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Friday 13 January 2023

Spy-Fi Action II

It starts with a briefing in Edinburgh. The Caledonian Spy Group (CSG) of Scotland assigns a team of agents to investigate US Senator Jamal Campbell. The senator is ambitious and is on the campaign trail as part of his bid to be elected President of the United States, making large expenditures as part of the process. However, not all of the donations to his campaign appear to be legitimate, one appearing to be far more generous than its stated source would normally donate. The CSG wants to examine Senator Campell’s private financial records, verify the source of the donation, and obtain proof of that source. If the source of the donation and the senator’s finances can be proven to be legitimate, then there is no problem. If however, the source of the donation and his finances prove to be illegitimate, then there is possibility that the next President of the United States will have been corrupted and can be again. The Caledonian Spy Group want to prevent this from happening. The mission will take the agents to Hollywood where they will have to infiltrate a film studio followed by a mansion in the Hollywood hills at the height of a party, before breaking into the headquarters of a petrochemical company.

This is the set-up for The Spy Game: Mission Booklet 2 – Fuelish Endeavour, a mission or short scenario for The Spy Game: A Roleplaying Game of Action & Espionage. Published by Black Cat Gaming, this is the roleplaying game of cinematic Spy-Fi action set in the immediate future chases, subterfuge, high-tech equipment, and more, using the mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition, but eschewing some of the social attitudes and mores of the genre. The Spy Game: Mission Booklet 2 – Fuelish Endeavour comes with everything that the Game Master needs to run the scenario—plot, NPCs, floor plans, details of the equipment the Player Character agents will be issued with, staging advice, and suggestions as what happens the SOUL agents succeed at certain points rather than the Player Characters.

The Spy Game: Mission Booklet 2 – Fuelish Endeavour is easy to add to a campaign. Unlike the first scenario for the roleplaying game, The Spy Game: Mission Booklet 1 – Deadly Data, this is very much a standard sort of mission rather than one which can be dropped into a campaign between other missions. It emphasises infiltration, investigation, surveillance, counter-surveillance, electronics, and computer use as opposed to combat, although there is opportunity for that during the scenario. Designed for Player Characters of Fourth and Fifth Levels, in terms of character types, Classes from The Spy Game such as Face, Hacker, Infiltrator, and Technician will probably have lots of moments to shine in the scenario, but a Hacker and a Face will definitely be needed. Overall though, the scenario places a strong emphasis on roleplaying.

The nature of its plot and set-up means that The Spy Game: Mission Booklet 2 – Fuelish Endeavour is not as flexible as The Spy Game: Mission Booklet 1 – Deadly Data. The involvement of a US Senator, Hollywood, and the race for the Presidency all suggest that the scenario be run in a US election year, so 2024, 2028, 2032, and so on. That said, it could be adjusted to any country which is a republic and has film studios. For example, France and India would work just as well with some effort upon the part of the Game Master.  However, elements such as the agency that the Player Characters are agents of—here the entertainingly post BREXIT, post-Scottish Independence Caledonian Spy Group—can easily be changed, as the enemy organisations, and this is where the scenario is easiest to adapt to the Game Master’s campaign.

The Spy Game: Mission Booklet 2 – Fuelish Endeavour is divided into three acts, one act for each of the infiltrations—the Hollywood film lot, the Hollywood mansion, and the floors of the corporation. Each is accorded a map, plus various technical details which can often be extracted and sued elsewhere. These include an Espionage R.V., security cameras, non-lethal rounds, and the stats for various NPCs. The floorplans for the three locations are slightly too small small to be read with any ease and perhaps a little plain. Another issue is that none of the NPCs are illustrated, so ideally the Game Master should find and provide suitable images as part of her preparation.

Physically, The Spy Game: Mission Booklet 2 – Fuelish Endeavour is clean and tidy, and easy to read. Bar the front cover, it is not illustrated, but the scenario is short and boxes of supplementary text do break up the main text. The scenario comes with three sets of floorplans. Another issue with the scenario is that it is printed without a card cover, so although printed on good paper, it is not as sturdy as it could be.

The Spy Game: Mission Booklet 2 – Fuelish Endeavour is no shorter than the previous, The Spy Game: Mission Booklet 1 – Deadly Data, but it is much more complex and detailed, with very much less of an emphasis on action and combat. Its greater detail means that it needs careful preparation, but once done what The Spy Game: Mission Booklet 2 – Fuelish Endeavour offers is an excellent investigation and infiltration mission that encourages plenty of roleplaying too as the Player Characters go undercover again and again..

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