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Roleplay: Planes And Mercs
Warcrimes, FUCK YEAH!
The mercenary pilots warcry
Do we really care about civilians? I mean, what have they done for us lately?
Nathan "Bowman" Webber demonstrating how all warcrimes begin.

Often referred to as Area 88, the RPG.

Originally began in early 2010, when the man soon known as op-again asked Image Board /tg/ for some fighter plane advice for a homebrew air combat RPG his GM was running. Within 2 months, he had posted several briefings and after-action reports from his games, and earned himself and his fellow players much respect from other fligh/tg/uys, and is likely responsible for a number of similar games being designed and re-designed, including an Area 88 version and Firestorm (detailed below)

Has it's own forum, with After-Action Reports from other air combat games, plus sections for Play-By-Post games.


Planes and Mercs is the title bestowed by members of /tg/ since GM Magnificent Bastard Steve has yet to print up his own rule set. Originally set in Africa, with operations mostly taking place in Liberia, it then expanded to covert ops in Georgia, and some Crazy Awesome shenanigans with the French Foreign Legion.

Planes and Mercs contains examples of:

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking - The incidentals that the Black Aces rack up range from horrifying to downright silly. One missions incidentals were: 34 Hydro workers, gardening shed and a family of ducks.
  • Car Fu - Or at least, it would have been if the truck-bomb plan had come through...
  • Fighter Launching Sequence - Happened once before a British airstrike on their operating base. More often than not, though, it's the enemy who need to launch... Then it happened again, with Djibouti airport being raided by Iran.
  • Harsher in Hindsight - The entire Georgian campaign, involving a False Flag Operation to give a casus belli for Russia to invade.
  • The GM Is A Magnificent Bastard - GM Steve, while definitely not making it easy for the Black Aces, has avoiding being accused of cheating by making it clear all game scenarios are influenced by real life.

At the end of 2010, creator and moderator of the PAM forums sukhoi posted she had written a homebrew version of Air War C21, and needed players for testing. This resulted in the Firestorm campaign, set in 2015 after an economic collapse caused widespread budget cuts for many armed forces across the globe, and at the same time opening a large market for private contractors to fill the gaps. The campaign opened with the first overt action in the Red Sea, operating out of Djibouti. Additional campaigns are currently in the planning stages, with one confirmed for Colombia and another for the Balkans.

Firestorm contains examples of:

  • Ace Pilot - Sophie "Warforg" Duprac of Swarte Katte Flight shot down 3 fighters in her first mission and 5 fighters in her second mission therefore becoming both an ace and equalling the "Ace in a Day" achievement. She later scored an amazing Eleven kills in Granite Harvest, making her the highest scoring jet ace of all time! Nicholas "Crutches" Delrozia of Musketeers has 5 kills to his name as well. Nathan "Bowman" Webber became Swart's 2nd ace during Granite Harvest.
  • Action Girl - Several pilots are female and all are well versed airmen.
  • Affably Evil - Hell's Black Aces, the PCs from the original Planes and Mercs, are routinely described in near demonic terms; but seem quiet and polite whenever anyone meets them.
  • Anti-Air - The Yemeni rebels have so much AA they would put the Serbs to shame.
  • Anti-Hero - Most of the characters can fall into this category. Notably Sabine "Hamlet" Eichler, who is the anti-pilot in her cool, calm, professional manner, but who has lately proven her lack of pilot-like God Complex when she falls into a deep depression and begins self-mutilation.
  • A Nuclear Error - During Operation Babylon it seems that regular laser guided "bunker buster" bombs had been swapped out for low yield nuclear weapons. As to who did this, it is unknown. One was dropped, another came back and was turned in as "evidence" (most likely to disappear) and another somewhere at the bottom of the Strait of Hormuz.
  • Anyone Can Die - In the very first mission two pilots died; Canadian Ross "Suit" Cameron , flight lead for the Musketeers, was killed when a MiG-21 blew apart his Falcon with 23mm cannon fire over the Red Sea. Fellow American Musketeer Henry "Guv" Dravot was seriously wounded when he crashed his damaged F-5 Tiger II into the runway. Patrick "Creek" Dawson of Swart Katte flight was injured while attempting a gun run on an armoured convoy. He managed to make it back to base but crashed on the surface and ejected straight into the asphalt.
    • The Balkans campaign killed Jack "Desperado" Murray in its first round of missions when he lawn-darted in a Delta Dart. At over Mach 2.
  • Awful Truth - Over the course of a few missions Musketeer Flight learns that their employer, Eagle Corp. is a front for, or is backed by, the CIA/NSA. At first not a problem, but their missions quickly turn into aerial wetwork, with the assassination of a Saudi Prince and his family during "Granite Harvest." This gravitates events behind the scenes.
  • Back in the Saddle - The majority of the pilots haven't been in a combat jet for a while when they arrived in Djibouti.
  • Badass Boast - During the combined Swarte Katte/Aquila operation on a fortified Iranian island (Code name "Babylon"). Jamail "Fossil" Al Baghdadi doesn't even attempt stealth. As soon as he enters the operational airspace he says this over an open radio frequency "Attention all Islamic Republic of Iran forces. This is Captain Jamail al-Baghdadi of the Iraqi Air Force's 27th Strategic Bombardment Wing. By the order of President Saddam Hussein, Welcome! to the worst day of your lives." Please note that the campaign takes place in 2015, not 1985.
  • Badass Israeli - David "Uno" Peled of Griffon flight, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent who assassinates militant leaders and doesn't afraid of anything.
  • Bar Brawl - Sophie "Kermit" Duprac insinuates this on her first day on the job by smashing a beer bottle all over Julienne "Witch" Nikarova's face.
  • Berserk Button - Never talk about Iran with Jamail. Ever. Also, never mention the relationship between France and Quebec to Sophie unless you like beer and blood all over your face.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence - Operation Granite Harvest caught all flights by surprise. With over 45 aircraft, 4 warships and several cruise missiles involved, it would be the largest air battle of the 21st Century...so far.
  • Bilingual Bonus - Sophie "Warfrog" Duprac regularly speaks full sentences in French leading flight mates to remind her that they have no clue what she's talking about. Jamail "Fossil" Al Baghdadi and Faisal "Sharkbait" Al Qadi use Arabic to communicate when they don't want others to figure out what they're saying.
    • The English translation of Borgen. This was a coincidence.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece - The most advanced fighter in any player's arsenal is the F-16C. Most pilots can only afford Vietnam era jets such as the F-4 Phantoms, Mig 21s and Mirage IIIs.
    • One pilot in Brawler Flight has a P-80 Shooting Star!
      • The Black Cats flight exclusively flies A-1 Skyraiders
  • Brooklyn Rage - Nicholas "Crutches" Delorezia is from New Jersey (close enough). It's somewhat subverted in that his childhood was pretty normal (no running with gangs or anything)but somewhat played straight in that he flies off the handle with a stream of Jersey accented verbal abuse. Also, he spent five years in third world shitholes with the French Foreign Legion.
  • Captain Crash - Norwegian Haakon "Hammer" Gustavson, attempted a Split S manoeuvre at low altitude while chasing a Mig. Needless to say, the plane crashed into the desert floor. Luckily for Hammer, he ejected safely and was rescued by a passing reccondo team in the area.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough - Swarte Kattes' two X Os are the mild mannered USAF veteran Paul "Caddy" Vosser and the foul mouthed ex-RAF veteran McLeach who can't make it through a sentence without swearing or an hour without a drink.
  • Code Name - Played very straight. In real life, your flight mates assign you a call sign that is intended to be funny and you have no say in the matter. Musketeer's Nicholas "Crutches" Delorezia got his name because of a constant limp that resulted from a tour with the French Foreign Legion. Another Musketeer, Henry "Guv" Dravot received his name for knocking up the Texas Governor's daughter. Jamail "Fossil" Al Baghdadi's call sign is simple; he's nearly 50 years old during the Firestorm timeline and seen combat in the Iran-Iraq War!
  • Coming In Hot - This is seen a few times as the various mercenaries bring their planes in varied states of integrity. Patrick "Creek" Dawson was a perfect and fatal extreme example of this. Henry "Guv" Dravot found the middle ground when he crashed his plane and survived, though with a decent amount of personal injury. On the "safer" side, Stewart "Bonnie" Connolly recently put his Saab Draken J35J down with no damage other than the maintenance and corrosion damage that comes from foaming the runway, only to have it catastrophically damaged in mid-air by an enemy missle later on and having to glide the now half-dead hulk (Engines, electrics and everything else except for the radio and hydraulics are gone) back to the airport with more Mig-21s chasing after him.
  • Contemplate Our Navels - Esteban "Buns" LaCroix goes on these for quite some time. When he comes out of them, he has crazy ideas like strapping jet engines on old WW2 aircraft. As long as it keeps him from "tinkering" with their airplanes, his flight mates don't mind if he spends his time doing this.
  • Cool Shades - Nearly every player character has aviator sunglasses. How else can you tell that they're fighter pilots?
  • Cool Plane - Appears to be the main reason for players fighter selection, including the Draken, various Fishbed versions, and one flight with a pair of F-16's (which used up most of their budget)
  • Crapsack World - The world of Firestorm takes place in a near future setting where a financial crash greater than the 2008 crisis has nearly frozen international trade and ruined economies worldwide. All over the world, brushfire wars are spreading due to the easy access to mercenaries that shrinking defence budgets cannot check.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death - Belongs to both Walter Johannes and NPC RIO "Husker". Both were older men, with loving families, without military backgrounds, and both died in a plane where the pilot escaped without serious injury: Walter, in the Iranian attack on the Djibouti airport while flying backseat with Haakon Gustavson; Husker, with Jamail, mentioned elsewhere.
  • Defeat Means Friendship - Averted. Jamail's hatred of the Iranians after the Iran-Iraq War only increased. McCleach's hatred of the Black Aces after they shot down his Tornado only drives him to drink more.
  • Death Notification - The final task for a player whose character has died is to write an in universe death notification to the character's family.
  • The Ditz: Victoria Nguyen of the Marauders. Her original callsign was Spoony, but after accidentally sinking an oil tanker, it became "Jed", a reference to The Beverley Hillbillies.
  • Doomed Upgrade - The Musketeers, starting with the biggest bank balance, opted to start the game with the most advanced fighter of any flight: two F-16Cs. It didn't help them when their flight lead was shot down by a Mig-21's cannon fire to become the first fatality of the campaign.
  • Drives Like Crazy - Buddy Dacote, of Brawler Flight in the Balkans campaign, may well be the avatar of this trope. He took a strategic bomber to treetop height at mach 2, crashed it, and is now putting a Korean War era P-80 Shooting Star through as many gut-wrenching high-G turns as possible.
  • Dwindling Party - Averted. While Anyone Can Die is in effect, losses are always replaced.
  • Eagle Squadron - Averted. None of the mercs give two shits about how Yemen's future turns out, they just want that new plane already.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous - Depends on the character. Some like Julienne "Witch" Nikarova was nearly tasked with flying the French Nuclear Mirage 2000 variant before budget cuts ruined her chances. Sajjad "Beady" Azzam was an aggressor pilot in the PAF. On the other end of the scale you have Walter Johannes, a flight technician who became a merc to get his chance to fly, as well as a man only known as "Goatie", an Australian drover who hasn't done more than dust crops, but is sure he'll 'get the hang of it'.
  • Elite Mooks - The Swart Kattes were the first flight to encounter something other than ageing Soviet equipment, in the form of a pair of F-14s. Sophie "Kermit" Duprac, flying a Mig-21bis didn't give a fuck and shot both of them down.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep - The local bartender is simply known as "Heyu" (Hey You!). His actual name is Julian Debere but it's only mentioned once in passing.
  • Evil Versus Evil - The player characters might fight for different reasons but all in all, they're here for money and are not much better than the Iranians/Vietnamese/Indonesians/etc.
  • Faceless Goons - No one really knows where all the enemy pilots come from, at least until Iran played its hand by attacking the mercenaries directly and *cough cough* shooting a civilian airliner down in the middle of the flight.
  • Fighter Launching Sequence - Semi-Averted. Missions always start with the pilots just entering the operational airspace, unless they're rallying to defend the airport.
  • Follow the Leader - Steve's game was the progenitor and origination of the concept in action. Firestorm and other assorted Planes and Mercs games are technically the spin-offs. All of them are entertaining.
  • Former Regime Personnel - With the massive downsizing of military budgets in the Firestorm timeline, nearly all of the player characters are out of work military personnel.
  • Friend in the Black Market - Crazy Achmed is an NPC in the local bar who will deal in firearms. James Kennedy is a PC North Irish gun runner with ties to the IRA. Though depending on future events, they may become Honest John's Dealership
  • General Ripper - The Iran-Iraq War left Jamail "Fossil" Al Baghdadi with an extreme aversion of Iranians. He never misses an excuse to launch an attack on them and would love nothing more than Iran-Iraq War Part Two.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation - Arguable for many pilots but the most effected by the manipulation of events by Eagle Corp seem to be Sabine "Hamlet" Eichler, who is appalled that she willingly helped kill an entire family, and members of Aquila flight who found out they were toting nuclear weapons, suspected to have been planted by Eagle's backers.
  • Gunship Rescue - The Musketeers manage to save a reccondo unit that happened to crash land in their operational airspace with a helpful bomb and gun strike.
  • Guy in Back - Of the PC pilots, Aquila flight's Walter Johannes is this to Haakon "Hammer" Gustavson. Jack "Grizzly" Gruesser also has an NPC RIO by the name of "Vamp". Another flight carries six pilots in four planes, rotating pilots around for piloting the 1 seaters and taking turns flying or GI Bing the 2 seaters.
  • Heroic Sacrifice - Patrick "Creek" Dawson died protecting his buddies with a gun run on a fortified position. NPC Co-pilot Darrel "Widebody" Richardson, a civilian who is only in Djibouti to provide for his family back home, sacrificed himself to save the Coke Bottle Express. Manly Tears were shed.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge - Happens quite often for obvious reasons.
  • Hollywood Tactics - Averted. Doing this is the quickest way to get a missile up your ass.
  • Just Plane Wrong - Averted. The game and stats reflect real life fighting tactics and aircraft capabilities, any real life knowledge you have about different missile ranges or weaknesses of enemy aircraft will be useful to you. Somewhat simplified for gaming purposes though.
  • I Call It "Vera" - Stewart "Bonnie" Connolly of Swarte Katte flight loves his J 35 J Draken a little too much. He hasn't named it yet but talks to it as though it were a woman, explaining why he didn't simply eject when the plane was written off mid-flight by a Iranian MiG. McCleach loved his destroyed Tornado but in a father-son sort of way rather than romantically.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him - Subverted. Jamail doesn't seem to mind the deaths of the enemy pilots because they're Iranian and in his mind, all of them deserve to die.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun - The whole reason for Swart Kattes existence.
  • I See Dead People - Arguably Jamail. He seems to go in and out of hallucinations varying from seeing family members to outright talking to the ghosts of People he believes he's directly responsible for the death of.
  • Large Ham - McCleach.
  • Legion of Lost Souls - All the pilots in the game are a foreign legion working for the Yemeni government. Many of them are running from dark pasts while others are in it for the money or excitement of air to air combat.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters - Currently there are 25 living pilots and 2 dead ones. As well as a couple of journalists and commanding officers running around.
  • Military Brat - Several, including Sajjad "Beady" Azam, Faisal Al Qadi, Stewart "Bonnie" Connolly, Sophie "Kermit" Duprac and Sabine "Hamlet" Eichler
  • Military Maverick - Sophie "Kermit" Duprac of Swart Katte flight, regularley disobeying orders and regularly notching up air to air kills against superior aircraft. Also, broke a bottle over a French pilot's head on her first day on the job. Witch seems to hold a grudge.
  • Military Moonshiner - With the moving of the first campaign from Yemen to Iran, the new base for the mercenaries is Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Cue massive moonshine smuggling.
  • Mission Briefing - All flights are briefed by their NPC commanding officers before every mission.
  • Missile Lock On - With missiles being the main armament of most fighters, hearing a good tone before firing a missile is a must.
  • Mood Whiplash - Swarte Kattes second mission: "Oh Crap! TWO F-14s are here?" *a few minutes later* "HOLY SHIT! Did Kermit just shoot down TWO F-14s in a MiG 21?!"
  • More Dakka - With upgrades like Split frame bomb racks, additional pylons and extra bins for your guns; you can easily add more dakka to any plane.
  • Multinational Team - Currently there are 14 nationalities spread across 27 pilots. The most awkward is Griffon flight; They have a Pakistani flight lead, an Israeli number two, a German, a Japanese, a Chinese American and a Saudi all in the same flight.
  • New Meat - Common due to new players joining the game as well as players rolling new characters to replace lost ones.
  • Next Sunday A.D. - The game takes place in 2015 and the back story occurs in 2012.
  • Nice Guy - Resident Iraqi Jamail "Fossil" al-Baghdadi shows a nicer side to Henry "Guv" Dravot while he is recuperating from crash injuries sustained on his first mission. Also delivers a copy of Saddam Hussein's allegorical "Zabibah and the King" to "Guv" for reading material.
  • Nom De Guerre - Sophie Duprac proved so capable on her first flight that her old callsign "Kermit" just wasn't good enough, and is now (and forevermore) referred to as "Warfrog."
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene - Look up at the first sentence on this page. There's MULTIPLE Obligatory War Crime Scenes.
  • Odd Friendship - Plenty of these with such a large character roster. Pakistani Sajjad Azzam and Israeli David Peled is a prime example.
  • Oh Crap - See the first part of "Mood Whiplash" above.
  • Old Soldier - Jamail Al Baghdadi, Walter Johannes and Sajjad Azam all qualify for this.
  • One Steve Limit - Due to being a pen and paper RPG, most players are loathe to name their characters similarly to other established PCs.
  • Parental Abandonment - An important part of Sabine "Hamlet" Eichler's backstory.
  • Private Military Contractors - There are several PMCs in the game contracting work and all the flights belong to PMCs of varying legitimacy.
  • Qurac - Averted. The PMC base is in Djibouti and missions take place over real locations in Yemen and the Red Sea.
  • Rare Vehicles - Stewart "Bonnie" Connolly flew a J 35 J Draken. The Musketeers were also gifted a vintage CF-101B Voodoo. Also, considering how the US military is scrapping the F-14 Tomcat to prevent Iran for getting spare parts, Swart Katte's F-14A Tomcat can also be considered rare in the context of the game world.
  • Shocking Defeat Legacy - Granite Harvest is this to the Iranians. Their attack cost over 20 aircraft and failed to do more than minor damage to Djibouti International Airport.
  • Shoot Everything That Moves- Averted. Civilian airliners, civilians on the ground and friendly ground forces all keep you on your toes. Most obviously demonstrated when the Musketeers shot at a suspicious large aircraft that turned out to be a Saudi Airlines flight carrying royalty.
  • Sudden Principled Stand - Musketeers, Specifically Nicholas, during the most recent mission - Finally fed up with being implicit in wetwork and messy, quasi-legal business, he opened fire on an incoming friendly to save another group of (NPC) Mercs they'd been tasked to defend.
  • The Determinator - Fossil and the Coke Bottle Express, a second-hand X-6/Tu-16 bomber. First operation resulted in one engine destroyed, the co-pilot and tail gunner killed, the wings on fire, and he still managed to get bombs on target and return 'safely'.
  • The Engineer - Esteban "Buns" LaCroix. Though his flight mates would hesitate to call his brand of "percussive" maintenance "Engineering"
  • The Mafiya - No one knows where the two Russian PMCs, Red Star Solutions and OKB-276, get their money from.
  • War for Fun and Profit - It's a world dominated by Private Military Contractors. You tell me.
  • We Have Reserves - The Iranian mentality during Operation Granite Harvest.
  • We Are Struggling Together - The different player squadrons have cordial relations and will help each other, but by no means are the "On the same side". Notable exclusions can be Aquila and Griffin squadrons (as they both work for Advantage Flight Solutions) and Swart Katte and Musketeers who (Witch and Warfrog not withstanding) have struck up a sort of friendship.
  • Wingman - All players are this. You cannot survive for long without your wingmen covering your back.
  • World War III - It's what the players are participating in. Except not a huge nuclear war, rather dozens of small brushfire wars fought by PMCs that are secretly funded by national governments. A Cold War 2.0 if you will.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero - If its not bolted down/signed for Swart Katte has stolen it and claimed ownership. "Borrow foreverę" is a common term.

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alternative title(s): Planes And Mercs
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