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Looking in 20 year old boxes - RonO's Ramblings

Oct. 18th, 2009 09:38 pm Looking in 20 year old boxes

For some reason, I've been starting to think I might be able to pull off some sort of a one-shot Spy game adventure somewhere along the line.

I suspect that there are several things that might have contributed.

First, I've been reading through the works of Tom Clancy. And while I don't think I'd try to create an adventure or campaign that follows his kind of story, (with the possible exception of The Hunt for Red October, an RPG adventure that would create one of his stories would be pretty boring for many of the players a lot of the time, and would be a real pain to ref due to the fact that many of the characters never meet) it has put me into that kind of mind set. Getting the double dose of NCIS and NCIS:LA on Tuesdays may also be contributing a bit.

Second, I still remember that quite often while in college I was able to run spy games, generally using the Top Secret S/I rules, with very little advanced planning. I didn't require pages of notes knowing everything that was going to happen, just a general idea of what the plot would be, and then would react to what the players and PCs did. Of course I knew most of my players pretty well at that point, so I may have been able to predict how they'd react and so I was able to keep a few moves ahead.

Third, but quite a bit down, I've been wondering what besides programming (and sitting at a Chicago Worldcon Bid table) I might end up doing at ConDor next February since as of the last meeting I made (I missed the last meeting due to it not getting onto my personal calendar in time) something made me think that offering to ref a game or two might not be a bad move -- if I can come up with something I can run

So, this evening I went into the garage and found (in one of the boxes that was high and dry) the two boxes that have most or all of my Top Secret S/I material to see if I could relearn the game system after nearly 20 years of not using it.

When I opened the first box -- the box from the original game box set -- I found the main rule book on top, and skimmed through it refreshing my memory of the basic mechanics (5 attributes, skills which are based on an attribute, percentile roles for success, 00 very good, 99 very bad, one role combat: % to hit, tens digit damage, ones digit location). I'd need to do some further walk throughs before I'd be fully up to running a game, but I'd probably be able to do it.

But then the interesting stuff came out. I found old character sheets, house rule notes (a one-page description of how to use the more general skill system from the original Top Secret game which I may have written or found), and adventure and campaign notes. Even without player names, I think I was able to identify at least one of the players, and was able to recognize my printing from 20 years ago -- except for one sheet which may have been mine or may have been someone else's.

The second box, from the High Stakes supplement with a lot of information about Monte Carlo, had book from other supplements, more campaign notes, and several blank, home-made, character sheets.

I'm thinking of putting together a setting -- even if I end up doing just a one shot game at a con -- with some background. So far I've decided to set the adventure in 1986 (+- a couple of years), allowing me to use the Cold War as a background rather than today's more politically tenuous setting. (At a con I'd still probably warn people that the setting may assume the USSR is a -- more or less -- hostile power).

I'm thinking of creating a "black" division of the FBI for the characters to work for. This division would secretly work to locate and identify foreign agents and take appropriate action. The action would, of course, depend on the nature of the individuals: US Citizen would be either arrested, turned or eliminated; foreigners without diplomatic cover would be expelled, arrested, turned or eliminated and foreigners with diplomatic cover would be expelled, turned or eliminated.

Finally, I've thought about setting the game in this part of the country (if I can find enough references to know at least what wasn't here 20 years ago). Actually, I've kind of roughed out the basic start: The above referenced division learns of an NSA intercept heading to the Polish embassy that reads something along the lines of: "{Polish Consular Official in LA}, our friend {Female Russian name whose initials in Cyrillic are the same as the Russian name of the GRU}, would like you to see if she can meet with Captain {Polish surname}. She is wondering if he'd give her a look at his little black book." It would have been further confirmed that the captain in question was a navy officer whose grandfather emigrated from Poland, whose father was an officer on the USS Arizona recently returned to duty after the birth of his son on December 7 1941, and who had recently left as the captain of a missile submarine to assume a cross-training assignment at Camp Pendleton.

The character's mission would be to locate any agents who were attempting to contact this person -- probably without running into or interfering with the simultaneous investigation into the captain which would be run by NIS and/or the more open parts of the FBI.

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