A guide on multi-phased missions

Multi-phased missions are generally quite long approximating between 3-5 hours. Therefore, they are difficult to create in terms of scenario flow, they need a strong story-line that keeps the players curious and interested and they could sidetrack quite quickly. So this begs the question, how can you successfully create and run a multi-phased mission?

I will be using the mission I ran on the 5th of April, 2018 as a strong guide through-out this forum post

Multi-phased missions are a nuisance to build in terms of scenario flow. There are a limited number of objects one can place down before server lag kicks in so you have to build your stages efficiently while maintaining the credibility of the story line. For example, I created a mission where the northern regions of Chernarus were controlled by OPFOR forces. I built a large OPFOR military base with a medium sized military office building in the back. I placed barbed-wire around the entire perimeter of the base with road checkpoints on either side of the connecting road, cutting off all access to the base except through the main (most heavily guarded) area. The mission objective for the players stated as follows:

“This is command. As we know, the struggle between us and OPFOR forces to gain control over the northern regions of Chernarus have turned from verbal confrontations and stand-offs to an all out war. After months of fighting over control of the road networks, recently OPFOR changed its pace and started applying guerrilla warfare tactics which have devastated our offence. However, approximately 2 weeks ago, we were able to re-take the Western Grand Trunk (GT) road which finally gave us some breathing room. As of 0600 hours yesterday, our informant in the town of Gvozdno was able to provide us with vital intel regarding the whereabouts of the largest OPFOR base in northern Chernarus. Whats-more, our efforts to hack into their system were successful. We sent out an email regarding a messenger needing to speak privately with the Major regarding top secret intel. However, the email was not replied to out of fear of Bluefor intelligence activity but we know only as much as one of the lieutenants sent out an internal email to the administrative staff regarding “locating the whereabouts of the Major”. As we know, the major does not trust his own forces and leads an extremely incognito and private lifestyle. His whereabouts are rarely known once he leaves the base. This is our chance to strike at the beating heart of the OPFOR forces and to find additional vital intel regarding their recent and future operations and hopefully the exact whereabouts of the Major. If possible, we want to locate him, grab him, and bring him back to base for interrogation as we can also use his influence and power for our benefit. Good luck soliders!”

It took the players approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to fight a grueling battle clearing out the base. Once they cleared the base, I had placed laptops around the base all containing some form of hostile intelligence. There were 3 pieces of intel that they had to find. They read as follows:
1.) Title: Reinforcements
Description: “Due to our heavy losses against Bluefor forces, I requested additional troops to be flown into Chernarus to aid our struggle here. After weeks of arguments I was able to convince them. We will be receiving 700 additional soldiers, 25 troop trucks, a MI-8 MTV (FAB) bombing helicopter and a T-72 battle tank by the end of the month.”
This information, can be used to continue the story line in the future and it also creates a little bit of immersion and additional investment into the story, keeping the players interested.

2.) Title: A significant loss
Description: “This is command. 2 weeks ago we suffered a great loss. Bluefor forces re-took the Western GT road. Not only does this allow them to bring in supplies, ammunition, food, water, and a complete trading and transporting route; but this has caused us to continuously lose control over the North Western regions of Chernarus. Major, I need you to come up with a quick action plan that we can put into effect within the week. We need to re-take the Western GT Road and the towns surrounding it with additional security to ensure we do not let something like this happen again.”
With this piece of intel I can create a fun mission where the players “change sides and become OPFOR forces” and run a powerful convoy eliminating Bluefor forces as additional “friendly A.I” reinforcements come in behind them to secure the road network. They can also travel into surrounding towns to eliminate Bluefor and establish control again.

3.) Title: Gvozdno, Krasnostav
Description: “We received an email from what appeared to be a trusted source regarding a private meeting between a messenger (of some sort) and the major. The email stated it was urgent. With the recent success of the Bluefor push into North Western Chernarus, we cannot trust any messaging coming from outside this compound. That said, we do need to call back the major regarding the stern message we received from command. The major has not shown up at the base in a few days now. The last I heard he was in Gvozdno settling town disputes and re-establishing trust with the local militia forces and the citizens of the town and then heading out to Krasnostav to resolve some logistical issues they were having over there. I’ll send out a car to ask around and call him back.”
This is the intel the players needed.

From this point on, the players had 2 options.
1.) Travel to Gvozdno and talk further with the informant about additional intel on the major’s current whereabouts and risk running into additional OPFOR forces or
2.) Travel straight to Krasnostav and search the entire heavily guarded town and the surrounding area to locate the major.
The benefit of providing options allows the players to better immerse in the story line and have the freedom of choice.

For my mission, the players decided to head to Gvozdno first, out of fear of not knowing what the major looked like and accidentally taking him out or not finding him at all. (This was the best option). It took them approximately 30 minutes to fight off the forces in Gvozdno. The forces were not heavy however, due to the high density of civilians, every target had to be checked and re-checked before the players opened fire. The informant was a local doctor in the town and this is what he had to say:

Title: I don’t have much time!
Description: “I received an urgent message that you were heading here and needed last minute details regarding Krosnostav and the major. The towns people are double eyeing me as we speak…
All I know is that, the town has been cleared of all the civilian population and is being used as a primary ammo and fuel dump. Therefore, there is heavy OPFOR presence. The major left early this morning to head to Krasnostav. Apparently some massive ammo shipment was coming through. The supermarket in the town is being used as a hasty command center. You might find the major there. If not, you will definitely find the commanding officer there, in charge of maintaining security of the town and logging everything coming and going from the town. I also heard that he is not a big fan of the major. See if you can shake him up… That’s all I can do for you. Good luck!”

The players were given an approximate location of the supermarket ( I placed a general marker) and they decided to make a quick plan on how to best infiltrate. They decided it best to head to the nearby hills to scout first. However, I threw a slight curve-ball and had them compromised as a shipment of ammo and fuel left the town and headed somewhere West followed by a small convoy of OPFOR forces. Henceforth, the shots of their engagement were heard far and wide and the players decided to just rampage through the town.
This phase of the mission took approximately 1 hour. With lots of long and medium range engagements heading into the town and then CQB from there on in. They cleared the parts of the town they needed to, to access the supermarket. A few players went in the supermarket, cleared it and found the commanding officer surrendered in the storage room in the back as others set up an over-watch and fought off alerted OPFOR forces rushing towards them from other parts of the town. This is the intel that the commanding officer gave:

Description: “I don’t know anything… I PROMISE!!
Okay okay!.. STOP!.. The major is at the airport just north east of here. he was personally supervising a shipment of ammo and fuel. He received some intel regarding a possible kidnapping of himself. He is waiting for the helo to re-fuel, you have maybe 5-6 minutes to get to him…

The second this intel was found, I immediately wrote in the side chat “Major flees in 5 minutes, timer has started.”

The players rushed to the airfield to find light resistance, and unarmed OPFOR soldiers loading crates and boxes of ammo and fuel behind a parked transport C-130 airplane that the OPFOR had seized a few months ago. They also found a massive MI-6 T (Heavy transport) helicopter sitting by the hangers refueling. The players rushed over, took out all armed forces and found the major surrendered hiding behind a transport truck.

Immediately following, they received intel from Command, stating that our actions have alerted all hostile forces in Northern Chernarus. They are rushing over. We have maybe 6-7 minutes to fly away before heavy reinforcements arrive. Considering that calling a transport helicopter from base would take time, the players decided to re-fuel the MI-6 T helicopter as others fought off enemy UAZ pick-ups with mounted machine guns from Krasnostav and flew away back to base.

From set-up to debrief the mission took approximately 3.5 - 4 hours.

This live example of my mission should give new Zeus a solid understanding of how a unique, creative and immersive player experience looks like all the while realizing the amount of work a Zeus needs to put in to create a successful and enjoyable experience for the players. Running a multi-phased mission is triple the work for the Zeus. From setting up troops, making bases, creating/editing intel, throwing curve-balls and reinforcements, providing the players with ammo and medical crates to re-arm, plus building the immersive look and feel to the mission, all the while deleting certain unnecessary objects from objectives that were completed to help with the frame rate is a massive challenge.

Based on the type of ammo, weapons, launchers, optics and vehicles the Zeus allows the players to have, the enemy resistance can be managed to provide a challenge. For my mission, the players initially had an APC to attack the main base which got destroyed during the attack (therefore the enemy forces had rpg’s and apc’s as well). Once the main base was taken, the players found seized HUMV’s and decided to take them to carry on with the mission thus I removed all rpg’s from further phases but left a few troops with under-barrel 40mm grenade launchers which provided the same level of challenge.

I hope to see Zeus’s try out different multi-phased missions, but be sure to have a good idea in your mind of exactly what you want to see, how you will achieve that and how everything fits into the story-line you have created and if the story-line is immersive and interesting enough to have the players follow-through with a 3-5 hour mission. Other than that, good luck Zeus-ing!

P.S I’m sorry Vile for changing the map lol. I misunderstood our conversation 1 minute prior to me changing the map lol

2 points to Zeus Expert