The weekend before restaurants closed in Philadelphia, I had skipped the subway and was walking to work, thinking about how things were going to be pretty weird for the next few... well weeks I thought. It was a rare moment in my life when I genuinely knew that what I needed was more distraction. I reached out to my DnD friends, looking to set up a play-by-post game for a steady drip of roleplaying in the coming chaos. It’d be too dramatic to say that it was a life-saver, but I’m in the mood to be too dramatic. We decided on a For the Queen game, and I was excited to give Z. W. Garth’s mecha melodrama Chasing the Ace a try. In two months of self-prescribed escapism, my friends and I collaborated on a 40,000 word story that still fills me with pride and gratitude to my wingmates. Today I want to share a small excerpt from the story we made together:
♥2 What was the moment you swore to follow the Ace?
Finding myself between shifting schedules, but still looking for games to play, and I thought some of you folks might be able to relate. With that in mind, today I want to pitch you my absolute favorite one-shot role-playing game, Mission: Accomplished! Mission: Accomplished! by Jeff Stormer is an RPG of super-spies and office meetings inspired by shows like Archer, The Venture Brothers, and Better Off Ted. It’s a rules-light, player-driven game of collaborative storytelling with an outlandish backdrop of top-secret espionage and overbearing office policies. Sessions run about 2 hours (including coffee break), require little to no preparation, and are perfect for new players or new GMs. Honestly, if you’ve never run a fiction-forward game, or never felt comfortable running something like Blades in the Dark or Dungeon World, I sincerely recommend giving Mission: Accomplished a shot.
What to Expect
In Mission: Accomplished, players take on the role of international super-spies returning back to HQ after completing their mission. The job wasn’t done well, but fortunately the job was well, done. Mission Control (played by the GM) wants to get to the bottom of what went wrong, but more importantly who they’re going to pin the blame on. The action of the game plays out in unreliable retellings of what each of the characters witnessed or can attest to, all while racking up Commendations and Citations from Mission Control.
Character creation is swift and lighthearted, and the scenario is built collaboratively so each player knows what sort of stakes are at play for the story that’s about to unfold. The joy of the game comes from a back-and-forth of throwing folks under the bus and covering your own ass, with just enough frivolous hypocrisy to keep it all in good fun.
Why I Love this Game
Disclaimer: games are art, and the only difference between art and craft is whether someone can spend far too much time analyzing it, so that is exactly what I intend to do.
I often describe Mission: Accomplished as anti-cynical, and it’s the game’s best quality. Let me highlight some of Jeff Stormer’s text to demonstrate what I’m talking about. One of the things you define when you make your character is your Specialty:
I love the phrase “spectacularly competent.” It almost sounds like an oxymoron, but trust me, there’s something to it. There’s a certain “disaster OC” style in role-playing games that is in vogue right now, probably because it’s unquestionably fun as hell. There’s nothing better than getting together a rag-tag group of fictional friends who are totally in over their heads and can’t action economy their way out of a paper bag, and believe me there is plenty of room for that kind of play in Mission: Accomplished! This game gets it. It also gets that sometimes, that style of play is a way to wallow in our own fears and failures, to mock them, sure, but ultimately cling to them as the only story we allow ourselves to tell. Not today villains. This game demands that you embrace your success as well. In Mission: Accomplished! you’ve already won the game, the objectives were met. It’s not about the GM making it harder for you to succeed. This isn’t a game of struggle, this is a game of stunning victory, and inside of that it mocks how much our modern world is trying to stop us from shining. This game believes that you can be the best there is at what you do, and that you are always valuable to the team. Some of the best sessions involve taking a character with a very mundane contribution and discovering how they are ultimately the star that we needed to get the job done.
Running the Game
This game, simple as it is, asks you to cultivate a path of curiosity that will help you when you go to run more complex, intricate games. The players give you everything that happens, so you have to develop the skill of following their leads, and that sort of GM listening is going to be a great tool to deploy in other systems. The rules are simple, but the story is complicated, and learning how to get the players to untangle that together is a great path to better collaboration in other games..
What I Recommend
The best time to play this game is as a break or a pallet cleanser for a long-running group. I’ve also ran it as a convention game, and find that there’s enough heart and joy subtly built in to make this a fine game to get a bit of inter-party conflict among a less-familiar table as well.
The game plays well online, and if it’s not too real or too soon, I’m sure you have plenty of virtual meeting horror stories to reenact. As fun as it is to take jabs at the digital delirium we’re dealing with, I think this game most wants to be played in person with absolutely too many loose leaf sheets of office expectations and mission details. That sort of tactile chaos seems like a fun expression of so much of what this game does well.
One last thing before you get back to gaming, as part of the Itch Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, Mission: Accomplished might be the best game you didn’t know you already own!