Freedom Fighters and Shadow Ops (D20 Modern Campaign Setting)

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Freedom Fighters and Shadow Ops (a d20 modern campaign)

Background The events of September 11, 2001 left a mark on the world that had consequences for every nation around the globe. In addition to launching a bloody, extended war in Afghanistan and being the proclaimed basis for the American invasion of Iraq; 9/11 launched a world-wide War on Terror. As the United States and its allies wage aggressive incursions in the Middle East to root out terrorist training camps and spend political capitol to pressure nations that support terror to end their aid; paranoia grips the establishment. Counter-terrorism and espionage program funding grow at the expense of domestic programs. America’s aggressive diplomacy alienates many allies over the next decade. Despite the costs, America is safe from terrorism on its soil thanks to the vigilance of its intelligence forces.

Two additional events shape the next decade. First is the launch of the VR Net. With the consolidation of several hardware and software giants and the underwriting by the European Union as part of its post-bank crash rebuilding, the world sees the quick adoption of Virtual Reality technology as the primary computer technology of the modern world.

Then, on Christmas Eve of 2011, everything changes. Elements of an unknown terrorist organization manage to smuggle a tactical nuclear weapon into the United States. It is detonated outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. In the chaos and panic, the US declares a state of emergency and invokes martial law. In emergency sessions of Congress, the United States authorizes a new intelligence oversight and action agency- S.H.I.E.L.D. (the Strategic Homeland Intelligence Enforcement and Logistics Directorate), a more powerful version of the Department of Homeland Security. SHIELD is charged with coordinating all data from the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies already in place. More importantly, SHIELD acts upon this data at its own discretion. SHIELD reports directly to the President of the United States with no Congressional oversight. Black Christmas, as the event is known, causes an extreme level of paranoia around the globe. The US pressures many of its allies to accept SHIELD personnel and operations in their borders. In an unprecedented level of cooperation, SHIELD becomes tasked with tracking down the perpetrators of Black Christmas by the UN Security Council.

S.H.I.E.L.D. Currently, SHIELD is the foremost intelligence and law-enforcement agency in the world. It was formed on the framework of the Department of Homeland Security, but given the mandate to protect the United States of America at all costs. Where the Department of Homeland Security acted as a coordinator for various branches of the United States government, SHIELD has added its own military and intelligence forces under its direct control. While agencies such as the CIA, the FBI, ATF and the DEA still exist as nominally separate agencies, their data is collected and sorted by SHIELD. The agencies have their own operatives and their original mandates but SHIELD will step in and take over anything that it feels is particularly sensitive or dangerous.

When SHIELD was formed, it transferred top agents from the original agencies into its fold. This cherry-picking and the prestige afforded to SHIELD in the media causes a lot of friction among the ranks. Some of the original agencies have operatives who keep sensitive material to themselves, to protect their investigations. Some agencies also downplay the importance of their findings, to keep their own agents assigned without worrying about SHIELD stepping in and taking over.

SHIELD has official offices in Washington, D.C. and in Langley, Virginia. While their presence in the Capitol area is formidable, it is largely administrative. The bulk of SHIELD’s assets are located in New York City, Chicago and Phoenix. These assets include tactical units, analysts, and research facilities.

The New York office is the chief analysis point, located on a salvaged and recently installed facility in the Hudson River that once began existence as an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Additional units are located in nearby facilities on the shore. The Vault, as the Hudson River locale is called, is linked by dedicated satellite and landline links to the CIA, DOD and other critical analysis operations. It is believed that The Vault houses the newly relocated Artificial Intelligence project that the Department of Defense is rumored to have been funding for the last 15 years. It is certainly home to a cadre of elite hackers who are training with the next generation VR Net that has been made possible by the merger of several software giants into Think Best.

Also known as The Sand Lot, the Phoenix, Arizona facility is located 30 miles outside Phoenix and houses the bulk of SHIELD’s tactical assets. While much of SHIELD’s tactical and law-enforcement units are pulled from the FBI (investigating agents and FBI Hostage Rescue Team) and US Customs, SHIELD arranged for significant military aid from the Army. These tactical units are being trained in urban assault tactics; given the likelihood that any operation in the scope of SHIELD’s mandate will take place in or near an urban area. Several operators from special operations units across the armed forces have been attached to SHIELD. Most are specialists in fields like hostage rescue or nuclear weapons safety. Some are rumored to have been involved with black projects. SHIELD’s tactical units utilize advanced technology in their gear. The still-in-development Land Warrior armor system is standard for assault units and the newly issued OICW is in wide-spread use. Many units use other weapons due to the weight of the OICW, but most of these weapon systems have been adapted to use a modified version of the Fire Control System found in the OICW. The FCS links to computers onboard the Land Warrior or other armor systems to provide range data, video feeds and more. This data is monitored by command and control elements to guide assaults and maintain lines of information.

Nicknamed The Tower, the Chicago facility is centrally located to offer assistance and technical support to the other two facilities. In an emergency, it can re-route data and duties to manage the functions of the other two offices. The Chicago facility is chiefly a research station and houses numerous small labs. The research is typically not weapons technology. The Chicago facility is built on Chicago’s Gold Coast, near Navy Pier. Additional assets are located north of the city at Great Lakes Naval Station.

Project Dark Angel

The liberal political climate of the 1990’s saw funding to the CIA cut and increased oversight by Congress that severely curtailed the effectiveness of black operations. While many in government saw the use of assassins, blackmail and sabotage to be relics of the Cold War, a few saw the end of such tactics as leaving America open to its enemies. Just like in the former USSR, many of these Cold War veterans were forced into retirement. Some went into the private sector, becoming uncommonly skilled mercenaries in Third World conflicts. Still others went rogue, becoming criminals or terrorists.

One former Cold Warrior was involved in an updated version of the CIA’s Psi-Ops division. This division of Psi-Ops was researching ways to allow Wild Talents to access their powers more rapidly. It succeeded in being able to identify Wild Talents using a battery of medical and psychological tests. It also succeeded in creating a small brain implant that allowed prospective Wild Talents to access the rudiments of their powers by regulating elements of their brain chemistry.

Codenamed Project: Dark Angel, these researchers and operatives discovered that the greatest successes came with teenage youth from two vastly different psycho-social outlooks. The first were extremely disciplined but quick problem solvers and highly motivated. These types typically enrolled in the military and did well in special operations units or went on to graduate programs in law or science. The second group was rebellious, anti-social and often criminal. Both groups required a high intelligence and an unprecedented level of adaptability. Dark Angel began to recruit both groups, the disciplined from newly recruited soldiers and the criminals from the street and jail.

By 1995, Project: Dark Angel was no longer a part of the CIA, but a faction in its own right. Specializing in kidnapping, gun-running, assassination and other criminal enterprises, Project: Dark Angel is a major supplier to terrorists world-wide. Dark Angel still recruits from the disaffected and the disciplined. To its lower ranks, it purports to be a secret division of the CIA that specializes in black ops. It thoroughly vets candidates who will be loyal to the company and maintains a large number of internal security agents who ensure loyalty. Operatives can expect to have their phones, e-mail and conversations randomly monitored. Any perceived disloyalty is thoroughly investigated and punished if necessary.

Project: Dark Angel has operatives that have infiltrated the CIA, the GRU and MI-6. These operatives are nothing more than information gatherers and are too valuable to risk blowing their cover to provide aid to any operative. Project: Dark Angel maintains a number of elite hackers that routinely plumb the depths of intelligence and law-enforcement groups around the globe. Dark Angel appears to be based out of the US and is rumored to have fronts in Los Angeles, Boston and London. Project: Dark Angel is known to have intense antipathy with K-Directorate and the Silent Walkers.


With the fall of the Soviet Union, many of its old institutions were folded in the wake of a new era. While elements of the Soviet intelligence agencies fell in line with the new regime, many were forced to retire. K-Directorate is the remnants of a KGB assassination unit that went underground following the collapse of the USSR. Becoming freelance killers and industrial saboteurs, K-Directorate made their reputation and fortune in the Middle East and China. Currently, not much is known about their organization beyond their usage of KGB techniques and penchant for violence.

The Silent Walkers

The oldest organization of psionic operatives in existence, the Silent Walkers help explain the origin of the legends surrounding the ninja. Since the 1600’s, these clans have perfected mental and physical techniques to identify Wild Talents and train them to the peak of their abilities. Operating from several small enclaves disguised as monasteries, fishing villages and mountain hamlets, the Silent Walkers have lived their lives in discipline. Serving a series of Japanese political powers with a rigid code of honor, they have continued to remain mysterious and unapproachable.

Specific data regarding the organization is almost non-existent. The Silent Walkers are extremely territorial, quickly identifying foreign psi ops and forcing them to leave Japanese territory. Their technological capabilities are largely unknown, but observers have found that the Silent Walkers prefer low-tech solutions to their mission obstacles. Adding further to the mythos of the ninja, Silent Walkers often execute their missions in the black costume of Kabuki stage handlers, typically associated with ninjas. Archaic weapons are a common hallmark of their missions. Thanks to Japan’s continuing friction with Russia, China and South Korea; the Silent Walkers are most active in the Pacific Rim area.

The Steel Dragons

The Steel Dragons began their existence as a small outlaw motorcycle club that started in Los Angeles. Originally used by the Yakuza as muscle, couriers and drug dealers, the Steel Dragons have expanded to become a national syndicate. A single family controls the Steel Dragons, consisting of four siblings and their off-spring. They are Japanese-Americans and operate under codenames only. It is believed they are the offspring of a renegade Silent Walker. Unlike the typical outlaw motorcycle gang, the Steel Dragons are not simple thugs. Every one is ex-military or a career criminal of the highest caliber. Some are renegade intelligence agents. The “cover” and lifestyle of the motorcycle gang hides their international connections. Their links with the Yakuza have given way to extortion, industrial espionage, gun-running, assassination and close ties with the Blackmoon Syndicate. The Steel Dragons have chapterhouses in most major North American cities, London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Naples and Bangkok. Although they have a handful of psi agents, their family leadership is believed to be a moderately powerful psions.

Think Best Corporation

In the twenty-first century, the espionage community is no longer limited to national players. The corporate sector has a very big interest in protecting its research and products from invasive eyes. Think Best was formed through the merger of several software and hardware giants. Thanks to their influence, Think Best forced the United States government to approve the merger, despite claims of monopoly. The combined expertise of all involved is allowing Think Best to revolutionize not just computers, but man-machine interfaces. They have announced that first-generation Virtual Reality will be commercially available within 12 months and they are believed to be researching implantable devices.

Think Best has a tight relationship with the US government, and has its major research facilities guarded by SHIELD. Think Best has their headquarters in Silicon Valley, but their research is carried out in secure facilities located throughout the world. Despite their close relationship with the US government, Think Best is actively involved in legislation that would give multi-national corporations the rights to act as nations. Think Best also maintains its own security forces, many of whom have a shady past as mercenaries.

The Wolf Legion

One of the greatest kept secrets in history is that the defeat of the Nazis was not complete. Before the US entered World War II, the Nazis planned for many eventualities- including their downfall. For years, the Nazis trained deep cover agents to infiltrate British, Russian and American society. Money and material was stored for use should the Third Reich fail and need to be reborn. While the sixties and seventies saw the round-up of various Nazi war criminals hiding in South America, the sleeper agents of the Wolf Legion reactivated and began slowly using their hidden resources to build vast amounts of wealth.

It is now up to the second and third generations of the Wolf Legion to put their plans for a new Nazi state into action. The Wolf Legion has agents in virtually every European, North American and South American city. The Wolf Legion has slowly been buying arms and equipment since the 70’s and has made quantum leaps forward in weapons technology thanks to their industrial espionage successes. Also of note is the Legion’s use of psionic agents is fairly extensive, although nearly all are Telepaths. The Wolf Legion makes a great deal of money selling weapons on the black market and is believed to have several front companies that are also profit centers in their own right.

The Blackmoon Syndicate

The scions of several vastly different crime families have decided that the old ways of doing business are no longer desirable in the twenty-first century. Merging elements of the North American Mob, the Neopolitan Camorra, the Chinese Tongs and the Yakuza; the Blackmoon Syndicate is small but growing. It is adaptable in large part thanks to its youthful members. The ruling Council of Eight has average ages of 40. The Blackmoon Syndicate is continually expanding its operations into new markets, shunning old stand-bys like prostitution and drugs in favor of industrial espionage, sabotage and computer crimes. It controls or has interest in a dozen banks, making them masters of money laundering.

Sometimes derisively called the Velvet Syndicate, members are known for their love of fashion, state-of-the-art electronics and discreet gun-play. They try to play the middle-men to other factions in the espionage and criminal worlds, so no major attempts to shut them down have been made. The Blackmoon Syndicate is most active in New York, London, Prague, Rome, Nassau and Tokyo.

Campaign Qualities FX: No magic but psionics are used. Starting Level: All PCs begin play at level 2 unless otherwise noted. Races: Human only, unless special permission to play other scientifically engineered “races”.

Campaign: Department-7 The team begins play as recently recruited and trained members of SHIELD. Department-7 is a small department in the large agency tasked with non-standard deep-cover operations. Employing methods developed by the now renegade Project: Dark Angel; Department-7 seeks out talented young men and women from a variety of backgrounds. Using the more stable, structured recruits and veterans (especially from military backgrounds) to reign in the rebellious ex-criminals; Department -7 forms small, flexible teams that are capable of carrying out a variety of missions on their own. The PCs are recent recruits who are being tasked with infiltrating the renegade Project: Dark Angel. The team will have new identities that fit the profile of Dark Angel agents. Furthermore, SHIELD hackers will ensure the team’s false files are flagged by Dark Angel recruiters.

Suggested Team Make-up • Ranged Combatant. Whether a military trainee or a skilled street operative, at least one ranged combatant is necessary. Small arms (including SMGs and rifles) are critical to any combat survival. • Stealth Specialist. A typical mission for Department-7 and/or Project: Dark Angel requires covert entry into discreet locations. A stealth specialist with experience in security counter-measures is a must. • Electronic Operations. A critical support resource, an operative skilled in computer security is vital to information gathering and eluding detection during an operation. They are often needed “on-site” to retrieve critical data from secure systems. • Vehicle Operations. Transport duty ranging from driving civilian vehicles to piloting aircraft may often be split among operatives but a specialist is frequently handy for ex-filtration. • Psionic Operative. Whether a Telepath, a Battle Mind or Psionic Agent, an operative with psi abilities is critical to gaining the attention of Dark Angel. A psi op can fill many roles from combatant to support.

Gear Load Out Although a large quantity of espionage gear would arouse suspicion among the Dark Angel recruiters, we have established a safe house with some gear that will be untraceable and useful to you in an emergency. In addition to basic supplies and a secure computer terminal for communication, the following gear is prepared for you.

Per Team Member • Cellular Phone with Headset • Tactical Radio with Headset • Body Armor (Undercover Vest) • Knife • Night vision Goggles • Beretta M9 Pistol with 4 magazines of standard 9mm ammunition, 2 magazines of armor piercing 9mm ammunition, illuminator and laser sight. • Stun Gun

Also Present • (2) Steyr TMP submachine guns with 8 magazines of standard 9mm ammunition, illuminator and laser sight. • (1) Steyr AUG assault rifle with 4 clips standard 5.56mm ammunition, 2 clips of armor piercing 5.56mm ammunition, modified Fire Control System scope (Laser Range Finder/Video Camera/Night Vision) and HUD Goggles. FCS and HUD goggles convey +1 bonus to attack rolls. • (40) MRE rations • (1) Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV with fuel • Mechanical and Electrical Tool Kits (1 each) • (1) Lock Pick Set • Laser Microphone with 4 hour audio recorder • Digital Video Camera with Low Light Lens • Assorted clothing • (5) First Aid Kit

Campaign: The Steel Dragons The Steel Dragons are outlaw bikers with ties to many criminal, rebel and terrorist organizations. Each member is a skilled criminal or soldier of fortune. The Steel Dragons promise freedom, adventure and wealth in exchange for loyalty and skill. A refuge for rogue intelligence agents and soldiers, the Steel Dragons are very selective in their new recruits. The players begin play as recent recruits. Their first missions include stealing their first bikes and weapons. Performing hits on low-level rivals and distracting law enforcement from more important operations. One or more may be attempting to infiltrate the gang for a rival or the law.

Suggested Team Make-up • Breaking/Entering Specialist. A cat-burglar by any name, many of the Steel Dragons missions require getting access to places they aren’t supposed to be. • Vehicle Expert. Every member needs to know how to ride a bike or drive a car. The motorcycle allows fast and discreet transportation. The Vehicle Expert takes this to the next level. • Mechanic/Support. From fixing bikes to customizing guns, the Mechanic takes care of anything with moving parts. • VR Runner. Handles hacking and electronics. • Psionic Operative. Whether a Telepath, a Battle Mind or Psionic Agent, an operative with psi abilities is quick to be recruited by the gang. They are often discreetly watched by the ruling family for special training.

Gear Load Out The Steel Dragons have no standard gear load out. Some prefer discreet pistols while others love the mayhem of full-auto weapons. Steel Dragons have caches of weapons near their chapterhouses but individual members are wise to acquire as much gear on their own. The first few tests of a new recruit are the acquiring of their own gear.

Must possess the following as a recruit (must be stolen or acquired by recruit) • Firearm with ammunition • Motorcycle (minimum 750cc)

Within 3 months of its creation, SHIELD has major military elements attached to its operations. SHIELD uses US Army units to raid seditious elements, including some college campuses that have student break-ins to research facilities. As intelligence agencies around the world employ increasingly draconian tactics, rogue elements appear. Some are simply dissatisfied citizens, others are renegade intelligence operatives and still some are simply terrorists. The additional chaos only causes harsher measures to be put into place as much of the global media is censored.

It is now 2013. The European Union, USA and Japan have signed legislation authorizing the implantation of sub dermal identification and banking chips known as “Shepherds”. This is required to collect state and federal Social Security benefits or to receive a visa for foreign workers. Soon, every man, woman and child will have them installed in the EU and Japan. Many in the USA are opposed to mandatory usage of the chips but security concerns are pushing the program forward.

Mind Over Matter Since the dawn of recorded history, human beings have had tales of men and women with extraordinary powers. Sometimes held as prophets or sorcerers, modern science has classified these powers as being real and given them a name- psionics. Some nations have had access to psionics for a considerable length of time. Secret texts have indicated that China had a large number of psionic advisors as far back as 1,000 AD. Japan has had a secret orders of psionic practitioners since the 1600s. Nazi Germany was believed to have made extensive use of psychic operatives. In the modern world, psychics are an open secret. While psionic abilities are neither confirmed nor denied in the press, they are in widespread use in covert and military units around the world. At the current time, there are four recognized classifications for psionic individuals.

• Wild Talents. The lowest level of power. These individuals possess minor abilities (such as telekinesis of 5 pound objects or the one –way sending of short messages) but intense training can broaden their talents. Many wild talents exist who are unaware of their abilities, accounting for numerous accounts of psychic abilities in the media.

• Telepaths. The most common psionic discipline, telepaths have access to a broad spectrum of powers. Few telepaths share the same identical set of powers but many have some powers in common. For many, their powers augment a skill set or interest that does not hinge upon their psionic gifts. For example, a soldier trained in urban assault operations may find that that the ability to command enemies to surrender or read their minds to be helpful both in combat and out.

• Psionic Agents. The rarest and most sought after psionicists. Agents have access to powers of rapid movement, often allowing a powerful psion to have a short range teleport effect or short periods of flight!

• Battle Minds. While not as common as Telepaths, Battle Minds are frequently encountered in a variety of roles. Many have found their talents awakened thanks to the rigorous study of martial arts, so melee combat skills are typically highly developed for this group. Some Battle Minds serve as highly effective bodyguards. Others serve as assassins.

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