In my early days of roleplaying games I studiously avoided Dungeons & Dragons. Although I had friends who played, I kept to science fiction RPGs like Traveller. As a wargamer I tried Behind Enemy Lines but it never caught on with my group. Come 1983 the wargaming world was upset with the collapse of Simulations Publications, Inc. and Avalon Hill and the rise of Victory Games. Seeing how Victory Games was the spiritual successor to Avalon Hill and SPI, I wholeheartedly supported them when they jumped into the roleplaying game space.
Besides, it was James Bond 007. Who didn’t want to play Mr. Bond?
[OK, OK, this was deep in the Roger Moore era…but still…]
In terms of game mechanisms, James Bond 007 was far, far removed from the simple roll 2d6 for 8+ in Traveller. Now the player had to deal with Primary Chance and Ease Factor and Quality Rating. At first my group bounced off hard from all the “mathing” required. However, very quickly the game grew on us. All that math was actually on the character sheet or the GM screen. It wasn’t hard; indeed, the resulting play it produced was rather cinematic.
Years later I deeply appreciate James Bond 007. The example of play is still amongst the best ever written. The Chase rules are brilliant. Secret agents were wargamers! Most importantly, it feels like Bond.
Working through this little character generation drill, I see some “aging” in the system. The skills, abilities, and fields of experience probably need to be updated a bit from the 1980’s. I know of “modern” systems derived from James Bond 007—I’ve tried at least one—but at the end of the day no espionage RPG can beat James Bond 007.
Characteristics are on a scale of 1-15 with 5 being the minimum for an Agent.
Former reporter, now Rookie Agent
STR 7 / DEX 7 / WIL 10 / PER 10 / INT 5
Skills (Skill Level/Primary Chance): Charisma (8/18), Driving (8/16), Electronics (3/12), Fire Combat (6/14), Hand-to-Hand (5/12), Sixth Sense (5/14)
Abilities: Connoisseur, First Aid, Photography
Physical Aspects: Height 6’1″, Weight 185 lbs., Age: 30, Appearance: Good Looking, Fame Points: 15, Hero Points: 0, Speed=2, Hand-to-Hand Damage Class=A, Stamina=28 hours, Running/Swimming=25 minutes, Carrying: 101-150 lbs.
Fields of Experience: Computers, Political Science, Wargaming
Weaknesses: Fear of Spiders
Weapon: Walther PPK (Performance Modifier +1 / Shots per Round=2/ Damage Class=E/ Jam=99)
Lawrence grew up in a small town with traditional values. He always seemed to have a nose for news and went to college to be a journalist. After graduation he worked for a while but grew disillusioned with all the “fake news;” he wanted his politics to make a difference. While assigned to the Washington, D.C. news bureau Lawrence was recruited by The Company and has just completed his basic training. Now a Rookie Agent, Lawrence is anxious to get out there and face down his nations enemies. But is he really ready?
To give you a sense of how James Bond 007 works lets check out how Lawrence handles a little shoot out with a thug.Lawrence has turned a corner and come face-to-face with a thug carrying a Colt 45. Range is 30 feet (3 gridded squares in combat) making the shot CLOSE Range.
Starting Ease Factor=5. Lawrence is moving (-2 EF) but the close range gives EF +1. Performance Modifier is +1 EF for an adjusted Ease Factor of 5. Cross referencing Hone’s Primary Chance of 14 with Ease Factor 5 is 70. Die roll is 40 which on the Quality Results Table is “Acceptable 4.” Consulting the Wound Level Chart a Quality Rating 4 for Weapon Damage Class E says “LW” or light wound. The thug is stunned. However, the Walther PPK fires two shots per round. The second shot adds another -1 to the Ease Factor making it 4 with Primary Chance 14 giving 56. Die roll of 34 is a Quality Rating 4 (again) and another LW which becomes Medium Wound due to damage accumulation.
At this point I just know that some of you are going, “Wow, that’s too much math!” Part of the brilliance of the James Bond 007 game is that much of what you need is on the character sheet. It makes it faster to look it up and roll than to explain it!
James Bond 007...old school secret agent goodness!