Agent 25 Lives!


Deep inside what looks to be a concrete bunker, the evil mastermind Dr. Trask gloats over the restrained form of Agent 25. "I'm so sorry you won't be able to see my fireworks Agent 25. I can assure you they will be quite spectacular."

Deep inside what looks to be a concrete bunker, the evil mastermind Dr. Trask gloats over the restrained form of Agent 25. "I'm so sorry you won't be able to see my fireworks Agent 25. I can assure you they will be quite spectacular."

"I hope it won't hurt your feelings if I turn up fashionably late? I so hate to miss a fireworks show."

"Cocky as ever Agent 25. Perhaps I'll ask Vlad to bring your corpse up to the fireworks. I would so hate to pass up the chance to gloat over your bad luck. Vlad, take care of Agent 25 for me." Dr. Trask stalks out of the room as a hulking figure steps from the shadows to confront the restrained agent.

According to espionage fiction conventions, we all know Agent 25 will now pull off a dramatic escape, possibly killing Vlad, and put a stop to the plans of Dr. Trask. Pretty formulaic, don't you think?

Formulaic or no, we can't seem to get enough of espionage stories. The James Bond franchise just celebrated its 25th or so anniversary. Mike Meyers has made millions off of his Austin Powers spoofs. That's where the Spycraft RPG comes in.

To the best of my knowledge, the first espionage role-playing game was TSR's Top Secret; a game I spent more than a few hours playing in my youth. Over the years a selection of espionage-themed RPGs have found their way into many of our gaming libraries. The one problem I always had with these different games was the systems they used. Either the system was yet one more percentile-based rules set or the rules were completely different from any other game being played by your group.

In my opinion Spycraft from AEG steps out with their right foot forward by using the d20 system for their game. This game has been designed to evoke all of the fun of your favorite Bond or Flint story.

Character generation is analogous to Dungeons and Dragons, of course, but there are some different twists. Since all of the characters will be human in the game, you are asked to choose a department for your character. The department represents where in the intelligence community your character comes from. This choice provides ability score adjustments as well as bonus feats, skill bonuses and enhancements to your budget. It could also be a nifty way for some friendly rivalries to be developed as agents from the home office try to out do agents from other departments.

The most impressive part of the game to me is the budget system. Considering the high-class world all of your characters will be maneuvering through, it's just not worth the hassle of keeping track of money. Each character has a personal budget with which to buy their gear. This represents the gear the character actually owns. At the beginning of each mission, the agency will assign a budget. From this the party equips themselves for a mission. The equipment requisitioned at the beginning of a mission is returned to the agency at the conclusion of the mission.

Spycraft also has gadget points. The gadget points are assigned at the beginning of each mission and represent how many toys the party can sneak out of R&D at that time. Finally, there are field expenses. This is really the only time money is used in the game. The field expense budget represents the amount of cash/credit the agency entrusts to each agent at the beginning of the mission. This money is used for the day-to-day expenses a jet-setting secret agent has to incur when on the job. If your mission has the gadget points available, you too can have a sports car that turns into a submarine or plane.

Spycraft has six character classes. Each of the class uses a different attribute score as a primary basis. The Faceman is a confidence man and master of disguise. The Fixer has what the characters needs. If she doesn't have it, she can get it. The Pointman helps out the party wherever he is most needed. The Snoop finds the information for the group. The Snoop uses many of the same skills a hacker would, but that's not all the Snoop is. The Soldier is the anchor of the party with the obvious set of abilities and skills. The final character class is Wheelman. The Wheelman helps out in a fight and can drive anything.

In the spirit of playing super-spies, characters gain at least one special ability per level. The Pointman at 2nd level gains the special ability Assistance. This allows the Pointman to reduce the amount of time it takes one of her team to use one of their class abilities or skills. At first level the Snoop can never completely fail a Search or Spot check unless a 1 is rolled. At 14th level a Wheelman can force a vehicle to completely ignore the laws of physics.

Spycraft has a wonderful way for handling languages. Keeping in mind the PCs are all "International Men and Women of Mystery", they should be able to speak at least a handful of languages. Unfortunately, actually taking that many languages at character creation generally isn't possible. In Spycraft whenever a character encounters a language he doesn't already know and hasn't encountered in game, the character makes a "language check". If the character beats the DC, the character "just happens" to have known the language all along.

The Feats are pretty standard. There are a number of new feats that help express the savoir-faire of an international spy. The Style Feats are some of the more interesting looking feats. Feats such as Card Shark, Filthy Rich, Five Star Service, etc. Five Star Service gives the character a standing account with the world's foremost hotels, casinos and airlines. The character is never refused at any of these establishments and can use these establishments without spending any budget or personal cash. In game, this means these businesses will front the character $50,000 plus or minus $5,000 times the character's Charisma modifier. Sure beats spending the night in an inn's common room.

When gearing up for a mission, the party has all of the nifty toys a spy could ask for. Poison-filled business cards are one of my favorite items. Your character can also get flame-thrower cigarettes and custom made, kevlar-lined tuxedoes.

Spycraft uses the vitality system first seen in Star Wars d20. Attacks of opportunity have also been done away with in Spycraft. Along with critical threat ranges, Spycraft also has a critical failure threat range. It stands to reason if your character is able to do things that break the laws of physics; the character's mistakes should be just as stupendous. Each character also has a number of Action Dice. The Action Dice are used to help the character beat the odds. Action Dice are also used to activate special abilities, force NPCs into critical failures, heal damage and other effects in game.

I have to say that I am looking forward to playing my first game of Spycraft. Spycraft really seems to keep the spirit of the James Bond movies. Everything in the rules is designed to give the characters as many of the toys and advantages a movie spy should have. The villains have just as many toys as well and should prove to be a challenge worthy of the characters. At this point I'm eagerly awaiting some Christmas checks to show up from my family so I can go out and buy the equipment book AEG has out for Spycraft.

I didn't have any reference materials with me when I wrote this, so let me correct it now. The Bond franchise has been around for 40 years. Sorry about that.