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Top Secret [TSR]


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55 minutes ago, Spence said:

Of course some kind of campaign setting would help either of them along.

 

 

Well, we do have a campaign setting: Hudson City: The Urban Abyss .

 

Of course it may not be the kind of setting you have in mind. It's definitely on the "grim dark" side rather than "suave and sophisticated." OTOH even James Bond is a lot grittier than he used to be. Jason Bourne kind of infected him. ;)

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15 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

Well, we do have a campaign setting: Hudson City: The Urban Abyss .

 

Of course it may not be the kind of setting you have in mind. It's definitely on the "grim dark" side rather than "suave and sophisticated." OTOH even James Bond is a lot grittier than he used to be. Jason Bourne kind of infected him. ;)

 

My joke about the Bourne films is that there is a very secretive, federal level Department of Jason Bourne.  Because there are all these bureaucrats and technical staff and so on, whose sole purpose seems entirely to be keeping track of Jason Bourne.  

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18 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

My joke about the Bourne films is that there is a very secretive, federal level Department of Jason Bourne.  Because there are all these bureaucrats and technical staff and so on, whose sole purpose seems entirely to be keeping track of Jason Bourne.  

 

Honestly, given what Bourne has done and what he's capable of, I wouldn't consider that a joke.

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1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

Well, we do have a campaign setting: Hudson City: The Urban Abyss .

 

Of course it may not be the kind of setting you have in mind. It's definitely on the "grim dark" side rather than "suave and sophisticated." OTOH even James Bond is a lot grittier than he used to be. Jason Bourne kind of infected him. ;)

Not a Campaign Setting as the term is used in every other RPG line on the planet.  It is a location for a campaign. 

 

I have Hudson City (all versions including the map) and I routinely use it as a campaign location. 

 

Chapter 7 is actually dedicated to discussing how to create campaigns using the location.

 

I have said many times that Hudson City is one of the, if not the greatest RPG modern city location ever printed.   It is a location or even a setting.  But it is not, and never has been the elusive campaign setting that is wished for.

 

M&M's Emerald City is a Campaign Setting for M&M.

Location information....check

NPC and organizations in the location......check

Maps and diagrams for location.....sorta check

Campaign to run for players.....check

 

 

Hudson City

Location information....check

NPC and organizations in the location......check

Maps and diagrams for location.....check

Campaign to run for players........... tumbleweeds

 

 

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15 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Huh. I never felt that a "setting" had to lay out a full campaign for someone to follow, if it had everything I as GM need to build a campaign.

 

Oh I understand that.  Especially here amongst the Herodom.

 

But that doesn't change expectations when modern gamers buy product. Most, not all, but most are looking not only for the setting material, but something they can play with little or no prep in the tiny bit of free time they aren't working or adulting.

 

I know, I know. That line of thought is blasphemy here. :winkgrin:

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1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

But the only RPG settings I've seen that lay out a full campaign were built around that campaign, and that's pretty exceptional

Campaigns don't have to be multi year complete a degree between start and finish.  But the majority of the location books I have picked up in the last 2-3 years have had campaigns, from the short ones completed in a few sessions, to long one taking weeks.

 

Ones from places like WoTC still like to build campaigns with more rigidly built adventures, but there are many that follow a newer more modern approach.  In these each part/chapter contains all of the write ups and Information about all the participants (npc's, villains, creatures, etc.), all the more detailed location data if needed and any handouts and such.  Then they give the GM a brief on what is going on and any current plans the bad types may have plus any time lines or event interdependencies.  These are the best IMO because they have the GM freedom of the homebrew campaign with the low prep time/work of the pre-built.

 

But more to the point, HC is not a spy campaign anything.  It is a modern'ish city that is easy to use for games running from the 60s to 90s.  It can be easily tweaked for 2000s to present.  I have a copy of the fabulous full color Hudson City map that I modified by pulling out all the interstates and modern highways and replaced the interstates with rail lines.  I built it so I could run a 1935 Pulp game. 

 

Hmmmm....I guess I am wandering a bit.

 

Hudson City is a great city book. 

 

It can even be called a great setting. 

 

But there is nothing resembling a Campaign in its pages.

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Spence said:

Then they give the GM a brief on what is going on and any current plans the bad types may have plus any time lines or event interdependencies.

 

This presents a nice intersection of pure setting (ala gazetteers) and plot hooks. It is hard to imagine an interesting setting that doesn't have something epic brewing within it.

 

I like the Savage Worlds structure of the Plot Point Campaign: an over-arching epic plotline engulfing the entire setting. The core campaign setting book provides the major beats of the epic plotline with lots of suggestions for where GM-made adventures could be inserted. For GMs who don't have the time to do that, there are published adventures that have a plug-and-play relationship to the overall storyline. This structure gives you the best of both worlds: broad scale guidance on an epic crisis affecting the entire game world, with space created for GMs to fit their own adventures within it, along with pre-made adventure support for GMs who need that.

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47 minutes ago, zslane said:

 

This presents a nice intersection of pure setting (ala gazetteers) and plot hooks. It is hard to imagine an interesting setting that doesn't have something epic brewing within it.

 

I like the Savage Worlds structure of the Plot Point Campaign: an over-arching epic plotline engulfing the entire setting. The core campaign setting book provides the major beats of the epic plotline with lots of suggestions for where GM-made adventures could be inserted. For GMs who don't have the time to do that, there are published adventures that have a plug-and-play relationship to the overall storyline. This structure gives you the best of both worlds: broad scale guidance on an epic crisis affecting the entire game world, with space created for GMs to fit their own adventures within it, along with pre-made adventure support for GMs who need that.

Yes, the Plot Point books are perfect.  Enough to be able to play, but vague enough to allow the personal touch.

 

They make me wish I liked SW enough to enjoy playing it.

 

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If I were ever to write a campaign setting for the Hero System, I'd use the Plot Point Campaign structure. I think this structure can be adopted for any system, and I'd like to see it become the preferred approach for all future Hero System campaign settings, regardless of who authors them.

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Yeah, well I'm so over the bi-annual debate over how to best breathe (new) life into the game in the marketplace. These are issues that don't ever go away because nothing ever changes.

 

The only way to change it is to personally do something to make changes.  I mean, other than complain on message boards.

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1 hour ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

The only way to change it is to personally do something to make changes.

 

It will take the coordinated time, resources, and talent of a whole bunch of committed, invested, and qualified individuals to make any meaningful changes. History shows that such a collective does not exist.

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It will take the coordinated time, resources, and talent of a whole bunch of committed, invested, and qualified individuals to make any meaningful changes. History shows that such a collective does not exist.

 

History shows nothing of the sort, but certainly its even less likely if everyone throws up their hands and claims that its to haaarrrrd.  Its easier to complain online than to do something about a problem you see.  After a while one tends to draw the conclusion that what is desired is less a solution than just something to complain about.

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By history I refer to the years and years this subject has arisen while nothing substantive has been done to move the needle and make meaningful progress. The fact is that it is haaaaarrrd, and no amount of wishful thinking and aspirational platitudes is going the change that. All that has ever been done is talking about it. And that's because talking about it is all that anyone is prepared and capable of doing about it. What is required is beyond the means of this community, as has been demonstrated by years and years of zero progress.

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3 hours ago, zslane said:

By history I refer to the years and years this subject has arisen while nothing substantive has been done to move the needle and make meaningful progress. The fact is that it is haaaaarrrd, and no amount of wishful thinking and aspirational platitudes is going the change that. All that has ever been done is talking about it. And that's because talking about it is all that anyone is prepared and capable of doing about it. What is required is beyond the means of this community, as has been demonstrated by years and years of zero progress.

 

Some of us have made things and sold them.

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The fact is that it is haaaaarrrd, and no amount of wishful thinking and aspirational platitudes is going the change that. All that has ever been done is talking about it.

 

I've written and published over a half dozen books in several genres for Hero now, and have more on the way.  That's not wishing or talking.  And its something anyone who plays this game is capable of, if they truly want to have an impact.  The more attractive product on the "shelf" online, the more the game prospers and we all benefit.

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I did not play the original Top Secret, but I did own Top Secret / SI plus the green boxed set (high stakes something or other) and many of the supplements back in the day, and ran and also played it via a series of linked together one shots or bursts of sequential session in a loose sort of campaign with the main group I ran w/ in high school, interwoven amongst the handful of other rpgs we were playing back then. I don't remember a lot of details as it has been many years, but I do remember liking the percentile dice resolution, the vehicle cards, dossier style character sheets, and so on.

 

The ORION vs WEB metafiction was fun, and me and another gamer in the group had a good time coming up with colorful characters; the other person was into Bond and similar lighter spy fare while I was more into John le Carre type stuff, but between the two of us we somehow managed to find a workable middle ground. The other players weren't that into the spy genre per se, but liked the modern action / violence aspects of it. 

 

It definitely had an influence on my gaming style and preferences for gritty but cinematic modern action in rpgs, and I'm glad I got to experience it. 

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On 1/18/2021 at 11:14 AM, zslane said:

 

It will take the coordinated time, resources, and talent of a whole bunch of committed, invested, and qualified individuals to make any meaningful changes. History shows that such a collective does not exist.

 

On 1/18/2021 at 1:50 PM, zslane said:

By history I refer to the years and years this subject has arisen while nothing substantive has been done to move the needle and make meaningful progress. The fact is that it is haaaaarrrd, and no amount of wishful thinking and aspirational platitudes is going the change that. All that has ever been done is talking about it. And that's because talking about it is all that anyone is prepared and capable of doing about it. What is required is beyond the means of this community, as has been demonstrated by years and years of zero progress.

 

Yes and no. 

 

For most of the time the only option was work via a licensed product.  But to license a product requires one to make specific commitments with specific timelines.  The license may be very reasonable, but just what reasonable is was never actually put out there.  Not that there is any reason to expect that, but unless you were in the industry or had a copious amount of free time and the ability to lose your licensing fee on a test, you were not going to do anything.

 

Now is completely different with the advent of the creative commons. 

 

I am personally working on something myself.

Not an excuse, but I work full time and am single.  That means I work plus my commute of an hour each way and then have to do all the adulting stuff.

 

Does that make me special?  Nope, I'm guessing most people on this board have their version of the same thing.

 

What is does mean is I do not have hours upon hours to work on a gaming product.

 

On 1/18/2021 at 3:06 PM, dmjalund said:

Why don't we create a wiki where we can first discuss what to include, then create documents of pages/sections, and finally create the book?

 

The open collaborative has been tried. 

Here on this forum. 

 

I followed along a bit and had planned to see if anything came up I could realistically help with.  The things slewed.  Too many people were trying to use the project for personal agendas instead of simply a game intro.  

 

So I backed away slowly and carefully like a deer trying not to provoke an attack from wolves....

 

 

 

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Top Secret's book has useful bits for spy games set in the time period, so its worth having even if the game rules themselves are a bit of a hash.  I have lots of old games for those reasons: hey this is a neat idea!  I'd never play DragonQuest from SPI but the game has tons of great ideas in it (so did their Universe sci fi game).

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