Agents of BIFROST
GMs Thoughts On Agent Actions - A Paradox
This Thursdays session brought several issues to mind while I was listening to the discussion of Consequences, and I will bulletpoint most of them here.
A) “Usefulness Bias”
When Agent Hurt (a fully sworn in Agent of SHIELD. – Even if one who is more office supplies than Biological – who is truly sentient (mind made up of brainwave patterns of a dead soldier)) was suspected of being infected with a Symbiote or other biological contaminant that mioght have impaired his behaviour, it was seen as “reasonable” to hold him at gunpoint, threaten him, and force him to remove clothing and equipment because he was a potential threat to the Team. When Balder (a vehicle that had previously been controllable, and required a trained agent to use him) came back from the mission and the party KNEW he had been changed (to the point he was self-aware with unknown motivations, unknown loyalty, and unknown abilities), but not to what extent (except that he no longer required an operator, in fact could not actually accept an opperator as his cockpit had been replaced), he was not treated like a threat. Of the two beings – the 20 foot tall robot with superhuman strength and built in weaponry is more of a realistic threat. Where was the compassion for the “life” of Hurt that was shown to Balder?
B) The Nine Noble Virtues
I do not think Trainee Agent Lokisson understands these ‘Virtues’ as well as he thinks he does.
In order of importance, the Virtues are;
1. Courage (Courage is the ability of someone to do something even though frightens them or when they are scared. To do something that you know is difficult or dangerous. To have strength in the face of grief or pain. Having valiance by possessing or exhibiting valor when in darkness and in the face of fear).
2. Truth (Truth is the state of being in accordance with fact or reality. It is sincerity in action, character, and utterance. Having the quality of being free from pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy. Being honest to one’s self and to others. One who is without truth can never be trusted).
3. Honour (Honour is a keen sense of ethical conduct which allows one to be regarded with great respect and esteem. A quality of worthiness and respectability that affects one’s social standing amongst their kin and kindred. It is the regard of one’s worth and stature based on the harmony of their actions).
4. Fidelity (Fidelity is the faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief which is demonstrated by continual loyalty and support. To never turn one’s back and remain complete and undivided. The quality of being faithful and maintaining a firm adherence to one’s own moral values).
5. Discipline (Discipline is the suppression of base desires with restraint and self-control. When an individual uses reason to determine the best course of action regardless of their own personal desires, which may be the opposite of what must take place. To stay the course and have the strength to maintain what must be done, even when you don’t want to).
6. Hospitality (Hospitality is the relationship between a guest and a host, wherein the host receives the guest with goodwill. This includes the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. Hospitality extends in terms of protection. A host not only to provides food and shelter to their guest, but also makes sure they do not come to harm while under their care).
7. Self Reliance (Self Reliance is the state of reliance on oneself or one’s own powers and resources by not requiring any aid, support, or interaction of others for survival. Self reliance is the state of personal independence. Do not be a mooch or bum and provide for one’s own self).
8. Industriousness (Industriousness is working energetically and devotedly to complete a task or in life’s daily toils in a hard-working and diligent manner. Being careful and persistent in one’s work or effort. Not being lazy, but having great care and attention in the steadfast application of one’s work and effort. Having a sense of industry and of having a work ethic) .
9. Perseverance (Perseverance is the steady persistence in a course of action or purpose. To never give up or surrender, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. Try and try again until you get it done. Not losing heart and simply giving up or taking the easy way out).
Siding with Balder “because he welcomed him as a friend” appeases Hospitality (Virtue 6), but to do so against other members of the organisation that he had pledged to uphold and support breaks Virtues 3 (Honour) and 4 (Fidelity). Not accepting the decision of a Superior Officer goes against Virtue 5 (Disipline) – he may not know Earth Culture, but he knows Warrior Culture and the role of chain of command in a warband. Asgard has a standing army, and every army has rank and file and officers. The oath (Fidelity) he took to serve SHIELD (otherwise he would not be on the Bifrost at all), and the Discipline of being in a (para)military organisation aren’t “Earth Culture” they are an oath to serve and knowing his place within the armed force that he is serving in. It’s not a car telephone or a dictaphone.
C) Heavy is the head that wears the crown;
Hezekiah is the Squads Commander and a Specialist by Rank. With Rank comes perks and Responsibilities, and as leader of STRIKE Force One, Those responsibilities are to the Teasm, then the Bifrost, then SHIELD specifically, and finally EARTH-617 in general. His Rank allows him to command anyone in his own Division who is a lower Rank than him. His position as Team Leader of STRIKE Force One gives him that right (and responsibility) over the Team. Anything the Team does, reflects on Hezekiah. Dugan (as over all in charge of the Helicarrier) prefers to let those with boots on the ground deal with specific issues, but if the threat becomes enough that he has to take notice and act, he will punish not only the person concerned, but the whole team. As leader of a STRIKE Force team, Hezekiah is already given far more leeway than a regular SHIELD Specialist Agent – he’s on a par with Seasons 3-4 of Agents of SHIELD level self-determination. But this means the responsibility for dealing with his team is also on him.
We had two problems with LIMDIS this mission:
First, Specialist Hezekiah shared next to nothing of ther actual mission parameters (again) with the team, making it almost impossible for them to actually do the job they are on the Bifrost for. “Make Friends” is an optional footnote to the mission parameters designe to instill a “don’t start a war we can’t fight” logic to the teams actions, not a purpose for the mission.
Then Senior Field Agent Goat spreading partial information to the Mechanics, which caused the fear of Balder in the first place, which was almost immediately proven dishonest when Specialist Hezekiah answered one of the questions asked, with a very specific differnt opinion.
E) Situation as it stands:
- Currently, Senior Field Agent Goat is under Investigation suspected of being a rogue Agent or spy.
- Trainee Agent Lokisson has been demoted, and had his freedom aboard the vessel limited. This includes no access to the Officers Bar.
- Specialist Hezekiah is being watched by Dugan, as it appears he does not have control of his team. He stated a punishment, and the target of the punishment literally said “no”, and was allowed to argue against the decision.
F) Final Thoughts
I understand you are all used to pl;aying “party-based” RPGs, but this is not quite that:
You are representatives of a World-Wide (and now interdimentsional) Peacekeeping Force. You do not have absolute freedom to act. That is what “Subject to Orders” on your SHIELD Package represents. Along with “Hunted by SHIELD (Watching)” – your actions are almost always under observation. On the Helicarrier, there are always eyes watching, either in person (Like the new Agent), or camera’s, microphones, etc. HEIMDALL, the Bifrost’s AI, is always monitoring all communications.
If the party knew the reason for the STRIKE FORCE Interdimensional Missions, it might help them act more in unison as a team, but weith Specialist Hezekiah not fronnt-loading the team with information, and then going down at the slightest whiff of danger… They are operating blind, 90% of the time.