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9/16/2019 12:42 pm  #1

EYES ONLY: espionage action with Everywhen

The last espionage game I ran (a few years ago now) was a mishmash of BoL, Blades in the Dark, and Classic Traveller rules.  My current Everywhen "not-Traveller" game has taken an espionage twist, so I find myself again asking: "how can I hack Everywhen into the espionage RPG of my dreams?"

Thankfully, the answer is that it's already mostly-there.  In addition to the tweaking of careers/specializations, traits, etc., I find myself thinking about stuff like cover identities and asset networks.  Borrowing ideas from DoW, Night's Black Agents, and Blades in the Dark, I've been tinkering with this:

Prior to the start of each mission, each Agent gets a number of Mission Points which he/she immediately allocate among three areas: Cover, Network, and Logistics.  During the mission, MPs can be spent at appropriate times for specific effects.  At the end of the mission, unused MPs are discarded.

Cover: The depth and breadth of a character's operational cover/legend.  Spend 1 point to negate a Suspicion clock advancement (I.e. when you do or say something that endangers your cover)

Network: The informal web of contacts, informants, allies, etc. known to an Agent.  Spend 1 point to have a specific contact in the region/city where you're operating ("I worked with this guy years ago, I'll look him up")

Logistics: The intuition, care, and foresight with which the Agent prepared for the mission.  Spend 1 point to describe a preparation you made beforehand (which may require additional roleplaying to determine the effectiveness of said preparation) or piece of specialized spy equipment you happened to bring along. 

I don't know yet how many MPs should be assigned per character per mission. 

Any thoughts or suggestions?

(edited for formatting)

Last edited by gnombient (9/17/2019 5:49 am)


9/17/2019 6:34 am  #2

Re: EYES ONLY: espionage action with Everywhen

Gnombient asked – “When you ran your 60s spy game, what did you use for careers/specializations?  The list from DoW?  I'm tinkering with specializations (among other things) for an Everywhen espionage game, curious to see what you did.  Did you come up with any other houserules for spy stuff?”

The game was based on the recent Man From UNCLE film, rather than the campy 1960s TV show, which meant that it was designed and played like a Connery era Bond film or one of the original Bond novels (just like the Guy Richie film). So my chargen tried to reflect this.

First of all the player assigned points to Attributes and Combat Abilities in the usual way. Then it’s time to look at Careers and Specializations.I did use most (but not all) of the Specializations from DoW but each agent also had 2 Careers – this was to reflect the 1960s superspy vibe of highly skilled secret agents, rather than the more soldier/mercenary PCs of DoW.

Each PC had 2 Careers. The Primary Career is always Secret Agent, and the player adds points to this. Their Secondary Career is their cover career – usually something that allows foreign travel, like journalist, businessman, lecturer, etc. They are given 1 point in this cover career free of charge, and never add to it after. This gives them enough knowledge to successfully pass themselves off as being someone employed in the profession that is their cover. Also, they know enough to actually get a paying job in this field, albeit at a low level.The Secret Agent Career covers their basic training and tradecraft. A PC can try to attempt things covered by Specializations using this career, but at a higher difficulty that someone trained in a the appropriate Specialization (GM Fiat).The player then picks one Secret Agent Boon (Boons particularly relevant to the intelligence profession).

Secret Agent Boons
Born Behind The Wheel: Your character can make vehicles perform outrageous manoeuvres, such as in car chases, even while being shot at. Pick a single type of land vehicle and add a bonus die to driving checks when driving that vehicle.

Forensics: Your character is trained in forensic science and you get a bonus die when your character is examining a crime scene, or evidence from a crime. 

Gun Specialist: Pick a type of firearm (handgun, shotgun, machine pistol, sniper rifle or assault rifle). When your character is using this type of weapon, you receive a bonus die.

Notice: Your character has a keen sense of awareness and is extremely observant. You receive a bonus die to checks to spot clues, ambushes or hidden people and things.

Researcher: Your character is good at sifting through the library, or other records to find out specific pieces of information, where they might be available through such channels. The only main hindrance is the length of time this can sometimes take. You receive a bonus die to such checks.

Stealthy: Your character is skilled in commando-style techniques. You receive a bonus die to hiding and silent movement.

The Player then chooses 3 Secret Agent Specializations. I dropped businessman, politician and criminal, and renamed Flyboy to Eagle, Sneak to Ghost, and Wheelman to Wheels. The full list was:
Cleaners are experts in police procedures. They are skilled at removing all traces that the team has been in a location or all signs of a crime. If needs be, they are skilled at removing evidence or planting false evidence to implicate other parties and throw the scent off themselves. Cleaners are particularly good at disposing of dead bodies. They need a good mind. A high agility is also quite handy.
The Eagle is an expert pilot in all types of flying machine; helicopters, airplanes, jet fighters and even hot air balloons. If it is airborne, the Eagle can fly it. They can make simple field repairs to aircraft and they are also skilled parachutists and skydivers. Mind and agility are the most important attributes to these agents.  

A Face is a master of diplomacy and disguise. They are trained for infiltration and sting operations and they are skilled negotiators. They are talented confidence men, masters of the quick bluff as well as the elaborate ruse. Any attempts to fast talk, persuade, seduce and impersonate are part and parcel of the specialization. A Face requires a decent level of appeal and a high mind is a handy secondary attribute. A Face can speak an additional language for every rank they have. They can even understand the gist of what is being said or bluff speaking languages they don’t know with a successful check.

The fixer is the team’s streetwise dealer and procurement expert. In any town or city they either know where to find the black market traders and how to contact and do business with them, or can find out fast; even if they don’t understand the local language. If the team need something illegal and fast, the fixer is the one they turn to.

The ghost is the stealth and silent movement expert; skilled in moving quietly and remaining unseen by use of any available cover and keeping to the shadows. They are good at shadowing and tailing targets on foot, and if also a ‘Wheels’ they can do the same while driving. The ghost an expert at breaking and entering; locks and safes are his forte. The ghost can steal anything that isn’t nailed down and when caught can escape from almost any bonds or cell. The ghost requires a good agility and a high mind is also quite handy.

The sapper is a demolitions and bomb disposal expert, and can plant explosive devices as well as defuse them. They can also create improvised explosive and incendiary devices, and engineer booby traps. The sapper favours Mind, Agility and Strength, in that order.

The sleuth is an expert in forensic sciences and is a master of gathering information by good old-fashioned methods of searching crime scenes for clues and analysing the facts and the physical evidence. The sleuth favours mind over the other attributes although some appeal can be handy for questioning witnesses and suspects. They make good interrogators.

Snipers are experts at killing individual targets, at a range, from a place of concealment. Provided the marksman has an appropriate weapon (single shot "sniper" rifle) and is firing from a place of concealment, they can pick out an individual target and hit it with deadly accuracy. Snipers use their rank in the specialization to reduce range penalties and can add their rank to the damage from a successful. This is a limited specialization, but sometimes extremely useful.

The snoop is the team communications and surveillance expert, with a particular interest in electronic counter-measures. They are an expert at encryption and computers and gathering, decoding and analysing data.  The snoop’s primary attribute is their Mind.

The Squid is the “Eagle of the sea”. Their area of mastery is in water environments, whether that is on or under rivers, lakes or the sea. The squid is an expert diver, trained to use scuba and deep-sea diving equipment. They are also skilled in the use of mini-subs as well as surface watercraft. They can maintain and perform simple repairs to all relevant equipment and craft.

The Wheels is the team’s transport ace and getaway driver. They are a master of land transport; cars, trucks, tanks and motorcycles are all part of their package of expertise. The Wheels is also a useful motor mechanic – if it has an engine and wheels, they can keep it running smoothly. Agility is the Wheels most important attribute, but Mind is a close second. 

After picking Careers and Specialisms the players distributes 4 points among their Primary Career of Secret Agent and their 3 Specialisations.

The player now has the option to choose a second Boon from Secret Agent Boons List, at the cost of taking a Flaw, or of losing one Hero Point [permanently]. They also have the option to choose a third Boon from the General Boons List, at the cost of taking a Flaw, or of losing another Hero Point [permanently].

NB: The General Boons List was cobbled together from the various Boons Lists available – I selected those that I thought best fitted the 1960s spy genre. The Dicey Tales Boons and Flaws was quite useful, I seem to recall.

Note that some Boons touch on areas covered by Specialities: ‘Born Behind The Wheel’ gives a bonus die to dangerous driving rolls, which is close to the Specialization ‘Wheels’. However, the Boon is narrower in scope, as it only applies to one vehicle. A Wheels can pick this Boon to be even more skilled. An Agent without the Wheels specialization can pick it to gain a limited advantage (this represents some degree of cross-training).

Finally the player then determines languages - the number of extra languages is equal to their Mind value and if they take the Linguist Boon, they can speak/read and write 3 other languages. Also an agent who is a ‘Face’ can speak an extra language for every point of Mind. A PC can end up knowing a lot of languages, but that does fit the original source material.

The only house rule I added was that Martial Artists when Karate chopping someone could declare that the damage could be either brawling (to knock someone out) or fatal (to kill).

I hope this proves useful, if only to show you how not to do it!!!  

Last edited by Gruntfuttock (9/17/2019 6:43 am)

My real name is Steve Hall

9/17/2019 7:44 am  #3

Re: EYES ONLY: espionage action with Everywhen

Wow, thanks!  Your write-up is very helpful.  I really like the way you added the civilian career as part of their cover.  Let me digest all this and I'll post again soon.

     Thread Starter

9/17/2019 9:59 am  #4

Re: EYES ONLY: espionage action with Everywhen

My agents had cover careers of Architect (the MI6 spy) and Art Historian (the KGB spy)! For travel the Russian could use the cover of cultural exchanges and research, and the English agent reasoned that architect was a fairly international job. I was also generous and allowed him to use architect as a way to figure out where to put the explosives when blowing up a house. The Russian took a new career of Sapper at the end of the game, so they have some proper expertise in this area.

My real name is Steve Hall

11/14/2019 6:45 pm  #5

Re: EYES ONLY: espionage action with Everywhen

Thanks for all the info.

Where's my axe?

11/18/2019 11:22 am  #6

Re: EYES ONLY: espionage action with Everywhen

Some terrific info in this thread. Thanks to gnombient and Gruntfuttock for sharing with the rest of us.

Wealth can be wonderful, but you know, success can test one's mettle as surely as the strongest adversary.

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