherworking, etc.)
    1. Labor (Farmhand, General Labor)
    2. White Collar (Appraiser, Scribe)
    3. Black Market (Forger, Lockpicker)
    4. Service (Armor Tester, Waiter, Usher, Etc.)
Any mission above may be given by the Authority, an Individual (such as a Merchant, Noble, Wizard/Scientist/Alchemist, Politician, Public Servant), Rebels, Feuding families or groups, or a Faction. Any of the above may come with an "Obstacle Course" or test before employment. Any of the above may also be just a preface for a different actual task.

The actual adventure comes in the twist however. Common permutations of the above options are listed below. This is your VALUE-ADD.

  • Assault/Raid
    • You must attack and kill/retrieve a macguffin
    • You must defend a structure that someone is planning to attack
    • You attack the structure, but the 'victims' welcome you
    • You attack the structure and the victims welcome you, but then try to kill you
    • There are long term consequences of the Assault
  • Extraction:
    • You must recover or retrieve the macguffin
    • You must insert or place the macguffin in the target area
    • You are the macguffin to be retrieved
    • You go to the macguffin and they want to stay or you see a reason retrieving it would be bad
    • You go to the macguffin and they want to stay because they just wanted to expose weaknesses where they are (or some other method via they help their captors)
    • You go to the macguffin and decide retrieving it would be bad, but really it's bad to not retrieve it because you were misinformed
    • There is no macguffin and never was
    • The maguffin is surprisingly difficult to retrieve
  • Theft:
    • You must steal a macguffin
    • You must protect the macguffin from theft
    • When you go to steal the macguffin it's not their or is not what you expected
    • As above, except it secretly is (illusion, secret compartment)
    • You go to steal the item and discover the owners are glad to part with it or the macguffin wants to be stolen
    • There is no treasure to steal
  • Bounty:
    • You get paid for killing a creature
    • You get paid for preventing people from poaching or killing a creature
    • The bounty is on your head
    • The creature or the reward is fictional
    • No one believes the creature still exists but it does
    • The bounty on a creature is very high, after killing many of them, the effects on the ecosystem become known
  • Escort:
    • You must accompany a macguffin to a destination
    • You are the person to be escorted
    • Something has affected the destination that makes completion of the mission impossible
    • The macguffin is not what it appears, making delivery impossible
  • Coup d'eat:
    • You must unseat a person in power
    • You are the person in power someone is attempting to unseat
    • The person in power is actually the one who should be
    • The person in power is the one who hired you to depose him
    • You don't need to unseat the person in power because of their new position
    • Performing the Coup d'eat destablizes the region and the fallout changes the shape of the campaign
  • Duel/Contest:
    • You must defeat an opponent
    • Someone is trying to stop or defeat you
    • Your opponent throws the match
    • Your opponent loses, meanwhile he's accomplishing his goal while you're tied up with him
    • The contest is called on account of weather
    • The contest doesn't need to occur because of other developments that put you and your opponent on the same side
  • Assassination:
    • You must kill a target
    • People have taken a contract out on your life
    • The person is paying you to kill them
    • The person is paying you to kill them, but is actually under the control of the players enemies
    • When you go to kill them, they are removed in another way as an obstacle (or perhaps they leave the prime material) meaning it is no longer necessary to kill them
    • Assassinating your target causes more problems then it solves
  • Sabotage:
    • You must sabotage a target
    • You must protect a target from being sabotaged
    • There is a non-functional device that must be repaired
    • The target you set out to sabotage is already non-functional
    • The non-functional target is actually just a ruse, the real danger is coming from another foreshadowed source
    • The target due for sabotage fails of its own accord for entirly seperate reasons
    • Sabotaging the target actually makes your own goals more difficult to achieve
  • Exploration:
    • You must explore an area
    • You must prevent a group from finding out about an area
    • You set out to explore an area only to discover it is already well mapped
    • You discover a well mapped out area that you set out to explore but find that all the maps are very inaccurate
  • Mysteries:
    • You must solve a mystery
    • You must prevent someone from discovering what you have done
    • You set out to solve a mystery, but the solution is easily found. Knowing it causes a whole new set of problems
    • Something happened with an obvious solution, a close examination will show that perhaps the obvious solution isn't correct
    • Something that appears to be a mystery is clearly not when examined
  • Skill:
    • Your skill or work is tested
    • You are needing to hire people for a project
    • You set out to do a job, but it turns out there are bigger problems
    • The bigger problems require a different skill you have
    • It turns out that a skilled person wasn't needed at all

Originally published on September 24th, 2013. An enhanced version is available in digital form on Patreon and for free  on DTRPG. 
For other works, be sure and check out the Directory.
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