While I was growing up, all of my gaming buddies had Dungeons and Dragons books because that is what we primarily played. However a few games showed up in my friend’s collections such as Top Secret or Star Frontiers. I’m not certain why we never played these games. I know I looked through their books when I had the chance, but we were content to swinging swords and slinging spells. A few years ago at a gaming convention swap meet I was able to pick up a boxed set of the first Top Secret game and it has been sitting on my game shelf asking to be opened and played. While I may not have any games right now, I figured for the Character Creation Challenge, I would pretend that it’s the 80’s and my friends are making characters for our first espionage campaign.
For the first two entries in this challenge (Basic Dungeons and Dragons and Star Trek The Role Playing Game) I went into a lot of detail as I was creating the character. For this entry I’m going to read the rules and follow them in the character creation process. If anything odd or unusual stands out, I’ll note it in this entry. This should hopefully shorten the time in creating the blog post. But as you’ve probably noticed, I tend to ramble.
I’m going to be creating secret agent Gary King (bonus points if you can tell me what movie that name came from) a newly promoted spy for UNITY. In 1967, UNITY suffered some major losses resulting in a large number of field agents being killed. While the perpetrators were thwarted, new operatives were needed to replenish the ranks. Gary King (and other characters I’ll create in future Character Creation Challenges) are the new crop of agents being sent out on assignment. This scenario was inspired by the No One Lives Forever series of video games.
So it looks like this game uses a percentile system. The how to use the dice introduction seemed a little overboard, but probably assumes that players in the 80’s had mostly 20-sided die instead of two 10-siders. The primary personal traits are Physical Strength, Charm, Willpower, Courage, Knowledge and Coordination. To make the characters heroic enough for a spy game, there is a chart that adds a bonus to low rolls. No character will have a primary trait lower than 26. There are also a set of secondary traits that are determined by the primary traits. These secondary traits are Offense, Deception, Evasion Deactivation, Movement Value and Life Level. There is even a pair of tertiary personal traits for Hand-to-Hand Combat Value and a Surprise Value. These are generated by a combination of primary and secondary traits. The RAW do not tell me if I roll the stats in order or just roll them and then pick which trait they go to. So I’ll roll them in order and take what comes up.
The final results for traits are as follows. Primary- Physical Strength: 95, Charm: 64, Willpower: 88, Courage: 72, Knowledge 79, Coordination: 78. Secondary- Offense: 75, Deception: 68, Evasion: 71, Deactivation: 79, Movement Value: 261, Life Level: 18. Tertiary- Hand-to-Hand: 166, Surprise: 139.
I’ve got the opportunity to roll some of the ‘flesh out’ characteristics. This is what I rolled or elected. 32 year old Caucasian male from England, Height: 5’11”, Weight: 180 lbs, Right-handed who does not need glasses. Known languages include English (native): 85, Czech: 78, Polish: 76, Russian: 49 and German: 40. I selected these languages because I decided that Agent King would be a specialist in Warsaw Pact countries, specifically Eastern Europe.
Areas of Knowledge (randomly rolled) include Military Science/Weaponry: 119, Social Sciences: 82, Physics: 102, Economics/Finance: 123, Architecture: 87, Engineering-Aeronautical: 117, Photography: 86, Metallurgy: 100.
So the Bureau Classification sounds like the classes in D&D. There are three of them, Investigation, Confiscation and Assassination. There are levels, designations and experience points necessary. But no description of how these classifications come into game play. You can only select one (no multi-classing) and if you move from one bureau to another you drop back down to 1st level?!? Other than the number of experience points needed to move up in level, I don’t see any difference in the three bureaus. So I selected Investigation. It seems like a section of the rules are missing from this area. I don’t have any erratas so I’m wondering if I’m missing something.
Next I equipped Agent King. RAW states that your character has your clothes and $400 to spend on equipment. In the rule book the cheapest handgun (a mainstay for most spies seen in movies and television) is $265. So I purchased it and a few other basic items I figured that an agent would need with the money left over. The rule book kind of dumps you from the character creation section into the sparsely detailed equipment section. Had I been running a Top Secret game I could see myself making a few house rules and homebrew additions to the game. There are sections on the character sheet that were for additional items like residence, cover, history, friends, contact, enemies, etc. Since there were no details in the rule book I assume it would have had to be worked out between the player and the administrator. Here is the mostly filled out two-sided character sheet.
I wonder how the gameplay was for this system. With how the character creation rules were documented, I’m sure there were some areas that were covered by the Administrator rulings. But a lot of the earlier TSR games were this way, which was both good and bad.
The blog entry is still a little long, but I think this entry was a little bit smoother than yesterday’s.
I’m still getting a lot of feedback from players uploading their own character submissions. And the question of, what should I do if I didn’t start on the first. Some have told me they plan to post more than one character to catch up. Others have decided to just start now and continue with the fun. A few more links have been added to the Character Creation Challenge page. If you know of any more message boards or blogs, please let me know at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com.
Coming Up Next:
Basic Fantasy RPG