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Using Security More Effectively in Your Games Part 2

Last time we covered the distinction between security officers and the police, and why the distinction is necessary in a game, how security officer’s professionalism, technology/ magic, and crowd control and monitoring can make a security officer more effective, as well as some of the flaws inherent in security systems.

Security Officers in popular media are both portrayed as inept and unprofessional due to being sloppy and inattentive. While it might be true for movies and TV shows, in real life, security officers who don’t do their job simply won’t have a job anymore; companies that employ security officers won’t put up with ineptitude. Maybe this paradigm is a misunderstanding of what a security officer’s job is. Their job a bit more complex than one might think, and to prove it, here are some tables to help GMs quickly create locations, types of things to be guarded, security tools, the officer’s role, what they’re checking for, and events an officer might face on the fly, as well as ways that someone might try to get past security.

15 Security Officer Locations

  1. Parking Lot or Garage
  2. School or Museum
  3. Apartment, Mixed use, High-Rise Office Building
  4. Store (think something like Walmart greeters, or a security officer to buzz you in and out of a Jewelry Store)
  5. Sports Venue (baseball, football, hockey, soccer, golf, quidditch, etc.)
  6. Traveling Guards (Circus, Brinks Security Trucks, etc.)
  7. Utility plant (power, water, sewage treatment)
  8. Public transportation hub/ airline
  9. Public library
  10. Pop up Venue/ Special Event
    1. Various food and music festivals held (think stuff like Taste of X town, food festivals celebrating Y culture, Christkindl Market, etc.)
    2. Political, religious, and/ or “fandom” conventions
    3. Holiday Parades or for a winning sports team
    4. Protests
  11. Governmental Building (think City Hall, a State Capitol or the White House)
  12. Scientific Laboratory
  13. Doctor’s office or hospital
  14. Military or BBEG’s secret base
  15. Nature Preserve, Park, or Zoo

Note that just because something comes up doesn’t mean you can’t make it more interesting. For instance, security personnel could be guarding not only a public library, but the Library of Congress or the dragon’s library. An officer could be guarding the entrance to the Museum of Natural Science or the Magical Item Museum. Or maybe unbeknownst to him, he is guarding the school of the world of Harry Potter or a lab that is doing alien dissections. Change it up!

One Dozen Security Tools

No security officer is complete without tools of the trade. Here’s a list (not meant to be rolled on) of the types of things that you’ll find them either carrying or having access to.

  1. Uniform – without it how do you tell them from the rest of the people there?
  2. Communication devices – mainly the walkie-talkie – the ability to communicate with other officers. In a more magically advanced society, there might be magic items that duplicate this function, but allow the officers to communicate to individuals and the whole, something on the order of an amped up cellphone. A whistle might also fall into this category to be able to alert others of trouble.
  3. First aid kit – to be able to treat the injured. In a world of magic, this might include healing potions
  4. Keys/ Keycards – ‘nuff said.
  5. Monitoring devices – this can be a scrying pool or a camera
  6. Ways of stopping troublemakers – everything from “hold person” or “grease” spells to glue or sonic pulse guns. Note that these things should be non-lethal.
  7. Fire tools  – this can be as simple as a buckets available in case of a fire to automatic sprinkler systems, to force-fields to suffocate the fire, to spells to create water.
  8. Identification – this helps validate the person is who they say they are.
  9. Post orders and rulebook – so they know what to do in a variety of situations
  10. Notepad & Pen/ Pencil – for writing reports
  11. Transportation – be it the officer’s feet, a car or cart or teleportation points, the officer needs to be able to get around.
  12.  Common sense – a guard without the ability to think on his feet is useless.

D8 What is the officer guarding?

  1. Money (in a bank, in a store, in a truck)
  2. Valuable Items (Jewelry, electronics, magic items for sale)
  3. Priceless artifacts
    1. Magic
    2. Art
    3. Ancient technology
    4. Proof of aliens
    5. Political documents (think the U.S Constitution, Declaration of Independence, etc.)
    6. Roll twice and combine
  4. Political or famous figures (think something like a senator, the mayor, or a famous rock star or actor)
  5. Public safety
  6. A parking lot/ garage.
  7. A secret or back entrance to (d6):
    1. Another dimension or Hell
    2. The Batcave, S.H.I.E.L.D hideout (or any superhero or villain hideout/ base as far as that matter goes)
    3. A secret society (think something like your typical thief’s or assassin’s guild)
    4. A national monument (The Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore, etc.)
    5. A museum
    6. The sewers
  8. The Location itself so that no unauthorized people enter
  9. The location from a remote location using magic or technology.
  10. Roll Twice to combine

This can be as straightforward or as obscure as you like. Maybe the players are guarding the Mona Lisa. Or perhaps they’re guarding a spell book of immense power that only the highest-level mages can access, and they are in charge of testing them to make sure they have the appropriate credentials.

D8 What is the officer’s role?

  1. Check tickets, IDs/ Badges as they come in to the place
  2. Perform rounds (regular or random), perhaps using “timestamp checkpoints”
  3. Enforce rules of the venue and/ or a visible watch-force to help prevent crime/ mischief.
  4. Help to direct traffic
  5. Guard a specific person or group from trouble
  6. Ensure public safety in case of emergency
  7. Delivery of a valuable commodity (money)
  8. Delivery of an important person

Note, the officer’s role could be a combination of all of these things, but at different times.

D6 What types of things might the officer(s) be checking for?

  1. Certain people to be excluded (a list of people not allowed to enter the location)
  2. No weapons to be brought into the location
  3. No banned substances be brought into the location
    1. Drugs
    2. Food or Liquids (in a restaurant that’s not BYOB, an internet café, or museum gallery, for instance)
    3. Strong magnets in areas that might be sensitive to magnetism
    4. Chemicals, substances, or radiation that would cause problems (acid, lead, or asbestos, for instance)
    5. Magic (or anti-magic)
    6. Roll again
  4. Theft/ misappropriation of property
  5. Disturbances / breaking of the venue’s rules
  6. Roll twice and combine

In most instances what the guards are checking for is not a single thing, but multiple things at the same time. This list is extremely simplified, but, in theory, a guard could be charged with looking out for all of the above simultaneously.

D30 Random events

  1. Security’s had a long day and it looks like a few of the officers are ready to fall asleep on their post.
  2. A patron steals something, and law enforcement needs to be called. This could be something like pick pocketing, shoplifting, or even burglary or robbery.
  3. The security guard is a vampire or werewolf and needs to make sure his “innocent” cover job isn’t blown while taking care of his nightly urges.
  4. Security is called off post, and something problematic happens while they’re gone. Does the officer get written up or fired?
  5. A patron damages something on the property,
    1. But because it was an accident, nothing can be done
    2. But did so maliciously and the police are called
  6. A security officer, dealing with his/ her own personal problems while on the clock, is distracted and lets someone do something disallowed.
  7. A security officer, on patrol in his vehicle, is involved in an accident.
  8. A patron does something that breaks the venue’s rules, but no one (not even security personnel) stop it because of how shocking or stupid it is.
  9. A patron is asked to leave, but refuses.
  10. A patron legitimately came into the location for one purpose, but now that the purpose is finished, she is wandering the halls, lost.
  11. A patron got sick or has a medical emergency of some kind.
  12. A fight breaks out between two customers at a store over the last of a Christmas gift they both want to buy.
  13. A riot forms and security personnel must at least attempt to maintain order until more officers or law enforcement arrive.
  14. A person who’s been fired or quit is back at the location and demands entry. Security needs to turn him away.
  15. A fire breaks out or a “shelter in place” is called and the officers need to get everyone to safety.
  16. People start panicking and the security officers need to restore order before someone gets hurt
  17. The security station has bodily fluids on it. This could be from sexual activity, drug use, or someone injured in the area.
  18. Security notices the place is dirty and calls housekeeping to clean it up.
  19. A patron brings a weapon into the location, without the officers knowing it. The officers aren’t armed, but it’s up to them to control the situation.
  20. The security station is infested with roaches because there’s food left everywhere.
  21. A patron is making a scene and must be removed. This could be something as simple as talking on a cell phone or playing music loudly to a physical altercation.
  22. The security’s shack at the parking lot may technically be a shelter, but it does little good protecting whoever’s there from the weather conditions.
  23. Security’s been set up to guard a site where aliens are known to land.
  24. A patron brings food or drink into a place where it’s not allowed. The officers in the area are sent to stop him/ her.
  25. A patron lost her child. It’s up to the officers to track her down before something bad happens.
  26. Security officers are asked to guard a political person who is hated. Using the back corridors of the venue, they have get them out without causing a scene.
  27. Patrons are sick all around the security officer.
  28. A special exhibit is showing, and extra security officers are needed to watch it.
  29. Monsters are trying to get into whatever the security is guarding… and it’s important that they be kept out
  30. A top-secret lab is doing experiments that are for the good of society… but because security officers “blew the whistle” on them, the breakthrough is unable to be made

D10 things patrons might do to get past security

  1. Ignore them and keep moving/ run through the checkpoint
  2. Sneak past them when they’re not looking
  3. Ask someone else to cause a disturbance
  4. Deliberately cause alarms elsewhere to be triggered.
  5. Threaten with weapons/ violence
  6. Bribe or blackmail the officer(s) somehow
  7. Impersonating someone who belongs there
  8. Ask to be let in (a person claiming to have been in a movie theatre
  9. Be there legitimately at first, and stick around until after hours
  10. Roll twice and combine

A Final Thought on Security in Different Races

Security can be different in different cultures and among different races. For instance, in an elven forest, it might be as unobtrusive as thick plants blocking people’s way that it would take an incredibly long time to squeeze through. In a halfling community, their more secured areas might be inaccessible to larger races, simply because they don’t want the “biggles” there, and certain areas might even be keyed to specific members of the community. Dwarven security is more visible, with members of the race standing at doorways they don’t want others to enter, but higher security areas might simply be hidden passages in worked stone that others simple would never see, even if they looked for them. Gnomish security might be made of clockwork locks and golems, or based on common practical jokes common in their community. PCs might be shocked to find out that orc or kobald security is a bit tighter than they thought, because they’re always on guard against attacks, and if they are infiltrated, they figure out what’s going on and don’t hesitate to call for backup which attack the invading force mercilessly. Gnoll security might rely on their sensitive sense of smell and anything that is amiss in the smells in the area puts them on alert.

As you can see, security officers face a variety of interesting and unique situations, be it in terms of location, what the officer’s guarding, role, items and substances to be checked for, among other factors. Use these tables to help create the next security force for your game. As always, feel free to like, reshare, and comment.