Posts Tagged ‘Top Secret’

Top Secret, review

Posted: February 4, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Just some wrapup notes for the top Secret mission…

The game still works.  It was still a lot of fun despite it’s Cold War roots being in long out of date.  I have yet to revisit the original mission that came with the boxed set, which was extremely Cold War in it’s setting, but it could always be run as a retro piece.

The biggest thing I find the system is missing is a trait or ability for spotting hidden things.  There’s no “make a perception roll”, because there is no perception trait.  That was a big failing for it even in 1980 because half of the spy game is seeing things others miss.  I guess it’s intended more as a player perception rather than character perception, up to the player to ask “is he sweating unduely?” rather than does the character spot it.

Top Secret has a strange history of intersecting with the reality of espionage and terrorism.  When the original game was being playtested, notes on TSR letterhead were found about a kidnap plot, and the FBI was alerted.  They visited the company’s offices to investigate!  The module I played, TS-003, had the cruise ship MS Corona highjacked by terrorists in 1982.  The deck plans for the ship in the game are based on the MS Achille Lauro, a ship that really was highjacked by terrorists in 1985!

As for the scenario in the module, I think it still works well.  It’s a tense and challenging game, and I’d love to run it with players sometime, especially in the “tournament” fashion for which it was designed.  For the modern day, however, I think I’d move it to the Carribbean and have the target city as Miami.  And to add tension, I’d have a limit that once the ship crosses the 50 mile limit, the US Navy will sink her with torpedos unless agents have sent the all clear.  Just a little something to up the tesnion for them.  And as for the doctor with his Aqua Staph jars, I’d say he boarded in Miami and was intending to jump ship once they reached made a port call at the right banana republic.

I’ll happily pull this game out again in the future.  I’d forgotten how much fun it can be.  There’s a small community of fans out there still playing and still enjoying this long out of print game.  The one thing to remember though, is that this isn’t (despite all the packaging) a James Bond type game.  It’s far to “gritty” or “realistic” for that.  It’s very straightforward in it’s presentation, not cinematic at all.

But like I said…fun and I’ll definately play it again.


Lady in Distress (part 4)

Posted: February 2, 2010 in Modern, RPG, Solo
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Last time, the agents had been questioning the rescued hostages, when they were interrupted by the sound of automatic gunfire…

The passengers and crew all duck down while Proulx kills the lights.  As may have been predicted, Maggie the cruise director starts screaming.  It takes Drake a few seconds to get to her and shut her up again, but this time Isadore heard them.

Proulx opens the door a crack and looks out into the darkened dining room.  He creeps out carefully and puts some distance between the galley and himself, all the while crouching down between the chairs.


Last time the agents had taken out one of the hostage holders, and burst in on the other…

The shouting starts.

Biggs: Freeze, drop it, drop it now.
Drake: Down, down on the floor, everyone down.
Benito (Terrorist): Back off, I’ll shoot, I’ll shoot. (while pointing his shotgun at the hostages)


Picking up where we left off, Drake had just rescued the ship’s doctor from a terrorist who was holding her hostage and forcing her to work on a patient.

The doctor quickly explains that she’s been held here for several hours since the ship was taken by the terrorists.  The patient on the table is also a terrorist who was injured during the takeover by one of the crewmen (he used a fire axe).  He won’t be waking up anytime soon but likely won’t die either.  Drake zip ties him to the bed and questions the doctor on what she knows about the virus.  Unfortunately she knows nothing.  She does reveal, however, that the terrorists have herded the remaining crew  and passengers into the private dining room off the main dining room and have them there under guard.  The doctor does not know if Dr Salcedo is among them.


Lady in Distress (part 1)

Posted: January 19, 2010 in Modern, RPG, Solo
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So this is my shot at running through the Top Secret module TS-003 “Lady In Distress”.  I set out to run virtual players through as the GM.  In the end (or rather from the beginning really) I sort of half played, half GMed.  And you know what?  It was awesome!  I was able to seperate my GM knowledge from my character knowledge and somehow it worked.  And with key questions, I just referred back to Mythic.  It was lots of fun.  I’m not sure how it would work for something that wasn’t a dungeon crawl with pistols, but I’m very tempted to find out!

Here now, the Lady In Distress:


Top Secret

Posted: January 16, 2010 in Character, Modern, RPG
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Moni has me thinking (on a few topics).  First and foremost, I’m reformulating my Mars game to include Jax as a PC.  I’ve come to really like her and her concept, so she’s getting her own starring role.

The second is from Moni’s post on using Mythic for player emulation and running canned modules.  I asked on one of those posts about how it would work with a more plot driven scenario, because I had a specific module in mind.  But on looking again at the module, I realized that it’s just a dungeon crawl on ship-board.