Post available to Premium Members only. Please upgrade your account in order to apply.
So, here we go:
After my Introduction, Crisis Committes 101, I would now like to go into the depth of some of the more intricate inner workings of crisis simulations at MUNs.
JCCs - Complex simulations with MANY pitfalls to avoid
All crisis enthusiasts will agree that Joint Committee Crisis Simulations (JCCs) are the crown jewel of crisis simulations. This basically means that you create ONE crisis with two or many more different committees/nations/companies/ngos involved. The delegates do not represent individual nations but ministers, board members. Each with a different portfolio of subordinates, possibilities and authority. The Director of the CIA would be a good example.
When you create a big crisis with multiple committees involved, including different lines of allegiance and hostility, you really have to know what you do. If you do not, delegates will become upset fast. And if you really mess up, people will start to question why they are even there in the first place. I have been in such a situation recently. I was the Minister of Interior in a within a country that never got involved in the crisis designed by the directorate.
Further: MUN and JCCs have only very little in common. While delegating experience and especially crisis delegate experience is a major boon, chairing experience usually helps a little. More often than not, expertise on certain governmental branches and acting experience is a much greater help.
What to do
As MUN Crisis evolved throughout the last years, it has basically now been established, that the best structure for a JCC is to divide each committee involved in a crisis into a frontroom (the actual committee, be it a nation, a company, the Security Council, whatever) and the backroom i.e. the poor guys who handle the action orders issued by the respective committees members and coordinate with the other backrooms, the ghost cabinet (representing all third parties not actively represented in the simulation) and the directorate (the people who hopefully know what they are doing).
The Frontroom is a nation, a company, an NGO or anything else you can imagine. I will use a National Security Council for reference. The most crucial positions within a crisis are: Defense, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence. They can be supplemented by Ministries of Interior, Attorney Generals, Propaganda Ministries, anything that helps events evolve and is important to the story. Just do not add positions that are not necessary. For example: A Minister of Finance will be bored to death in most military conflicts. So either do not add such a position - or include financial issues and problems in the crisis. China dump-selling its Dollar Reserves? Trouble.
Also, the president or head of state of a crisis committee should be picked either from your experienced staff or an experienced crisis delegate. Dynamics are very very different within a JCC and usual rules of procedure do not apply, so chairing-experience is not necessarily the biggest boon. If you have someone who is a "West Wing" or "House of Cards" enthusiast, they might make better Committee Presidents than regular MUN chairs.
I won't lie about it: Picking good JCC Chairs is more alchemy than science. You can have the most experienced chair and still see them fail when they suddenly start feeling all powerful. I once witnessed a very experienced chair ruin the crisis for her entire committee on day one, when she randomly and without need decided to try and assassinate a key person during the crisis. An experienced military leader. Surrounded by thousands of loyal troops. Obviously, the attempt failed.
The key to being a good JCC chair is being the president without acting like one. People who suddenly feel a power surge and start doing crazy things, just because they can, because they are the president are the wrong people. A good president in a JCC committee makes sure that all voices are heard and tries to form a consensus or at least a majority among the delegates before making a decision. They need to be able to hold their ego at bay and even while they are the ones who ultimately make the decision, it is the delegates who actually bring the crisis to life. If you created a good crisis, they will be into it so much that they might not talk about anything else during those days. If you didn't they will start messing with each other and try to raise hell simply out of pure boredom. The latter is a situation you want to avoid. Because even if it will save the crisis experience for most of the delegates ultimately, essentially you will only have created a situation you can no longer control, except by brute force - which is a bad choice.
A good option therefore, is to coach your chairs well before the conference starts. Even if you do not tell them what the crisis is about, which is perfectly fine. But they should know how to handle their committee. Most crisis committees will include very experienced, very capable delegates who know their job and the scope of their authority. They might try to exceed it, of course, anyways. But handling experienced people is tough, they come with high expectations. So make sure you get everyone involved in your crisis. Give them things to do, situations to adjust to and events to react on. I cannot stress this enough.
Also, give your chairs a good set of ground rules. Like for example not to plot against their own people (plotting against other committees is fair game, of course ;) ).
Remind them to act calm and rational, like real world presidents would. No one in the world declares war on a whim. The people who are in such places in the real world know the responsibility that weighs on them and act accordingly (well, most of them), so your chairs should reflect that in their behavior.
The Backroom, usually headed by a Committee Director (as the MUN-World is so caught up in giving everything a fancy title), processes the actions, communication and press releases Sitting in the backroom is easily the less prestigious and most stressful job within a JCC. It can also be one of the most fun ones. But in order to make sure that it actually is fun and not a stressful and tiresome experience, you have to take care of your backroom people. Backroom people should always have access to cookies and sodas. It helps, trust me. And they need it.
Ideally, the backroom should consist of at least three, better four people per committee. Keep one person in the committee room at all time so that you know what is going on there.
Also, make sure that the Backroom is extensively prepared in terms of the offices and background of the committee they manage. If delegates start knowing much more about the country or their respective office than the backroom does, there will be trouble. You cannot avoid that delegates might know more. Crisis delegates usually prepare rather well. But if the backroom for example does not know that it's country has a militia in addition to the police and military, it will create chaos. So make sure they are as best prepared as possible.
Another important thing you need to make everyone aware of is realism. And that starts in the directorate.
Directing a JCC means a lot of coordination and planning. There are many things you should keep in mind and even more things to prepare beforehand.Time - First, thing is to decide on how fast time will move. Will all decisions be in real time or will one day in real life be 2, 3, 5 or more days? Remember, for example, that fleet movements take days, even weeks.
Team - You do not need more than one deputy. Too many opinions (or egos) will only complicate things unnecessarily. Plan the general outline together, check the facts as best as you can, then go into the more broader staff to check for ideas and potential turns that you haven't foreseen. Then divide up the work among your staff.
Knowledge - It is the directorates job not only to be informed as well as possible concerning all relevant assets, including military forces, intelligence agencies, resources or even potential international legal issues. You need to know how fast drones, spy satellites, aircraft carriers move and what they are capable of. Your delegates will know that stuff. So you better do, too.
Flexibility and avoidance of stupidity - The worst thing you can do is make up stupid stuff. Sure, you might think that Nigeria's Government allying with Boko Haram is a witty idea. But if your delegates in the Nigerian Committee disagree, you have just alienated the entire cabinet. Allow them to make their own decisions, even if it is not in total alignment with your plan. Be flexible, think on your feet and come up with a new thing. No plan survives contact with reality. But if you prepare multiple options and outcomes, you might be able to be ahead as best as you can. Never stick to a bad idea.
A final rule is: Better make something up that is deliberately misleading than to tell people nothing or that they can't do something. They command professional agencies and ministries. If you tell for example a director of an intelligence agency that they cannot find out where their own people are or other simple tasks, it will make you look stupid. If they tap communications or place bugging devices in rooms, let them. But also be prepared to feed them with lots of funny or useless info, if they keep asking. They are entitled to receive something, but not necessarily correct or useful information.
Ghost CabinetDirecting a JCC
The Ghost Cabinet is basically a placeholder for all nations or global players not included in the simulation. They can be called on if someone suddenly needs a representative from a third-party nation, both written and acted out. They should be experienced speakers and you should keep them in your crisis management centre, so that they are just as aware of what is going on. Whenever you send them off, give them a short detailed briefing on what the situation is, what their policy will be and what they will answer and what not.
Two or three people are usually enough.
A Ghost Cabinet isn't always necessary but an important addition to a well rounded up crisis. It is also where to best place an independent crisis news team and ideally that's what they will do while they are not acting.
Have them write third party news articles and/or use them to put press releases on your crisis web page. If you have the manpower and technology for it, then use them as newscasters.
The Ghost Cabinet is where your most talented people should go. Many skills can be of use here.
Ghost Cabinet vs. Press Team
Most larger conferences field their own press teams. Therefore you should plan how to integrate them within your crisis. Either you take at least two members (for bigger JCCs: At least committees/2+1 press people) from your press team to take care solely of crisis and have them post the press releases and third party articles - or you keep press work for the crisis within the Ghost Cabinet. Just make sure that the division of the work is absolutely clear and people don't step on each other's toes.
In Crisis Committees 101, I compared writing a crisis to writing a screenplay. To describe directing a JCC, I will have to resort to a slightly more nerdy comparison. Running a JCC is like being the gamemaster of a role-playing session.
Your primary job is to make sure that the suspense does not break.
But when that involves dozens of people in multiple committees and NONE of them should just sit there, bored out of their skull, things become tricky. That is why you do not design a crisis during one hung-over weekend. You have to take care that your scenario is solid, that it makes sense (!) and that every committee and every position within each committee has something to do as events unfold.
This will be ensured when you:
- Create a well-rounded scenario with multiple turning points, some of them fixed, some of them optional for use when a region or committee starts to get left out.You see, it is not really that hard.
- Only create positions within the committees that are actually involved in the crisis. This trumps realism. If there is nothing to do for a Minister of Interior - do not make a delegate serve as one.
Another very important thing while running a JCC is to retain an excellent overview on the situations at all times. The more committees you have, the more important and difficult it will become to keep everything in sight. But just two or three committees alone can already create a looot of chaos. Therefore, you should make sure, you prepare well for that:
Prepare a map that you keep updated at all times for any kind of military movement or other events. Whether you do this on a computer (there are quite a few editable maps available online) or go old school and have a nice large map on a table like any good Bond Villain should, complete with little flags or similar things to keep track of events is your choice.Final Hint:
Keep a database of all actions and plots currently underway, sorted by committee. I personally advise a whiteboard full of post-its in different colors. It is much more easily accessible than a digital version and offers a much better overview. Just make sure that the backroom people add a post it for each action order - but only the directorate should be the ones taking them down, i.e. resolving them together with the backroom. That way, you do not lose track and are included in all the important events.
Create extra boards or maps for areas or events of special interest, like military engagements, special operations, hostage situations etc. Create a small table or diagram, whatever helps.
If you want to prepare thoroughly, create a Storyline Tree. Create (Days of Conference +1) fixed storyline events, to make sure that you keep things going and interesting. Then try to anticipate the most likely ways the different committees will react to the events and create a structure of branches with the potential ways the crisis can develop along. This way you secure yourself a head start and can potentially save a lot of time. I say "potentially" because again, plans vs. reality.
The Frontroom and Backroom will have to work as a team. If antagonism between the two parts of the same committee ensues, things will get ugly fast and in most cases, that committee cannot fully participate in the crisis.
The solution is simple: Put them together before you start the crisis. Let them get to know each other, put them in a group for socializing, whatever. That way, they get to know each other as people instead of nameless email-addresses that get annoyed by each other. The dynamics of a crisis are usually associated with a lot of emotion and excitement, therefore a team spirit between front- and backroom is paramount. Also when it comes to dealing with the directorate and other committees.
What really really REALLY not to do
There are many mistakes you can do while running a crisis. The list below probably is anything close to complete, but these things are the mistakes I encountered most often. Sadly, sometimes several of those at the same conference.
Never, I cannot stress this enough, NEVER micromanage the backroom and even less so the frontroom. Never tell delegates what to do. You can do individual briefings /see below), but other than that, do not tell someone what she or he should do. They are your delegates, they came to your conference to spend their own time, effort and creativity, so respect them. And respect your backroom people, too. Never treat them like serfs, never let them take the brunt of the delegates frustration if you made a mistake. Mistakes happen.
What you need to do is at all times have an overview of what if happening, which committee is doing what and how they plot against other committees - and each other. As long as you have that: Fine. If you have a storyline, then follow events closely and let their plots evolve accordingly. There are many subtle ways to direct events, so do not resort to micromanagement. Crises have their own dynamics and each committee in a crisis has it's own dynamic as well. Work with that, not against that.
Furthermore, your backrooms need a certain leeway, they need to be able to make small decisions on their own. If they have to ask for the directorates approval for every tiny decision, the dynamic of the whole crisis will slow to a crawl and the committees will become mired in bottlenecks. Just make sure that the backrooms know how things will evolve in your vision, make sure you keep them in the same as you are located in, otherwise communication will be an unnecessary issue.
Overly fascist Communication Management
Do not force your delegates to run all their communications through the backroom. It will annoy the delegates to no extent, as their messages take ages to reach other committees. Furthermore, it makes absolutely no sense. Delegates talk to each other anyways. Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, whatever. Delegates talk. You cannot avoid that. The more you try to force them to go through channels, the more they will rebel and bypass the system. Fighting it will only create bottlenecks, chaos and a communication between committees that is slower than medieval horseback messengers. Or ravens ;)
If you want to have an eye on what your delegates are talking about - and you should - then set them up with individual mail accounts whose passwords they have to share with their backroom. That way the backroom can have an eye on what their people are doing - and you can also add a nasty little thing within the intelligence community of your crisis by enabling them to "hack mail accounts of other nations". They will love that, trust me.
Never tell delegates "you can't do that"
Delegates will come up with many, MANY ideas. Some of them realistic, some of them unconventional, some outright crazy, or even self-destructive. However, do not flatly tell them that "they cannot do something" and leave it at that. If they want to go crazy, it is their own funeral. Failure is part of the experience.
Always be open to the creativity of your delegates. Just because an idea is unconventional, it doesn't necessarily mean it wouldn't work. Do not be to rigid in the way you envision the crisis to evolve. Things will change, and a good crisis director will roll with them.
If they really do something crazy or stupid, then give them a reason why it didn't work. May it be that the assassination attempt was unsuccessful and their agents got caught, may it be that an officer refused to execute the order, or anything else that fits the world and the story. Or just let them go ahead and then fail miserably, let their plans backfire maybe. If you want the story to go in a certain direction, nudge events and outcomoes into said direction. That's perfectly fine as well.
But never tell them they "just can't do that". It makes you look like an inept, incompetent dictator. And it will ruin the fun for the delegates, because they will start asking themselves why they even attend the conference, if they cannot do anything anyways. When you start forcing delegates to do what you want, you have already failed as crisis director.
I always thought this goes without saying once you're experienced enough. Sadly, I recently found out that this is not the case. Therefor it needs to be stressed, that your directives and communication should always be straightforward, clear and free from personal issues.
Be professional and courteous. Always make sure, in which function you address your staff members or delegates.
Trust the people you picked to do a good job and don't interfere too much in the smaller affairs. They can handle that on their own and your job is, after all, to keep an eye on the big picture and manage the situations that arise. Trust me: You will have your hands full.
MUN breeds Egos. Crisis breeds even bigger ones. However, if you want to be a good crisis director, you need to let go of that. Yeah, you are experienced. And you might know more than some people. But you will never know more than all of them.
NEVER disrespect your delegates. You are not their king, but you are there to serve, to provide the people that are coming from all over the world to your conference with a fun learning experience. You may have a fancy title, but don't let it get to your head. If conflict arises with delegates, then maybe give them a clean death and a position that is better suited to them (see below, "Dealing with Death"). Of course there are people in the world, who just constantly like to screw things up, but most of the delegates at a MUN are actually reasonable people - provided you take the time to talk to them in a respectful way before things go out of hand.
If you treat delegates badly or disrespectfully, they will in turn lose their respect for you.
One last thing, that goes for everyone - directorate and delegate alike: Never build your self-esteem on MUNs or your MUN performance. Do not let the "Future Leaders of Tomorrow"-Blah go to your head. If there is one thing I have witnessed one time too much, it is that people built egos around MUN, they conceit themselves to be a better or more important person because of their title and start treating others with condescension. Don't be that guy. Seriously.
Life will not care about a best delegate award. It will not care about how many MUNs you did. It will not make you a better person, nor will it make you a leader by default.
But it will care about the friends you make, about your own personal growth and about what you learn.
Real Persons vs. Delegate Ministers
In every kind of crisis, with the exception of futuristic crises that are not based on a popular franchise, you will have real persons that currently occupy the offices that the delegates represent. The question is how to handle that.
You can either have the delegates represent the actual real person, which might in many ways be fun, but can also be very restricting, as they cannot act as they themselves would like. One could argue, that MUN is not about acting like you yourself would do, but put yourself in the position of another perspective, of course. But crisis simulations can, by themselves, already be a lot of research for the respective delegates, so researching into a specific real person might be a bit too much.
As crisis delegates do not write a position paper, you can have them write a short one page bio for their "character".
For these two options, there is no right or wrong. However, you should not let your delegates start as blank slates of cardboard-cutout-people. Everyone who got into a position of power has a history. Good or bad, straight-up or corrupt, with friends and enemies made left and right on their way to the top. Good crisis simulations reflect that in one way or the other.
Obviously, you can also leave the decision between representing a real person or creating an own character to your delegates. That way you can make sure that you have full-fledged personalities and many interesting ways to mess and interact with the delegates artificial backgrounds. It will add a lot of atmosphere.
Something that is a lot of work, but also -ALWAYS- pays off is the creation of individual briefings.
They are a little bit like Prepguides. Exept they are shorter. And you have to write a unique one for every single delegate.
But they have many many perks that make them essential during any kind of crisis, not only in JCCs.
The first and most simple - but also one of the most important ones - is that everyone has something to say. If you spread information all over a committee with everyone having a different angle or different sources and detail of information, everyone can contribute in his own unique way. This way you provide an excellent start for all delegates.
Due to the nature of national/ngo/economical committees, you can give different parts of the background info to different people. If it is a military issue, of course defense ministers and chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff will know more detail, while foreign ministers (and also intelligence ministers) will know more about the political fallout and the perspectives of other nations. You can also add personal information (maybe one of the cabinet members in questions knows someone who is directly involved, personally?) or media/popular/economic info on the issues connected with the crisis.
If you want, no one will keep you from placing even conflicting information among the delegates, so they themselves have to find out the truth of what happened in the first place and investigate.
This way, you can also steer people and regulate their knowledge of the situation. Different committees can have totally different information (or just levels of detail) regarding a crisis. You can also nudge delegates into a certain direction, just by the information you provide. This is much less impairing than forcing them to assume a certain role which they might regard as a direct intervention into their own style of play.
However: If you want to add secret information for specific delegates or even give them a secret role (like being a member of a powerful syndicate behind the scenes) make ABSOLUTELY SURE that this information only gets to them, that it is clearly visible that this information is for them only and does not get shared and - if you can spare the time - have them set aside individually and explain this part to them. Nothing in the world works better than a personal talk face to face. It is the only possible way to make sure that everything is understood and came accross correctly.
even nudge then a little
I already touched a lot upon this during the JCC part, but whenever people are in charge of intel, this adds many possibilities to the simulation, but also the danger of the Intelligence Delegates overpowering everyone else by default. And usually they will come up with many creative ideas on ho to mess with people.
Intelligence agencies and their delegates usually come up with very creative way to mess with people, countries and the whole crisis. Which, in general, is a good thing. But you need to be prepared and able to react to things they come up with.
These things usually include:- deliberate spread of false information;Therefore, take note of the manpower, spread of said manpower, specialist branches and technology level of such individual agencies. Make sure that they don't go overboard.
- accessing communication or other data of other delegates;
- hacking other nations and their infrastructure;
- gathering of information about places, people and deployed military forces;
- espionage in all possible variants;
- agents and double-agents;
And basically any other black-op in the history of mankind and tv/movies
As you can guess, even if not taken to the extreme, the power that intelligence delegates have over the others is substantial. Therefore keeping track of these delegates and their plots will take up quite an amount of time. It should be noted, however, that not all intelligence services in the world are equally capable. For example, I would rather take my chances with the Austrian HNaA than the Israeli Mossad. That is why you need to be well informed of the capabilities of these services in terms of technology and personnel.
Luckily, Iintelligence also has it's weaknesses that you can exploit during crises. One of them being that every nation and also several ministries perform counterintelligence. And that alone can lead to many opportunities for you as the "game master" to botch operations or create situations that end baddly for both competing intelligence services. Things can go wrong in numerous ways and if you consider something too disruptive, you should be able to come up with a creative way why the operation failed.
So while James Bond my be able to infiltrate everything and - apparently - survive anything. Other agents might not be so lucky. And few agents in the world are as universally capable as said British agent. For example, while highly trained professionals, direct engagements with military forces almost every single time end badly for agents. They are squishy.
Furthermore, every technology that can be used in one direction can be used in the opposite one as well. For example, if an information gathering operation is detected, it can be used perfectly to send false information.
As you, being the directorate of the crisis, want to keep things interesting, intelligence can be your best tool as well.
Ever played the game RISK? If you want, you can include personal objectives to individual briefings. A goal for that specific delegate to pursue. This can basically be anything. The fun starts when, as they should, the objectives become conflicting or mutually exclusive.
Delegates can fight over specific regions, islands, resource fields or positions. If you manage to dovetail the individual goals tactfully, you can create suspension for every single delegate and create a lot of dynamic without having to add external events. Or include a race to become caliph instead of the caliph by making the head of state a position that anyone can aspire to and once they do, fight to hold on to power.
One thing that every crisis needs is a well structured news page. You CAN, of course simply create a group page on social media, however, I advise against it. News tend to get lost or overlooked easily, if you put them on a group page on Facebook, for example. Creating a newsblog, via WordPress for example, is fast, easy, and much better than any social media group. Plus people won't start posting random stuff and comments all over it.
The EuroMUN 2014 news page is a very good example for a well done conference/crisis newsfeed.
You should adjust the newsfeed to best fit your conference. Whether you want to have a news page just for your crisis or the whole conference - it also depends on the number of press staff you have at your disposition. In general, however, as in the above example, it is best to have a page for the entire conference, so that delegates can see what their colleagues are doing and especially non-crisis delegates can also follow the exciting events. People usually love that.
Just make sure that you prepare the page in advance. It isn't that hard and worth the little extra time spent.
Dealing with Death
Crisis scenarios are volatile by nature. People can die. The question is how much you want death and assassinations to be part of your game. One time too often I have witnessed a directorate that got randy with people killing each other without any regard of what it might do to the simulation. As a general rule, you as the directorate should never kill a delegate yourself, unless she or he does something REALLY stupid. But do not kill someone out of personal reasons. If someone messes up, let their own people handle it. Delegates should be able to kill each other - within reason, of course.
There are several ways to deal with killings during a simulation, so lets go explore.
Meaning: A delegate who is killed stays dead. Very hardcore. This is what you usually want to avoid. Imagine someone gets killed the first or second day of the conference. You might end up with a number of delegates without anything to do who still had to pay the whole conference fee. That's not what you want. Better put the killed people to good use.
Anything goes on the last Day
You can see this happen rather often at conferences. The gloves come off, the directorate gets VERY lenient with what they allow and basically the whole world goes to hell. ICBMs fly, people die and in general there is a lot of mayhem.
It might be fun, true, but if you have a good crisis concept, you should be able to avoid this and keep up the suspense and excitement without having to resort to this. The "anything goes on the last day" is more or less a hail mary maneuver to safe the day when people get bored and just want to mess stuff up. In terms of death, people who are killed on the last day usually don't return to life, potentially leading to last man standing situations.
The killed delegate is treated like a new person in the same position. Same job. Same authority. Same objectives. The respective recently-deceased delegate remains in the position he occupied before and that also means that he doesn't have to adjust to different rules and authorities. Obviously, this option will create the least amount of chaos and confusion, but might also be considered a littlebit dissatisfying for the person who ordered the killing. At you discretion, you can stop all ongoing schemes and actions the delegate ordered before death, or keep them alive, if you think it fits your story.
Downside: The reincarnated delegate will usually behave exactly as they did before. Meaning that if he messed up before, he might just do the same thing again. And again.
Optional: You can add a "timeout" to the delegates death to reflect the time it takes to find a successor and get her/him up to speed. In that case, however, do not extend this timeout for too long. Not longer than an hour at maximum. Half an hour is usually enough.
Reshuffling means that the killed person stays in the simulation, but will be assigned to a new position. There are two options how to do this: Committee-Reshuffle and Conference-Wide Reshuffle.
The first option means that the killed delegate will be assigned a new office within the committee. That way, the preparation for the committee is not lost and the delegate just has to re-adjust to the new office and it's respective scope of authority. Of course, you can only do this if you have free spots within the committee that are useful for the conference and the developing crisis. Putting delegates on a position where they can't do anything is a bad idea. Or you just wait until two people within the same committee die and simply switch their positions.
Reshuffling a delegate confernce-wide means that you assign a new position within a different committee in the crisis. This can make things more interesting - provided the delegate is up for the challenge and gets briefed well by either you or the backroom of that committee. If you do not do that, a reshuffle like that will likely overwhelm the delegate and it will take hours before they can do something meaningful in the crisis again. If at all. Such a thing should only be done with experienced crisis delegates.
Ideally, I would advise to use either reincarnation or reshuffle - or a combination of both. Probably you should just inform the delegate that he was killed and offer him these options and have her decide how she would like to proceed. That way you include the delegate into the decision and you make sure no one feels treated injustly.
Historical and Futuristic Crises
Historic and futuristic crises can be a lot of fun, but they, too have their own little snares and pitfalls. They do not function differently from regular crisis simulations per se, but there are some things you should keep in mind additionally.
Given the limited amount of days that a MUN usually provides, historical crises within the UN that can be used at a MUN are limited to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
However, if you drop the UN-dependency, then histroy offers a veritable cornucopia of crises to use. Given the right script and planning, you can choose whatever you like. From ancient times to the League of Nations, the world is open to you. However, in most cases you usually end up "tweaking" the historical circumstances a little. Either to level the playing field at least a little, or to add more possibilities to your committees.
A great boon with any historical crisis simulation is, that there is lots of information available that you can use. Maps, documents, reports, even video and audio files in the more modern cases. They can add a lot of atmosphere.
Dealing with the Historical Imperative
The biggest pitfall of historical crises is that basically the issue has already been resolved once. And people tend to stick to history for some reason. If they do, things will become static very fast and that can kill the whole dynamic of the simulation. People will act predetermined, stick to the original policies and even complain like "But this is not how it happened originally!" However you do not want things to happen just like the did originally. It's not only plain boring, it will also defeat the point of the historical crisis.
To counteract this, you can give people personal objectives - or you deviate from actual history.
Deviating from Original History
This is a very good option to avoid the original historical outcome. At one point during the development of the crisis, throw in an event that differes from original history. You can change the entire game and push your committees away from acting too historical. Have something happen in a totally different area of the world, open a new theater within the conflict or add a new kind of danger. For example, go "Hunt for Red October"-Style at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis and let one Soviet submarine disappear with an unknown objective. In theory you can do whatever you want. Just keep it original and at least half-way realistic.
Either way, this move is a very good option if you want to spice up things. Ideally, prepare two or three alternatives and use whichever fits the situation best.
I already touched upon the point of personal objectives above, however, in a historical setting, they can be sown on purpose to deviate from the historical imperative. Be it that there was more going on behind the scenes than people are generally aware of, or be it that you just want to enter a slightly different parallell universe. In any case, you can alter policies for certain players - just beware: When you mix things up too much or go too far, delegates will resent the changes you enforce on them. So add or change the background of the setting or the office as well - or take them aside, personally, before the conference, and explain the changes to them. If you are well with people, you might even get them excited about it and raise their enthusiasm for their "new" role.
A case where personal objectives are even more important are futuristig settings.
Nothing is more interesting than the future. Mainly because it is still unwritten and you can not only let your imagination go on a joyride but also delve into any kind of inspiration, from Philip K. Dick, over George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry to Frank Herbert. Your inner nerd might love this. However, remember that while you and maybe a few other people would greatly enjoy re-enacting the Republic Senate meeting which decides whether Senator Palpatine should be named Supreme Chancellor, it might be a very niché thing.
The most important thing for a futuristic crisis is briefing the delegates. Futuristic crises need more extensive study guides with lots of background information, because unlike for current or historical events, nothing can be researched. To make up for this, the background infor or your scenario must be extensive and include details that the delegates would usually find out during research. The only possible exception might be if you set your futuristic crisis within a popular sci-fi setting that has lots of web based information readily available. But that will also require you to find many nerdy delegates. Just saying ;)
If you do, however, I might actually be game, though.
And if there ever is going to be a crisis dealing with the Noble Houses of the Landsraad, fighting over the ownership of Arrakis and who will become the next Padishah Emperor, let me know.
If you go for a lighter futuristic setting, set up in just a few years or decades in our future, make sure that the delegates know how the world developed, which things changed and what troubles this new era faces. I once bridged the knowledge gap between the current day and the future setting by handing out three front pages of newspapers, each placed at an interval of a few years inbetween. Combined with personal Briefings/Objectives, it really livened up the room. Everyone had something to say - and that is what you want.
As with everything else, however, my guides are simply more guidelines than actual rules. I have a lot of experience, especially crisis-related, but I am neither perfect, nor would I ever be so arrogant as to put my opinion above those of other people :)
Plus: If you ever have any questions, just ask either here or simply write a message ;)