[Home]SpyCraft

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Extremely quickie review of this RPG:  Long on system, incredibly short on background.  Big long list of Stuff though, which may just be a saving grace.  Very little that will be of use to an experienced GM? who has already watched JamesBond movies until their screen melted.  --Vitenka

Slightly more in depth.
There's a metric buttload of combat rules - it's almost a tactical wargame in scope there.  It has overwatch for crying out loud.  Overwatch in DnD?.  My brain hurts.  Three different systems for falling unconcious is not a good thing.

As to the superspies part.  There's a big list of gadgets (I find it somewhat amusing that the default for a watch is to have a laser built in) and a list of low power feats.  There's very little to actually encourage heroics, which is a shame.

The system does share both the good points of StarWars (the D20 RPG) - it has fate points and vitality - which may help you to survive heroics.  The rest of the system does not.

There is a bit of help designing criminal materminds, and a few samples.  Of these, one is fairly useful and the others are mostly stats.  The 'claim that your enemies have stolen a spy sattelite' bad-guy is actually pretty well realised.

The advice on character creation seems good, and they make a valiant attempt to add backgrounds to the system.  But they hinge it on experience points, and as far as I can tell your best hope is that the GM? forgets about them so that you can cash them in.  This isn't exactly the desired result.

The list of skills is big and useful.  The actual implementation of the skills seems slightly flaky.

There are car chase rules.  This is, apparantly, a big selling point.  As is their adversarial nature.

And that's it.  No super bases, no description of sample locations, no evil plot generator - pretty much nothing that is actually useful unless you are unable to come up with your own rules and you are dead set on using the D20 system.

Glad I didn't waste money on it. Any recommendations for spy systems then?  --PlasmonPerson
I'd suggest Ninjas-and-superspies (palladium) if they still make that.  The only thing I can remember about it was an insanely funny vehicle creation system.  Otherwise, no.  I'm still on the lookout for something for seaslip.  --Vitenka
Unisystem? Heavily tweaked? --Requiem
Oh, a system isn't a problem.  I wanted a book full of nifty ideas that work in a game.  (The 'in a game' bit is what makes this hard, otherwise just read JohnLeCarre?)  I'm leaning heavily in favour of the Matrix Rpg system.  --Vitenka  (That's my main problem with SpyCraft, actually - the whole damn book is system.  Pointless, useless STUPID system.  Innapropriate to the genre system.  With classes.  And levels.  And other things paleontologists had thought existed only in the fossil record, until D20 arrived.)
*thinks* Hmm. It's really an under-explored part of the genre, now I come to consider it. Perhaps we need a collaborative spy resource project on CURSWiki. --Requiem
Sounds good, I can contribute chunks form S1 of Seaslip.  --Vitenka (S2... not so much)
Okay: CURSWiki: SpyWorks now exists. I'll write something for it later. --Requiem

Which reminds me.  It cost 25 quid.  There's a very very short section about different campaign types which reminded me of the existence of GetSmart?.  So it was almost worth it :)  They even make passing reference in the gadget section, with the 'shoe' container.  (Gadgets are built from a container and then you add features - various containers have room for different features.)  Anyway - it had 'phone' "Shoes used to be a common container for cellular phonesthough this has fallen out of favour recently."  --Vitenka


AlexChurchill's first thought on seeing the name was an RTS by analogy with StarCraft and WarCraft: presumably you set your worker units "Clerks" to work harvesting the basic resources, Money and Information, and then create buildings which can build varying types of spy and infiltration unit. Spies can engage other spies in duels of wits, technology or combat skill; surveillance units are completely vital but need careful assessment of the concealment techniques your opponent's likely to use; ancillary buildings let you upgrade your spies' Trenchcoats; and so on... What do people think, any potential? ;) --AlexChurchill
Well, I'd play it ^_^ --Requiem
This remind me of Jumlians 'research lab' game, based on DungeonKeeper.  --Vitenka
SpyCraft is a computer game already; it was an adventure, and by all accounts I've ever seen a damn good spy thriller. It just about avoided being called an interactive movie; probably due to having former CIA and KGB agents in the design team. Possibly some realism there then. --StuartFraser
Well, if you're gonna bring that up then I'm going to mention that there's a CCG of it out now (which seems to have stolen mechanics from OverTheEdge) and then run away to the joyous sound of breaking minds.  --Vitenka

Whilst my code flashes, let's do a slightly less biased overview of the book.

There is a pretty good 'what is roleplaying' section, which details such practicalities as 'find a room where you won't be disturbed for several hours'.
There is a short bit enthusing the players that spies do not go public.  Spies are sneaky.  The rest of the book emphasises grenades and RocketLaunchers? and cars that turn into submarines.  There's two ideas here - one is JohnLeCarre? and one is JamesBond and they clash.  This being D20, violence wins.

There's three pages suggesting an outline of an organisation.  Not making it specific to one spy group is a nice thing - but a few more examples would be kinda the RaisonDetre? of the book.  Hmmm.. GURPS BlackOps? had a good list.
Then there's character classes.  Straight out of ShadowRun, for some unknown reason.  (Slicer, Solo, Wheels...)

Skills and skill rules, decent but not good.  Very odd that you have to use a fate point to turn a critical into an actual critical rather than just a good roll.

Feats.  Decent enough list, but horribly organised.  Not used to rebalance guns and melee - melee is discouraged.

Six pages on 'bringing your character to life' - most of which is a list of backgrounds.  Very poor.  No sample agents.  No sample 'this is good for the game' or GM hints.

Combat rules and equipment then take up over a hundred pages.  Most of the equipment is dull, and a GunBunny? won't be happy with the description of 'a rifle is a rifle' - though they may like the tables.  No description of most of the guns, so you're left to guess.  The gadgets are mostly fairly tame too.

Finally the GM? section - sixty odd pages, for some reason the rules for casinos are here.  It does have decent advice on 'how difficult is difficult' and on when to use (and not to use) bonus dice for the enemies.  (Pacing, basically)

It then describes three types of campaign and pretty much leaves you hanging with three sample enemy groups.  No prebuilt adventure - though there is a 'build your own' with 'decide what their motive really is' kind of stuff.
Oddly, this uses game mechanics - make morale checks for the henchmen when they discover this betrayal etc.  Very strange.

It does have an index, so there's a saving grace.  Lots of the stuff doesn't work unless you also swallow the rules, so there's a big problem.



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