Things really do last forever on the internet. My original website from decade or more ago is long gone. I still have the content on that site (a few miscellaneous blog posts, old games), but no way to maintain the site. Despite it being lost in the wilderness of the internet, people have found those old games, some of which have made it to this site, updated and improved for gaming now. Others are so old-fashioned they’re not really worth a revisit.
Agents & Assassins was written for the 4C role playing game, a variant of the legendary Marvel Super Heroes RPG by TSR way back in the 1980s, known affectionately as the FASERIP system, after the attributes used by characters.
I have the yellow basic set in a taped-up box, and the game is actually still alive online. Agents & Assassins goes a little lower-powered, for action heroes like Jack Bauer and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (now you know exactly when I wrote it). There doesn’t seem to be an official TSR book for characters like that, though I’m sure Nick Fury and SHIELD received stats somewhere along the line, maybe in one of the annual handbooks or a Dragon magazine. Agents & Assassins was published by Seraphim Guard Games not too long after it was written, under the name Super Agents, with different art. I have the original here on my site, with some public domain photos as the “art.”
I rebalanced a few of the rules and limited the power list to fit the level of the game; you won’t need anything but Agents & Assassins and some version of the basic FASERIP rules. It even has a game setting, which I didn’t remember creating until I took a look back at the game. I think I’ll keep using the setting in other games of mine going forward.
The schemer is the character who plots and plans and manipulates people to do what he wants. It’s hard to simulate in most games, because schemes are a long-term strategy, taking days, weeks, even years to carry out. They’re not direct like most RPG encounters. This is the world of Cersei Lannister and Lex Luthor (unless he’s wearing his green-and-purple battle suit).
The rare example of a heroic schemer.
In USR, we can simply call “manipulative” a Specialism. Ego rolls are used for social combat, though a particularly oblivious character might use Wits to try and puzzle out what their more clever opponent is trying to say.
In Microlite 20, it’s a MIND + Communication roll. The Performance class ability (page 19 of the Fantasy Expansion) is based on the D&D Bard ability, but a schemer character can use it, especially if it’s limited to the Fascinate (distracting the target with words that discourage — or arouse — them) or Inspire Courage (a schemer is a master at giving a rousing speech) effects. The Connections class ability (page 18) is common, too.
Putting a long-term plan into play in a single game session would take a lot of set up. While planning a scheme can be fun in itself, the end results of one — getting your opponent to give in without drawing your sword or using a spell — can be simulated a lot more easily than it first appears.
Now that I’m getting this blog back up and running, I’m revisiting a number of game ideas I’ve had over the past few months (years). A lot of them are re-using classic games in new ways. Take today’s idea, inspired by Rum & Bones and LOAD, tabletop MOBAs. I’ve never actually played a MOBA, though I have written about them (“Video Game Makers,” March 2016); as with a lot of video games, I like the story and visuals more than actually playing.
So today I had an idea to blend chess, checkers and these tabletop MOBAs for a simple version of the game, one that doesn’t cost me anything (I already have chess and checkers, of course, and I don’t need any other materials). I’m not ready to add it to the site, as it needs playtesting.
When I pulled down my copy of chess, I also grabbed Risk, and I have an idea for that hoary old theme, zombie invasion. Something else I need to playtest before releasing.
I have ideas that will see the pages of my website when they’re done, and I’m getting to a point when I can actually work on them. It’s pretty nice to be in that position… it’s so rare.
I was in Toys R Us the other day, looking at what’s on the shelves (haven’t done that in months – I like to see what’s actually available, instead of what’s breaking online). I saw the newest edition of traditional Monopoly has a cat playing piece, presumably to go with the little dog. That combined with the trailer for “Godzilla” made me think back to an old game of mine; the rules are cleaned up here.