Good old Top Secret was the first “modern” RPG I ever played in. It was also one of the first RPGs I was actually a player for instead of the Game Master. As such, I remember it beyond “fondly”. It has a special place in my heart and in my game collection.
Top Secret was TSR’s espionage RPG. It saw a lot of support, and two vastly different editions of the game were released. The first edition was complex and had detailed minutia to track, and a huge series of articles and a few adventures published for it in Dragon magazine as well as a bunch of print modules and the “Top Secret Companion” to make the game vastly more complex to play.
On breaking the game back out to run in 2001, the only major problem I had with it was the rules for social interaction – everything else in the game still worked for me as it ever did.
And I break out the old percentile dice and start generating Agent Matthews. Like the character I did for Boot Hill earlier, this game just uses percentile rolls for stats, but for PCs the stats are modified, so if you roll lousy, you get to boost the roll. In fact, I suspect the adjustment table is the same as the one in Boot Hill… Also like Boot Hill the stats are rolled in order, I don’t get to play pick-and-choose to build an agent, I get to roll the dice and build an agent based on the die rolls. (I should note that as a completist, I’m using the rules from the 1st edition, 1st printing (although I prefer the second printing, I don’t have a physical copy of it anymore), revised and updated with material from the Top Secret Companion and several official articles in Dragon magazine).
Purely from the dice I find out not only the stats (strong, charming, very coordinated, not too knowledgeable and low on willpower), but that the agent is female, how tall she is, how heavy she is, what her build is based on these numbers and her strength (and how her build affects her stats), we get her handedness, her blood type, fingerprint, voice and retinal prints… it doesn’t seem to end. We randomly generate age & education, we learn she wears glasses (and can wear contact lenses), that she’s seen no military service, and is of the middle lower class. We get to determine the area of her scholastic education and her cover job (with a fairly high level in Political Science, she’s a politician – she’s working to help the lower class in her region as her cover, but this allows her to travel a lot and attend lectures and other events around the world as needed).
As a footnote, I decide she’s a first generation Russian immigrant to the United States who got her start in espionage after being approached by the agency because of her political travels and Russian background.
Finally, she gets $400 in starting funds from the agency, as well as $9 from her personal finances. (She doesn’t make a lot from her cover job, grossing about $3k per annum – further die rolls tell us that she pays 32% of that income in taxes, and 83% of the net income accounts for her living expenses meaning that she lives in a hole and eats ramen, I figure. This leaves her with a whopping disposable income of $346.80 per year – no wonder she’s working for the agency now!).
Character Name: Rosanna Tcheboukov
Aliases: Rosanne Behrer, Cindy Plum
Code Name: Rose Runner
Bureau: Confiscation – Logistics
Total Experience Points: 0
Weight: 135 lbs
Retinal Print: 4284366721
Voice Print: 199858863
Blood Type: O-
Vision: Glasses or Contacts, -21% Coordination
National Origin: Russian
Alignment: Authoritarian – Neutral – Neutral
Body Type: Mesomorph (-60 Deception, +60 HTH)
Social Status: Middle Lower Class
Cover: Politician (95% to be able to take leave for a mission while in cover)
Income: $3,000 gross, $346.80 disposable
Primary Personal Traits
Physical Strength: 91
Secondary Personal Traits
Shock Resistance: 36
Movement Value: 247
Life Level: 14
Tertiary Personal Traits
HTH Combat Value: 248
Surprise Value: 112
Russian | 87
English | 85
Areas of Knowledge
Agriculture | 72
Engineering – Aeronautical | 66
Engineering – Transportation | 103
Political Science / Ideology (Master’s Degree) | 121
All Others | 18
Beretta Model 1919 Bantam .25 ACP | Base Speed 117 | Base Accuracy 116 | Range +0 / -55 / -155 / X | ROF 1 | Mag 7 | Decp -4