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Mission - Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read this helpfile
Epitaph makes a distinction between 'quests', which are intended to be secret puzzles dotted around the game, and 'missions' which are more akin to what an MMO would call a quest. Quests are supposed to be challenging and open-ended, often involving hard work and thought on your part. Missions are straight-forward, and are available from any faction mission giver.
How do I get a mission?
First, you should find the mission giver for a faction. Shawn is the mission giver for the Winchester faction, and if you ask him about 'mission' he might give you one. Whether or not he does depends on how soon it was since you last performed a mission, and how much he likes you personally (see the popularity helpfile). If he does give you a mission, he will indicate what the content of the mission is and what it is you are supposed to do. Upon meeting the stated requirements, you will automatically be awarded with some XP for completing the mission, some money, and some faction reputation. Missions are repeatable, and so you can ask for another one as soon as your 'mission refractory period' is up.
Why do missions?
Missions are a lucrative source of faction reputation, and often involve you doing things that don't require you to specifically go out of your way. You may be asked to kill things, steal things, or use some of your particular skills to accomplish particular goals for the faction. In short, they let you get more benefit out of things you probably would have been doing anyway.
You can be performing only one mission for a faction at a time, but you can have more than one faction for which you are working. If you're lucky, you may even find that they want you to do the same thing!
You can see your current list of missions along with an outline of your progress through the 'faction missions' command. You can get the full description of a mission that you are performing for a faction through 'faction mission <faction>'. You can also ask the mission giver for the faction, and he or she will remind you. Finally, if you want to give up on your current mission you can abandon it with 'factions abandon mission for <faction>'.