Lo those many months ago when yonder Kickstarter bid put out the call for funds to help make the game known as Killshot a reality, I offered a special perk for anyone who pitched in at least $100 for the Director reward level: a chance to contribute a rough concept for a mark or a job. While not all of those backers have sent in their submissions, the time has come to start working on those that have for use in the early issues of the Killshot Files e-zine.
The first one is entitled Blaze of Glory and was chosen for the sheer reason that it was that first one sent in by Michael Brightbill.
"Here's my rough idea. Figure I'll swing it by you before going to the trouble of getting everything together. Character is ludicrously wealthy. And bored. Has ins in the government, finance, etc. Nothing can touch him and he fears nothing. So he hires the group to try and off him. But he also hires another group to protect him/off the PCs."
Michael's submission was a major inspiration for the third job provided in Killshot: Direction so far as pitting assassins against each other, but it wasn't anywhere close to what's given above. Now it's time for me to put in the work and make this concept a reality.
I love working within such limited confines as another person's concept. It heralds back to my days in improv where you're free to pull stuff out of your ass using a couple of proper names or situations provided by the audience; it didn't matter how you made use of them, so long as it was incorporated into the performance and not just gleaned over.
Just like improv, the suggestions for these Director's submissions come from those not involved in the work. Michael's suggestion was made without any prior knowledge of the game, its mechanics, and its gritty theme (though he did have some idea based on the Kickstarter proposal) which has since been expanded and enhanced from its original roots and presentation.
The first step is to break down the above paragraph to its bare essentials and list them in point form.
- The mark is incredibly rich and a powerful figure in politics/business/both.
- He views those "beneath him" as puppets for him to play with.
Just using these alone is simple enough, but perhaps a bit too simple. While using overly simplified, black-and-white characters is certainly an option, one of the highlights I want for Killshot is to provide shades of grey in every aspect, particularly the marks. Having this guy as nothing more than an eccentric billionaire pitting assassins against each other for fun is too easy, yet a requirement to incorporate into the job's design.
What would drive such a man to go to this level? Is he insane? Surely, it should be expected someone with the means to achieve such power would have done so through calculating moves, particularly if he's a serious influence in government and business. Has he become daft with power over time? And is he aware that by doing so, his own life may be at risk?
What this character needs is believable motivation, much like the sled in Citizen Kane. Money and power may be able to provide everything he needs, but there's something it cannot offer him now which pulls at him with such ferocity that he must resort to truly bizarre methods. If he were a vicious warlord in some third world country, that background would be more than enough to explain his reasons, but it doesn't quite work in this context.
Death, The Great Motivator
The only likely conclusion I can come up with is that the mark has a death wish. It's the one thing you can't buy or intimidate your way out of and to have the mark request such a violent death, he must face a final fate a man of his stature might find humiliating. Something where he would spend months rotting in a hospital bed after spending years controlling the lives of thousands with nothing more than the stroke of a pen.
I've decided to give the mark leukemia, something horrific and terrifying where the odds are never good. However, there's still a matter of determining why the mark would go to such lengths and hiring competing assassins to engage in a deadly game of cat and mouse for his own amusement and perform a mercy killing at the same time.
Location, Location, Location
I'm also thinking this is a good opportunity to take Killshot out of the city and demonstrate the game's flexibility in numerous locales. It is one of the main objectives with the Killshot Files after all. So I'm thinking about taking this job out in the woods, thereby freeing up the assassins to go a little more hog wild than normal. And if anyone would have access to owning vast amounts of land, it would be a billionaire.
Now that I'm picturing this job going down in a forest, there's another connection I can play into the story. Weekend warriors. A lot of corporate types sign up for paintball retreats and take to the wild to get away from the crazed hustle of the city. Is it possible to conceive of a billionaire strapping on a pair of goggles and firing plastic wads of paint at his employees or fellow billionaires? Perhaps, if that billionaire has always wanted to be a soldier and never had the chance. And if that billionaire achieved his vast wealth through military contracts, it would explain both his connections to business and government in one fell swoop.
I think we have something to work with here. Now the trick is building a list of objectives and plot out the presentation and scope of the job.