The Let's Play Archive

Bureau 13

by Bacter

Part 1: This is a good pre-mission briefing

Suggested Listening: Suggested Listening: 80's covert ops, baby!

Alright. Let's DO this.

Just a reminder of who's to blame for this.

We start off shining shining a flashlight down a dark hallway. I guess there's no lights? Maybe our operatives are breaking in somewhere! And... not using nightvision goggles for some reason!

We come to a door with a blank brass nameplate on it. That seems counterproductive, but maybe it was newly instal-

Ah! On closer inspection, the nameplate actually says "Bureau 13". So, I guess we just have one room in a very bland looking office building? And I guess our nameplate is... sky colored? And I guess it shows up only after a close inspection?

Well let's see what's in our top-secret HQ.

Well! Looks like a meeting of TOP AGENTS.

We don't know any of these people yet, but just for reference, the green-shirted woman is what the game thinks an 80-year-old looks like. The other seated person is old too. You can tell that he's religious because he has a HUGE METAL CROSS that he's just thinking about.

And here we see who our initial POV was. This lovable scamp is supposed to throw that dossier on the table, but they didn't animate it leaving his hand, so he just kind of threateningly shakes it towards them.


Now, the first thing that might jump out at you is that these people don't look terrible subtle. That man in the back is shooting a laser gun, and he is by FAR the least noticeable of the two agents.

The other agent appears to be a bikini-clad woman in a battle mech shooting a chaingun. Apparently all but two of the barrels have jammed, because only two are smoking.

So you might guess that this incarnation of Bureau 13 has chosen to emphasize the "kicking ass and taking names" aspect of the Bureau, leaving tactfully aside the "we are a secret organization that nobody can know about" part which features in the books and game.

And that's fine, that's a gameplay decision. It's more fun to blast people than to sneak around anyway.

Back in the conference room, we're getting briefed by the top mind at the Bureau, the mysterious assignment master. Who is apparently just staring RIGHT into the projector? He is so full of himself he would rather be blind than un-illuminated.

Starting us off mid-briefing gives us a chance to learn about the upcoming mission, without giving us a lot of stupid and unnecessary exposition that a Bureau agent would already know.

- As you all know, Bureau 13's mission is to identify and eliminate dangerous paranormal entities. We are a highly classified, black box organization, funded by the government but essentially operating on our own. The last thing we want to do is to draw attention to ourselves.

Aaaaaand there goes all our hopes. Let's make a checklist of what has just happened.

1) Unnecessary exposition ahoy! This CAN'T be everybody's first mission. Even if it was, I'm pretty sure they don't start off FBI briefings with a quick synopsis of what the agency does.

2) They don't even get it RIGHT. Not exactly anyway - the Bureau's mission is to identify supernatural agents, find out if they are willing to join the Bureau or at least not cause trouble, then try to capture the troublemakers. They eliminate supernaturals ONLY if there doesn't seem to be any other option.

3) Your tax dollars at work!

4) I... ok. I guess we ARE stressing the secrecy bit of this? And we're doing that by sending in a battle mech, if the cover illustration is to be believed.

For the sake of humor, let's review Bureau 13's canon set of regulations as concerns secrecy. Ahem.

Rule 1: Don't get caught
Rule 2: Don't leave evidence
Rule 3: Use violence only if necessary
Rule 4: Cover your tracks
Rule 5: Make them believe a rational explanation for the bizarre or fantastic.

Let's remember those, and see how long it takes us to shatter all five!

But it IS possible that the game has a different take on "secrecy" than the PnP game does. Let's look at the manual.

agents. Take-Two is unaware of the nature of this simulation and thinks it is simply a game. It is, of course, in our best interests to let them continue in this belief. You will note that all the salient details of the actual event are included, except there is the opportunity for the trainee to improve on the results of the actual encounter. As my staff and I have used this simulator, it has come to our attention that we could put it to an even better use than training new agents. What we propose is a radical idea. What if we go ahead and distribute the simulator as the game it appears to be? While this would seem to be a breach of security, it might actually help us to recruit new agents, and, at the same time, cover accidental security breaches.

So... ok. so the idea is they are stressing the hugely secret nature of the agency. And they're doing that by revealing the entire agency, along with six operatives, and the details of a classified organization to the public in the hopes that nobody will catch on.

They are doing this to "recruit new agents", which means they would recruit agents based on how well they play a crappy 3D point and click adventure game. I think I'm getting a handle on what kind of an agency this is.

Anyway, back to the briefing!

- Three days ago someone attempted to assassinate this man... the sheriff in a small town called Stratusburg. Although still alive, he's in critical condition in the local hospital. His assailant hasn't been found yet, so the hospital is under heavy guard. Bureau intelligence operatives believe they know who is responsible.

Unable to successfully kill a small town sheriff? I mean, I guess he'd probably have a GUN, but I'd think a professional assassin or awful creature of the night could handle it. So we're dealing with some untrained looney, right?

- This man is J.P. Withers. He was one of the few agents who survived the Bureau massacre back in the late seventies. Some people speculate that this caused him to be mentally unstable. Others contend that he was always that way. Either way, he's a loose cannon. This little episode in Stratusburg proves that.

- Of course, none of his superiors who suspected him of being mentally deranged actually DID anything about that. Instead, we basically just let him roam around wherever, using official Bureau vehicles and credit cards. I mean, we didn't want to offend him, y'know?

All joking aside, this guy looks like he probably gets beat up at the local yoga/drum circle meetings. The white turtleneck ALONE screams "I am not a dangerously unbalanced federal operative, but I would like to talk to you about earth-friendly vermiculture!" Maybe it's a disguise...

- Your mission is to track down agent Withers before the local police do. Find out why he would want to kill this Sheriff Tucker, and then extract him before he does any more damage. Eliminate any evidence that points back to the Bureau, and above all, don't draw unnecessary attention to yourself.

Yuuup. So with the entire world of paranormal threats out there, an entire Earth full of ancient legends and apocalyptic futures, our critical mission is to quietly grab a homicidal agent that was kept on at the Bureau, a HUGE oversight, for totally unexplained reasons. We have to grab him before justice can be administered, leaving the town shaken with no explanation as to why their sheriff was almost killed.

Unless, that is, we're following the last of the Bureau's rules and giving them a reasonable explanation. By brain-wiping some poor chump and leaving him to take the fall. I wouldn't put it past us.

(Don't worry by the way, we almost totally ignore our actual mission in the game. Like, it comes up I think twice.)

- Since agent Withers is very familiar with standard Bureau procedures, you will take a very small strike force on the mission. No more than two field operatives. And you won't be outfitted with the standard battle RV. It's too conspicuous. You'll be dropped off near Stratusburg's police station, where you can begin the investigation at once. Good luck.

Withers: Hmmm that looks like a vampire and a ultra-tech hacker. Now, NORMALLY, I'd assume the Bureau is after me because I went rogue, but they usually ALWAYS send it like ten agents at a time. And where's the battle RV! Guess it's just a coincidence!

Also: Standard. Battle. RV.

Alright, fine. So we get no gear, no battle RV, and we have to keep the lowest profile possible.

Let's see who we can pick as our agents. I'll be putting them in order, from least to most ridiculous.

Urkle grows up and makes good. The hacker is a solid choice for physical and technological foes. He can jury-rig equipment, hack computer systems, and gives lots more information on technology that you find. He's also kind of a wimp, though he has a good right hook. A good choice for a sneaking mission, he is the master of turning electronic systems against their owners. He is utterly useless against any magical threats.

My favorite part about Suttle is how utterly unreformed he is. Being part of a government agency doesn't stop him from wanting to actually steal for himself everything valuable that he sees, and "competent in the use of handguns" is Bureau code for "dangerously violent". This guy is one argument away from being Withers. That said, he's another very solid choice. You can get into all kinds of places you wouldn't normally, and he doesn't attract much attention. Suttle isn't particularly well suited to directly taking down threats, be they physical, magical, or technological, but as a supporting agent he's basically unrivaled.

Selma is... confusingly rendered. She looks like the wolfman here, and her in-game model is, uh, looks like maybe she had some work done. But indeed, she is supposed to be a doddering old lady. She starts out with a limited number of spell points, true. But that number is over 200, and most spells take about 10. That is plenty, assuming you save and re-load before and after using the "tell me what to do next" spell. Because of that spell (divination) she's kind of the beginner agent. Her magic spells solve a lot of problems, but also highlight the problem with using magic to solve problems: it's not terribly interesting. She just casts a spell and there we go. She does best against magical enemies, and even though she is a sweet old lady, she will blast a punk with elemental magic until nothing remains but feet and part of legs. Obviously, she knows nothing about technology because old people ha ha. As far as the stealth mission goes, I'd think people would be likely to remember an old lady with creepy jewelry asking odd questions, but what do I know. She's not the LEAST conspicuous choice. Not by a MILE.

Oh, father Blank. So useless. His thing is supposed to be exorcisms and getting information out of people with his charming oirish brogue. The charming thing I have found to work ONCE, and his special command, "pray", I have never ever found a use for. Ever. I'm not sure it does ANYTHING in-game, which is a fairly subtle anti-religious message, so good one, Take Two. He's old, so he knows nothing about technology, and is the only agent to not even HAVE an attack command, but he knows enough about magic and demons to be, uh, sort of worthwhile to take along? I suppose? If you thought people would remember an old lady pretty well, how about an incredibly Irish catholic priest poking around crime scenes? And while we're on the catholic subject, should a priest really be palling around with a witch and a vampire? Speaking of vampires...

Now we're on to full-bore insane territory. Alex here is not only three hundred years old but dresses in super-shiny pure silk tuxedos, with cravats, spats, and a big ruffly puffy collar. He talks like an olde thymey gentleman. He is also a demonic creature of the night. He can turn into mist, and is totally invulnerable to small arms fire. He is a pretty stupid choice to take on a stealth mission, frankly. I'm not even going to get into the morality of a protective organization supplying a demon of the night with a constant stream of human blood in exchange for him killing the people they want him to. The worst thing about Alex is his near-constant allusions to being a vampire and undead jokes. He is best against physical threats, but he knows some magic too. He thinks computers are devil boxes of course.

And, last and stupidest,

Delilah. Oh, Delilah, Delilah, Delilah. Why do you exist. You are a bikini-clad supermodel Native American warrior in an experimental mech suit that shakes the ground when it moves. You can smash down doors, laser people to death, and you have an almost uncontrollably violent temper. You are good against physical threats. You are the least subtle agent possible.

I... don't know how else to say this, so I will rephrase it. You are a stoic, proud, harsh, Native American warrior supermodel in a bikini, who sits in an 8-foot experimental battle mech that shakes the ground when it walks.

And you were sent on a stealth mission.

So here's the skinny, folks.

We're going to see what all these "fine" agents have to offer. We'll need three groups of two. I'd like your picks, a rationale for why each pair is together. Sensible pairs are good, but funny combinations of personalities or character types will also be given good consideration!

On top of that, let's get some team names for them. You don't have to suggest all of those. You could just give your pick for a team of agents, just a justification for why a team you like would be good (a little backstory), or just suggest a team name. Of course, any combination of those is good too!

So let's get crackin'! We've got a sherrifmurderer to catch!