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Top Secret [TSR]


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3 hours ago, Spence said:

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....

 

A wiki is better , because:

1) things don't get lost in long threads.

2) we can have a page of goals and goal discussions

 

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  • 3 months later...

I loved Top Secret SI, and my group played the hell out of it. 

Sure, looking back on it, the rules were stunningly basic, but we managed to make it fun. What was also great about it was the amount of sourcebooks and adventures put out for it. There were rules for more special forces type missions (Commando), source books on realistic espionage, high tech gadgets and gear books, a box set with a whole setting and advanced rules on gambling and car racing/chases, a source book of what the bad guys master plans were (The Web) and their secret bases and operations around the world, plus some tie-in fiction novels, a couple of which were actually pretty good. 

 

And then there was the spin-off games, Agent-13 (pulp era adventuring like with special abilities and mystical stuff. so you could do stuff like Indian Jones or The Shadow and other cool pulp adventuring (plus one of the fiction novels for this was really good)) and then there was also FREELancers (set in the near future (now past) of the 2000's, where technology and mutations and the collapse of American government all came together. It was basically Shadowrun (minus the magic) before Shadowrun came out with a bit of Twilight 2000 thrown in. Super fun.)

 

My main group back then (mid 80's to late 90's) basically went from D&D, to Marvel/FASERIP, to Top Secret/SI, to Call of Cthulhu, to Shadowrun to WoD (Vampire mainly) then to Hero System, to Delta Green, with a few other games/systems thrown in there that never lasted for very long (Rifts, Robotech, Middle Earth, and many more I'm sure I'm forgetting) before everyone eventually ended up moving to different parts of the globe and the group broke up. 

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  • 2 months later...

I actually liked the TS/SI mechanics. You had percentile skills. You listed your base skill, then the 1/2 and 1/4 value of it (not sure if it went down to 1/8 or not) on your character sheet. So, no need for task modifier charts, just roll the half or quarter roll if the Admin called for it. The single roll to hit and damage worked well with the hit location chart. The combat in the games I was in seemed to be pretty high lethality. The modules were great, and I think the emphasis was more on RP. I think the bones of it could be adapted to a lot of different settings, since the rules mostly stayed out of the way. It and Marvel FASERIP were rules light before it was trendy.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was a Top Secret GM back in the 80s. Never really got to play because no one else was into spy-fi enough to be the GM (I was also reading Fleming, Le Carre, Deighton, etc. and watching a lot of spy stuff during that era). When SI came out, I was starting to find the system lacking and some players who were also into Champions pointed out the existence of Danger International (or maybe it was the ever-helpful owner of my FLGS) so I picked up a copy. That was my gateway drug to Hero and I subsequently started using an early edition of Fantasy Hero as my go-to fantasy game as well.

 

As for using TS stuff in DI, I don't really recall now. I owned a lot of the TS modules and other supplements, so I probably did. There was some good material for Top Secret that could be repurposed fairly easily. Oriental Express had some nice train floorplans and such. Operation Fastpass was a good, classic Cold War mission set in Budapest.

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I think the 80s were the last great spy era.  There's more spying going on now that never, domestically and internationally, but its mostly people sitting in cubicles gathering data and computers scanning social media these days.  Its not a great way to gather data (the operative on the ground in the area is always better than raw data gathering and analysis, as useful as that is), but that's the bulk of action today as I understand it.  The 80s was the era of actually being in the field, with little spy cameras, etc.

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3 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

I think the 80s were the last great spy era.  There's more spying going on now that never, domestically and internationally, but its mostly people sitting in cubicles gathering data and computers scanning social media these days.  Its not a great way to gather data (the operative on the ground in the area is always better than raw data gathering and analysis, as useful as that is), but that's the bulk of action today as I understand it.  The 80s was the era of actually being in the field, with little spy cameras, etc.

 

40's, 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's.  :winkgrin:

 

I really loved the great espionage games and especially running them.  I guess that is why I run so many games using GUMSHOE (Trail of Cthulhu, Fear Itself, Nights Black Agents, Fall of Delta Green) and Call of Cthulhu 7th (+Delta Green upped to 7th.  Yes they are Horror, but I use many of the same techniques to build the mystery that I used to build espionage.   NBA's is literally Espionage Horror. 

 

I don't run much in the here and now modern.  Besides fantasy, I run games from 1870's thru the 1970's with the occasional 1980's game and then skip to the future.   I was really disappointed when Shadowrun shifted from their game friendly and actually RPG playable technology and matrix to the a more "realistic" system that actually destroyed the game playability.   It sucked the "action adventure" right out of the setting.  Kind of like the real world.  Man your cubicles.  

 

 

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...
On 11/12/2020 at 9:50 PM, Christopher R Taylor said:

It has some nice background and setting stuff, lots of great ideas for play, but the game system was horrific.  All weapons did the same damage, they just had different chances to hit based on how powerful they were.  That's just one example.  I don't know anyone who actually played Top Secret, but a lot of people used it for source material and ideas.  For the time period its great info.

 

We played it for a short time but I purchased it in the store and at that time your RPG choices were fiveboxes of old Dungeons and Dragons in three levels each.  The Basic setting at that time Clerics did not start casting spells till 2nd level or AD&D 1st edition (the only one at the time), Traveller, Boot Hill and Champions 1st edition.  I don't think there was a Hero system yet.

 

The one interesting mechanic which worked 50/50 was the hand to hand combat system.  Essentially you chose an attack and a defense from a list of moves and the game system had a chart that told you the result.  I was in high school then so my ability to critique the system mechanics may have been lacking.

 

Dude, this is really old school!  They would chase you out of Gen Con just for having it, faster than they would a guy in a frog suit!

Edited by indy523
Fix language error
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On 9/24/2021 at 7:08 PM, Scott Ruggels said:

Apparently Top Secret: New World Order has different mechanics than Top Secret Classic. Watched a YouTube review about it and it was fairly positive. 

 

Yep.  I bought the PDF version and was all meh.

I would have loved to see the old TS SI cleaned up and modernized, but the new system didn't reach out and grab me. 

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