In the Spymaster universe, stress is not just a matter of scheduling way too many barbecues again this weekend. It is the very real risk of an agent collapsing under the pressure of performing demanding tasks in the face of danger.
As a spymaster you get caught up in plans and optimization, often not thinking about the mental health of your agents. You want them to perform like good, little board pieces. Weakness and breakdowns are hard to accept when the balance of the world is at stake. But if an agent breaks down at a crucial moment, all could be lost, so any spymaster would do well to manage the stress level of their agents.
Keeping stress down is obvious when it comes to not over-burdening your agents with too many travels, raids or other tasks. But only recently did I realize that one of the most stressful situation for my agents is being already stressed and trying to rest, as a Gestapo inspektor arrives in town. I suddenly noticed how their resting speed comes to a halt when the gestapo arrives on the scene.
In a given situation I ended up with two agents down and only agent Charlie still standing. Severely stressed, his resting would be constantly interrupted by several Gestapo inspektors circling the area. It didn’t take a lot of spymaster imagination to visualize agent Charlie lying wounded in a safehouse in Naples, trying to calm his racing mind from the events of the past stressful weeks and from being away from home. Even less to imagine the sinister sound of the black, shiny riding boots of a Gestapo inspektor walking down the street to where he was, followed by a knock on the door. It’s even easy to imagine how it would be, when the door gets kicked in, and you are lying in a small space above the ceiling, trying to hold back breath, as the inspektor and his henchmen thoroughly search the room below.
It is no wonder an agent can't very well rest with the Gestapo in town. In future I’m taking this into account, and will send my agents back to London to rest, whenever possible.