FAQ and Definitions
Thanks to Steve Cranmer, formerly of JointFury and the Illuminati now with Jawbreaker. ROLE PLAYING SCENARIO FAQ Version 1.
I originally wrote this FAQ for one simple reason: no one else had written one. I have been playing scenario games long enough that I think I understand most of what happens in them. Also, the teams I play on specialize in playing scenario games almost exclusively. However, I make no claim to being any more than an average player myself. If you think I’ve gotten something totally wrong, tell me and together we’ll fix it. I am not thin-skinned and your contributions will only help improve this FAQ for everyone else. For those who have played many scenario games, help the rest of us out by contributing additional questions and/or answers. For those who are just getting into scenario games, my wish is that this FAQ will help you to enjoy your scenario experience more fully from the very start. And for those who have never yet tried a scenario game, what are you waiting for? Read ahead and see what you can expect; then make your way to a scenario game soon.
Over the years paintball has seen the rise of what have come to be known as Role Playing Scenario (Scenario) Games. They are an attempt to create a more complete and diverse form of competitive paintball. For a Scenario Game, be sure to bring all your regular paintball gear, plus your imagination and creativity. There will be lots of familiar paintball action, but also many additional layers of activity and complexity of play. There is also the additional challenge of successfully coordinating play over a much greater span of time with many more players, most of whom may have never met before the start of the event.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
FAQ:1 What is a Role Playing Scenario (Scenario) Game?
Scenario Games go beyond the usual "Capture the Flag" or "Elimination" type of paintball by adding complex role playing and a theme or plot to be fulfilled. The scenario (theme or plot) is usually an historical or fictional situation populated by various characters who will compete in the pursuit of a common objective.
FAQ:2 How are Scenario games different from other paintball games?
Today’s average recreational paintball game has been reduced to some variation of either elimination or capture the flag. There are short, single-purpose, controlled confrontations which are limited by a relatively short time span. Since the fields themselves don’t generally change that often, play can become somewhat predictable.
Today’s tournament paintball play is similar to recreational play in structure, but is even more compressed and intense in competitiveness. This compression has led to the development of games such as speedball and hyperball which feature ever more focused and competitive forms of play. This obviously tends to favor players who are young and svelte, which many (including me) are not.
In addition, some folks speak of scenarios when all they really mean are interesting variations on regular 15-20 minute paintball games. Likewise, Scenario Games should not be confused with so-called Big Games, which include a lot of players, but which have very limited role playing and structure.
Scenario Games at times include all the types of play mentioned above but are different in many ways.
* Instead of small 5 or 10 player teams per side, Scenario Games could have 100 or more players per side. It is not uncommon for Scenario Games to draw 300 to 500 players for a weekend, and some draw close to the 1000 player mark.
* Instead of a series of short controlled games, a Scenario Game consists of many hours of continuous play, presenting many challenges for proper utilization of players and equipment.
* Instead of a somewhat brief and predictable confrontation, Scenario Games consist of many varied missions, which are not known to the players in advance. A squad will be given a mission and will need to come up with a quick and effective strategy without prior notice.
* Since play is continuous over many hours, teams must gather their own information on the status of both their own developing situation and that of the opposing side. This means, for example, that the player in the bunker next to you might actually be a spy, playing for and reporting to the opposing side. Also every piece of information gathered must be evaluated to make sure it is not actually misinformation.
* Due to the elongated nature of Scenario Games, there is an increased opportunity to take advantage of additional equipment such as camouflage, smoke and paint grenades, telecommunications gear, night vision, GPS systems, etc.
FAQ:3 How long do Scenario Games last?
It can vary greatly, depending on the nature of the scenario and the capabilities of the facilities being used. Most scenarios unfold over 8, 12 or 24 hours of continuous play. For 8 or 12 hour games there will likely be a midday break in the action on the field to get a preliminary score and to have everyone go through the chronograph again for afternoon play. 24 hour games will usually run from noon Saturday to noon Sunday. There will generally be two breaks in the action so that players can re-chronograph their guns to a lower velocity once just before dark and again back up to normal velocity just after sunrise. Lower velocities are required at night because an opponent is often right on top of you before shooting starts.
FAQ:4 How can you tell which side players are on in the dark?
The answer is that many times you can't tell. Some folks will simply call out their color (red, blue, etc.) and get ready to duck just in case. If you are guarding your base, you can flash the other person with a flash light or a spot light - after all, everybody knows you're there and they are the "intruder". Intermittently flashing a bright light into the woods is also great at interfering with night vision goggles if you think they are being used. If you are with a squad, one of you can take a chance at identifying the other players - that way only one of you might get shot. You might also be able to work out some signal with the rest of your team mates so that you can tell the good guys from the bad guys. For example, if I say "mustard" and I don't hear you say "sparrow" I will start shooting.
FAQ:5 How can play continue so long without running out of players?
Scenario Games make use of the "resurrection" concept to recycle players back into the action periodically. In general, once you are eliminated you will be sent to a Hospital Zone to await the next insertion of "resurrected" players. Usually, insertions happen every half hour, so you are never off the field very long. In fact, most Hospital stays are just long enough to clean off the goggles and gear up to go back in.
FAQ:6 How are eliminations handled?
Eliminations are handled the same as regular games with a couple of exceptions. One of the roles in Scenario Games is that of Medic. When a player is hit he must stop play where he is, but he has 90 seconds before he is actually considered dead. If a Medic can get to him and make physical contact within the 90 seconds the wounded player can be healed on the spot and resume play. The Medic will record the healed player’s ID number for later reference. In some games, Medics cannot heal a head shot, which is considered to be a mortal wound instantly.
With more fluid action throughout the game, the possibility of offering your opponent the option of surrender, rather than prolonged or close quarters shooting, happens more often in Scenario Games as well.
Last, but not least, eliminations in Scenario Games are expected to be on the honor system. Scenario Games bring together a great mix of players of every level, from newbies to tournament players. It is a common complaint that some players don't leave when they are hit. Often, these players are tournament players who are not used to calling themselves out. There just are not enough referees in a game this size to have players waiting for some referee to call them out. If you are hit, leave. You can rejoin the action almost immediately at the next resurrection of players.
FAQ:7 How are the sides structured for competition?
Each side is structured into multiple Squads, with each Squad typically having from 5 to 10 players. Each Squad will have a designated Squad Leader to help with communications back to the ultimate team commander. The ultimate team commander is conveniently referred to as the General. Depending on the size of the force under him, the General will likely have a command staff to help in motivating and directing the various Squads. Typically the General will have an Executive Officer (XO) and a Company Commander. Each Squad Leader will receive their missions through this chain of command and direct their Squads as needed.
FAQ:8 Do I need a team to participate, or can walk-ons play too?
Arriving with a team is great, because you will automatically have some folks on your squad whom you know you can trust and have played with before. But walk-ons are always welcome and can have some special fun of their own. You will get to meet new players and perhaps get guidance from those who have played scenarios before. Don’t be surprised if it takes a while for your squad to trust you though, since a walk-on could easily be an infiltrator or saboteur (see below).
FAQ:9 What is the objective of a Scenario Game?
The objective of a Scenario Game is to outscore the opposition by the effective completion of a maximum number of assigned missions. Winning a Scenario Game depends largely on staying focused on mission completions.
FAQ:10 What constitutes a Mission?
The Event Organizer will unfold the basic story line of the scenario by issuing pre-planned Missions periodically from Central Command to each side’s Command Post (CP). For example, a Mission could be as simple as sending all available players to take over the enemy base. Or a Mission could be as specific as sending Company A Platoon 4 to Hill 66 for them to take control of Hill 66 for the span of 30 minutes. At the same time that the Organizer sends out this mission, he will dispatch at least one referee to Hill 66 to certify whether or not that mission is started and completed properly. It also doesn’t take a genius to assume that another squad from the other side is probably being dispatched to attempt the same mission at about the same time.
FAQ:11 How often are Missions handed out?
This may vary at times during the game. Typically missions are issued from Central Command at least once every half hour, and usually about once every 15-20 minutes. Obviously this means that the Command Staff must be careful to manage their squads effectively so that they have the appropriate players available for missions as they are issued. Each side will be running multiple missions concurrently and will also have to be prepared to defend their own real estate.
FAQ:12 What happens when I’m not actually on a Mission?
On average there will be 2-3 squads out on missions at any given moment. That leaves a lot of players who will be between missions. Some of that time you will be off the field getting paint or air, taking a catnap, etc. The rest of the time you should be back at your Base Camp waiting for missions. While waiting, it is common to stand temporary guard duty around the perimeter of the Base Camp to help defend it when necessary.
However, the single most common complaint from first time walk-on players is that someone stuck them on the perimeter and forgot all about them. You are the only one who can prevent this. Stay close to the CP so you will hear when missions are being assembled. Keep in close contact with your assigned squad leader so that you will be included in their missions. And if you are dissatisfied with how you are being utilized, look for an opportunity to let the Command Staff know this in a positive way. Since they probably have never met you, the only way they will know your capabilities is if you speak up.
FAQ:13 How will I know what role to play?
After registration each player is given a packet which will identify who you will be and what you can do for your side. It varies from game to game, but the packet will usually contain a Player Card, a Character Card and a Field Map. The Player Card usually shows that you have registered and perhaps whether or not you have chronoed properly. The Character Card will assign you to a particular squad and a particular role. You could, for example, be a Demolitions Technician assigned to Company A, Platoon 4. The Character Card will also contain a description of your role. For most players it will read pretty much the same, but your information may contain clues which could become meaningful as the game unfolds. Some Character Cards will also be accompanied by other Specialty Cards or equipment. The Field Map is a very basic map to identify the relative locations on the field which will be objectives during the game. Some organizers make better maps than others, so you might also want to make your own. 8-)
FAQ:14 What are some typical character roles and what can they do?
Most of the Command Staff roles will be hand picked by the General in advance, selecting people he knows can be effective and trusted. But there are many other character roles up for grabs.
Demolitions Technician (Demo Tech): A Demo Tech is certified for missions or developing situations which require the placement and/or activation of demolition charges. Sometimes these charges will just be Action Cards that need to be placed, but many times they could be physical objects resembling sticks of dynamite or satchel charges. The Demo Techs may even be issued LAW Rockets or paintball cannons to bring additional realism to their roles.
Engineer: Engineers are needed to recover from the actions of Demo Techs. Engineers will typically have a limited number of authorized Reconstruction Cards to play, which will enable demolished structures to be rebuilt. If the German Army, for example, demolishes a key bridge that the American Army needs to accomplish a mission, the Americans will fail unless they have kept track of their Engineer and have him play a Reconstruction Card to a referee to restore that bridge for their use.
Medic: Already mentioned above, each side is given a limited number of Medics who can heal non-lethal wounds in the field. The Medic is given a tablet on which to record the Player ID number of the victims they have healed, since they will also typically have only a limited number of healings to dispense. If the Medic can get to a wounded player and make physical contact with him within about 90 seconds, the wounded player can resume play immediately. If a Medic is eliminated, they can no longer heal others until they themselves are resurrected at the next player insertion.
Spy, Secret Agent, Double Agent, Saboteur, Traitor: Some character cards will contain clues telling the player that their role playing may include this type of action. For example, look for a line which describes your character saying, "You have become disillusioned with the war effort, and given the right opportunity might be inclined to switch sides."
Character Role Players: The game organizer will often recruit some players to act out certain characters to bring the unfolding scenario to life. You could see Time Lords, Space Aliens, Wizards, historical characters, etc., roaming the field in full costumes and acting out their parts to the hilt. Such roles are not for beginners, but can be a lot of fun.
FAQ:15 Am I limited to my assigned character and props, or can I make up my own?
Almost any player has the option to "go creative" with their character, but you must be ready to finish the game with the results of your actions. In other words, if you end up with neither side trusting you, don’t be surprised if you get shot a lot more than normal, sometimes in the back (i.e. "fragging").
You can bring your own props, such as phony action cards, weapons, character IDs, etc. If you do so, you have two ways to go. First, you can take your props to the game organizer and petition him to certify your props as valid. This will depend on whether or not they fit well with his intended story line. Second, you can simply play them during the game and try to convince a ref and/or the players that they are valid. According to Wayne Dollack, the acknowledged master of the scenario game, "If the referee accepts it, it's good, whether it was part of the game or whether it was brought from home." Ken "Hollywood" Gilder (who suggested this question) is famous for this type of ploy. In Ocala FL in 1996 I witnessed his trying to play a phony weapon card labeled the "Geshtunkuna Ray" to a referee to get him to destroy a command post. At first the ref disallowed it, but later was convinced that the weapon was valid.
It is best to keep this type of creativity under the control of your command staff, so that not everyone is out making up their own game, or working against the unfolding scenario. But stay alert for the entire game, and don't be surprised if you see this type of thing being attempted.
FAQ:16 Why is there so much military emphasis in these games?
In a game that has two or more opposing forces shooting it out for supremacy, military imagery is often unavoidable. In some scenarios the command roles can be less militaristic. For example, at the Mansfield Prison Lockdown in Ohio in 1996 the scenario was basically two gangs of inmates fighting for control of the prison. What might normally have been generals were now Cartel Drug Lords, and so on.
The move to make all paintball politically correct by disassociating it from military parallels (such as eliminating camouflage, shooting markers instead of guns, etc.), is problematic at best and debated widely. It is not universally agreed that being associated with military themes is automatically a bad thing, and depends largely on one’s own political views. The professional tournament circuit, in it’s drive to become a mainstream sport with lucrative sponsorships, has it’s own reasons for trying to demilitarize itself. And others are simply concerned that paintball not be confused with paramilitary groups or fall under the classification of regulated firearms as has happened in some other countries. In any case, the success of Scenario Games is clear proof that the paintball world is big enough to accommodate all of these various viewpoints.
FAQ:17 How much does it cost to play in these games?
This obviously can change from one event to the next and will certainly change over time. At the moment, however, registration for a 24 hour game will run about $50 per person for the entire weekend. Paint is almost always Field Paint Only and will usually run about $90/case. This may sound expensive, but remember that a 24 hour scenario game drawing hundreds of players is an expensive event to produce. The field has to add many more referees than normal who must work round the clock under pressure enforcing specialized rules they don't normally have to worry about. They must also add additional facilities such as Porta-Potties, food concessions, rental guns, air/co2 fill stations, permits, insurance, staff radios, a game organizer, game props, etc., etc., etc.
FAQ:18 Where and when are these Scenario games being held?
There are many ways to find out about Scenario Games near you. You should check the normal paintball publications for coming events, and of course your local paintball fields. There are also many web sites that try to collect the information on upcoming Scenario events. The most impressive of these is Scenario Paintball Calendar. It also contains lots of useful information and links to the various Scenario Game organizers.
TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
There is so much that could be said on tips and techniques for complex scenario games, and not enough space here to say it all. But I will at least try to give some practical advice.
Learn to pace yourself so that you can be most effective for your side. Plan to cycle yourself on and off the field as needed so that you aren’t exhausted toward the end of the game when your team may need you the most.
In most 24 hour games a majority of players disappear at night to catch some sleep. It works better for some players to take a nap earlier at night or more toward morning so that they can be available during the dead of night. Besides, some really interesting things can happen at night, when play can turn toward more sneaky and creative modes. I have actually had people step on me in the dark when I was trying not to be noticed.
Be sure to bring appropriate food and drink for the occasion. Bring foods that can be eaten on the run and which will tend to "bind you up," as they say. You don’t want to be making a mad dash for the port-a-potty every hour just because you decided on the wrong food. Stay away from spicy foods and adult beverages. Staying hydrated on the field is also important. The best $40 I have spent lately was on one of those Camelback water bladders you can strap to your back and sip as needed. Many folks also carry Army canteens on an equipment belt.
Bring whatever equipment you need to play for the whole 12 or 24 hours. This includes tools to keep your gear operational, and perhaps a backup gun in case your primary gun fails. If you will be playing at night make sure you have a dependable flashlight. Night vision goggles are great for some situations, but are expensive and most are not very durable. Also, bring several changes of clothes, especially footwear. Dry and comfortable feet are very important, as is a change of clothes in case the weather or terrain turn out not to be as friendly as you expected.
Come prepared to play in the best or worst of weather. I have played in the waning hours of hurricane Bertha at Skirmish in Pennsylvania, an annoying drizzle in Butler New Jersey, a tornado warning in Ocala Florida, and the oppressive humidity of the New Jersey summers. Obviously, bad weather makes it all the more difficult to keep your goggles from fogging up. And keeping a paintball gun operating in the rain is an interesting challenge all its own. Over time I have acquired gear to help me through it all, but mostly it takes a conscious decision that the game must go on whatever the weather.
Role Playing Scenario Games are an attempt to create a more complete and diverse form of competitive paintball. They engage the players’ imagination and creativity, as well as their physical skills. To quote Diane Howe, "I think, therefore I am a scenario player." This is not to say anything bad about other forms of paintball competition. Many scenario players also frequent recreational and tournament competitions. But Scenario Games offer a unique and challenging form of competitive paintball that can be quite rewarding.
Role Playing Scenarios: Be all that you can be - AND MORE!!!!
Send questions or comments to SteveCCNJ@comcast.net
Last modified: January 11, 2004
Copyright Stephen C. Cranmer 1997. All rights reserved.
This FAQ is protected under Copyright laws.
Reproduction permitted for personal use only.
Steve "Beowulf" Cranmer
Mt. Holly, NJ USA