Some organizations and individuals can operate openly, like the police, licensed private detectives, or a law firm. But others must conceal their identity and operations, for whatever reasons. And those who need concealment need a place where they can do their work in secret, without anyone suspecting. That requires a secret headquarters.
A secret headquarters gives the characters a place where they can meet and openly discuss matters, without fear of being seen or overheard. It also gives them a place to train in secret and to store their files and equipment. On the other hand, it provides the same benefits for their enemies, and locating a foe’s secret headquarters can be next to impossible, especially if the foe is clever and chose his location carefully. Stumbling across someone’s headquarters can also lead to interesting games, as the characters try to figure out whose headquarters this is and what they use it for – and perhaps try to shut it down or claim it for their own.
Technically, a secret headquarters can be any place where characters meet secretly. That would include something as simple as a college dorm room or the stairway of a high school. But more commonly, secret headquarters refer to places a little more advanced and more specialized, locations that have been outfitted to function as a base of operations rather than locations chosen on the spur of the moment or used as-is.
The most important feature for a secret headquarters is location. It could built in heart of a large city, on the city outskirts, or well beyond city limits. It might be beneath the streets, high above them, or on ground level.
For example, normal office in a quiet office building can be an effective secret headquarters if no one knows what business owns the office, or what work is done there, and if the office’s occupants have some way of entering and exiting the office (and, preferably, the building) unseen. Some secret headquarters use high-tech entry methods, like sliding floor panels and special-access elevators. Others concentrate on misdirection, like a door concealed behind a wall hanging or even a small “Out of Order” sign hanging on a bathroom door. The methods will vary based upon the headquarter’s location, its budget, and the interests and skills of its users. Of course, the headquarters of a trio of cutting-edge scientists and metalsmiths will have elaborate mechanical entrances, but the headquarters of a group of fighting monks will be simpler and have a more meditative, even mystical, entry.
Every secret headquarters has a strategy room, meeting chamber, tactics area, or war room where the headquarter’s occupants meet to discuss current events and plan out their next moves. This space usually has a map of whatever area the occupants have claimed as their own, and often more detailed maps of particular regions. Of course, a table and chairs are also necessary here.
The second area common to every secret headquarters is the archive. This can be a single computer, a row of filing cabinets, or an older bank of computer hard drives. Here, the occupants store all of their knowledge about the area and its inhabitants. These files are consulted whenever the headquarters’ occupants make their plans, and they are updated whenever new information appears.
Most secret headquarters also have an equipment room, storeroom, or armory. This houses all of the occupants’ tools, which can vary depending upon their activities. In some cases, this holds the characters’ costumes and weapons. In others, it may store mundane office supplies. In still others, it contains the mystic potion that grants the monks their supernatural strength and speed.
Some secret headquarters have room for vehicles, as appropriate for its location. Something on the shore of a large body of water (perhaps concealed in a warehouse on a dock) could appropriately have a hidden boat launch. A headquarters that takes up the top floors of an office building or exists as a mansion in the country could have a hidden landing pad or aircraft hangar. A team that relies on cars and motorcycles could have a tube train below street level that zips members to a distant garage. Access is another concern for the secret headquarters. Those who need to get in could open a trap door hidden in shrubbery, take a private elevator, go down a locked flight of stairs, step into the last stall in the bathroom, slide down a fireman’s pole, or punch in the proper code on a lock outside an unmarked door (or even some combination thereof!).
Finally, most secret headquarters have some sort of security system. Every headquarters needs some way to know when anyone is approaching and a way to tell if that person is an occupant or an interloper. This system ranges from a string tied across the hallway to a small video camera stuck in the corner of the elevator to an elaborate heat-detection system covering the entire area in and around the headquarter’s location.
The interior decorating of the headquarters depends on its occupants attitudes. Some may like bright and modern, while others prefer dark and gothic. Some might prefer a sterile look, and others might want the floors and walls retain some sign of their origins, like the rough curves of a large cave. Since most secret headquarters belong to either villains or crimefighters, the occupants are usually skilled combatants, whether they are super heroes, secret agents, or monks. Larger secret headquarters can also employ clerks, scientists, and even accountants.
Don’t Miss …
The Covert Action Squad (CAS; see their testing area in the “Weapons Trial Area” entry) is a little known division of the FBI that specializes in counterespionage, search and rescue, anti-terrorism, and hostage retrieval. CAS agents are listed as working for the FBI’s accounting department, and their real activities are carefully concealed because they do not use strictly legal methods or equipment.
The CAS headquarters is an impressive complex 20 meters below the Roxcon Corp. office building. Roxcon has no idea that this sub-basement exists and has never heard of the CAS. CAS agents are given a cover identity as employees of one of Roxcon’s subsidiaries, which has an office on the eleventh floor. Access to the headquarters itself is through one of the building’s elevators – a concealed button can be pushed, and if the individual’s thumb print matches a registered agent, the car descends to the sub-basement level. Roxcon’s own security shows the car arriving at the eleventh floor instead, and their security cameras see a prerecorded tape of the individual or individuals entering the subsidiary’s offices. The headquarters also can be reached by a set of stairs, which are entered through an old-fashioned phone booth with tinted windows in the Roxcon main lobby, after dialing “119” on the phone there.
The headquarters itself has an operations room, a tactics room, an archive, a surveillance center, several offices, and an armory. The operations room, which is the main portion of the headquarters, holds several desks with cutting-edge computer equipment and phone relays, and the staff here handles messages, relays, and any other communications about ongoing missions.
The tactics room is a large meeting space, with a single long table surrounded by chairs. The back wall of this room is a projection screen, so that images and information can be displayed quickly, and a intercom phone sits at the center of the table so that the room’s occupants can conference with agents in the field.
The archive is a small room with a single desk at its center, and a single self-contained computer connected to a printer on the desk. Optical drive backups of every CAS mission and any other information the CAS has gathered are housed in small drawers built into the room’s walls.
The surveillance center contains more computers, phone systems, and security monitors, and the staff here tracks everyone entering and exiting Roxcon and its surroundings. They handle the fake security footage that Roxcon sees, as well as activating the elevator and stairway entrances, and they trigger intruder countermeasures, including sleepinducing gas and electrified floors, when necessary. The offices are used by CAS operational directors, and can double as sick rooms or temporary bedrooms when necessary. The armory holds weapons, bulletproof vests, and other necessary gear – each
CAS agent has a registered firearm, but any additional equipment is checked out from this room. Some effort has been made to create a friendly working environment here. The headquarters has pictures of city landmarks and award plaques hanging on many of its walls. The floor is rubber with raised circles for better traction while the lighting is recessed and indirect. Furniture is efficient but comfortable, and the tactics room has wood paneling and plush meeting room chairs. In the offices, fake windows show views from the subsidiary offices upstairs, courtesy of small cameras outside the real windows. The back corner of the operations room has a microwave, a sink, and a small fridge, so that agents can bring something to eat during the long working hours. Restrooms, with showers, are off the operations room as well.
Things to See
+ Metal-and-wood awards from various grateful governments, companies, and community organizations
+ Uniforms for the group, as well as disguises used for infiltrating other organizations
+ Comfortable, plush lounging chairs
+ Folding cots with sleeping mats, pillows, bed linen, and blankets
+ Pens and paper or personal digital assistants
+ Protective gear (helmets, bulletproof vests, arm and leg guards, etc.)
+ Weapons (handguns, rifles, concealable knives, etc.)
+ Surveillance equipment (tiny microphones, bugging devices, tracking devices, signal locators, small electronic binoculars, etc.)
+ For more ideas, see the “Apartment,” ”Laboratory,” “Office,” and “Warehouse” entries, as appropriate far the rooms included in the secret headquarters
People to Meet
Depending upon their size, the number of occupants, and the overall purpose, secret headquarters can have security guards, soldiers, scientists, clerks, techies, field agents, and operational directors. Techies have 3D in Perception, +1D in security and tech, and pips in search and tracking. Clerks have at least +1D in business and +1 in tech: computers. Operational directors have at least 3D in Perception and Presence, with pips in command, intimidation, and investigation.
Field Agent: Reflexes 2D, brawling 3D+2, climbing 3D, dodge 3D,melee combat 3D, sneak 3D, Coordination 2D, marksmanship 3D+2, piloting 2D+2, throwing 2D+2, Physique 2D, lifting 3D, running 3D, swimming 2D+2, Knowledge 2D, medicine: first aid 2D+2, scholar 2D+1: criminology 4D, tech: computers 3D, security 3D, Perception 20, hide 2D+2, investigation 3D, search 3D, streetwise 3D, tracking 3D, Presence 2D, disguise 2D+1, intimidation 3D, persuasion 2D+2, willpower 30. Move: 10. Strength Damage: 2D. Body Points: 14. Wound levels: 2. Advantages: Authority: Law Enforcement (R3); Equipment (R2), employer’s resources; Patron (R2), employer. Disadvantages: Employed (R1); Enemy (R2), employer’s enemies.
Things to Do
+ The characters have been summoned for an interview. If they pass, they may be hired on by the organization, which means they would get to work in the headquarters themselves. Even to be invited down for an interview is an honor\ and shows they’ve already passed the first round of tests. But what lies in store for them now?
+ The criminals’ attacks are becoming more vicious, more frequent, and more powerful. If they are not stopped soon, the entire city will erupt into chaos, and many lives will be lost. The only problem is – no one knows where to find these crooks.
They appear without warning and vanish again just as suddenly. Clearly they have a headquarters here, but it must be very well-hidden. The characters have to find it – and quickly.
+ The characters have been given the job of forming a new unit. They are to operate within city limits only and to avoid notice, even by other authorities. That means they’ll need a headquarters that’s easily accessible but well-hidden. The department has provided the funds, but they’ve left everything else up to the characters.