Espionage LARP

Back in the 1990s, I pursued ideas for LARP games that weren’t based on fantasy cosplay or goth-y vampires. Nothing much came of those efforts, but here’s sketch notes on an espionage-themed live-action role-playing game…

– governmental intelligence (CIA, NSA, Mossad)
– governmental security (FBI)
– corporate research (ITT’s ops in Chile, oil corp. in Angola)
– terrorist network (Al-Qaida, November 17, IRA)
– illuminati

– patriot agent – James Bondish ex-military
– terrorist – the system cannot be fixed and must be destroyed
– supervillian – only you are fit to rule the world
– mercenary – anywhere, anytime, any price
– gadgeteer – Q
– crimelord – black market is your playground
– military commander
– datashadow – master of cyber-survailence

– correctly reporting each other player’s goal
– avoiding others discovering your true goals
– preventing specific rival groups from succeeding (zero-sum)
– per $1,000 banked at the end of the game


– solicit funding from government
– solicit funding from illuminati
– solicit funding from multination corporation
– stage coup
– destroy major city
– raid villain’s lair
– assassinate senior official national leader
– ransom captured agents
– steal nuclear warhead
– blow up building or bridge
– hack corporate mainframe to steal information
– steal corporate prototype (new drug, experimental weapon or vehicle, microchip)

For each operation, spy must note…
– where mission being conducted (guess wrong and mission fails)
– what team of agents are being sent
– amount of money being thrown into mission, something like this…
– less than $1,000 = -5
– $1,000 to $10,000 = -3
– $10,001 to $100,000 = -1
– $100,001 to $1 million = +1


– great strength
– dexterity
– stamina
– government influence
– market influence
– wealth
– rogue agent cabal (ex-spies now work for you)
– superweapon (space station, killer virus bomb, solar storm accelerator)


– name
– nation
– open market (capital, goods, finances, stocks)
– black market (weapons, drugs, contraband)
– population
– defenses (vs. massive attack)


Two entrances/exits: one from basement of a retail store or restaurant, another from a parking garage or subway landing. Both doors watched by closed-circuit video displayed in the common room.

Walls, ceiling and floor are reinforced with steel plates and extra concrete: great against bomb blasts but blocks cell phone and radio signals getting into the safehouse.


Rectangular table with six chairs; four televisions mounted on wall, two to watch entrances, other two for standard cable TV. Storage cabinet in room includes paper, pens, local street maps, local power grids, police patrol schedules, etc. This area serves as the mess hall, briefing room and prep area before a mission.

KITCHEN: Adjoins common room, has sink, electric stove, microwave, refrigirator, utensils, some fresh food possible – frozen steaks or pizza – but there’s always enough food to feed six men for 30 days, including MREs.

WATER STORAGE: Big room full of water bottles, approx. 1,500 gallons – enough for six men to be generous for 30 days, or longer if rationed. This water is replaced every 60 days to keep the stock from going stale.

HEAD: Common bathroom with four toilet booths, four sinks, glass mirrors, and four shower stalls.

QUARTERS: Six small rooms, almost cell-like, with a double bed, sheets, pillow; also desk and chair. Closet includes large safe which can be electronically locked with a different unique four-character code each time it is used. Note: Doors into such quarters cannot be locked from either side.

INFIRMARY: Stocked with pain killers, first aid kits, antibiotics, venom serums, tranquilizers, and various medical gear to treat and monitor injuries. There are four bays with a bed each, with a separate, cleaner room meant for surgeries. Includes sealable body bags and other containers for biological samples.

WEIGHT ROOM: Free weights, an old work-out machine, a stationary bicycle.

HOLDING CELL: Room with no furnishings, open drain in floor for a toilet, no bed. Food and supplies can be passed through a slot in the door.

EQUIPMENT ROOM: Large room with various caged areas around its edge. Weapons cage includes ammo for a wide variety of guns, but only weapons on hand are six Glock pistols, six Bernolli shotguns, and six cheap AK-47 replicas (goal isn’t to have best firepower, but rather match guns likely to have been bought off the street). Disguise cage includes various uniforms and get-ups to pass as security officers, homeless bums, or utility crews. General equipment room has climbing gear, motor oil, etc. (odds and ends). NO MAJOR EXPLOSIVES – too unstable to be left alone for so long.

– lockpick set, lockpick gun
– disguise kit
– evidence kit (gloves, blood testers, fingerprint powders)
– false evidence kit (random hair samples, stamps to make false shoe prints, etc. – stuff to contaminate a scene and thwart a CSI follow-up)

REC ROOM: Two surveillance televisions; big screen TV; VCR and DVD player with collection of movies; library of older books; old videogames; pool table; ping pong table; bar.